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.

 

 

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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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You Matter

You matter, you matter, you matter!!

You mattered to so many people. You mattered to me. Our conversations, our dreaming, our laughs, they mattered to me. Our exploring hearts, our independent spirits, our past life struggles, they mattered to me. I still tell the story of setting off alarms in the palace and the Palestinian Authority looking for us. Maybe still… And adventures through the markets filled with deep, deep conversations. You touched my life in such a profound way. Even now when I struggle through situations I remember the words you said in your car one day after lunch, “You have to be okay letting it go, to the point all you need is Jesus.” I admired your faith, I admired your strength, I admired your heart. Sister, I am so sad to not have you here. The words from my message last month are still true, “and I know when we catch up we’ll talk all night as if no time has passed.” You mattered to me.

 

You being gone still makes me catch my breath in the worst possible way. THE WORST.

Friends, if you are in the deep dark lonely space, please please

PLEASE HEAR THIS–

YOU MATTER!!

I know sometimes this life is hard. Really hard. And it feels like a very singular experience at times, all alone in the deep dark with no way out. You may feel ready to end this life on your own terms. But you are not alone. We have this one life and we get to reach out and live it together. Please, you matter. If you’re in the deep, look for the light. It’s there. Maybe a tiny pinhole, but if you focus on it, it will grow. You will overcome, you will find the joy. Oh my friend, I promise!! Because you matter!!

There is so much hurt and hate in the world right now and I know it’s hard to even breathe some days. Keep doing it. One. Breath. At. A. Time. And if you know someone who is struggling, reach out. You don’t have to fix it for them. Just sit with them and breathe. One. Breath. At. A. Time. Tell them they matter. Tell them there is love all around pouring in. Just sit awhile and let it pour in.

For all of us, why do we get caught up in the fear? Why do we let the anxiety hold us down. Why do we let other people’s actions and reactions rule over us? Tell us who we are? Define us, that we should live in the dark? The dark of the night may come, sometimes we just have to hold on for the light.

Instead of treating others poorly, instead of shaming, arguing, telling half truths, manipulating and demanding our own way, how can we give a little more? How can we serve each other a little more? How can we simply say I’m sorry and extend forgiveness? How can we say I know it hurts and I’m here to listen? How can we just love a little more? Every. Day.

Friend, you were a pivot point in my life. I am so grateful for our conversations and laughter. My tears don’t stop right now, that you felt this was the best way out of the dark. My heart hurts incredibly, in a way I didn’t want to know it could. I’m trying to find my smile through the tears, because you were a pivot point for so many people. Family, friends, far and wide. The way your face lit up talking about your sponsor children in a foreign country. And when you got to sit them on your lap and meet their families. When you got to travel the world and meet new people… You changed all of our lives. For the better.

Thank you.

 

You are missed, because you matter.

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