Not So Empty Nest Days

Cherishing the days past while moving towards the days ahead, BHG

The Last Stretch

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

 

I’m not sure why this is the Scripture to use or if this will speak to anyone other than myself, but here I go. I have not been writing as normal since the beginning of the school year. The reason is very specific. My last child is a senior and it is hitting me harder than I thought… Like I seriously have moments when I wonder if this is real and even more honestly, I wish it weren’t.

My youngest daughter and I are on our last stretch as her being a minor, her being in school and soon after that, her being under my roof (you all know that declaration made to kids). It’s not so much that I am sad that she is growing up, quite the contrary, I am super excited to see what God has next for her and so forever grateful that i was chosen to walk this with her and unlike seven of her school mates, she has lived to see it. The sadness comes with having an empty nest. I know that God will fill my vats and keep me doing His work, but I am merely being honest when I say I am going to miss my babies…

On a trend of being honest, there are so many things I wish I could redo. I wish there was a button to push where not only would we go back in time but it would be the ultimate do over where the previous was erased… sort of like when you are recording your voice mail recording. I wish the times when I wasn’t as patient, I could go back and see what I saw directly after flying off my well-worn handle. I wish I could do over a warning that things would get worse if they kept the way they were going with love and concern instead of trying to pump fear and condemnation. I wish I could go back and handle each time a child teased or bullied one of my three… or an adult for that matter…. maybe some hands on help there. But most of all, I wish all the times I was depressed and wasting time chasing a man or money or freedom from “these kids” that I had embraced them and gotten on the floor to play with them a little more. I also wish that I could go back and tell my younger self that the “perfect moms” that seemed  to be DIY queens with clean homes, no, immaculate homes while toddlers seemed to change themselves and children seemed to be suspended in space while they did their work…. that is not realistic for every mom and it doesn’t have to be. I wish I could tell my young mommy self that I can be Mary and enjoy what will not be there soon instead of being Martha and worrying about things that will remain (like dirty dishes and clothes).

My time of being physical mommy (they still call me that) is almost up and I see instances where God has allowed for me to implant His wisdom in areas that should already have it. And for that, I am grateful. But I still wish for earlier days, knowing what I know now and doing what we do now.

What I can say is that God knew what He was doing when He planned for these three to walk this hard, sometimes lonesome, most days frustrated but nevertheless rewarding journey of being their single mama. He knew that they would teach me and they have. I can say (with tears as I finish this) that I am almost finished with this race, I have fought (mostly the kids) the good fight and I am keeping the faith that this next chapter in our lives will be well worth the turning of a new page. I leave with this…. young mammas heed a not too old mammas advice, you cannot do it all. Definitely teach them to care for their things, clean after themselves and watch out for each other (OH! and do NOT forget the manners) but love them as they are… not who you perceived them to be when you carried them. God’s plans are way bigger than yours and He loves them so much more. Trust Him and love them and take the time to show it.finish the race

 

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Sitting In Neutral

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

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The one thing I hate to do is sit in a long line or sit waiting for someone while I’m in the car. There seems to be some sort of allergic reaction I have while waiting with the car in park or neutral. I start to first itch, then I tend to get real antsy and have to keep moving, then irritation sets in and finally sleep begins to cover over me like an invisible blanket! I just don’t understand it! I can stand in long lines, I can stay on the phone waiting for a service rep to answer or remember that I’m on the phone, but I cannot wait in the car!

Yesterday, my youngest daughter (the one in recovery; see the last blog post) said something that got me thinking about life as a parent. She asked me what the purpose of neutral was. I explained that was the gear that allowed you to keep the car still but without the brake the car could still roll back and forth at will. I said that and instantly heard, “many have their lives in neutral right now.” Then I thought about it and sure enough, it’s true!

As a parent, how many times have you had to wait for your child to “do what was right” only to have them do what they want? That’s life in neutral. How many have had to wait up at night not knowing if their child would come through the door or if that dreaded knock would be at the door instead? That’s life in neutral. My life at some points has been in neutral! But there is an upside to being “in neutral”!

The neutral gear when used helps to save gas along with wear and tear on your engine. It’s way better to sit for long periods in neutral rather than in park. Here’s the spiritual aspect without getting super spiritual. When your life is in neutral, you are trusting that GOD is in control. Now granted, when in a car in neutral, you have to constantly be on the brake to avoid rolling forward or back, BUT, in a dire situation such as snowy/ icy hills (for those who don’t know or don’t drive in this white stuff) neutral is the best place to be if you don’t have 1 and 2 as an option. I can even remember my brakes going out once and neutral is what I switched to to slow down and use my emergency brake! Didn’t know that did ya?!

Jesus says that are to surrender our lives to Him (neutral living) and that includes ups and downs (being off the brakes). We may roll back or forward but we must trust that He knows what He’s doing. We are then, as the Scripture above describes, to make our bodies a “living sacrifice.” This is also neutral living because we don’t know what He will have us do, where He will tell us to go or, my issue, what He will have us give up. It’s kind of like when you are at the car wash. You pull up to get on the track and then they tell you to put your car in NEUTRAL! You have NO control at all except to ride.

Put your life in neutral today… the good way!

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Summer Vacation is Exiting…

Back To School

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence
and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and
praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. Matt 5:16 AMP

Is it really that summer is over that fast?? Where did it go? How was it
able to escape our grasp?? Is this the reason the kids are growing up so
fast? How did my youngest go from entering the seventh grade to being a
junior in the flash of an eye? And where is the slow mo button??? *insert
sigh*

I picked this Scripture to highlight this first blog of the school year so
as to remind not only our children, but also ourselves of how we are to
behave.

Soon enough, we as parents will be offended, angry, hurt and/ or frustrated
at what is going on in school, at sporting events (even when we are not the
coach), peers, and teachers. We need to remember to let our light shine
before OUR CHILDREN that they may see our moral excellence, etc. How did we
really expect to teach our kids the fruit of the Spirit if we don’t display
it? Parents, our children may be throwing fits that embarrass us for their
teachers, but no matter how different they are, you telling off the
teacher, parent or even talking with your child in earshot, WHICH IS
ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE UNLESS YOU ARE CALLING THEM, you are teaching them
how to throw a fit as well. Their excellence is going to be what we display
as excellence, not what we call it.

When I read this verse, I get extra convicted because there have been times
when I am seething mad and am talking to another parent; I tend to forget
that my child is around. And she is a nosy one so I can’t keep up the fuss
and keep watching for her too. Besides, we shouldn’t have to. Discussing is
one thing but complaining is against the law… in my Father’s eyes. But then
again, on a daily basis I’m doing what I shouldn’t be…. Okay hourly basis.
I’m so glad grace and mercy follow me!

Let’s instead do as the Scripture states. No changes, unless you want that
for your child.

Have a good school year… on purpose!

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Pray When Nothing Is Left

pray without ceasing…. 1 Thess 5:17

I am at the point of parenting where I want to give up! I just want to throw in the towel and say forget it, I’m done. I mean my kids are 22, 20 and 16, so it’s not like I would be abandoning infants. *sigh* Now don’t get me wrong. I love my kids to life! I would have a all out drag out street fight for my kids. I would take a bullet for my kids. Yes I would die for them. But I’ve come to a point where I have to decide that I won’t die BECAUSE of them.

Here’s my issue. I have three very different, very intelligent, very creative kids. I have allowed them, for the most part, to express their creativity since they were younger. Probably, no, most definitely when I should have been teaching practical things like manners and loving their neighbor/ siblings, sharing and showing the love of Christ, I was letting them run in the house, yell and play like crazy. It’s my fault, I’m sure of it and now I have to face that portion. I have to look the sweet kids who loved to be outside and laugh at my dry jokes, who I should have taught chores, responsibility and the art of putting self last, in the face and say I failed you as a mom back then. All the homemaking, homeschooling got it all together moms remind me of that all the time.

And then I read a blog or status on Facebook where a mom flipped out on her kids. I hear a mom admit to not caring if they didn’t clean up right now, or I go to a moms house who says sorry for the mess! And I realize that I am no different, I’m not the only screw up that allowed things that should not have been. I have even ditched certain no brainers in discipline because I wasn’t allowed to do it. And then I also remember…. I’m redeemed!

I remember that God pursued me for 39 yrs before I surrendered and even the not had to have been such a battle to me to that calm state you get wild horses to after throwing a rope they weren’t prepared for around them. I complained, I lied still, I even harbored anger towards people and I’m sure I caused a commotion or two. Sheesh! Now that I think about it, He has to be GOD to have not given up on me! Everyone else has before! So how dare I even think about giving up on my kids.

They have been disobedient, reckless with their lives at times, rebellious enough for Billy Idol to yell ENOUGH ALREADY!! But they are my kids. The children GOD lent to me for a short time. It’s not their fault I wasted some of that time but even still, I’m glad GOD used me to pour something’s into them. The verse Matthew 7:11 comes to mind when I say this. In my being evil, I knew certain things to tell them or show them. Thank You for that LORD.

I was at a crossroads for a while now. I didn’t want to “stifle their creativeness”, I also didn’t want spoiled snots for kids. So I spoke with as much love as I could muster up when they irritated me. I tried pouring into them when I was angry to reassure them I loved them. But I never pulled that love of the Father into it. I never said, “Lord, show me these baybay kids from Your eyes.” I didn’t see that His way was more important to instill than to make friends or make sure they weren’t mad at family members. While I could go on with the “shoulda woulda couldas,” I choose to MOVE ON and be the mom I need to be at this stage in life. After all, if GOD had given up on me when I was their ages, I would be a MESS right now clenched onto my one way ticket to hell!! I’m so glad He saved me!! Aren’t you? Make sure your kids will be too….

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The Eyes of a Child pt I- Set Apart By GOD, Not Bullies

I was recently able to do a guest blog for a friend of mine and it gave me the idea of having a guest blogger. After having my kids read mine, the idea came to have them write one. So here is my firstborn, Makaila, telling her story. A hard one even now for me to hear, but for one God gave fight to at a day old, being 2 months premature and off the ventilator the next day… She has come a longer way than Virginia Slims.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV)

Bullying. A subject that hasn’t gotten that much attention until recently. You got celebrities like Lady Gaga & Taylor Swift writing songs about be bullied or anthem songs, as I like to call them. But does that stop anything? A movie called Bully recently came out which started a nationwide movement. But is it gonna stop bullying altogether?

I’d say it started in 4th grade but it actually started when I was in 6th grade. Up until 4th grade, I was the popular kid. Everyone wanted to play with me. Everyone wanted to hang out with me. I lived close enough to the school to walk home & we always had a huge group, my brother & I. After 4th grade, I switched schools & I was no longer the popular girl. I was the new girl. Which wasn’t so bad. I had friends. 6th grade however, was one of the worst years for me. I had 4 friends in my class. No one liked me. & I couldn’t figure out why. They would pick on me & call me names. One girl even stole things from my locker. I did my best to fit in, & it seem to always backfire on me. I never thought to tell anybody cause I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t see these kids anymore since we were all going to different middle schools. Graduation day was one of the best days of my life.

Middle school was okay. A handful of kids from the elementary school I graduated from, was there so it was nice to know some people. This was when everyone started to form their “cliques”. I didn’t know where I fit in so I just hung out with the “weird” kids. I still talk to a few of them today. This was when I started listening to rock music more. Nobody really made fun of me as much, not that I remember anyway. The one thing I do remember is this girl, who I had never spoken to in my life before, called me ugly everyday, for no apparent reason. I hadn’t spoken two words to her. At first, I would say some smart comment to her, eventually, I didn’t say anything at all. & I started to believe it. My best friend was moving so I had no one when I started high school. & the people I knew from elementary school were all going to separate high schools. High school….how do I describe high school. I hated high school. Freshman year wasn’t that bad. Sophomore year, however was the worst. For whatever reason, that’s the year everyone decided to bully me. I was called names, some girl tried subtly fight me in drama class. Drama class was mainly where everything happened. This group of kids, mainly black kids, would pick on me because what I wearing, my skin, my clothes, my hair, the music I listened to. They would call me ugly, & other horrible names & make up stupid rumors about how me & these other girls were having a lesbian foursome. I dreaded going to that class everyday, but it was one of my favorites. & as much as I dreaded it, I didn’t want to get on my teacher’s bad side cause we got points if we were in the drama club & were in the plays. Around this time, was when I was being bullied at church as well. I also hated going to church. I hated going to church as well. I would stall as much time as possible. I would hide out in the bathroom for as long as possible. When I was sick or we couldn’t go, I was secretly happy. My self esteem was at an all time low. I was depressed. I’m pretty sure that when my anxiety problem/disorder started. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I would cry myself to sleep or stay up late, hoping I would oversleep & miss school. Yeah, I had friends. I still talk to them actually. But I felt so alone. & I started to think, that if I went away, all my problems would go away. I never actually attempted suicide. I did think about it though. Not a lot. Just enough though. So I started listening to a lot more heavy metal [which fueled the fire, because according to high school rules, black people aren’t supposed to listen to that. Especially black girls] I read a lot. I think I read most of the books in the library. I never thought I would make to the end of sophomore year, let alone my 16th birthday. But I turned 16, & 5 months later, sophomore year ended. & I was so thankful. I had thought about asking my mom to let me switch schools. But I stayed. Junior & Senior wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. I still got bullied, or called names, but this time, I just kind of let it roll, thinking to myself that I would never see this people again. I was still kind of depressed. But I threw myself into drama & photography & reading & the handful of friends I had. Graduation day was one of the best days of my life.
Then I went to college. I think that if I had some sort of therapy, my experience would have been different. But instead, I was 18. I was scared, nervous, going to a school I didn’t even want to go to. I had immediately written everyone off, saying it’s gonna be just like high school. My anxiety was always at an all time high. I hated being around the people I didn’t know, & I never ate in the cafeteria. I was too nervous, that everyone was judging me, or staring like I was a freak. I would always eat food my mom had brought to me. I only did a semester, because it was too expensive. [i’m STILL paying for that by the way]. I knew I wasn’t ready. I even told my mom but she thought it would be a good experience. Which it kind of was. I got to live on my own for 6 months, even though my house was a 10 minute drive away. But if I had to do it again, I don’t know if I would. I felt alone there. I did like my roommate though.
Now, I’m 22. My self esteem isn’t where I would like it to be. I still have my anxiety problem, I still get depressed. I don’t know if I’ll ever trust people the same way again. But it did teach me. It taught me that I had to keep fighting. Even if I didn’t feel like it. I’m learning that those people can’t ever bother me again & I have to keep reminding myself, one day at a time. It’s very hard though. I still have my days. But I know that God kept me alive for a reason. What yet, I haven’t figured out. I just know I have a lot of gifts & I want to use them. – Makaila

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Seasons Change

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

We are now in our spring (life) season as I write this, even though you can’t tell with the snow still happening here, however, I can see changes in the once dead and barren trees, in the grass on my front porch that’s gonna need to be mowed soon, the colors that people wear. Changes are everywhere. Even in the house we are making changes. Switching from fall/ winter to spring/ summer clothes and menus (yes I try to keep a menu). I have things to plant this year that will wilt and die around the time it starts getting cold. My children are changing and I am too.

It seems like such a short time ago that I stare into this little creatures eyes, wondering what I was gonna do with 2 kids. Wondering if I had jipped his sister who only had me to herself for a short while and wondering would I be able to give them what I thought they would need and want.

Fast forward 20 years and today I now have three healthy, vibrant and scarred adult and teen kids. I have stepped, no been shoved into a new season. A season where marriage, children and ministry or life choices are on their minds. My youngest has two more years of high school before she graduates and fear chokes me when I think about them leaving. You see we have grown up together. Don’t get me wrong, I raised them, they didn’t raise themselves and run amuck. But I was stuck in the early 20’s I didn’t want to leave. I sometimes still have to remind myself that my 20’s were 20 years ago! And so to have them leave, live on their own and not look to me for what they need frightens me. I don’t have a husband to “fall back on” from motherhood and so I wonder sometimes what will I do with myself. That’s probably the 10% selfish reason my kids are still at home. What the other 90% you ask? It’s to give them guidance and instruction. I believe that letting your child “experience the world” is like letting them experience what it’s like to take poison or be burned by a consuming fire. I know that’s what my belief is however when it’s time, God will have me release them. I’m just praying when that “flying the coop” season comes, He gives me extra strength peace! Even as I am watching and may later watch my kids make choices I know are leading them away from God, I will have that peace to pray and allow God to move. It was a late start for some things but I have trained them in the way they should go, so I trust that when they get older they will not depart from it. I can admit that I don’t like this season of change. It seems dark and watching my son and daughters walk away for the things of this world is hard, but I trust God.

“Everything has a season,” is what we are told in Ecclesiastes but I can’t seem to move past the mama stage. I’m not stuck there, I’m stubborn. But still changes around me are happening and I don’t want to miss so a real down ensued this last 3 weeks. I told God I don’t want anymore changes. I don’t want to keep going forward, I want things to stay the same. I wonder if my mom and her mom and her mom felt this. And then I woke up this brand new morning with a brand new word and brand new mercy waiting for me. I saw the verse above about Jesus being the same. I have to do this so bear with me. “In a world, ever changing, ever changing season and ever moving forward, there is a God who never changes.” My Movie Man voice, anyway back to what I was saying. Jesus heard my cry yesterday and answered me! He never changes! I can focus on that fact as my body changes, my kids change, my circumstances change and seasons change! He NEVER changes! He is the same as yesterday and today and forever! You can rest in this promise as well!

Father, thank you for never changing. We change even our mind about loving and serving you but You never change. Your love never changes for us no matter what we do. And Your Word never changes no matter how we try to make to suit us. Help us to remember that this week. In Jesus precious name. Amen!

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