Where Has My Little Girl Gone?

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The older I get the faster the years seem to zoom by!! When my daughter turned 10, I kept telling my friends that I couldn’t come to grips that I had been a parent for a whole decade……I still felt like I was a newbie to the world of parenting!! I just got used to being a mom of toddlers. Now I am a mom to a pre-teen and all the glamor that that entails…changing body chemistry,  new interests, sarcasm and her acute ability to see my flaws and short comings.

Can time be reversed? I tried putting the incorrect number candle on birthday cakes and giving lectures regarding aging backwards…..both ideas were not received well 🙂

So I am trying a different approach. After mourning and grieving the loss of my little girl, I am now embracing(sometimes) the joys and challenges of becoming a mom to a budding young woman.

She loves to serve others; she likes to try new recipes; she has a new sense of self and emerging personality. She is also trying this new staring thing when I ask her a question…..not sure what that is except my husband says she gets it from me…..what is he talking about?!! I love my big girl. It is not always easy, but I am witnessing who she is becoming. I am excited for the purpose and possibility of her life and seeing it all unfold. There will be triumphs, heartache, joy and disappointment. I pray for her faith to grow strong, and that God will show me how to be a blessing to her.

What I am still having a hard time with is that from now on, every 2 years another child of mine will enter into this phase…..yikes!

So as I have resolved to enjoy, embrace, and equip myself for this next step, my husband, on the other hand, has chosen to stay in denial!! What can I say….girls will always stay  little when it comes their daddies 🙂

Does anyone have resources, advice they would like to share??

 

 

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Graduation Speech

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What’s the latest graduation speech you’ve heard?  Something about “be yourself,” “life is a journey,” and “live your dreams?”  Or maybe a little deeper like “dare to dream the impossible” or be a “world changer.”  I find myself considering what I would say if I were ever asked to do a commencement speech.  It seems that the likes of Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton are MUCH more likely than me to get asked to speak at a graduation, but hey, you never know.  I’ve felt a certain pull to consider what I would tell 100+ young people on the brink of a big change in their life.

I would like to read them a story.   Something along the lines of “The Spooky Old Tree” by Jan and Stan Berenstain.  The Berenstain Bears were favorites of myself and all my siblings growing up.  We enjoyed their tales of adventure and mystery with simple plots and rhyming words.  They usually had mama bear getting the last word about doing chores or telling the truth.  It was a practical way for kids to gain wisdom and enjoy learning morals.  The Berenstains have even written a Christian series with books such as “The Berenstain Bears: God Made You Special” and “Easter Story.”   But I think “The Spooky Old Tree” would be my top choice because it fascinated me as a kid.  My Dad would sit us down at night to read stories, and he would often be sleepy.  We would have to nudge him or eventually read it ourselves when our frustration mounted at his nodding off.  But I remember his heartfelt emphasis on the last five words of the book: “Home again, safe at last.”  This set a peacefulness in our souls that our Dad would be there for us, that home WAS a safe place so that when life took ugly turns we could come home and be safe.

As graduates of all ages walk across the stage this June, I pray that they may know the God of peace and mercy who provides a safe home for us.  May our home, a place that is not of this world, be in the presence of our Lord and Savior, and may it feel safe.  As we reach for the beauty of Jesus’ presence, the joy of his salvation, and his everlasting arms, may we say we are “home again, safe at last.”  And as we glimpse this place here in the natural how can our faith not be strengthened on this journey?

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 NLT

A Father’s Legacy

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Today, on this Father’s Day, I have our nation’s fatherless epidemic on my mind. There are three groups of parents I want to encourage today. First of all, to the fathers who have learned how to be dads, who have an active, loving role in the bringing up of your children, I want to say, “Thank you. I salute you.” You may or may not have had a good male role model in your own life, but you have chosen to walk in part of your destiny – fatherhood. If you had not chosen fatherhood, you would never feel complete when trying to find out who you truly are. You are leaving a legacy of love and security to your children and future generations. This day is about you, and I want to let you know how much I respect you.

To the men out there, whether fathers or not, who have mentored and loved children who are not their own, God bless you! You have felt the calling of God to be his loving hands to the fatherless who are so very valuable and special to the Lord. You know what it means to multiply the kingdom of God when you leave your own four walls to go and pour yourself out and live the gospel in front of precious children who so desperately need to see what good fathers are like. You are leaving an incredible legacy that generations otherwise would not have. Happy Father’s Day!

To the mama who had to wipe tears off of her child’s face tonight or whose heart tore just about in half when her little one acted out in anger, because this day reminds him that he has no daddy, I was praying for you and your child today. I prayed that God would give your and your children peace. I prayed that you both would feel God’s arms around you. God sees your child. The Bible says he will help and defend him, that he is a father to the fatherless. Dear Mama, I leave you with a few verses I pray you find comfort in. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11. God will lead you and give you wisdom as you parent your children. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. Your love and prayers, plus everything that our good, good Father has for your family, will leave a miraculous legacy for your children. It will be a legacy of hope, security, love and change – a legacy much different than the one past generations have tried to leave behind.

 

Broken with Him

FB_IMG_1463492294094It’s been a long day. I know my hubby had an equally long day, so I’m sure he was ecstatic to receive my texts as he was heading home.

“I am so done with your children. I know you’re tired too, but please be prepared to do all the interacting with them.”

“When are you going to be here???”   (Yeah, I’m sure he was rushing home to encounter me in all my loveliness at this point.)

“They have nothing. Nothing. Don’t even think of letting them look at a screen forever.”   (Nothing like being a bit overdramatic in my discipline.)

“One person. That is all I am.”  ( At this point, I’m sure he’s trying to think of somewhere he needs to go.)

You see, I forget so easily and I get so mad at myself for doing it. I forget that this is my calling, actually all of our callings. We are servants, called to pour out our lives for others, and in motherhood, those others are our children. When I let myself forget that, then I become the victim in my own eyes, offended that my children are children. Somehow distraught that this thing called mothering is training for a lifetime.

I was pondering this a couple months ago during communion at our church. We take communion every Sunday and it is something that I have grown to love. This remembering what Christ did for us keeps it on the forefront of my heart during the week. His brokenness, not only in His death, but also how He lived His life, is our example. If I am truly His, then I am joining myself with Him in this, taking up my cross, dying to myself and my own needs, and living for others. Now, I am not talking about putting yourself last and burning out so that you can’t even do what you need to. I will be the first one to tell any mama to take care of herself first so that she can be there for her family. I’m talking about in our hearts and souls. Seeing all the things that we do for our families, all of the needs pulling us in different directions, as gifts of sacrifice to our Lord. We are serving Him when we serve our family. We are loving Him when we love them.

We are dying to ourselves when we:

choose kindness instead of harshness

choose patience instead of frustration

choose love instead of negativity

choose a heavenly perspective instead of only seeing the here and now

choose to follow Jesus as an example, digging deep even from brokenness, to bring life to those around us

 

I was just finishing this up as my littlest one came running down the stairs…yet again…this time throwing himself into my arms.

“One more kiss…I love you, Mama.” Oh, so worth it, right?  Hopefully I’ll remember earlier tomorrow…

 

 

You know you’re a boy mom when….

IMG_16861.Toys ( or anything for that matter) are not used in the manner intended.

Everything can be changed into some sort of device or weapon for the latest adventure. Even legos have a sinister side to them…”Let’s see how many times a week we can get mom to have a fit when she steps on us.”

No, the roof on the playhouse is not meant to be leapt off of onto anything…

I’m pretty sure the sled is not meant for you to surf down the slide…

You don’t even want to know some of the things that I have had to say through the years. I can’t even believe they’ve had to come out of my mouth.

Which leads to….

2. Your heart jumps into your throat at least once daily with some sort of prayer that this is not leading to a trip to the E.R.

“I was just playing around…”   Yeah, most common phrase uttered.

Which is why….

3. Things in your house are either broken or well-loved-on by your boys and their friends.

There is no need to buy new furniture for many more years. Settle in my friend, because you need a crane to get out of that couch.

Cushions are for forts or shields in the battle, couches are for sitting together stacked up like a tower or a wrestling pad. (See number 1)

Which makes….

4. Friendship with you is not for the fainthearted. Either your friends have multiple boys and are used to the noise decibels reaching who knows what, or they love you enough to put up with it.

5. We love candles, diffusers, potpourri, or any good smelling thing….anything that dispels the smell.

The smell. Do I need to say more? I think not.

So, you then….

6. You learn to laugh at or be the queen of no reactions to gross humor.

I try to go with the no reaction thing, but being a dramatic Italian mama can make it difficult.  Boys love to get a REACTION.

7. It is impossible to keep food stocked up. Food comes into the house at an alarming rate and disappears so fast your head spins.

I’ve had to resort to leaving signs on food that I may need to feed someone else and hide my chocolate in a different place each week.

8. Your response to complaints to having to do housework is “Your wife will love me for this and thank me someday. You’re welcome.”

9. Your heart will be stolen and then broken.

From the moment that beautiful baby boy is placed in your arms, your heart is given away.  Every act of independence along the way is celebrated and grieved, knowing that it is your job to train them and let them go.

Which leads to….

10. You will have to trust God in ways you never imagined.

You trust that these amazing, strong-hearted and impetuous boys will hang on to the truths you have given them…listening to the instruction of their parents and following HIM all the days of their lives.  (Proverbs 4)

 

 

Rainbow

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Wow!  What a rainbow this morning!  Right over Culver Road, as if I could head to Cobbs Hill and find a pot of gold there underneath it.  It was stunning… And then another one next to it.  Its arch reaching over Midtown Athletic Club and the eastside of the city.  Two rainbows in the early drizzle of the morning, with the sun rising in the east.  The perfect set-up and reminder of promises.  Promises kept.  God always keeps his promises.  He is the one who follows through when there’s unrepented sin.  He is the one who comforts us after a loss.  He is the one who pursues our loved ones, not yet knowing their need for Jesus, with great fervor.

So I rejoice and pray! I am SO thankful for God’s promises, and I pray for my adopted son, nearly 18, that his heart might soften.  I pray that he would see his need for a loving Savior and just Father.  I pray for his dreams and goals.  I pray that he would experience joy knowing that this life is good, but I also pray that he will experience trials and see his need for perfect love.  These may seems like selfish prayers, but I hope that they are not.  These may seem like judgmental prayers, but I hope that they are not.  I want to pray as the Bible teaches: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 ESV. I pray God’s promises manifest in his life and the lives of all our children.  May God continue to pursue my loved ones with reckless abandonment and bring them ALL into the kingdom of Christ!

Great Expectations: Teens

Ever wondered what goes on in their mind?  These strange creatures that live in our homes, eating everything in sight, and rolling their eyes when we make suggestions.  They are TEENS.  We have launched into the teenage world with this amazing young senior who is living under our roof, preparing for college, playing baseball, and working.  Seriously, overnight we went from our eldest being 13 to our eldest being 17. Should we be afraid?  No. This adventure in parenting has taken a new, exciting turn.

We are now in the Trust; Obey; Hope; Pray; Contend; Sacrifice; Persevere; and Love phase.  Not that we weren’t there before, but we now have less influence.  It’s true, the time of choosing their play dates, clothes, hairdos, music, and meals is over.  I remember when we went to the park to meet up with multiple families because I loved their MOMS, and my kids played with whomever.  It’s harder to get to know families of kids in school, especially college.

So we do not lose heart, and we do not faint.  We set expectations.  For those with teens who have grown up in their home they know the expectations, and they are worth repeating.  We expect purity.  Keep your mind pure by thinking on things that are holy and lovely.  Keep your body pure by practicing self-control and wisdom, not following the culture. Trust God to lead you in your endeavors as you seek Him.  Keep your body healthy by eating whole foods and exercising.  Set your mind and hands to work hard and serve others with a spirit of excellence.  Follow the Ten Commandments.  These things we have set as expectations from the beginning, and we gradually bring them into situations now, even with a new resident.  Our expectations haven’t changed, just our audience.  So we pray over each discussion as God leads our children into His presence.  May His love show through these expectations and in every discussion!