Losing control isn’t all its cracked up to be

For the past five years, we’ve lived in a house I’ve hated, in a town I love, or at least I did love until we lived here.

I never saw myself as a controlling person. I’m a youngest child. Control was rarely given to me. But over the years, that lack of control quietly created an environment of need for what I could not grasp. I’ve been grasping and grabbing at control now for some fifty plus years.

The husband and I are soon to be moving from the unloved town. We’re leaving the coastal area of Texas and going north, deeper into the lakes area. Yet, despite all my desire to pack and move on, I’ve lacked the motivation. In fact, I’m fatigued by the very thought of moving.

As I’ve wrestled with the emotions tagged to uprooting our lives, I’ve had the out of body sensation of watching myself lose all sense of control. Then, in the middle of tonight’s anxiety filled wakefulness, it hit me. I need to submit. All my wrestling is wearing me out.

Living in the hated house, I’ve gone through five years of a process of change. I’ve struggled with integrity. I’ve confronted loyalty head on. Faithfulness took some real time to grow into. And I thought surrender might be my undoing.

Out of context, those are just words. In a frame, over the last five years, it seems words have defined the lessons I’ve been learning. Like chapter titles, I’ve watched words become attitudes, and I’ve seen attitudes become part of my daily mantra.

Now here we are with more change, and apparently, less control. I think a new list of words is coming, and by my best guess, we’re starting with submitting.

Ragamufffins?

The telephone’s ringing woke me from late evening tv sleep. The oldest son’s name glowed, backlit by the screen. His voice is deeper and softer than the other two.

“Momma, do you remember ever calling us ragamufffins?”

What? No. Sleep clogged my memory bank. Had I? I hoped not. Where’d I heard the word last?

A silly conversation between my son and daughter-in-law had led to the phone call.

After we’d sorted out the memory and searched for a definition of the word, I’d concluded, no, we’d never called our boys ragamufffins. No, we’d straight up used the word orphan, which the beloved son then remembered. Yes. That was it. Orphan.

A ragamuffin or an orphan is someone who doesn’t belong. That’s not always bad. Not in the way we usually define those words. Sometimes, they’re just people who are not caught in this world. They belong to another, to a greater being, to a higher power.

I shook my head, sighing as we ended the call. Great, just great. Good job, mom. Of all the child rearing triumphs and failures, this is one of the memories that sort of stuck..

Thirty minutes after the phone call, I remembered my last run-in with the word ragamuffin. Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffin Band. I’d shown the movie to my boys a few years earlier and gotten mixed reviews.

Well, I’d liked it. Rich Mullins had been popular in my day. And the movie is good. So, I text my son. Maybe he’d remember the movie, too. Not that the movie really had anything to do with the earlier phone call, but I had a sudden need for him to remember.

This post from a few months back sat drafted and forgotten amid the rush of my work days and my menopausal sleepless nights. Then today, the blue-eyed boy and his bride sat with us for a stolen hour, the last of their Christmas week off before a few hours of driving home.

Have you ever tried to breathe in every moment, like a scent you want to remember? Grown kids move away. Their phone calls become the filler between gasping absences and their visits like our need to breathe.

Ragamufffins? Hardly.

Why the table, the forgiveness, and the younger living

img_4383“I’m just saying, I wouldn’t tell my kids they can’t do something outside my home that they wouldn’t do in front of me. So, if they want to drink, they can drink in front of me first. If they want to try something like drugs, well, I hope they won’t… but if they do, they can try them at home first. That way, they won’t be so tempted to run off and do things away from home just because they can’t do that thing at home. You’ve got to give kids the chance to try stuff, or they’ll just try anyway, but without your knowledge.”

I’m paraphrasing a little. Words spoken aren’t always remembered word for word. But that’s the gist of the conversation.

I looked deep into the brave, young eyes of the speaker, a brand new guest in my home, and someone new and dear to my child. I sat listening as my parenting skills were challenged.

A year later, those words were still rubbing hard against the sore spot left from four years of trial by fire. Four years the beloved child lived addicted to drugs. We had been the parents who just said no. No to drinking. No to smoking. No to drugs. And while we were at it, no to tattoos too. For Heaven’s sake, just no to anything that might steal our beloved children from us.

I’ve lived as the child and the sister of the addicted. I’ve lived the years of secreting away my own addictions. And then, after all those years, I’d stood face to face with my own addiction in order to stand toe to toe with my child’s. I’ve run that race, fought that good fight, and walked out of the darkness of addiction. And I’m stronger for it.

Yet, here in my living room, sat this young soul face to face with me, angry, hurt, and implying accusation. Wanting to convey a message. I should have done things differently.

That evening, a little over a year ago now, I sat quietly, acknowledging the condemnation. The lecturer finished and I smiled, said something unmemorable, and the awkward conversation came to a stumbling end.

For most of the last year, that conversation swirled around me, questioning my parenting skills and numbering my mistakes. The early beginnings of a list of things I’d like to say to my kids began taking shape in my mind. In fact, if you look back from this post, the lists are found here in the pages. And there are more lists to come, but today, the fourth day of a new year, I wanted to say something–to myself. And maybe one day to the young soul.

You didn’t sit at the table.

That table is why I have this blog now, but I didn’t even know that myself until a cold day just this past December when your words came to mind again, loud, accusing, rattling around inside my brain. And that’s when the realization crept in slow, like a low fog rolling in, covering a multitude of hurt and angry regrets… You didn’t sit at the table.table blog pic

See, after those agonizing years of a loved child’s addiction, and while our loved child went through a year long program of addiction recovery, our family gathered around a table alongside others who were hurting just the same. We were those who currently or in the past had personally battled life controlling issues, or we loved someone who did. We shared the ache. We spoke honestly about the fear, the hurt, the anger, and the hate. We were honest about our pasts. We laid bare our souls, took off our masks, and bled out from our fractured hearts of pain and regret. We left everything at the table. Everything.

But you weren’t there. We didn’t know you then.

Even the loved child was in the recovery program miles and miles away and couldn’t join us at the table. So, no one’s told you the stories of the table. No one’s shared with you stories from the weeks of soul baring moms, dads, and almost grown children. So, for your year-old, bravely spoken words of admonition, young soul, I can only extend grace, because you don’t know about the table.

It’s been a month worth of days gathering forgiveness for the young soul. Love came from the ruins of my hurt and anger. Forgiveness is the gardener of blessings.

I’m slowly moving on from those years of reliving and questioning decisions we made in the child rearing years. I’ve quickly moved on from reckoning with a year of pondering my own aging. And now I’m moving on to brighter things. Better choices. Healthier living. Younger living. If you stay with me, you’ll see the difference here on the pages. At least, I hope you do. We’re into Young Living around here nowadays. but truly, we’re just in to living younger.

Thank you for joining me at this table. It’s a place we gather. We’re honest here. We’re bold, we’re tender, but most of all, we give grace here.

God bless- more next time.table

The truth list–for young love.

IMG_5191A weekend spent watching two young loves fight over common ground left me weary and wondering. I know, as younger marrieds, the husband and I battled over every thing big and small. And I thought I wasn’t a fighter. I’d told him so before we were even engaged. But that was then. Now, I’m watching you kids, and I’m questioning the groundwork we laid as parents. I pray you saw the good ground too. There was lots of good ground, yet I know, because these lists have more than covered my own nearsightedness, that sometimes the hard times make up the majority of the memories that stand out. But haven’t we learned about hard times? They make us stronger. Or maybe, you need more time to mature enough to know the truth about hard times. At your age, hard times can make you think you’re weak. That’s a lie.

Don’t let the enemy of your soul rob you of the ground you’ve fought and bled over. Your walk through marriage is one victory after another–daily–down the road to becoming two people who live and breathe as one. That walk down the aisle was only the beginning.

So that’s the first of this list and bears repeating.

  1. Don’t let the enemy of your soul rob you of the ground you’ve fought and bled for.
  2. And the next one as well. Your walk through marriage is one victory after another–daily–down the road to becoming two people who live and breathe as one.
  3. And the most important lesson I learned somewhere around five years into my own vows. Love covers. That verse says exactly that. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love covers.
  4. I wish I could carve this one into the mini-mountain we climbed that holiday weekend so all the young marrieds could read it and remember. Winning an argument with your spouse is not a victory you celebrate.
  5. You don’t want harsh words to be the legacy you leave to your loved ones.
  6. Remember, your spouse is an adult. Treat one another with mutual respect and affection.
  7. Don’t keep a list of wrongs. The verse so important to a solid marriage. Those lists grow like weeds and produce a harvest of hurt and regret.
  8. Silence is not a weapon or a shield. Silence is something you gift to one another when truly listening, really hearing, relaxing, and/or simply appreciating. Silence should be a gift you give.
  9. Give one another second chances. And thirds. And fourths. You’ll see things differently with a little more time.
  10. Being right doesn’t make you superior. Being right makes you a teacher. Be a godly teacher.
  11. Respect one another’s differences. Recognize one another’s feelings. Don’t try to mold your spouse into someone they’re not. Don’t set one another up for failure. Instead pray and pray hard. The love of your life needs your prayers. They need you to intercede for them. They need to know you go to God on their behalf. There’s no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. Now there’s a verse to live your marriage by. Love like that.

This has been the hard-fought for list, the list written through tears, and all because a holiday weekend of watching young couple dynamics left me in a quandary. This list may seem cliche to some, but in truth, these are the hard truths. These are the reckonings of my heart for the hearts of the ones I love. This is the list I prayed over, lost sleep over, and finally received the words for all within a day and a night. Yet still, this is not the last list. More to come.

With all my love for those I love,

Mom

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Lists, regret, and belief

Hello Beautiful – Mercy Me

I hear parents all the time talk about what they’d do differently now. Wisdom and regret mix like oil and water. But pure joy at watching these kids become the adults I envisioned is a balm that soothes this momma’s soul.

So the next list. It’s shorter. The listing doesn’t come all at once anymore. The numbers have begun to require more contemplation. And that’s okay. I don’t want these thoughts to become cliche. They’re not trite. I’m not nearly philosophical enough for all that. Just a mom. Dyed blonde to cover the grey. Soft where there were once defined angles. So, here we go.

  1. Don’t let anger rob you of wisdom.
  2. Think before you speak may be the best advice I can give you.
  3. Be you. You’re not us. At some point, you have to decide not to be a product of your upbringing or that becomes just an excuse.
  4. Hurtful, angry words are hard to forget. Don’t let those define you.
  5. When you’re older, you’ll look back and realize how young you were.
  6. When you have kids, every year you’ll see a little more of what your Momma sees.
  7. Remember the time that coworker of yours called me your Moms? Does Moms have an apostrophe? Anyway, that’s one of my favorite memories.
  8. I usually think of you within five minutes of waking up. Crazy, huh? It’s a mom thing.
  9. Sometimes I still picture you sitting in the car, your little feet hanging over the edge of the seat. You were that small once upon a time.
  10. Did you know meeting you was the scariest and the most thrilling day?
  11. I’m so proud when I watch you overcome an inner battle.
  12. In a very public place, someone shared a life experience with me that has had traumatic repercussions in their life. This person then asked what we’d done to cause the trauma in your life. That question felt like a punch to the gut. Glancing around, noticing the surprised faces on those closest in range of overhearing, I struggled to reply. I fought back tears. I stumbled over words, regrets, and broken memories. Sometimes, people will dare to touch your most tender fear. How you handle those moments will change with maturity. But, what’s more important than your response in the moment, is that you continue to lay down your broken things at the foot of the cross. You can’t undo the done. You can pray for healing. You can pray for compassion. You can pray for forgiveness. Don’t let mistakes or regret shape your responses or your prayers. Let faith. Let hope. Let love. Let trust. Let wisdom.

These twelve. A longish short list. We’re ever learning. I don’t believe our mistakes make us who we are. I don’t believe regret has value. I believe in telling you the truth as much as I can define what truth is in this life I’ve already lived. I love you heart and soul.

Mom

The principles I’m still learning to live by… more listing for my kids

As a kid, I had this notion that for me, parenting would one day be an easy thing. I pictured hot breakfasts every morning, clean laundry, and adoring cherubs who never had to help wash the dishes. Not the world I grew up in with its havoc and mayhem. I didn’t understand my parents struggle to raise four kids. With so many to practice on, why weren’t my parents pros? Then I grew up, married, and had kids of my own.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. With each child, I found the challenge greater, not easier. With time, I did begin to gain some knowledge and wisdom, but I’m still adding to those particular banks. I wish I could have known the things I know now. I wish I’d written lists of lessons learned rather than lists of chores and goals during those learning years. I can’t say the list I’ve added to this post is complete or set in stone or even that it’s always rock solid. It is instead, a list of principles, my determination to raise kids who will hopefully be better than me, do better than me, and one day, raise my grandkids to do the same. So, here we are, the next list, in no particular order, of things I want my kids to know that I said.

  1. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world.
  2. Take off your mask. Don’t be afraid to be real.
  3. Share your life. You have so much to give.
  4. Wake up every day with a renewed determination to do better than the day before.
  5. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but yes, it could hold all the answers. You’ll want to wake up and find out.
  6. Spend plenty of time having fun. Work will always be there.
  7. Do the unexpected thing.
  8. Forgive. Grudges are for the weak.
  9. Say you’re sorry first.
  10. Compliment your spouse everyday. They need your affirmation.
  11. Dreams are worth having. Dream big.
  12. Take a vacation or a day off often. You need restoration.
  13. Love your loved ones with all your heart. Why hold back?
  14. Be faithful. Be trustworthy. Have integrity. Earn respect.
  15. Be honorable.
  16. Don’t manipulate. You’re better than that.
  17. Don’t be afraid of hard things. Good things come from hard things.
  18. Don’t be afraid to look at sufferIng and let yourself feel with raw emotion.
  19. Have deep conversations. Fluff talk dissipates.
  20. Finish strong.

I wish I could say I have this parenting thing all figured out. Perfection. But I don’t. That doesn’t stop me from trying.

There are more lists to come, but they’ll have to wait for now.

Until next time.

Love,

Mom

What I would say to my kids… the beginning of listing

In a Facebook post I read this morning, a mom listed the things she wanted her daughters to know, and this got me thinking. There are things I want my kids to know too. There are things I want them to know that I said, but the thing is, I didn’t say them all. At least not until now. So this is that post. It may be one of many. There are a lot of things I’d like to say even though the sons are all grown, and married, or in one case, practically married. And believe me, it’s not that I haven’t said a lot of stuff, because I have, and I’ve said some things I regret saying. But there are things I want to say for possibly the first time, or a little better, or louder, or more often, like, I love you. I’m proud of you. You stole a piece of my heart the day you were born. You are the best memory I will ever have.

There’s so much more that there’s got to be a list, but first some confessions to my sons. Not that there won’t be more, but here are a few to start this off.

  1. You know that time you spilled your milk across the table and it ran down into the rope weave of the chair seat, down the table legs, and onto the floor, and took so long to clean up, and I got mad at you and yelled? I’m so sorry.
  2. I’m still working on that patience thing.
  3. The way your smile reaches your eyes makes my heart ache.
  4. I still love the way you curl your hair around your finger when you’re tired.
  5. The way you love your wife fills me with incomprehensible joy.
  6. Do you remember all those times I dropped you off at daycare? I hated every single one of those days. I wanted to be one of those moms who’s good at staying home. I wasn’t so much.
  7. I wish we had gone camping instead of making you play baseball.
  8. We should have put you in theater for kids. You are so talented.
  9. You are truly funny, and I wish you smiled more.
  10. I wish I’d said those bedtime prayers with you every single night.
  11. I wish I’d spent more time reading with you and less time watching television.
  12. I wish I’d spent less time worrying about what others thought of my momming skills and spent more time impressing you.
  13. Remember when you wanted to plant your own plants in the garden? I should have let you.
  14. I’m sorry we didn’t keep that dog you loved.
  15. You were a great kid, but you’re an even better man. I’m still so proud to be your mom.
  16. Momming is still hard. I wish there were do-overs.
  17. The way you challenge yourself scares me to death and makes me silly proud of you all at the same time.
  18. Your tenacity, courage, and strength are character traits I love most about you.
  19. The way you look at me with grown man wisdom takes my breath away.
  20. I love that you love God more than I taught you to. That’s huge to me now.

I’m sorry these thoughts aren’t in any kind of order. They’re kind of like the way I raised three grown boys. Seat of my pants, random luck of the draw, taking lots of chances, and praying they’d forgive me for the mess. So, that’s all for now, because this listing business is turning out to be hard stuff.

With every bit of my heart,

Love,

Mom

More listing next time…