To the Mother of the Boy at the Park

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Today at the park your son annoyed and frustrated me.

He begged me to play with him.

He threw sand at my children.

He hovered over our snack.

He dug in my purse.

He followed me to my car.

barefoot-3569057_1920He picked at every single fiber of my patience, while my son grappled to understand why he was behaving the way that he was.

This boy had a daycare provider who wouldn’t have noticed if he had crawled into my car, something he desperately wanted to do.

You see, this boy could sense that my children were loved, well cared for, and happy, and he was desperate for the same stability.

Despite the selfishness I had to shake off each time he approached me, I attempted to love him the best that I could–to show him a piece of the Jesus that he will search for until he finds.

I don’t know who you are. In fact the only thing I do know about you is that you’re this boy’s mother. I don’t know what kind of difficulties you’ve overcome or how many jobs you work or how hard it is for you to afford groceries, but I do know that your son needs you.

His desperation for my attention told me as much. You gave up the right to settle for a less than stellar lifestyle when you brought him into the world — his beautiful curly hair and deep brown eyes.child-817373_1920

You gave up the right to ignore him, to leave him in the care of someone who ignores him– he is yours, and he is perhaps the one perfect and marvelous thing that you have gotten right. You need to treat him like he is the greatest gift you will ever receive, because he is.

I know that perhaps your life has been hard. I know I may speak of things that I just don’t understand. The only thing about you that I do understand is that your son does not have everything he needs, and this is not okay with me. It is not okay with me that he is growing up in a place where he feels as though he lacks an unconditional love. The unconditional love he saw me offer my children while they played carefree at the park.

swing-846077_1920You see, no matter where you come from or the difficulties you face each day, everything your son needs from you is free. He needs your attention and your love. He needs to know that he is the most important thing in your life. He needs you to step forward and accept the incredible and unique task of raising a boy into a man. There is perhaps no greater calling.

I wish I knew you, and I wish I had the opportunity to help you, to show you some compassion. I do promise you that I’ll lift you up to God in prayer each time your son crosses my mind, which so far has been very frequently, and I will pray that someday you do meet someone that is able to help you rise above your circumstances and show your son how to rise above his.

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Jesus and my Toddler

My suburban is always parked in my driveway. It usually has too many bug guts splattered on the windshield and too little gas in the tank. The #momlife sticker on the back window suggests to all other drivers how I spend most of my time and where my priorities lie. It also may explain why I am so distracted when I’m on the road, often driving with one hand reached in the backseat doesn’t make for a lot of awareness.

20180624_132711I am not a great car owner. Whenever my husband mentions that we should take it to the shop, my first reaction is to question whether that’s necessary and then procrastinate on making the appointment. I depend upon my car everyday, multiple times a day, but I don’t like to fill it with gas, spend money on it, or care for it in any way. In fact, I really only recognize my immense need for my car when it breaks down, usually due to my own procrastination to take care of it in the first place.

God commands us to have childlike faith, and since I have been a Christian all my life, this can be hard to achieve. My dependence on God often looks more like the way I depend upon my car, only appreciating His constant presence in my life when something breaks down.

After my car spends time in the shop, I usually go through a period of gratefulness that it is still in my driveway and hyper-sensitivity to all of its needs. But a few months down the road, I go back to taking it for granted and neglecting the blinking light by my speedometer. My walk with God often looks a lot like this. Whenever He sees me through a major change in my life, I praise Him and pray to Him constantly, fervently living to serve Him. When a few months have passed, I go back to weak prayers, obligatory Bible reading, and overlooking His many blessings.

Since entering motherhood, my inconsistent and noncommittal walk with God has changed. Someday, when my hair is gray and my son is grown, I am going to thank him for the many ways he taught me about authentic faith in Christ.20180611_191035

At three-years-old, his honest love for Jesus convicts me nearly every day, and motivates me to grow still closer to Him. His fascination with the most simplistic aspects of God’s creation convicts me that no matter how many times I see a bird in flight, it should still cause me to recognize God’s true character–a God of abundant love, sovereign over every detail.

His innocent questions about where Jesus lives convict me that perhaps my knowledge of the Lord has grown weary, and I no longer see Him as a constant companion. His profound connection and concern for a hurting acquaintance convicts me that I too should have compassion for all God’s people, following Jesus’ own example. 

His childlike faith has allowed me to see God through the eyes of a child–the way I used to see Him when I slept on princess sheets under a white-lace canopy.

My son weakly walked up to me last week and said, “Mommy, my tummy hurts.”

Since I’ve learned not to put a lot of stock into my toddler’s complaints, I aloofly said, “What do you want to do about that, bud?”

Completely unaware that I was about to experience one of those lasting moments, a moment I will look back on when he is well grown, he surprised me when he whispered, “I want to ask Jesus to come help me.”

And with that, he began to pray.

“Do you feel better now, bud?” I asked after he’d said amen.

With a grin, he looked at me and shouted, “I feel great!” and ran off to play with his brother.

20180701_131620It occurred to me in this intimate moment with my son that as an adult, my knowledge that the very presence of Jesus will not only diminish my pain but completely cancel it out has grown weak. I often find myself praying fervently to Him, yet feeling no change whatsoever after I say amen. This absence of answered prayer is not from a lack of God’s presence, but from a lack of childlike faith.

When I bow my head to pray, I must believe with as much passion as my toddler, that Jesus is ready, willing, and waiting to give me all that I desire.

This is authentic faith.

Raising a Warrior

I recognized the panicked shriek the moment I was startled awake. When my eyes opened, my 2-year old was standing at the side of my bed, arms out, eyes filled with tears. I thought a brief cuddle was all he would need, then I would guide him back to his bedroom for the last three hours of the night.

His eyes were still wide as I scooped him up and headed toward his room, “No.” He said this with an unfamiliar obstinacy for that hour of the night.20170901_153149

“Honey, what’s wrong.”

A definitive answer that I was not expecting, “It’s dangerous.”

The next morning my husband and I listened as our son wove us in and out of the tale of his nightmare. As I listened to my little talker, I attempted and failed over and over to convince him the scary was not real, though he insisted the scary was only sleeping since the sun had come up. He seemed so young to be personifying fear in such a real way, so sure of himself that he was willing to argue with me. In one short night, a place that was once a refuge for my son had become something to dread—his bed, where the scary lived.

Throughout the day, I struggled to distract him, since his tendency to obsess inevitably brought him back to his nightmare, like a song on repeat. The same thought kept creeping its way back into my day, gnawing at me, since I had no answer: How do I show him there is nothing to fear?

eclipseFor a while, his fears will involve toothy monsters and darkness, but someday his monsters will grow to include rejection, failure, and loneliness—these beasts are not as easy to dispel.

How do I show him there is nothing to fear?

I am no stranger to fear, panic, and anxiety, but it is my deepest desire and my frequent prayer, that by watching me, my children will learn to give fear no foothold, to dismiss it before it is nurtured within them. I have learned that to succumb to fear is to allow Satan to dictate my decisions, to steal my joy. In my weakness, my children will find strength.  

So, when the scary inevitably awakens tonight, I will fight for my son, the way I have fought off my own fear so many times. I will keep searching for a tool that dispels his fear until we find the most effective one. I will teach him that we are not to succumb to fear, but are to submit to our Father, who will be our refuge from every monster we could encounter or even imagine.

armorI will tell my sweet boy not to fear, for his mom has learned how to fight, and the weapon in her arsenal is guaranteed to defeat even the toothiest “scaries.” I cannot keep my boy from being afraid, but I can teach him how to use fear to bring him closer to his Father.

So tonight, I will lie beside him until the scary ebbs away as a restful sleep flows freely. I will sing to him, pray with him, and cuddle with him—no matter how long it takes to convince him he is safe. I will use whatever weapon I need to use to assure him there is nothing to fear, to assure him the “scaries” are not sleeping, are not hiding, but are in fact, not real.

More importantly, I will show him and teach him what it means to rest with the Father until every fear is swept away by His overwhelming peace. I will show him and teach him how to trust in a God you cannot see, how to dwell in his arms–the personification of safety. Because I have become a warrior against the most real of fears, I will raise my own army, my own warriors, and we will all be trained by the One who does not fear at all.

Five Lessons for my Sons

To my Sons:

  1. Life is Funny. Let God romance you throughout your life. Take advantage of every moment you find yourself smiling at the irony of life, always remembering that God’s hand played a role. He blesses you with many surprises each day—keep your eyes open for them, never letting one pass you by. The unpredictable twists and turns of life are what keeps you from getting bored.
  2. Ask and you Shall Receive. Don’t treat God like a vending machine—giving you anything you ask for as long as you insert the appropriate good deeds. However, treat Him like your Father, your Savior, and your Friend, always keeping in mind that Jesus Christ died so you may approach your Father with confidence, sins washed away and as white as snow. Ask Him anything, but be prepared to receive an answer you were not expecting, an answer that perhaps at the time seems like the wrong one. God has had an incredible plan for you since your conception, so never hesitate to tell Him what you need, want, fear, and doubt. He’s listening.
  3. You are Exactly Who You Are Supposed to Be. Your purpose in this life will not always be clear to you. You may often find yourself doubting your abilities, as well as your identity. The only thing you must never forget is that your only purpose is to love and serve the Lord. If you fail at everything else, but accomplish this, you have succeeded. Your identity is not found in others or in your accomplishments, but is and always has been in Christ. You are His child and He created you in His image. If everything else grows foggy and dim, let this fact be always on your heart.
  4. Laugh. Laugh until your eyes fill with tears and your sides ache. As you grow older, it will become harder and harder to remember to laugh, but life is not supposed to be taken so seriously. It’s short, it’s fast, and it’s full of perfect moments, even in the midst of imperfect hours. Remember each day that everything will be fine, no matter how disastrous things may seem. Take a deep breath, hand your worries to the Lord, and find something that still makes you smile.
  5. The Truth is Usually Harder than a Lie. Your Dad and I plan to raise you to speak God’s truth amid a constant eddy of attractive and plausible lies. God encourages us to speak His truth despite its unpopularity because we are not of this world; we are called to something bigger, something better. You will feel like the minority most of your life, often yearning to fall into step with everyone else, to blend in. Don’t. When the world becomes too much and your fight to be heard becomes too much, run back to God, to me, and to your Dad. We will be there speaking the truth right along with you.

Love, Mom

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