last night we celebrated our seniors at church. a huge bunch of creative kids who truly SHINE, not just in their accomplishments ( which are many), not just in their schools ( which are some of the largest in the southest) but these kids SHINE with a love for jesus.being at this point with our second born, madison grace, is truly a mix of bittersweet tender thoughts & excitement and joy!
one of madi’s closest friends stood up & shared a little bit about the last few years of her life. she’s involved in loads of activities. she’s traveled abroad. she’s a beautiful girl with a huge smile. but the most profound thing she said last night was something that went like this….” the most important thing about me is that i love jesus”.
what a GIFT it is to know your kiddo knows truth and knows that their identity truly is in christ. not in a well -decorated letterman’s jacket, not in acceptance to a big SEC/ACC school, not in being homecoming queen or sitting first chair in the orchestra. not in a 4.0. and not in the clothes they wear and if they know how to accomplish the perfect messy topknot. but that their identity is in HIM.
randy ( our awesome youth pastor) asked how many parents were there with their first born and how many parents were there with their youngest. madison is one of our middle girls, but the emotions are probably almost the same. it’s such an exciting time as parents….so exciting. and yet the transition to launch our children out in the world can be frightening. to say the least. and can stir up emotions of ohmygosh, what if i didn’t do it right?
i have intentionally not posted anything “parent” related since january, basically because i’ve felt i haven’t done it right. we’ve had a tough year over here. i long to be an encouragement and for the last several months i haven’t felt so encouraging. embracing the mantra ” it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” somehow seems easier & freeing to declare when chatting about my aged appliances and slipcovered cheap sofas, but admitting that while in the midst of a tough season in parenting has seemed beyond me lately.
let me clarify. if there’s anything i want you to know from this blog is that we love jesus. just like madi’s sweet friend, THAT is the main thing, the big deal, the “who we are”, the final chapter. tada. the second thing i hope you’ve learned from this blog is that we are NOT perfect parents. not by a long shot. even my walk-on-water hubby who is the slowest to anger, quickest to forgive human i’ve ever known is actually not perfect. and me-well i am far from perfect. just like getting dressed up & looking pretty for big events like prom & parties & weddings, we take images of our homes when things are all dusted off & put away. beauty inspires us. parenting teenagers, especially when said teenagers are going through really hard times and when the friends of said teenagers read the mama’s blog, mama can’t share everything. i have tried to be honest with ya’ll & balance the highs and the lows but it can’t always be shared here.
in the last year there have been many talks that ended with tears and yelling. in the last year, a painful discussion from one of my girls regarding her bitterness and frustration towards me. i had no idea. i was devastated after that one. in the last year there’s been anxiety and depression. there’s been doctor visits and counseling. all under this roof. right here.
i never wanted a home where there was yelling and anger. the power of bitterness to destroy relationships is mighty and fierce. anxiety and depression suck. they all seem like huge waves that at any moment can take you out.
but here’s the deal. there are no perfect families. i think we can easily swallow that one. and even when we think we see so & so and think they’re the closest thing to perfect, they’re really not. but i know for me, it’s not like i feel like my goal was to parent my girls perfectly, i think the realization that when it’s time to sorta acknowledge that the parenting i’ve done is well….done….the wishing i had done things, so many things different can be overwhelming. working through that these last few months has been a heavy burden. feeling responsible for my one daughters large amount of anger towards me. feeling responsible for depression or anxiety. feeling responsible that one seems to have so much frustration just simmering beneath the surface of her spirit is a load that while i know i shouldn’t carry it, as a mama it just sorta seems to fall under my responsibilities.
i haven’t wanted to be a heavy or a downer. cause who likes that? but i want to keep things real with ya’ll. i want to encourage you. i love this stage of parenting. the one right before you drop them off at the big dorm ( because that’s a toughy). i love the teenager stage. it’s honestly been my favorite. watching them develop into little adults. to watch them SOAR. to watch them develop their own passions and convictions. to watch them as they walk out their own faith, not mama or daddy’s. to hear what music they love and share wedges and jewelry. it’s my most favorite time. it’s also been the hardest thing i’ve ever done.
we serve a god who restores the lost years. he does. he doesn’t look at me and see failure mom. he doesn’t look at this home and want to throw in the towel. he doesn’t look me and think i blew it. parenting, above all else, has been a daily reminder that i need a savior. i need his mercies new each morning.
this is what he does~~
talks that ended with tears & yelling. ” a joyous blessing instead of mourning”
depression, anxiety & bitterness. “festive praise instead of despair”
feeling beat down and overwhelmed. “garment of praise instead of a faint spirit”
and our home, my girls. “they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
isaiah 61.3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
while i’m sharing madi’s images today because she’s who we celebrated last night, i’m by no means implying the above issues are all about her. i’m sharing where we’ve been as a family to give you hope if you’re in a tight spot. i’m sharing the reminder that even in the healing places, the not perfect days, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful in our home life. and maybe perhaps above all else, as a reminder to me of power of HIS love in our homes and in our hearts. love covers a multitude of mess ups. it covers a bunch of things done wrong and it can cover and blanket the lost days/months/years.
….my uber wise friend that has cheered me on countless times, reminded me of this thought. God is NOT done writing the story of my family. it’s not a stagnant photo of these last several months. it’s an ever changing, beautiful moving story. and if you’re in a rough spot, the same holds true for you. our teenagers & young adult children despite growing up in a not so perfect home, they will be great oaks for HIS glory! i hope this sets you free my friends. sets both you and me free.