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In Twenty Years

Hovie and Elie Walking

This is a post I wrote a few years ago, but I wanted to re-post it as we will celebrate 30 years of marriage next month. Adult children are a blessing beyond anything I could have imagined when they were born. Praise God!

When our three kids were much younger, I got through the hard days by asking myself, “In twenty years what will it matter?” Well, Hubby and I have passed that 20-year mark on the life-long journey of parenting. Our two girls are in college and the little baby boy is 16 years old and 12 inches taller than me. We have passed through diapers, tantrums, and spilled milk at the dinner table. We are completely done with the heavy duty parenting of babies, toddlers, tweens… and almost done with teenage years. It is a great spot to look back and see how far we have come.

Obviously, the kids don’t know about the sleepless nights I spent feeding a newborn every 2 hours; the worry over fevers and finances; the loop in my fatigued brain saying, “Am I doing this right?” They remember an inflatable pool on our cement patio; donuts on Saturday mornings and wrestling with daddy before bedtime.

Now we look back at twenty years worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and realize there are no more bath nights and bedtime stories. The training wheels are done, tiny black tap shoes were sold at a garage sale and the tooth fairy will not visit anymore. They are having adventures on their own, but we still have a little more family time to treasure on our journey with our three young adults walking tall beside us.

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A Father’s Love

Jeremiah 29.11Mr. K has been out of a job for 6 months. We never thought it would take so long for him to find a job and there is no way to know how much longer it will be. It is difficult to see a talented, hard-working man not be used to his full potential in a work-place environment, though he has been very productive at home and helpful to many others in his volunteer services.

The waiting is difficult, but the understanding of God’s timing is not. There are many examples of God staying his hand to answer prayer so we take comfort from these examples in the Bible. We believed in God’s faithfulness when Mr. K had a job, why would we stop now? We knew God loved us when Mr. K had a job, does he loves us less now? Of course not, that would be ridiculous! God is rich in mercy, overflowing with grace, giving us His best every day.

The other day, Mr. K drove over an hour to drop off a care package for The Boy who is working as a counselor at a Christian camp for the summer. They didn’t get to see each other there, but The Boy texted later to say thank you. He wrote, “You got all my favorites! How did you know I was almost out of gum?” A father knows what his son loves. A father goes out of his way to meet his son’s needs and to make him feel loved and special. There is nothing Mr. K wouldn’t do for the Boy and over the years he has proven his love, care, and sacrifice over and over again. God loves us the same way. We trust God knowing that our value is not in what we do but in who we are in Christ Jesus. The job will come when the timing is right.

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It Takes a Village

1 John 3

When people earnestly say “It takes a village to raise a child,” I know they mean it. But their actions seem to change the sentiment into, “It takes a village to raise MY child.” It can be disheartening to hear entitled speeches and media posts filled with people living for themselves without a thought for their struggling neighbor.

I’ve been blessed to work with so many unselfish people over the years. Moms who work full-time yet still become president of the PTA. Men who coach soccer, baseball and football even when they don’t have a child on the team. People who work in service organization to support schools and donate countless volunteer hours to students. But there are many people who look to their own family and do only what serves their own children.

There are kids in our “village” who don’t have elders to help them. That is when neighbors, teachers, friends and other capable and kind adults can step in to say, “I will help you.” Very early on in our parenting, a wise mentor told Mr. K and I that if we were blessed to have our family, then we ought to see how we can bless other children who didn’t have our same network of support. Parenting is hard work. It becomes harder still when we feel isolated or overloaded with stress and that is when we need each other most.

Politics and policies don’t matter to children who need the help we can give them today. Be aware of what you can do with what you have for the people in your life right now – especially those who cannot help themselves. To paraphrase a famous quote, let’s not ask what our village can do for us, but what we can do for our village.

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Envy

 

 

Peace Pic

When I was a young mom I met a lovely woman at church who was the epitome of everything I admired.  She was smart, friendly, and kind.  She had a wonderful husband and family, an interesting job, and she was as pretty as a model.  She invited me over for lunches and we had play dates with our kids in her spacious home.  I envied her uncluttered house. I envied her huge yard.  I envied HER.   It was a struggle for me in my dumpy, lumpy, frumpy state to see her have all the things I wanted for myself and I had to pray for God to help me with my attitude.  My friend was transparent in sharing her life with me and I saw that there was nothing fake or contrived about her.  She was genuinely sweet and wise and deeply spiritual, but I found out that her life was not as simple and charmed as I thought.

She told me about her medical issues, financial difficulties, and problems with extended family members.  I was heartbroken to learn about the abuse she suffered in her childhood.  She shared her life with me as a testimony of how God carried her through her many trials.  I saw her blessings and assumed it had all been easy for her, but I didn’t know about all she went through.  It is just like when I see the pictures and events people post on Facebook which are the highlighted moments and not the whole story.

No one is exempt from trials. Christ followers do not live in an isolated blessing bubble.  I sure don’t.  People may think my life is perfect but they do not know about my hardships.  I am exceedingly grateful for what I have and I do not envy anyone their blessings because I do not know what soul-shaping events they went through that I never want to experience myself.  When the hard days come, I will praise God for my blessings, hold tight to His peace, and post my highlights on Facebook.

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Marriage is like a Garden

Pom Tree Poster

Invest in your marriage and tend to it with love and consideration. Your devotion will bear fruit in time, like a well-cared for garden. Be aware of the worries of everyday life that slowly nibble away at the strength of your union.  Distracting issues are like little pests and will damage even the most fruitful garden.  May God bless your marriage, my friend!

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Head Tapes

Blog Head Tapes Picture

My kids seem to need a soundtrack from the moment they wake up until they sleep. They play music in the car, while they do their homework, when they exercise and even when they walk through the house. Many years ago there were things called cassette tapes which would be put into a cassette player to listen to some great 80’s music. Now of course, there are all kinds of ways to listen to music with iPods, MP3 players and even cell phones.  As easy and accessible as these forms of music recordings are, old-fashioned cassettes are what I picture when I say to myself, “Stop playing those negative tapes in your head!”

All of us have an ongoing internal dialogue throughout the day.  I talked with a few friends about what they say to themselves and here are some negative head tapes they shared with me:

“I can’t handle this!”

“I’m going crazy!”

“Why me?”

“I messed up.”

“I don’t deserve this good thing happening to me. Something bad will happen now.”

And the ever-popular name-calling, “I am stupid, clumsy, lazy…”

My personal collection includes two hit tapes, “Depressing Thoughts,” and “Anxiety!”  I have found that it doesn’t help to stop playing a negative tape.  What needs to happen is a replacement recording.

Depressing Thoughts

Aside from my daily bible reading, prayer time and listening to sermon messages, there are a few things I do when my spirit is down.  I count my blessings. If I am having negative thoughts about my body for example, I thank God that I have two healthy feet so I can walk on my own.  I have eyes to see and ears to hear and mind that can think.  There are so many other things to be grateful about but that is a start.

Another thing I do when I am depressed is praise God.  I listen to worship music and sing at the top of my voice while I am doing housework or driving. When I don’t have any words, I read the psalms out loud and that eases my sorrow.  Sometimes it takes a few hours, or it may take a few days but that is how I get through my low times.

Anxiety

For anxious thoughts that begin with “What if…” I say to myself, “If it is not happening now, it is not happening,” and that gets me through the moment.  When I feel overwhelmed and think, “I can’t handle this!” I replace it with “This is hard, but I can do it.”  Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, praying and meditating on God’s word are other tools that help in my battle with anxiety.  Challenges make me fret and I may not be able to stop negative thoughts from popping into my head but I am learning I have the control to replace the negative head tapes.

Maybe one day my unhelpful head tapes will be moldy oldies and I will have a continuous new soundtrack of affirming tapes to share like my favorite 80’s classic tape collection!