Tag Archives: raising teens

I Was Just Excited

I knew as soon as I saw the light bar I was getting pulled over. A quick glance at the speedometer showed 70 and the two-lane was empty of vehicles minus mine and the Trooper’s.

I had my license, insurance, and a smile ready by the time he got to my window.

I was just excited I explained.

We were on our way to celebrating a weekend away for my boy’s birthday.

My eldest. My first-born.

001

Long weeks until we’d been able to finally get away, but we were all getting to go now and wasn’t I thankful for this family God gave me?

As I waited for the Trooper to run my information, I remembered back to my dispatching days when there was another time I’d been pulled over.

Just over fifteen years ago it’d been.

I was excited then too, and as my red truck came to a stop on the side of the road that day, I laughed at the irony of being pulled over by a co-worker on my afternoon off.

His big smile in my window had matched mine and I showed him the picture from the ultrasound appointment I’d just left and told him “I’m sorry JohnJohn. Are you going to give me a ticket? I didn’t even realize I was going fast, I’m just so excited.”

His laugh is still in my ear and he told me “Of course I’m not gonna give you a ticket. Slow down though, you want to live to see that baby grow.”

004.JPG

That day was two years before his life was cut short, and when the Trooper comes back with a smile and a warning I think of my fallen friend and offer up the unopened bag of chocolates I’d just bought at the store because it was the nicest thing I had to offer as a thanks for keeping me safe and a thanks for wearing the blue and a thanks for reminding me.

I want to live to see my babies grow.

He couldn’t take my candy back to the station, but he could take a thank you and I slow down for the rest of the trip and think of John and years and babies and gifts.

The baby that we were celebrating today was the baby I was carrying then and how does fifteen years go by just like that?

005

How do friends come and go and babies grow up and grow mustaches and muscles and compassion and how does cancer change lives forever and tragedy take loved ones too soon and how do wrinkles appear even as hair disappears while faith grows strong and steady and quiet and true, and how does it all happen in a way that makes you feel like you’re flying when you don’t even realize you’re going that fast?

And the only possible conclusion is the same now as it was then…

I was just excited.

But I’ll slow down again.

I’ll remember my reminders.

I’ll stop when I need to and listen to the warnings.

I’ll smile back at the friendly faces in my window.

I’ll cherish friends while I have them here.

I’ll show my thanks with what I have.

And for all the days I’m given on this journey…

I’ll live to see my babies grow.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

~

In Memory of John P. Watson 

EOW 12/25/03

006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bigger and Tireder and Come Unto Me

He said Come unto Me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.

He didn’t say Come every Wednesday or Come unto me even though you’re exhausted or Come unto me or else we won’t be friends anymore.

He said Come unto me all you who are weary…

And they don’t tell you in the pregnancy books that there comes a time, way past the first roll-over time, way past the sitting up time, way past the solid foods time, and wayyy past the first-steps time…

1914286_1166372360404_1622838_n

There comes a time when it seems a little like it did when there were babies in the house, and a little like it did when there were toddlers in the house…

1936900_1130220816638_7623810_n

But it’s all a little bit different and a little bit bigger.

Because they’re bigger.

13512074_10207220730697506_1974492824310303875_n13700026_10207354848010355_4509519964525493000_n11826050_10205171062377079_8389131653967778264_n

You should be tougher but you don’t feel much tougher.

In fact, when you talk to mamas just a wee bit older than you, you might whisper it to them quiet and confidentially and maybe even with a hint of a doubt in your tone while you secretly hope that maybe they’ll understand.

You really hope they’ll nod knowingly and that they won’t tell you that you’re wrong. You hope they’ll hug you and say OH HONEY YES.

It’s harder than it was.

It’s just a different hard.

You feel somehow weaker than you did even though you never ever thought you’d feel weaker and more vulnerable than you did with no sleep and no makeup and milk streaming down your chest and soaking through your shirt and onto your mattress and into your days while the beautiful baby just screamed and screamed and constantly needed a new diaper.

You’re tired.

And that just seems so wrong because they sleep all night now, a long teenager’s sleep late into the morning for their growing bodies if your day can spare it, so a full eight or nine is your delight, and most mornings even a leisurely cup of coffee is yours before they arise…and they do work now, real work that makes yours easier.

12631294_10206165962208953_5236890358614510355_n13095810_10206811267861191_3830617926206379257_n

But they take more of you now.

More mind muscle. More money. More miles.

They take up more space.

In your house.

In your head.

In your heart.

There are more of them and they are bigger and it’s just all bigger and a little more overwhelming but you’re older now and wiser now so you handle it better but handling it better makes you tired sometimes and it’s a different kind of tired.

And sometimes coming unto me looks a lot different than what a mama thought it would way back when they still napped in the middle of the day and still needed you to buckle them into their car seat.

A quiet time isn’t always ever a quiet time, and me-time doesn’t work and long ago when they were toddlers I cut out a magazine piece that said me-time comes when the babies are grown and now that mine are almost there I see.

I see how it is that I don’t really feel like taking that me-time anymore unless they force me, and now that more than two of them fill a room while college and jobs and future fill their horizon…

I’m glad my me-time revolves around them.

1991_10206432559433717_1815804492705814144_n11825971_10205221778764957_1878700156571017671_n14242251_10207766341857444_2893662077870790043_o

It means saying no sometimes.

It means that I actually had more time for friends when my babies were babies and we could all get together over diapers and coffee and Cheerios and Boppies.

It means that pulling in to them instead of pulling away needs to be my daily priority.

It means that I may lose outside opportunities in order to stay inside the circle of these years.

It means that my growth might actually be watching them grow and that is what my job is right now.

It means that I might have to work through the new ages and stages and grow right along with them.

14445131_10207928258865268_7764277683725295738_o.jpg

It means that I might be lacking for folks outside of here and seem shallow when in truth, I’m growing deeper and broader in my care and attention.

But a mama still needs come unto me and thankfully, He stands and He knocks, and what a comfort…what.a.comfort. to know He’s there.

That He is always there.

That when my quiet time is driving-down-the-road time, He doesn’t abandon.

He’s there.

That when I’m extra busy or frazzled or full, He doesn’t condemn.

He invites.

That when I forget, He doesn’t write me off.

He gently prods.

That when I’m exhausted, He doesn’t shame.

He comforts.

That He loves.

That He forgives.

That He encourages.

That He holds.

That He stays.

And that unlike this time that rushes…that goes…that hurries…

He doesn’t.

He still says come unto me and when I’m weary and when I’m burdened and when I’m heavy laden…

He doesn’t pressure but He waits.

And He gives rest for my soul.

14435389_10207913973268137_8039937684713356572_o

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails and never gives up it never runs out on me…your love…it’s your love…

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

Your love never fails and never gives up it never runs out on me…your love…it’s your love…God it’s your love.

~Jesus Culture

Unexpected

In a season that catches by surprise, I’ve come to anticipate the unexpected.

Four kids fill this house and this calendar and these rooms…

and the minds and the lives and the hearts of their parents.

SEPTEMBER 2016 2915.JPG

Critters live and critters die, and sometimes it comes by way of sudden chirping from the woods when a nest of nine stumbles and weaves behind mama turkey, and sometimes it comes by way of the quiet death of a loud guinea or the noble fight and fall of a beloved pony.

“Moment by moment” round here is never an exaggeration.

september-2016-2137

SEPTEMBER 2016 2148.JPG

But what’s never expected is the cold stare from one who was once a warm friend.

What catches by surprise and catches in the throat are the words stuck that stream through quiet moments and that are outlined with bold strokes of anger and frustration but mostly just scream Why?? When?? I thought we were friends??

And a rejection like that can make a mama pull in and pull close and focus on just the ones around her, the ones she knows for sure love her.

Making friends never gets easier does it?

And down deep, isn’t there always that little girl who lives inside of us? That first grader in a room full of new classmates who’s standing there awkward when she realizes she’s tied the back of her dress up into her waistband while she shifts from foot to foot at the front of the classroom with her underwear and tights all exposed to the world?

Don’t the bruises get blacker when a soul gets older?

Unexpected.

And when the demands are so great a big gal feels small and sometimes has a hard time breathing let alone doing anything extra, a mama can only just bear down and push through the cramp and know she’s doing what she was meant to do in this moment: deliver these babies out into the world.

She’ll keep pushing and she’ll keep grunting and she’ll try not to swear even though she might yell out during the especially hard parts.

She didn’t know it’d be like this over a dozen years after they were born.

Unexpected.

And sometimes just the day to day can be enough to make us keep things shy and reserved and holding the heart close to the chest and the real feelings tight in the pocket.

Enough of the keeping it tight can make us keep it closed and before we know it, we’ve holed ourselves up while we tell ourselves we’re just in a quiet season of bearing down.

And then the real unexpected…

The exceptional unexpected.

The beautiful unexpected.

The unexpected gift of the unexpected time of an unexpected dinner with a couple from church, two souls just ahead on the sidewalk, and all the unexpected tears and laughter that come from that kind of unexpected encounter.

How the path we’re walking is so very familiar to them.

How the struggles we wrestle are ones they’ve conquered.

How the unexpected keeps on into the empty nest years.

How the unexpected keeps on…

My heart carries the day this month that we drove to the place where we sailed to the spot…

that gate where three seas meet, -just past the sanctuary for mariners- and the wind blew fierce and the waves pounded hard and how could I not feel God hold me there in that spot where warm tears of praise slipped down cold cheeks of wonder?

Unexpected.

The whales of September came by surprise and Native founders sailed those waters on kayaks and I sailed them with my children who stood bravely against the gusts and they braced themselves to the threat and they laughed into the wind because they are young and they trust their father and their mother, but they especially trust the One who made the skies.

september-2016-2924

september-2016-2925

september-2016-2920

The joy we’ve had this month can be lost in the hard of this month and the hard of lost friendship and the hard of this life…

but when I focus on the good…when I fix my eyes on the pure…the hard isn’t so hard and the good is pure joy.

The unexpected moments from the unexpected trip that grew my babies and grew my mama and that grew me.

The unexpected victories that taught us that sometimes a person will win when they practice hard but that sometimes even hard practice won’t win, and that that’s okay too.

The unexpected setbacks that taught us that sometimes a plan needs a bit more time and a bit more stitching before it becomes a whole quilt.

The unexpected friends that came with what could’ve been a tight and tough competition but instead turned into a tight and tender time.

september-2016-2794

All the unexpected.

september-2016-2700september-2016-2702

How the unexpected keeps on…

And then, just as a mama might start to come out of her September shell and decide rejection won’t keep her because she’s already accepted by the One who made her and Who holds her…

a routine night at church brings the unexpected, a gift, a sweet out-of-the-blue message and warm watery eyes from a new friend who is trailing just behind on the parenting sidewalk, and she might think it a small gift…

but it is bigger than that.

It makes me think of you she tells me.

And I tear up some because I don’t know her that well yet but still she thought of me, and by thinking of me she didn’t reject me, and by not rejecting me she reminds me that even when the world is cold and some people are cold, we really are each other’s keeper and we needn’t be cold back because if we are…if we close ourselves off and make ourselves cold…

we won’t ever make this planet warmer.

How the unexpected keeps on…

So I squeeze her once because her gift is so precious.

I stare at it for a second and see how perfect it is and how sweet the words are, and she smiles and I smile and then I squeeze her again because I’m so touched at her gift and how it is straight from her heart.

And so very unexpected.

SEPTEMBER 2016 3103.JPG

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
~Big Daddy Weave