Prepared for the Pandemic

I say I’m a pinball, and I’m glad the machine belongs to God. I can look back and see that when I started dreaming about things and feeling an urgency to take certain steps, it was God preparing me, gently nudging me into position for what was to come. I had no idea how COVID-19 would change our lives on the day we went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate our son’s grades. I did not yet understand how personally God had helped us to collect tools and materials with which we’d build systems to carry us through this present storm.

Our favorite waitress, Kim, was grateful and surprised when we hugged her, as we had done many visits before. “The craze going on in the world is making us hug our sanitizer instead of people!” she said. “People are buying water and toilet paper so they can sell what they’re hoarding online. I’m not worried about myself,” she told us, as she pulled herself away to pour a warm-up of coffee into cups at another table. Her fear was for older people living on fixed incomes, bravely gathering themselves for their weekly shopping trip, only to find the pandemonium of lines, basic staples out of stock, and rationing.

Now that restaurant is closed, except for curbside pickup—online orders that detail the make and model of the car in the “Catering” notes.

God knows the end from the beginning—not to say the pandemic is our end, but it did not surprise God. Well before the pandemic arrived, my heart and mind had been increasingly drawn to the idea of teaching our children at home. My husband did not share my desire. It had been a point of contention for months. I was ready to pull the kids from school and hit the homeschool thing with all my energy. My husband thought it was wiser to step into this possibility with a little more caution, and he pledged his support in gathering supplies and homeschooling on the weekends. Still, God was leading me to do one thing in all areas—prepare. He knew ahead of time how my desperate and seemingly futile homeschool agenda would weave perfectly into what I call “the craze.” While I was scheming to shift education from outside of our control to within it, fear of the virus and confirmed cases led to school closures and suddenly, homeschool was the only option. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Opportunity has to be met with preparation.” God called me to trust Him to hear and answer my prayers. I will not end up begging for bread, even if there isn’t a single roll of toilet paper for miles. I am established, and my path is being made straight; because I’ve committed homeschool, the craze fallout, and my family to Him in the name of Jesus.

I remember being on the phone with my husband in the kitchen having one of our tense micro-discussions—the kind where I needed to fit in a full day of feelings, thoughts, and questions into a few minutes. We had many things over which we needed to “come into agreement,” while his attention was divided between me and his computer screen, fielding pings, replies, updating code, and a meeting he just got out of and the one about to begin. I was heated, not just frustrated; I could feel it in my skin. Maybe my meetings never took place in real pants or conference rooms, but my bun and I fielded the emotional pings of kids bullied mercilessly at school. I needed to be ready with replies when my kids told me about the uncensored TV some of their teachers allowed them to watch and some of the language they were allowed to use. I felt a desperate sense of urgency to bring them home from that environment.

“Why do you trust the school and not me?” I asked him. “God knows I can do it. He has equipped me.” My friends kept saying this to me. It was hard to believe any of it when my own husband—the person God made to be one with me—was nervous about my ability to educate our children [READ THIS ESSAY IN ITS ENTIRETY on the Kindred Mom Blog.]

I Have Feelings, Momma

“I Have Feelings, Momma…”


I honestly forget who I am sometimes. I think I’m a writer. But writing’s ✍🏽 something I can do. I think of myself as “Mom,” especially because my people call me that – “Mom,” “Momma,” “Mommy,” like it’s my name; but that’s a role I play.

My true identity as a child of God is tied up His purpose in sending Jesus Christ to sacrifice Himself as the Holy Lamb of God, thereby healing me of the consequences of sin 👉🏾death. My identity, an unmerited gift of God’s grace and evidence of His inexplicable love, means a lot of things.

Inside my identity as a saved person – one adopted or, baptized into grace through faith, lives this truth: My source is always, always, always God. LORD Jesus is my lifeline, the Friend I should phone…like when my son comes home and tells me that the kids in his classroom group are calling him “a freak” or that, “no one in my [entire] class spoke to me [for 2 days straight.]”

I had to explain to my son, whose heart was breaking afresh: “We will make it through. Because we’re going over to the other side with Jesus” (SEE, Mark 4:35-5:1.) 

I encouraged my son, saying: “All the mean things that people are doing and have done are not because of them, but because we have a spiritual enemy whose entire purpose in launching arrows by day and laying out snares by night is to convince you that you don’t belong, don’t have a place, and have no reason to hope for your future.” Take note: The Bible actually says, “terrors by night,” which matches my son better, unfortunately. However, I was right when I told him: “We have an enemy who’s trying to steal from, kill, and destroy us.”

I also told my son, “God is taking you I to open places. He’ll give you the ground wherever you step. Remember we’re planting ‘God seeds’ by speaking God’s word, so that ‘God things’ will come up?” I reminded him.

He said with tears in his big, beautiful eyes, “I said it, Momma. That’s what I kept saying.”

My first instinct had been to take pictures of my son’s state – his tears and expression, so I could have a foundation to stand on when I  spoke to someone about the going’s on…

But then I remembered who I am.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

(Chapter 6 of The Gospel of Matthew, NASB.) The light is understanding (knowledge of the Holy One.) Darkness is anything you don’t know from the Bible about God or anything else – in other words, ignorance; and when we are attacked by principalities in heavenly places, it is only in the sphere of what we don’t know about Jesus and God’s word (and so, therefore, have no discernment or response – in the fashion of Jesus confronting the devil in Matthew 4:4.) (SEE also, Ephesians 3:10, 6:12.)

God is my foundation (SEE, Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11.) And I started asking God the Holy Spirit to show my son the truth of who he is and where God is in his circumstances. I started praying friends and divine connections out of the heavenly dimension. I asked for wisdom for his dad and me.

I told him to understand that the desire of lies is to take hold of your mind and faith. Corruption and death live in every place where there is no light of understanding – knowledge of Jesus Christ and His true will and identity toward you, His power and love for you.

I said, “Lies come to you as young as possible, so that you can be in bondage and anxiety and depression and self-doubt for as long as possible.” 

I told him that I’d been hobbled early and only now (in my early 40’s) really beginning to see how much I’ve been trapped in deception and insecurity and fear. I asked him if he knew who he was listening to when he didn’t tell us the truth about what’s going on at school…or, when he believes the bad, sad thoughts that come. He knew they were lies.

“Listen to God,” I told him. “Keep planting God things with your words. Don’t agree with the lies or the feelings. God will start showing you his good plan sooner, if you listen to Him.”

Because, Friends, LORD Jesus has no plans to harm us, only plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. And no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against the LORD (Proverbs 21:30.)

I told my son: “I’m hoping against hope, like Abraham when he believed what God said about him and Sarah having a baby into their hundreds and 90’s.” (SEE, Genesis 17:17.) His eyes got big.

“Do you know what hoping against hope means?” I asked, and he shook his head.

“Hoping against hope means you look and can’t see how it could change, but you trust God will do it anyway.” 

Another way of saying that is: Walk by faith, not by sight. And, Call things that be not as though they were.

“I tell them, but they don’t understand that I have feelings,” my son said, tearfully, on another occasion. I don’t ask, Why is there no empathy for a child’s feelings? No. My question is: Will you pray? For hard hearts to be softened, so that no child has to wonder why there is no one around to celebrate a victory (catching his first fish 🎣in my son’s case – a bass) or, to care when they cry 🙏🏾 

Spoiled

Definition of Spoiled here👇🏾

verb (used with object), spoiled or spoilt, spoil·ing.
to damage severely or harm (something), especially with reference to its excellence, value, usefulness, etc.:
The water stain spoiled the painting. Drought spoiled the corn crop.
to diminish or impair the quality of; affect detrimentally:
Bad weather spoiled their vacation.
to impair, damage, or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment, excessive indulgence, etc.:
to spoil a child by pampering him.

Spoiled (www.dictionary.com.) It always bothers me when people whine and think that they are royalty, too good for anyone’s expectations.

This bothers me in friendships. It bothers me in parents, especially if I’m partnering with that parent. It bothers me when I see it in my children.

My daughter tells me that she’s not my slave…if I ask her to pick up her room. My son pushes out his bottom lip and gives me dead eyes…when I tell him to 😲 pack chips and snack bags….for his own lunch 😒 🤦🏽‍♀️ Dead eyes are malevolent. Clueless eyes threaten your sanity and make you wonder: Are they actually ignorant? Or, this another passive-aggressive strategy?

Parents thinking they deserve medals for doing household chores or for caring for their own kids… Kids wondering why work should be tied together with payment… 🤷🏽‍♀️ People who wonder why they have to be a part of cleaning a home in order for it to be clean – all of these situations are like asking for a bath and crying about the water that defines it.

My oldest is only motivated by what she wants right now. She hears what she wants to hear and tries to wheedle you until you come into line with her desires. When she thinks of her new baby sister (coming to our family soon), for instance, she considers how she may be able to join us for “baby shopping” – in hopes that she’ll be able to draft on our “new baby goodwill”…and get new things for herself 🙄 It’s actually pretty disappointing to hear, even if it’s normal.

If she can’t play according to the parameters she would ideally set – with the people she wants to play with and where she would rather play (read: not where her parents have declared she may play) – my oldest would prefer to skip the heat and late spring beauty outside; in a silent tantrum, she will trade in her outdoor shorts and tee for her pajamas and LEGO table.

On Facebook, there was a post (I didn’t read it) about old school parental sayings: “Because I said so,” was surely in there somewhere. Like the good tracks on a CD (also old school) – either early on the disc or, at the very end, “Because I said so,” is an essential parental reasoning resource! But as they get older, my kids really don’t like it. So? I don’t like their whining or loud complaints: “She’s touching me!” and all the other things kids say. Oh well 😔 Looks like we both – kids and moms and dads – will have to find ways to suffer through.

What I’m able to see when I look away from my kids’ displays to see myself is that: I have an issue with letting them take responsibility and allowing them to grow up. I have to let them help, if I want them to be helpers. I have to let them try out their skills, if I want them to be capable. In other words, I have to let them practice (as awkward as that may look and as painful as it is for my uptight self) being the people God made them to be!

You are a Choice

I’m up again – late at night with the demons the devil sends to plague me: guilt and doubt. By day, it’s distraction and discouragement – via tv and children. Children, because it’s summertime…

Spiritual attacks of the enemy, or maybe it is the mind of flesh, not set on things of the Spirit, encourage alienation in my soul – more precisely, the suspicion of alienation. Abandonment. And comparison. 👈🏾These try to dilute the confirmation of God and His love for me, which He displays in many ways – victory over strife and bad habits (giving up when it looks hard or, losing my temper)…

I look at my oldest, who is at the confusing and trying beginning of many changes, and I realize how hardened I am to spiritual things when it comes to parenting (Exodus 9:12; Ezekiel 36:26; I Samuel 6:6; Exodus 7:3; Hebrews 3:8; Isaiah 6:10; Acts 7:1.) That aspect of me should be called, Jay of Little Faith… Because I don’t know in what other realm I could see my husband and me pouring more (investment) into something (the future and training of our babies) and yet, doubt little or any good will come of it.

2954 183RD ST., Homewood, Illinois 60430
“Weeding & Watering” by Jay Jones – August 1, 2015

In the same way, I struggle to believe in the value of…well, myself  – even though God chose and called me. He made me on the sixth day of creation. I can tell other people, but in the case of Jay Jones, It’s hard to keep my very visual mind stayed on the truth: I am like a butterfly 🦋 God made my wings uniquely beautiful, unlike any others. All butterfly wings are magnificent, but they can only be seen by others – especially that is, not by the butterfly. Yet, my mind swerves like a magnet toward the ways that I’m not as good or, might be better than…another butterfly.

It is a battle to keep the wheel straight, my tires on the narrow path, hands at 10 and 2 🕙🕑…still managing to keep my hands light – in the rest of Christ.

My job is to walk up to and through fear – onward, doggedly…fueled and fed by Jesus, believing even when I don’t, and taking one more step toward His good plan and will for my life. Using all He’s given me that I can see; what I don’t yet perceive; and, everything He is curating. I love that word, curate. Its essential quality is: To have been chosen with care for a peculiar reason known and prepared for in advance. On purpose.

God is doing something in me. In you. With purpose

And His plans for us likely affect others, falling into place necessarily, like dominoes – as we interact with the wider world 🌎 as well as in our more parochial spheres of influence – among our friends and family.

As a writer, it’s true, however it feels late at night, as I’m soaked with anxiety or, as I’m clawing out of my soul to escape the distress of family infighting and my sense of failure as a mom… I know it’s true that God made me and every storyteller, external processor, host and hostess, etc., to touch others. To influence. To encourage. And to confirm that we are not alone, mostly, because God is among us.

As a mom, friend, sister, and writer who is also a Christian – having eternal life and freedom through faith in the name of Jesus Christ – I know another, more important thing: God can be in us, so that we live from and because of Him.

And that’s a million times better. Even at night. Because the dark is not dark to Him. And even during the ducking, dodging (and sometimes, piercings) of arrows by day. Because nothing can be against whosoever God is for… 👈🏾 Pray excuse that grammar.

I haven’t read my Bible in a while. I should do that tomorrow…and work on my screenplay.

Independence: Good for Parent & Child

It’s hard for this mom to let them go, but teaching my kids how to do things feels good. Explaining to them why they should do things is very fulfilling. It makes me feel like a good parent.

 

We were in our 8-foot blow up pool (I know: fancy) the other day in the low nineties, high humidity weather, and I got to tell the kids about boundaries. I actually got to teach my not-quite-seven year old about why it’s loving to listen when her brothers says not to shoot him with cold water out of her foam gun. Then, I got to seal the lesson – when he shot her in the face with the same instrument.

“Does that feel loving when he shoots you in the face? Would you like him not to do that anymore?” As she shook her head “No” and then “Yes,” I got to see comprehension of my previously dry attempts to teach her this lesson coming to life – in the frigid pool water of a sunny day.

Then…we got the kids to clean…their own bathrooms: sinks, showers, and toilets! I’ve talked before about how the passage of time and growing up in general is bittersweet; we get old, and our kids first crawl…then walk away from the ways we’ve known them, into independence and God’s plan for them.

I read something recently that captured the heart duality of what I and so many mommas experience:

[] watching your child approaching full bloom is so beautiful it takes your breath away.

Annie Reneau (“Kids Growing Up Is The Best And Worst Thing.”) That’s so true! But there is something I’ve been missing – in babying them so much. It’s not the lifting of the burden of doing it for them.

When you teach your kids and see them learn… See them doing it for themselves… Then, and only then, does the burden of fear lift – the doubt that you can…parent them. The worry that you may be failing as a mom, dad, or leader… There’s a breath of relief that comes from seeing that they’ll be okay.

Your children get married, and something ends. But you can see it as a beginning (as I’ve said before). You can see it as gaining family, right? Well, you don’t have to see yourself losing your children. If you’re like me, you love them more every day. You can see your kids growing and skipping across milestones as winning the prize in the race God signed you up for when He rewarded you with children. You can see yourself as having been faithful with your Littles…having fostered them from child to amazing people in full.

Writing & Building a Future System

It’s been a week. In the summer, when hours melt into days and days melt into weeks without proper borders – my knowledge of the time; my awareness of the day or, date – a week feels like months! No newsletter published… No blog post published or shared across any of my media accounts… But I have been writing. Beginning again in June 2018 after not having written since February for a host of “reasons,” my writing Sister-Friends, Mary Kate and Emily Allen helped me get back into the saddle. Thousands of words are flowing. I decided on at least an option for the ending. I’ll be writing the endings of my screenplays first – before I write anything else – from now on. Alternate endings and then scene building in the future: That’s my new, Future System. I broke this one – that is, this project – into 3 “acts,” to the best of my ability. I’ve drafted  the first act. I’m feeling my way toward the end of the second act. Act III is going to be a hike. 🤷🏽‍♀️ Maybe it won’t be as hard to complete as it feels like it will be to me right now… We shall see.

For good or ill, “Mom” is coming along.

It’s about moms who are friends. Mom Friends and their relationships with their own moms… And it’s a glimpse into what it means to be a mom, though there’s a linear and actual (read: concrete) plot:  A mom is fighting for the beliefs of her daughter, even though her child’s beliefs diametrically oppose her own. In the doing, she fights for her family to come together and come alongside her attempt to help her daughter make her own choice about God.

 

Raising Kids: Bullying

Meanness or teasing on the basis of skin color is not worse than other types of teasing. The villainy of making fun of others is something that is out there. Everyone has experienced it, and most of us (including me, to my shame) have been on both sides of teasing. Motherhood means that I pray my children will be strengthened by brutal winds, shaped into arrows of light that go out into the dark world for the purposes of God. Being a mom means I don’t ever want my kids to be broken by pain in irredeemable ways or, for my children to play a part in breaking others.

Bullies are like wounded animals: They are looking desperately for vulnerable prey. A bully preys on a soft heart – an open heart. Sometimes hearts are open for healthy reasons – because they’ve been taught love and gentleness and acceptance. Sometimes hearts have been torn open by pain and negligence. In both cases, hearts are open to predatory cruelty.

People usually pick apart the things that we have no control over, no choice about. They roast us in an attempt to deflect their own insecurities as they project onto us. I think what’s most painful about bullying is: We’re all special, shining our own rays of creative and humorous and practical and generous light into the world. That light could be used to grow beautiful things.

Bullying attempts to put out that light. And parents have a role in halting this behavior.

Parents, do me a favor. Talk with your kids about being respectful. Not to bully kids about clothing, shoes, speech, weight, looks or in my child’s case, food allergies.

Having food allergies is not a choice. It’s our unfortunate reality. So when my child comes home in tears because children make fun of her “healthy food”, it makes me sad for humanity. I’m no looking for pitty [sic], just parent your children to be respectful…and not rotten. Do your job. Good thing my kid will have tough skin and yours will be the wuss with no backbone who feels the need to pick on people. Shame on you parents. Quit being your child’s friend. Once again, DO YOUR JOB.

This is a Facebook post by Christina Popolla Vlietstra, published on May 17, 2018 at 6:53 pm (CST). A lot of people agree.

I agree. Parents, we need to listen to ourselves talking. Moms, dads, guardians, we need to lead with good energy. The ugly things – interactions and experiences that tempt us to say the ugly stuff – have to be arrested and put away, set apart for God to deal with. And then we need to stand up for the light. By choosing not to say things in front of our kids… Things they’ll pick up on and wave like a banner in classrooms and on playgrounds and in every arena of life.

Our kids are loyal to us. And they will try to carry our family banner in their own ways. They will stubbornly stand in their family motto.

What is your family motto? What is the banner your children will wave? Is it respect? Does it allow others to exist without shame? Does it make other people wonder if something is wrong with their hair or diet or skin or clothes? Is your family motto causing your children to go out into the world and interact with other kids in ways that result in therapy bills for everyone having the misfortune to interact with them?

As parents, we can’t just sweep our kids’ words and actions under the rug. Yes, first and foremost we have to be their advocates and protectors. Part of that advocacy is making sure that we’re on guard about when things are going sour inside our little ones – when their mouths and hands are becoming a destructive force, rather than a force for good. Are we raising superheroes or, villains?

Tough Day, Friend? Let God Handle It

I saw a post on Facebook that summed up my inadequacy…and here I am. Writing to you.

It was an admonition to ENJOY today.

But… Early on, the onslaught began: One of the kids opened my door without knocking first. They don’t understand privacy yet. Then, after I asked one of the kids to ask one of the other kids to 1) start breakfast and, 2) pick up whatever was strewn over the foyer area…F I V E times…he proceeded to TELL his DADDY to start breakfast. Then he went back to his morning television entertainment. They still don’t understand that honoring and obeying their parents means they don’t tell US what to do (Ephesians 6:2-3.) And we’re inconsistent about television, iPad, and video games in the morning.

Before I came down, I got some encouragement from Christian television about resting in God – allowing supernatural peace to exist in the midst of doing life through faith, which was repeated in a Christian podcast. That felt like confirmation. Then came the yelling from the den.

That felt like chaos. Tightening in my chest and, 23 weeks into my pregnancy, tightness in my belly…

I reminded myself to keep my voice level as I demanded the presence of the kiddos. Keep this mental picture in mind: Daddy was circling. My oldest was pursuing hair things and a little chair, so I could do her hair with 8 minutes until the arrival of her bus.

I also reminded myself as I confronted a deeply emotional and tearful pair (my two youngest until this fourth child comes along): If you allow yourself to get too distracted with lots of things, that is a breeding ground for worry. When you see all these things coming at you, it’s really just one thing – the devil. And there’s always only One Solution – resting in Jesus Christ.

So, after I put the young duo in time-out on opposite sides of the kitchen table and creamed some product into my oldest daughter’s hair (keeping my eye one the dwindling minutes), I prayed aloud: “Let me see you in this situation, Lord Jesus. Let me see you in my role as mom to these kids right now.” And I looked into my middle child’s overflowing eyes and felt myself beginning to sink, like Peter on the water. But when my son gave me the dirty look he was wearing toward whatever wrong he’d interpreted, I prayed again: “In the name of Jesus Christ…” It wasn’t even a complete sentence.

It was just me looking away from the strong wind of emotions swirling around our kitchen – back toward Jesus Christ. Me. Laboring. To enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:11.)

I’ve realized that my tendency to dredge up things from the past and stack them against “my opponent” when I’m upset isn’t “a girl thing.” It’s a type of person thing, and my son displays this same tendency. I told him that I understood that he was having some emotions and that I cared about his big feelings, because I care about him. I also told him that his feelings weren’t my fault – that I hadn’t been rude to him (this morning). It wasn’t mommy and daddy who’d been destroying what he was building in his game. So dirty looks and rash (unthinking, angry) words weren’t fair to us or, acceptable. At that, a fight broke out between our two current youngest – from the breakfast bar to the kitchen table stool. Ugh!

I had to walk my oldest to the door. She presented a cool and pretty dramatic foil (contrast) to the heated accusations flying in sweet, angry voices. The bus was about to pull past our house, but the driver waved her hand when she saw us, smiling. I had to take that cool breath back to the table for peace discussions.

So many things can show themselves as completely out of our hands before the morning can even BEGIN to draw to a close: This morning my prescription wouldn’t go through. I couldn’t get hold of Hubby. I needed to get someone to help us opt-out of some refill insurance issue. And if it wasn’t resolved, like NOW, it would put my pregnancy at risk.

As I’ve said before, the devil loves us to either throw a tantrum when we’re stuck, or throw up our hands and give up; the option we have in Christ is to enter into His rest, going forward and allowing Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between what we know to/can do in our own strength, and whatever our needs are.

Bottom Line: He’s a good, good Father, who gave this momma words for her kids, brokering peace. Aaand, He got my prescription refill issue fixed. We CAN rest, y’all. It’s hard work to put our emotions and control freakery to the side – to look away from the strong winds of life, but we can. While you may not technically enjoy it, you can get a lot out of ANY day.

If a Friendship MUST End, Let it go like a Baby Tooth

There are things that tempt us to change our minds. We’ve decided to take a certain approach – hopefully, with prayer and after giving ourselves the quiet and time to hear what God the Holy Spirit is teaching us, how He’s pointing to Jesus Christ in our situations; then something tells us we should flip a table. We should go wherever emotion is inviting us and throw caution to the wind. Sin. Sin is doing that. Sin has desires (Genesis 4:7), so it exists as an entity or spirit, like a beast – independent of your behavior, though sin would love to influence your actions.

I read the Bible and talk with Hubby, and we decide that we’re not going to talk about situations involving the kids IN FRONT OF the kids, for instance. Duh! right? But then…you come down from flat-ironing or wand curling your hair and putting on something flattering…to hear your husband saying something like, “Stop that crying! I don’t want to start the day like this!” And you find your oldest crouched and uncombed, crying. Ugh! And the first thing she says to you, as the smile melts off your face and out of your heart is, “I don’t want to do gymnastics anymore! One of my coaches is mean!”

You’ve been planning a great day of rest and rejuvenation for you and for the family as a whole – according to your strengths/the way your brain is wired, of course: Maybe that means breakfast and movie-watching and a baseball game for dessert. Maybe that looks like a bike ride and a hike followed by a friendly pickleball match at the nearby park (in the tennis courts that don’t have the pickleball markings…yet).

Either way, you start to feel like the day is going down the drain, and sin tempts you: Lose your temper! Or, Give up now! Both of those options appeal to our corrupted bodies and emotion-driven souls. But we are located in new spiritual places, in Christ. We live from Him. We have God the Holy Spirit living in us and teaching us and reminding us of what we know about the Son of God. Instead of either one of those options set forth by sin, we can choose the option set forth according to our identity. Child of God, you can just ask to see Jesus Christ in whatever role you’re playing right then: Parent, Friend, Employee, Sibling, Neighbor, even Stranger. You can ask to see Him in whatever situation you’re in.

God is IN us, and we live from Him. We can put aside our scraps of remembered self-help advice and our emotional reactions and the advice of the devil…for the wisdom of Jesus Christ, who has been made unto us, Wisdom from God (I Corinthians 1:30).

When I decided to stop talking about a broken friendship, to stop talking about how the shards of that broken relationship are still cutting me unexpectedly, the devil gave me more fuel, trying to set me on fire again. And I was tempted to pick up that snake by the tail again and just say one more thing about it, the last thing…

But I waited a second to hear what God in me was saying TO me…and it wasn’t: Gossip! It wasn’t, Let it be known how you have been wronged! It wasn’t, Figure out, by talking it into the ground, WHO ELSE is wrong in this situation and how ELSE you’re being mistreated!

God told me to let that snake pass by, untouched and, Be silent.

I had to get off the train, even if people around me wanted to keep riding it. Because, picking that pain back up would be like trying to press a baby tooth back into the gum.

I’m a Mom Learning to Understand her Children

What does it mean that my son walks in shadow? Is it a middle child thing? Neither my husband nor I remember him being born. I mean…we both laugh about me putting my husband on patrol at the nursery to keep and eye on him, laughing about who passed down those ears to our son… But I don’t remember him being handed to me, like I think I should. It irks me and makes me pray: Jesus Christ, please show yourself in my mothering of the son you gave me!

I remember him walking by me one day and having the sense that he was actually draped in a dark cloak that muted everything about him. My son was entering our auditorium where my oldest and I were finishing up I Can Only Imagine. My youngest (so far; we’re expecting another girl in August) and my husband were with him, because their cartoon had finished up in another auditorium. I saw my husband’s face clearly; the baby of the crew jumped right into my lap for cuddles; and, I wanted to touch my son as he went by…but I didn’t.

My son rebels with passive aggression – pretending he can’t when he can. Pretending he can’t do it, understand you… But they’re short-lived rebellions. And I wonder if I don’t cause a lot of his rebellions or, prolong them – by my failure to express understanding for where he’s coming from. Sometimes I actually don’t understand the seed of his upset. 

It doesn’t feel good to realize you don’t understand your children. It feels like a genetic defect.

I try to parent honestly: I try to apologize when I mess up. I try to be transparent in a healthy way – sharing a little of my background as it seems appropriate, so they understand that I understand. I try to tell them why I do what I do – my thinking processes. But, of course, they don’t always understand your whys or your rules…

My current rule is: If there’s no blood, 1) talk to everyone involved about whatever hysterically shouted or tearful claims come before me, and 2) counsel with empathy. As parents, we have to lay out to children that our refusal to 100% accept hearsay will benefit them all at some point. And though it is an imperfect policy, it is more fair. Because our current rule arises from truth: Mommy and Daddy are imperfect and definitely NOT omnipresent or, all-knowing. That’s God’s resume.

As I was all twisted up about my relationship with my son, he turned to me in the way quiet people have – with sudden gravity – and told me: “I have 3 things that I really love to do: Coloring, singing… I’m okay with that… And cooking… So, maybe I’ll be a musician.” Then he looked at me, content, I think partly, because I had listened without checking my phone and, partly because he’d come to a conclusion. The singing part surprised me. And, when he swung from singing to musician on his mental monkey bars… I waited a minute and then said, “So do you want to take some art classes or lessons for an instrument?” I knew about some local cooking classes but an ex-friend of mine had recently mentioned she was investigating them and thinking of enrolling 2 of her 3 children in those, so I thought it best to steer clear of cooking lessons. My son looked like “lessons” had not been one of his next mental monkey bars, but he nodded thoughtfully, like, That might be nice… Without asking him, we’d already signed him up for tennis. Because he really enjoys our amateur pickleball matches on the driveway…

Just because he comes out of me doesn’t mean I understand him. We’re very different, and I have to be quiet, too, and learn him. My quiet son is teaching me that parenting isn’t just about making all the right decisions and structuring all the right procedures for child trials or, remembering every single moment of his birth day. It isn’t even about knowing every detail of who he is. It’s about looking at him when he talks and listening. Love is about that.