Valuable

 

 

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This is a Bible verse we have all heard.  Sometimes it seems like a solid line of crap; sometimes, we just cant feel like God has a plan for us at all.  Or maybe if He does, we don’t like it.  Or, I don’t know (“speaking for a friend” here of course) being the mom of kids who are searching for their way and hitting stumbling blocks, being in the mom position sucks worse.  I can’t fix things.  I can’t smooth the path.  What I can do is remind my kids (ooops, I mean, my friend can remind her kids) that their identity is not found in any earthy accomplishment or relationship.

So kids, who are you?

First, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalms 139:14   Take that, Satan!

Second, you are loved.  I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3  Boom!

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

Third, you have value.  Matthew 10:31 Have no fear, you are worth more than many sparrows.  (Really, God, you couldn’t have given us something more than sparrows to compare our worth to?  I know, I know.  See Luke 12:6)

And lastly, and most importantly, you are His children.  And trust me when I say as a parent, “Don’t mess with my kids!”  As a child of God, your Father orders his angels to guard you in all of your ways. Psalms 91:11

Romans 8:28 And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Trust that God has your very best in mind when he determines your steps. Proverbs 16:9 says so.  Sometimes the path is hard, but armor up, and press on.  Great things await!

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Mixed Emotions

I haven’t blogged for a while.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because every time I have started, I haven’t been able to find words – and for me, that is a pretty big deal. The past weeks have brought many lasts:  last proms, last last band concert, last jazz concert, last theatre awards, last academic awards, last AP tests.  We have begun the wonderful celebration with our friends, being invited to over 80 grad parties, where we sit with the other parents, split in half.  Half of each of us struggles with our lasts and our impending “loss” while the other halves are so excited to watch what our kids can do when they spread their wings.

James left us yesterday.  We were gifted a bonus year with him when he opted so save money and live at home his sophomore year at NDSU.  Having him home was beautiful.  He is such a rock solid kid who was needed here this year, and certainly God knew that when he planted him here for 9 extra months.  But his time with us is done, and he left the driveway yesterday packed for a summer at his internship.  His leaving ripped open my heart for a while.  And then when I got myself pulled together, I witnessed how much his sister loves him as he held her in his arms and she cried, knowing huge changes are coming to our family.  Huge wonderful changes.  And even wonderful changes can be hard.

I have had so many days lately when I am so very very proud of my children.  Yes, their high school accomplishments are great.  Yes, their awards and accolades sometimes floor me.  Mostly, way more important than those things, are the words I have heard and read about my kids lately, the character I have seen shining in each of them, the way they are loved and love their friends passionately.  For those things, I am so happy.

However, for the fact that pretty soon, I wont be part of the day to day of these kids, I just don’t know how to be okay with that.

In Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac.  To sacrifice is to surrender a possession as on offering to God.  Abraham was all “Ok, tie the boy up and lets do this. God will provide.”  Where is my trust like that?  All I am doing is sending my kids out to be adults.  Watching them take the first steps of independence.  Allowing them the freedom to become who they were created to be, in fact, encouraging them to do so.  So where is my trust that God has them placed where He wants them, forging ahead to do His plan, and covered them with His protection?  God is simply asking me to surrender them to Him and trust that He has them.

Sounds so easy.  I am working on it.

This is our Dead Week

I didn’t pick up a sub job today because, well, because it is prom week.  You may be thinking “Prom week?  Seriously?  Cant work because her kids are going to prom???”  I wish it was that simple.

A few years ago, I happened to be sitting in a Booster meeting when the subject of Post Prom came up and of course I did what every good Booster mom does.  I sat quietly and didn’t volunteer.  Seriously.  I was so proud of myself.  But that quiet “pretend I cant do this” act didn’t last long and somehow I got myself roped into not only serving on the committee, but being the chairperson, which also meant poor Bill was the treasurer. Our house has been 100% committed to Post Prom for five years.

Now, you may be thinking that my committee is a powerhouse of 45 members who share the load and the work is light.  Think again.  My extremely committed, over-worked, stressed, anxious committee of about 6 moms is working super overtime this week to shore up all the details for an event that keeps 400 students safe the night of Prom.  Yes, you heard me.  This core group of women have shown up at monthly meetings all school year, planning, scheming, and now are pounding the pavement shoring up details for this event.  If our high school has 600 juniors and seniors, that is 1200 parents (biologically speaking) and these 6 women represent a mere .005 of the parent population. (I am good at math.)

I want to give a HUGE shout out to my girls – the crew who have raised $80,000 over the years I have been chairperson.  The crew who have given up their open nights, their storage space, their mental health, and mostly, and this is huge, their enjoyment of prom day.  Instead of being 100% present with your sons and daughters, I know you are all thinking about the details of Post Prom, planning contingencies, drowning your bodies in caffeine knowing not only are you about to stay up all night but are already running on empty because of dead week.  I appreciate you all so much.  I appreciate the friendships.  I appreciate knowing I have you on speed dial.  I appreciate the texts this week “What do we need to finish last minute?”  I appreciate knowing I don’t have to worry about the areas you are in charge of because you have this mastered.  We have kept our kids safe, and provided them with many excellent memories.  THANK YOU!!!  Next year at this time, we can be planning summer vacations instead.  Can you think of a fundraiser for that?

Now, I have to take four Advil and start running around town marking stuff off the list.

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What?  Monday isn’t a skip day for you?  Well rest up somehow, we have Post Grad to plan.

As the World Turns

“Watch the weather,” I texted.  “Big snow storm coming.”

“I will buy a dog sled team if I have to.  I am coming!!” was the reply.

Last weekend, my childhood besties and I spent three days in the beautiful south, and by beautiful south I mean the Twin Cities where it snowed 22″.  What’s a girl’s weekend without some sort of adventure? In years past, it has mostly been massive shopping sprees, but this year, it was shoveling, running through snow barefoot,  and sitting on the deck in the hot tub (while sporting winter hats) jamming to the 80’s music play list one of our brilliant 8th grade sons made.  Who is responsible for the genius level of children the three of us are raising? We are of course – best moms in the history of ever. Our kids know what is right.  This was seriously needed time for forever friends.

Grad party plans are underway.  Invites went out this week.  Sorta.  The ones that are hand delivered went out.  I still haven’t addressed a single one.  Seriously.  Cant get my mind to go there.  But the centerpieces for the tables have been started.  My kitchen island has morphed into a crafting center.  Which is perfect because I cant be expected to cook without counter space so it takes the pressure off my culinary expectations.  Anyways, we have decided that no one cares to look at a million pictures of kids at grad parties – guests are there for free food, lets be honest.  And they are hoping someone they know is there so they can sit and visit while pretending to look at pictures.  Well, good news for you.  Karalyn is providing much better entertainment for all our guests this year.  You wont have to pretend you care what the kids looked like at age 7, 12, 14, etc.  Relax, have a bowl of mashed potatoes, and enjoy.  That is our goal.

Speaking of mashed potatoes, I have the second round of frozen mashed potatoes ready to reheat today for testing.  The first batch was too runny.  We have to get this recipe mastered so I can begin the task of 120 pounds of peeling and mashing.  That’s the number we landed on  – anyone have feedback on that?  Is 120 pounds of potatoes enough for 350 people? I mean, Alli could eat 5 pounds by herself but she is abnormal and this is a grad party where people wont eat as much as normal.  I guess we wing it and I will let you know how it turns out.

Karalyn became an FCCLA State Champ this week – dont even know what FCCLA stands for, but she had to wear real pants and for that, I am so proud of her!!  She had a great time at the competition and I think that is mostly because she missed some school.  Lets be real, senioritis is a real thing.  For moms too.  I got an email this week from a fellow mom saying she has senioritis and is so over high school – I replied with a hearty “Amen, preach, sister!”

And then my kids came home with their blue grad gowns.  First of all, what are they made of?  They smell so nasty.  But mostly, oh I had to swallow a big lump and look away when they put them on.  And so we killed two birds with one stone – “Take them off and hang them up right away.”  Win win – I no longer have to see the “kids” in them, and they can start airing out.  Seriously what chemical is that????

Andy tested out of a summer class this week – I guess when the results matter, he is fully capable of prepping and succeeding.  Now his summer mountain biking trip is back on.  And THAT is all that matters to him.  Well, that and Doritos.

A while ago, I mentioned that five kids live here.  We have a spare.  He also is a senior, graduating and leaving our home this year.  Yep, lets just go for the gusto.  He took the first steps towards enlisting in the National Guard this week.  We are so proud of his decision!  Soon, he will know his summer and fall plans!

Also this week, our family got our first tattoo.  I say “our family” because it was a group thing, sorta.  I mean, it is only on Alli’s leg, but Bill had to bite his tongue, Karalyn had to see live video (she was at her FCCLA thing) and I had to hold her hand through the inking process.  I was prepared for childbirth-like squeezes but Alli was a champ.  She said she would have never had the composure to do this a year ago.  She is a strong, determined little fighter these days.

James woke up today to a little confirmation from God.  A sizable scholarship landed in his account.  When you aren’t quite sure about your path, but you are on the right one, just wait for God to reassure you that you are in His will, doing what He wants you to be doing.

It has been a full week of small and big moments in our home!  The reality that this chapter is ending very soon is kicking in big time.   This upcoming week is full of senior prom prep and the academic banquet.  So very many fun memories will be made in the next few days – soaking them all in and enjoying time with these young adults.  What a gift to watch them all starting to spread their wings.

…And then there are days…

When life is chugging ahead victoriously, that angers Satan.  When we are drawing closer to God, leaning on Him to provide clarity and direction, acknowledging what God is doing in our lives, Satan gets pissed.  So he lobs another grenade.

If Bruno Mars will catch a grenade for me, so will God.  And here we sit being attacked again.  Self-doubt, fear of what the future holds, physical symptoms, lack of sleep – all these things rear their ugly heads when the father of lies plants lines that are put on repeat in our minds.

Fear is a liar. 

When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

Oh this song is so powerful.

My place of content these days is my bed.  Under my super soft blanket.  Bill and Walter next to me, Netflix bingeing.  I can control what I hear, what I see, who I interact with and also nothing can go wrong in pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt.  My kids know they can join in on the binge any time they want, my door is open, and please bring snacks.  It is just my way of putting up safety walls.  Protecting myself from overload.

I am working on doing the same in my fake world.  You know, social media.  “Unfollow” is a beautiful option.  “Delete” is also a new friend I am getting to know.  Knowing what is healthy and what is not is something I am learning as I go.

Last night, I was told that forgiving someone doesn’t mean I have to open my arms and welcome them back into the fold.  Of course I probably knew that, but hearing it last night was eye opening because that is how I have been looking at this.  All or nothing.  However, I can choose to move on and still keep up protective walls and that is ok.  In fact, that is healthy.

And as my kids move on from the glorious experience known as high school, and I drop off the face of the high school earth, we will be set free from the many activities, stresses, and people who have required us to pull back and reestablish our boundaries.   And in opening our hearts to the new things God is about to do, we will continue to find healing.  Goodbye, old.  We don’t have to be friends ever again.  Hello, new.  Looking forward to learning what God has planned.

June 3, you are a liberation day for our family.

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When the Prayer Becomes a Testimony

During the lowest of low in our home, I would hold her and we would listen to worship music and pray.

“Dear God, take this away.  Take away the darkness, the struggles, the pain.  Bring back the joy.  Bring back the laughter.  Be here so we can feel You.”

And for a long time, it felt like He wasn’t listening.  He wasn’t answering.  He had our prayers on mute.

We know better.  We know He is always listening and in His time, we will see the big picture. But in those quiet dark nights, it was hard to believe He was hearing us because the process was longer than we wanted, the loss was deeper, and the consequences much more costly.

One of the songs we clung to was No Longer Slaves.

“No Longer Slaves”

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
You drowned my fears in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.”

This was a constant petition in our home.  “Please deliver her from the fear.  Aren’t you listening?  Why aren’t you fixing this???”
Fast forward to this weekend.  I was at a women’s retreat and after being reminded that I am worthy of God answering my prayers, this song played. For the first time, I heard it so differently.  I heard it as a claim of what God has done for her (and me).
We are no longer slaves to fear.  We have been delivered from the bondage of anxiety.  We are surrounded by His loving arms and we now stand and sing “We are children of God.”  It was the very moment when I realized our prayer had become truth of what He has done for our family and now needs to be our testimony.  God delivered our family from a time period that was absolutely destructive.  When we came to the very ends of ourselves, He was there to rescue us and rebuild us into what we need to be.  And that right there was our lesson.
Psalms 18:16 He reached down from on high – and took a hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.
2 Kings 20:5 This is what the Lord says, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.  I will heal you.”
Isiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, Your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you “Do not fear, I will help you.”
God keeps his promises.  We just had to do our part.  More on that next time.
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On a lighter note, I went shopping with a dear friend this weekend and got my graduation dresses.  One for the party, one for the ceremony.  Check that off the list.  The more I can prepare, the less stress, right??  Right?????  Please tell me I am right.  Dress shopping is easy.  Addressing all the invites?   Well, for some reason, I keep putting that off.

All for the One

Matthew 18:12-14 12“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Two months ago, there was a big meeting in the theater of the high school.  My daughter sat in the back with me in tears, struggling for those breaths, brave enough to stick it out but yearning to leave.  When it was over, the students piled out the front of the theater to go about their evening plans, but one friend walked against the flow and came to her.  He came specifically to check on her and ask her if she was able to go on stage and run through the scene they were to brush up.  The image of him walking to her and his sincere concern is forever ingrained in my mind.  It was the most real-life example I have of the Bible passage of the shepherd searching for his one sheep.

This young man probably doesn’t even know the impact he had that day.  He was an unexpected example of the kind of love God calls us to show people.

Are we willing to walk against the flow?  To do the right thing when everyone else is taking the easy way out?

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