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.

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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.

What We Eat On Mondays and Why It Matters

We eat the same meal at home on Monday nights for dinner.

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We aren’t in a rut. It’s not gourmet and there aren’t any secret ingredients.

We are being intentional.

Most of the world doesn’t have the luxury of having a pantry and refrigerator full of food with dozens of options. Meat is for the wealthy and fruit is a delicacy.

What better way to remind our kids how much we have than through their bellies?

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We eat rice and beans every Monday, so we can remember how the rest of the world lives and eats.

Sometimes the best way to introduce a different perspective is by doing something different. And then repeating it often.

Recipe:

Cook brown rice, lightly salt, add fresh cilantro

Top with generous amount of black beans, seasoned with cumin.

Add fresh avocado.

It’s what we eat on Mondays. And it matters.

So. This Happened Today.

I thought I was just picking up ONE special person from the airport.

But she surprised me.

She brought a baby bump with her!

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Mercy House keeps growing.

Maureen arrived from Kenya for meetings, training and our first Mercy House Gala this weekend. I can’t wait to share how you can be a part of this very special event that will enable us to help girls all over the world.

 

How To Live a 2-Star Life in a 5-Star World

So. There are some things that go along with writing a book.

You know besides all the fame and truck loads of money. Heh.

Four months out and I still get weekly questions like, “How’s the book doing so far?” “How many copies have you sold?” “Has it been reviewed in a journal?” “How do you feel about it releasing the same time as five other blogger’s books?” And then suggestions “Maybe you should try to push it here… or Guest post there…”

These are not my favorite.

Because with every question comes a comparison of my book (which sometimes feels a lot like a comparison of me) lined up next to another book (which sometimes feels a lot like a comparison to another author). Although I know it’s my insecurities and not your questions.

And then there are reviews. Words people write about what you’ve written. It can be a lot of noise.

Most days, I waive off the questions and I forget to read the reviews. I handle questions like “So, is your book a success? ” with answers like “I wrote it out of obedience to God.” Because it’s true.

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With daily Mercy House tasks, writing obligations, overseeing Fair Trade Friday, and managing the massive amounts of laundry my family produces, I don’t have time to worry about it. I’ve said from the beginning, this book will do what it’s supposed to do (glorify God, I hope). I don’t have to sell my soul to sell books.

But then there are days I give into the pressure to compare book sales and mostly myself, to others.

These moments are also not my favorite.

Recently, I got my first 2- star review on Amazon. Sales on Amazon are a good general gauge for how your book is doing.  It was sandwiched between two very kind 5-star reviews, but guess which one was loudest?

It said something to the effect of “The 1st part of this book was very interesting and good to read. Then it turned into at least to me an infomercial on the needs of 3rd world countries…”

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I shared the review on my Facebook page, perhaps to satisfy my own need for approval, but I also found encouragement.

But it was words from a missionary friend living in Costa Rica that hit the mark:

She unwittingly gave you one of the best reviews ever. Lord, please let me live a two star life that turns into an infomercial for the needs of others on this earth so I can live a five star life with you forever. #twostars

And it has become my prayer too.

If I’m too busy listening to who the world says I am, I might miss the great I AM speaking.

Because if my goal in this life is to be known, how can I make Him known? 

It’s hard to look at Him when we’re busy looking at ourselves.

For me, success is easily wrapped up in writing and there are plenty of meters to let me know how I’m doing, I mean, how my books are doing. But the same truth applies in every career and situation. If we are comparing our parenting, our homes, our kids, our jobs to other people, we always end up feeling like we don’t measure up.

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How to live a 2-star life in a 5-star world: 

1. Keep our eyes on Him- we can only focus on one thing at a time

2. Don’t compare yourself to others-it skews our perception of truth

3. Live upside down-embrace the small

I’m learning that in this upside Kingdom where small is big and least is more-

Two stars is more than I thought.

My Family Rocks (Even When It Doesn’t)

Friday mornings around my house are hectic.

With one kid in the high school marching band with a football game at night, it means for a very long day. This past Friday was no different, except that my marcher overslept, my son had to be at junior high early and my youngest was still asleep. My husband and I tag teamed it and while I took my son to school in the dark, he went the opposite direction with our girls, one still in pajamas.

There was traffic and a bad hair day and drama in the car and a lot of oh-my-goodness-the-weekend-is-almost-here thoughts.

Our second grader is years behind her siblings and usually takes their schedule in stride. But not on Friday.

What started out as a small thing, quickly grew to a full blown meltdown. You know the kind. At one point, she was so angry, she started spouting off all the bad words she knew, words like dumb and stupid and shut up. And then she let out the big one she read on the wall at the taco bar we visited this summer. The one I hoped she had forgotten. I knew it was a mistake eating there when she read loudly off the wall “The best damn tacos around” as we were ordering. A good reader has its disadvantages.

We hushed her and told her that was a bad word. Our first mistake.

Because when you’re riding in your pajamas, taking your sister to high school and you’re not getting your way, those bad words are the first thing you think of. Oh, sin nature, you do start early.

She used the word completely wrong and it wasn’t funny at all-the whole morning was a disaster, and when I looked down at the shirt I was wearing, I really wanted to laugh.

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Sometimes I think people think our family has it all together. Childless young married couples have told us, “We want our family to be like yours one day.” Oh, to be a fly on our wall.  Sure, we run a non-profit and we said yes to God and it looks good from the outside…like we are perfect parents with perfect kids. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are a big fat disaster most days and that’s why it’s remarkable. Because God uses weak, messy people to change the world.

Two out of three of our kids told us we were mean parents that morning. I don’t know what’s wrong with the third one.

But after taking her consequence like a boss, my little girl hugged us hard and apologized. I chaperoned the marching band on Friday night and thought I saw pride in my high schooler’s eyes. And most of all, I was reminded that my family rocks.

Even, when it doesn’t. Especially then.

We are just [damn] normal.

And I have the t-shirt to prove it.

Get yours here.