Birthday Blessing

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My Jason–

20 years ago this week, you popped out into the world, and you haven’t stopped amazing me.

I remember Dad being so sick that last trimester before you were born.  I thought he might die; but I couldn’t think about that.  I had you to think and take care of inside me.  I remember a friend praying over you and me and just giggling as soon as she touched my belly.  She said, “I don’t know if you realize it or not, but this baby is FULL of God’s JOY!!”  She went on to say that she believed you had the heart of ‘Timothy’ from the Bible.  She didn’t know that we had picked out ‘Timothy’ as your middle name.  I remember the Alabama years and your lispy, nasally twang that is long-forgotten by everyone but me.  I remember the time you rode Jon’s much smaller bike around the BMX track and looked like a professional as you flew into the air … until gravity slammed you into the ground.  Thank God, no bones broke, and we got to watch Fear Factor for the first time as I snuggled you.  I remember soccer, hurdles and relays.  I remember experiments, breakfasts and errands.  I remember conversations, late-night papers and movie nights.  I remember you.

So, this week, as you end your teen years and enter your 20s, I think about how much you’ve grown and matured through the years.  I’m so proud you are my son–my eldest son.  You’ve never lost the joy, the piece of God, that He put in you.  You’ve never lost your sense of adventure and curiosity.  I hope you never do.  You are one of the bravest people I’ve met and one of the most secure in who you are and who God created you to be!  I love it that you’ve cliff-dived, challenged yourself with new hobbies like unicycling and learning to play the saw, travelled to various places in Colorado just for the adventure.  You still make me smile and bring me joy.

My prayer for you (and all in your generation) is that you will continue to find yourself in Christ.  Continue to see the world through His eyes.  Continue to live with His ABUNDANT LIFE in pure abandoned joy.  My prayer is that you and others will see God’s grace, love, hope and faith as you journey toward the prize in Jesus.  I pray for you, my treasured child, that what you have to offer the Body of Christ, people will embrace with gratitude.

So I celebrate you and give you this blessing for your life.  HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  May it be filled with adventure and joy!!

Love you, Sug–mama

My prayer for all of us is that we encourage and validate this next generation as they go out to change their world!

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Psycho Mom Moment

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My kids say that I have a ‘crazy’ streak.  They don’t see it often.  Mostly it comes out when I’m putting our ‘fake house’ together about a half hour before company comes over.  They call it ‘cleaning mom mode.’  I go around clearing counters and the kitchen table.  Hiding piles of papers that have accumulated over the school year.  Clearing corners of shoes and other non-essentials stripped off after coming in the door.  Returning pillows and throw blankets to a casually-tossed, shabby-chic ambiance in the family room.  I create the ‘fake house’ that I want people to think is where we live.  ‘Cleaning Mom Mode’ is nowhere near ‘Psycho Mom.’

We need to establish a difference between ‘psycho moms’ and ‘psycho mom moments.’  I wouldn’t call myself a ‘psycho mom.’  I tend  to meet challenges in parenting evenly and rationally.  I tend to … at least on the surface.  However, I do have moments when my kids cross a line that infuriates me and I react–not respond.

Before my kids became grown-up (well, I could debate whether they really are grown-up….), I enjoyed the position of playing God.  That magical time ended about the time they could speak and learned ‘NO!’  But the few short years that they had to go where I went, hang out with those I let them befriend and go to bed when I determined they needed sleep were blissful.  Parenting was easy then.  Having a 22 year old, a 19 year old and a 17 year old all living at home complicates parenting boundaries.  *sigh*  I really don’t want to go back to toddlerhood, but the uncomplicated world of children who get excited over bubbles and squirt guns has its perks.

My 17 year old went out with his at-the-time-girlfriend a few weeks ago.  He had just started dating her; and while we had met her, I soon found out just how little we knew about her.  I needed to get hold of him because he didn’t know that our state curfew for teens is 10pm during the week (even during the summer) and not midnight, as I had thought.  His phone went straight to voicemail … for 2 hours.  No answer to the 372 texts I sent.  Realizing that I had no idea where he might be or who this girl really is, I went into ‘crazed mom’ mode and quickly plummeted into ‘psycho mom.’  As panic ambushed my rational soul, I took on desperate measures.  Because I read murder mysteries and watch cop shows, I consider myself a bit of an expert in detective work.  Yep, I’m one of those delusional people.  I think that because I’ve seen open-heart surgery on YouTube, I could actually perform that surgery in a crisis.  I think we should all pray that I never witness someone having a heart attack.  I looked up his girlfriend on Facebook.  She has a common last name, so I looked through about 15 pages of the online White Pages trying to figure out where she lived.  I remembered that he had told me the general area of town she lived, so I didn’t fly blind in my search.  I narrowed it down to three potential houses.  Just after midnight (now the curfew he thought he had, he busted … for the third time … the last time had been the night before … yeah, I wasn’t rational anymore) I enlisted the help of my 22 year old.

The conversation went something like:

“You busy?”

“No, whatcha need?”

“I need you to help me go get your brother.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know for sure, but I’ve narrowed it down.”

“Why do you need me?”

“Someone has to drive the car he’s in back home.”

“Why can’t he do that?”

“Because he’ll be coming home with me.”

That last sentence scared her because I spoke it so slowly and deeply.  I don’t think any of my kids had seen my real ‘psycho mom’ moments before that.  I never had witnesses until that night.

Thankfully, the first house on my list happened to be her house.  I knew this fact because my son pulled onto the street right behind me.  He and I had a great lecture  discussion that ended with us hugging it out and assuring him that I loved him and forgave him (there’s more to this story; but it’s already a long one).  Suffice it to say, he won’t make that mistake again.

I wonder sometimes if God ever has ‘psycho parent’ moments with us.  Oh, I know He’s ‘GOD’ and knows all and has self-control and all that; but when I read the Bible, I see evidence that we can make Him a little crazy–especially with Moses in Exodus 22 when it sounds like Moses is talking God off the ledge, or when Jesus in several Gospel accounts saying it would be better to have a millstone around your neck and drowned if we hurt one of His little ones, or Abraham negotiating with God for Sodom and Gomorrah.  I take great comfort in that thought.  He loves us that much that we can make Him almost insanely protective.  He goes to great lengths to find us and help us see healthier, wiser, better options than the choices we make.  He loves us the way I love my kids–only better and more rationally.  He doesn’t parent out of fear–which, if we’re honest, that’s what vaults us into ‘psycho’ mode.  He holds us that high … He values us that much … He fiercely fights for us … Now, if only we could believe it about ourselves and each other.  We need to remind ourselves and each other what each of us is worth!

I talked to Jud the next morning about what happened while he slept.  A lot goes on at night with older kids while parents sleep.  Which is why I’m grateful that I’m a night-owl and suffer from insomnia.  We discussed the appropriate repercussions (for our son, not me), and Jud helped me see that grounding him from ever driving a car  and dating again went a little too far.  Rationality had returned to me and the moment had passed.

Until my daughter woke up.

She asked Jud if he knew anything about the night before.  Thankfully, Jud could say he knew and she didn’t blindside him with her version of my insanity.  Her final comment tossed over her shoulder to him as she breezed out the door about what she learned from this incident:  NEVER MAKE MOM MAD!!!

Have you had ‘psycho parenting’ moments?  What have you learned about yourself in those times? 

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Where Beauty Blooms

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“I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end”  Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.

Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus.  Three women bonded for life.  Only they know the incomprehensible 11 years they survived.  I can’t imagine the courage they mustered to face Ariel Castro at his sentencing hearing this week.  The last victims of the Boston Marathon bombings have left the hospital.  Strangers bonding over survival and physical therapies that only they comprehend.  Soldiers returning from various conflicts in the Middle East with military honors and PTSD form a brotherhood of experience that their families don’t quite grasp.

We think of these people and their stories and laud them as heroes for surviving inhumanity at its worst.  I wonder how many of them feel heroic?  How many of them wish they felt as heroic as people hold them up to be?  How many of them want to scream, “That’s not me!  I’m scared!  Confused!  Broken!”?  While I haven’t experienced the level of trauma that these people face, I have my own ugly stories of trauma that may offer a little hope.

I remember telling my best friend from high school about the trauma of a 5 year abusive church relationship and that one good thing that came from it is that it forced me into counseling.  I had finally reached the end of me and my abilities to cope.  Humbled, traumatized and having a thyroid that gave out because of the stress necessitated professional intervention.  At my first appointment, denial filled me.  I thought I’d go in there, tell my story, have my counselor validate me and all would be well.  About half way through my sobbing and probably unintelligible rant, an epiphany washed over me.  In horror, I stopped crying and cried, “Oh, dear God, I have to come back!”  My counselor incredulously looked over her glasses at me and calmly replied, “Oh, Honey.  Yes.”

Going each week to my appointment, I fought back panic attacks.  Most of the time, the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme mocked me, “Humpty Dumpty sat a on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.”  I knew I would never recover.  No one could save me.

Then, it happened.  About 6 months into my recovery, the mocking rhyme repeating over and over in my head, I practically screamed in my car for God to throw me a bone.  Okay, I actually screamed … and begged … and tried to cut a deal.  I hadn’t felt the presence of God in years.  I had disconnected from wanting to hear His voice.  But in my desperation, a tiny crack opened in my heart and I heard so softly, “The King can put you back together.”  That’s where my hope sprouted.  Maybe no human could save me, but God could.  He may use people to accomplish the healing; but the healing came from Him.  He planted eternity in my heart that day.  Oh, not gonna lie, all was not well after that.  Five years of intense work with my counselor and Jud ensued.  But, the hope began.  The forgiveness began.  Now, two years post-counseling, I can say I am at peace while I continue the journey.  I carry the scars.  I will always carry the scars.  The scars contain my healing, my wholeness.  Had the story ended eight years ago, I would have descended into fatalism.  My scars remind me to look on people with tenderness.  My scars remind me of human frailty.  My scars create compassion and empathy in me toward those just coming out of their ugly stories and those just entering them.

It takes a lot of work to turn a landfill into a garden.  The three women who must begin to pick up the shattered pieces, the bombing victims who must find it in themselves to rebuild new lives with limitations, the soldiers with PTSD who have to make peace with the nightmares, the adult who tries to make sense of childhood abuse all live over emotional and spiritual landfills.  But, their stories, our stories, don’t have to end in the decay of the garbage heaps.  We can allow God to set eternity in our hearts and wait for our story to unfold, believing that God’s ending is more beautiful than the hell we have endured.

I pray strength, courage and hope for all as they embark toward healing and wholeness.  May none of us ever settle for ‘good enough’ or a patch job.  Clearing the landfill of our hearts, planting seeds of hope in a future and tending that garden daily for blooms to appear are worth the effort.  Those hurting in our world are worth the effort.  YOU are worth the effort!

Where have you found hope to go on in the midst of your life’s tragedies?

 

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