Thirteen

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I am sure no words can do justice when it comes to describing this girl. She is everything. She is brave, she is strong, she is tender, she is fun, she is gentle, she loves without you having to love her first. She has a heart of gold and this past year it has been broken time and time again. She isn't one who has many friends so when one says they are done it leaves her very lonely.  She has a hard time fitting into certain groups and has struggled finding her own. I can't tell you how many tears have been shed because she was TOLD she wasn't cute enough, her clothes could be better if only she wore them this way, etc. etc. Her heart breaks and so does mine. As a parent you want everyone to see her as I do. She can be your greatest friend. As a parent I want to go and remind everyone to be kind. As a parent I want to keep her home and protect her from all the lies that we constantly have to remind her are not true. Most importantly though I know our job is to raise her in constant love and support. To be her greatest allies and encourage her to not give up on others or more importantly herself. To never loose her contagious laugh, to always be brave enough to try new things even when it doesn't always work out, to always be kind to others because you don't know what their own battles are. I pray that this year as she enters 7th grade it will go better. She will again have her crew and maybe the naysayers will have decided to silent their judgments. I also pray that if this is not our year again then she will still find the joy in the every day. That it will never weigh her down and silence her brave heart. 

Saturday she turns 13 and she gave me permission to share our struggles with school life and bullying. She is the girl who wants to make this world a better place for everyone or even just the one person who is left in the corner. She is that girl.

*Writing this post was hard. Really hard. At times the screen becomes so blurry through all the tears it became not only emotionally hard to write, but physically. We are and have been in a season of not understanding. I hope this post not only helps those walking the similar path, but also to take a minute before school starts and remind your child in the importance of being kind. Of course it's never your child who would do such a thing, but what if your child could be the one to reach out and check on the one who was pushed again in PE on "accident" rather than just staring and sometimes laughing. What if that one short talk can set them up for not only school book success, but also success in kindness. 

The Narrow Road

As I drove the kiddos to school, after a bit of a rough morning getting everyone out the door, I do what I do and prayed for a God centered shift in their day, as we all needed it. As I prayed I did my normal thing and prayed for them to stay on the narrow road. I am a type A, rule following girl all the way. I try not to be. The Mr is the exact opposite. I too used to be more go with the flow, but something shifted along the way. There was a season of life where I honestly was afraid to mess up. If I tried to be a little "better" maybe more prayers would be answered. Maybe just maybe, the kiddos would not go down the hard path of life and stay on that narrow road. My view was skewed in who the Lord really is. Fast forward today, and I know the Lord loves me no matter all my crazy. I can't earn His love, He just loves me because He promised that from the beginning. My only requirement is to love Him and love others, and the overflow of that is a beautiful wondrous thing. So as I prayed for the kiddos to remain on the narrow road I felt the Lord urge me to no longer view it as the path of basically being "good".

I know I pray this prayer out of desperation that the kiddos won't follow in my footsteps. As my steps were destructive in every sense of the word. I lived {if you can call it that} in pain trying to earn the affirmation of others and doing whatever that took. That would then be followed by numbing out, because doing whatever was slowly killing me. I never thought that I was enough just the way I was. The words of others became loud. The ugly actions of others towards me became who I was. After I decided to make my life live for the Lord when I was 21 I became stuck in having to be "good" now. I stopped doing all the spinning that left me so very empty. That narrow road quickly became my anthem for not doing bad things that would leave me in heartache. It became the road where the Lord could love me and think that I was enough. 

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and the road that leads to life, and only a few find it - Matthew 7: 13-14

During my early morning prayer, I felt a shift in that prayer. A shift in the way I view and pray it. I prayed it in the way that would not lead my own children into feeling that that road is meant to be taken by refraining from doing bad things, but in a way that would lead to true freedom. I sensed that maybe that narrow road was one that could be walked down living in confidence in who Christ created us to be. One that sheds the feelings on how others view us and focus only on how God views us. One that keeps us from striving to please others and instead live in a way that pleases God. That this narrow road is where true freedom is found. At the end of the prayer that once held a sense of conviction and striving now lets me breathe free. It can be hard to not let the world define who we are with so many outlets that speak so loud. As I truly believe that all the "bad" things I went through is not what slowly destroyed me, instead, it was my lack of knowing who I was and the feeling of being lost in this great big world. That was my destruction. Now, as I ask the Lord to keep my children on that narrow road, I am asking for Him to keep His voice louder than the worlds dictation. I ask this so that they will forever be secure enough to live in a way that brings joy and peace through the hope that Christ is. My greatest wish for my babies is that they always feel secure in who they are, no matter what that person at school, in the play yard, and beyond says that they are not. Honestly I am not afraid of the poor choices they may make along the way. What I am afraid of is them forgetting how loved they are and that they are important. Jesus made them great and that is the feeling and knowing I desire them to dwell in. Really that is my for us all. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit - Romans 15:13

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On Just Being

School started back and I just was not ready. I have loved having my babies home even on the days they fought like cat and mouse and I thought my head would spin till it came clear off. I know we need to get back to schedules, less screen time, and for me work. I know our days of lazing around and doing whatever we fancied on a whim is not practical for a long term plan, but oh how I loved it. We were just being together. Every once in a while I had a pang every time someone asked the kiddos what they did this summer and they did not fill their answers with summer camps, sport activities, and some other exotic way of life. To be honest those pangs arise as they always do when I feel like I am not being enough. Even now I wounder if I was too lax, did not create enough moments to make big memories. Part was due to having a flair up since Guatemala. My body can not handle much. The other part of this summer was completely selfish. I know as the kiddos get older their summers will be filled with wanting to be out and about... without me, but with their friends. I have the deepest desire to hold onto the days when they are okay just being too. They are my gift and I want to continue to unfold them as they grow and not miss a moment. To be the one to help mold them into who they are meant to be. I do not take that charge lightly. A charge from above that was gifted to me the moment they were laid into my arms and heart. Now to find new routines and find new ways to just be during this season when school, homework and sports start to run wild. The moments of just being are the moments I desperately do not want to miss. Those are the memories I long for.

These words I read on Design for Mankind and it quickly became my anthem for summer as they penetrated deep within my soul...

"And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!" And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what's important." - Iain Thomas

Just Be.

* Erin from Design for Mankind is coming out with a book. Her writing can lull me into another place. A good place where I want to be a better version of my self and actually forgive myself when those days don't happen. She has a gift and I am thrilled she is sharing it with us. You can put the book on pre-order here.