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Life Outside the Boat

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Parenting

To Parents of Littles: “Hang On”

“Believe it or not, you actually start to genuinely like them!!??  Hang on, trust me.  🙂 “

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I copied this from a text I sent recently to a parent of both a toddler and a newborn.  I remember, at that stage, people used to say to me things like, “enjoy this, you’re going to miss this time with your babies” and “this is the happiest time in your life!”.

And I wanted to punch them in the face.

I have found, that while well-meaning, they. were. wrong.

 

 

 

Ok, yes, babies are cute and sweet and I miss my cuddly baby boys sometimes…

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Oh, but how I love today…

I love homeschooling in the hammock.

Read-aloud books with only pictures painted in your mind.

Bike races down the driveway instead of chasing toddlers from room to room.

My very own warm plate of food that no one else eats off of.

There is a season for everything.

But this one, this is my favorite…so far.

So, to the parent who is in the throes of meltdowns and tantrums (theirs AND yours), mess and clutter, middle of the night prayers and pleas into the darkness, “I love you’s” whispered into tiny, uncomprehending ears and slimy hugs and kisses…

DSCF0425From a Mama who is about 10 whole seconds ahead of you, remember:

  •  Apologize often and sincerely after those tantrums and meltdowns…because one day, they will too.
  • Hold their hand.  Let them help you pick up the mess…because one day, they will too.
  • Pray over them.  With them.  For them…because one day, they will too.
  • Lavish the “I love you’s” and the hugs and kisses…because one day, they will too.

Tonight at bedtime, you will wrestle and struggle and try to force them to sit still long enough for you read them a bible story because…dang it…you are trying to fulfill your “spiritual parenting duty”.

But one day you will go to your kid’s bedside (that he got into all by himself…and stayed there!! – praise God from whom all blessing flow!!) to say goodnight and bless him and he will be reading the bible.  The actual bible…choosing the entire New Testament as his summer reading incentive instead of the list of picture books from the library.  And you will cry mammoth tears and wonder where this half infant baby/half lanky teenager came from…

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Every season is hard and exhausting in its own way.  I’m sorry, you are tired, and hungry, and maybe a little softer around the middle, and struggling to make ends meet, and… well, just burnt out.

But hang on.

Savor this sweet time with your babies, but know that in a moment you will blink, and they will be one day closer to becoming your friend.

So hang on…

I will too.  ❤

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Insecurity

It’s funny (not really) that it has been about a year and a half since I first posted this, but somehow, I find myself up in the middle of the night fretting over THE. EXACT. SAME. THING!

This time, the story involves Legos, an architect, a preacher, an ipad, the same 3 little boys and stained glass…I’ll let you put that puzzle together.  The details are a little different, the people are different, there is no blood involved this time (thank God!) – but the theme is the same: When I fix my eyes on the opinion of people, not only will I never be good enough, but it will actually keep me from functioning in my normal capacity. But when my eyes are on Jesus… “I can walk in a way that is pleasing to Him”.

So read, get a little freer and remember: no matter how free we get, the enemy is just lurking…always lurking, waiting for us to look away…

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” Hebrews 12:2

Life Outside the Boat

I know, I know, definitely not an original topic for a gal to write about. But the thing is, there is a reason why we see it so often. It is because we feel it so often. Every single human being suffers at some point from some form of it. Insecurity.

We were born into this legacy of questioning our identity and ultimately questioning God’s identity. But I am so thankful that God orchestrated a way for us to be free. He sent Jesus to take back the power that the enemy stole on the day he slithered into our existence.

I am all too familiar with what it is like to be riddled with self-doubt. It wasn’t long ago that everything I did, every decision, every action, every opinion I had was based on the opinions of others. From clothes, to houses, to parenting, to cars, to responses – everything…

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Look Up

It was late.  Well past dark.  I was out picking up milk/returning a movie/whatever other errand I could run with exactly zero kids in tow after 9:00 pm.  I wonder, exhausted, where did the day go?  All those minutes and hours and seconds, gone.  Did I see Him once?  In any of those moments, in any of the activities or errands, or responsibilities – did I ever see Him?  Did I look?  Between the kids and the lesson plans and the arguing and the laundry and the 85,000-th “can I have sumpin’ to eat?” I somehow have missed the rhythm of grace, the gentle melody that rocks me when the world around me shifts and clamors and screams, not even a glimpse of eternity in the midst of humanity.  How?  How, when my life is so full of everything that I thought would glorify Him.  Yet, where is He in the midst of it?

Sometimes, I can get so busy being ‘godly’ that I miss God.  And I hear that constant question, “Why do all this? Shouldn’t you be filling plates at the mission/caring for orphans/preaching in the dirt roads of Africa/Haiti/India – why are you wasting your time on ‘blessed’ people – what difference are you making??” I think about tomorrow’s lesson plans, then the next day’s/week’s/month’s, the bible studies, and the small groups and the mistakes I’ve made, the wrong decisions, the bad attitudes I’ve had – people I’ve offended – little boys I’ve yelled at.  And I wonder,  “all this is for you God, but where are you?”

“I am right here….

My child, I am here, in these moments, in this car.  Look up.  See me.  You spend so much energy and brain power trying to do for me, you have forgotten to just be with me.  I know it’s easy – I don’t blame you for getting distracted, that is just what my enemy wants you to do.  He knows how to keep you too busy for me.  But if your eyes are off of me for too long, all that you do will become corrupt.  I love what you do for me and for others, it is precious to me.  Even when you make mistakes, that’s where I do my best work.  Redemption.  But look up.  Even if for only this moment, that’s all it takes.  Just a moment for our eyes to meet and you to be filled, but I can’t force you.  Please, Look up.”

So there, in the middle of 83rd Street, in the pitch dark, I look up.  I gaze into the black sky as the music plays in the background of my minivan…

 

“I will lock eyes with the One who’s ransomed me, the One who gave me joy for mourning.  I will lock eyes with the One who’s chosen me, the One who set my feet to dancing.”

I see. We connect. And it is enough, no much MUCH more. It is everything. These moments, eyes locked with the lover of my soul, I am whole.  I am rested.  I am even made holy.  Everything makes sense again.

 

“Never stop praying.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

Insecurity

I know, I know, definitely not an original topic for a gal to write about. But the thing is, there is a reason why we see it so often. It is because we feel it so often. Every single human being suffers at some point from some form of it. Insecurity.

We were born into this legacy of questioning our identity and ultimately questioning God’s identity. But I am so thankful that God orchestrated a way for us to be free. He sent Jesus to take back the power that the enemy stole on the day he slithered into our existence.

I am all too familiar with what it is like to be riddled with self-doubt. It wasn’t long ago that everything I did, every decision, every action, every opinion I had was based on the opinions of others. From clothes, to houses, to parenting, to cars, to responses – everything was done with the thought of, “what will so and so think?” And then followed up with, “Ugh, I can’t believe I said…did…bought…asked…went…’they’ are going to think I am so… (insert random negative opinion).  ” It’s exhausting! I found myself empty, miserable and buried in debt.

But I remember the moment years ago that God began to open my eyes to this:  I was sitting at my computer reading the story of a mother in a village on the other side of the world who would mix up dirt and water and feed her child mud to stave off the pain of hunger. I remember looking at my then diaper-clad redhead and it broke me. I looked around me and realized how selfish and petty I had been for years. That day was the beginning of a journey that I am on (and will be on everyday that I am breathing) that God is molding and teaching me to see everything – everyone the way He sees them.

Ok, but what does this have to do with insecurity?? I’m getting there…. When we begin to see things the way He sees them, we also begin to see ourselves the same way. Instead of always asking ourselves “what will this person or that person think”, the question can be, “What does God think?”  “How does He see me?”  And this question is so much easier to answer….he wrote it down for us!

Now, just to clarify…Although we can be set free from insecurity, we can and will still struggle with it. Why? Because our enemy is not at all original. He knows where we are weak and he knows where we have doubt. He sits and waits for us to just crack that door a little to give him room to weasel in. (1 Peter 5:8) This is why Romans 12:2 is so important “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed my the renewing of your mind.” When I allow too much time to go by without entering into the presence of the One who created me, that is when doubt and insecurity begin to creep back in.

In my last post, I talked about waves….yeah, this would be one of them. But In John 10:10, Jesus said that “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This means that we cannot live life to the fullest without following Jesus. When I am chasing after the approval of others, I am living an empty life. This is so elementary, so “trite”. But so true and somehow, we all get stuck in it at one time or another.

Just the other day, I was at a play date I was practically paralyzed with fear of what the other moms would think of my parenting. Let me paint the picture…

I am at a friend’s pool with these two other moms that I highly respect (let’s be real…am ridiculously intimidated by)…my youngest is throwing grass and rocks and well basically 1/2 the landscape into the pool…I’m trying to fish my middle out of the water as he has strapped his floatation device to the wrong end of his body and is fighting to keep his head above water while his backside is high and dry above the surface. THEN, my oldest scrapes his foot (on, of course, one of the rocks my toddler has thrown into the pool) and is trying to be brave but is fairly distraught by the amount of blood oozing from the bottom of his foot!

So there I was, half in-half-out of the pool yelling at one son, rescuing another from certain death and applying pressure to the foot of the 3rd and I just knew that these gals thought I was the worst mama ever. I was so worried about what they were thinking (which was probably absolutely nothing) that it actually kept me from being able to parent the way that I would under normal circumstances. I was so engrossed in my own insecurity, that I couldn’t even function normally. Not only that, I obsessed about the whole thing for the rest of the day! Really?? There are people lost and abused and starving all across the globe and I am obsessing about my less-than-Dobson-style parenting…yes, yes I was.  Oh, and did I fail to mention the bikini I was wearing?  Because my annually-fluctuating weight happened to choose a skinny year, there was not one modest, age-appropriate swimsuit that fit in this mama’s closet.

Thankfully, His mercy is new every morning and I realized that I wasn’t going to be the object of scorn, or given an “F” in parenting, or even worse…”unfriended” on Facebook. But the greater lesson for me in this was that when I take my focus off pleasing the only One who deserves it, and start focusing on pleasing others…even if they are wonderful people…it keeps me from walking in His will even in the small everyday tasks. When I focus on what may please others, I will never be good enough. But by surrendering to my Creator, I can walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.

By the way….if either of you other mamas that were there (who were totally gracious in the midst of my chaos) are reading this, just disregard…I made it all up. I am actually really cool.

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