Do you ever just need a do-over in life?
This last Christmas was a do-over for our family. Christmas of 2016 was to be our family’s first Christmas in our new home; however, my Dad was in the hospital fighting for his life, (another story for another day) and we spent two weeks at UT Medical Center. When Christmas 2017 rolled around, the girls kept referring to it as our “second first Christmas” in our new home. They called it our “Christmas redo,” and we went with it.
In fact, it was a redo in more ways than one. A couple of years ago, I got my husband, who deep down has farmer in his blood, an awesome Carhartt coat and work overalls. We had just bought our farm, and even though we weren’t living there yet, I knew he’d love it and start making use of it! Well, first let down…the work overalls didn’t fit, and then a few months later, in the craziness of moving, the coat went missing. Guess what Casey got for Christmas this year? Coat and work overalls (that fit this time)! A win for the redo year!
I was also the happy recipient of a redo gift. For my birthday last year, Casey and the girls got me one of those bath tub trays – holds a book, drink, candle, etc…. Sadly, it didn’t fit the tub and was promptly returned to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Christmas this year? New bath tray. Redo!
On December 27, 2017, Casey and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. It seems impossible that it has been fifteen years since we stood at my Grandparents church and said our forever ‘yes’ to each other. Fifteen years since the cold December day that I walked down the aisle…walked towards a much anticipated future with my
husband. Fifteen years since we stood together, surrounded by friends and family, worshipping and sharing communion for the first time as Husband and Wife. Fifteen years since that beautiful day.
How can I feel like that special day was just last week, but at the same time, feel like it was a lifetime ago?
How do fifteen years seem to pass so slowly? Yet, in the blink of an eye, here we are. Time is funny like that.
Time is full of seasons we think will take forever and seasons we wish would last a little longer. You know the seasons I’m talking about – college semesters that seem to drag on, nine long months of pregnancy, or potty training our children. We all, at some point or another, go through a time when we feel like we are moving through life at the pace of a snail in a Nascar race…wondering when, or if, we will ever see the finish line.
I felt like Casey was going to be in medical school f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Then somehow that long awaited day came, and I watched as he walked across the stage, finally becoming Dr. Moss. We were quickly greeted with another season that I knew would never end — pediatric residency. Yet, here we are. It’s been almost eleven years since he finished his residency program. The snail made it.
There are some lessons I’ve learned over the last ten years of motherhood. Some things have been easy to roll with, and some things have rolled over me.
As mothers, don’t we all have an idea of the kind of Mom we want to be? It can be a rude awakening when the real you is staring the ideal you in the face, and you feel like she is taunting you. It’s easy to let guilt, shame, insecurity, and regret move in…making themselves at home in your heart and thoughts.
I cannot, I must not, stay there.
It is necessary to let go of the ideal person I’ve constructed in my mind and, instead, be who I truly am…a daughter in process…a daughter being perfected in Christ.
Some things I’m reminding myself of on this journey…
- I need Jesus. For real. Every day.
- My children are little people. They have feelings and opinions, and those can be different than mine.
- Things won’t always go as I imagine.
- I will say things I wish I hadn’t. And probably do it again tomorrow.
- Unconditional love: It doesn’t matter what they say or do…I want them snuggled on my lap, wrapped in my arms, smothered with kisses.
- How I live matters. The choices I make are important and significant. How I speak, the words I choose, my tone of voice…there will be an echo. I will hear myself in their words. I will see myself in their actions. What do I want to hear and see?
- “I don’t know” is ok. I don’t and won’t have all the answers.
- I am more selfish than I realized. Die to self and serve.
- Grace. There’s always grace to receive, and there’s always grace to give.
- Saying “yes” is ok. Yes to silly, yes to messy, yes to spontaneous, yes to crazy, yes to creative. Little “yeses” go a long way.
- Saying “no” is hard. No to self, no to what I want, no to what might be good but not God, no to people, no to man pleasing. Those are hard “no’s”.
- Little things mean a lot. Notes, smiles, hugs, tickles, treat…the little things make a big impact.
- Teaching good habits and responsibility is hard. Allowing them to do something, even if you could do it better, is important. It might slow you down. They may not want to do it. In the end, its worth it.
- The Bible is the best training book. All the truth, wisdom, encouragement, challenge, exhortation…all we need to impart and instill in our children are found within its pages.
- My kids will have their own story. Apart from me and apart from Casey, the girls have their own journeys. They have choices to make…they are fighting their own spirit vs. flesh battles.
The way the Lord uses motherhood to stretch us and challenge us is both beautiful and painful. He uses these precious blessings to refine us and cause us to deal with our own flesh….how wonderful (said dripping with sarcasm).
It really is wonderful, though. I don’t want to stay in my flesh. I want that junk exposed and brought to the light. The question is, “What do I choose to do when that happens?”
When I’m in the middle of learning one of those wonderful lessons taught by Motherhood, what do I do? Do I wallow in pity, guilt, and frustration? Or, do I go to the Lord, deal with it, and keep moving forward?
Do I allow Him to take my ideals and give me His ideas?
Do I let Him perfect me in that moment?
The truthful answer to that question is, “Not always.” Sometimes I cave. Sometimes the companions of guilt and regret show up, and I invite them in to stay a while: “Pull up a chair. Make yourself comfortable.”
Eventually, though, through His unending grace and compassion I discover He is there too. When I find Him there, amidst the guilt and regret, I am changed; and I find my unwelcome companions gone.
What are you learning on your journey? How is God using motherhood to stretch and challenge you? How is he perfecting you today?
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When you’ve seen numbers like 6 ° and 7 ° on your weather app recently, waking up to 66 ° is like waking up to a dream come true.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love winter, but there was something about walking out onto the porch this afternoon, breathing in the fresh warm air, and feeling the warmth of the sun that was refreshing and invigorating.
Both girls had been in their cozy flannel pajamas all morning (which, if you know us, is nothing unusual…you can find them in their pajamas most days around here! Home = pajamas to the Moss girls). When they stepped outside, they erupted with squeals of delight! Ellie Faith came running back in, “Mom, it’s like a whole different world out there!” Five minutes later, two little girls came bounding down the stairs in shorts and tank tops ready for some adventures in the warmth.
Seeing them step outside and be quickly greeted by the warm sunshine today brought some needed perspective.
What is God saying to us about our children?
That’s a question Casey and I ask ourselves at the beginning of every new year. We take some time to process and pray about where our daughters are and where they are going. We think through areas of strength we have seen in them this past year, as well as areas of needed growth. Where do we need to focus our attention and training? What does Jesus see in them and how can we call that forth?
The question we ask ourselves is this, “What is GOD saying about our children?” It’s not, “What do friends say about our children? What do grandparents say about our children? What do teachers say about our children?” It’s not even “What do I say about my children?”
The question is what does HE say.
There are so many wonderful ideas floating around – books, teachers, resources – but in the end, I don’t simply want good ideas, I want God’s ideas. I want His purposes and plans for my children, and I want to hear His voice and implement His strategies.
Raising children is a great responsibility and honor. We have been entrusted with these precious gifts from our Father, and ultimately, we answer to Him. What is on His heart for our children this year? What does He see in them? What does He want to grow in them, and how does He want to accomplish that growth? How can we, as parents, partner with the Father heart of God for our children?
Proverbs 29:18-19 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
I am desperate to see and know what God is doing in the hearts of my children. Without this vision, I will be stumbling all over myself, and they too, will be stumbling in the dark!
We need a clear prophetic vision for our children.
We talk, often, about how the hearts of our children are like a garden. As parents, we must cultivate that garden, and this cultivation takes strenuous work. We must both plant the seeds and pull the weeds.
The word keeps used in this verse comes from the Hebrew word Samar, which actually means “to guard a garden.” In fact, the first occurrence of this word is in Genesis 2:15, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” The word keeps used here implies one’s responsibility to work and tend a garden!
It is our job to keep, to Samar, the garden of their hearts. It is our job to sow the law – the word of God – into their hearts.
We must carry a vision for our children and intentionally sow truth into their hearts.
When I lose vision, when I lose sight of where we’re going, when I fail to tend the garden, that’s when “the people cast off restraint.” This phrase, in the Hebrew, literally means “to become undisciplined, out of hand, unruly, or running wild.”
Those would be accurate descriptions of what happens in a home where there is no vision.
How many times this past year did I lose vision, and things got out of hand? (Yeah, not gonna actually answer that question…let’s just say, it happens.)
So, what IS God saying to us about our children?
For our oldest, He’s saying to encourage her as she is growing and developing her own relationship with Him. He’s saying to teach her what it looks like to dig into His word. He’s after a soft heart and teaching her what true repentance looks like. He wants us to pull weeds of pride and sow seeds of humility.
For our youngest, He’s teaching her how to embrace, but not be controlled by her sensitive, tender heart. He’s teaching her hard work and perseverance. We are being challenged to pull weeds of fear and sow seeds of faith.
We have to keep these things in front of us this year. We have to intentionally take advantage of the opportunities for them to grow in these areas.
When Ellie has an emotional moment, we don’t need to brush it off; we need to stop and pull that weed. We need to be looking for opportunities and creative ways to sow the seed of faith into her heart.
When I look through the filter of our vision, the attitudes and struggles of my children become an opportunity for growth and not an interruption to my day. Those moments are not an inconvenience. In fact quite the opposite, they are what I’ve prayed for – a chance to tend the garden.