Parenting is STUPID HARD!

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Sometimes I feel like I understand why wild animals eat their young.

“Ugh. Parenting is STUPID HARD sometimes!”

That was the beginning of a Facebook post recently. I hit another bump in the road of this parenting journey. I know we’ll get through this, but sometimes it’s such a huge struggle. It’s enough of a struggle to get the everyday demands of our lives taken care of, keep everybody moving forward in a positive direction, and try to do it with a smile on my face. Especially when all I want to do right now is SCREAM and STOMP MY FEET WILDLY!!!!

We’ve been in a similar situation before, so it makes this go ‘round even more frustrating. In addition, some lies and deception were uncovered. Oh, I asked the right questions. At the right time. For months. I was aware there could be a problem. That’s why I asked the questions. I trusted the answers and extended grace.

As we parent and grow our children I believe the boundaries we have in place get wider. When our kids are young, they have narrow boundaries. Right from wrong is taught, boundaries are enforced more frequently, there is a lot more oversight, and children learn how to navigate within the boundaries. When they cross them, there is swift correction.

As children get older, the boundaries begin to widen like the top of a funnel. They are given more trust and more freedom. More of a chance to practice staying in the boundaries before they’re out on their own. As parents, we’re still there to point them back to the center when they get too far off course.

This situation was off course. My instant reaction was anger. “HOW COULD YOU!” I wanted to take away every ounce of freedom and every convenience this child has been given. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS?!” “HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE?” “HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?!” “I ASKED! WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP!” “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I HAVE GIVEN SO THAT YOU COULD DO WHAT?!!”

So!! Angry!!!

Some of those words may have come out.

I had to breathe. And breathe again. And take a little space. And breathe some more. And say more than a few prayers to know how to proceed.

While there are natural and imposed consequences to this situation, I want so much more for my child than consequences. I want them to clearly understand a boundary was crossed, but I don’t want them to simply learn to dance close to the boundary or to hide the evidence when the line is crossed. I don’t want them to get used to going so far off course they feel there is no way back or no help available. I don’t want them to get lost. I want them to know I always love them, always want what’s best for them, and will always fight for them.

So, some course correction is in order.

This isn’t to simply get out of a difficult situation nor is it to just barely get back in the “acceptable” boundaries. No, the goal is restoration. The goal is to make different choices in this life journey so that they may live a full life as the person they have been created to be. And I want to deal with the root issues of lying, deception, and hiding. Those are not descriptors I want for my children.

We had some hard conversations. My child was in so deep the reality of the situation could not be seen clearly. It was hard to point that out and see my child feel broken. But reality and crossed boundaries need to be understood. The potential ramifications in the future needed to be clearly considered as well. There were lots of tears.

There are still hard days ahead. We’ve written a contract with clear expectations and clear consequences. We’ve included daily steps and longer term steps so we see the progress as we move forward. I’m trying to show that little actions, every day, lead us forward on the journey. We can’t expect to leap forward to where we want to be without the hard work now. Nor can we ignore those little choices that are leading the wrong direction and expect them to somehow get better with time. No, personal action, in the right direction, is required.

I’m also working hard to create a safe place of clear communication so that we can rebuild trust. I want my children to come to me in the joys and struggles of life. I don’t want them to ever feel they are too far gone to receive my help and love.

This week I’m also incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of parenting solidarity, concern, hugs, laughter, and encouragement from friends. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people and that is such a huge blessing as I walk this parenting journey solo. I may be solo, but all of you make me realize I’m not alone. My sincerest gratitude and thank you to each of you.

Correcting a wrong course is hard and painful, but it can be done. I trust that my children and I will grow stronger in our relationship because we’re navigating this hard part of the path together, with His help.

 

 

One Word for 2017

wood-cube-abc-cube-letters-48898Intentional joy that leads to a deep confidence.

Wow.

Just one word.

Those were my words over the last several years. They have helped define me and focus me, moving me forward. There were tough times along the way and these words served as reminders and motivators. I wrote about last year’s word here: Just One Word

It’s amazing how much one little word can shape and change a person. Honestly, towards the end of the year I almost forgot what my word was. Then I thought maybe I had completely failed. Forgetting my word. Nope, change that negative self-talk. Stand tall. Be strong. Be confident.

Yep, there it is.

As I look back over my year of confidence, I see how I have grown more confident and sure of myself. Someone even commented on it last September. I only see them a few times a year, but they commented that I just seemed more sure of myself. More confident. More at peace. Yep. I feel it.

There were several situations that helped grow me over the past year. They weren’t all easy. Most were pretty difficult or took a lot of intention. Some were just moments of pure joy, just resting in the experience at hand. Oh. There are those words from previous years, still serving me and carrying me forward.

Realizing how much these words have defined me made me excited to hear from God about this year’s word. He’s the one that selects it. He’s the one who desires It for me. So I’ve talked to Him about it. I’ve waited. I’ve watched. I didn’t really understand it at first, but it’s making more sense. And just as I initially didn’t think I had grown in confidence much, I know this word will be developed over the year. That’s so exciting!

While I loved the joy and still look for it, I feel so much more centered. So while joy feels more exuberant and lively, my word this year feels more settled and strong. Just a deep seated confidence that reflects in my world around me. I want to continue to experience this new space of joy in a different way. I want to continue to experience life fully. I want to experience the absolute beauty of life in the mundane, in the challenges, in the daily living of this one life I have been given. There it is.

Beauty.

I want to see the beauty all around me.

I want to see the beauty in the journey He has brought me on; through the struggles and
the joy, through the complete dependence on the one who has created me. I want to see the beauty in the painful and hard spaces. I know it’s there too. I want to see beauty in the dreams He has given me and the beauty as I work to bring them to reality.

I want to get out and see the beauty of His creations, from the mountains and streams to the oceans and deserts. I want to notice the little flowers that grow out of hard spaces and I want to experience the beautiful laughs and smiles of treasured friends. And I want to help my kids find the beauty around them too.

I also want to see beauty in the waiting, in the stillness, in the pause. Sometimes I know I have to sit still and just take in my surroundings. I want to see the beauty in this space too, no longer feeling the anxiety that used to mark my life. I want to see the beauty in all of it and I don’t want to miss a thing as He creates and moves through me.

2017, I’m setting my intentions, collecting the beautiful moments, and preparing for the next steps in the journey. I don’t want to miss the beauty of this life as I live with intention, joy, and confidence.

Wow. He’s still that good.

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Today, I Started Swimming

Not literally.

I didn’t go do a polar plunge or swim laps in a pool.

I started swimming towards the shore of a vision I’ve had for a few years.

I just did a quick search for the meaning of vision, in hopes to put a put a bit of context to my swimming adventure. A vision can be a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination. It can also be something sensed, that’s immaterial or intangible. Super clear, right? Follow along here for a minute…

So I’ve had this vision for a few years that there is a dark sky and deep waters in front of me. I know I have to go into the water that’s choppy, like a storm is close. I can’t see an end. It feels like an endless ocean with a strong undercurrent swirling just below me. I have this deep knowing that the waters won’t overcome me; I won’t be lost in them and the undercurrent won’t consume me. Yet when it’s dark, kind of scary, an undercurrent tugging at me and there’s no end in sight, well, why would I want to go in?

For a couple years now I’ve seen it. I’ve resisted it. It just feels yucky. But I’ve known I needed to understand it. And I’ve known I needed to go in the water.

Last spring I met with a Spiritual Director. That’s a person that can help you listen deeper and discern answers as you seek to grow in your spiritual life. It was pretty amazing. I told her about the dark ocean-like vision I’ve had. I also told her about other visions I’ve had about my path. That’s a long story in itself, but God revealed a wide path that continued on for my life. He showed me a winding path that was entering some mountains. There would be hard moments, but I also had a deep reassurance that my path continued for a long journey.

As I shared this, she asked a few simple questions of the ocean vision. “Is there a boat around? Or a life jacket? Maybe a dock to rest on? I would like to see a place for you to find rest.” Things changed dramatically after she asked this.

There wasn’t a dock, but there was another side. Some of the darkness began to clear up. This was a lake. A big one, but it was still a lake. There was another side! I could still feel the undercurrent yet felt that same sensation of knowing the undercurrent wouldn’t consume me.

We began to explore the undercurrent a bit more. It was kind of like leaning into fears that aren’t so scary when you turn on the light. I realized the undercurrent was the regular demands on my life that will always be there. Being a mom to teenagers and doing it alone; routines of laundry and dishes and housework that must be done; paying bills and balancing a budget; finding places to fit in running and fitness; making time for friends and crazy adventures. The list, the undercurrent, could go on. Those things are in my life and will be, but God is calling me to more.

Let’s explore that then. What is the more? Why am I being called into the water?

Oh.

An answer came that quick. And the skies got a bit brighter.

It’s the writing, speaking, encouraging, equipping, motivating, pastoring others. It’s the blog and books and conferences. It’s pointing others to know Him. He’s calling me to do His work. And some of this work is life-long for me, but there is some hard work that must be done now. It has to be done in the deep. With Him.

I visualized myself standing on the shore. I looked at Father God. I could sense what was waiting for me on the other side of the shore. Something I’ve been praying about for a long time. I didn’t really want to get in the water though. I told him I could swim, but I’m not that great. I kinda wanted to take the path that I could see going around the lake.

“Stop dancing on the shore. I have called you. I have equipped you. I am the one growing you. I am the one perfecting you. I have not called you to walk on the path around the lake like I have others, so stop going that way. Quite dancing on the shore and get in the water. Let’s go.”

Yep. Pretty clear words.

Recently I realized I’ve been dipping my toes in the water. I’ve waded in a bit. I was sort of treading water part way in. Getting comfortable with that undercurrent tickling my toes. Seeing what was on the other side of the shore.

Today, something in the sermon at church changed my focus. Sharpened it a bit. And the reminder came to me. I’m called. I’m equipped. It’s all here, with His help. I can do the hard work. Now. Now is the time to do the hard work.

So I started swimming.

swimming

I stopped treading water in place and started swimming.

The more you practice at anything, the better you get. While I feel like I’m not a great swimmer now, I know I’m capable of the hard work and will improve. I’m reminding myself I can do hard things. I can survive the undercurrent. Maybe I can even create my own current. With His help.

Today, I started swimming.

Not just to swim or avoid the undercurrent or even just to say I got off the shore. I started swimming to be obedient to Him, to follow Him, to get to the other side and continue on the path ahead of me.

I’m sure there will be hard days ahead. I know it’s just for a season, until I reach the other side of the shore. I know I’ll get there. And I already know I won’t be worn out like a sea tossed castaway. No, I’ll get out of the water, get that hug, and start down the next part of the path.

I can do hard things. And so can you. Where has He called you to go? Are you dancing on the shore too? Or today, are you ready to start swimming?! Let’s go!