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 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.