Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Enough is enough...

I don't pray enough
I'm not patient enough
I don't work hard enough
I'm not talented enough
I'm not kind enough (sometimes)
I'm not pretty enough
I don't smile enough
I'm not skinny enough
I'm not outgoing & friendly enough...

The list could go on and on, but it has to stop.  I have to start telling myself (and believing) that despite my faults, I am enough.
How else can I effectively parent my children?  
How can I show them how to be the person God made them to be in this fallen and faulty world that we live in? A world where nothing is ever enough? 

My head knows He created me with Divine design - that He doesn't make mistakes. My head knows there is purpose in every mistake I've ever made and every lesson I've had to learn. 
But as I often have in the past, I feel a disconnect between my heart & my head.

I want to KNOW it with every fiber of my being. To feel it spread throughout & permeate every thought and every far corner of my mind. Because THAT would help me live it and model it better to others, including my children. 

I don't want to be conceited. Bragging is not my thing. I do want the ability to maintain my outlook no matter the situation. When I'm criticized; when I don't "measure up" by someone else's standards; when I'm tempted to parent in anger or in response to embarrassment rather than with grace & love.

We live in a society that compares EVERYTHING and EVERYONE relentlessly.  It’s a world where “likes” and “shares” mean way too much! Already I can see how it affects my daughter who is only 10, and it greatly pains me!
I want her (and her brother) to know that life isn’t always fair and it isn’t always easy.  That sometimes things will happen that make it easy to be hard on ourselves. That things will happen that will be embarrassing and seem like the end of the world – but it’s not.  That things will happen that seem like things you can’t recover from – but you can.

That you can LIVE LOVED without looking down on others, but in way that makes them feel more special too.

I struggle for that balance still... know that I am a loved and treasured child of God, perfect in spite of all my imperfections.
 That's what I want my kids to know, now & in the future.

{Perhaps you've seen this story before, but I wanted to share even so.}

Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter's departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said:
"I love you and I wish you enough."
The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.
The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.
I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?"
"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.
When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"
She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more.
"When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
She then began to cry and walked away.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.
- Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On finding Grace in disappointment...

I remember Mama’s red eyes well.  She’d been crying and I could feel the hurt and disappointment in the air.

One of my brothers had been caught with something in his room.  Obviously something he wasn’t supposed to have, but I didn’t yet know what.

Through overheard conversations and the events to come, I eventually learned that he’d taken something from the grocery store without paying for it.

Mama made him take back those empty wrappers from the candy bars he’d eaten and talk to the manager at the store.

I have always thought my Mom made good parenting decisions. Ok, well, maybe not as a child, but as an adult, I have appreciated the lessons I learned from her.
It’s funny how you always think, “when I become a Mom, I’m gonna do this like Mom did, but not that.” {Sorry, Mom!}

Now that I’m a parent, it’s not uncommon to find myself wondering what Mom would do in certain situations.  Unfortunately, it’s not always convenient to call her and ask and, many times, the decision or discipline has to be made on the spot.

So when I realized earlier this week that one of my kids was a thief, I immediately thought back to what Mom did all those years ago.
Last Friday, I had to go clothing and shoe shopping for the trip I left for today.  The kids were relatively well behaved, but of course, always ask for things: “Mommy, can I get this? Mommy, can we get that? Mommy, what’s this? Can I have one?”

I get tired of answering those questions and, quite honestly, I get tired of saying “no.”  Checkout stands are the worst! This is where they put the little trinkets and “add-ons” that they KNOW children especially will want.

It was one of these tiny trinkets (the kind that cost .99¢) that ended up in my washing machine basin on Monday night.
As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and where it came from.  I knew I didn’t buy it and I knew one of my children took it.
As it turns out, another toy went through the wash too.
On Tuesday morning, both kids were sitting on the couch and I told them to stay there: I wanted to talk to them.  I went the to the laundry room to retrieve the toy and the stolen item and came back with one in each hand.

As I held the toy out, I asked, “Who does this belong to?” Sweetpea was quick to respond – “that’s mine!” So I gave it to her and reminded her to check her pockets before adding clothes to the laundry pile.
Then I opened my hand to reveal the stolen trinket and asked who it belonged to.
My son, 6, immediately said, “oh, that’s that thing from that store and Sweetpea stole it!”
I have to confess; I thought HE was the one who took it!

After all, he was the one who asked for it the most in the store. So I thought for sure, he was saying that to deflect that fact that he was the culprit.
I waited patiently for someone to confess.
I watched their faces and tried to read what they were thinking.
Buddy was already crying and insisting it wasn’t him. I didn’t know if I could believe him or not.

And to my surprise and dismay, Sweetpea confessed it was she who took it.
She claimed she didn’t take it off the counter. Rather, that she found it on the floor and put it in her pocket.

I asked her if it was hers.  I asked if she paid for it.  I asked who it belonged to and then I asked what we should do with it.
Luckily for her, she replied that we should take it back {that was my plan anyway}.

Regardless of where she found it, or how small it was, I know she heard me tell Buddy to put it (the same trinket) back.  And, as her Dad said, she wouldn’t have been so upset about it, if she hadn’t already known it was wrong.

The whole process was quite possibly more painful for me than for her.  In her case, the manager she spoke with was very lenient and thanked her for “doing the right thing and bringing it back.” I made sure she knew that it could’ve gone much differently.
While I  could have chosen NOT to go through with taking it back, I learned a long time ago not to let MY embarrassment affect my parenting decisions.  If I do that, I’m not making the best choice for my children.  In the long run, I want them to learn a lesson and grow up to be responsible citizens, not  do them a disservice to protect my own ego.

I want them to know the line between wrong and right isn’t blurred – it’s definite.

For me, as a Mom, I find the line between discipline and grace much harder to discern.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

All Tied Up...

I can remember it like it was yesterday... 
old & familiar all at once. 

Sleeping over at a friends' house... 
Her older sister also a friend... 
We needed pictures for our senior ad in the yearbook, so we decided some silly, fun photos were called for.  
The sister was the photographer. 
We flipped our heads over fast trying to catch the right shot. 
We hung over the side of the bed, we twirled, we laughed - a lot. 
If anyone would've told me then that my friend wouldn't be alive to see those pictures in the yearbook or to walk across the graduation stage, I would've called them a liar. 
I don't know if it's the upcoming HS reunion or unusual number of thoughts about my hometown, but something has me thinking about Stacy an awful lot these days. Not that it's unusual for me to think about her, but generally the heightened thoughts are around the anniversary of her death and that was back in April. 

Little cute bows.

That's how I wish I could end everything.
All nice and finished just so.  
The perfect ending no matter the subject or the story's beginning.

In grade school when they taught us how to write, there were definite steps. A process to make sure you fulfilled the formula; the final peg being the conclusion - the thing that wrapped it all up. 

But the words above?
They're something I wrote weeks ago and I can't bring myself to finish them. There's no nice neat way "to wrap it all up." 
No pretty bow to stick on it and call it done. 

Since I wrote these words, I've been back home for a visit.
Every time I return, as much as I've missed the area & the family there, there's part of me that can't leave again quickly enough. 

It pains me that I feel this way. 
I wish I didn't. 

But as I drove home a week or so ago, I was pretty sure John was beside me on the highway. I caught a quick glimpse but was afraid to turn and look closer. I made a beeline to 95 South. 

And every time I'm home, I think about Stacy. I keep thinking one day I'll go visit her grave - maybe bring flowers -but I never do. 
This too pains me. 

It's the oddest sensation really. 
To flashback & think about an old friend or an old time as if she is right there or it just happened; yet, also realize that person & that time are long gone & can't be gotten back. 

It's kind of like being asleep yet fully aware of the fact that what you are experiencing is just a dream. 

I think back on a lot of my adolescence that way. As if experiencing them at two extremes - nostalgic longing & a desire to run in the opposite direction. I'm not disillusioned enough to think that's not weird.  I know it's weird.

Oddly enough, I think that same concept is what's kept me from finishing the above post.
Some people, you will just always miss and always want back no matter.
For the rest of my life I will miss my friend.

At the same time, thinking about her is painful.
I'm diligent about how far I let my thoughts go when it comes to painful things.

I think I better get used to the absence of little cute bows...