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

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

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.