When You Are Certain You Are Failing

98B0CEFA-8C7E-492D-9EEE-A623ED7D699C

Another academic year has started and the mommy taxi is always on the go. We are not even a month in and my phone is buzzing me with reminders of who, and what, and how often all the things are happening, and I can find my shoulders tightening. Then there are the curveballs– the colds, the shifts in schedule, the drama because of all the different things to navigate with all the hormones raging, and then there are the children…

I had these expectations for the year. I had goals and dreams and hopes.  And it took exactly 2 days into this school year before I started to watch them crash into the shore line, breaking along that jagged coast that is reality. Sometimes I am truly certain I am failing at all the important things… I feel like I should know better by now, and yet, here I am again wanting to cry into my latte, wondering how it is all going to roll this year if I am already so worn?

Then, I found myself having what I like to call a “come to Jesus moment” with one of my beloved children this week.  You know, when everything gets so real it might even hurt, and often does, because you have to own your junk? We were talking about school and choices and consequences when she asked, “so are you just going to quit on me?”

I had to hold onto my inner black granny who wanted to exclaim, “what you say chil’?”

Instead, I looked her in the eyes and asked, “have you met me?”

She needed a reminder.

I continued, “I will never quit on you. I will never stop loving you.  I will never stop cheering for you. This is forever right here. Your choices, not even your failures, nor your struggles will ever change my love and commitment to you. Period.”

Even when my heart breaks, even when I wanted better for them, even when they hurt me, even when they run from all that is good and true, even if it costs me everything, they will always have all of me–that is what parenthood looks like.  That is what God does with us…maybe I needed a reminder too.

Parenthood has taught me more about the deep, unwavering love of God then any other life journey– bar none.

So, when you are certain you are not enough, when things are messy and broken and hard…

Be quiet, breathe, and know that the most important thing is not dependent on you in any way. God has not changed his mind about you and he never will–even when you fail, even if YOU ARE doing it all wrong.  I gloss over that like it is routine, and maybe that it why I forget it too easily….maybe that is why my kids forget too.

So, like a broken record for my soul ears:

He has me in the midst of all the mess.

He is faithful when I am not.

He is never changing, THAT is why I can breathe…and that is truly amazing and exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

 

Maybe I need a tattoo to actually remember this…

 

To the Parent-Who-Just-Can’t-Today

To the Parent-Who-Just-Can’t-Today,

To the new mommy who is trying to figure out breast-feeding, is still rockin’ those awesome post-partum mesh undies, and cries at all the things, I see you. To the weary parent of littles who can’t use the bathroom without interruption, who hasn’t gotten a good night’s sleep since before parenthood began, and who feels their biggest accomplishment today might just be the shower they squeezed in during naptime, I see you. To the parent who faces the child entering the land of hormones, where their mouths can be as big as their mood swings, and are tempted to ask the doctor to medicate one of you so that you’ll both survive, I see you.  And to the parent who is saying goodbye as their adult-but-will-always-be-their-baby heads out into the world, who is flooded with all the feelings, who wrestles with wondering if their precious will be ok and if their parenting was good-enough, I see you. To those parents who feel like they just can’t today, and secretly wonder if they are failing at this parenthood gig, this is for you.

Just breathe– right now, right where you are. Just take a deep breath.  This is life in the middle of the beautiful and hard, the stretch-you, teach-you, touch-all-your-buttons-and-remind-you-that-you-need-Jesus messy middle. Just breathe.  You are not alone.  I am there along with all the others who do the work of showing up for this parenthood gig.

One question: What has captured your focus, the mess or the Maker?

That was the question that whispered over and over in my mind as I observed a newborn baby and her daddy this week.  The baby girl in his arms perfectly surrendered to his care, staring wide eyed up at his face, tiny fingers wrapping and unwrapping around his finger; perfectly held.  The love of the father pouring over his precious child was evident in every detail. The look, the attention, the hold, the provision–he had her and she knew it. Stunning.

pic-7

The mess was my focus. The strength was my own. The peace was gone along with my patience, replaced by fear and doubt while everything pulled for my attention and drained my emotions. Sometimes the busyness in the hard is the enemy of our focus and the thief of our peace.  Sound familiar?

The moment I decide to, I can be in the presence of my Father, eyes firmly fixed on Him while he lovingly tucks me in and holds me in the middle of the messiness.

Let this sink in a moment:  The God who heals the sick, who raises the dead, who gives sight to the blind, who touches lepers, who loves on outcasts, who walks into all the pain and all the hard of all the people who call on Him, who remains steadfast in every season, and can do all things is the God who says, “Come to me.”  Why would we not go to the one who CAN when we know darn well we CANNOT? He has us, but do we know it?

So, dear ones, I encourage you to keep your focus fast on Him and not on the mess.  Let your body relax as you lean in and he wraps you in his amazing peace. Let him quiet your heart, equip you with the strength you need today, and listen to His neverending wisdom.  He will hold you in His perfect love even when the storms rage…and that changes everything.

 

Love Wins

IMG_3742

I don’t remember the first person who told me about God.  I was invited to many churches and heard many things during the first 12 years of my life.  I didn’t doubt there was a God because I knew there was evil. For some, that is a stumbling block–the problem of evil–for me, it was proof.  If there was evil, but not ALL was evil then there MUST be the opposite and that opposite was God. He was just an idea until junior high; an idea that I wrestled with often.

My first memory of evil was when I was 4.  He was 15 years old and promised it would be “fun” but that I would get into big trouble if I told.  I would ride to school with that evil for years. There were so many moments of evil in that first decade of my life that I could never doubt its existence.  It crossed gender lines and age limits; it knew no bounds.

But God?  What about him?

If you had come to me and told me I was going to hell, I would have laughed and told you I was already there.  If you would have tried to explain to me that I was a sinner, I would have shaken my head and asked you to tell me something I didn’t already know.

When you live in the darkness you need not be reminded of its presence….you need to know that there is light.

Love.  Just as I was, right where I was, I needed love to wrap around me and promise to walk with me as it changed me.  And it DID change me…one bit at a time.

That is the Jesus I know–he meets you where you are, as you are, and calls you to himself.  People can represent him imperfectly, but they will never replace him. And so, my 7th grade year, several circled ‘round me -for a time- to represent him, his love.  Their love was beyond my understanding. Yet, I was SO hungry for it.

Love won me.

True love always wins, in the end–not the love offered by the world, that is temporary and conditional– but true love.  Love that gets down in the gutter where you live and raises you up, and then holds on, without end– THAT is the good news. That he loves us, and took it all upon himself to save us and he never, ever let’s go.

What are you known for?

The truth and love are not enemies, you don’t have to trade one for another, in my experience they go hand in hand.  After-all, wasn’t that what Jesus modeled?