thoughts on parenting & great oaks for HIS glory

1b

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.

2b

May 1, 2014 - 8:56 am

Kim from 3 peanuts - Paige…this is SO heartfelt and so touching. God made us all imperfect on purpose. That is our journey here…to become more Christ like. If we were born that way…well what would be our purpose. I know you are a great Mom and part of being a great Mom is admitting our imperfections. I apologize to my kids for mine on a regular basis.

I want to call you right now…one of my peanuts experienced a severe episode of depression and anxiety about a year and a half ago. It was BAD, I was told not to let said peanut out of my sight. It was one of the hardest couple of months of my life. Similarly, I could not blog about as it was not my story to tell. But honey, I have so been here and it was so painful. I am here for you….imperfections (mine) and all. PLease know that!!!

Love each and everyone one of you Knudsens,
Kim

May 1, 2014 - 9:12 am

beth - and this is why I read your BLOG!! it does look beautiful but I never once thought your life was sunflowers and rose petals.. who takes pictures of the meltdowns, the fights, the struggles. we are his servants and we struggle and persevere..i have 3 girls and I must say I enjoy the teenage stage as well. my oldest is graduating and it has been hard, we have had our first squabbles but I think it is God’s way of helping us move on.. love you, love your girls..Beth

May 1, 2014 - 9:29 am

Peggy - Ah sweet, sweet Paige, thank you! I can’t even begin… okay words escape me right now. We are in the same season….thank you.. for being real, open, honest, and above else showing Christ.

May 1, 2014 - 9:33 am

giosmama2626 - Girl, this post is REAL and I love that about you. You always keep it real to the fullest. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, you truly are the real deal and fills our hearts with so much. I am so very sorry that you all have had to experience these moments over the past year. I guess it’s all part of growing up. NOTHING is ever perfect and if anyone says it is, they are crazy. You’re doing great, with what you have. You give all that you have to give. You were gifted the GIFT of so very much. Never forget that.

XOXO

May 1, 2014 - 9:35 am

Kim - Thank you for your transparency. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I have had many tears lately regarding one of my children and am feeling so responsible for a struggle he is dealing with right now. Thank you for your words of encouragement. You friend is right…God is not done writing the story of my family! What a great reminder!

May 1, 2014 - 9:41 am

Andrea - Paige…thank you for sharing your imperfection and being REAL! Love that! Hugs to you and yours….you all are just like the rest of us….trying to do the best you can!

May 1, 2014 - 10:17 am

Alison - God does not waste anything! Your experiences and words this morning are just what I needed after a tough week with my teenage son. I have cried every night and woken up the next day determined to be positive in my words to him, but it all goes downhill quickly and I wonder if I’m just doing more damage than good. Thank you for being honest–your post and the other comments here have really encouraged me that I’m not alone in this experience. And we’ve been down the hard road of anxiety and depression with two of ours, it was dark, scary time, so I understand that as well. Thanks for being you, Paige, and loving us by being vulnerable.

May 1, 2014 - 11:03 am

Deborah - I agree with Beth. Who takes pictures of the mess or meltdowns that happen at their homes? I get emails and comments telling me what a fun family I have and what a great mom/grandmother I am. We just seem to hop from one activity or holiday where everyone is so happy (ie: the perfect family) which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I come from a broken family and unfortunately I gave that same situation to my own children. Then I, a not so perfect woman, remarried a not so perfect man which caused lots of stressful blending family years. If given a choice I’d probably choose not to go through that again. For that matter if given a choice I’d do most things differently in the way I parented. But that’s not going to happen and as a Mom, the guilt is much. But this remains constant. I love my children. I love my husband. I love my Lord. I know because of Jesus God forgives me and I always try to lead my life the same way. Thank you Paige for the courage to put in words that even though it may look like other families have it all together and only sunshine, love and kindness comes from their homes, that’s nobody’s reality. There was only one perfect person to walk foot on this earth. We document the beautiful and the happy because when we look back on our family’s life we want to remember that. Through the forgiveness we’ve been afforded, what else matters.

May 1, 2014 - 11:53 am

Kelly - Paige, I love reading your blog and this is my first time commenting. I just felt the need to encourage you that your days of parenting your girls are not even NEAR done. That big, huge day of sending them off to college feels symbolic of the end of an era to you, but in so many ways, it is just beginning.
I am 30 years old and just had my first baby. In my college years, getting married, pregnancy, and now into new motherhood, I have NEVER needed my momma more. In fact, that independence of being out of the house really helped me understand how much I need her.
Don’t let your heart tell you that what’s done is done in these years. You have so much to look forward to with your girls. Good, redemptive years after those teenage hormones settle.

May 1, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Kimberly - Paige, thank you so much for this post. I had to sit down today and write Avery his graduation letter. It was the hardest thing I have had to do! I apologized for all the failures and mistakes I made as a mom..especially since he is my oldest.but they were never made intentionally and most everything I did was out of love. I too love this parenting stage of teenagers…but this letting go is the hardest thing….I cry everyday and my family is getting a little annoyed..ha!

May 1, 2014 - 12:59 pm

Lou - Hi Paige – I am an often reader, rarely commenter. This post means a lot to me as it resonates so much with what I am going through with my daughter. I often think of the way you parent and emulate it. I can see that we all just try our best and I can so relate to the idea that although I might have thought I was doing my best for her all along, I actually there were areas where I failed her. Or at least where I could have seen her side. It’s so hard! I am heartened by what you write about loving this stage of parenting, as I would agree; compared to the toddler years this is a gift! BUT it is fraught and I have to really grapple with my own guilt. A wise friend also pointed out to me that parenting is not ‘tit for tat’. I think I expected that if I surrounded her with love, she would never step a foot wrong. It was unreasonable of me. Parenting is unconditional love – we can’t have any expectations and that is what has really made think twice. Thank you for your honesty. Today it’s been a blessing to read! Lou x

May 1, 2014 - 1:39 pm

Rachel Knapp - Thank you for sharing Paige. As someone who has already been in that boat, let me offer encouragement, that when we give all of our stuff to Jesus along with our kids everyday, there is victory in the end, thanks to our Victor! I’m now at the other end of the tunnel and have a child who now loves life more than before. Her struggles were very painful to her and to us, but those only made her stronger and more confident in our God! He proved faithful to her and to us as a family! Our only requirement was to totally depend on him and let Him take care of the “stuff”. I have to admit, I felt like I was sideswiped with this teenage stuff, but I can’t imagine not knowing what I do now about God and his love for us! He showed me some very powerful miracles! His love is amazing and never seizes! We miss you guys so much and are very thankful we get to see glimpses of your life through Facebook and your blog!

May 1, 2014 - 1:49 pm

Joleen - I’m so glad I took a moment to read this today. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been drowning in a pit of discouragement while we’re muddling through some issues with our kids…and they haven’t even reached 10 yet. Thank you for sharing what God is doing in you.

May 1, 2014 - 2:23 pm

chrissi - “God is not done writing the story of my family”. thank you for that. i will carry that in my heart each day. so beautiful and so fitting.
huge cheers to your sweet madi as she enjoys one of the best time of her life.
…from my not so perfect but far more blessed than i deserve life♥

May 1, 2014 - 2:50 pm

LindaP - I always appreciate hearing that I’m not alone. Thank you for a great, honest post. We are not alone!

May 1, 2014 - 2:57 pm

angela - I would love to say I don’t understand….but I do. Love you Paige. Transparency breaks down barriers. We are all in this together friend. Much love!

May 1, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Shon - This is right on time friend! I stand with you not as a judge, but a sister in the Lord that champions you onward!! God is in the details and I feel that has been a word for this season.

I have began to say goodbye a bit and let go as our rising 9th grader seems to not need me as much!! Yikes, this is getting real now!! Thank you for always sharing what you can from a real place. It means the world. All God’s best to you and your family!!

May 1, 2014 - 5:35 pm

Lori H - Paige, I love reading your blog. This post, as with many other of your posts, is such a comfort- we are all imperfect. I was nodding my head as you said, “the wishing i had done things, so many things different can be overwhelming”. Sometimes I feel such longing to do things over, differently, that I can get caught up in it, and put myself down. My daughter was such an easy child, and then broke my heart in her teenage years with unwise choices, while she also went through such a hard time losing her best friend to cancer at 15. From that point, she told me she didn’t believe in God and so i am still praying each day that He will hold on to her even when she isn’t holding on to Him. Sending you a lot of love and thanks for your honesty and willingness to share with us the hard spots. You do so much good with this blog! I hope someday I have the pleasure of meeting you in person. xoxo

May 1, 2014 - 6:12 pm

Cathy G. - Oh my! How I love this!!!!! Some people look so picture perfect on my instagram and Facebook…….I wonder why can’t we be like that??? I’m old enough to know better….. life is messy… NO ONES life is perfect! But dang they all look so perfect to me….. and I wonder do they ever argue with their spouse?….. do they ever feel like not talking to their teenager? Do they ever have a messy home? Do they always have $$$? Anyways, my point is I love that you’re honest!!! And you do encourage!!! You keep it real and in the midst of all that you really inspire……some days I’m sitting here and my faith just shrinks up and I read something you write or you quote a scripture and I’m ok again!!! God is using you… imperfectly perfect you!!! 🙂

May 1, 2014 - 8:42 pm

KC - Paige,

You have truly missed your calling in life. To be an inspirational writer and share your message beyond your beautiful blog in a book.

May 1, 2014 - 8:56 pm

diana salvatore - Hope you and family are doing well.I’m visiting my mom and siblings maybe we will meet up at the Mexican place.I just cant thank you enough for the wonderful story and pictures of my sister,my mom and me in our Mexican dresses. Such wonderful memories.

May 1, 2014 - 10:28 pm

Jane @ See Jane Learn - I am SO right there with you Paige. One of my four is giving us a lot of sleepless nights even though we know God is in control. I appreciate your honesty and your respect for your girls’ privacy. Parenting is HARD and each child is so unique. Several years ago I had a bit of a familiar theme running through a post I wrote. I was so sad that my child was sad and I was doing the comparison thing.
http://learningjane.blogspot.com/2010/10/reading-yard-signs.html
I’m glad we are sisters in Christ and can encourage one another!
Jane C.

May 1, 2014 - 10:55 pm

Lynda - Oh, my sweet Paige. You are soooo right, no family is perfect, but our Savior is perfect and will walk us thru many tough times until we reach our perfection. If you were perfect, your girls really would resent you!!! One day you will be where I am, thanking The Lord they are grown, strong in Him but being paid back for their raisin’!! Praying for peace in your precious spirit!!! Love you!

May 2, 2014 - 12:36 am

wynne - i love you sweet friend! you are setting people free, encouraging and challenging in the midst of being challenged and set free. thank you for sharing your life with us!

May 2, 2014 - 5:44 am

lisa - beautiful, bittersweet post. and all i can say is that i TOTALLY get it. hang in there – we are all gonna get thru this… <3

May 2, 2014 - 9:48 am

Ginger - Tears and prayers and blessings for you and your family. Last night was my son’s Senior Awards ceremony at church and he received his Ohio Army National Guard scholarship in the amount of $42,000 and I cannot be more proud of him! As a single mom, it is so hard to let him go but I know that he is in the Lord’s hands now.

May 2, 2014 - 10:07 am

Vicki - Paige– thank you for this blog post, for many reasons…. <3

May 2, 2014 - 10:27 am

Elizabeth - Hey Paige – wanted to send you a quick note of encouragement. I’m a Christian counselor in Missouri and I see so many lives changed through the process! And the truth is, anxiety and depression are hard and complicated but they can be managed and even overcome! So, hang in their and give your sweet daughter lots of love and support. It will pay off! Praying for y’all on this journey – it’s life-changing in the best way!

May 2, 2014 - 10:34 am

candace - beautiful post, as a mom to 2 young adults, I understood and appreciated this post. thank you for sharing.

Candace rodrigue
Houston, tx

May 2, 2014 - 11:31 am

Amanda - I love you sweet friend. Isaiah 61 is my Favorite chapter in the Bible. Hands down! It’s so full of promise and redemption and restoration just like our families are when HE is our everything! I love you friend! Rest in Him!

May 6, 2014 - 11:35 am

Mimi - As my daughter would say Paige, ‘I’m feeling your feels.’ We can never be the perfect parent but thank goodness for Jesus who fixes all that imperfection. I’m sorry for your struggles. I admire your honesty and vulnerability in your posting. You’re a wise mommy. prayers for you and yours : )

May 7, 2014 - 10:27 am

keri walker - just got to read this. i love your heart paige. and love your vulnerability so so much. my pastor used to tell us not to save for our kids college education but to save up for their counseling!! we are all so flawed. and i certainly know i’m screwing up my kids in more ways than i want to…but God shows himself through the mess and failures. it definitely has shown me my need for Jesus…this parenting gig. thank you for being real and honest. we are all in this together…we all need to be each other’s cheerleaders 🙂 xoxo