A Promise to My Teenagers

It happened. Just like that.

My oldest is a teenager in high school and her brother is just months away from being a teen.

I love this season that has brought independence and humor, late nights and grown-up conversations. Its also ushered in an exhaustion that reminds me of the newborn days filled with worry and uncertainty.

When kids are little, we exert our authority over them. We can assert our will or at least put them in time out. But at some point, our authority decreases and our influence increases. It’s shifts from telling them to do the right thing in front of you to trusting they will do the right thing away from you.

It’s hard.

After a particularly rough parenting conversation the other day, Terrell and I were talking about this next phase– about the good we see and the challenges we will face.  I miss them being little, he said. And one day, we will miss this, I said.

Our kids are changing. And I can see that I need to change along with them. Every day our children move one step away from us and by this point in the journey, they feel like leaps towards adulthood.

Change is uncomfortable, but it’s normal. And I can hold them too tightly and kick and scream to keep things the same or I can grow with them.

a promise to my teenagers

And so, I make this promise to my teens:

I will not beg, yell or force you to see things my way.

I will try to see things your way.

I won’t ask you to do something I won’t do.

I won’t pick a battle over things that don’t matter.

I will cry with you, even when you don’t see my tears.

I will wait up when I long to sleep.

I will pray when I want to worry.

I will give you privacy, when I want to intrude.

I will let you sleep until noon (occasionally).

I will hush when I want to talk.

I will apologize when I am wrong.

I will trust you.

I will get in your business if you’re in danger or if you make bad decisions.

I will ask questions that make you uncomfortable.

I will let you ask me questions that make me uncomfortable.

I will listen.

I will try to fight for you and not with you.

When the world expects you to fail, to fall away, to forget your roots, I will expect more.

And when you do fail, I will be the first one at your side.

I will love you no matter what.

Most of all, when I mess up and forget or break these promises, I will try again. We will try again.

No matter how tall you grow or how far you go, I am your mother.

I will be here.

WFMW: Why It Matters To Say Yes In Motherhood

YesWFMW

I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster, Kayla for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

Sometimes I stare at a blank screen and a blinking cursor and think that I just want to shut this whole thing down. I mean, there are so many bigger stories, ones belonging to better storytellers.

Plus, there is just so much to do today. Like laundry. And mopping. I don’t even remember the last time I mopped. Please don’t look at my floors if you come over, that is what I am saying.

(Maybe don’t look in the laundry room either. Just stare straight into my eyes to be safe.)

So most mornings the cursor is blinking at me and I take a deep drink of coffee because it is so early that the sun has yet to break over the hills and I start typing.

Because this is what I have said yes to.

Yesmatters1

Motherhood is messy time to say yes to pursuing your own passions.

(That’s not even a metaphor, there is literally an explosion of silly string in my living room right now.)

(Why do we even own silly string? I feel as though this was not our best idea ever.)

And this thing that I love to do, this little bit of writing that ministers to my heart and in it’s own small sphere, it feels sometimes superfluous in the midst of all the other things that need to get done around here. It would be easy to let it go in the middle of the mess, to say that there is no time for this because there is just never enough time, is there?

There are carpools and appointments and dinner that is currently burning in the oven on account of how I forgot about it while trying to remove silly string from the couch.

(And the dog.)

And sometimes it feels like it isn’t worth it to say yes to this dream that was God-bourne in my heart because maybe it matters less than all of the pressing things on the never-ending to-do list.

But every day I push that stray piece of hair back behind her ear, the one that always falls down in front of her wide gray eyes, and I tell her about God’s love. And I will tell her to chase hard after God-sized dreams. I will tell her the ways that He has gifted each one of us and how beautiful it is to follow dreams and share those gifts in community.

I want her to see me believe it.

I want her to see me live it.

We are all bestowed with something with something wild and precious.

Kristen unclipped a Rhinestone Jesus pin and said yes to building a home halfway around the world and her children watched.

I trembled and said yes to binding these words and the inscription bears the words “for my daughter.

This yes is my calling and it is intricately entwined with my motherhood.

What is your yes?

Because whatever it is, it matters.

BIO: Kayla Aimee is a writer, mother and slightly spirited southern girl who spends her days uncovering hope and humor in unexpected places. She makes her home and garden in northern Georgia with her husband and toddler. Kayla shares stories of faith, family and her favorite and her first book releases with B&H publishing in Summer 2015

 

The Small Things That Make or Break A Marriage

2 AM.

I was wide awake tossing and turning. Terrell asked what was wrong and I told him to go back to sleep, it’s just a backache.

I slipped out of bed and looked for the heating pad. (Everyone over 40 has one of these, right?)  I couldn’t find it and so I started a hot bath. While I soaked, I assumed my husband snoozed, but I heard some banging around and felt bad that now two of us were awake.

Hoping the hot water did the trick, I got back into bed and was surprised to find a warmed heating pad on my side of the bed.

I smiled in the dark, now understanding the creaking doors and opening drawers I heard earlier. My husband gave up sleep to serve me. I whispered thank you.

It’s the little things that make a marriage.

As I lay there and tried to go back to sleep, I couldn’t help but think about being irritated earlier in the day with this same guy. He offered to clean the kitchen after I made dinner. But when I went to get a refill on my drink, I noticed he didn’t wipe off the food on the counters.  I know, unforgivable, right? I complained about it. And probably sighed as I did the job right. I can be a brat.

It’s the little things that break a marriage.

the little stuff that makes or breaks a marriage

It’s all in how we look at it.

It’s all in what we do with those little things.

Marriages usually face big hurdles at some time or another. We protect and try to fight our way to victory. We are often aware of the giants, the big problems. But for many, the true danger is in the small, day-in-and-day-out stuff that can settle deep in our hearts and grow like a bad seed. These are the small foxes that spoil the vine that Song of Solomon 2:15 warns us of–the little annoyances are like termites, nearly unnoticeable, but they cause significant damage. Sometimes we let the smallest grievances cause the biggest destruction.

At the same time, when we look for and acknowledge the little things in our marriage and recognize them as gifts from our spouse, we strengthen our marriage. When I really look for these gifts throughout my day-the way he offers to clean up the kitchen after I cook or fills my car up with gasoline so I don’t have to or the way he turns his alarm clock down so it doesn’t wake me or the way he surprises me with a sweet tea– these are the gifts in my life and they are countless.

They add up-if I stop to add them.

The small stuff can break a marriage if we let it, but it can also make a marriage.

It’s all in how we look at it.

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Our Pets Don’t Need a Halloween Costume and Other Important Truths

I always see more clearly when my first world collides with the third world. Sometimes I suffer from double vision in this culture and the line between what I need and what I want is blurred.

Perspective is a gift. And nothing brings life into focus like a shot of it.

When Maureen visited earlier this month, I couldn’t help but see my world through her eyes. On the day before her last in Texas, we took her to the zoo for a visit with our kids. We had spent the previous three weeks working nearly non-stop and I wanted to end her trip with a leisure day outdoors in the fall weather.

I didn’t realize we had chosen one of the busiest days of the year to visit the zoo. It was Boo Day- a day in which children and a lot of adults in ill-fitting tutus with face paint walk around the zoo and stop at Candy Stations.

I’m not anti-Halloween. When else do neighbors and strangers come to my house, ring my doorbell and ask me for something? For me, it’s the perfect opportunity to shine Jesus, hand out good candy and meet people who I probably wouldn’t.

But walking around the zoo that day with Maureen and trying to gauge what in the world she must think was something I won’t forget. We laughed (and okay, pointed a few times at some ridiculous (or very brave) getups). Because people are funny. She asked a few questions and at one point I whispered to my family Don’t even tell her about pet costumes.

princes leia

(source)

The week before I overheard a lady at the bank say how badly she needed to stop and get her pet a costume at Petsmart because her sister was throwing a Pet Halloween Party.

We all buy things we don’t need. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, but some where along the way the line between what we think we need and what we want has been so blurred in our society that when we refer to our pets and costumes and made up parties dogs could give a flip about, we use the word need. I realize it’s just a word, but really it’s more than that.

Because $330 million dollars.

That’s what Americans spent on Halloween costumes for their pets last year.

I can hardly wrap my brain around those numbers. But according to One.org, it’s more money than the entire world spends on malaria in a year.

And we can’t pretend that the way we live is the way the rest of the world lives. We simply can’t keep living this way.

And let’s not even talk about cats and other pets at Christmas gifts (Think 5 billion).

Listen, this isn’t really about dressing up Fido as Princess Leia or stuffing a stocking for Garfield. It’s not about pets or holidays at all. It’s about spending our money on things that don’t matter and then when we discover something that does matter, we don’t feel like we have money to give.

We are approaching the most commercialized and expensive time of the year and it’s so easy to get sucked into the materialism of it all. It’s easy to spend money on ourselves and our family, on all the fun extras in life. I love splurging on my kids and enjoying leisure days like everyone else.

As Halloween decorations are replaced with Christmas, let’s approach this season with a goal to spend less on ourselves.

Because if we only give to ourselves and ignore those in need, we are wrong. We need to do both.

And sometimes, we need to obey the still voice that says less for me, more for others.

Because at the end of the day, people matter more than stuff.

And a little perspective will help us see them more clearly.

To the Parents Who Read This Blog:

Thank you.

5,051.

That’s how many of you answered my parenting survey a couple of weeks ago. I was humbled by your enthusiasm.

I closed it after 24 hours because it will take some time to dig into the thousands of comments and answers. I will be spending the next few months pouring over them as I write my next book, a daunting challenge and tentatively titled Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.

Yeah. A parenting book. So, you could say I’ve never felt more inadequate.

This won’t be a book about my successful parenting, I’m writing it from the trenches. Because I figure we hear enough from the experts and sometimes it’s helpful to hear from people just like us.

From the preliminary results of the survey, I can see the similarities in the parents who read here, but it’s the differences that really caught my attention. From atheists to Jesus freaks, from young parents with babies to grandma’s with an empty nest, from low-income to the very wealthy, from those who spoil their kids to those who don’t, we are different. Moms. Dads. Divorced. Married. Homeschool. Public. Strict and Lenient.

It may seem like this is a weakness. 5000 opinions and answers, countless ways we could disagree. But the strength of this community is actually in our differences, not our similarities. This is what makes us stronger: the chance to learn from each other. The opportunity to respect what makes us different.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lorde

This survey proved something else:

We love our kids.

We are imperfect, but we try.

We admit when we aren’t doing our best and we try harder.

We want the best for them, even if we don’t always know what that is. But we will keep trying to find it.

That’s the one thing we all have in common.

And it’s enough.

So, if you’re a parent reading this blog, I want you to say thank you and stick around: This is your invitation into the Intentional.

I’d love to know some parenting issues or topics you’d like to talk about here in this space or in my Facebook Community. We may not all agree all the time, but we can learn from one another.  If you have a suggestion or parenting question, leave it in the comment section or suggest something anonymously here.

I’m also starting a newsletter that will have inspiring parenting articles, helpful life links, occasional deals I love, etc. If you’re not already getting my blog posts delivered for free to your email, sign up below:

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