Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Prayer for My Son

It's midnight.  I should be sleeping, but my heart is so troubled tonight.  I keep thinking about you, son.  I keep worrying about guiding you and helping you become the great man that I hope you will be.  I think about the disparities you will see in your family life.  I think about the influences, both good and bad, that you will have to sift through.  I worry that generational sins will cling to you like stale smoke no matter how hard I pray for them to lift.

I look at you right now and all I see is a sweet little toddler who's eyes light up when I walk into a room.  I see a little boy who could change the world.  A little boy who's heart I will fight for to the death.  Who I will pray for with the tenacity of a warrior in the throws of battle.  I look at you and I see someone better than the example set for you right now.  I see someone not fettered by the brokenness and insecurities of an uncertain childhood.

My mind is racing, and I'm having a hard time forming coherent thoughts.  Everything rises up and out of me in the form of a prayer.  Fast and jumbled and probably nonsensical.  But we'll go with it, baby.  We'll just embrace the chaos and I'll lift up a most earnest prayer for you.

My babe, I pray that you grow into a man after your Heavenly Father's own heart.  A man overflowing in mercy and kindness and justice and strength.  I pray that you are selfless and true. That righteousness flows from the over abundance of love for your Father in Heaven and permeates every single fiber of your being.  I pray that you are upright and brave.  That you have the courage to fight for the broken and weary and oppressed.  That you see past the earthly garbage and into the hearts of others, and always stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.  I pray that you forsake the inherent privileges you are born with and try to see life through the eyes of others not born with your gender, skin color, economic standing, etc etc.  Jesus hung out with the sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes.  He loved the unlovable.  I pray you do too.

I pray that God gives me the strength to love you well.  To show you what unconditional love looks like.  What selfless love looks like.  What love means- the real definition.  Not this shallow garbage our society glorifies.  That's nothing but selfishness and self-serving interest packaged in a deceiving little bow.  Love is hard.  It's a battle.  It's a choice.  It's a long suffering commitment.  I feel the burden of being the one who shows you the importance of this kind of love, because you won't have the example you should- that of your father loving your mother in the way he is called to.  I pray I never vilify your father because of his weaknesses, but instead show you what mercy and forgiveness look like, and the strength and freedom they bring.

My son, I pray that you never ever feel as though you have to earn my love and acceptance.  I pray you never know the insatiable need to search out the approval of man.  That you grow in the knowledge of your worth in your Daddy in Heaven.  That He's enough for you.

I pray that I can find the right way to teach you to be responsible for your own actions, your own heart, your own sins.  I pray that we can break the familial cycle of victimhood with you and your sister.  That you never know the oppression of feeling like the world is out to get you, but instead thrive in the freedom of Christ, who has removed all earthly oppression.

I hope that I can teach you how to value the passions of others, even if they aren't your own.  I want to teach you to encourage and seek to build up the callings and passions of those around you.  That your calling doesn't trump the callings of those you love.  I hope to teach you how to put others ahead of yourself.  I hope to teach you to respect and value women.  To love them the way your Heavenly Father loves them.  Not to despise and objectify.  Not to subject to your own whims and expectations without any consideration for the deep places of their hearts.

I pray that you will be a better man that those that have come before you.  That you find a way to internalize only the best parts of your dad, grandpa, uncles, etc.  I pray that you do not latch on to the insecurities, bitterness, and selfishness that may be modeled for you.  I pray that God uses the great men in your life to show you what a Godly man looks like.

Son, I worry about you.  Maybe even a little more than I worry about your sister.  Because I don't know how to offset the lack of Godly example of fatherhood and manhood you will have in your life. How do I teach you to be a man?  But the thing about worry is, it's really just a lack of trust.  And that's something I will have to work on for the rest of my life.  Because even if your earthly father is lacking- your Heavenly Father isn't.  And I just know He has such great plans for you.  The call on your life and your sister's life... I just know you two were made for something so pure and good.

I pray that I have the strength to lift you up and intercede for you when I feel lost and ill equipped.  I pray that God gives me the patience and wisdom to teach you in the ways you should go.  I pray that you break the cycles of those before you.  I pray that you will love the Lord with everything you are, and that you will serve him fervently all of the days of your life.

You are my joy.  And your Daddy in Heaven's joy.  A gift that I will always be thankful for.  I wish your life didn't start off the way it has, but wishing won't change our reality.  But God can.  And He has always taken care of us.  And if I impart anything to you, son, I hope it's that God is good.  No matter what.  God is good.  And He will never let you down.  Not ever.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Love Letter to Single Moms

Hey Single Mama.

This year is the first Mother's Day where I have joined your ranks.  It's been a hard day, and I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I used to say that I could never be a single mom.  That I wasn't strong enough.  That I didn't know how you all do it.  I'd say it to my husband, holding his hand, telling him that I was so glad I'd always have him there to do life and parenthood with me.  I had no idea that my future would have me single parenting right along with you.

Here's what I have to say now.  And I'll probably have something different to say next year when the dust has settled a bit more and I've found my footing.

I still don't know how you do it.  I don't know how I do it most days.

I'm sorry that you have to.  I'm sorry that I have to.  This is not a job for one.  It's just not.  But we do it because what other option is there?  Who else will do what we do?

So here's a love letter to you, to me, to the mom scared shitless because her husband just walked out on her last week.  To the moms we will welcome into our ranks with our own broken hearts and open arms, the ranks we don't want to see grow.  The ranks of the tired, the lonely, the brave, and the blessed.  The silent army of moms who do it all for everyone and fall into bed at night exhausted, but knowing their shift doesn't end when the sun goes down.  The sweat soaked and tear streaked warriors who press on even when they feel like their world has shattered and they have nothing left to give.  This is for us.  For you.

I know you, tired mama.
You are me.
You are the stranger-sister juggling two people's worth of burdens in the Target parking lot with a baby that is tired and crabby and always on your hip.
You are the mom who shuts herself into the bathroom for ten minutes when everything becomes more than you can handle after days and days of aloneness and silently cries so her kids don't have to see her tears.
You are the proud mom who cheers with all her might as her daughter graduates her first year of preschool.
 You are the midnight doctor that comforts a feverish toddler, praying quietly for their relief.
You are the woman who never ever ever thought that her husband would leave.
Or pass away.
Or simply cease to exist as you knew him.
You are the chef who has made three meals before she realizes she's forgotten to feed herself.  Again.
You are the woman who will not give up hope that this is not all there is.
You are the dreamer, the one who looks into the future and sees a million beautiful possibilities.
You are the Survivor that has found a way to make it through obstacles you never knew existed before you had to do it all yourself.
You are the fervent prayer warrior that prays and prays and prays for better things for her children.  A better life.  A whole family.  A whole heart.
You are the Hero her kids can depend on, day in and day out.
You are the safe place.  The constant.  The rest for her children in the midst of a cruel world.
You are the endless burner of midnight oil who wakes again, and again, and again to soothe babies after nightmares, and teething, and fevered unrest.
You are the beautiful woman who feels unseen.  Unknown.  Unprotected.
You are the woman who knows that her worth is in God alone.  Not in a man.  Not in her kids.  Not in her career.  Not in her struggles.  Not in her victories.
You are a mom.  The most selfless calling there is.

And tonight, if this day has been as hard for you as it's been for me, you may be having a hard time remembering all of the things that make you so truly amazing.  Maybe you find yourself feeling guilty that this day has caught you so off guard in the way it's brought you so flipping low instead of joyful because you're a mom and you love your kids.

I need to tell you, because I need to tell myself, that's ok.  You don't have to feel guilty.  You bear a heavy burden.  It's an amazing one, I bet you'd never give it up, I know I wouldn't, but it's still so big.  Maybe next year you won't feel crushed under the weight of what you wish Mother's Day was for you, but isn't.  Maybe you won't feel so jealous of friends who don't have to do it alone, and who's spouses shower them with affection and appreciation.  But it's ok if you still do.  We'll get there, you and I.  It's a hard day. A great day, but a hard day.

So maybe I've never met you.  Maybe we are great friends.  Maybe no one knows yet that this was your first Mother's Day alone.  But I do know this, beautiful mama… you are so much stronger and more beautiful than you know.  And even when you feel invisible, there are people like year-ago-me who look at you in awe, and wonder how you do what you do.  How you are everything to everyone and still manage to hold your head up and take on the world.  People see.  I see.  Your Heavenly Father sees.

This is my prayer for us, single moms… that tonight, and every night, when you lie in your bed alone or surrounded by your babies, that you feel undeniably, heart-swellingly loved and cherished and doted on by your Daddy in Heaven.  Because He sees everything.  All of our struggles.  All of our tears.  All of our sacrifices and struggles.  He will never leave us.  Never die.  Never change.  Never disappoint.  And I pray that we can quiet the voices inside ourselves that rage and mourn and worry and fear long enough to hear Him say "I see you.  Your every breath.  Your every tear.  Your every laugh.  Your every fear.  I see you trying to give your kids a better life.  I see you trying to serve me with a heart that is undivided and grateful.  I see you giving everything you have and then giving some more.  I hear your prayers and petitions for love and healing and comfort.  And I am all of those things.  My beautiful daughter, I am SO PROUD of you.  I am so proud.  You are so loved.  You are taken care of.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

Maybe this Mother's Day hasn't been happy for you.  It really wasn't for me.  I get it.  But I do pray that it will be filled with comfort.  With peace from our Father.  With hope for the future.  With love from your children.  You are loved, warrior mama.  You are so perfectly and beautifully loved by the truest and most perfect Love.

Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dear Sweet Daughter of Mine

My dear little girl,

We've had a rough go of it this past year.  Lots of change, lots of hurt, lots of scary stuff that you probably can't really understand.  I try so hard to explain it to you in a way that makes it less scary, but still leaves you with the big picture.  I worry that I am failing.  I worry that I am not saying enough, or that I am saying too much.

My sweet one, I wish there was a way that I could shield your heart from all of these gross, hateful, heartbreaking adult changes that our family is going through right now.  You are so smart and so intuitive and empathetic.  I worry that your heart is absorbing so much more than I can see.  I worry about the sadness you are feeling.  I worry that you are going to grow up with scars that you should never ever have had to bear.  I worry that I won't be able to protect you from the feelings of loss and abandonment.  That I won't be enough for you in the day to day, especially while I am still grieving too.

Being your mommy has been the most amazing, life changing event.  I promise that I am trying my best, even when I fail miserably.  I promise to always say sorry when I am in the wrong.  To hold you when you cry.  To remind you daily of your worth.  To show you what unconditional love looks like so you never ever have to grow up with the scars that come with never having experienced it.  I have seen what that does to a person, and I will never let that happen to you, my love.  You are strong, and brave, and kind.  I'll remind you when you feel unsure.

I promise that I will try so hard to help you grow up and see that you deserve better than the way that mommy was treated.  Because if I ever had to watch you go through what I am going through right now it would kill me.  My sweet one, you deserve better.  I will fight for you.  I will fight for your heart.  I will try daily to put God first and make sure that you know that your Heavenly Father is only good.  That he will never ever leave you.  He will never ever forsake you.  He keeps his Word, and He is for you.  That's what you deserve.  That's what love really looks like.

Sometimes I worry.  I worry when you are acting out that I've done something wrong, said the wrong things, not comforted you enough in the last nine scary months.  I worry that the damage you have already suffered is deep and raw and will alter your life's path.  I'm your mom.  I worry about everything.  But then you go and do the most amazing things.  I hear you in the other room, worshipping your sweet heart out, and walk in to see you with your eyes closed, your face and hands lifted to the One who is Worthy, and I feel peace and hope that at least I'm doing the most important thing right.  I have hope that I'm modeling that you can always trust your Heavenly Father.  That He is always worthy of your love, even in the midst of really trying and heartbreaking times.  Because if you have that, sweet one, you can make it through anything.

It grieves my heart that you have been robbed of the innocence of your childhood.  That you have had the simplicity of a child's trust stolen from you.  It makes my mama heart hurt, and it makes my mama heart angry.  I never questioned any of the things you will question now when I was growing up, and it breaks me that this is your broken reality.

But I promise you this, my little girl, God can redeem.  God will redeem.  That's what He does.  He takes heartbreaking brokenness and unrecognizable ashes and builds something so very beautiful.  I believe that is what He will do in our lives, yours, mine, and your brother's.  I wait every day to see how it will unfold.  How He will redeem.

So I may worry, because that's what moms do, but in the deep of my heart I have faith that He will provide.  He will redeem.  He will protect you and your heart.  He will help you choose more wisely than your mother did when you are ready to fall in love and start your own family.  He will keep your heart safe and healthy.  I can't promise that you'll never experience heartbreak.  In fact, unfortunately I can promise you that you will.  But I can also promise that your Daddy in Heaven is bigger than any heartbreak.  Including the one you are feeling now.

You are so loved, my sweet, silly baby.  And your Heavenly Father and I will make sure you always know it.  No matter what.