Distorted Expectations

The MidWest had more than it’s fair share of rain this summer. We count the days of summer …and it’s unfairly interfered. 

Life is like that, at times. Unfair and uncomfortable. We count on certain things to go a certain way. For my tween daughters, every emotion, discomfort, and awkward situation rains down upon them as though they’ve been caught unexpectedly in a torrential downpour. They don’t need us to throw a rain poncho over their every problem. Tweens need to know it’s a normal to get caught in the rain sometimes.

If we don’t want to get drenched by life’s storms we have to remember our umbrella and choose to use it. Better yet, when we can …avoid standing in a torrential downpour. We so often try to force our circumstances, blaming our umbrella for failing to keep us dry when we take it out into sideways rain and expect it to do the impossible. 

Faith …an umbrella between reality and the rain. The wind may blow it inside out, it may leak, we may forget to open it …but through every storm, Jesus remains. God’s Word is our heart’s guard. Prayer is our lifeline. Starting the day and traversing through life without it compels us to seek all kinds of crazy solutions for our inconveniences. Life is inconvenient, but out of our discomfort beautiful wildflowers often bloom …right where they’re planted. 

We shouldn’t expect perfection from an umbrella. It’s a thing. It’s fallible. The weather is the weather …even the people paid to predict it don’t always know what it’s going to do. Our expectations distort when we entrust humanity to protect us from raindrops. Only God is capable of instilling that kind of bubbled protection over our lives …and He doesn’t. 

We will get rained on here. Things will not go our way and people will let us down. We will let others, and ourselves, down. At some point, we’ll all stand drenched in a downpour. But not without hope …just wet! The sun comes out, and everyday God’s mercies are new. Great is HIS faithfulness. Jesus is our umbrella this side of heaven. In the sideways rain, hail, and torrential downpours, He shields us. 

To our kids, we model the resiliency of our faith in Christ by how we react to the rain. A young collegiate cross country runner, rainy mud runs were my favorite. Donning my favorite hat to keep the rain out of my eyes, I laughed through every knee-high puddle and splash of mud. I set my mind, not just to make the best of it, but to see the fun in it. 

The world wants us on edge every time life rains down on us. But if we choose to see the good, our kids might, too. Some tragedies are beyond a sunny explanation …but even in those moments, we have a good God whom we trust will right every injustice. We can’t explain the cause of every storm or season of suffering, but we can choose to put our favorite hat on and embrace what we can about the rain.

As Christians, we can run through the rain gripping Joy …because the battle has already been won.

Expect the rain …but know the sun still shines.

Megs


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The 40 Keel.

It started off as a grand adventure. We would paddle across the serene lake our cabin rested on, to the river, and all the way out to the great freshwater lake. Up and out early with visions of grandeur we would hold onto forever, we loaded into our kayaks and pushed off the dock. It wasn’t in the quiet stillness of morning as we’d woken up to so many other days, but in the choppy result of a steady wind. Soon after we embarked on our journey, both of our kids needed a tow line. Every paddle felt like going backwards. Our cabin neighbor came gliding up beside us. We wanted to know why … and…how.

“I have a keel,” he explained. “It drops down and stabilizes the boat so it goes forward instead of back and forth.”

U2, who I’ve been mildly obsessed with since walk-mans were cool, turned the 40th Psalm into a song that hit me on a new level as the melody drifted through the marrow of me as I flipped the final page on my fourth decade. King David, who wrote the song, reaches into the core of all that makes a human heart beat and break in awe of the unfailing love God has for all of us. The song played and I pictured myself in all stages of life blaring it as an unbeknownst anthem.

Life starts out as such a grand adventure, doesn’t it? But without a keel, we paddle back and forth and sometimes backwards. There’s something about turning the page on a decade that causes us to reflect back and look forward. For the next ten years, I want to steer steady, with the keel dropped down, each paddle as efficient as it can be, no matter the weather. To weather storms with more grace and poise, and for forgiveness to flow out of me faster and easier. It feels time to step up and into the girl God made me to be all those years before the swells crashed into my reality faster than I could bail out or paddle through. 

There’s never been a day in my life I haven’t believed in Jesus. If anything is worth celebrating at 40 …it’s that. So I chose to celebrate by getting baptized. He has loved me through the most impossible circumstances and when I was impossible to love. He reminds me who I am and continues to grow me into who He’s purposed me to be. No one knows me like Him. It’s love, unconditional and eternal. No strings, stipulations or shame. It’s out of this world …and worth singing about. In and around the water I’m reminded of how His Word flows through and connects all He has created. No matter what storms flare up in the next decade, I’m all in. 

This is 40. A few nights ago I sat up to roll over and pulled my neck out. For now my daughters say my smile lines are beautiful because they haven’t morphed into critical teenagers yet. I have to say I like them, too. Looking back, I’m tempted to remember the heartbreaks and mistakes. But the past is equally lined in triumphs. Laughter, love …and fearless adventure. So much laughter. So many friends. And now daughters … Jesus isn’t interested in keeping score in our lives. He commands us to go tell it …maybe …to sing it.

Sing your song.

Megs

“Difference Makers,” by Gregg Matte

“When the rain falls, the church rises.” Gregg Matte, “Difference Makers.”

Some books grip the reader from the start. This is one of those books. We live in an era where social media has afforded many a pulpit to preach from and all of our messages are aired out and scrolled though in the palm of everyone’s hand. This book is an important reminder for God’s church to get up and go. We’re not all called to travel the world, but we can all be difference makers in the places God has put us …purposefully. “We have to have courage,” Matte writes, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the absence of self.” 

The book is broken up into eleven quick-read chapters with riveting stories and inspiring lessons in each one. Matte often references the impact Hurricane Harvey had on his community. Truly a marking experience for all who have weathered such a storm. He also does a fantastic job at alerting us to our unique purpose and place in this life. The average person often doubts they can make a difference, but in Christ, no one is any greater than the other. The powerful truth is that we are all staged to make an impact whether or not we’ve been given a stage or a platform. 

I highly recommend this book. It will challenge all who read it to ignite the inner difference maker and go out into their piece of the world ready to answer the call of the Gospel. 

“God’s calling us to do something far more difficult than obnoxiously picket, parade, and shout at people with blow horns. He’s calling us to love well and reach out.”  Gregg Matte, “Difference Makers.”

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase a copy of “Difference Makers.”


The Learning Curve

May Parenting: The Learning Curve 

“For the LORD is a great god, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed dry land.” Psalm 95:3-5 ESV

There is no one like our God. We are created in His image, but we are not Him. The things we create get messed up. The people we raise, rebel. We come unglued. Mistakes are the learning curve of life, yet many kids are ashamed of them. Perfectionism is creeping into the cracks of our society, where kids are known for their test scores and grade cards rather than their unique talents and abilities. Afraid to disappoint anyone with their failures, they keep them hidden and covered up. They are on social media younger and younger, where the highlight reel reigns. It’s a difficult reality for them to navigate, and a crucial environment for parents to be aware of.

We all struggle with the fear of disappointing other people, ourselves, or God. Mistakes are a part of being human, and God is not surprised. Regardless of our imperfections, He chooses to love us right where are. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” ESV

I often scramble to fix the way my daughters feel instead of trusting God for who He says He is. The Father draws them, not me. Psalm 98:2 says, “The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” (NIV) As parents, we are called to lead our children to His feet, but I often need to be reminded my daughters were His before they were mine. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” ESV

Christ went to the cross to reach a bar we never could. We often learn the most from our mistakes, and have the opportunity to help others who are struggling with what we have gone through.  It comforts children to learn parents make mistakes, too. Christ meets us in our mess everyday. He wipes the slate clean, but the memories of our past mistakes are to serve the people He places in our lives purposefully. Including our children. Hebrews 3:13 says,“encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today.’” NIV

When no band-aid seems to fit our children’s wounds and calm their fears, Jesus heals. There is power in His name. Pray to Him, together. He is always with us, and God promises to be close to broken hearted. God freely gives His love, but it’s up to us to receive it, and teach our children to as well. When our kids are hysterical and hormonal all at once, let’s come alongside them and love them empathetically, as if we’ve been there. Perfection has no place in anyone’s expectations this side of heaven. 

God rested. When we throw our faith in Him, we are able to rest. He reigns. He’s in control. Hebrews 4:10-11a  says,“for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” ESV.

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Soggy Cheerio’s

“Eat your Cheerio’s before they get soggy.”

After a brisk morning run, that’s how my day begins …every day.

We all endure tests throughout life. They shape our character and reflect all the repeated quotations that have stuck to and motivated us throughout our lives.

“Be a leader.”  “Don’t Worry.”  “Just Run.”  “Don’t judge.”  “Be Happy.”

We accumulate all this knowledge and then start scheming on how to get our kids to catch on to it faster than we did. And then the kids arrive…and everything we ‘planned’ to do becomes comical when blasted in the scope of reality. Things that were once fun now take so long to get ready and unready for that it swallows up the fun and spits it out into a poopy diaper.  Where’s the inspirational quote to deal with that?

Life’s beautifully challenging.

My latest? Dinner. And how to get my kid to eat it. How about that one?  Isn’t there a famous mom somewhere that has a motivational quote to get your 3 year old to eat?  Bah. ha. ha.

Regardless of  what food I feed her, it takes a minimum of an hour and 45 minutes for her to eat dinner. Every single night I bother, ignore her, bribe her, threaten her to get her to eat her mother loving dinner. I cannot follow the advice of the parenting magazines and let her go hungry …or offer her an alternative to make herself. Please… Not. Going. To. Happen.

In light of her older sister’s poor example, my 11 month old (who started to refuse to eat mashed up food at 7 months) continues to eat everything I cut up into pieces for her …with one tooth.

My latest tactic is ‘The Take Away.”  No dinner? No blanket. No dinner? No ballet. Which at the moment is crushing for her …she dances all over the house in tutu’s and grass skirts and hasn’t even taken a class yet.

In the midst of the chaos I try to relax the situation with some conversation, and ask her if  she dreams of being a ballerina one day. (…because I’m a mom, and inside I am dying to encourage her to follow her dreams …which she’ll most likely read as me being too pushy …it’ll be awesome.)  She just looked at me puzzled, trying to pull the literal answer out of her butt …or her nose. Then she broke out into giggles as her little sister spiked her hair up with spaghetti sauce. Her reaction made me think back a few months ago, when she told her then 9 month old sister to “Stop looking at me.”

Chill out, mom.

“Stop looking at me.” Isn’t that how we all feel, sometimes?

But lately when I feel that way it’s causing me to stop and look harder.  To sit back, calm down, and relish in the moment. Just as fast as 11 years have gone by since I stepped on the track to do a workout (which I did this week …streak over …legs sore.), soon my daughters will be dating, graduating, leaving, and the quiet will cause me to take on such a fury of hobbies I’ll most likely go insane. Maybe it’s just time to bump wine time up a little bit, sit back and let the madness unfold. So what if dinnertime is 2 hours of minuscule bites, giggle breakouts between sisters, 15 spill disasters, and anything but eating…

I will miss this.

Happy Eating.

Megs

UPDATE:

Ok, so now my babies are eleven and nine …Brianne still dreams of and lives for ballet. Lo is still biggest crack up we’ve ever known. Dinnertime is still obnoxious and now we have a dog who’s paws up on the table just waiting for someone to sneak her a bit that’s too chewy or crunchy. Most mornings I’m up before everyone else for coffee and QUIET. This momma is NOT doing track workouts, but did run a half marathon last fall. (I’m averaging a year of rest into between races to pay homage to all the injuries that occur in my oldness. Shhh -It’s fine.) I’m savoring every crazy minute of all of it. It’s going fast. We’ve got a junior high kid in the house this year. Both my girls are beautiful, fierce and brilliant which terrifies their dad into complete denial as the boys start to notice. Life is not easy, hardly ever, but always worth it. Soggy Cherrios and everything.