Press Pause

 

Life is so full and somedays you may feel like you just can’t keep up. When you have a baby or toddler at home, you’re so sleep deprived you often don’t know which way is up. Many days you may feel like you’re just surviving.

Then the kids start preschool and elementary. Homework, friends, and sports begin to rule the day. Maybe you feel more like a taxi driver than a parent?

At this point, life doesn’t slow down, does it?! Middle school and high school sneak up fast. Tougher classes, more homework, demanding sports schedules, peer pressure, hormones gone wild, learning to drive, graduation requirements, college tours, and scholarship applications.

Oh, man.

Where’s the easy button like in the commercials?!

I’ve been thinking about all this a lot. Life can be busy and overwhelming, but I don’t want to miss the moments. I don’t want to just survive. I want more for my kids, my family, and the families I serve. After all, at the end of the day, – busy is not an honor badge.

So instead of pressing an easy button, maybe I need to press pause.

Pause
What if I create space in the middle of the busy, in the middle of the fullness of life, to intentionally connect with my kids. In doing so, what if that is teaching them a much-needed skill: that it’s okay to pause in life. To breath. To slow down. To think. To recognize and reconnect with each other and our creator.

And as we remind ourselves and teach our own families to pause, maybe we’re setting an example for those around us.

Press Pause.
Eat together. Play together. Pray together. Savor the moments.

Do you need some help doing this? Some guidance on how to press pause? Join me at the NW Ministry Conference on March 24 & 25. I’ll be leading a workshop on Friday where we’ll discuss why a rhythm of pause is vital for families. Together, we’ll explore ways to model this in our own families as well as for those we serve.

Life is full and it’s not always easy.

But when we pause we can find rest and renewal.

Together, let’s pursue the pause.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Sweet Sixteen Selfies

Selfies are a common action and vocabulary word for this generation of teens. Many have already had smart phones for years. Their photos are filled with random selfies of themselves and friends. Social media feeds like snapchat are filled with selfies made even more fun with filters, overlays, and lenses. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Get close to a teen and ask if they’ve done the puppy dog face or puked rainbows. It’s a thing. Really.

I’m guilty too. I take selfies. I take them with my daughter. Often I find a burst of selfies she has taken. On my phone. Side note to self—change your password! And yes, we’ve played with tons of filters. “Mom, put your face right here and open your mouth!” Eek!
Sometimes though, I remind myself to put the phone down and experience the moment. I’ve always done this, sort of taking a snapshot in my mind. I wanted to take in every detail of the moment, the feeling, the people, the joy.

One such moment was when my daughter was about four months old. It was a full season of life, starting a business, traveling, raising three kids. In the middle of the busy I held her on my lap. She had just finished eating and had chubby cheeks, glistening lips, and kicking little feet. I traced the line of her little lips with the perfect points on her upper lip. I smoothed back her blonde hair. I held her tiny fingers, feeling her teeny nails. I felt the embroidery on her little leggings. I smiled as she babbled to me. I knew she was my last baby, my only girl, and I wanted to take in every piece of that moment with her.

There have been many more moments like this. This past weekend was no exception. Oh, there were lots of selfies with her. But I also just set my phone down and experienced the days with her. Sweet Sixteen. Sixteen years of holding this sweet baby, watching her grow, laughing like crazy, arguing in tense moments, holding each other in tears, listening to her hopes and dreams.

Sweet Sarah, I love who you are. Completely. I love that you crashed in on my bed Thursday when I was feeling horrible. You made me laugh and we took ridiculous pictures. Then you cheered me on when I had to gulp that nasty stuff. I love it when you play DJ in the car and we car dance all the way to our destination. I don’t care that others look at us because the music is too loud. They should take car-dancing lessons from us. Wait…other times you give me ridiculous looks and tell me, “No, mom. Just no.” Okay.

I also love that you hop up on the counters for dance parties in the kitchen. And you laugh so freely. I love that you’re growing into your own version of sassy. I love that you’re trying new things: learning Japanese; managing the football team; taking college classes next year; driving us almost everywhere. DRIVING! You’re a good driver.

I’m so proud of you for not being afraid of life or of people. And I’m proud that you care for little ones and the outcast. When you spent time with a person at your DECA gala, because they needed a friend…what compassion. I love how you always ask how you can help on Sundays, willing to step in where you’re needed. There are days when your room and piles of junk in the house drive me nuts. But I know one day I’ll miss all of that too. So I try not to be too particular.

I am blessed. I am blessed to be your mama. I’m blessed to watch you grow into the daughter God desires you to be. I’m blessed that He uses me in the process. I’m blessed to laugh and dance and take selfies and do manicures while we’re all piled on my bed. I love you like crazy. I trust that you’ll take lots of selfies to mark this year and I can’t wait to see them and share in them with you! Happy Sweet Sixteen!