Friday, August 24, 2012

The really hard [tear jerking] part

Five months ago, I was in the foggy throws of planning my mother's funeral.  As I went through the motions with my brother and sister, I carefully considered what I wanted to say at her funeral.  It wasn't determined yet who would speak, but I knew God was laying things on my heart that were meant to be shared.  Ultimately, I wrote the draft of her eulogy with my brother and sister's input, rewrote it with their edits, and stood there crying as my brother read it.

I have not yet spoken those sentiments myself in front of a group of people.

But I will tomorrow.

I am naturally a crier.  I often wish I wasn't, and occasionally I even pray that God would harden me up ... even if just a little bit.

But, so far, no such luck.

So, I'm here writing...  Hoping that sharing here just how hard this is might at least ease those nerves.

I have shared my story hundreds of times, and my tone is never an angry, embittered, unforgiving one, but I feel even more sensitive to it now that she has passed.  I really do not want to hurt my brother and sister, or my mother's siblings, or our extended family, or even my mother's memory as I honestly share the ugly truth...  Not that what happened didn't happen, or shouldn't be discussed.  Because it did, and it should.  Because, as I openly share, it allows others the freedom to share and examine their own unresolved pain.  What I went through can be used to help others get through what they're going through.

The really hard [tear jerking] part is that merely saying her name hurts my heart.  As each month has passed, it's been that much longer since we were together.  And it somehow feels like the missing gets worse, as it's evident that she's not coming back and our lives continue on.

And I didn't have a "normal" mom.  My mom was hurt.  And she hurt others.  It wasn't until the final few years that she really made significant efforts to learn to love.  In the end, but only for a couple of years, we had a loving relationship.  It was still effected by pains from the past, but it was genuinely good, and loving, and fulfilling.  I'm so very grateful for it, but it was simply too short.

So, that is how I think tomorrow's talk ends...  [Mind you, this is only the few-second version of my 40 minute talk...]  With the message that sometimes we need distance in a relationship to mend our hearts and prepare us for reconciliation.  And that reconciliation is a precious gift.

Praise the Lord that my heart is heavy not because of what I never had, but because of what lasted only a short while....and that I miss deeply.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God's got this

That's a first...

I just left my kids in bed, and one was crying and wouldn't tell me why.  "It's okay" and "you can't do anything about it anyway" were uttered time and again when I tried to get him to talk with me.

We had a really rough day.  Emotions were ever-bubbling at the surface.  One child is returning to school tomorrow after a very difficult year ... and taking a really awesome, unexpected [nerve-wracking] field trip (hours by bus) to make a documentary of the K-State football program on the 2nd day of school.  One is beginning kindergarten the following day.  Bryan is working evenings, so, aside from breakfast, he won't see Zach three days a week (the pits for everyone).  I've slept poorly and woken early for the last 10 days or so, leaving me a little less than pleasant and patient.

And then KFC got Luke's dinner all wrong (discovered at home).  And Zach's nose piece fell off his glasses (after our optical place closed).  And one of my kids spit water on the other (gasp!).  And one got whacked in the back in a Nerf sword battle.  Normal things ... going dramatically wrong.  It's been rough.

So...  What was I to do with a crying child who wouldn't confide in me?  Pray.  And hold him as much as he'd let me.  And remind him that Daddy and I are here.

That's all I could do.  I prayed with him, reminded him, reminded myself ... that God's got this.  Whatever it is that's troubling my guy, God's got it.

This is the first time that he's ever not allowed me to hold him close.  It's the first time he's ever refused to talk with me.  It's the first time he's ever nodded off with tears still streaming (with exception of the baby days).

Honestly, I'd hoped that he'd come down a few minutes after I left, having seen the light...  Realizing that confiding in Mom is the right approach.  But he didn't.

And I expect that this won't be the last time he takes that approach.

I don't love it.  But, I'm praying for my boy.  And with him.  Constantly praying for God's arms to wrap themselves around him, for Zach to know His presence, for confidence in who and whose he is, and for the constant nudging for Zach to keep an open dialogue with his heavenly father.  It's no picnic, getting shut out as his confidant...  But, God's got this.

And I'm amazed at how God's grown me.  Some of you are reading this, remembering Tonya from a few years back that would need a padded room on a day like today.

But, God's got this.  All of this.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Phil. 4:6

Sunday, August 19, 2012


As a blog post is brewing in my heart, I sometimes think that my blog subtitle should be "making other moms feel superior one post at a time".  After all, my pattern is generally to blow it royally for a really long time before something smarter occurs to me.  Read:  I get in my own way.  I make matters worse.  I'm a slow learner.

Confession:  My husband and I have occasionally been guilty of comparing our kids' performance to other kids'.  When our kids didn't "get it right", we inevitably found ourselves on a mission to help them "get it right".  If we're being completely honest, this helping was generally more upsetting than anything - for everyone - as we'd somehow end up saying or insinuating that our son was blowing it by not trying hard enough, or not taking it seriously enough, or not practicing hard enough.  Although we never meant it this way, basically the message received was often that our kid wasn't good enough.

I know.  Horrible.  Right?

Is it just this ridiculous pressure to fit in?  To conform?  To have a reputation?

That's laughable...  After all, we're talking about little kids here!

And, frankly, that last one makes my stomach flip ... but I think there's some truth to it.  I don't worry anymore about my reputation, but my kids still have their entire lives ahead of them and I don't want them to be teased or isolated for not having the just-so reputation.


I know that there is absolutely nothing godly about that thought process...  But this is an area where I struggle.  I want my kids to have an "easier" time of it, and that includes being easily accepted by their peers.

And then we go and muddy the waters completely by sending the message - through all of our help - that they are not good enough.

I've been convicted.

Certainly, we do expect full effort in all areas ... but how my kid stacks up to your kid doesn't matter.  How my kid feels about himself is what matters.  Does he finish with a smile?  Does he feel built up and successful?  Is he proud of himself?  Is he happy?  Was it fun?  These are the things that matter.

We can study and practice till the cows come home, but we are no longer comparing our kids to other kids.  It's entirely about being the best version of themselves.

Today, I watched my oldest play soccer with fresher eyes.  He's on a really good team, with really competitive kids who play a lot of different sports year round.  And, my guy is ... well ... analytical, slower, not eager to get physical, not one to over-schedule ... but he rocked it his way today. 

With our support [with us off his back], he had the freedom to simply have fun and be himself.  It was a tournament, playing against elite teams, and our kids are really focused on learning their positions and responsibilities this season ... and Zach has an excellent memory for those kinds of things.  He knows the rules and doesn't break them - no off-sides for our guy.  And every time someone had to throw-in or take a goal kick ... he knew which player had that job and was telling them where to be and when.  He was an excellent player-coach today.  And he got in there and fought for the ball every chance he got.  And I've got to think that it was, in part, because we just stayed out of the way and let him do his thing.  However quirky.

And he had a blast.  Their team rarely loses, but they lost all three tournament games this weekend.  But Zach came off the field saying, "Wow, they are elite teams and we're just a rec team.  I bet they think we're an elite team too, because we're really good."

That's the smile we're looking for.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No bounty hunter here

Today was our official kick-off for fall sports.  Luke had a baseball game, and Zach had two soccer games.  Tomorrow, each has one game.

Over the years, I've listened to them whine about practices or looked on as they gave the bare minimum at games, and I've realized that there's something I should take credit for passing on to my kids...  The giving up gene.  We get tired, we quit.  We get hot, we quit.  We get discouraged, we quit.  We feel insecure, we quit.  We just don't feel like it today, we quit.

But when a game is scheduled and a team is counting on us, quitting isn't an option.

So...  Don't judge me for this, but I offered the boys a punch card incentive to give their all at games.  If they run their fastest and try their hardest 80% of the season, they get a prize.  If they run their fastest and try their hardest 100% of any given month, they get another prize.

We're not talking grand slams or game winning goals - just 100% of their heart, attention, and their best effort.

Luke is all over this. And negotiating a "medium Lego set".  I'm pretty sure that the prize will not be that big.  After all, this is not NCAA bribery ... but, at some point today, on the dawn of a new sports season, rewarding positive behavior just seemed like a good idea.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, Zach said, "Well...  Can I start it in two days?"

At first I thought he was trying to get out of playing hard tomorrow (he's exhausted) ... but instead of jumping to conclusions, I asked why he wanted to wait.

"Because...  I don't want to be like a bounty hunter.  Or your employee.  Before you give me a prize for doing what is already expected, I want to prove that I can do it for nothing."

Be still my heart.  What an amazing young man.

Friday, August 17, 2012


So, Pat Robertson broke my heart a little tonight. 

Televangelist Pat Robertson has said on Thursday's edition of The 700 Club with co-host Kristi Watts that people thinking of adopting children should be cautious about taking in those that have been sexually abused or deprived of food for risk that they may turn out to be weird." 

Yes, he said that.  Among other things.

You can read the full article here.

It breaks my heart for many reasons.

I was one of those sexually abused [neglected....abandoned child of a drug addict] kids.  Should I have been cast aside by society, for fear that I'd turn out weird?

And...  Okay, so I did turn out pretty messed up.  Or "weird".  After an entire childhood of heartache, I developed coping mechanisms that were not healthy.  And I had a no self-esteem and a fairly skewed moral compass.  In my late teens/early 20's, I made some unwise and hurtful decisions that I will forever regret.

And, oddly enough, I'd felt called to adopt the unloveables when I was nine years old.

But, clearly, I was not yet ready ... and I knew it.

Thankfully, by my later 20's, I was piecing my life back together and found a church family that helped guide me into healing and wholeness through a sincere relationship with the Lord.  I thank God for his grace, mercy and forgiveness!

And it breaks my heart that Pat Robertson is a Christian leader who has influence over others.  Did someone hear his message and decide against adoption because of his fear-filled, faith-less, self-centered message?  Will a child go without a forever family because their potential parents found the justification they needed to ignore God's call?

Don't get me wrong.  The fears are real.  And justified.

Kids are hard.  Wounded kids are harder.

And change is hard.  Adapting to someone else' habits, style, needs, etc. is difficult.  Always.  This is why the first year of marriage is often not a picnic.

And, because it cannot be undersold, adding kids - especially wounded kids - to your already-settled family is definitely complicated, hard, taxing, stressful, expensive, risky...  Add whatever adjective you want, and it'll probably fit. 

But those little people deserve a family to call their own.  They deserve loving, protective arms to be wrapped around them.  They deserve a note written on their lunch banana that simply says, "Love, Mom."  They deserve a hand to hold in the dark.  They deserve the prayers of a father whispered over them at bedtime.  They deserve a parent to attend parent teacher conferences.  They deserve a visit over family weekend at college.  And ... one day ... their children will deserve loving grandparents. 

And it breaks my heart that non-believers might read what Pat Robertson said and chalk it up to just one more reason to believe that all Christians are self-serving, ill-informed, narrow-minded, self-righteous hypocrites.

Pat Robertson doesn't speak for all Christians.  And Pat Robertson is human.  Perhaps this is an area where fear takes over for Mr. Robertson...  I shudder to think of how many opportunities that my family misses simply because we allowed fear (or our desire for comfort) to win.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families."  Psalm 68:5-6

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

God was not only the founder of adoption; he was the first adoptive parent.

Nearly 30 years after the first seed was planted in my heart, it is still my prayer to one day be an adoptive parent.  There are so many precious children waiting, aging, crying, longing ... missing out on all of the blessings that come with a forever family.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Praying for coaches

I added something new to our prayer list last night...  Our coaches.

Why has this just dawned on me?  We have prayed for the educators and staff at the kids' schools since before we were ever in school.  And we pray for Sunday school teachers...  And we've thanked God many times over for our coaches, but we've never really prayed for them. 

If our kids participate in sports for the reasons my husband and I say they do, then their coaches need all the prayer support they can get! 

Why do our kids participate in sports?

To grow social relationships with their peers.

To establish trusting relationships with adults outside of our family.

To learn how to be a part of a team.

To maintain physical activity and good health.

To receive support, encouragement, and constructive feedback from someone other than Mom and Dad.

To learn how to win and lose gracefully.

To learn how to be competitive while keeping ones integrity and character in tact.

To have fun.

To know the freedom and joy of simply being a kid and playing.

As I've sat back and watched my kids with their various teachers and coaches, I've often wondered if they realize the full scope of what they are doing.  Or do they just think it's about piano, or soccer, or baseball, or basketball, or math...  Do they realize that they are writing on the heart and mind of the child before them?

The work of a teacher - a coach is a teacher - is a tall order and calls for prayer.

Additionally, our coaches are given a degree of permission to add things to our family's schedule.  And they are given discretion regarding the safety and discipline of our children when we are not there.

Our family has been richly blessed with loving coaches who are passionate about all of the above.  As fall sports continue through late October, we will continue to lift these men up in prayer.  So their hearts and minds will be primed with wisdom, patience, endurance and passion for the kids entrusted to them.  We also pray that many blessings are poured out on their families, as they give generously and sacrificially for the team...more specifically - for my child.