The Call Every Parent Dreads

Wednesday, May 11th, 9:58 p.m. I am of course in my pajamas, in the bed. My husband and I needed a sound night of sleep because Thursday – May 12th is yet another moving day in the world of our college daughter. We are headed to Oxford, MS to both move her into the place she’ll be living in the fall and also move her out of the sorority house all in one trip.

(Sidebar: For all you parents of high school seniors, I hope you have been on a strict workout regiment for the last year. You’re gonna need to be in some kind of shape for the endless tote & fetch trips over the next 4 years as your college kid moves from a dorm to an apartment to a dorm to a house to an apartment to your house, to, to, to…)

I’m almost asleep. My phone rings. It says my daughter’s name on the screen. I answer and all I can hear are sobs and words I can’t understand coming through the phone.

I am immediately wide awake.

“Mom, I’m OK” I finally hear. Thank you, Jesus. I don’t know what’s coming next, don’t know what happened, but to hear the words “I’m OK” make whatever I’m about to hear bearable.

My daughter and a friend had gone to get Zaxby’s to give some fuel to finish studying for exams. On the way back to drop her off at the sorority house the friend she was with had a seizure while driving and hit a telephone pole. The SUV then slid down a small embankment and ended up on its side. My daughter was able to get both seatbelts off and climb out of the moon roof, where thankfully an ER doctor was already on the scene because he lived nearby and heard the crash.

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I can hear the chaos on the other end of the phone. Somehow I manage to settle her down a bit as she heads to the hospital in the ambulance to get checked out.

She is OK. He is OK. The SUV – notsomuch, but who really cares about that?

Last night all I could do was thank Jesus for His protection over them. This morning I thought about all the parents who get the call they dread, only it’s not from the child. It’s from the police, or the sheriff and they start the call with, “Mrs. Thompson, we are so sorry…”

I was just telling my husband yesterday that we need to thank God every single day for the days that are normal, the days that are – well, boring. Storms are coming. We have no guarantee of a trouble free life. Actually, Jesus tells us just the opposite:

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

You got that right.

But we need to read the whole verse: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I have friends who have received the call you dread. A devastating diagnosis. The death of a loved one in an accident. A home destroyed by a tornado.

And these friends would tell you the only way to go through the storms of life and come out whole on the other side is by clinging to the only One who can provide true peace and ultimate healing – Jesus.

The call you dread is coming. What will serve as your anchor, your place of peace and of healing?

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
(Matthew 7:24-27)

Blessings~
Leigh

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Weekend Warrior Woopsie

Back in January I came up with a list of to-do’s that needed to get-done around the house. Now these aren’t Honey-Do’s (that’s a totally separate list) but things I saw as needing some attention. (Translation: Things my husband doesn’t notice, doesn’t care about, and wonders why I go to the trouble.)

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My to-do list inside my color-coded, time-divided 2016 planner

And so Saturday, I had both the time and the energy (a rare combination these days) to knock  a chunk off of the list. I started by taking down the window treatments I made back in March for my den (they were pretty but too big and made my den look too dark, so there’s a waste of 2 days back in March…). I put that power drill in reverse, took those 8 screws right out of the wall, then I puttied and sanded down the holes left behind. All I need to do was paint over the old holes, which I did because I had already checked to see I had some leftover Old Prairie paint (sounds like a hideous color, but it’s actually light and bright) which I knew was the color we had painted the den.

One problem: the den was painted about 8 years ago. The paint I used was from a more recent job, therefore – you guessed it – the paints are a hair off in color so now I have 8 blobs above my windows of paint that should match but doesn’t.

Dang it.

Not to be discouraged, I left that little project thinking I’ll just cover it up with some new window treatments for the den – some day – and moved right along to repainting my powder room (it’s the only room in the house that still has nickel finished features in my oil bronzed world and a light blue paint job instead of Old Prairie). I started by attempting to remove the towel bar in nickel finish, which I could have sworn would just “pop” right off the wall if I just gave it a little shove from the bottom.

It popped off all right – along with a large hunk of sheetrock. A very large hunk of sheetrock.

Dang it – again.

So much for my 2 “easy” weekend warrior projects.

Often times we start out with great ideas and grand schemes, only to be waylaid by – life. Mismatched plans, ripped up relationships can cause us to do one of 2 things. We can either get mad, get frustrated, get annoyed with the way things are going in our lives or we can suck it up, go on with plan B, learn from the fall out and yes – even laugh a little at ourselves.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

 Now I could have given up on my weekend warrior projects – but I didn’t. And no matter what you are going through it’s important for you not to give up either. Sure, there’s much bigger challenges that knock us down besides paint that that doesn’t match or an unforeseen hole in the wall, but what we learn in the midst of hardship is often times invaluable.

Saturday I learned how to properly take down a towel bar. But in the grand scheme of life when I’ve faced much bigger challenges and problems I’ve learned that Jesus is my best friend, that I am never alone and that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I’ve learned that through prayer I can get up when I’ve been knocked down and live to fight another day.

So don’t give up, no matter how many mess-ups and unforeseen challenges come your way. You will learn some lessons that you couldn’t learn any other way, and the hope you receive will keep you moving forward to the next day, the next challenge.

Keep at it. Don’t give up or give in.

Now where’s that power drill???

Blessings!
Leigh

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I started a relationship 26 years ago. I was a new bride, and I formed a relationship that I thought would last forever. I spent hours and hours cultivating a relationship that was fun, where I felt accepted and could just be myself.

But today I find myself having to make a hard decision. The other party in this relationship has changed – or maybe true colors are finally being displayed. The place where I once felt acceptance and safety now spews forth words I cannot listen to and makes decision that I cannot stand by and support.

I thought we would be together forever.

But today, it is with a heavy heart that I break up with you, Target.

Broken heart

We have many great memories together. All the super size Downy Unstoppables I bought just to get that $5 gift card in return. The work out clothes that are almost as good as Nike but a whole lot cheaper. Going to you for dog food, salsa, batteries and an 8 pack of Hanes boxer shorts – all in one shopping trip. Reliving all our memories together can truly bring a tear to a glass eye.

But there comes a time in some relationships where one party realizes the intrinsic values of the other are not in sync anymore. I thought we understood each other – I thought you wanted me to come to your store, shop and occasionally use the restroom with peace of mind.

Apparently I was wrong.

In your company’s recent statement you said, “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong.”

Well, guess what? I don’t feel that way anymore. I am a Bible-believing Christian, and as these social issues carpet bomb the country I go back to a verse that clears it all up for me. “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) Letting a male who claims he feels like a female today into my restroom creates disorder and chaos. Allowing women go into a men’s restroom with little boys in there does the same.

It is you, Target who is now discriminating against women and children who want to feel secure when they are in your store – whether they are Christians or not. So now I don’t feel like I belong in your store anymore – does that matter to you?

God does not create or condone chaos. But I know who does. “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) And right now we are letting satan have a field day in our nation. I know I’m only one person, but I will make my stand.

So good-bye, Target. Thanks for all the memories. But from now on, I will choose to spend my time and my money fostering relationships that don’t condone the ammo of the evil one.

Now if Hobby Lobby would just start carrying dog food…

Blessings!
Leigh

 

Go Build a Deck

My parents are about to complete a 10-year dream. Actually, in all honesty my dad has had this dream for the last 10 years. He’s always wanted to add a screened-in deck to the back of their house, complete with a rather large flat screen TV from which he can watch countless hours of PGA golf and Auburn football.

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The deck has been 10 years in the making. Ten years of planning, thinking, doing other things, thinking about it again, getting serious about it, backing off from it. Ten years of wishing they had one, glad they hadn’t spent the money on it. Ten years of not now, maybe later.

So for whatever reason (actually I know the reason – my mother finally said OK. He wore her down after 10 years of persistent hint dropping) the deck is finally being built. A little late for this year’s Masters, but in plenty of time to enjoy spring and summer evenings without having to fight off the annoying official Alabama state bird – the mosquito – and then on to what will hopefully be a more enjoyable fall of football.

And that got me thinking – in 10 years what will I wish I had done today? What do you wish you had done more of 10 years ago? Read more books to your grandchildren? Served a little more at church? Had a weekly date night with your spouse?

It could be something not so thought provoking – heaven knows I wish I had been working out regularly for the last 10 years. And when I say “working out,” let’s be clear. I actually detest working out because my body tends to revolt in a series of swellings, aches in pains – mostly in areas I didn’t even know could hurt – when I get a consistent routine in place. (And when I say consistent, that really adds up to about two solid weeks of mediocre effort, like walking my dog.) I wish I had been working out for the last 10 years so that my clothes would fit better and certain areas wouldn’t jiggle like jell-o, but I have consciously made the repeated decision to do something else with my time (like eating M&M’s while binge watching some dumb show on Netflix).

I’ve come to realize that little choices I make every day lead to a week of choices, then a month, and on to a year… and then all of a sudden I’ve made 10 years of choices that hopefully add up to a purposeful life as the decades add up.

Proverbs 13:4 says, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” I personally like the Message version: “Indolence wants it all and gets nothing; the energetic have something to show for their lives.” I’m not always energetic, but I try. And I definitely want to have something to show for my life when Jesus and I play my highlight reel together.

So what should you be doing now – today – to keep you from saying what my daddy did about his deck: “I wish I had built this 10 years ago!” Make that first decision today that will build a decade full of intentional choices and purposeful living.

Blessings!
Leigh

Because I Said So

“Because I said so” are four of the most awesome words a parent has at their disposal. You can use it at any point in a discussion to slam the door on the ridiculous demands of your kids, no matter their age. Now most of us don’t pull this tool out of our arsenal of parental weapons immediately – we usually spout it out after one of our children has systematically worn us down to the point of total frustration. Your response usually starts with a “No!” followed by that one fantastic phrase.

Does any of this sound familiar? You utter those four words after you have argued with your four year old about why they can’t flush their fish down the toilet to find its family (thanks, Nemo for that one). You blurt them out when your ten year old daughter asks you for the zillionth time if she can start wearing make-up to school. And you give your 16 year old son an eye roll as you speak those words over the fact that yes, he will indeed be the only one in the 11th grade with a curfew.

And all the while you wonder why your kids don’t just listen to you? Why do they insist on going their own way – the WRONG way – and continue to strive against what would (in your head) obviously benefit them?

And then they become teenagers and young adults. Get a firm grip on what little sanity you still possess, people. I mean really, have you ever met someone smarter than a teenager? Have you ever known anyone to get any smarter than they are around age 19? They’ll argue with a brick wall if necessary to make their point, but then end up going along with your decisions because 1)they really have no choice; 2)they want to prove you wrong; or 3)they too, are worn down and just can’t argue anymore. They don’t particularly believe that the result you have laid out for them will actually happen – they just do whatever it is, muttering under their breath, “because you said so.”

There’s a story in the Bible about some fishermen who were out all night fishing but not catching anything. They were tired, frustrated and had quit for the day. Back in the day if you didn’t catch anything you probably didn’t eat, so they were most likely hangry (hungry + angry) on top of everything else. So these fishermen are standing on the shore of the lake washing their nets when then they received a “Because I said so” moment from Jesus:

“When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’” (Luke 5:4)

Now if you’re a teenager, your response would be something like this: Seriously? Have you not picked up on the fact that we haven’t caught anything? Do you not see how tired we are? Why can’t we just go into town and buy some fish? Why can’t we just eat some figs off that tree? Why… why… why…???

And Simon Peter might have been thinking it, but here’s what he said: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5)

And guess what happened next: “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” (Luke 5:6)

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God rewarded their obedience
with an oversupply of what they were looking for the whole time.

Too often we try to go our own way and handle situations all by ourselves because we act like the smartest person on the planet – a teenager – when all the while God is trying desperately to steer us in the right direction through His Word and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We want our way because clearly we know best (yeah, right). But after we try to reason with God, after we challenge Him, and yes even argue with Him we hear it:

“Because I said so.”

God has the best plan for each one of us ready to be lived out. Maybe it’s time to stop acting like a spoiled teenager in some area of your life and be obedient. Do you have an area like that? I do. We all do if we are honest. So I encourage you (and me!) to stop acting like a hormone-crazed adolescent and be an adult in that area. Seek God’s wisdom and plan, pray through it and see if the benefit (peace – the healing of a relationship – financial stability) is not abundantly more than you could have imagined.

Blessings!
Leigh

Curve Balls

Life is full of bumps and bruises, isn’t it? (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) Not only for parents, but what’s worse – life will throw your children some major curve balls along the way.

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When your children are young you see the curve balls coming. You have your bat ready, and when those curve balls leave the pitcher’s mound you stare them down, steely eyes ready to take action. Whatever problem is now flying in your child’s direction will be no match for momma bear wielding a wooden bat.

Enter teenage years. Maybe your eyesight is getting a little worse, or maybe it’s just the fact that the world throws curve balls we could never even dream about at your kids, but regardless the bat might swing a little slower, and you may even miss one or two.

Oh and then let’s get to college, where for the most part you don’t see your child for days or weeks on end. The lucky parents (I consider myself one of those) still talk to your college kid frequently but it just isn’t the same as seeing them every day. And you hope and pray that you have taught them how to see curve balls coming and what to do if they swing and miss (or get hit by one).

Sometimes they see curve balls coming, sometimes they don’t.

And what do we really want for them? A life free of from curve balls – i.e, stress? So many parents try to take every little teeny-weeny bit of stress out of their kids’ lives but I got news for you parents out there – there’s no way you’ll be able to do that in every situation, nor should you.

So as we work our way though parenting, I ask again – what do we really want for our kids? A good job? A successful marriage? What do we really want?

I got to thinking about that today, and one word kept coming to my mind.

Peace.

Life ain’t easy, and to go through it being tossed around like a beach ball in high seas leads to confusion, disappointment, chaos and even anger. Is that what we want for our kids? Of course not. But without a solid anchor, we are sending them into sea of life with a paddle and a prayer, hoping they make the right choices and end up “happy.”

So back to peace. Peace when things are going well, peace when life is flipping them upside down. Peace knowing that they are not in control, God is. Peace trusting that God has a much better plan for their lives than they could ever imagine, even if it isn’t the life they thought they would be living.

That’s what I want for my children. Peace. But I know I can’t give them peace, nor can my husband. There’s no friend, boyfriend or girlfriend that can provide true, unshakable, rock-solid peace. There’s only one place they can find true peace, and that place is in the arms of Jesus.

So I pray for my children to have a relationship with Jesus so that they can claim and experience the indescribable, undeniable peace He offers, no matter what the enemy throws at them. Holding on to the promises found in Scripture is the only way to hit the curve ball when it leaves the enemy’s glove.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Peace in the chaos. Peace in the calm. Peace in the arms of Jesus.

Blessings!
Leigh

Less than the Best

Have you ever been left out?

Sure you have. If you’ve survived middle school you’ve been left out.

I actually have vivid memories of being left out at a much younger age – elementary school. It typically revolved around the picking of teams for Red Rover, dodge ball or kick ball. I was a pretty scrawny kid, skinny, no power, no coordination – an overall glasses-wearing spaz-ma-taz who hoped not to be the last one picked – again.

But I was usually picked last, over and over. Left out, yet again. And being left out doesn’t stop in elementary school for sure. Once you get into middle school that’s when kids really get mean for some reason and it’s almost a sport to see how many kids the “cool kids” can leave outside the circle, watching the outsiders as they hope for an invitation to become part of that coveted group.

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High school – isolation can intensify, for sure. Fortunately by the time you hit this age high schools usually have a whole bunch of opportunities to find a group to belong to, whether it is with the band, basketball team, math team, ambassadors, debaters, etc. But thank you, social media for showing kids what they aren’t a part of as much as what they are.

And then off to college where mommas and daddies drop their kids off with half a room worth of their stuff (actually it’s their entire room from home crammed into less than half the space they have at home) and for the most part feel good about where they’ve left them, hoping and praying for the friends who are sure to come, groups where their kids will find acceptance.

Can I just say being left out doesn’t end in college? Hate to burst all the bubbles of all the mommas (and daddies) of high school seniors, but going to college doesn’t guarantee acceptance. In college I went through a period of being tormented by someone for reasons I didn’t even understand at the time. And the more I talk to parents of college students, the more I hear that this phenomenon still exists and happens to even the most popular, the most handsome, the most athletic, etc, etc…

And we, as parents can become so desperate to see our children be happy and have friends and be accepted that we can fall into one of satan’s biggest and worst traps he can set. We become so desperate for (fill in the blank – friends, acceptance, etc) that we are willing to accept whatever satan puts in front of us.

In other words, we become so desperate for earthly happiness we are willing to accept less than God’s best for their lives.

Think about it. How many times have you made a snap decision because it solved a short term problem? Have you been more accepting of certain kids that you know aren’t trying to live godly lives just so your kid will have friends?

I’m guessing as parents we’ve all done it. Let’s just be real – if we are really honest we’d all rather our kids have some friends than no friends. Now I don’t mean you give junior a kiss as he heads out to the weekly satanic ritual, but we find ourselves excusing behaviors, making up reasons for this or that when really, honestly, we just want our kids to belong – because we want to belong and we know how it feels when we don’t.

What a dangerous place we find ourselves in, because decisions made in desperation have long-term and potentially devastating consequences.

One of my constant prayers for my children is that they will know their identity is in Christ, not in their friend group, not in their academic achievements or their sports accomplishments. That’s not to say I don’t pray for all of those things, but we have to spend more time praying over their character than over their – and our – earthly desires.

Colossians 3 is a great chapter of Scripture to read if you are struggling with this issue, as I think all parents do from time to time. This verse seems to sum it all up however: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) When we set our minds on Jesus, on the eternal, we are equipped to make better decisions because we begin to see situations as God sees them.

Don’t be so desperate for things of this world – especially where your children are concerned – that you fall into satan’s trap and miss what God has planned for them.

And remind your children of this truth: “And you are also among those who are called to belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 1:6)

Yes, they have a place. Yes, they belong. And that’s truly the only group that matters.

Blessings!
Leigh