Monday, May 30, 2016

Parent Dares

Happy Memorial Day, y'all. 

The silence is deafening. After getting the awful tummy stuff outta here,  all of my "littles" have been elsewhere occupied for the day and I've spent the majority of the last three days relaxing, recuperating, and refueling. Much needed, I tell ya.  

David and I have only had his oldest at home, hobbling around after knee surgery.  We have eaten a lot of junk and spent the day laughing and enjoying one another.

I've spent the last hour with my "to do" list that is longer than my arm to prepare all these children for their upcoming activities. One headed to headed to Harding starting physical headed to in the midst of Football and all THAT entails....and another just home enjoying his summer. 

Recently, I sat in the parking lot to pick up #5 from basketball (age14), I'm reminded that I'm an outsider.  You see? For years, my best friends were those parents of the #1's friends and teammates.  When you travel three weekends a month, they become your family. All through school, when I would need help with carpools or really ANYTHING....I knew one of about 8 moms that I could call and before I could even "ask" the answer was "yes".  And vice versa. To this day....I could probably call for anything and get that same answer. Our friendships ran much deeper than baseball. 

But as I was saying, I knew no one.  Already, at a recent parent meeting, the other moms were name-dropping, and politic-ing, and pairing up into their obvious connections and I sat there feeling very old.  And alone. I wanted to stand up and tell them so much of what I learned over the years.  That the coaches  don't really care who you are or where they get their private lessons will all be decided on the court.  I chuckled to myself and AT myself for being stuck back in the land of "8th grade basketball". 

What really bothered me, though, is the alone feeling came more from not having another parent to lean on with my new son. To help with carpools, and lunches, and Sonic runs. I began questioning my ability to do it all.  It's tough, y'all.  

All of my best friends are entering the empty nest time of life.  While I, am starting over.  Am older.  And tired-er, and yes.  Just a little bit wiser.  Almost a pro. Or should be anyway.  Ha 

So much to do while nurturing a new job. 30 minutes from home. A job that I love.  That has brought with it challenge, and value, and enables me to hopfully make a difference.  Also, it has brought with it precious new friends.  Friends I want to help, and be teammates with, and not let down. 

Overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel some days.  To be needed by so many.  For SO MANY, need my 100%. Very few in my world understand. 

I'm praying for balance.  To be able to give ALL of me to no less than 10 people on any given day.  7 of which live under my roof. Each and every one expect and deserve all of me. And I've pledged to do just that. 

I've began reading and putting into practice "The Love Dare For Parents".  Cheesy, maybe.  But hey....I'm not to proud to ask for help. And from Him. 

With 6's gonna take a bit more than 40 days. I'm going at my own pace with it.  It's taken me back to my favorite chapter of the Bible...1 Corinthians 13. Ya know....Love is Patient.  Love is kind. 
We all know it.  We all love it. we all live it?

It's got me praying those "scary prayers" that I've talked about before.  The ones where you better be ready to hear Him....listen to Him.... And be obedient to Him. 

In my parental "Love Dare" journey, I am met with daily challenges, and charged with writing about the effects of each one.  Example:  "Tell each of your children that you love them."  Like....duh. We all say that each day.  But no....Like, take the child's face in your hands.....and look them in the eye....and let them know you REALLY love them.   And hug them.  And hang on for a minute.  So I did just that!  

Other days....I was charged with doing an unexpected act of kindness...."Love is kind"....get the idea?  That day, I handwrote a little note to each kiddo, placed a $5 gift card to Sonic in they could enjoy a happy hour or two on ole mom.  I placed it under their placemat at dinner time.  For ONCE, we had all the kiddos at home at once.  They loved finding their "little act of kindness" for the day.  It ended with the whole family playing wiffle ball in the front yard.  It was a perfect summer evening.

Another place my journey has taken me is quite shameful.  The "Love is Patient" day had me crawling under the table hiding my face like sometimes Pastor Rick's sermons do.  It challenges us to see that serving our children is an honor and a privilege! For you see?  The "to do" list I mentioned earlier in this post is pretty typical.  No, they don't travel to other states and other countries every day....but the craziness of their lives....when only two are driving....gets tricky.  

I find myself complaining while in service to the ones I love the most.   When in reality, I should be honored to invest my love and compassion into their futures....just as I've done for years.  Being tired at the end of the day...means I've done a job well.  Means I've come home to those who need me....and helped to meet their needs.  Being overwhelmed....means I have active and healthy children who are thriving in their activities.  It means I am loving.  And being loved.

The more "patience" I practice today....will mean more victories to celebrate tomorrow.  Patience helps us to minimize those things which are negative.  And Kindness helps us to be a blessing.  Kindness is love in action.  Not just in the form of a Sonic card.  But it our everyday attitudes toward the daily demands of life.  It's simply investing in the hearts that we have been given to nurture.  

Only on day 4....and its some good stuff friends.  So much so...that I am going to pray and study and invest in myself as a mother before moving on to 5.  I want to get this down pat.  :)

As my "to do" list continues to grow and change.  As the color-coordinated calendar whereby each child has his/her own color is filled, completed, and marked off, and as my ole body wears down.....I realize how blessed I am with the completely beautifully FULL nest I have been charged with loving and serving.  

I cannot imagine what kind of parent would ever EVER turn away from a child. That is a "grace" I pray about extending daily.  I'm just not there yet.  But that said, God chose me to be there for 6 wonderful children.  And with His guidance....I will not take that lightly.  We aren't a perfect family.  But we sure have our perfect moments.

"Dare to Love" my challenge to you.  As parents.  Partners.  Friends. As God's children.  I've learned in Days 1-4....The practice of Love, Patience, and Kindness can be extended to all we meet.  I am pretty sure none of these will steer ya wrong.  :)

Train 'em up!!!  Ephesians 3:17 tells us to "...root them, and ground them in love."  
How else will they bloom????

In Him,

PS. I have a prayer request:  My David finally was able to see a hand specialist on Friday.  News was not good.  He is facing surgery for both hands for severe Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.  Facing being out of work 4-6 weeks...PER HAND.  I cannot begin to tell you how that effects a family of 8....two going into their senior year, with one already in college.  Please pray for us.  Diligently.   And without ceasing.  We have definitely been tested in the "sickness and health" arena!  :). Please pray that He hold this man that I love so much...and loves and protects our family like no other. Thank you.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

You Should Be Here....

Hi Momma.

I'm writing this letter to you at the end of the day. I'm pooped. I've spent the day at work (from my new job that I absolutely love, by the way!), and the evening answering to the demands of being a mom.  You know:  picking one up from football, Thanking the Lord for precious "teacher friends" who helped me chase down a backpack, holding a cell phone, in the Middle School restroom...after 5:30 pm, cooking dinner, laundry....ENDLESS laundry....the usual. 

I see you chuckling in heaven as I'm living out all the things you did with us....and foresaw when you first held Sambo and Syd in your arms. It has been their little hands and hearts that have brought me to my knees. I have learned through their lives that there is always someone more important than myself. Serving them has left me tired and drained. Serving them has been the best thing I could do in my lifetime. Their lives remind me every day the things that you taught me..... that life is not about me, it is about loving others.

Your "Bonus Boys" are doing so well, mom.  Oh! How I wish you could have known them. 

David, Jr.  - the one with a big heart and even better dreams. I love our rare moments of heart to hearts.  A hard worker, and driven young man. Can't wait to watch him achieve each and every one. 

Tyler - this one makes me laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh. Such a cutie patootie. The one who is the first to ask about my day.  And tell me about his. 

Trey - sweet Trey.  The quiet one. The sweetest spirit. The helpful one. The one full of love and pride for all he accomplishes. This one is going to the NBA and gonna buy me a house on the mountain. :). Just ask him!

Frankie - his innocence is full of wonderment is precious to watch. He says "Momma" no less than 20 times a day and each time I love it more than the last.  My little love bug. My sweet Frankie.  

God knew what He was doing by blessing me with a house full of boys. I love them as my own. And pray everyday I make a difference in their they have mine. 

They have no idea now, but all six of my kids are teaching me to lean hard into the moments that shape my character, no matter how uncomfortable they are. They are teaching me that serving others around the clock is hard work. But it is turning my life into something beautiful.

Before I had them I was told that children are a blessing. They were right, but I didn't understand what they meant. I thought children were a blessing because they were fun, and cute to dress up and take pictures of...blah blah blah.   Now I know that children are a blessing because they turn my eyes away from myself. Their lives have stolen my heart. My heart can’t beat for myself anymore. It beats for them from morning to night, and all through the night. When they are in pain or when they have to work extra hard, I feel what they feel. When their feelings are hurt, my heart breaks with them. When they experience something new and scream with excitement, I am cheering right along side of them.  Just like you did.

Sam is about to finish his freshman year at CBC.  Oh, how I miss you.  I know you would be in the middle of this and so proudly among each moment.  He loves his school and his friends and has a precious girl in his life. And playing baseball for Coach Brister.  I think you may have heard of him  :)  God has His arms holding our Sam....and has guided every moment....every decision.  While I'm sad that my baby is growing...I'm at peace with his future.  

Syd is thriving.  Perfect grades And just was just chosen as a Pepstepper again for her Senior year.  This child is a mess.  Kinda like your daughter.  But everything I wasn't.  She is organized and honest and driven and loyal.  She is my best friend.  Hands down.  So much fun.

This is hands down my favorite pic of them in ALL the land. 

I can't forget my David.  I've already told you all about him and I've told him all about you.  And SOOO wish he would have gotten to know and love you like we do.  I'm sure you know all too well that God had a hand in this.  I love him.  And more importantly, Mom....He loves ME!  <3

See, Mom?  He lets me be "me."  Many have tried to change me.  And many have failed.  I've hit the jackpot!  :)  Ding.Ding.Ding.  <3

With Mother's Day this week, I am celebrating the greatness not only being their mom....but of being  your daughter.  I don’t want to be honored for the things I have done. I want to honor the One who hasn’t given up on me.  Just like you said He wouldn't.   When I slammed my fists and threw fits, and strayed from him, He held me close. He has forgiven me. I want to honor God for the work He has done in my life. My beautiful children are a blessing because they bring me joy and point me to the One who will never give up on me. They point me to the only One Who can make me great.

Its May, again.  May has always been a big ole month around our house.  Several of the important milestones in my life were celebrated in May....ones that used to give joy! May housed the wonderful dates of Mother's Day....AND your birthday!  Funny, how it was SUPPOSED to be all about you....but you always made it all about us.  I get it now.  :)  You always said I would.....

My wedding is probably one of my fondest memories of YOU.  We planned everything together down to every last detail.  I loved that day.


Mom, since you have moved on to Heaven....I must admit that I've dreaded the month of May every year.  I also remember it was May that you called us in on that fateful day and told us that you fact....terminal.  That the doctor had confirmed that there was nothing more "medically" that they could do to help you.  That your earthly life was nearing the end and that you need to prepare yourself and your family.  You were to "get your affairs in order".....that the end was near.  We cried together that day.  We prayed together that day.  It changed my life.  Forever.  I didn't agree with your decision to stop treatment.  I didn't want to give up.  I didn't want to let go.  But, as your daughter, as a fellow Survivor, and now...a fellow sister in Christ....I get it, Mom.  I get it.

You insisted on that little trip to Branson.  With just us.  I remember riding in the backseat with you and visiting all the way.  Funny, how I remember that you told me my teeth were so pretty and white.  Isn't it crazy that I remember something like that?  I constantly stare at my teeth and remember you.....stupid I know.  On that trip, you were wearing down.  The muscles in your legs were beginning to deteriorate and you struggled some.  We still managed to shop, a little.  You bought Sydney a little outfit.  Pink t-shirt and little pink flowered capri pants....from the Carter's outlet at Tangier.  

I remember that because it is the last outfit you purchased for her.  Since that time....every time I clean her drawers and closet.....going through her clothes to donate, consign, etc....I set them aside.  I then place it neatly back in her bottom drawer.  They have gone through each season for almost 15 years, and I just can't part with them.  

You also took us to the Dixie Stampede.  You bought the kiddos both of one of those beautiful stick horses.  The last toy you bought them.  Both have theirs in their rooms.  Their "mamaw horses"......

Here you didn't feel were wearing that wig you hated....but you pressed on and gave us the gift of a weekend FULL of memories with you that we carry with us forever.  I plan to take them to Dixie Stampede, soon.  Very soon.  

I make sure they know how much you love them.  As I look around the ballpark at the proud mamaws and grannys that never miss a game or a performance.....I think of you.  I know you are there, too.  I would always think that that when Syd asked me for about $20 each ballgame for the concession stand, and I have to tell her "no"....that you would slide her a few bucks when I wasn't looking.  :) You would be THAT lady who yelled like a fool when they did something good....and it would be NO secret which kid was "yours."  :)  Complete with "Sydney Clare's Mamaw" or "I love #4" on your back.  No doubt.  That would be you.

I know you would keep the road hot between Newport and Benton.....and I'd have to get a better mattress for the guest room for you.  :)  I'

My kiddos' events and special days would be much more "grand" and "special" because YOU were that person that made them that way.  What in the WORLD am I gonna do when she gets married?????? 

I wish I'd have let you teach me a couple of little things like hemming pants, and sewing on buttons....haha.'d be proud of the few things I've learned to do as a "dance mom"....I can "stone" and "bedazzle" with the best!  :)

Tootie and Chuck have more than stepped in to give me loving parents.  I'm learning to cook and laugh and just be loved. We feel her warmth in our home from her hearts AND her many afghans.  Everyone has their own "Tootie Blanket"! I   know you are as happy that I am than God saw fit to give me a "Bonus mom" as we were able to give them children and grandchildren.

I've drifted a little...reminiscing of you and what a presence you were in our lives.  But back to my point....Since we lost you, I've always dreaded May.  Gloomy, depressed, even grumpy.  I've learned to be a little more at peace.  But I will never get over losing you. 

I had the BEST role model in you as a Mom.  But darn it! I don't hold a candle to you!  :)  I am an alarm clock, short-order cook, maid, waitress, teacher, nurse, referee, handyman, artist, security officer, private investigator, photographer, counselor, chauffer, demerit-saver, event planner, hairdresser, personal assistant, an ATM, and I occasionally even have to scare away the boogie man.  I'm on call 24-7 and don't get holidays off.  I'm a mom.  I LOVE it!  And...just like YOU said I would.....I get it. :)

I do have moments.  "Woe is me" moments.  But you left behind such a Village.  I reach out to Judy when I REALLY need a dose of "you"....She is the closest thing left on earth to you.  I have Jay, and Dad, and of course, Tootie and Chuck have adopted us and loves us through all of our mistakes and victories like "only a mother could"  haha.  It protects me.  It restores me....and gives me love.    But knowing we will meet again...brings a peace and a hope that lets us go on.  You're still with us....And I see all the little ways you let us know that.  I get it, Mom.

Things in my life are falling into place.  Loose ends are being tied.  I'm happy, Momma.  I'm really, really happy.

I strive to live every day by some of the last words you said to me.  "To 'Let go and Let God' handle my needs and priorities. And to continue raising my children in the company of Christian friends."  You are right.  He provides ALL of our needs, and most of our wants. 

And I know how different things would be if you were here.  I never thought I'd feel so alone. 
So tonight, I'm pretty ticked at Cancer. I wish it had not chosen to pick on you.  On us. I know God doesn't make mistakes but He must be rolling His eyes at me doing it without you. This is just hard. 

I guess that's why He placed me here. I know in my heart that I'm right where we need to be. That He gave me these friends in my life, mom, to fill the void of family loss in my life.  

Sometimes, mom, I'm guilty of letting them carry me through this life without you.  I get so caught up in "me and mine" that I lose sight of my "servant's heart".  And am not the best friend in return. 
Sometimes I just don't even know what to say or think or feel.


Lately, I spent a lot of time asking God to give me the words to speak and to know when to speak them and when to be quiet. That is a delicate and mysterious thing and not always my gift. I think I get that from you, momma. Most days, I am able to turn my gaze outward again and am so appreciative of the love and support my friends offer and so freely share.  I aim to do a better job of letting them know how much I love them. 

There are days, where I slip back inside my head, and I just don't feel worthy of all the wonderful people God has placed around me.  The friends who love me in spite of me.  Who pick me up. Who forgive. Who let me know I am loved, when I'm not very lovable.  You know I'm that way sometimes....not very lovable. 

Lately, mom, I'm  feeling a little overwhelmed. There is so much noise, not from the kiddos, but the static of life in all it's glory, that I could not focus my attention on what mattered, or even figured out what it was that did matter. 

I thought the problem was that I couldn't hear myself think. 

I was ready to clear my plate of obligations. Instead of discernment, I was experiencing a little bit of fight or flight response. Fortunately, after some time, deep breathing, snuggles with the kiddos and prayer, I was able to refocus. The static was drowned out by the still, small voice as I listened to Him. I didn't need to hear myself. I was getting in my own way. 

Thank you for teaching me that direct line to Him. For teaching me to "Let go and let God..." have my life, my worries and my needs. To my dear Lord and my mom.....I need you both.  To be a better Christian, mother, partner, and friend. 

This is how I remember you most....Smiling and silly. You made my childhood special.  You instilled in me how to love and give ALL of myself to my children.  I try, Mom.  I sure hope you would be proud.  Being a mom has truly completed me as a person here on earth.  It is such a gift.  They have brought such joy into my life.  Through them, I've met the best of friends and found joy in the simplest of things.  I just love it.  There really is no greater love than a mother's love.  

I've been told there is a bit of resemblance... Me and you.  :)). Oh I wish!  I take it as a compliment in the highest form.  <3

Happy Mother's Day, US!  I miss you more every day.  Oh, And Happy Early Birthday.  I won't even tell everyone that you're turning 64!  Old lady!  :)  I love you, momma.  You should be here....and I know you are. 


PS....I couldn't help but read back through some old posts and found a couple where I shared "you".....Thought I'd tag them again.  They make me smile.  <3