Parenting Stretches Us

Parenting always pushes me out of my comfort zone and really forces me to examine my thoughts, motives, actions. I have to really analyze my feelings, determine justified and unjustified emotions, and move forward with the day to day, no matter how happy or hurt I am.

My sweet son was talking to his dad on the phone as we drove home. I listened to half the conversation and could tell his dad was going to a movie, and he wanted to go.

“But not in 3D!!” My son exclaimed.

Hmm, I scratched my head.

“But I had to sit on the front row… Dad, I hate the front row,” he lamented.

Into the darkness of night, I fixed my gaze, as my feelings stung a bit. See, I worked extra hard to put together a movie day with just the big 2 and my husband and I. (Which never happens, for the record.) I’m not “in the know” enough to know that I should buy Marvel movie tickets 2 months ahead of time, or wait a couple weeks to try to see it. So we got stuck with front row seats.

3D gives me a major headache so we opted for a regular showing. But I was just certain that movies, popcorn, soda, and no little kids to hang out with would be a total win. But at this moment, all I heard were complaints.

My knee-jerk reaction/thought was, “I’ll never take you to another movie.”

I wish I could pluck thoughts out of my head and cast them in the trash, forgotten. But that’s not the case. I have to challenge the thought, the feelings, and find what makes the most sense. I have to ask Jesus to help me sort it out.

(Yes, I think kids need to be taught gratitude, but I don’t think this was entirely a gratitude issue. And even if it was on his part, I still have my part to sort out.)

See, parenting gives us these moments and lots of them. Moments where we can cry, stomp, and even lash out. Or moments where we can analyze our thoughts, our hearts, and choose our responses carefully.

In this case, I was merely eavesdropping, so adding my thoughts to his conversation would have been rude. I realized the effort I put into making the movie a special treat for the boys was my energy and effort spent, and being a words of affirmation girl made it hard to hear the opposite. His complaints weren’t far from my own – I thought the front row sucked, but it was better than not going at all.

And I’ve never known a kid that didn’t love a 3D movie.

And I think it’s normal for a kid to say what he/she thinks it will take to get what they want. He wanted to go to the movie with his dad and stepmom and siblings. Regardless of whether I made it a special afternoon, or we had a blast. He still wanted the experience of going with them.

That’s reasonable. I don’t mind experiencing the same thing multiple times if I get to experience it with different people that are important to me.

Okay, we’ll go to another movie at some point.

Sure, I’d love rave reviews about how perfect the afternoon was and how much they noticed that we went out of our way to make it fun for them. But then I have to remember that the absence of that, while felt sharply by myself as a words person, isn’t actually an insult.

I’m thankful that parenting teaches me so many lessons. I’m glad that parenting is part of how God is making me my best self. I’m thankful I get to walk through these things and that I get to learn to love expressively and fiercely. I am better for these moments that are a little painful.

Until next time,
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The Balancing Act

I think the balancing act is another pursuit of perfection. We can see the pendulum swing from one extreme to the next, so if we can catch it dead center and stop it there, we will have balance.

Balance in our parenting, our diet, our work, our home. Balance. Balance. Balance.

“It’s all about balance,” one mom will tell another, after she has confessed her frustration over something.

“It’s all about balance,” one colleague to another after hearing how things are crumbling at home.

“It’s all about balance,” one wife to another after hearing her friend admit that she feels stuck.

Balance is a new shiny word for perfection. It’s all about perfection. If you could get it just right, just balanced enough, parenting wouldn’t be so hard. Your diet would work, the weight would fall off. If you could get it just right, perfect, balanced, your marriage would seem better. Your work life more fulfilling. Your time with the family more satisfying. Something is out of balance that’s why you’re upset/stressed/frustrated/let down.

Chase the balancing act. Just balance the books. Balance it out. Stop swinging the pendulum, find the mark that is just right. It’s another word for perfection. Chase perfection because once you find it all your problems will be solved.

Hogwash.

Having some sense of balance, holding firmly to Jesus who is the Truth, focusing on God’s will for your life, and learning that we are human and even God recognized that we couldn’t get it perfect, that’s how you come to accept the sway. Not completely disengaging from the notion of balance, but not chasing it, either.

Chase Jesus. Let Him be the author and perfecter of your faith. Let Him be your peace. The calm in the midst of your storm and chaos. Jesus. Chase Jesus. Not balance. Not perfection. Not fame. Not money. Chase Jesus. For in Him is found life.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,

It’s so easy to get caught up in the things of this world, the ways of this world. Because we were made to pursue You, we are always in pursuit, but sometimes our focus is distracted and we stop pursuing You. Bring our vision back into focus, help us to chase You and nothing less.

In Jesus’ Sweet Name,
Amen.

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On Listening

“Don’t get your socks wet.”

“Adley, stay out of the water.”

“Don’t go over there, it’s wet.”

These footprints are evidence that someone wasn’t listening this particular morning…and you know, it didn’t frustrate me, because I often see evidence in my own life of the ways I didn’t listen to His plan, and I see why it matters now- even though back then I was too short-sighted to see all the pieces. Or prices.

20180709_093124.jpgI didn’t know what He was going to do with that season in our life, but sometimes we all wear wet socks or wander in deserts or (fill in the blank) when we don’t listen.

This is hard to admit out loud, or on display, but I knew I was stepping outside the will of God for our life when I pursued something last year. I was being stubborn and willful, and I wanted God to want us to have what I wanted us to have, so I prayed about it a lot – trying to change His mind.

It didn’t work, I wasn’t able to change His mind, so I charged full speed ahead, because why shouldn’t He want us to have this shiny new thing?

The truth is, I don’t know what different thing God had in store because I plugged my ears and went my own way. What I do know is it would have been better. I wouldn’t have prayed desperate prayers as I found myself in a situation I couldn’t handle.

I also know His grace is sufficient – not that I would recommend ever ignoring what He’s put on your heart just because of grace. No, and that’s not what I went into it thinking. But on this side, having asked for forgiveness and admitted my mistakes, I know He is still for me, He still loves me. And He knows better for me than I always accept. He is a good God, with good plans for us.

So, next time you are up against a shiny new thing, or a comfortable old thing, and asking God what to do – learn from my experience, when He answers, don’t ignore Him. It isn’t in your best interest, which I learned the hard way.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,

May You soften our hearts and minds and help us to hear Your voice and Your calling. Help us develop an obedient character, that pursues You and Your plan for each and every day of our lives. Thank You for being patient with us when we miss the mark.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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