Promises of God: Sleep

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8, NLT

I wrote my very first blog post in August of 2013. The last paragraph ending with this desire:

My transparency may not only be God’s way of helping me be honest with myself and others, but His way of letting someone else know that they are not alone. It could be His way of letting a weary, frazzled mother who thinks everyone else has it all together, be reminded: “See, my child, she is just like you.”

Our son, Hunter, had been diagnosed at 18 months old with high functioning autism. Prior to this diagnosis he was struggling to walk, struggling to talk, and struggling to function with his day to day emotions. To the outsider he looked “normal.” He rarely broke a rule. Threw a tantrum (against the rules), or did anything considered “atypical.” He saved all of that for home. And he rarely slept. He had a very LONG bedtime routine. And night terrors often woke him.

I started this blog as a way to get my thoughts together. About how I felt alone as a mom. About how I felt like no one believed me when I said he was autistic. Because they expected a “look.” Or because he was “fine for me.” Or because no one just got it, really.

I spent the hours at 3am writing. Instead of laying in bed thinking about things I couldn’t fix.

Hunter has always been a creature of sleep routines. From the time he was brought home he had unique and very intricate sleep patterns and routines. He would not sleep alone. Due to being laid with Mommy shortly after birth, he was a chest napping, and therefore a chest sleeping baby for about the first 3 weeks of life. My husband and I took turns on our couch, just ensuring he slept until his next feeding. And he slept. Soundly. As long as he was nestled heartbeat to heartbeat.

When he moved to his crib. Yep. Not easy. We had to purchase a special bear just so he would stay there. So used to the sound of heartbeats he had to go to sleep with this rhythm.

Until we discovered, he also had to hold onto something. This is where his beloved stuffed “puppy” comes in. He has not for one night, NOT slept without “puppy.” Let’s NOT even speak that into existence at this point. I don’t care if he IS a teen. Let him have that “puppy.”That “puppy” deserves to be bronzed. Well, not like an idol. If you know a “puppy” of this sort…you know what I mean.

Until sleep routines began to consist of back rubs until he fell asleep. That moved to figuring out math problems that left Hunter in fits of anxiety prior to bed. And his back rubs, consisted of whispered prayers that God would just fix this.

Until health scares turned to nights in the big bed to make sure everyone was ok. And more prayers. That He would just take these anxious thoughts away. Give Him peace. Some relief. Comfort. Someone to comfort Him while he was at school.

He still struggles with some anxiety, but I would not dare challenge that boy to a math contest. You are even more doomed if you dare to battle him at history. And He is often now the one who comforts. It took a lot of prayer, and yes…therapy; even a pandemic and extended time at home with no health scares for this to occur. But God works in mysterious ways.

His sleep problems seem to have ceased for now, though he still wakes when thunder booms. Now, mommy in her middle age struggles once again with the 3am wake-up call. This time it’s not because of that still small child. It’s likely my own anxious thoughts. Older age. God. Sometimes I answer, and I’ll still get up and write like I did when I started this journey way back when. But usually, I utter a simple prayer:

Lord, if you want me to get up; if there is something I need to talk out with you at this very moment you will let me know and I’ll get up. But, if this can wait until we have our time in the morning, please gently nudge me back to sleep.

And He tells me. Usually within 5 min I know. Sometimes I remember right away that I forgot to set my 5am alarm. My reminder I need to spend my morning quiet time with him, and I can get right back to sleep. Other times, I find myself still tossing and turning, and grabbing my 3am journal and heading down stairs.

Look, it may seem silly. But for 13 years we have been the keepers of “slumber.” I know He provides rest after a long day, and He promises that “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” (Proverbs 3:24). And He has proven this to be the case so many times in these years.

Have there been nights when sleep has not come? Of course. Some of those nights were filled with trials, and some of those nights were filled with tossing and turning of my own making because I simply didn’t call on God.

Know on those sleepless nights filled with trials, He is there watching your back, too; keeping you safe and gently guiding you to peaceful slumber. You are not alone.

Even at 3am.

How about a little help over here?

We had prepared him for this day. Told him what exactly to expect. He knew just the number of pricks he was getting, and the shots he needed to get back into school for his 7th grade year. He knew just the time he needed to get up, and what they would require of him once he got there. He knew they MAY have an extra dose of vaccine, and he could get one prick extra. We had prepared him for every possible thing that could be expected.

“We have an extra dose of the vaccine, and he is scheduled for a weight and height check, too.”

Then it happened. Uh-oh.

“You did not tell me about height and weight! Two shots! I am only getting two shots! Because that is what you said!” Kicking. Yelling. Arms flailing. Looking more like a toddler, and less like a 12 year old (well, even more less like one, hence the height and weight check).

The meltdown he had certainly didn’t match the weight he wasn’t gaining. The meltdown he had was simply because Mommy forgot about that height and weight check. It was not on his “schedule.” Not what he was expecting. This is the norm when dealing with autism. Clearly I should know better.

“This is embarrassing. People are looking at us. I’m going to the Jeep.”

I get it. She, his older sister, had endured this just as long as we had. But she was 14. I am 43. My skin is tougher than hers. I had learned that no one was throwing you a bone, and they were going to stare, and he was still going to scream.

“Hun, I got a shot blocker. It makes it hurt less.”

There was my bone. Sweet Jesus. Where did this angel dressed as a nurse come from? And could there please be more like her? 

As we climbed back in our vehicle, my daughter spoke again about her embarrassment, and I proceeded to tell her this, about the girl she described as making faces and laughing:

“No one knows our situation. No one knows what he goes through. Or who he is. And after today they won’t see us again. They may even go home and be horrible to their parents. Or mean to their siblings. Or be big bullies in their neighborhoods or schools. I don’t care if they stare. What I care about is that you two know NOT to do that. You get and give shot blockers”

So. Which one are you? Because I know in the many years we have endured our son’s tantrums we have had some hand us a bone, and some just hand us stares. And I know many don’t know what to do, but a question asking us how to help is enough to make us feel less out of control, less incompetent, less wanting to melt into a puddle (or hide in cars).

On the way home, because I had bribed the kid with Starbucks just to get that weight and height checked without another meltdown (look, I gotta do what I gotta do), I heard from the backseat, “You want to try some?” At first I thought the sky could be falling. Was she being kind to her embarrassing, younger brother? 

As I questioned her character, because this is what “good” parents do when their kids are nice, this is what she told me: “Mom, he didn’t get his cake pop. I’m sharing some of my banana bread.” 

She had handed him a bone. 

Could you hand someone a dose of compassion instead of stares, snickers, and judgment that do nothing but add to the scorn they already feel? What bone could you hand out today to a person, a mom, or a desperate child in need? Do you have a shot blocker, a piece of banana bread, or a yummy cup of coffee to ease the burden for someone? It will not only make them feel a lot better, it’s guaranteed to lift you up too.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25, NLT

Giving me a “right” hand

We had put it off for a while. The dentist. The youngest needed a mouth full of work, and with anxiety and sensory needs that kept him from even liking to have his teeth cleaned…we had put it off for months. But we had prepared him for this day. Explained what would occur, how he would feel before. That he would sleep during. Wouldn’t feel a thing.

Of course, as a mom-I was the one having all the feels. As he received the first anesthetic that put him to sleep in the waiting room. As he laid his head onto my right shoulder, and uttered he felt “weird.” As he dozed off. As the dentist and anesthesiologist carried him off to the back, I sat with his mask and glasses beside me. Held them in my right hand and held back tears.

Wishing I could hold his hand in that room. Knowing I had to wait here, but there was someone else with him back there.

As I sat in that waiting room waiting for updates. To be given the OK to go back and be “mom” again, I thought about my own experience on his side. In rooms with anesthesia needles. Only doctors and nurses I didn’t know there to hold my hand.

I had recently had surgery of my own. Not my first experience like his, but an experience nonetheless. A fall on my wrist was the reason. Now, I am right-handed. And while I don’t know the suffering of losing a limb, I know the ordeal of having to learn to use your fingers, your grip, and your dominant hand in the way you once did. While I had a left hand to help do some of the things my dominant right hand couldn’t do, my left hand couldn’t write. It couldn’t type. It couldn’t do the things that had been so easy before. Like pick up anesthesia weary kids and carry them to waiting surgery beds. This right hand…it wasn’t the same.

I also hate feeling helpless, so needing help turning door knobs, or picking up a plate got old, and I was determined to get my strength back.

But…here’s the thing-He was with me just as He was with my wee one. In those rooms, and through that period of healing. Because He is the one who is always beside us giving His “right” hand.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

And again in Psalm 18:35, we are reminded again: Your right hand supports me;
your help has made me great
.

And what is the significance of being provided God’s “right” hand? There are over 130 references in the Bible to the right hand, so surely there must be a significant reason for this. In many references are made to God’s strength. His help. His victory. Something I needed when I lost the use of my “right” hand. Something I often feel I have nothing left of when it comes to being a mom.

And I know I am not the only one. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. You will have seasons when things seem easy. And then a roadblock comes along and the road becomes long and hard again. You wonder if you have what it takes, or if you are just messing your kids up. Or maybe they are messing you up. You really can’t tell anymore.

Why the right hand? Why didn’t God choose the left? Think about it-the right hand of God? It denotes a location of honor, and according to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, when thinking about the reference to the “right hand” in the passage above, Isaiah 41:10-the Israelites were God’s honored people, His chosen. The reference to God’s right hand was meant to provide encouragement to them. That they would not be abandoned, be left discouraged. That he would strengthen them, help them, not allow them to break, and prevent them from falling too hard.

You know who else is honored? Moms. Anyone who is “like a mom.” Or who cares for others.

And so He will do the same for you.

Give you his “right” hand.

So that when your wee one, reaches for yours when he is fresh out of anesthesia and flipping out, you are there to give it-oh so gently, while you rub his soft, long curls with your left one.

When you get home, look down at that hand, the one with little strength to pick up anything, you scoop that wee one up into your arms anyway, because he is yours. Like you are His. Knowing you won’t leave him, like He hasn’t left you. You will stay by his side through this fight that he doesn’t get, just like He stayed by you.

Like He has so many times before. By your “right” side fighting for you. As you fought for him. For so many. You. You honored one. You. You chosen one. You who may be weak and broken. Fallen down for a time. Without the strength of your hand, but never without your constant “right” hand.

To be known

I walked in the room, knowing I needed to apologize. Dinner in our home is definitely a time of interesting, and fiery conversation. The fiery ones center mostly on the state of virtual school. On any given night, one parent ends up being the bad cop, the good cop, or we both end up just being lame. Tonight, it was me.

I wasn’t “bad.” I hadn’t yelled. We hadn’t had the dreaded school discussion that ends in stomping to rooms, but I hadn’t set a “good” example. Not one sprinkled with grace and acceptance.

I had mocked someone we knew at the dinner table. Judged a situation, and judged the person in the situation.

And any of you who haven’t committed this sin, be the first to cast a stone. I’ll wait.

While I wait…and wait, I’ll explain my apology. If I feel my example has not been one of Christlike-ness; or let’s just say, if I KNOW, because the Spirit tells me it hasn’t, I will apologize. This means I will also apologize to my kids.

Now, I know some don’t believe in this. But, the Bible is clear about how humble we must become to enter His kingdom:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3, NLT

Like children. So I’m not above apologizing to a child. Especially if I know that one is watching and learning from me.

“I shouldn’t have said what I did tonight. Made fun of what happened. It was wrong. I am not going to justify my behavior. I should have explained my thoughts differently. It was wrong. I didn’t set an example, and it wasn’t kind.”

The apology opened up a conversation about authenticity and belonging.

See…I had left a space earlier that day feeling shunned and unwelcome. Like I was an intrusion. And I let it fester all day. To the point that I let the inauthentic response of another trigger me into anger, and a mean-spirited response.

When I should have explained at dinner the importance of making others feel comfortable in all spaces. Allow others to be free to be themselves, so they don’t have to constantly “shape-shift,” and be less than themselves. To be inclusive to all. To make others feel a little less self-conscious, but rather accepted, seen, loved, and known.

“I don’t want you to be 42 years old, and just figuring this out like I am.”

As I sat typing out the words to this post, I reached for my phone to locate a verse I needed and found this…a note I had typed out in my phone over a year ago. A short “letter” I had written to the younger me.

Dear Younger me,

Choose your circle wisely. You should be loved by your peeps for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. If you have to change who you were made to be to fit into a space, that isn’t your space.

And as I read it, I realized…though she thought it “cringy…” I had just said these exact same words, without my even knowing to a pretty spot-on, younger version of 13 year-old me.

And no…I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out in another 30 years.

And goodness, I am still trying to figure out many days who it is that God sees in me.

Because that is what I want her to see: who God sees. Not what anyone in any room she may walk into may see. Because more often than not…they may not see ALL that God has given her. ALL her talent. ALL her gifts. ALL that makes her so uniquely special, and set apart.

And it’s the same for you. There will be rooms you walk into where you may be known by name, but in which people still just don’t see you. You still don’t feel known. You will move in circles with people who don’t know who you really are, because you feel as if you have to cover up the real you. Play pretend. You may waste years and years trying to fit into spaces that will just never “fit” you, and who you are.

Know this. Embrace it today.

You are always seen and intimately known by God. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. He has a place for you, and you never have to pretend, cover up; nor will you feel all alone.

He sees the real you. The broken you. The insecure you. The too loud you. The shy you. The you trying to fit into spaces that make you cringe.

He knows your name. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. You are known. You belong.

A friend to the lonely

“I don’t want to go to school! I.Dont.Want.To!”

This wasn’t a cry I hadn’t heard before from this child. In fact, it’s often uttered daily. He doesn’t want to get dressed. He mumbles and grumbles many days all the way through the morning routine.

But this cry was different.

It was a gut-wrenching cry that woke this little one from sleep.

“I can’t make it! I can’t do it all day. I can’t!”

And why couldn’t he? Because his friend on the bus was mean; and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s were the only days he didn’t play alone at recess.

Daily I am the one folks come to for answers to these type of school woes. But today? I had nothing.

Nothing to calm his anxious spirit. Nothing to convince him to go to school. No solution for the loneliness he felt on that playground.

Sure. I could provide the reassurance that God was most certainly with him at recess, but he knew this already. And while it is nice to know that God sits with us, it is also no secret that a 10 year old, 5th grade boy also desires that someone else will sit with him in his lonely places. To invite him to play. To help him not feel left out or different. Especially when he can’t play basketball or football.

All my little guy wanted was someone to play tag with him. To understand that his clumsy, little legs…they just couldn’t do sports.

And it’s what I wanted for him, too.

Today? If your heart is breaking for your lonely child? It’s what I want for you and yours, also.

Today, I pray that God is not only with your lonely and hurting child, but that He sends someone.

He sends someone who sees their own brother or sister sitting alone, and invites them to be their “friend” for the day (Proverbs 18:24). That someone will go outside their circle, show hospitality, and make yours feel like an “insider” (Hebrews 13).

Ask a lonely soul to play.

Tell them, “It’s ok. I’ll teach you.”

Or drop the football, and simply stop to play tag.

I pray your little one is sent a friend to the lonely.

Pray. Believe.

One of the toughest jobs I have ever had has been being a parent. While wildly rewarding, it can also be the most heartbreaking of tasks. I question my influence as a parent and a caretaker of many other kids daily. Some times multiple times a day. I question if they even listen. If the direction I provide will lead them down paths of wise choices. Whether my infusion of kindness will inspire them to be the same. Whether they will recover when life begins to twist and turn in unexpected ways.

And because I don’t have all the answers , I seek to lean on the One who does.

While it has not supplied me with peace at all times, and there are some days the choices my kids (or the ones who feel like my kids) still break my heart. And there are days I pray and pray, and want to give up, because I don’t see Him at work; I continue to pray and believe that He will work things all out for good as He promised.

And so I pray….

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13– I pray that He gives them strength each day to do what is required-physically, mentally, and spiritually.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9– I pray they will be brave enough to stand up against injustice and hold tight to what they believe in.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.Philippians 4:6-7– I pray that God calms their hearts, their bodies, and their minds; and when they feel anxious he fills them with overwhelming peace.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches. Phil 4:19– I pray they come to understand that the world and people cannot give them what they need. That only God can.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.Proverbs 3:5-6
– I pray the Lord will lead them along the right paths daily. And that he will place people in their lives whom they trust. Those who when I am not around, can steer them in the right direction.

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:2– I pray that He will keep them safe and secure; and cover them with protection daily in a world intent on causing harm.

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11– I pray they are filled with joy. Not because they have an abundance of stuff, but because they are rich in the blessings only He can give. Love. Safety. Protection. Peace.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17– I pray when they see another being hurt, or see someone fall; they will have the courage to speak up. To be an advocate. To cry along with the heartbroken. To lift up.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20– I pray they come to know that wisdom does not come from books, getting good grades, or the best test scores; but from learning and speaking the truth.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6- I pray they will be kind. Patient. That they will be humble, and obey when they are asked to obey. I pray they don’t wallow in anger, and they seek honesty in all their interactions. I pray they love and forgive others the way they are loved and forgiven.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3– And I pray they know that as they walk out the door. If they walk the halls of school feeling lonely and misunderstood. Once they grow old and start walking in their own way-they know without any doubt that they are loved with a love that never ends. That He (and I) are always there.

This is how I pray.

And some days it doesn’t seem to work. Some days I have to say them more than once.

Some days those kids still break my heart.

Some days I can’t see the fruit at all.

But just as He cares about them, even more than I do. He cares about what is on my heart, too

My prayers won’t be in vain. They may not walk in it now, but I have faith one day they will walk in the truth, and that day will be a day of rejoicing, and not heartbreak.

This I pray. This I believe.

Dear Weary Mama…

 

Dear Weary Mama,

I know the kind of day you have had. Today was one of those “nice” days. One of those days when the chill of winter was finally gone from the air. There was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining, and the temperature just right. After a season of long, wet, cold nights, you want nothing better than to enjoy all this day has to offer.

I know what you do next. You seize the day. Plan an outing for your kids. A long nature walk. A trip to the park. Maybe a stroll through the neighborhood, and a pit stop at the local pond. You and your family need to slow down a bit. Enjoy this day. You think of how great this day will be.

Until it isn’t, Mama. Until it causes your kids to moan and groan. Complain about a walk being too long. The park too boring, and the beach spot by the pond…just too sandy!

And you, dear Mama. You become a little emotional.

So you lose it. Because all your best laid plans failed. You feel useless. Unappreciated. Disrespected. You know you need a walk, and some fresh air; but who is going to go with you? Who is making sure you are OK?

So you lose it.

And after…you instantly feel guilty. I know you feel like you failed, because maybe in your disappointment you yelled. You feel alone, dear Mama, because you worry that you are the only one who ever feels this way. That you must be the only one whose kids don’t see beyond their own needs, desires, and likes.

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

I know you feel like no one sees you. Notices the 30 times this week you have emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. Driven to pick a friend up. Made a donut trip. Picked up another stray wrapper or sock. Mopped slime and glitter from the floor. Cooked a meal no one wanted to eat, and then cleaned it up, too.

Maybe you were silent, but you really wanted to scream. Maybe you did scream, Mama. Yelled a time, or two, or three.

I bet you feel unnoticed. Unappreciated. Used. Like you will never measure up to that Proverbs 31 woman. The one whose children rise up and call her blessed.

Dear weary one-you are blessed. God sees you.

He has given you this holy calling. This all important, and yes…all encompassing task of raising tiny humans.

Who think they know better. Who at times you don’t really like. Who at other times you wonder whose family tree they sprouted from, because they don’t resemble you in spirit at all.

God sees you, Mama.

He sees you. He loves you. He calls you blessed.

He sees you in your times of happy, and your times of despair. He sees you when you feel like a parenting success, and even when you are a parenting fail.

Dear weary Mama…He sees you.

An open letter to a young father

The picture above is me at around 22. My oldest about 3. Tomorrow that little boy will be celebrating the first birthday of his own son, at the tender age of 21.

Tonight as we settle down for Sunday dinner and celebrate this precious life on the eve of that momentous birthday, I want that little boy…now a young man to know these things.

First-I love you. Your momma will always love you. Even when life does not turn out the way I hoped it would for you. I love you.

Second-God loves you.

Let’s focus on that second one, and some of the things I wish people had said to me when I was a 19 year old unwed mother. When life had not turned out the way I planned. When my outward sin was on display for the whole world to see. When everyone had well-meaning advice, but others had a slew of opinions.

God loves you.

You are unique. I didn’t know this as a young mom. My concept of love was caught up in the world’s definition, and it told me people loved you if you did what they expected. Never took a few wrong turns. Did everything the “right” way. So I poured all that into you, desperate to make things right.

And…I messed up many times.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. 1 Timothy 4:12

God loves you. The road has turned a little. He will make it “right.” And along the way, son, you are going to make some mistakes.

Because you don’t have it figured out now. This parenting gig is a ball game like no other.  And it seems all the coaches have a different playbook. Thing is…parenting does not come with a one-size-sits-all instruction manual. No matter what age you may be. I am 40, honey…and I ain’t got it right. I need Him. Everyday. Not the opinions of the world.

Society will ALWAYS have an opinion of the perfect parent. And I am here to tell you, to break it to you-you will NEVER measure up. The perfect parent is not the one who never struggles. The perfect parent is not the one who has never had to decide between diapers and gas at the end of the month. The perfect parent is not the one who never had a child fall out of the bed, get a bruise in the center of their forehead when they were learning to walk, or whose first word was a four-letter word that was NOT “milk.”

The “perfect” parent is you. The parent God picked for your child.

You will doubt your ability to do the right thing. To guide your son. To provide for him. Daily.

You will be judged for your choices as a parent. Daily.

You will make mistakes. Guaranteed.

If you ever doubt this, just call yo momma. I’ll sort it all out for you. Because I’ve done all those things and then some.

Know this: You are his “perfect” parent. Who is loved by God. Always. Loved by your momma. Always.

Love, Your “Imperfect” Momma, but the “Perfect” Momma for You!

Mom: One beautiful, slimy, mess

I have a confession when it comes to the idea of the “perfect” mom. It has to do with my kitchen. Well, let me be honest, the downstairs portion of my house. The parts of the house that people can see.

See, I have this deep hatred of slime-making. For about 4 months this summer and fall my kitchen became a slime-making factory. Which means that glue, Tide, and glitter stuck to my counter and floor for 4 solid months. It also meant that my kitchen, the first part of my house that people saw when they walked in, was a mess. My counters looked like the dough boy had taken a poo, and Tinkerbell had blessed it. The stuff just would not come up. I eventually banned the slime, so my kitchen could be “perfect” again. So people could think I had my stuff together. So they could think I knew how to take care of my household. That I was the “perfect” mom. Had a Neat. Tidy. Well organized. Spotless. Glueless. Glitterless kitchen. “Perfect.”

My outward appearance could once again measure up to the standards that others deemed appropriate. That others decided made great mom material.

Here is the thing about outward appearances: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Since I banned slime those months ago, I have been put through some fires. Those fires have made me become more present, and more cognizant of what makes me who I am, and less worried about who others think I should be. More focused instead on who God has made me to be. It has also made me more observant of the high expectations the world places on others. The expectations that have nothing to do with what God measures.

I noticed something this weekend as I spent time with my family at the local carnival. Without spending time through the lens of my phone for once, I spent time observing those around me. In line for one of the rides was one mom whose look was unconventional. She had piercings in her ears, in her nose, in her eyebrows. Her hair was shaved on the sides, with long braids adorning the hair she decided to leave. Her child had a shaved, poofy mohawk, and she held another child in her arms. Her appearance didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me were the looks she got. She wasn’t an inattentive mom. She was lovingly sharing a snow cone with the kid she was kissing and holding in her arms. She had her other child securely beside her in a wagon. She never took her eyes off her children. She was like any mom enjoying a Friday night out with her man and their kids. What bothered me were the stares. Like she could not be a mom and look this way.

So, then I wondered, what about me? Pink hair. Nose ring. Tattoos. Mom. Grandma, too. Guess, this isn’t what we should look like.

Or what about the kids that didn’t happen to have parents there. Oh my gosh the shame. You mean they were not being helicoptered all night? You mean they were being treated like we lived in the 80s? Where in the world were those parents? No wonder they were scurrying around, hitting each other on the heads with inflatable hammers, and running around pretending to swim with donut swim tubes. It must be their lack of home training. And I must lack it too since I chuckled, and remembered being a kid. Before life got too heavy. Remembered being a kid. One who had clear boundaries at home. Who wasn’t allowed to jump on furniture. Who definitely got in trouble if I dared to hit my brother with anything, even something inflatable. But would do it every chance I got if my mom wasn’t looking.

 

But, as I chuckled. I saw at least five more snicker.

So. What about me? The same goofy kid about 30 years ago? What about my kids who swing unsupervised in the park, while yes…mom may spend some time on her phone? Because, well…she wants a bit of a break. And, just doesn’t want to swing today. What about my kids who wrestle on the floor, sometimes have to be reminded not to run out in traffic, and still forget that sand should never be thrown on another families beach towel? Guess we deserve a snicker, too.

My kids thankfully don’t care about my tattoos. They don’t even think twice when I come home with pink hair or a nose ring. And because of this they don’t think twice when they see these things or any difference in someone else either. And, that is great. What they need is a mom who understands that life is messy. And the new mom in our lives, the one raising our grandson, needs this message, too. That we don’t need to be neatly pressed, and perfect all the time to be beautiful and relevant. That sometimes we just need to get in the kitchen and let them make slime.

And, I did just that a week ago with 5 preteen girls. Yes, I lifted the slime ban. And for once I didn’t fuss about the mess. I didn’t constantly go behind them and wipe up the counters, and a week later I am still wiping up cornstarch off my floor, and I don’t even care.

IMG_8390

 I don’t want my kids to see me stressing over the state of my kitchen. I want them to embrace mine and their differences. The ways in which God made them perfect. I want them to see me laughing in the kitchen as their friends tear it up making slime. I don’t want them to worry that someone is going to comment in the Starbucks line that they are too young for coffee. I want them to be happy that their mom treated them to something special that day. And, I never want my daughter to lose the passion she utters when she tells me and the rest of us: “Who cares! Who cares what anyone else thinks!”

It’s OK if our life is a little slimy. If our kitchen is a little messy. If you can’t eat off your floors. If the laundry has been sitting on your bed, unfolded for days. If your youngest is the loudest one in children’s church, and you are the pastor. If you have pink hair, short hair, long hair, nose rings, or like no jewels.

Whatever the differences. Whatever the preferences. However God made you. However God made me. I want my kids to remember I was present. I was laughing. I was completely imperfect and OK with it. Because, God knows I am perfect, and that I am the perfect mom for them.

And he made you the perfect mom, grandmother, wife, aunt, daughter, niece, and mentor, too.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! Psalm 139:14, MSG

Go! Embrace and be present in your slimy, yet perfectly imperfect marvelously made mess today!

Before the world tells her different

IMG_2195

Sassy, Stubborn. Bull-headed.

Words I often use to describe my daughter. The words I use to describe the battle of wills endured here at home. After the “No, I won’t,” and “Yes, you wills.” After the demands to do this and not that. To wear boots in July. Flip-flops in winter. The demands to have her own way, and be her own person. To eat chocolate bars for breakfast. The need to have the last word. To fight to the end.

Sassy. Stubborn. Bull-headed. And under her sweet exterior, a gigantic force to be reckoned with. Fighting to the end.

My dear, dear friends, stand your ground. Don’t hold back…consider that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG

It is her stubbornness. Her tenacity. This endurance to continue the fight that I hope to never dim.

Because, this gift. This trait that often frustrates me, will be just what is needed for her continue to fight the “good fight.”

The fight with the world that will tell her she is too sassy. Too outspoken. Too strong-willed. Before that passion and determination is squelched by a world that just can’t handle it.

Help her see, that even if it frustrates me, that these traits are exactly what the world needs. Exactly what God provided for His purpose in her life.

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” Jeremiah 1:5, MSG

That her stubborn nature will be just what is needed to persevere when she feels like giving up.

Her sassy and no-nonsense attitude-what is needed when she needs to stand up for what is right. Speak the truth, or communicate passion for a cause.

That her ability to not worry about what others think, care if she is mismatched, and desire not to follow the crowd will come in handy when the world tries to break her confidence. Tell her to “fit in,” to act, speak, and look a certain way.

That her tenacity will help her continue to embrace the word “no.” That she is content and steadfast in saying the word. Knowing that she has this right to say it to things she doesn’t want or doesn’t believe in. To protect her values. Her peace of mind. Her body. Her freedom.

And, if dealing with this sassy, mismatched, and tangled mess of a girl ensures she continues to love who she is….then I will stand by. Daring the world to tell her anything different.

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love; beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” Song of Solomon 4:7, MSG