Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well…that's just the best!

Yesterday, something magical happened. It's really just the small things in life that are so meaningful. Finally, My daughter & I got to take her sweet baby girl for photos. We had to cancel our first appointment due to Lily being sick. So… this time, we were determined to get the job done. Lily had been uncharacteristically fussy in the morning. As we drove, we wondered if she would be up to our much awaited day.

Lily seemed to enjoy every minute except for her outfit changes. She protested them a bit. Each snap shot made me laugh. Her lil face lit up, & the photographer somehow captured the many beautiful expressions of my grand daughter. She had her photo taken in a little bath tub (just her size).  She sat in a wooden crate in the meadow. She rocked in a little rocker. The possibilities seemed endless.

At the end, she even posed with Gram. Somehow, she managed to smile for every photo. She laughed. She showed her 2 bottom teeth. She flashed her baby blues. Yes… can you tell? I had the most fun of all! This precious lil girl who started out so tiny & fragile has come so far. Her personality is so happy & adoring. Being around her brightens my world.

On the way home, our lil model slept like a baby. So tired from her photo shoot. As we pulled into her driveway, she was deep in slumberland. Her mommy & I just sat in the car & let her sleep. We talked & we talked. We reminisced about the past. So many memories. Just her mama & I sharing life. How could I be so blessed? As history repeats itself in some ways, it has its own little twists & turns. Watching my daughter be a mama. Well… that's just the best! I love you, Haley!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

my defining moment...

Yesterday, as I was headed toward my defining moment, I called a dear survivor friend & chatted all the way there (a 45 minute drive). I was in good company; it kept my mind off of my impending possibilities. As we chatted, I said, "Well you know, this could be a defining moment." Yes… the balance often truly hangs on the tumor marker test.

We both agreed that being cancer survivors has made us painfully aware of how quickly our lives can change (in the blink of an eye). I saw my doctor, & I couldn't have asked for a more positive appointment. Heartfelt thanks to all who pray for me. It's moments like these, I know I am being carried by prayers. Psychologically, it's just too  much for the human heart to handle the unknowns of what could be the inevitable. It isn't the good news so much that makes me know people are praying for me. No, it's the peace in my heart & the grace with which I prepare myself to accept whatever I am given.

Some things are out of my hands. I can do my part, but ultimately my outcome rests in His hand. As my hubby & I went out to celebrate, I couldn't help but think how different things would be if I had been given the opposite news. His response, "I don't really think I could have handled that right now." Who ever can? That is one part of the cancer journey that doesn't really go away (at least not in the first few years). I suppose, 10 years down the road, it might.

I am thankful for this journey in so many ways. The abundance of treasures found on this journey are innumerable. I cannot even begin to count them. It's a God walk for sure, & that is the most cherished part for me. It's a perspective changer. I define problems differently than prior to cancer. It's a live-life- to-the full practice because I never take a day for granted (even the ones that are disheartening). One of the gifts I am most thankful for is that it has bled over into other areas of my life. I am able to transfer my Trust from this walk of life to other walks of life…

If I couldn't trust in God for His ultimate good for me, I would live differently. If I couldn't trust that He has the whole picture, I would not live with the same peace. If I didn't believe that the Lord gives & the Lord takes, I would feel more pressured to be perfect. I do my best, but ultimately I know my days are numbered (as are everyone's) according to His plan. If I couldn't rest assured that one day there will be no more suffering & no more tears, I would live without hope. If it were easy, I wouldn't depend on Him.

I am not saying I got it all right. Believe me I don't, & some moments in my life are full of grief & fear. It's a daily (sometimes hourly discipline) of walking my head through these truths. It's moving them from my head to my heart or vice versa. It's a conscious effort to claim them & live accordingly. It's not an easy walk. I no longer expect it to get easier. No… because the growth comes through the struggles.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

more thoughts on parenting...

As I spend time in my car, I tend to process many thoughts that run intermittently through my head. Of course, one blog cannot do justice to a lifetime of parenting 3 daughters. I thought I better add a few thoughts that I believe can make a difference in a child's contentment as an adult. I didn't get everything right. Maybe in some peoples' eyes, I totally missed the boat. Regardless of what others think, here's what I got…

TIME  Society & Satan would love for us to believe that it's about quality time, not quantity. WRONG! Children need your time throughout their whole childhood; yes, even more when they are teen agers. After all, if you are not present, how can you have quality time? ACCOUNTABILITY cannot be overrated. A parent always needs to know where their children are & who they are with. They need someone to talk to after school, someone to consistently care about their day. They need an adult present when they host a party. Alcohol should not be an option for a teen party.

PROCESSING all that society, the internet, the media, & peers throw at a  person is not possible for any human being. For a young person, it's confusing & unbearable. A teen's tendency is to turn to their peers to gage where they stand. Are they acceptable? Do they fit in? Are they worthy? Sometimes they just want to figure it out on their own. Problem is… they are incapable.

If your child finds you snooping, you will receive an unimaginable backlash. However, never assume that your teen is okay. Eavesdropping, checking text messages, being a friend on Facebook… All of these things will likely make your teen resent you. However, you have got to keep a close eye on them because our society is full of cutting, suecide, drugs, alcohol, sex, peer pressure, etc. Really, there is nothing new under the sun, but parents are working more, & theses issues are constantly in their child's face.

BUSY BUSY BUSY  Again, Society & Satan shout at us that we need to do this & that. We need well rounded children. How else will that happen if we don't work to afford all of this "mess" & run ourselves ragged? Children need "at home" time, homework time, family time. They need to learn to entertain themselves without the internet constantly at their fingertips. They need to play outside & run barefoot. They need to just "hang out" with friends, neighbors, cousins. They become agitated & programed when they have no down time or not enough time to do the things they have to do. They need to learn to interact as human beings without a text message or Facebook. Talking & playing accomplishes this. DON'T CONSTANTLY RUSH THEM.

Do not be unnecessarily STRICT. It is sure to backfire. The resentment it causes in your children will cause them to sneak around behind your back. Keep the communication lines open. They need to know they can come to you with anything (even if it's ugly). Do not OVER SHELTER/OVERPROTECT your children. Loosen the apron strings a little at a time & reign them back in as needed. Then loosen them again. Go to the ends of the earth for your child. Walk through life with them. As they become interested in PG movies, watch them with them if they are old enough. Talk about the movie afterwards. Process the message.  DON'T SHARE THINGS WITH THEM that they are too young to understand or bear.

LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. FORGIVE THEM. DON'T OVER PUNISH THEM. DONT'T PURPOSELY EMBARRASS THEM. You will do that without even trying. DON'T CHORE THEM TO DEATH. Have a SENSE of HUMOR. LIGHTEN UP. LAUGH! If they become a target for BULLYING, find a fresh start. DON'T BUY CLOTHES unless you both agree on them. Spend more time LISTENING than talking. CRY with them when they hurt. NURTURE THEM. Put your own SMARTPHONE away. DON'T OVER REACT. Lastly, if you have a HEART ISSUE, get yourself fixed so you can be "there" for them. Childhood is fleeting. SAVOR each moment (the good & the bad). There will be both.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

my 2 cents on parenting

Today a young friend made dinner for my husband & me. It's a long story, so I will save the reason why for a more appropriate time. The best part of the delicious dinner was visiting with her. When I see her mothering her little daughter, it always melts my heart. Her lil girl is precious, & she is such a good mama.

She asked me today to write a book about what I'd "do over" as a parent. Funny that a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on parenting. I never published it. A few days later, I deleted it. I just didn't feel qualified to give my 2 cents on parenting. But, since my darling friend asked me, I am going to attempt to share a few thoughts…

I have 3 daughters, & I have a few things I'd do differently for each of them if I could go back in time. #1  I would seek professional counseling much sooner for things that were over my head. #2 I would cook healthy meals & strive to have a pleasant dinner hour. #3  I might try home schooling. #4  I would not encourage having a boyfriend at 11 or 12 years old. #5  I would stay out of the dating department & not live through my children.

My husband always said they did not need to be the best at anything. If they made the team or the play that was enough. He was absolutely right. I hear parents say all the time that once their children start something, they are not allowed to quit until the season is over. They need to learn commitment. My take is different… My child's self worth is more important to me than the worth of my dime. If they are miserable, & the activity is not necessary, I did & still would allow them to quit. Of course, I would encourage them to stick with it, but when I knew the situation was breaking their heart, I said enough.

Driving my kids & their friends anywhere was an honor & the best source of information I ever received. I greeted each friend with a smile, turned up the music, & tuned in my ears (to their conversation). Oh… the things I learned. Having kids over was also an honor. I encouraged friendship & loved their friends. I still do! I think it's best to let them & their friends work out their differences. I never regretted not getting involved. Sometimes I did get involved, & I cannot say much good ever came from that.

I always tried to validate my kids. If a teacher was mean, I did not pretend the teacher was nice. I helped my children cope with their hardships. We discussed every aspect of life. I wanted to be their resource. I didn't want them learning certain things from their peers first. We believed in Santa. We trick-or-treated. Birthdays were special, & the Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy left nice little surprises. I tried to discipline out of love, not anger. I was a "softie" for the most part, & they laughed at me when I got mad.

I loved each one of them in their own way, & I still do. I did not play favorites, & I still don't. I believed in honest feedback on both ends. I apologized when I needed to. I made some big mistakes. I regret. I cried tears of joy & sadness for them. I still do. We always had a cat & a dog. We still do. I learned to love their music (even when it got on my last nerve). We went out for ice cream to celebrate happy moments or just for fun. I always forgave them. I still do. I never over punished. They were the greatest privilege of my life. They still are.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

He loves you even when you're sad.

I have some loved ones who are sad for different reasons (health, break up, change, work, circumstances, unknowns, etc). Last night, as one of these dear friends bared a hurting soul to me, I could only think of one thing to say. "I love you even when you are sad."

Today it occurred to me that God loves us even when we are sad. He loves us when we are hurtful, when we are angry, even when we don't forgive, or are mean & thoughtless. He loves us when we hurt, when we are dishonest, when we are jealous, & unthankful. He loves us when we are judgmental, when we are confused, arrogant, & ugly. When we get our priorities mixed up, He still loves us.

His love is unconditional, & we don't have to have our lives in perfect order to be loved by Him. His love does not hinge on our goodness. It does not depend on our "getting it right." His love knows the depth of each soul, & still He loves us. He knows our shortcomings better than we know ourselves. Yet, He still loves us.

He knows we are great pretenders. He knows we put our best foot forward for others to see, & sometimes even lead double lives. He knows we become easily depressed & overcome with anxiety. He knows we suffer from discontentment. He knows we lack faith, & we don't always make the selfless decision. Sometimes, we even have idols. We take His name in vain.

How can He love us when we cannot seem to love ourselves or each other? His love never fails. It is not self seeking. It doesn't boast. His love puts us first. His love forgives, bears all things. His love  cannot be fathomed by our human minds.  His mercies endure forever...