Unexpected Beautifulness

You feel the goosebumps up and down your arms and the tears begin to flow unexpectedly. That moment – the moment that arrives with no warning. You are caught off guard and that is the beauty of it all. You can’t plan for the moment – or it’s ruined by the fact that you tried. You can’t know what the moment will be – because in knowing the moment won’t be the moment.

I, as a slight control freak, generally do not like surprises. My mind has the events of the day planned out weeks in advanced in excruciating detail with my iPad calendar(s) – yes, plural as a back up. No judgments, please. Deviating from the plan doesn’t come easily for me.

But there is one kind of surprise I love. When we took a trip as a family out West two years ago – I saw a sunset that lasted for hours as we drove through the flat desert in Arizona. It was absolutely amazing. I had no clue one of my most favorite memories would be found that day as we loaded the car at Phoenix and headed for San Diego.

That was one of many such surprises. I thought when we arrived at the National Park and got settled into our hotel room we would grab a couple of chairs off the deck and head 100 feet away and sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Imagine my surprise at realizing there were buses that drove you to stops and even at each stop – you can only see part of the Grand Canyon! It’s so huge you only see a bit of it at a time! Who knew? Certainly not me! And, just in case your wondering, it’s not smooth either. It’s edges have layers and layers of sheer beautifulness. Only from the airplane could I gasp in wonder at the hugeness of the Grand Canyon.

I was also surprised – in a knot in your stomach kind of way – when we were at Hollywood. All that glamour and glitz you see on TV? Fake. Maybe you are smarter than me and already knew that. But, my heart was broken as we walked on the stars and saw homelessness, brokenness and pain.

I can never return to the West and experience the trip the way I did again. Even if I stayed in the same hotels or traveled the same route. The fact that I had never been there before and I didn’t know what to expect, made the trip what it was.

So, sitting in the midst of yet another snowstorm in Ohio in the middle of February, I was not expecting one of those moments – the kind you will think back over when you are old and gray with a tear in your eye. Stop rolling your eyes, I’m being serious.

As she began to sing I sat in amazement at the beauty of not only her voice but the way she flowed across the stage with confidence and grace. As the song progressed the tears began to flow. I was so proud of her. I couldn’t believe my quiet, reserved daughter was performing a solo in front of a crowd. I could see my caterpillar turning into a butterfly right before my eyes.

She was doing something I couldn’t teach her. She was finding her voice and becoming who God made her, uniquely to be. And it was a beautiful, unexpected moment that I got to see. I don’t know how she overcame her fear – but overcome she did!

As a young six year old in ballet, she froze at a performance and all the begging and bribing I did wouldn’t convince her to step away from the wall and perform. Late she told me through tears it was because I was there. She was too nervous because I was watching. It kind of broke my heart, I wondered if I put too much pressure on her. Didn’t she understand I was her biggest fan? If she succeeded or if she fell flat on her face, I would love her for trying!

My mind has stitched those two memories together. I can see the little girl in her tu-tu wide eyed and hiding her face in my lap and then I can see my beautiful 15 year old who has blossomed into more than I could have imagined. And that is why 2pm on a cold February afternoon a surprise moment occurred. I got to hear my angel sing for the first time. And just like the hour long sunset – it was so much more beautiful that I could have ever imagined.

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God Have Mercy

Broken. Heart broken.

How? How can my child shake his fist at God and say, “Do your worst?”

God have mercy.

Without the fear of God his life is spiraling out of control. His hate for me evident in his eyes.

The empty pit in my stomach grows until it reaches the edge of every limb. I just want to wake up and this nightmare to be over.

At some point I start to feel numb. I welcome the relief from the pain.

My husband gently lifts me off my knees – drying my tears. I would that I could stay in constant prayer morning, noon and night until the time that my son would humble himself and repent.

Oh, God – have mercy! God, have mercy.

I’m praying for a God-sized miracle. Oh that my son would not be diabolically opposed to our “moral code”.

No, son. It’s not a moral code – it’s Jesus. Can’t you see? Why are your eyes so blinded to the truth? Son – it’s the path to freedom – not chains.

I’m dry. Every plea has fallen on deaf ears. Every admonition has been shunned. God, I cling to you for strength.

Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

God – I pray for your mercy.

Ex. 34:6-8 “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…”

 

Rays of Sunshine

Who gets beautiful, hot sunshine in October? Not me. At least usually not me. Today was replete with surprises though, as I enjoyed one of my favorite activities that is usually reserved for the summer months.  It felt a bit like heaven with the hot suns rays hitting my back as I absorbed my book, ice tea in hand. Quiet, relaxed and at peace – perfect, simply perfect.

What makes this experience different from the typical cool autumn days with sweaters and coffee? The combination of hot and cold is a blissful mixture, such as soaking up sunshine and ice tea, enjoying a hot bath with a cool breeze coming in the window, or running into the ocean on a hot afternoon. Autumn usually affords the opposite mixture – cold and hot. The crisp, cool nights and a warm jacket or  the early morning walk in the woods when you  can see your breath with hot cocoa in hand are a magical blends.

Given the choice though, I’d choose the feeling spring and summer allow. Nothing beats the warmth of the sun radiating on my skin. Knowing this will be a distant memory for the next five to six months as cold man winter descends upon us, I cherish the few last moments, hoping to hold onto the feeling until the calendar flips and another spring is upon us.

Humble Pie

I just spent the morning somewhere I never envisioned I would be. Court. Juvenile court for my unruly child. Even as I type the words, the whole scenario seems surreal. It still feels like a really bad dream.  It’s funny to me, the way I perceive myself and what is accurate don’t always seem to align. I guess that realization is what humble pie tastes like. It’s actually not as awful as I would have suspected – humble pie, that is. It goes down kind of roughly, but once you’ve eaten it, like with broccoli, you can feel that satisfaction of doing something that was good for you.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good parent. And, if effort is what we are judging on, I have indeed succeeded.  I left my job to stay at home with my children and have been involved in every area of their lives since infancy.  Basically over a decade of my life can be summed up as an outpouring into their lives.  Somehow, I thought if I tried hard enough, I would have a cookie-cutter mold perfect child. You know the kind, the one who says, “Yes, Sir” and hold the door for old ladies and is just downright perfect in every way.

I would look down my nose at anyone who had a rebellious teen. Because, in my mind, any rebellious child was a direct result of poor parenting. The parent must not have been strict enough or taken their child to church or spent enough time with them.  Like baking a cake, if you put all the right ingredients in you would be rewarded with a yummy cake.  Mess up one of the ingredients and the cake would obviously flop.  I was forgetting that children have wills of their own and can make choices independent of what you desire.  How I wish I could take back the judging comments that rattled around in my head before I had teenagers.

I’m now realizing raising children may still be like baking a cake but there are more pieces to the puzzle than just the ingredients. The cake still needs to be baked and that is the area my teen has complete control over and I am realizing, I have none. He is not a robot, but a intelligent, thinking individual.

My boy, he’s going to be ok.  He’s going to be more than ok.  These hiccups in the road will shape him and make him into the person he is meant to be become. These don’t define me as a parent, nor do they define him as a person. It’s just part of the process. I’ve done my best to give him all the ingredients he needs for life.  I’m here now to guide him as he walks his path. In the baking process, the cook doesn’t mess too much with the cake. Rather, he lets the heat of the oven turn a gooey mess into the cake it was meant to be. The mixing, measuring and stirring parts of parenting are behind me now.  Now it’s time for me to keep a close eye on the cake as those ingredients turn into what they were meant to be.

The Key to My Soul

Writing is the key to my soul. When my fingers touch the keys, I find a hidden, secret part of me.  All the millions of colliding words in my head, form in proper order and march out onto the screen -one by one – like little soldiers.  I feel a rare sensation in my brain – stillness, quiet. All is in order in my world for these few rare moments. The process is like an old friend sitting up with me in the dorm room long after everyone else have turned the lights out. All the fluff is gone and life’s deep questions are being chewed on. Sometimes the words bring laughter and sometimes tears. But it the end, those moments are rare and cherished.

When Hope is all You Have

Darkness

Black enveloping my very existence

Hopelessness – what an ugly word

Yet in the distance I can still sense hope. I hang on to the thread, knowing I will be ok.

Lord,

I’ve told you over and over if you can bring more glory to your name with me having difficulty seeing than if I had full sight, that was ok with me.  Yet, you see my heart. You know my pain and in the moment when the reality of loss hits me and all I see is black, there, in that moment I feel your loving arms engulf me. I know you are God and all is going to be ok. Even if ok means I don’t see any better than I do at this moment again. All that I spent a decade being afraid of, is beginning to become reality.  

I feel my faith grow and I instinctively know there is good in pain. It’s one thing for me to say I’ve given something to God. It’s another thing for Him to take it – then I see what’s really in my heart. When that which I love is gone and I can still say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” – what peace. I relish in that moment. Gone are the carefree, innocent laughs of my youth – replaced with a deep sense of calm and a feeling of maturity. 

So, God, when I tell you I release my child to you – I realize as you always have – that it is a two step process. While every fiber of my being wants to cling to him as tightly as I did when he was an infant wrapped in a swaddling blanket, deep down, I know I can’t. It would end in disaster. Everything done apart from you ends that way. Will you take him – if I give him to you? I guess that’s the point of trust. I don’t know now what the future holds. So, while my words give what was never mine to keep, my heart knows that if you do indeed take that which I love, you will meet me inside the darkest black. And in knowing that, I know, come what may, I will be ok.

But I Don’t Want to be the Grown up!

The look – you know the one – the one that cuts you, as a parent to the core. Why? This time beacuse dinner wasn’t the prefered meat of choice. Earlier today –  because I put up the window and the said teen prefered it down. Crazy thing is, I’m putting more effort into being patient and encouraging parent as ever. I don’t understand it, the simplest things seem to set him off. I never know when my happy will be crashed in upon.

I’ve also found my guard is up more in an effort protect my inner being. Words – hurtful words come flying when I least expect it. One of the toughest things is to turn the other cheek. I’ve not yet mastered laughing off the hurt, instead it still cuts to the core. Showing emotion when there are teenagers in the room is like sharks who smell blood.  Things get ugly quickly.

The crazy thing is the talent he has at convincing me black is white. If I try and explain that my feelings were hurt, we will end up in a lengthy discussion about how I’m always hurting his feelings?!

When did it become so hard? I miss the days of bath ritual at 7pm and bed at 8pm with sweet bedtime stories and “I love you” all the way around.  Now I spend the better part of the day repeating “I’m the grown up” over and over in my head in an effort to not react to the ugly being hurled at me in suspecting and unsuspecting moments.

How can the thing I love with my whole being and I’ve dedicated years of my life to care for it, give back just the opposite of what I would expect? Sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and scream, “It’s Not Fair!” But, then I hear my mom’s voice in the back on my head saying, “No one ever said life would be fair.”  Ah, yes…the memories of my childhood.  Now that I think about them, I vaguely remember stomping out of a room in utter frustration at my mom on more than one occasion.  I was just so frustrated she didn’t undersand me or she was in the way of me doing what I wanted to do or becoming who I wanted to become.

Maybe things will turn out ok after all.  And maybe I need to call my mom tonight and remind her how much I love her.

What Does Loss Feel Like?

I feel like a child of mine left home today. After twenty years of feeling a sense of responsibility for my mom, she moved to another city to live with my sister.  My emotions are running the gamete. I feel such a huge sense of loss. I want to scream to the world to stop and put things back in order.  I also feel such a sense of relief. Which is weird, because I never knew I had any sense of responsibility until it was gone.

I am hopeful this move will allow her happiness, the happiness which seems to have eluded her most of her life.  It would make me ever so happy if she were finally happy.  But, does happiness come from our circumstances? Certainly not! So, my hope dissolves to this somber reality.  I pray my brother-in-law will be able to care for her better than I could have.  What a blessing that would be.

Of this I’m certain, there is much uncertainty.  I have no clue how her life will play out. But, I can say, I’ve never been more proud of her than I am at this moment.  She has chosen the hard road. She is brave, courageous and has such a fierce love for God that she is willing to leave everything she knows to travel into the unknown.  Kind of reminds me of Abraham.  Yes, she is in a wilderness of sorts with the uncertainty of a job and a new surroundings.  God will either enable her or provide a plan we all at this point have no idea how it will play out.  Again, Abraham, in faith, went to sacrifice his son, Issac.  Will God provide a ram for her? Or does he have some other miracle planned for her? One that will, no doubt, display His glory?

I guess that’s why I’m so proud of her.  She is watching God paint the picture of her life.  She isn’t living life for herself. She’s living the plan He has for her. I’m so thankful I can trust God’s hand in this circumstance and I can’t wait to see what He does with her life.