Tears on the pavement- why I let my son cry.

 

Last week my little man joined cross country camp. I am not a runner. Unless you count the ten times I started the couch to 5k app then yes I am a marathon runner. Obviously then I have no idea about running. Except that you sweat a lot and it really hurts us bigger chested girls. So here I am dropping him off at cross country camp at his new middle school and he is sitting in the passenger seat biting his fingernails like it’s his job. I am trying to ignore that he is biting his middle school boy nails filled with god knows what and try and focus on the why. We are going over the plan. I will drop you off now and be back later this morning before you get out. With the nods across the front seat he asks if I can walk him to the coach. Well you know anytime your eleven year old son asks you to do anything that isn’t gross or doesn’t involve a bodily function you do it.

We checked in with the coach and he sat down to tie his shoes that we just got that morning. ( I know, big runner mom mistake). As he is bent over I see that he is either already sweating a lot or tears are hitting the pavement.

“Buddy, what’s wrong? “ I ask in my I have already had coffee momma voice which is actually pleasant.

“I don’t know ANYONE” he whispers as tears continue to drop to the ground below.

It is one thing for my hormonal teenage daughters to cry or even for the littlest to cry when he sees that broccoli is being served for dinner. But when your athletic tender hearted eleven year old boy cries it reaches a whole new level of hurt in your mama heart.

And then I had a choice to make. In that moment it was a fight or flight moment. A moment where I could agree with him and then we run to the car together. Where we forget the whole running nonsense and go eat bagels instead.

Or we choose to fight.

I chose that morning to fight his fear and teach him to do the same. I asked him if I could pray over him and ask Jesus to give him confidence and peace. I prayed that he would meet a new friend and not be afraid of being alone, even if the answer was no.

And then I walked away.

I walked away from a son who was afraid and scared. Because sometimes mommas that is what we need to do. We need to stop being their saviors and teach them the way to Him.

I may have sat in the car for a while and had an ugly cry but I walked away.

This past week we had the opportunity to stay with a friend at their lake house. It was breath taking. Our original vacation that we had planned had to be cancelled and this was a last minute invite. It turned out to be one of the most amazing three days.

At one point we were all out on the speed boat and the kids were all learning to wake board. They all wanted to try and see if they could do it and try they did. After about ten attempts little man still had not made it up on the wake board. His skinny little soccer torso could not maneuver himself enough to stay balanced.  Yet the whole time he was floating in the water he had a smile from ear to ear. As we helped him back into the boat my husband complimented him on his persistence in trying.

There were no tears. There was no complaining. There was no comparing. There was only resolve.

Resolve in the trying.

The truth is this summer has been a summer of fight or flight. A summer of making the choices to stay in the fear and work through it or run away and numb ourselves with something or someone else.

As parents we have a choice. We can choose to teach our kids what we ourselves are working through or we can teach them the behaviors that keep us numb.

We can teach them that work will fill the void. We can teach them that eating is crap is okay. We can teach them that Netflix solves everything. We can teach them that silence means peace. We can teach them that drinking needs to happen at every social function. We can teach them that being busy is a good thing. We can teach them that their grades matter more than their character. We can teach them that a size defines who they are. We can teach them that they matter more than our spouse.

Or we can teach them to stay. To stay and fight.

Some days I am better then others. With some issues to put it nicely I still suck at. But I own it. I own my crap and call it what it is. My kids know my pile and see it. They also see me digging through it. Piece by piece calling it what it is and not walking away from it. I am choosing to fight through the fears that my behaviors are covering and realizing that this is just another thing for Jesus to redeem.

So while you may not see me running any marathons you will see me cheering little man on from the sidelines with his Target tennis shoes.

Dear parents, stop being your child’s redeemer.

When we were younger we were thrown into the lake and told to paddle. It was more of a “sink or swim” literally type of parenting. With waves hitting us in the face and bathing suits filled with sand this is how we were brought up. Either you learned how to swim or you sat on the beach and made sandcastles with your grandma. Both things were great, but how many times can you trickle sand on top of a pile before you want to eat the sand or take your chances at drowning? My youngest sister was thrown into a pool off the diving board and we watched her struggle to the top. Yes, I understand this is dangerous and not recommended by anyone. But we grew up in West Michigan where not knowing how to swim was as taboo as not having your hunting license. Here we were blonde haired sun kissed kids who knew we had to learn to do things on our own if we didn’t want to be left at shore.

I am not saying that my dad wouldn’t have dove into the water to save us and called in the coast guard in a moment’s notice. I am saying that my parents taught us to swim but they also let us fail.

They did not do our homework. They did not call the coach or teacher when we didn’t make the team. They didn’t call the director or gossip to other mom’s when we didn’t make the play. They didn’t run to the store in the middle of night to get a poster board because we forgot to do our project. They did not bring our work to school if we left it at home. They did not run a taxi service for us and our friends. They lived their lives and we were a part of it. Not all of it.

When my oldest was in elementary school I did her homework. I admit it. I did it all the time. Of course I let her write it, but essentially I redid grade school. (And I don’t want to brag but I totally rocked it the second time around.) This past weekend we were looking at pictures of some of those years. My eldest was pointing out to me how amazing “her” story boards and science displays were. How precise and clean. I was so determined that she would be a good student and admired by her teachers that I “helped” her on more than one occasion. If I am honest I was there was a direct correlation between my pride and others perception of me as a parent than her actual academic achievements. Somehow her succeeding was more important to my ego than letting her swim.

If you look at pictures of my second child’s projects you can see that I had obviously learned my lesson. I had discovered that I didn’t want to be “that mom”. I didn’t want to redo elementary school again. I didn’t have time to make sure things were perfect. I had learned that I needed to teach her how to make decisions and choices and not make them for her. I could not go with her to college and if I did then we had major issues to deal with besides homework.

By the time the fifth child came around we were just lucky to remember to bathe him once a week much less fill out any homework on time. Sorry Michelle Duggar I totally fail at big family parenting 101.

When one of the kids got into a lot of trouble with technology I wanted to fix it. Yes I was angry. I was angry at myself for not catching it earlier. I was angry at the people involved. I was angry at the child for not telling us what was going on. I was embarrassed and ashamed that this was happening under my roof and I didn’t know. I was upset that I had just spent hours at a seminar on parenting and now I was actually going to have to apply it. I was just angry I could not control it. I wanted to save her. And the truth was I was angry that I couldn’t.

I met with a friend later that morning. I cried over coffee and some sweet pastry I shouldn’t have been eating. She reminded me of something I had forgotten.

You are not her Redeemer.

She will never know who her Redeemer is if you keep saving her.

If we keep saving our kids. If we keep doing their homework. If we keep waiting on them hand and foot. If we keeping rescuing them they will never need the Rescuer.

I needed to. I need to let all of my kids fail. I need to let them learn to swim on their own.

This past week I watched her win another track meet. I watched her strong muscular legs strike the pavement and cross the finish line. She did this. On her own. She learned to run on her own. She learned to win on her own. By the scars on her legs and arms she has fallen many times. I didn’t make her stop running or run the race for her. I let her run. I let her fail.

But in the end she will know I am not her redeemer.

There is only ONE who can save her.

 

Bacon Wrapped Jesus.

 

I love bacon. On everything. My love of bacon went to a whole new level when someone introduced me to bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Take a moment and let that soak in. Yeah, it’s that good. It is like pork candy in my mouth. If I am invited to any invent this summer that is probably what I will bring. So if you don’t like bacon, don’t invite me.  I think anything can taste better wrapped in bacon. Except maybe jelly beans. Those stand by themselves.

So here I am a forty year old woman who loves bacon and may or may not have an issue with jelly beans. But I am realizing my heart has been wrapped in other things lately besides bacon.

I am struggling. Struggling watching my daughter trying to date. The push and the pull of it all. Trying to figure out who she is and how she relates to the world. And how the world treats her back. It has nothing to do with the guy. Any guy.

It has to do with me. And me and her. And how she is a huge part of me. Part of me made her. And so I am half of her.

And that scares me.

Because I am pulled into the belief that because I was the girl that everyone should have stayed away from for years, that she will make the same mistakes I did. I know. I know. She is not me. She needs to write her own story. Blah. Blah. Blah.

But this this the thing. When fear creeps in, it wraps itself around you. Around your mind and images of your past soak into parts of you that haven’t healed yet. The parts of you that are creative and vulnerable and raw.

I am twisted in memories of a past that would like to keep me there. I am overwhelmed with the fear that the life I lived will be repeated by my daughter. That she will be haunted for years about the choices she may or may not make.

And here I was on a Tuesday feeling it all over coffee with one of my best friends. This friend has a way of reaching inside my soul and drawing out whatever I am concealing. Or maybe I don’t hide it well and she just has the courage to ask. She asked how I was doing. How I was really doing. The space in between the person that you want everyone to see and the one that exists so life can function in a normal manner. That space. She asked how that in between was.

She listened.

She let me be understood.

She didn’t interrupt or offer advice.

She didn’t counter the story so she could be heard.

She waited. She listened.

And then, when the tears started to fall, she reached across the table and touched my hand.

The words she spoke next brought such freedom to my heart.

You know she gets the best version of you right?”

“What?”

Sweet girl, she gets the YOU wrapped in Jesus. She gets the best part of you. The YOU that is fully and completely wrapped in Jesus.”

“She gets to be raised by one who has been forgiven and made new”

So many days I forget who I am.

I have no problem remembering who I was.

I look in the mirror and the scars are still there.

I can find things to wrap myself in every day.

Fear. Control. Anxiety. Shame.Pride. Jealousy. Noise. Busyness. Food.

We need people in our lives to remind us what we are called to be wrapped in.

Fully forgiven. Fully made new. Fully at the feet at the one who pours mercy over me.

Fully wrapped in Jesus.

Dear Kids, I love you too much….. A Valentines Day repost.

Dear kids,

I love you.

I love you with all my heart. I love to watch you sleep at night. (not like creepy crawl in your window to watch you) but more like I want to count the freckles on your sun kissed face. I love to hear the sound of your voices laughing with each other, whispering secrets while you are supposed to be sleeping. I love to watch you scream with all your might when your brother scores in soccer. I love to curl your hair when you want to be just like mommy. I love to take you out on dates all dressed up and sit across from you and wipe the whip cream off your lip. I love to find notes on my pillow from you. I love to watch you make new friends or even just try. I love to see you help each other up when one of you falls. I love to watch you smelling the neighbor’s flowers after you decided that all of ours needed to be picked. I love writing you notes to find in your lunchbox or on the mirror in the morning. I love to plan the perfect gift for your birthday that only I would know you loved. I love to hear about your day and who made you mad. I love to watch you explain just why being an apple farmer makes sense for your life. I love to listen to you sing 1D in the shower and then pretend that you don’t even like them. I love to watch you doodle while you are supposed to be doing Algebra again. I love to wake to the sound of the cartoons on Saturday morning and footy pj’s on the wood floors. I love to hear your secrets and who you wish you could be. I love to catch you writing songs on the piano when you think you are all alone. I love you this much and even more.
But you see sweet one I am sorry.

I am sorry I have loved you more than your dad. My husband. The one I promised to love forever. The one I made a covenant with. You see, I was reminded recently by ones that are pouring into us that I have really messed up. But you and I know that with messing up always comes second chances. And for me it’s more like a hundred chances. So here I am asking for you to forgive me.

I need to love your dad even more than I love you. I need to love him with all my heart. I need to watch him sleep at night. I need to love the sound of his voice laughing. I need to encourage him from the sidelines every day. All day. I need to go out on dates with your dad every week and remember that we need to work at love. I need to ask for notes from your dad. I need to write them too. I need to thank him for helping our neighbors all the time and not complain that things aren’t done around here. I need to pack his lunch in the morning and make sure he knows that I value him. I need to smile and kiss your dad when he brings me flowers. I need to ignore you when your dad walks in the door because it’s his turn to be heard. I need to respect and support your dad when he goes for another job and not worry about how far away we will be from family. I need to buy him gifts just because it’s not his birthday. I need hold your dads hand when we are together. I need to sleep in more with the door closed on Saturday mornings. I need to listen more talk less. I need to tell him my secrets that I’m afraid to live. I need to lean in and lead with grace. I need to love your dad this much and even more.

So sweet children, know this. I love you. I really do. This may send you all into therapy ( yet we all know you will probably already end up there anyways). I have done you such a disservice. I should have done a better job at being a wife. Because that is the commitment I made. I am the example that you will learn from. And I want nothing more for you than to learn from your dad and I that who we are as a couple is the best gift we can give you.

With love, mom
And if you can’t find me…..I will be kissing your dad.tim

Before you leave home- a letter to my daughter

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Before you leave…..

Sweet one you graduate in 19 months from high school. Although that means you are home for another year and half. It means you are only home for another year and half and this mama’s heart just needs to let you know some things.

I’ve had a check list of things I’ve wanted you to know before you left. Now while this list seem trivial to some I believe that they are important life skills to know.

-Mow a lawn because you will not make enough money to have someone mow your lawn when you leave this house. Also we never made enough money to have someone mow our lawn as educators. Plus it’s very therapeutic.

-Cook more than noodles. Well because you need to eat more than just carbs for the rest of your life. There is nothing like making someone’s belly happy with a great meal that you created with your own two hands.

-Clean the house. Again defer to the amount of money you will most likely make. And I really believe that if God allows to live in a home that you should count that as a blessing and treat it as such. I know I am not the best housekeeper but when my in-laws come I know how to clean it.

– Fail. I know this seems harsh but I don’t want you to do this for the first time when you are not with me. I want to be able to walk you through this. Life is not fair. And many times you are not going to understand why. I don’t. But when you fail, and you will, I want to be able to talk you through it and watch you try again and again.

-Tell the truth. To be honest this one is hard for me. I have struggled with this one my whole life. To be honest with who you are. What your past was. And who you are now. I want you to live a truthful life. A life that screams the reality of who you are and not who others need you to be.

-Clean the toilet. I am not trying to make you a Cinderella but for the love know how to clean up your own messes. And I am not ashamed that I have given this as one of your chores.

– Wash your clothes. You will shrink clothes. But I want you to learn it here and not on the first week you are married and your sweet husband now needs to fit into Barbie sized clothing because I never taught you the correct way to actually do laundry.

– Ask for help. Please. Do not try to get through life alone. Your dad and I should be in your top three people to ask for help. Know that we always will. We always will help and ask questions later. I don’t know what I would have done without my village. You will need a village of help and love.

– Forgive. It took me many years to figure this out. I hope the day you graduate, if not sooner you have learned to forgive. Forgive the friend that doesn’t act the way you think they should. Forgive your sibling that keeps “borrowing” your clothes. Forgive your parents. We did the best we could. If you hang on to the unforgiveness it is only hurting you. It is chaining you to expectations that will never be met. Grace sweet one. Pour out grace.

-Respect your elders. I see the opposite of this so much it hurts me. When kids and adults have no respect for those that are older or in authority. Those that teach you, go before you, are around you are there to protect and love you. Look closely and you can see little glimpses of who you are going to be. How you treat others is a direct window into what is inside your heart.

– Laugh at yourself and have friends that laugh with you. Have friends who think you are funny. I know you don’t think I am “Sarah Braverman” but my friends do and that is just fine with me. Laughing cleans out the hardness that likes to make its way into our hearts. Deep belly laughs frees the spirit to sour.

-Get a job, with a boss- I started working when I was 15. Because my parents said if I wanted extra things I needed to earn it. I also thought it would be cool to fry up burgers. (not so much) But I want you to earn your own money. I want you to answer to someone other than your parents. I want you to manage your own schedule and money. I think there is so much value in actually working outside of the home and not relying on gifts of money that you receive.

-Know Jesus. Really know Him. Look for Him everywhere. He is here. He is walking right beside you every day. And on days when it is so dark and so much evil clouds your vision He is fighting the battle to keep your heart. I want you to own your faith. To claim it as your own. Ask questions. Seek answers. I want you to stand firm in your own faith not ours. He needs to work redemption out for you and I need to let you experience it.

Sweet one, as I am writing this list I realize I could go on and on at the things I hope you have learned. I realize though all the things you have taught me. You have taught me to fight for those I love. You have taught me that I love you when I just show up. You have taught me that all you ever wanted was my time. You taught me that you are grateful that your dad and I fought to stay together even though I wanted out so many times. You have taught me that all God wanted for me was to return. You have taught me there is healing when I admit my wrongs. You have taught me that late night giggles are best if not interrupted. You have taught me that I made the best decision by never walking into that clinic seventeen years ago. You taught me that second chances are moments we need to be awake for. You have taught me that each day I have a chance to do better. You have taught me that family is more than blood.

Even if you have only learned one thing. Know this. You have been loved so deeply and fiercely wanted from the day I learned of your beating heart.

Now go change the world sweet baby girl…..

love you to the moon and back.

mom

the best me.

Image I secretly love watching people post all of the amazing things that they are going to do each year. I do the same thing. I start out determined that no carb will ever touch my lips again. That this will be the year that I will run a marathon. That this will be my best year. I place these outrageous expectations and goals on myself without seriously thinking how long it took me to get this far. I forget how many times I needed to fall flat on my face before I realized that I was worth the fight. The fight of being a better version of myself.

And if I were being honest.  I believed that the better version was always thinner with great skin. I believed that the better me would never have to deal with anxiety and depression again. The better me would do crafts with her kids. The better me would be published and accomplished by now. The better me would have enough money to not have to worry month to month. The better me would not lose her temper and want to run away. The better me is strong and can hold it all together. The better me would have the energy and the capacity to homeschool her children. The better me would be comfortable in her own skin. The better me would be able to balance life with a perfect looking home. The better me would be an amazing wife full of patience and encouragement.

The better version of me though is the forgiven me. The forgiven me doesn’t care what size jeans I wear or what you wear. The forgiven me knows that anxiety is crippling but is where I feel the most protected by my Savior. The forgiven me knows that I will constantly struggle with sticking my finger down my throat and that this reality is ugly. The forgiven me knows that there is a better way to health and is fighting daily for it. The forgiven me craves scripture but at times forgets to even say hello to God some days. The forgiven me knows what it is like to confess my sins to a friend and they just be held closer. The forgiven me knows that to admit that every day I wake up scared that I won’t be a good person much less a good mom is humiliating. In reality I know the forgiven me is flat on my face broken at the feet of Jesus. The forgiven me feels loneliest in a room full of people but understands that it is just  another issue that is just being kneaded out of me. The forgiven me knows that being a wife is something that I wrestle with every day. The forgiven me knows that I wrestle because of the choices that I made in my past. And the shame I carry haunts me.

And the forgiven me. The best me, knows that this is all being worked out. Worked out not for my best. But for His best. So whatever I need to wrestle with, or fight for, or cry myself to sleep for is sufficient. It’s for the best. He will make all things new this year.