We Are Moms

Ok, so, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to rant for just a moment. I am so sick of all the bickering across social media, blogs and other “news” mediums, and I just want to shout this from the rooftops: STOP IT!!  *Please note before I start, I am not looking for a debate, and I am not trying to offend. I just feel the need to say something, and I hope you will read till the end…

There is so much shaming, fingerpointing and backbiting that, too often lately, I feel as if I’m back in kindergarten, or better yet, I’m back in junior high listening to the 12 year old girls bickering over who’s fault it is that the popular girl doesn’t like them anymore! 😁 It’s silly, and it’s really becoming annoying.

We have had several MAJOR tragedies in our country over the last several weeks, and the news media and social media feeds have been lit up like Christmas trees. Everyone is trying to find someone to blame for the gorilla, the alligator and the night club violence, because after all, it couldn’t be as interesting as simply be sympathetic toward the families who are grieving over their lost loved ones! It couldn’t be as intriguing as trying to reach out to the ones mourning.

These mothers will never hug their babies again in this life. (And yes, I realize the nightclub was not filled with ‘babies,’ but to a mother, her child will always be her ‘baby,’ no matter his or her age.) These fathers will never rescue their children from another emergency. These grandparents will never see their grandbabies smile those beautiful smiles that made their hearts swell with love. Why can we not stop all the fighting for a split second and observe the value of a life? Observing the value of life does not mean I must agree or disagree with the person or his or her lifestyle for that life to be valuable.

Why? Because this country has become too accustomed to shaming anybody and everybody who avails him or herself to the public eye. We have become too comfortable with setting ourselves as judge and juror,  bondsman and, even, the thought police. This ought not be.

Can I tell you? I am a mom. I love my babies, and I do my very best to take care of them the best way I know how. Do I always do everything perfect? By all means, No! I wake up everyday and pray the Lord help me and guide me, because I am human, and humans make mistakes, and accidents can happen.

Now, just because I do my best, does that put every mom into that same category? No, unfortunately, I can’t say that it does. Some moms are so focused on themselves or their own agendas that they are neglective or oblivious to their child’s needs. Some moms are so jacked up that they cannot cope and function the way they should. Other moms are just simply wrong in how they handle life, children and all of the above.

Yet, it’s not my place (or yours) to get on social media or any other news medium and blast that mom for what I believe she did or didn’t do right. I don’t even know the woman. If we are not within her orbit, didn’t see exactly what happened and have no tangible access to her world, how can we sit in judgement and shame her, or praise her, for what we have drawn as our own opinions?? …and why should we? Don’t we have better things to do with our time??

If there has been a crime committed, the authorities will figure that out. It is their job. That is what they are trained to do! That’s what they are doing at that nightclub. They’ve determined it was an act of terrorism; so, why is the bickering still focused on gun control and the life of the homosexual? The news media and liberal agendas seem to enjoy stirring up the opinions on everything else but the real issue at hand. The fact is, we are all Americans, no matter race, origin, religion or sexual orientation, and we have some real enemies in this world. These enemies would like to see us ALL dead, and our fighting amongst ourselves is not going to change this fact, nor will it help to bring resolution to that fact. Sometimes, there is a war to be fought, and we must fight it. Shooting in amongst the troops isn’t going to kill the enemy. It will only hinder our efforts to win.

On the two other tragedies, if there is a wrong to be found, those involved in the situation will be called upon to right that wrong. If she (and he) is found to be untrue, and she is to be chastised for her faulty ways, then those closest to her and those in leadership surrounding her should speak into her life for reprimand and change, but who are you and I to think it is our place to publicly shame her? Do you really think that is going to make a difference in her life?

Sometimes, shaming is for coping, and sometimes, it’s for competing. We are moms. We shouldn’t do either, but it all comes from vanity. Either you feel better than someone else or worse than them. So, you compare. You compete. You tear them down to lift yourself up. It’s all wrong.

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“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34b-37

 

 

We are moms. This is a battle of life and death, and the victory is the breath and legacy of our children. We should just fight the good fight. Link arms together when we can, and pull each other up when we’re able. If we see wrong within our orbit of influence, we should not hesitate to speak up; however, often times, we must have built a relationship long before the tragedy to make any real impact in the lives of those whom we speak truth.

If we witness a crime, by all means, stand up for the innocent! Yet, when it comes to men and women we know nothing about, a situation in which we have no first hand knowledge and a location in which we were not present, sometimes, it’s better for everyone involved, including ourselves, to keep quiet, give grace and just pray. Pray for wisdom. Pray for truth. Pray for justice and grace.

Life is hard sometimes, and we all need a friend and a cheerleader to help us along the way!  … Okay, I will end my rant now. Thank you for letting me unload that mess…

 plankeye“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew.7:3-5  

 

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Man-Child

Our son shared a devotion during his youth service last night, and someone snapped a photo and sent it to me.  

 At first glance, I was in shock, in tears and in awe of who I saw. It was as if he had grown up overnight, or maybe just in the hour and half since I dropped him off. How does this happen??

They are so tiny when they’re born, so helpless, so dependent on everything we do for them. We survive the endless midnight feedings and sleepless restings, only to enter the toddler years, when they seem heck-bent in killing themselves in one fashion or another! 

  
Then, it’s school days and taxi driving to every event and sports practice known to mankind. This is soon followed by the absence of mind and hearing through the teenage years, and we wonder some days how we could have given birth to such a creature. These days of challenge and adventure are continued as those, once tiny dependents, start testing their abilities and spreading their wings. They push for their independence, and we seriously wonder how our hearts will handle the empty nests once they’ve flown. 

Yet, there comes a moment after the night of events, when you’re watching his smile and hear the excitement in his voice, and you realize you wouldn’t want him any other way. You know within your heart you never want to hinder him or hold him back from his dreams. You see that the once little boy may no longer be in those days of youth, but you realize, as he wraps his arms around you and says, “I love you, Mom” that your man-child has grown past the point of no return, and you long for him to spread his wings and fly to the highest heights and let nothing hinder his dreams and aspirations. 

You call me FRIEND??

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”” C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

This very statement, I believe, sheds light on the reason it is often so hard to become a friend of God. Sure, we can truly see ourselves as His daughters (or sons, respectively), His children, His servants and even, for those who really struggle with their place in Christ, His little, lowly followers who are just happy that He doesn’t decide to squash them today! However, sometimes, to see ourselves as His friend, it takes much more than just a quaint little understanding of who He is.

Maybe I’m the only one who has struggled with this…

You see, for me, friendships don’t come that easy, not those kind of friendships that really last, those kind of friendships that are more like blood-kinships, family-types. It’s not because I’m not a friendly person; you can ask anyone who knows me, I may be shy, but I can meet and greet with plenty, and it’s not that I don’t want to have friends. I have tons of people who are great acquaintances, wonderful “friends” with whom I converse during the week, say “Hi” to on Sunday and even hang out with from time to time. These are great and wonderful people, people for whom I care deeply and love immensely. These are definitely friends of mine.

However, these aren’t the friendships to which I’m referring. I’m talking about those people for whom you know without a shadow of a doubt that you’d give your life, those to whom you are comfortable sharing the innermost depths of your heart, never afraid of what they might think once you’re finished, those friends who see you at your very worst and your very best and have loved you regardless of what you’ve said or done at both ends of that spectrum. They are people with whom you have a common bond, a covenant and a kinship of spirit which cannot be broken by circumstances, other people or even your own fears and doubts. These are the kind of friends I’m talking about here, and this kind of friendship is very rare.

Many times, when I look at Jesus, I see a King. I see my Heavenly Father. I see the Creator of the Universe. I see a God so holy, so worthy and so glorious that I can’t even fathom why He would look at a lowly creature like me and love me and desire a friendship with me. Often, my mind has a hard time comprehending such majesty, such faithfulness, such love, and such a friendship.

Yet, then, my fourteen year old son walks into the room, and I begin to think of the conversation we had at lunch earlier that day. We enjoyed laughing together, talking about his latest music find and musing about the days to come. I remember how my soul longed for more time with him and how my heart leapt when he asked my help with something I thought maybe he didn’t need.

That’s when this statement by C.S. Lewis comes alive in my spirit, and I see just a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father might be feeling toward me. If I, being just a human, just a creature of such flesh, can long for a friendship with my own growing son, maybe, He, as King but also Father to me, can long for a kindred spirit and deep friendship with me. As I spend more time with Him, the more I get to know Him and the love He has for me, I find myself saying this very thing that C.S. Lewis said, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”

 

Their Destiny

When you look at your child, do you ever wonder about his or her destiny? Do you wonder whom he will follow? Who he will become? Or maybe, whom he will encounter along the way? What path will she choose? Will she fight hard against conformity, or will she bend and sway to whomever screams the loudest at the moment?

How do we ensure their safety in this big, dangerous world? How do we protect them and guide them, while also, giving them the freedom to grow and develop their thoughts, their dreams and, even their faith, on their own?

We can only accomplish this, successfully, when we look to the Creator of their souls. He can and will help us, if we will but ask and follow His lead. The Word tells us God has a plan for their lives, good plans, prosperous plans…We find this, specifically, in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So, we must entrust them to Him at an early age. We must submit our own lives to Him and follow His lead. Our children not only learn from what we say, but they learn most by what we do. If we follow Him, they learn, by example, what and how to do it. If we’re resistant to Him, they will, also, learn how to resist and fight against Him.

I saw this come to fruition the other day, as we came upon a beautiful waterfall on one of our hikes. You see, my husband and I absolutely love waterfalls. We will purposefully go on a hike to find those which we haven’t yet seen. We will revisit many, and even though we’ve seen them countless times, we will remain at them for limitless amounts of time just gazing and listening. It’s as if our souls settle as we stand in front of the gushing streams of water. Our thoughts are purified, our hearts are untangled from the cares of this world.

Twice, in the last week,  we took our boys to a couple of waterfalls. Last week, we went to a very well known waterfall in North Georgia, Amicalola Falls.

We stayed there, admiring the falls, for probably close to 30 minutes, just simply lost in its beauty. As we stood there on the walkway, gazing up at the falls, people were constantly moving in front of us. Some would remark on the heights, on the beauty; many would turn their backs to the falls, take their little selfies, and then walk on pass. Others would simply walk by, glance at the falls and keep on walking, as if the 600+ steps of the hike was their one and only goal, or maybe just being able to say, “I was there,” was their purpose for coming.

We stood in amazement at their lack of amazement, as if this was simply some mound of dirt on the side of the path to whatever was more important in their journey right then. Even as I didn’t say a word to our oldest, I watched as my oldest son became livid with these people he didn’t even know. He couldn’t believe their disdain for God’s creation. He said nothing to those around him, but I heard about it for quite awhile as we made it back to our truck.

This past Friday, we went to Horse Trough Falls, again, in the North Georgia Mountains. It is set off the beaten path, and it is simply gorgeous! Joey and JMan stayed for a bit, but JMan wanted to get to the creek to build a dam and cool off from the heat; so, JGrizz and I remained at the waterfall while dad and youngest went back to the creek bed.

JGrizz sat at the man-made platform for a bit, then, ventured past where he could get closer to the falls. He took a few pics; then, he just found a comfortable spot on an old tree that had fallen across the creek, took off his shoes and just enjoyed the sights, smells and feel of the waterfall for a good long while.

As I watched him, I realized, he has become his Daddy’s son. This may sound silly, because, of course, this is obvious to anyone who knows the two of them. Yet, sometimes, I think, as our children grow into adulthood, there are definitive moments, those moments when we actually see the handprint of God on their lives and the tiny part we played in their development. This was one of those moments for me.

I could see his Daddy in his awe of God’s beauty. I could see the settling of his soul as he sat there lost in his surroundings. I could hear his Dad’s blunt (not-meaning-to-be-harsh-only-truthful) voice as he told me he didn’t want me to talk if I sat beside him on that log. I could feel his Dad’s love as he later hugged me, as if to say,” I really wasn’t trying to be rude. Sorry it came out that way.” I could even see his Heavenly Father’s courage, confidence and strength as he walked boldly among those slippery rocks just to get a closer glimpse of its beauty.  My heart was full as I gazed at the man he was becoming.

Then, he said the words that sealed the moment within my heart. We were talking about the little streams of water which break off from the main portion of the waterfall, yet, still find their way to the bottom. JGrizz said, “Those streams are like me, and the rest are like society. I find my own way.” It was as if God was showing me in that moment, he has what it takes to make it. He will reach his destiny.

When we made our way back to the creek bed, I could see the sparkle in JMan’s eyes as he built his dam in the creek, it was the same sparkle his Daddy has. It’s the spark of wonder, adventure and just plain fun! Oh, the wonder of a child. We should never lose it, no matter how old or busy we become.

I saw my husband’s love for life within the lives of our sons, and I saw the love of our Heavenly Father wrapped up in their wonder for His creation. These things come to be as our children follow in our footsteps. They not only hear what we say; they see as we see and act as we act. If we will but submit them until God and allow Him to guide their lives, they will follow Him, and He will help them to reach their destiny.

 ““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Time Stands Still

Last week had a pretty full agenda, usual routine things, several added appointments for me, and several added items for the boys, but all that changed around 4am Wednesday morning…

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JMan came in the bedroom, tapped me on the shoulder and told me he had just thrown up. My brain, still groggy from sleep, didn’t immediately register what he was telling me; so, I said, “Okay, go back and lay down. I’ll be there in just a second.” As I heard him leave the room, my brain and my “mom instincts” kicked in. I got up, went and got blankets to make a pallet in the guest room (I always “quarantine” the sick, hoping to contain the germs), retrieved my own pillows, and told little man to come with me.

I proceeded to make him a pallet, set up water bottles, towels and a night light. We were “set” for a night of sickness, or so I thought, knowing that the boys’ usual course is about 6-8 hrs., and they’re done. At noon that day, after following him to help in the restroom every 30 minutes since 4am, I began to wonder if this was going to be the normal run of sickness. Five hours later, I was convinced this was one nasty stomach bug that wasn’t going to let go so easily.

Everything stopped that day. I cancelled my dentist appointment to get a crown, which I have to say, I wasn’t too upset about. I put off plans to cook for the week (I had had plans to cook several days’ worth of meals), and we ordered out for lunch. My husband took JGrizz back and forth to church with him, as I’m usually the chauffeur, allowing my husband to prepare for his Wednesday night class. I asked someone else to record JGrizz in a drama performance; since, I couldn’t be there, and I called the choir director to notify him of my absence. Joey then chauffeured JGrizz back and forth to school the next two days, as well as, helped him to study for tests and confirmed homework was done, and he taxied him to other events and church for the weekend, all the things which I am very accustomed to doing in my day to day routine.

All day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was totally focused on taking care of JMan, tending to his needs, praying, refilling water bottles and cleaning up behind him, all the while, hoping and praying no one else would get sick. (This was a very nasty bug!!) My routine became matched with his, sleeping when he slept and waking when he awoke; otherwise, I stumbled around trying to catch up on the lost sleep, which, I basically did anyway during those hours. It’s never easy sleeping when you’re baby’s sick! I stayed huddled up with him in that guest room for four days. Nothing else mattered except getting him well.

Due to both my boys and my husband depending on me for different things day to day, I had to fight internally with my own mother and wife instincts throughout that time. I felt obligated and needed to tend to JMan’s needs, while I also battled guilt over not being able to be there for our oldest son’s youth competitions that weekend and leaving all the burden on my husband to make sure they were both taken care of and arrived at all the places at which they needed to be for the total of five days (by the time JMan really got well).

It made me think of families whose babies have gone through trauma, are experiencing a terminal illness, or even have a long-term sickness that maybe can’t be diagnosed. How do they function over time? How do they manage their homes, their lives, their personal needs? This realization came to me: they find a “new normal.” Yes, that’s the only thing you can do when your loved one is sick, and they need you. All the other things in life, those things which you thought were of such importance, just seem to fade away. The focus becomes crystal clear: the well being of your child.

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Those days gave me a new perspective. A perspective that, I’m sure, was really always there. It wasn’t the first time our little man had been sick; however, it was the first time he’d been this sick. It was, also, the first time in a long time, I suppose, I stood back and thought of more than just getting through the moments of sickness and maybe thought of more than just the sickness of my own child. It reminded me that time seems to stand still when you least expect it. It reminded me, as I often encourage others to do, to make sure I’m living life to the fullest, and cherishing those with whom I’m living and sharing this life. For, none of us know what tomorrow might bring, and what a pitiful state we will be in if we only realize tomorrow what we missed out on today!

So, can I encourage you today? Take time for those you love, not just in the tough moments, but in the good moments as well. Step back and see those you love in the moments right where they are. Cherish them. Hold them. Love them. Step back and take a look around. Take notice of who is there, where you are, and where you are going together. When we’re able to step back and see the bigger picture, we’re apt to learn so much more!