I grew up in evangelical church circles, where everyone knew where they were going when they died but few knew how to make the most of being alive. At some point I snapped awake. I decided that God, having created this amazing, vast world, had given me license to go explore all the possibilities it held. By grace, I am intentionally building a life together with my husband. That life feels extraordinary and full of hope. We love it immensely.
When our kids were smaller, searching Google for things like “house rules” and “discipline” I came up with ridiculous results including, and I am not kidding, “Do not start fires in the kitchen.” Wow… so glad I am not living with those little crazies! Sitting down together, we wrote our own and came up with 10 simply worded values, none of which talked about fire.
Okay, there was no brawl per se, although we usually feel the need to keep our fists up as we step into conflict. But leading with integrity and respect can change everything.
Today I found myself in the middle of an ordinary day, 102° in the Tennessee shade and the pool was closed. We dressed in our skimpiest and headed to the splash park. I still don’t hardly know anyone here, so I staked out a table close by and sat down to read a book alone. I hadn’t been at it too long when my oldest, Adrienne, stomped up to me with her long, tan legs.
When we lived in Kansas City, I had a group of friends who annually gathered for an Anne of Green Gables viewing party. I used to turn down the invite and snicker to myself. (Sorry girls!) However, our daughter Adrienne discovered the book series and loved it so much that we downloaded the movie for our own little viewing party. Oh. My. Gosh. It was hilarious! Though… I still feel like a dork admitting that.
I never understood the personality of God until I became a parent. I used to think pleasing God was difficult, like an ever increasing list of requirements stacked next to my failures, all presided over by a scolding, cranky old judge. I would never add up, try as I might, because I just didn’t have what it took to be his star pupil. This would not have felt so hard to bear if I had been a star somewhere else, successful or significant on another plain, but it felt soul crushing to my hungry heart.
And then I had children. My heart filled up like a rain barrel in a monsoon. My love was sudden, torrential, uncontainable. I was swept downriver and my view of God flipped end over end. Suddenly I knew, this is how he had always loved me- without reason, without limits or end. It was there all along! My eyes hungrily drank in the proof all around me. His generosity to me, his daughter, could never be tapped out.
A friend said to my husband Steve and me recently, “Most people joke about having a ‘mini me’ but you two really do.” It’s true, our daughter is a facsimile of me and our son is a miniature of Steve. I’m not just talking about insane good looks either, I mean the whole package – quirks, talents, expressions, preferences. Perhaps it’s because Steve and I have worked at home parents since our eldest was born. At ages 11 and 7, Adrienne and Addison have already spent way more time with their parents than the average American kid.
Ask any of my friends and they will tell you, I am a certified type A personality, tried and true. My blood is even A. I have loosened up a bit since moving to Nashville last year – being around all these creatives does something to a person. However, I still cling to my morning routine for the sanity it brings to my day. Waking up with time alone to read my Bible and pray is an important part. The topics on my heart may change frequently but there is one prayer always in the line up.
“Father connect my family to each other today. Let each person here find the belonging they deserve here and may our hearts be bound ever tighter together.” I begin the day mindful, not of the inconsequential daily tasks, but of the most important objective in my life. I ask God to back me up and I really expect help from heaven.
My husband has the most hilarious stories about his childhood. It was one of the things that attracted me to him; he would have me laughing until tears were rolling down my cheeks. What a crazy kid! It’s like a fun party trick – “Hey Steve, tell the one about writing your name in gasoline in the driveway.” I could just picture him as a boy, mischievous nature in full swing. It was adorable… until we had our own son.
Recently, my friend said that her children were lamenting the amount of family time spent doing church related activities. She wondered, did I think this was a valid objection? Well, being asked for my opinion is instant dopamine and it’s tempting to think I can offer a quick, brilliant assessment.
I know full well that being a parent is the most important job we have. When our kids are upset, it feels worse than a poor performance review at work. As I turned it over in my mind, I realized she was actually reaching out for connection from a fellow woman in the trenches of motherhood. This is something I can offer.