I’m often greeted with mixed responses whenever I mention one particular practice in which my husband and I participate: fasting. “Why would you choose not to eat on purpose?” “I could never do that. I get angry when I’m hungry.” “You’re crazy.” These are just among the top of hundreds of responses I receive to the topic of fasting.
New Year’s Day is not my favorite holiday, if I’m honest. After spending a month preparing for and celebrating the coming of our Savior, we suddenly turn from reflecting on God’s great love and grace and indulging in cheesecake and dark chocolate to this day of self-reflection and self-examination, which for me, always turns into a day of self-loathing. New Year’s Day fills me with a sense of apprehension, this heightened awareness of my shortcomings and failures, a reminder of all those things left unaccomplished from the year before. It’s a day where I’m forced to call myself to the carpet and anxiously await the litany of failed expectations with which I’m certain to berate myself. Continue reading “Great Expectations”
A friend of mine recently lost her job and now faces an uncertain economic future. I have a friend who has decided to courageously fight and overcome an obstacle that has plagued her for years. Another friend has spent weeks in a hospital at her mom’s side, rotating shifts with exhausted family members, balancing the needs of her family with the needs of her mother, not knowing each time she leaves to care for her three children, if it will be the last time she sees her mom alive. My grandmother speaks wistfully of a desire to return to her home, leaving the assisted living facility where she now resides, knowing that her longing will most likely never be fulfilled. My cousin missed her daughter’s college graduation to rush to her father’s side as he fought for his life in a hospital. Today, a dear friend, who had just comforted neighbors who lost their son to suicide, learned that her best friend lost her young daughter in a drowning. I don’t know her friend, but because the experience of motherhood is universal, I wept for her loss because no friend cries alone, no family member cries alone, no mother cries alone.
The coach finishes his post-game pep talk then holds up the coveted game ball. He’s ready to announce tonight’s recipient. I glance at my son, his eyes wide in anticipation. I can almost hear his slow intake of breath, the butterflies of possibility fluttering in his stomach. I’ve been there on pageant stages, at cheerleader tryouts, the waiting to hear your name announced yet knowing deep down it probably isn’t going to happen. C closes his eyes hoping to hear his name. Tonight was his best game of the season, but he plays on a team of standouts, and their plays and displays outshone his. “Tonight’s game ball goes to….” I don’t remember whose name was called; I just know it wasn’t his.
Few things drive me to my knees faster than parenting. I think Satan likes to attack my parenting because it is where I feel most insecure. I’m accustomed to tackling challenges with ease, but parenting leaves me baffled. What works one day prompts disaster the next. Throw a strong-willed child into the mix and boom! Once again, I’m left in the wake picking up the shards of a broken morning.
I wrote this five years ago…as I prepare to turn 45, I’d add a few more lessons learned in the five years since this was written. I think the most important thing I continue to learn as I age is that life is a process, a journey, and sometimes lessons need to be taught over and over before they are truly learned.
1. You don’t have to be perfect. I know this is one of the ones from 40, but this is a lesson that I keep having to learn. God keeps reminding me that I am being made perfect (whole, complete), but no one is perfect except His son. On this earth mistakes are teachers, and failure is part of the perfecting process, and I am a continual work in progress.
2. It is ok to not be the best, or even good, at everything. Chalk it up to my 3 on the
Enneagram, but my drive to excellent at every single task I do continues to create a lot of stress in my life, especially when my motivation is to look good to others and not always to simply honor God. Ouch.
3. The fate of the world doesn’t lie on my shoulders. I repeat, the fate of the world doesn’t lie on my shoulders. The repetition was for me, not you. If I take a day off, if I sit down and read a book or watch a movie, the world continues to spin because it is God, not I, who set it all in motion and keeps it going.
4. No is a complete sentence. Enough said. Continue reading “Turning 40: Five Things I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago”
This is the time of year where I usually reflect on my failed resolutions of the past 365 days, an uplifting berating of my many failings and shortcomings. Most resolutions never live to see me sneaking Valentine conversation hearts from my kids’ stashes. It’s been such a strange and atypical year, though, that I decided to reflect on what the past year has taught me about who I am, flaws and all. Continue reading “New Year Reflections”
I watch helplessly as my daughter rips the cushions from the couch and heaves them to the floor. “I’m not going, and there’s nothing you can do to make me.” She picks up a tray off the coffee table and stares threateningly into my eyes, daring me to move. “Put that down,” I say calmly in my firmest “I mean business” voice. “No!” she says and hurls it at the wall. Before I can respond, she grabs my arm and sinks her teeth into the muscle above my elbow. “Go. Go. Just go to your room and leave me be!” I shout. I sink into the one remaining cushion on the couch and allow the tears to flow. Continue reading “Because Sometimes You Need Help: Parenting a Strong-willed Child”
My hands toss into the air along with exasperated sighs and harsh words of frustration. Another strand of lights is only half working, when minutes before all had been working. I circle the tree like a Maypole without all the fun, undoing what I’d just spent twenty minutes doing when the lights spring back to life, and another strand suddenly goes dark. I look out the window and notice my neighbor’s tree, perfectly lit, as if posing for a typical Norman Rockwell portrait. Despite my Pinterest ambitions, my tree always manages to resemble Charlie Brown’s before the rest of the Peanuts magically transformed it. Once again, my imaginings of an idyllic Christmas are fading, and I haven’t finished the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Continue reading “O Come, Thou Long Expected”
I can vividly remember the day my husband told me we were moving. I had just come home from spin class and was contemplating requesting sessions from a personal trainer for my birthday when my husband burst into the bedroom and announced, “I’ve got an opportunity in Nashville, and I think we should take it.” Like any good wife, I immediately burst into tears. Continue reading “Lessons from Moving”