Parenting {How Prayer Helps}

I hate parenting.

I know. You’re all thinking it though. You hate it too.

Why does it have to be so hard?

When I first learned I was pregnant with my first child, I fell to my knees and cried. I was only 24. I wasn’t ready for a baby!

I was so wrong. Sleepless nights, explosive diapers and endless crying was so easy. I can say that now because I am not in the midst of it. Those days were a breeze! I can totally handle a baby.

But I didn’t get a baby. I got a person! That baby has a personality, an attitude and mood swings.

I tell people all the time that I prayed to have boys. I wanted boys so bad. Growing up with brothers, I was used to the rough and tumble, the noise and the smelly socks. Boys are straightforward and come without all the d-r-a-m-a. Their fiances pay for the wedding and there is no cute hashtag for us moms with girls. (#BoyMom much)?

God laughs when you make plans. So, he gave me two beautiful girls.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my girls. #GirlMom

I love when they want to talk about the boys, when they ask me to blow-dry their hair and when I get the sweetest texts in the middle of the day. I love to shop with them and cook with them. I love to talk about their dreams and watch their eyes as they dance with thoughts of their future.  I even love their celebrity crushes and can remember how it felt when my own favorite boy band came on the radio.

I just hate parenting.

It hurts too much. And Mom, if you are reading this, you were right. It really does hurt me more than it hurts them. There. Now it’s in writing.

I can change a diaper. I can’t change a failing grade.

I can soothe crying with a pacifier.  I can’t mend a broken heart.

I can drive my kid to every activity under the sun until Jesus comes back. I can’t fully let go when they drive out of my driveway.

It boils down to the fact that I just feel helpless. Here I am, the one they have always called to when they scraped their knee or had a bad dream. But now real life is getting in the way of my magic mom powers and I can’t fix everything anymore.

What scares me even more is that, as teenage girls, I am sure there is more that needs to be fixed than what they are telling me.

I hate it.

So, what’s a mom to do? We’re in this for life.

Exactly!

Each moment builds to the next and stretches out into a beautiful life. My girls aren’t babies any more. And one day they won’t be teenagers either. They will be adults with their own worries and regrets. Hopefully, they won’t be in therapy because of me and the way I handled their teenage years.

So, I pray. I beg God for help and for guidance. For strength and for wisdom. I pray for their dreams to come true and for them to stay healthy. I pray for their minds to be focused on righteous and holy things. I pray for them to make good decisions and for all the stinky boys I wanted so badly to not lead them astray.

It’s still so hard and I still hate it.

But maybe that’s the point? Having teenage girls has done wonders for my prayer life.

When they were babies I prayed over them as I rocked them to sleep. I pray for them now as they pull out of the driveway. I will pray for them as they walk down the aisle and after we hang up from long distance phone calls.

Being a mom means my children always have someone who is praying for them. Their advocate during the tough times and  their cheerleader in the good times.

Thinking of it that way helps me realize what a privilege it is and makes me hate it a little less.

 

 

 

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Disappointment {Wants and Needs}

I wish someone would have told me that disappointments were a part of life. No one ever pulls you aside to tell you to prepare for failure. No. People always set you up for the win. They set you up to succeed and to get the little trophies at the end of the game.

Is this why we often feel stuck? We feel stuck in our jobs, our marriages and the relationships we have. We feel like our kids could always be more like someone else’s and not like the ones God gave us. Not that we don’t love our own kids. They just could be a little smarter. Cooler. Not as whiny. And goodness if they would just once clean their room without being asked!

We wish for different hair, different skin and a different body. We are not ever satisfied with what we’ve got as if our Creator didn’t know what He was doing. (Sometimes I do wonder though. Ok. There. I said it!)

But it’s got me thinking today. Disappointment. I’ve felt it a lot.  And someone said recently it’s because I put my expectations in the hands of my fellow humans. Hmmm.  Maybe. We are all pretty flawed. And I wouldn’t have written the above paragraph if I didn’t think there were truth in it.

I think, however, that it’s quite the opposite. The disappointment I feel is not because I rely too much on my peeps, it’s because I don’t rely enough on Jesus. I compare my circumstances on what I think others think and not what Jesus thinks. He, I am sorry to say, is not always my gold standard.

Also, I invented a new word today. Pharasitic. I think it’s pretty awesome and I am going to talk to Webster about it.  But I have been pretty Pharasitic lately.

<Deep breath in>  Yep. I’ve not only been disappointed by you people, I’ve been pretty judgey (that’s a new word too).  I’ve been working so hard trying to keep up and look pretty against all you prettier and smarter gems that I have found myself stoking my fires of pride.

Ouchie. That stung a little.

But I know what I’m doing, right? I’m 42…wait. Not yet. I’m 41 years old. I’ve seen a thing or two. I’ve got it going on. My kids are smart, (albeit messy). They both love Jesus and it shows. My husband, let’s just face it, he’s awesome and a great dad. I love my job. I have healthy parents who are still married after 51 years. And my friends are the bomb dot com!

Even with all of that, I struggle. I struggle to realize I am wanted and not needed. There is a difference, my friends. God doesn’t need me to fulfill His plans. He wants me to fulfill His plans. God doesn’t need me to love Him and serve Him. He wants me to love Him and serve Him.  I think that is where my disconnect lies. I think that is where a lot of us start using the fuzzy math. Want and need are not equal.

I think once we realize who wants us (Hint, look up) we can set aside the disappointments and we can stop being so Pharasitic. Hey! I used it in a sentence! My mother would be so proud!

 

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Plan B {The Time Our Vacation Re-Routed Us}

Plan B. It’s not usually what we wish for. Plan B is the plan we go to when what we really wanted falls through. Plan B is settling for something less. Plan B is second best. Leftovers. Plan B means that something went wrong.

One of my favorite quotes is “God laughs when you make plans.” I heard it first when I was a kid, but it’s become my life’s mantra. Life with two teenage girls and working in ministry doesn’t always go the way I planned. In fact, I never planned for girls and I never planned to work in ministry. God laughs at me a lot!

I’ve learned in my four decades on this God-created earth that most of the time my plans are not nearly as good as what God has planned for me. Sometimes His plans don’t seem as good, or as fun or as rewarding as what I think I should be doing. But I have also learned that going with the flow is a lot less stressful and following as the Spirit leads is a whole lot more rewarding than doing things my way.

My family had planned a trip to the panhandle of Florida for months. We planned to spend two days basking in the sun on the white sand beaches, playing games together in someone else’s condo and unplugging from social media. Ahhh…

But, God had other plans.

Hurricane Michael rerouted our plans from the panhandle of Florida to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, a place my family had never been. Turns out no matter where you are, God is still working. And He still uses you if you are willing.

We enjoyed time at the beach, fresh seafood and unplugged family game night. We took all the pretty beach pictures and stayed up late laughing (and fighting over bed space). We took a spontaneous trip to the French Quarter in New Orleans. But we also had our eyes opened to just how small our lives are and just how much hurt there is in the world.

I normally do not take any cash with me anywhere anymore. But I had read ahead of a restaurant we wanted to try that took only cash, so I visited the ATM before we left town. And for some reason, I decided I should take more than I would need for the restaurant. I mean, you never know.

But God does.

God knows there’s a man on the New Orleans streets waiting there to entertain you to make a living. God knows there’s a woman driving desperate in Gulfport, Mississippi who humbles herself enough to stop you to ask for gas money. God knows there’s a man riding his bicycle outside the shopping mall who’s hungry for breakfast. And God also knows He’s blessed you enough to be able to give it to them since they asked.

Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. -Jesus

Luke 6:30-31

My husband wonders aloud, “Do we just have a sign on our foreheads that says we’ll give them money or something?”

I like to think it’s Jesus whispering into their ears and pointing our way. I like to think His face shines before mine and people know it’s a safe place to be human. Maybe those people won’t use the money for the reasons they asked. It doesn’t matter. It’s a lesson in obedience, a lesson in giving, a lesson in life that things don’t always go the way you think they will go. Vacation plans change. Life gets messy. But God is always there. The Spirit is always leading. We are always on the mission field no matter where we originally planned to go. I am convinced that we were exactly where we needed to be at exactly the right time.

Plan B can be beautiful. And if we are taking God with us, it’s always His Plan A.

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