Encouragement, Dear Momma

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Mothering.

Its’s one calling that can cause great guilt and insecurity in one fail swoop. 

The one calling that tests every ounce of grit and determination you possess. 

It swells the heart with pride and love until you feel you will burst.

In equal measure, the pain that comes when our children experience the hardest parts of life, settles in and hurts like Hades.

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I have three.  I multiply these raw emotions by three.

I don’t know, but maybe you have found a way to insulate yourself.  Me, not so much.  But, I am learning alongside with my kiddos.  Life throws some pretty big curves, but we are stronger.

Endurance.

That is what we learn.

Last night, I had the joy of listening to my oldest speak to a group of students.  He is passionate about “loving on” people.  That’s his phrase.  It’s a way of life—offering grace and hope to anybody who needs it.  He heads out to his university, grabs coffee and “loves on” students.  He’s built for it.  He’s good at it.  He’s all about it.

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If any person has the right to build up walls and isolate themselves, I guess it would be this kid of mine.  He has stared down some pretty big giants in his life.  This man-child, who is really an adult now—turning 21 very soon, but always my crazy kid—has had enough challenges to last a good while.

But, this only seems to spur him on even more.

Bullied, abused, isolated and rejected.

And all from a Christian community. It’s hard to swallow. It’s tough for a mother to watch. It tears at your insides and makes you angry. Trying to figure out what is it that made him such a target.  I don’t know.  I still don’t have answers, other than, those folks needed help.  He just got in their way.

The last seven years have been full of challenges and victory for him, for us.

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Hurt and healing.

Despair and hope.

But, this young man of mine is a fighter.

He fights for justice with a vigilante spirit.  He’s strong-willed—and thank God for that.  He’s not a lay-down and surrender sort of guy. Which, by the way, made for some unique parenting days!  However, I’m truly grateful for that strong spirit.

Back to last night.

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I watched as he held the attention of each of these junior and senior high schoolers.  He related to them from his heart.  He did what he loves to do the most.  He shared hope with those kids.  He spoke their language.

Sitting there, a realization hit me square on.

This child.

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This one I grieved over and prayed for.

The night after he told us about the abuse, I laid outside his door.  His life, our lives blown apart by another person’s selfishness. The evil that had invaded our home.  It all rolled through my brain as the night lay dark and long.

I was afraidI was afraid this child would not survive this. 

Fear and lies gripped me and laid hold of my heart.  I was afraid to leave him alone.  And to my eyes, he seemed wounded and shattered beyond repair.

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But, we did what we do best.

We rallied and fought…together.

Prayer and help and love and care.

We all worked together.  This family of mine.  God did what he does best.  He restores.  He isn’t the God of a half-baked job.

NO.

He is the God of the very best order.

No slipshod or faulty duct tape fixes here. 

He is the very best at total healing and complete restoration. I wouldn’t leave that to just anybody!

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So, sitting there, it occurred to me there might be other Mommas whose hearts feel  broken beyond repair and hopelessness has set in.  Something about this child of yours—this love wrapped up in skin.  Your heart is beating to the rhythm of their hurt.

This is for you, my friend.

Life isn’t easy.  Life isn’t fair.  Bad things happen—to the ones we love the most. 

Sometimes the very worst.

Or sometimes, they struggle, but can’t seem to find the right paths, no matter where they look.

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They are looking in the wrong places.  Maybe they don’t like the answers you’ve been giving. It doesn’t really matter where the pain is coming from.

If there is pain, our hearts break.

Perhaps you can’t even see the light with this one. 

You would just like a tiny spark of hope. 

Let this be that. 

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Know that God is good at what he does.  We don’t have to be him.  He’s got it.

Rest that child in his care, and take a rest, yourself. 

This is a weight too heavy to carry on your own.

If we love our children this much then how much more must God love them?

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Take hope from my broken and busted heart for my shattered child.  I had a drop of faith to believe God could do something.

That is all it takes, dear Momma.

He knows the beautiful soul of your child and all he was created to do and be.  God is big enough to restore it to completeness.  Nothing missing, nothing broken.  I held onto that for dear life! And I witnessed it in action just last night.

Why don’t you, too?

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No Weak-Kneed Parenting

 

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Good parenting is a lot like this tree.

This tree is The Founders Tree in Landa Park, in New Braunfels, Texas.  I grew up with this tree. This beautiful statue of strength dates back to around 1700.  That tree has weathered a lot of storms and droughts!  This old Live Oak is considered an Indian Marker Tree—a tree that was tied sideways in order to point to a favorable water source.  The Founders Tree is thought of as the mightiest tree in Texas.  Actually, this scenic park is full of many beautiful trees.  Your just not a self-respecting park if you don’t have beautiful, magnificent trees!

I was mesmerized by this tree growing up.  It sparked my imagination and wonderings.  In some ways it felt sacred.  What had this tree witnessed or who first saw this tree?  Maybe travelers had found shade and rest by this tree.  Its size and age alone inspired awe.  I knew of no other tree like this one.

You may think I have lost it.  You aren’t really seeing the connection between a tree and parenting.  I think there is.

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Parenting is not for cowards!

This tree is strong and resilient.  It wasn’t blown away by some gust of wind.  When we parent, we must be just like this tree—strong and resilient.  Our kids are gonna wear us down.  You may feel like you have been chewed up and spit out before the first bowl of cereal is poured and the first cartoon is played!  Or, maybe they are older and know just the right buttons to push.

My least favorite thing is to be greeted at first light of the morning with a sibling squabble or a grumpy kid.  It can set my day off wrong before my feet ever hit the floor.  But, I have to remember my purpose.  My purpose is to parent them and set the tone.  It takes personal strength and hutzpah!

They need us to be strong.  They need to be able to count on us to set strong, protective boundaries.  They may not be your friend, but that’s ok.  They need a parent more than a friend.

 

Parenting is an endurance race!

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This tree has been here a really long time!  Really–1700.  It didn’t let the all-too-familiar droughts shrivel it up.  It has weathered storms that have rolled through.  If you just look at this tree, you see the shape and contour.  It has an incredible root system and is near a water source.  Both of these qualities have helped this beautiful tree stand through the generations.  This is a perfect analogy for parenting.  Your root system needs to be wide and deep and you need to know your source.  Where are you getting your strength and depth of character?  Who are you relying on to lead you as you parent?  The internet?  The latest parenting craze?  The internet has been a great source of much needed information for me.  Got an issue?  Read a book, search the Web!  But, really I just have to rely on what God has to say to me about my situation.  It’s amazing how much He actually has to say to us.  What do I want my children to be like as the grow?  I need to look deep within myself and see what is in me.  This is the best way to work out this endurance race.  Some days feel like a sprint, but realize you are parenting for the marathon.

 

 

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God has hand picked you for your children.  These children don’t need some other mother or father.  They need you.  You have what it takes to raise them just as they should be.  I’ve always taken mothering incredibly seriously.  God has entrusted these children to us to ultimately lead to Him. That is the primary goal.  How we parent matters.  Our children will learn how to see God through how we live.  Their first impressions of God come from us.  It matters!  We teach them how to live life.  We aren’t perfect and that’s okay.  We say to our kids, “Follow me, as I follow God!”  When we mess up, they can have a front row seat to God’s grace in your life.  They probably won’t understand it all now, but later they will look back and see clearly.

Our kids look to us.  Will we inspire them?  We can’t leave it to the world to lead them.  It doesn’t take a village to raise your child.  It takes you!  Yes, we have those around us who contribute to their lives, but we are the primary source of inspiration and guidance.  You may say, “Wow! No pressure, there!”  We don’t have to do it alone, though.

On many occasions I have prayed about specific parenting issues I have had with each of my kids.  I need God to lead us in parenting these humans in a way He wants them parented.  No.  I have to have His help.  They have a purpose to fulfill–He knows better what they need than we do.

We need to love and nurture and provide support and shade.  The generations to follow depend on you.  What do you want your legacy to be?  What goals do you have for your parenting?  What do you need to adjust in order for the next generations to have a lasting legacy to look to?

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