When Our Kids Hurt

“David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.” 2 Samuel 12:16

“It hurts when our kids hurt.” I heard a friend say on the phone. It does hurt. It’s a deep kind of “I want to fix this desperately” kind of hurt. The problem is we can’t always fix it. Learning to overcome pain is one of life’s lessons. It’s a lesson that teaches discernment, compassion, and often even wisdom. But there are a couple of things we can do.

  1. We can listen with our ears and open arms. Listening allows the hurt to be shared so it doesn’t stay trapped inside. Open arms allow tears a safe place to fall.
  2. We can pray and fast for our children. We can ask for God’s wisdom and guidance for our children. We can fast from food, entertainment, social media…. (The list goes on.) to help focus on the prayers over our children. We can also pray and fast over our role in the struggles our children go though.

A walk and/or a hot cup of tea (cocoa, insert beverage choice) might help the moment, as well. Along with the reminder, “This too shall pass.” Although, I’ll be the first to admit, that’s hard to swallow when the wound is deep.

It’s easy to want to lash out, unfortunately that can teach our children to handle hurt with anger. (That’s not real pretty. I’ve learned that one the hard way.) However, there are times we have to step in and stand up for our children. Each situation is different. That’s why listening and prayer are so important. When we listen we can discern better and gain a broader picture figuring out what questions to ask. Then when we pray we can surrender to God all the hurts and questions, waiting to listen again for His peace and/or His guidance in action.

One last thought. Praying with our children through their trials not only teaches them who to take their hurts to, but also that they are not alone through them; even when we are not there to embrace them.

We may not be able to fix each of our children’s hurts, but we can certainly teach them what to do when hurts come.

 

Advertisements

Life at Thorntonville School Year Review

“I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, ‘so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.’ I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I the Lord, am the one who does these things.” Isaiah 45:5-7

What a school year! I’m taking a moment to just reflect on the time from August to September. To enjoy some of the most impacting moments from Thorntonville.

Back up. It really all started in June.

In June my husband began a new job. He had been on the same banking team for twenty years when he left for a new team and opportunity. Over this year I have been inspired by his ability to adapt to change. I have also witnessed him slowly win over a team, learning even more about leadership. He’s had some ideas shot down and had to recover with his team watching; he’s implemented concepts that were new, encouraged team mates and worked hard to facilitate a team working environment. He hasn’t done all this alone. Many prayers were answered when God blessed my husband with an incredible mentor who met with him challenging him to keep God first and helped strengthen his leadership skills.

In August we dropped our son off for his first year of college. Two sets of parents between him and his roommate (and a younger sister), we all worked to create a space for two boys in a small dorm room. It ended with the parents leaving and letting the boys arrange the room on their own. I left the college that evening filled with so many emotions. Excitement, fear, anticipation, sorrow in knowing I was going to miss him like crazy. And I did. Then over the year came the joys of victory as he met challenge after challenge. Two weeks ago I went to help him move home. Not the boy he was when he left, but a man. Still room for growth, but tremendous growth revealed. Amazing!

In August my baby started high school. She marched in on the first day confident, but  nervous.  She has had to fight for some of her dreams, learn to let go of some things that didn’t really matter, and discern the difference. She has had to choose between passions because there wasn’t enough time to do it all, find courage to talk to teachers about grades she didn’t care for, pick herself up when she stumbled and plant a smile on her face when she felt like crying. We’ve discovered high school prepares for life in ways that are unexpected. She was our princess. Now she is our warrior princess. In another week, she will have completed her sophomore year.  She’s a fighter- a compassionate one. We learned all that since August. Well… some of it we already knew.

In September, I started back teaching Bible studies.  Having been out of the saddle for a few years I was really nervous.  It took months for me to get my groove on.  It took even longer for the reality of how much I loved it to set in.  One of my classes was a group of women who were so patient with me.  We all grew in God’s word together.  The second class I co-taught with my daughter.  First graders.  We were all a mess.  But in the end we learned so much and loved each one of those kiddos.  God had to get me over myself in both classes.  I was constantly tripping on my own insecurity.  In the end, I walked away stronger, wiser, and ready to implement the things I had learned.

In October my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I wept. I was frightened for him. Afraid of loosing him. In January I went to visit him and went with him to one of his radiation treatments. My relationship with him will be forever changed. He was brave. He was strong in ways I had never imagined. He was kind to those he came into contact with despite the discomfort of the disease. He shared more information than I ever wanted to hear, but he shared more than information. He shared himself through his vulnerability. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. When he finished treatment and was declared in remission he rung the bell at the clinic. I cried tears of joy and celebrated  a fight well fought, a battle won.

In March our family went to hear my son’s band perform. It was so much fun to hear him. I was caught off guard by the response of the crowd though. I’m his mom, so of course I think he’s good, but when the crowd did too.  Wow! That was pretty cool! Although his major is music, his band is totally outside of campus studies so I had been apprehensive for the time he spent on it.  However, leaving the performance, I gave thanks. God helped me see a different side of my son.

In March (or maybe it was April – kind of blur) my daughter began dating. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of momma nerves that moved in. I was so excited for her because she was excited. We knew she had liked this guy for quite a while. I was fine during all the crush time, because I crushed big time on a guy from my high school. Crushes are from a distance. Nice and safe. Then they went from texting to talking on the phone and next thing we knew she was headed out the door with this really great guy to a movie (and then canoeing and then a walk in the park…) A few weeks later he asked my girl to his prom. They were precious. I didn’t have a date for prom, so… I was really (ok way over the top) excited for her. Even more excited when he had her home by 11:30 because he was leading the praise band the next morning at his dad’s church. Told you he was a great guy!

Thorntonville has been through quite a bit of transition this past school year. There have been definite changes in our lives. We are growing up! (sniffle, sniffle) We are learning from our trials and moving forward.

But now….

Bring on the summer vacation!!!

Align

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13

Sitting in a conference a couple of years ago I heard a speaker say, “We need to align our will to be with God’s will.”

“Align,” I thought to myself.  “What exactly does that mean?”

So… I looked it up.

Align: “to arrange things so that they form a line or are in proper position” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary App)

My life was not “in proper position” with God’s will. In fact, I realized, I had spent a lot of time trying to get God’s will  “in proper position” with my will. I needed an adjustment. A realignment.

It began with a prayer…

“Holy Lord, Align us [my family] with your will. Our work, our home, our lives. Tear down the things that hinder us or block us from the life you long for us to travel and live. Eliminate pride, unforgiveness, fear and other strongholds. Give us confidence when we doubt, vision when the road is unclear and help for when we feel torn – even between good choices. Align us with you. Amen.”

…  which was followed by studying scripture specifically targeting the areas in my life that were out of line: Pride, unforgiveness, fear…

I’m still working on aligning my will to God’s will. However, the progress forward has changed my life. When I am prideful God provides humility. When I am angry God provides forgiveness (so I can extend it before exploding.)  When I am fearful God provides courage and bravery to trust Him more. When my strongholds rear their ugly heads God shows me how to break their gripping chains and cry the victory shout of, “No more!”

Alignment with God’s will brings freedom.

Freedom brings joy.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Gifting Time

“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8

To celebrate my husband’s birthday we met my son and his girlfriend at my husband’s favorite Italian  food place. We were all together for an hour and a half sitting around the table sharing stories and laughing. We have been going and going lately with end of school year obligations. Evening meals  have taken a hit with the three of us at home, so it was a real treat to be together; plus, add in the two college students.

College exams at my son and his girlfriend’s college begin in a few days. Stress is high. Exhausted eyes looked at us from both student’s faces. My daughter, a high school student sported the same look. My husband sat at the end of the table a bit droopy, too after putting in extra time for work projects. Something about sitting around a table though, revived our spirits and brought us all together. We needed that time.

We heard the adventures on both campuses, and discussed plans for the next few weeks. Then my husband opened his birthday gifts. My daughter gave him a cooking challenge. A bag filled with random ingredients and the challenge to pull a family meal together from them. (He loves to cook for his family.) My son gave him a couple of father/son dates to watch movies. I gave him a pocket watch and a card listing some dates for us to go out this summer with plans for those evenings. Everything was simple, but just what my husband needed. Time. He enjoys time with his family. So we gave him time with each of us.

None of us consulted each other on what we were giving, but we all had similar ideas. The truth is we want time with him, as well. He is fun to be around; plus, with life moving quickly we don’t want to miss out on opportunities to be together.  We booked in some of that time so life wouldn’t take over.

At the end of the meal we enjoyed ice cream cupcakes, before saying good-bye. Feeling full and refreshed we all climbed into our cars to head out in two different directions. Three to our home and two back to college. Knowing that in a couple of weeks we’d see each other again. Plans were set. We made time.

I Don’t Know

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ worlds from John 15:4-5 ESV

Her eyes were stern as she looked at me across the dinner table. “I wash clothes by hand,” she said in a slow and determined to be understood tone. I could see so much more meaning behind her words than just laundry.

Our house guest visiting from Uganda, a beautiful young pastor’s wife, was expressing through practical housework the unfairness she saw between her life and mine. She knew she lived a more cumbersome and difficult life than what I live. She wanted me to know she worked hard. She saw Americans with their shopping malls and washing machines, water for long showers and well fed pets in the back yard. She saw the abundance of grocery stores and restaurants everywhere. My world looked easy, cushy, soft, and lazy to her. The reality of unequal lives had hit her.

I got what she was expressing and all I could do to respond was say, “I know you do.”

I know you wash your clothes by hand. I know you sweep your floors constantly to clear the red dirt. I know you want a closet filled with nice clothes and a variety of shoes. I know you want food that is easy to prepare, even already prepared, water that pours already hot from a faucet, and pretty dishes. I know you want to be able to make appointments with doctors and not have to wait days, to be reassured that medicines will be available should you need them, and that your children will attend good schools and have even the possibility to attend college.

I know you work hard – very hard. I know you do your best. I know the world doesn’t look fair, because life isn’t equal. The thing is – even though I know it is unfair and unequal, I don’t know what it is like… and I don’t know what to do about it.

It is so easy to struggle with inequality. It is so hard to see the reality of how unequal the world really is. My eyes don’t even want to open to it sometimes because it is painful. Somewhere lost in the comparison is the unfortunate realization that instead of justice being sought to try to help those who struggle each day, prejudices are born with excuses made for why I don’t have to. Like as a follower of Christ I somehow wasn’t called to it. I buy into that lie for comfort’s sake. And then to make it worse there is this lingering argument that even if it were possible for me to make everything fair for all people, prejudice and attitudes alone could block the love I’m trying to share.

How do I say, “I love you” even though I can’t fix your struggle? Why would you believe me when you know I don’t get the world you come from?

Is that even what God is asking me to do for you? “Fix” your struggle? Paul writes in Romans 12:10 to “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.” In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and imprisoned. In 2 Timothy 2, Paul encourages Timothy to share in the suffering. Scripture goes on and on with different calls to help others. It seems like I’m being asked to “fix” struggles.

Then there is this:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ worlds from John 15:4-5 ESV

Christ is my vine. Apart from him I can do nothing.  I am to tap into Him to bear my fruit. He “fixes”.

There were so many differences and perceptions between the young pastor’s wife and me as we looked at each other across that table. So many things we couldn’t fix or make equal.

Then with our husbands we took each other’s hands and asked for blessing over the food we were about to eat. We both prayed to the one we had in common – Jesus.

We were the same as we gave thanks for the blessings. We were the same as we talked about our children, sharing their talents and skills. We were the same as we laughed at funny stories, and as we fellowshipped together.

We both loved our families. We both were doing the best we could to love our husbands and raise our children. We valued encouragement. We valued God’s provision. We both desired to be valued and appreciated. We both hurt when we saw injustice. We both needed common ground from the vine, our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

We were women from two different worlds, but we were sisters in Christ.

I don’t know how to make things equal or show my love for you, but Christ in me will show me the way.

“Let not you hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1

“Therefore encourage one another and build on another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good work.” Hebrews 10:24

 

 

A Space to Dream

 

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” –Romans 12:10 NLT

When we moved into our house we quickly learned the room where we hang out the most (other than the kitchen) needed to be very versatile. Christened “Thornton Lounge” we threw down a rug on top of the wood floors and purchased comfy couches with felt tabs on their feet for easy rearranging for games and sleep overs. We needed a practical and multifunctional space for our together time. The kids grew hosting many friends for movie nights, birthday parties and Christmas teas. Some nights the sofa’s faced the TV while others they were pushed to the walls to make room for cloth covered tables and chairs as table settings and/or craft projects adorned the room. The Lounge became a precious space to us. Even more precious now.

During our season of chaos (the last few months), my husband and I felt discombobulated. I kept dreaming of sitting on the porch swing outside. Swaying the busy away. However, the weather kept sending miserably cold days. Remembering when I was a kid the times my family would sit in lawn chairs underneath the pine trees of East Texas at my grandparents, I kept feeling like there has got to be some way to accomplish a similar environment within our home. A sit and dream space.

One day when exercising on the stationary bike in the Lounge, I realized looking out the window at our view, even though there stood a big brown fence, trees and open sky were still to be enjoyed. Shoving the bike out of the way I slid the loveseat to face right in front of that window and cracked the window for a little fresh air. Nice affect. Very nice.

That evening after dinner clean up, my husband asked me what was on the agenda for the evening. I smiled and told him we were going to sit and dream. “Sit and dream?” he asked puzzled. “Yep,” I said. Pouring some hot tea we went and sat on the love seat looking out into the sky at dusk. We talked about our days, shared some childhood memories, drank our tea and then dreamed about what we’d like to see in the future. After a kiss (or two), we left the loveseat, both agreeing we felt a sense of peace and calmness.

So calming…the next night after dinner clean-up he asked if I’d mind going to move the loveseat back to the window again.

Sometimes I think we run ourselves crazy. Then we think the only way to calmness is a radical change or expensive get away. The truth is what we often need most is a chance to slow down, reconnect and dream a bit.

Unpredictable

 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water- a tree not bothered by the heat nor worried by long months of drought. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit.” (TLB) -Jeremiah 17: 7-8

“This is messy,” I cried into my husband’s shoulder coming face to face with a trial I didn’t want and tried to ignore.  I knew it was going to be painful and bring “yuck” and “gross” off of Memory Lane and place it right in the center of my life’s Main Street. I didn’t have a chance to prepare for this bit of unpredictable and unforeseen mess.

Already exhausted from January and February that were over filled (with good stuff), I wasn’t prepared for what rolled in with March. With added responsibility and an emotionally provoking issue my world slammed to a halt with confusion and fear quickly staking their territory. Nothing like confusion and fear to muddy vision.

Clarity. I need clarity. Focus. Rest.

Dang! I just need to stop and breathe.

This is messy. Caring for others is messy. People are messy and unpredictable.

Life can be is messy, especially if it is in constant motion.

Thankfully it’s Spring Break.  Much of the motion has stopped.  Praise God.  We planned a fishing trip for later in the week. The unpredictability of March weather has struck though. Windy and rainy conditions are forecasted for the next few days. That may mean fishing is off the agenda, leaving three rest-filled days in a cabin along a river.

Deep breath.  Unpredictably delightful.

Life is messy and unpredictable. But sometimes…the unpredictable is welcomed.

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” – Psalm 34:19