When I first heard the saying, “The days are long, but the years are short,” I felt a little lump in my throat. It was a reminder that there would be an end to my daily mommying to you, my first baby.
Well, that day has come.
Today we reach that fork in the road and the years don’t only feel short, they feel condensed into this weird blackhole of life called “the past.” As I think about this, God whispers something comforting in my ear that seems almost a faint foreshadowing of the words we all want to hear someday in Heaven: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I look at how far you’ve come and know that God has done an amazing work already in you and I am honored to have played even a little part in that.
As a mom, I fell short more often that I would have liked. I didn’t do everything right. I apologized often for my shortcomings and I’ve learned that it takes an infinite amount of grace to live more Christ-like each day.
The days and months and years went by, and as you grew into a young lady, something miraculous happened right before my eyes. You started to reflect Christ too. You offered me grace and comfort when I felt exhausted and weak. You gave me hugs when I needed them yet didn’t even know it. You held my hand in church when I needed a hand.
I cannot even put in words how thankful I am that God gave me the kind of mommy-heart that felt called to put Him at the center–albeit in my clunky-I-don’t-really-know-what-I’m-doing-Jesus-take-the-wheel kinda way. He showed Himself through my motherhood experience. He is kindness. He is grace. He is honor. He is just. He is faithful. He is love.
Therein lies my hope for you today. I want you to know that as you start this amazing college journey of learning, discovery, and growth, you will soar and you will dip. You will smile and you will cry. You will be happy and sometimes you will feel lonely. Yes, sometimes you will even fail–but He will not. Today, I leave you in good hands–the best hands actually. You are in God’s.
Tonight we will celebrate a communion service together and end with cheers and words of encouragement, with hugs and kisses and more hugs. Then I will turn around and walk away leaving a piece of my heart in a college dorm half way around the world and I will lean on our awesome God and trust that His plan for you is greater than mine, and it’s going to be amazing!
Today, I had the incredible privilege of listening to over a dozen young adults tell their stories in hopes of getting scholarships for college. As expected, some could use work on their communication skills, some did relatively well and others knocked it out of the park.
The one theme that stood out in my mind came from the question, “Who inspires you?” The answer that was given almost every time surprised me. It was “MOM.” These young adults shared their stories of their mothers having taught them to be courageous, diligent, respectful, caring, faithful, humble and to serve. I was touched to watch each person choke out sweet words about their moms over and over again.
It made me think of my role as a mom. I am encouraged to look further than tomorrow or next week. I’m inspired to remain diligent in the task at hand.
In the Old Testament, Nehemiah left his post as a servant to King Artaxerxes. God had revealed to him that he should go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the surrounding wall to protect the city. He obeyed. While he was focused on carrying out the mission, the enemies wanted to get him to stop. They tried to distract him, calling him down from the wall. No matter what, Nehemiah stayed focused. He stayed on that wall and hollered down, “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down.”
Moms, we are doing something meaningful. You may not be feelin’ it today, but you’ll be surprised how many little eyes and ears are picking up meaningful lessons along the way and finding their deepest inspiration in YOU! Despite the distractions and responsibilities pulling this way and that, stay on the wall and do your great work! #motherhoodmatters
Forks clanking against white porcelain plates. Small giggles and hearty laughs amidst the steady hum of conversation and the rich smells of grilled steaks and steaming soups. This was my life for a while as I assisted managing our family-owned, downtown restaurant.
It was an exciting but difficult time because of the inevitable juggling that had to take place. Five kids and a busy husband on the one hand and a busy restaurant on the other. We eventually resolved to sell the business, but while we were hustling, I learned some key life lessons that have kicked up my parenting abilities a couple of notches. Maybe you will find them helpful too.
1. Write things down. Schedules, manuals, recipes, menus, signage–everything needed to be written out and made clear to all. This is so true in all areas of life. When we don’t write things down, they simply fall through the cracks. Things get left on life’s back burners, never to be moved to prime “get ‘er done” real estate. Do you keep a family calendar? Do you write out your goals and specific steps that you’ll take to reach them? Write it down, get it done!
2. Accountability. Until there was a designated staff member in the restaurant scheduled to clean the bathrooms at regular intervals, things would get pretty icky. If there wasn’t a log specifying who’d be cleaning out the chillers or the espresso machine, it wouldn’t get done.
Accountability is just as vital at home. That oh-so-useful chore chart is key here. It sets up the expectation and gives me a “fall guy” should the dog not get fed on time or the dishes not get put away. (Since we can’t fire our children, consider “docking their pay” which can translate to canceling the next planned trip to Yogurtland:-)
3. Murphy’s Law is universal, so expect the unexpected. The old adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” takes on a whole new meaning in a restaurant. An oven will break down just before a busy Friday dinner service. The credit card machine will malfunction just as a waiter processes 25 Naval officers on a quick lunch meeting–all paying separately. We need to have back-up plans and expect the unexpected.
Similarly, a child will have a tummy ache on the day Mommy is supposed to attend a big conference. The washing machine will die out when there are eight backlogged loads of laundry. Bottom line is, expect the unexpected and have a back up plan. A go-to sitter, a Whirlpool repair guy on speed dial. And sometimes, just a little margin in life so that when these crazy things creep up, we aren’t strung so tight that one little thing snaps us.
4. Own up to Mistakes. A customer’s steak might be well-done when they swear they said rare. A chef might forget to put the coveted avocado in the sushi. A piece of cork might be floating in the glass of Merlot. It happens. Own up to it and work toward remedies for the situation. A genuine apology, a complementary dessert and even removing the item from the ticket might be necessary.
Parents, we might not like to admit it, but we are really good at making mistakes. We need to get better about humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness. The customer at the restaurant might tweet something about a messed up order, but a child stores up all the little wrongs in their hearts when there isn’t a remedy to the mistake. Whether it’s a harsh word for spilled milk or not noticing your daughter’s first goal in the soccer game because you were on Facebook, they see our mistakes. We need to own up and apologize because it’s the right thing to do.
5. Get out of “the weeds.” Have you ever seen a waiter start fumbling orders, disappear on tables or auction off food because he didn’t remember who ordered what? That’s called being “in the weeds” and it is hard to get out.
Usually, the most effective way to rectify the situation is to have a manager or another waiter help out so that he can gain composure, get organized and get back in the game if you will.
A lot of times as parents, we find we are in the weeds too. We are overwhelmed by the stuff of life like home renovations, behavioral issues with kids, deadlines at work. It might get hard to see the reason we do it all when our we can’t see above the weeds. God never meant for us to go it alone. A spouse, family, friends, church community–there are so many people who can help us get out of the weeds. If we don’t reach out and we choose to loiter in those weeds, there are no happy customers.
6. Setting up for success. One of my most experienced chefs had years of experience working on cruise ships. He brought with him the phrase, “Set up for success.” He always made sure that nightly clean-up was done and that all necessary items were prepped for the opening shift. Sauces were made, veggies were chopped, and a list of required items to shop for was written and hung on a clipboard.
When I leave dishes in the sink, clutter on the dining table or miscellaneous laundry strewn about, I know I am not setting myself up for success. In fact, it usually means that I will wake up already in the weeds! I have to remind myself every night to complete the necessary tasks that my “future self” will thank me for in the morning.
Are you translating work skills into your home? If you’re not, what are some ways your work habits and skills could improve life at home? I’d love to hear your ideas.
If you know me, you may have heard of how my second daughter practically came out running and hasn’t stopped since, or how I was induced with my fourth, sent my husband to get the other kids from school while I waited to have even one labor pain and proceeded to give birth, all within a fifteen minute span! I’ve told my stories many times over. I’m referring to the retelling of the “labor day” stories. We all do it–rehash the blow by blow of each experience with new moms, old moms, moms-to-be (albeit with small omissions to save them from sheer panic).
I know when I tell about the birth of each of my five kids, I get quite animated. Arms flail, voice quickens, eyes widen, volume escalates–and then the sigh of relief. Done. Some long and exhausting. Others short and, well, exhausting. I had all natural labors and deliveries which is quite the norm here on Guam because local women supposedly have “easier births.” Pshhhh! But I, like most women, enjoy telling the stories mostly because it is a Herculean accomplishment that is in the past.
Now that my oldest daughter is on the brink of her sixteenth birthday and my youngest is almost eight, I find myself reminiscing about those years bringing new lives into the world. (It doesn’t help that I’m also listening to soothing French cafe-type music that just brings tears to my eyes anyway).
If you’ve raised a child for any amount of time, you know one fact for sure. “Labor” doesn’t end once that little bundle of blessing arrives in the world. We labor every day to take care of our babies. We labor to provide for them, to keep them healthy and relatively clean. We labor to teach them and guide them. Along the way we also make many mistakes and we labor to become better moms. We tweak things. We figure things out. We watch others. Some of us pray and lean on God’s grace.
No, we don’t get constant applause and thank yous. We don’t get a 15% tip on the table after we’ve cleared it for the 6,402nd time. We don’t get a stellar review on our annual performance report. We don’t even get paid leave! In this season of my life; however, I’ve come to the realization that I spent more time than I should have on looking at the “don’ts” of motherhood.
I am profoundly grateful for the “dos” these days. I do get to see these young people develop into creative, young individuals. I do get to share in their dreams and hopes. I do appreciate the many lessons I’ve learned through the tough times that inevitably come with raising five kids with very different personalities. Most especially, I do get to experience a little bit of what Jesus did when He walked the earth. Agape love. Given but not always reciprocated. The truest “labor of love.” And this has drawn me so much closer to the Lord. How could I not be thankful for that?
Happy Labor Day fellow Mamas! Go ahead, rehash those stories that are such a part of our motherhood story. And let God be a part of your Labor Day because He made the biggest, sacrificial labor of all and continues to pour out all we need to refresh and be ready to labor on in our roles as mamas. Be Blessable!
Two of my daughters decided to take me up on the invitation to go on a late afternoon jog. We weren’t 20 yards from our starting point when my youngest daughter Gia started to complain. (I already expected this of course because I know her all too well).
I was able to keep her motivated for a whole mile, but she soon started asking her sister and I for a piggy back ride! We humored her for the next half-mile, but when she realized that we had a steep uphill walk to get back to the car she all but lost it!
She begged and pleaded to quit. She asked if we could hitchhike, call Daddy to pick us up, call a cab, anything!
I realized that this was so much of the parenting experience with each of our kids. We walk beside them and encourage. We walk behind them and push them uphill. We walk ahead of them and show them it can be done.
And just when the words “I can’t do it!” made it past her lips, I had a choice to make. I could piggy back her and save her from having to do the work. I could tell her to “suck it up” and trudge ahead. Or I could point out a destination and say, “Look, I bet you can make it to that lamp post!” or “I’m sure you can make it to that sign!”
We can break the big goals down with them so they can experience small successes! This is true with just about anything in their lives, whether it is athletics, academics or even finding authentic faith. Our role is to lead them, one step at a time.
I pointed to this street sign and I rooted for her as she huffed and puffed uphill and of course, Gia translated this particular sign to be a “T” laying on it’s side, symbolic for the phrases “too far” or “terribly tired!”
And that’s when our job gets really hard. When they think they can’t take another step. When they want to quit because they don’t believe they can make it. What then?
I haven’t always handled this juncture very well. I’ve often been the “suck it up” parent I mentioned before. These days, I opt for a softer response. A hand on a shoulder that says, “I know you can do this,” usually while I’m praying silently that we can get through it with the least amount of drama. Guess what? The softer response wins hands down.
She made it to the finish line (our car) and assured me that she wouldn’t be attempting that journey again. I think she will join me sometime in the future–simply because she has tasted the success of reaching the finish line, one agonizing step at a time.
You didn’t hear much about Talia here. She did very well. She even volunteered to piggy back Gia to shut her up:-) I love these kids!
I spent a couple of hours with some ladies at a coffee shop the other day. That doesn’t seem unusual I guess because it happens all across the country everyday. Friends gathering to chat about life, children, marriage, new recipes found on Pinterest. This particular group was slightly different though. We didn’t all know each other. Leone, a friend and casual mentor of sorts, just put out the idea of coming together to share life’s successes in the first half of 2014 and inspire plans for the next half of the year. A “Meeting of the Minds” she called it. I’m all about dreaming big and planning it out so I medicated my cold-symptoms and headed to the café on that Saturday morning. I’m so glad I did!
As women often do, we got to know a bit about one another with a little synopsis of our year thus far. We cheered for successes, we sympathized with challenges and we laughed about the chaos which we could all totally relate to! Each of us discussed plans for the remainder of the year and Leone shared some great printable tools and tips she uses for getting things done.
Getting things done–that was the hot topic of the morning. I find it a huge blessing when moms can share ideas about how we improve our productivity and, even more importantly, what is most worthy of our time and energy. As one mom said, “The days seem kind of like a blur.” Not so much once you decide to live a life of intention.
So, in order to be a woman of intention, we used phrases like “Eat the Frog” to discuss getting important things done first and asked questions like, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” to emphasize breaking big, overwhelming dreams into smaller goals and tasks. These ideas are generally used in business circles, but very applicable to motherhood. We’re using what works!
Motherhood is often described as juggling many balls at the same time and trying not to drop a single one because the value of each is great–faith, family, friends, health, marriage, work, and so on. But we can indeed build each other up with the experiences we’ve had and inspire each other to do better than we ever thought we could on our own. This means sharing the toughest moments as raw and difficult as they are, accepting encouragement and help, then somewhere along the line, doing the same for another woman who needs that support. In Titus 2:3-5, we are called to encourage and support one another in our journey through the messiness of motherhood. We can be visible reminders of living in the moment, being intentional about how we live our lives, and with God’s grace, helping lead our children to be the people He intended them to be.
That, my friends, is a valuable investment in two hours of my time! I pray that you all choose to connect with other women, young and old, to learn from and to teach the lessons we pick up along the way that can make life, not just a little bit easier, but that make the stories we tell somewhere down the road just that much sweeter because we lived a life of intention.
Here is a free printable that helps me live a life of intention. Please enjoy!
Whenever I hear a song with a cello, the world stops. My mind wanders to a place that I can’t describe as anything but a “beautiful heartache.” There is something soul-stirring about the deep, resonating sound of the strings that, in the hands of the right musician, can take you through the depths of sadness and despair as well as the heights of hope and inspiration! Pretty amazing for a single stringed instrument.
It hit me recently, that the process of “sanctification” or being “set apart by God” somehow “sounds” like a cello. I know–“Say what?” Let me explain. Actually, listen to this so you can understand the sound I’m talking about, then read on! I am raising four daughters and one little Prince Charming. I know that might conjur up images of tambourines and kazoos more than cellos, but humor me. Two of my oldest daughters are teenagers. Yes, I accept your sympathy. My third daughter is standing at the rickety doorstep of teen years as well. Yup! Scary.
Within my hormone-drenched house is something even larger. We are Christians. That puts a completely different spin on the whole experience of raising teens in a world that is so painfully opposite of Christian values. If you are not a believer, you might wonder what I mean. Here are some examples. We drive past a giant billboard ad from Pepsi which shows a bunch of young people partying with the slogan, “Live for today!” Although the bible does say, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” in Matthew 6:34, it clearly is not a recommendation to live today by throwing your hands up in the air and waving them like you just don’t care. Of course the ad prompts some questioning and discussion which may or may not lead to some pretty cool “Aha Moments” when my kids realize that the ad is meant to sell soda, not to be a reliable guide for their lives. Such moments might also be met with brick walls. The kind that say, “Seriously Mom! It’s just an ad.” Sanctification–it’s about having a godly perspective of the world even when it’s not easy.
Another example would be music. Music is so widespread and such an ingrained part of culture that it is difficult for young people (and many adults) to discern what is good to listen to or not good. I, like many believers, often lean on Phillipians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” So that is the yardstick by which we can judge what music we should listen to. It is definitely work bringing up children in an environment that has kind of given up on what is righteous and good. One of my kids asked me why President Obama and his wife like Beyonce so much and hold her up as a roll model for American children when she sings about really inappropriate things. The answer: Because even the President and the first lady are humans. They make mistakes. Sanctification–it’s about growing in the knowledge that only our Heavenly Father is infallible.
How are these experiences like the sound of a cello? As Christians, we are called to be “Christ-like.” This means that we should, even if it is a slow process, turn away from sin and grow in our faith. Sometimes we have to make choices that seem painful at the moment. Sometimes we have arguments over what is right and wrong. Sometimes we cry over relationships that must be ended because they are not bringing us closer to God. There is a depth of sorrow that accompanies sanctification, and if you are just looking at that single moment when hard choices have to be made, it might look like sadness or loss. Then, with God’s infinite grace, there will be shining moments, when one daughter encourages the other with Scripture that helped her get through a tough situation. Or when your little boy insists that he wants to pray and ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins and come into his heart and he wants to do it “right now.” There is the sweet, smiling melody of a child visibly battling her own will to say “No!” and choosing to obey because God would want her to do that.
Paul Washer said, “Because sanctification is progressive, you will spend the greater part of your life chasing other things. And those other things will leave you empty and that is why ‘the why’ of trials.” I know that the song doesn’t end as long as we are here on earth. But that’s okay, because as long as this song, that resonates with deep, sorrowful lows, offers hope of beautiful and glorious things to come, I will continue to be grateful for all of it.
What challenges do you have as a parent, to raise your kids according to Scripture, in a world that throws some ugly curveballs?