Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Tough Job...Parenting

"Mom, my tooth really hurts."  I had suspicions that the tooth was beginning to bother him.  I had heard him mention it a couple of times over the past couple of weeks.  We had rescheduled his dentist appointment to have the last two cavities fixed when he got sick the day before his original appointment.  Now, his new appointment isn't for another two weeks. Great.  I have a new employee coming in for training tomorrow, and I'll be gone for another week next week.  Rich operates on appointments and is booked through next week.  Oh, and then there's the problem that we have such a great pediatric dentist that it's hard to get an appointment with him.  Mix all of that together and you still have an 8-year-old boy with a toothache.  A toothache that he's been hiding from us because he thought we would be upset.  (This is where I lose it and just sob and sob.)  We've never displayed frustration or anger when he's sick.  Or have we?  Maybe he's overheard us trying to work out who was going to stay home with him when he woke up sick or who was going to take off work to take him to the dentist or doctor.  Maybe he's heard us talking about the costs.  I just don't know.  Wow.  I never ever want him to feel like he can't tell us things.  Particularly regarding his health.
He's been through a lot in his 8 short years of life.  He's had injuries, illnesses, allergies, ADHD, Aspergers and severe acid reflux.  We battle the last four on that list, every. single. day.  And because of the last three, we also struggle with his teeth.  He's had too many cavities for his age.  He grinds his teeth at night, will only drink bottled water (because of the Aspergers), loves candy, eats in the middle of the night (because he's always hungry due to acid reflux) and vomits often (due to severe acid reflux).  Put all of that together and you have the perfect formula for cavities. 
No parent wants to hear that their kids have cavities.  It's hard to not take it as a personal judgement against your parenting abilities.  At least that's how I feel.  I can hear the disappointment in the dentist's voice which sends me out with such guilt and shame.
Almost every day is a challenge.  I absolutely hate to say it's because he has special needs.  I never want that to be a's just a reality.  A reality that can often times be lonely.  Not many understand.  So here I sit feeling like a horrible parent.  Full of guilt and shame that I can't even take care of my child's teeth.  Feeling as though I'm fighting a battle all alone.  Sitting in the home office, sobbing as I type this...while sounds of playing come from the living room.  (Hold one moment while I blow my nose...)  So...I guess that tooth doesn't hurt anymore.  So maybe all of his teeth aren't going to fall out of his head after all.  Maybe I should gather my composure and make a plan to call the dentist's office tomorrow.  Maybe they can fit him in next week and Rich can take him.  (The dark clouds are beginning to part and the damning voices are quieting down.)  My sweet, wonderful friend just called me...for something completely different.  Her few words were certainly encouraging.
Parenting is tough but satan is a liar.  Guilt and shame do not come from the Lord.  Yes, we have made mistakes as parents.  Careless, stupid mistakes.  I have been walking in hurt, anger, frustration, defeat, guilt and shame for several years.  Some of that stems from things I should have done differently.  The rest stems from things I had/have no control over.  Both of our children have experienced some bad parenting.  BUT, I am not the author and finisher of my children's lives.  I am called to love them, guide them and care for them.  I will not be perfect.  Where I fail, the Lord will protect and restore.  I have to believe that...otherwise, the guilt and shame rush back in and the crying starts all over again.
I must dig down deep and get rid of this guilt and shame once and for all.  I have carried it long enough.  It's time to lay it down at the foot of the Cross.  Tomorrow is a brand new day.  I have 1.5 hours of this day left with my son and hopefully a bit more time with Tori before she goes to bed.  So if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go beat my boy in a game of checkers. :)
Thank you for listening...whether it was by choice or not.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Seniors...And I'm Not Talking Geriatrics

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always.  As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."
Senior 2013.  I've seen that phrase many, many times over the past couple of months and every time it catches my breath.  I feel like it reaches up off the page and grabs my heart with an unforgiving grip.  My sweet little girl is graduating in 8 short months.  I've been told to "hang on tight" because the senior year is wild and crazy.  So far, it is certainly living up to its reputation.  As though the reality of the first week of her senior year was not enough, we had to go ahead and order her cap and gown...the very first days of school.  I breathe in with a slight twinge of anxiety on that one.
Tomorrow, I will be forced to dive even further into the reality of how little time I have with her.  For tomorrow, we take senior pictures.  I want so much to enjoy these times with her.  How does a mother separate her sorrow from her joy?  I look forward to seeing her have fun posing for my good friend Donna Evans.  Donna is so good and will have her laughing in no time. Tori has such a great sense of style and knows exactly what she wants.  Helping her choose her outfits has been fun.  (Except for last night when she started having last minute wardrobe anxiety.)  But honestly, she would make a potato sack look good! (I suppose I'm a little bias.) I just know the pictures are going to be wonderful.  As I stand to the side and watch my daughter blossom in front of the camera, I'm sure reflections of the past and dreams of the future will be running through my mind.
She has a promising future ahead of her.  She has set her eyes on a college that we are very happy about.  (Now we're believing God will provide a way.)  She has a great head on her shoulders, as they say.  She is a girl young woman that lives her life for the Lord.  She is a growing leader.  She loves with her whole heart and is loyal to the end.  She is everything we could ever dream of...and we can take very little credit for it all.  We stand in wonder at who she has become.  The future for her is truly exciting.  I can only imagine how she is going to change the world around her.  She's special.  No really, she. is. special.  I can't help but believe that the Lord has a big plan for her life.  I know.  I'm her momma.  Of course I think those things.  But if you know her, you believe it too.
Fear.  That is what Rich and I battle.  Fear that she will meet a boy, fall in love and then move far away.  (Far = anything further than our backyard)  Fear that she will get herself into a situation and not know what to do.  Fear that she will carry on with her life and forget about us.  Fear that we won't play an intimate part of her life anymore.  Fear that she will go to Wal-Mart without us, in the middle of the night.  Fear for the first time she is sick and I can't get to her to help take care of her.  (Thank God for our close friends the Kennedys that will take really good care of her.)  You want them to grow and become rock-awesome adults, but a part of you wants to hang on...forever.  But that's not healthy and we know it. 
Trust.  That has to be the new word of the day.  Trust that the Lord will condition our hearts and minds as He takes her hand and walks her through life.  He's always been in control...we just forget it sometimes.  Trust that we have raised her to make wise decisions.  Trust that she will be safe.  Trust that she will call home.  Trust that she will want to come home for weekend visits.  Trust that she will continue to be upfront and honest with us.  Trust that she will continue to open up to us and have those deep, intimate conversations with us.  Trust that our relationship is going to strengthen, not weaken.
I know these things can be done.  I've seen mother after mother do it.  I've seen some do it better than others.  I want to be one that does it well.  I need His wisdom and comfort as we travel into new waters with our "Senior 2013".  
Lord God, may they be a graduating class that turns the world upside down for You.  May Your glory and anointing be peculiarly strong upon them.  May their hearts be made of good soil.  May Your Word forever be rooted deep into their hearts.  Protect them all Lord.  Us mommas and daddies are scared spitless.  Comfort us so that we do not all try to move into the dorm room across the hallway from them.  Thank you Father that You knew this day would come and nothing in the future will be a surprise to You.  Hold her hand and guide her with one hand, and hold ours in the other.  We all need everything You've got as we transition into a new way of life.   May we learn to look forward to upcoming celebrations.  May the remaining days at home be filled with love and laughter.  Amen.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Title Worship

The gift that is on you will destroy you if what is in you cannot sustain you.  ~ Christine Caine
I'm in the middle of a project at work that requires me to interact with many types of people, throughout many places in the world and from all walks of life.  As I work so closely with these people, I'm beginning to know their character.  Many of them hold titles that are highly revered in the world.  Some "wear" the title better than others.  Most of them do not know the Lord and although it turns my stomach to see someone think so much of themselves because of their education and/or title it does not surprise me when they act this way.  However, true sadness and frustration sets in as I see people within the Body of Christ acting the same way.  What is it about a title that makes us forget Who's we are and how our Father expects us to act? 
One of the things that has been instilled in me since I was a young child is respect.  You respect your elders.  You respect those in authority.  Overall, you show respect to people...period.  I try my best to live by those teachings, but it isn't always easy.  You see, as I've grown older I've become less and less impressed with a title.  I've discovered that a title does not necessarily reflect a person's character.  You would think that it would...and it absolutely should.  However, I've seen many people whose character far exceeded their title...and many who's fell short. 
For instance, there is a wonderful woman of God that works on our custodial staff at work.  Now for some, it would be easy to just walk past her in the hallway and not think a thing about her.  But taking the time to talk to her has enriched my life.  She is a woman of the Word.  She always has a book she's reading (right now it's on fasting).  She always has her bible with her and you can find her reading it during her break time.  She is loving, friendly, humble and hardworking.  She speaks to everyone.  She shows kindness and concern to all.  She takes great pride in doing her job well.  Her inner beauty goes before her and the Spirit of the Lord is all over her!  Her character far exceeds her earthly title. In the eyes of many, she's at the bottom of the totem pole.  But do not be deceived!  Ms. Barbara holds a high position in the Kingdom of God.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will one day hear the Lord say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  She certainly makes it easy for me to show her respect.  She always brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart.  
Others do not make it quite so easy.  Sometimes I have to dig really deep (and pray a lot) to muster up the respect that the Lord expects me to give others.  Their lack of character does not give me a right to disrespect them.  It is crazy to let their sin push me into my own sin.  It's like reaching into the pig pen to pick up some mud to sling at the pig, just to fall into the pig pen myself!
No one in the Body of Christ should ever, ever, never-ever find themselves slinging mud at one another.  We should also keep in mind that no one person/title is greater than the other. Romans 12:3-8 tells us, "3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."  Jockeying for a title should never be on our "to do" list.  In fact, we better approach a new position with sober judgment.  To whom much is given, much is expected. (Luke 12:48)  The gift...the title...that is on us will destroy us if what's in us can't sustain us.  Let's not worship a title...let's worship the King.  If we will set our eyes on Him, He will place us in the right place at the right time.  And when we get there, let's not forget Who put us there!  Let's not seek our own recognition.  Let's make sure He always receives the glory.  Let's not treat someone else as though we are greater.  Let's not get too big for our britches...