Making lists for kids… again

<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL7Y6S4dMjI&amp;feature=share”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL7Y6S4dMjI&amp;feature=share</a&gt;

I smiled at this sweet video, but questions filled my mind as I watched. I remember days that went something like this. But why are the days of shredded nerves and lost tempers the days I remember most? Maybe I lost that temper more often than I sculpted grace. Maybe epic fail really did describe my attempts at child-rearing. I hope not. Hind sight isn’t as clear as everyone tells you. So, I make lists for the grown kids in hopes of letting them know all the things I want them to know and lists of the things I still want to reinforce like,

  1. I made a lot of mistakes, and you will too. Don’t judge yourself by your failures. Learn from them.
  2. Perfect has no value. Don’t miss the small, broken, stumbling path along the way to small successes.
  3. Learning to see you and respect you as an adult would be easier if you were someone else’s kid.
  4. Admiring your adulting skills is similar to the way I felt your first day of school.
  5. I’m not scared of being dependent on you one day. I’m scared I’ll be a burden rather than a treasure. Being honest with you about aging isn’t easy.
  6. If the ones you love feel neglected by you, make changes. You will never regret spending more time with the ones you love most.
  7. A lot of people are going to challenge you. If you’re right, if you’re decision is for the best, if you’re conscience is clear, if you’ve carefully prayed over a big decision… Stand your ground.
  8. I wish when you were small, I’d known to say this to you: Be you. Do you. You really don’t want to walk in their shoes.
  9. I may struggle to always remember you’re grown now, but I love that we get to be friends now.
  10. Now that you’re grown, sometimes I’m not sure what I’m allowed to ask you about.
  11. I wish you still told me every detail of your day.
  12. I know it must not always seem so, but as your mom and dad, we don’t mean to disrespect you, sell you short, or interfere when we offer advice or an opinion.
  13. It’s difficult to shake the parenting tone of voice.
  14. I always worried about being acceptable. Don’t waste your time on worry. Instead, work hard to be exceptional and accepted as true to yourself.
  15. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid of learning the hard way.
  16. I believe the toughest thing for me to accept would not be your failure to succeed. It would be a tough thing to accept that you failed to succeed because I didn’t teach you to be independent and a responsible member of society.
  17. I believe the very hardest thing for me to know would be that in all I taught you, I failed to teach you the value of knowing, loving, and following after Christ with your everything.
  18. Chase your dreams, but chase after God harder. You’ll never need less of God.
  19. Every time I see you, I want to ask if you’re about finished with that time you said you need.
  20. Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me the truth.

I keep thinking this listing business will get easier. Not so far. More to come. Always more.

Love,

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

An honest list for the daughters in my life…

IMG_4255I keep thinking about that last post with its list and those sons. One list has bumped its way into a next, falling into line, one thought after another. See, we started adding daughters in law to our family mix a little over two years ago, and our family dynamic quickly changed. Now we’re up to two marriages and one very serious relationship. There are some things these girls really need to know, like, how I fear failing them. I fear not measuring up against their own amazing moms. I fear giving them bad advice. I fear they’ll see all my mistakes and faults, and not through any character shortcoming of their own, simply not be able to see past mine.

And so, another list of things I’d like these kids to know I said.

  1. I think you’re beautiful.
  2. I don’t how how my son got so lucky.
  3. God blessed our family with you.
  4. I admire the woman you are and wish I’d known the girl.
  5. I think you’re scary brilliant.
  6. I couldn’t have made a better choice for someone to love my son.
  7. Your talent continually amazes me.
  8. I’m grateful, thankful, and thrilled for the way you love Jesus.
  9. You’re going to be an outstanding mom.
  10. I owe a debt of gratitude to your parents for the way they raised you.
  11. I hope and I pray that we become better friends every year.
  12. Sometimes, I wish you lived next door.
  13. You’re the daughter I always wanted.IMG_4254
  14. The way you look into his eyes, melts this momma’s heart.
  15. You should open that business you dream of.
  16. You’re the woman I wish I could have been at your age.
  17. I prayed for you all your life and still do. Every. Single. Day.
  18. Being a soulmate is the second hardest job in the world. You are doing fantastic.
  19. I’ve prayed every single day of his life that he’d be the man of God, husband, and father of your future children that you need him to be.
  20. Thank you for being the daughter, sister, and example that you are to your family and ours.

IMG_4257The thing I’m learning about listing is that none of the numbers apply to just one person. The numbers all have their niche in each life. So, there are more lists to come, but this is the end of this one for now.

Love,

Momma Ruth

More listing next time…

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…

The hard honesty and the harder thank you’s

There Is A Cloud – Elevation Worship.  The hard thank you’s rolled through my mind last night displacing complaints. Somewhere I learned to expect more. By fifty-two, isn’t there more? Wisdom. Understanding. Grace, at the least? And all things financial. I’ve worked almost every year since age nineteen. Shouldn’t I be successful by now? Shouldn’t I be living my dream life? Working my dream job?

My surroundings don’t inspire awe, and in fact, often cause me to wonder what I’m even thinking. My thoughts chase me down the rabbit hole, and I get a glimpse of the small girl I left behind–the one whose princess and castle dreams went sideways in one dark moment. Her pain ruled the kingdom of my mind far too long. But there I am again. The blame. The guilt. The fault surely my own. And all this dream I’m not living — the confirmation of condemnation.

Since laying down old hurt and painful sin, the old mindset, I no longer chase after or run from childhood things. The pain has healed. The scars have faded. But sometimes, there’s this feeling like regret that tells me I’ve messed up too much, and as a result, I’ve missed out.

The “if’s” came to visit and all my failures were tallied and calculated. I’ve gone to bed weary in spirit. Maybe I am a failure. Maybe I will never be enough. Shortcomings play reel to reel in my mind worsening with the passage of days until bone-tired and soul-aching, I admit defeat. I’m worn. I confess I’m not enough. The judge and jury are surely right. I’ve failed. Over and over. I haven’t achieved all, accomplished all, conquered all, and I’m aging, so I’m daily running out of time.

Midnight crawls round the face of the clock, and I’m soul searching, but not for more of me. I’m searching for the words that whispered into my spirit earlier in the day, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” I’m struck with the comparison to the taunting voice in my mind.

I close my eyes and give thanks for the roof over my head. For the dry floor and dry walls sheltering me in my flooded state. I give thanks for the job and thanks for the family. Thanks for things great and small. I list the hard thank you’s for the things and times that I struggle to appreciate. Without planning, without contemplation, but with the simple innocence of gratitude, I deny the voice of condemnation and open the door to conviction.

Conviction always displaces condemnation.

We are not the sum of our accomplishments and failures. Success is not our measure. We are not our past. We are not held by our sin or by the sin committed against us. We are the forgiven. We are the loved. We are the saved. In Christ, we are the made new.

Sleep came somewhere in the middle of the thank you’s. Rest for the weary soul. The song above came on an early morning Instagram moment posted by a friend. Balm for the ache. The song below, my warrior cry this new day and in the days to follow.

“I will only sing your praise.”

God bless.

More next time.

Hillsong United – Even When It Hurts

What are you clinging to?

What are you clinging to so hard your knuckles turn white? First words to penetrate the morning fog, but even this early, I’m mentally alert enough to know the answer. Life. Like a drowning man. 

I’m not dying from some long word disease. I’m aging. And I know all the hype. The rhetoric and propaganda of aging seems to be the only thing that lives forever. Wisdom. Health. Financial security. Grandchildren. There’s a long list of positives–and negatives. Well, I have checked off some of some of those (you read that right), but honestly, I’m not sure I have them in any greater portion than I ever had. Except the grandkids. I don’t have any yet. Maybe they’re what’s missing, but I suspect not. 

I gave up on the whole aging thing, and I’ve been clinging to life with everything in me. Fighting for youthfulness. But my body hasn’t particularly agreed with this battle plan. My mind reminds me every morning that I’d like to be old enough to retire. And then there’s the mirror. Why do some women look so beautiful at any age? It’s not for a lack of wrinkles or white hair. And age spots decorate their skin too. But there’s something. Inner radiance, maybe? Could be. Inner joy. Peace. Love. Those are reasons I can believe.

At every age my days have started early. I like the quiet hours before the neighbor cranks his big truck or our young rooster out back belts his struggling crow. I like an early cup of coffee and an open bible. I’ve been studying Romans. I’m in chapter twelve, and right out beside verse nine, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (my NIV version) I read the note I scribbled at some point, “What are you clinging to until your knuckles turn white?” 

Things I shouldn’t be so focused on. Like not aging.

Even now, I have essentials oils in the diffuser-lemon, black pepper, peppermint, frankincense, and cedar atlas. I woke thinking I’d try for a combination of focus, mental clarity, and spirituality. I’m new to essential oils, and I forget small things like to use lemon grass oil in place of lemon oil in my morning concoction. I put donut shop brand coffee in the cup with a teaspoon of honey from our bees and a spoon of artificial creamer. I forget to use the coconut milk we bought yesterday. 

Early hours have been a habit for years, but I wrestle with them lately. Or maybe it’s just sleep I wrestle with. Menopause. The early-fifties. Too many hours pushing the mind or aging muscles until I’m too achy to sleep. They’re all factors in my morning forgetfulness. But this feels like aging, and possibly, some of it is. I have to be fair to myself.

The sum of all this rambling is that I’m clinging to the wrong thing. I’m clinging to fear, worry and anxiety. Not life and not what matters most. Aging catches us all. Poor health is something I can try to avoid. Loneliness is something I can try to avoid. Fear of the future can come at any age, has, and is something I constantly lay down at the cross.

Here are the verses I found myself caught up in this morning. They remind me of youthfulness. Simple words have life. What I’m clinging to falls away as I focus on what I’m really chasing after–what matters most:

Romans 12:9-15 (NASB)

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Sometimes we need words to remind us that this life is not about us. I’m letting go again. I’m trusting in the giver of life.

After eight pounds of water are multiplied times thousands

The flood waters have all but receded in this part of Texas. Businesses, homes, and churches are marked with water lines like scars. The massive flooding left behind a testimony to the power of water. Cars on the side of the road with boats still attached, but flipped over. Thirty-something feet long Class A motor homes tossed about like toys or left bobbing in lakes. Kitchen appliances floating through doorways three grown men could barely squeeze them through on a moving day. “One gallon of water weighs eight pounds” my husband says in reply to my awe. One gallon. Eight pounds.

With all this water flooding in, I’ve been thinking about that person in Psalm 1:3 who is a like a tree planted by streams of water. The water I’ve seen weigh in with destruction and upended lives doesn’t appear to reflect biblical words. But maybe streams of water aren’t always beautiful. Maybe there are times when water washes away everything we think we hold dear and forces us out of our comfortable places. Eight pounds multiplied by thousands. We’re moved. And everyone around us takes notice.

Tonight’s the night after the highs and the lows. Our lives have been altered by the storm. We’ve weathered more in two weeks than we will the rest of the year. At least we hope so. We’re worn. The after has set in: that certain kind of introspective depression that follows a destructive hurricane. It’s in the calm, gentle breeze and the sunshine shadowed by the devastation. Two sides of a coin and we see both at once. Our lives feel lived in retrospect.

As I close my eyes, I’ll repeat verses from Psalm 1 over and over until sleep takes me. I’ll remember the floods and the mess. I’ll think of Florida and the Caribbean. I’ll remember fire devastated states right along with our water weary. I’ll be keeping so many in my prayers tonight.

Psalm 1:1-3  

1 Blessed is the one

    who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

    or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

    which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

    whatever they do prospers.