Make the Most of Time

There is an old, famous poem (and I’m sure most people know who wrote it, but alas I do not) that says “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may….” I don’t even know the rest of it- just that line. The significance of it hit me tonight. We came home from church and the boys went off with a friend to hang out instead of having dinner with us. “Doing their own thing” is a theme in my house right now. So it was just Emma, the husband and I around the table- and it hit me. I am at a crossroads in motherhood.Two nights ago after a particularly tough conversation with my 15 year old I was feeling down. And to be honest, somewhat sorry for myself. It’s hard work loving a teenage boy who is not in the mood to love you back, but rather to let you know just how much he thinks you should be different. Less or more of anything than who and what you are. Ouch. Then today my oldest walked in to announce how delicious his friend’s mother’s birthday cakes are. “Not that yours are bad, but hers are just so much better” (I’m paraphrasing but that was the jist) This is the same child who I overheard telling a friend that his birthday party is kind of a disappointment this year. Sigh.

They are pulling away. It’s time and it’s normal. And it hurts. I want them to grow up and become men. And I want them to always be close to me. But I have to let go of the one to allow the other. So as I’m feeling all this emotion I look up after dinner to see my nine year old twirling around the living room with her daddy, dancing and laughing. In a split second, my boys were nine and seven and we were around the table listening to music and cracking jokes at dinner every night. They were imitating daddy and vying to get our attention with jokes. I blink and they are annoyed, distant teenagers, struggling with all their might for independence and freedom. I realize with a sudden feeling of panic and a lump in my throat that hurts when I swallow that very, very soon my nine year old will be in the same place. Oh I know it’s a few years off- but considering that 17 years has felt like a slow blink, that hardly comforts.

This is me on a sad day. Not all days with teenagers are like this. Mainly I have loved my sons journey’s into these years. But today I feel the loss. How I want so badly to slow time down and let me make sure I poured enough love and faith into them. What if I didn’t? What if I missed something terribly important? How I worry that our relationship will never quite be as close as those early years when they could climb up in my lap for hugs. How I wish I could know what goes on in their heads and hearts, but understand the need for them to keep some feelings and thoughts private. And the need to share some with anyone but mom.

I have many rosebuds I can no longer gather. And I have some left to pick. I intend to make the most of the few short years I have left with my sons at home, and continue to treasure every second I’m given with my whole family under one roof.

And pray like crazy for the grace to hold them with an open palm.

The Darkness is Fading

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Winter solstice passed 2 months ago, so the darkest night of the year has been giving way, ever so slowly to longer days. And while I love Winter Solstice because my husband proposed to me on that very day years ago, I am always counting the days till we Spring forward and get daylight back.

I’ve been thinking about how dark our world has been of late and I want to remind you, Jesus acknowledged this very fact. He knew what a dark world He left glory to enter.

 The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:5

He chose to come to bring His light to lead us back to our Creator. And when he ascended back to heaven, He didn’t leave us in the darkness alone- He left His light in us, who are His children. He told us in fact, to “let our light shine before men” so that they too could find their way back to their Creator. It’s tempting when we face the blackness to huddle together and keep our light to ourselves.

But if we claim to follow Jesus, we must go where He went. He left the brightest best place, to come into our brokenness. He leaves us no option for retreat. This is a battle and if you call yourself a christian, you’ve enlisted in the ranks. We must bring our light out front and center- not to battle against people but for them. We are against hatred, hopelessness, poverty, injustice, ignorance, selfishness, greed, idolatry and apathy. We are for broken, messy, sinful, sad, confused people- people who were and very much are like us. We’ve simply been bought out of the prison we put ourselves in and it’s our job to bring the news to others. The same news the angels burst into the darkness to bring so many Christmas’s ago:

“Do not be afraid! We bring you good news of great joy! Unto us this day a Savior has been born- He is Christ the Lord!”

Mirroring God

There are so many areas of life a dad is responsible for. Providing for the financial needs of the family. Protecting from danger. Mowing the yard and taking out the trash and changing the hard to reach light bulbs and killing bugs. (obviously some areas are more glamorous than others) But there is no responsibility quite as heavy as being your child’s first picture of who God is.

When I think about my own dad, there are a few vivid memories that come to mind. We loved to watch the Cosby Show and Family Ties on Thursday nights together. Dad would always make popcorn, and put cheese salt on it. He would look around the kitchen and then almost without fail ask, “Do we need some ice cream?” As if the four kids were going to answer anything but “YES!” Then he’d run up the road to the 7-Eleven and come by with Bryers Mint Chocolate Chip as well as a 2-liter of Coke. (Coming back from the store with more than he went for was also a dad tradition) Another memory I always recall is “Sunday Morning Round Up” (this is my name for the memory) Every Sunday morning was the mad dash to get 4 women ready for church. I had a brother, but I literally have no recollection of seeing him on Sunday mornings. Perhaps he escaped to the garage or something. Anyway, dad was always an early riser and ready well before we were. So he’d start walking around asking if we needed anything “pressed” as well as taking orders for size and color of pantyhose we needed. Do not ask me why we needed new pantyhose almost every Sunday, but dad would iron all the girls’ stuff and run to the store to purchase them because the ones I had were either  the wrong color or had a run in them. (side note- I do NOT miss pantyhose!) The other memory that comes to me often if I’m thinking about dad is him sitting up in the early morning reading his bible. He was always up before me, and if I got up on time I’d see him. Dad knew God’s word. He used it regularly in conversation with me. (Not surprisingly he would often quote the verse to me, “Where words are many, sin is not absent” from Proverbs, much to my annoyance at the time) Dad worked hard. A lot. I didn’t get to spend tons of time with him in my growing up years because he was the only working parent and put in long hours to provide for our family of six. I always knew that dad loved me though. Because when he wasn’t working he was with us. I knew my mom was the love of his life, and I knew our family was what he worked so hard for.

Looking back, I see many ways dad’s reflection of God was accurate. Oh sure, there were places he fell short. No one can perfectly mirror our Heavenly Father. But the lessons I learned about who God is from my father’s life were enough. I knew God was faithful, sacrificial and loving. I knew He cared about the details of my life. I knew He could be counted on and I knew his strength and wisdom was far beyond mine. I knew He delighted in giving good gifts. Good gifts like my daddy gave me. Good gifts like my dad himself. 

I Am

 I am a princess. Not a diva.

I am a lover. Not a seductress.

I am a mother. Not a maid.

I am a servant. Not a doormat.

I am a warrior. Not an assassin.

I am a counselor. Not a fixer.

“By the grace of God, I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Cor. 15:10

In Process

One of the things I say all the time in counseling is “It’s a process.” People usually hate it, because I say it when they are frustrated at how hard therapy is and how long it takes to be better. I also just say it because it’s true. And because my amazing clients need encouragement. It’s a reminder that just because I know something doesn’t mean it always translates in my behavior or thoughts or feelings. It takes a lot of trying and failing to begin living a new way. And sometimes the biggest part of the process is just learning what I didn’t know. All in all, lots of process in the therapy world.

In my real life, it’s not much different. Various stages of “getting closer to being done” all around me. My kids are in the process of growing up, so I’m in the process of letting go. My marriage is in the process of growing deeper, so I’m in the process of learning to love sacrificially. My house is in multiple levels of repaired and broken and needs to be updated. My laundry is in the process of getting caught up after a 2 week absence of working washing machine. My body is in the process of aging and fighting aging. My mind is in the process of being transformed. In all these varied processes I sometimes lose focus. I get distracted by the steps and discouraged by my feelings. This is the verse that gets me back on track, every time:

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering; becoming like Him in his death and so, somehow to attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:10)

As I mentioned in a blog 2 days ago, I’m not part of the tatoo craze sweeping the nation, but if I was I would tatoo Philippians 3:10 on me somewhere. Instead I’ve memorized it, quoted and re-quoted it and claimed it as my life verse. I used to be content to know about Christ- but that doesn’t bring you peace. Or lasting joy. Or a changed life. What I have come to realize is it is ONLY in knowing Christ that I make sense of this world around me. As I experience His love shown through the cross, I understand the need to suffer. As I learn to willingly follow in suffering, I begin to experience power. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. That was a great day. The crowds were excited to call out for a Savior on that day. Soon after, they would turn on Him, and he would experience His greatest suffering. But 3 days after that, He would display power like the world had never seen. So I attempt to follow the process Christ laid out for me. Join Him in suffering to the point of dying to myself, then watch Him resurrect life in me. Over and over. Until He returns and process is complete.

“He who began a good work in you, will carry it on unto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)