Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Dad

You weren't there on the day I took my first breath.
But as a Dad, you've been there for the moments that have taken my breath away.

You didn't bring me home to my first house.
But as a Dad you have been a piece that defined "home" for me my whole life.

You weren't there for my first steps.
But as a Dad you have walked beside me every step of the way.

You weren't there for my first smile.
But as a Dad seeing you as you have loved and supported me as I've grown, makes me smile.

You didn't rock me to sleep at night.
But as a Dad you have been a steady rock throughout my life.

You weren't there to calm my fears as a toddler.
But as a Dad you have been my steady calm when I needed your quiet leadership.

You didn't have to be there for
soccer games
homework
dance recitals
learning to ride a bike
encouraging me to stay at A&M
dates
homecoming courts
camping trips
hikes
Percy Quinn
swimming
solitaire
cheerleading
awards ceremonies
A&M parents' weekends
pledge presentation
births
football games
grandchildren
college help
But as a Dad, you have been.
There's a lot that you didn't have to do. 
But you chose to do it.
You chose to be a Dad.
Thank you will never be enough.
You provided a picture of my Heavenly Father.
Calm strength.
Choosing to love when you didn't have to.
Taking me as your own.
Unconditional love.
A single moment can make someone a father
A lifetime makes someone
A Dad.
I love you.





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Marathon Mothering



I ran in my first, last, and only marathon in the fall of 2000.  Whatever gave me the idea that I could or even should run a marathon, I can't remember, but I did.  My husband had just left on his second overseas deployment, I had one child, and a ton of time on my hands.  I enjoyed running long distances, had a babysitter that lived next door, and 8 months of enough alone time that could, well, could fill a marathon.  I remember signing up, training, telling people I would be running, reading as much information I could get my hands on, and even had an online trainer.  I was as ready as one could be for the unknown.  Who told me I could run a marathon?

On the day of the marathon, I was 100% sure that I could not only run this race, but run it well.  I had even set a time for myself.  I didn't want to just finish, I wanted to finish the best I could.  I looked the part, I was as prepared as a rookie marathoner could be, and I was determined.  As the race started, my first rookie mistake was not taking into account my time slot.  I had signed up for my estimated time and to my surprise, it put me in the last third of the runners.  Before I ever crossed the starting line, not only had time on the overhead clock started ticking but runners were already crossing the 2 mile marker. I was already comparing myself to others.  A chip on my own shoe would start my real time, but for the entire race I would face the mental block of the starting line clock I crossed at 8+ minutes and every roadside clock I would pass.  I was losing confidence with each step forward.

I did it though, but not without scars.  Not without failure and not without self-doubt.  But what got me through were the others.

My husband.

He could have finished his first marathon about two hours quicker, but he chose to stick by my side.  He silently rooted me on.  He spoke words of encouragement and when I wanted to quit at mile 13, he wouldn't let me. I was close enough to the start to know I had to keep going but far enough from the finish I felt like I couldn't.  He walked when I walked, he stopped at my every porta potty stop, he grabbed water cups for me, he rooted me on.

Other runners.

They were of every shape, size, color, and ability.  Ones I thought would never make it were the very ones shouting cheers as they passed me, encouraging me on.  As runners were lined up along the bridge getting sick, you would hear shouts of encouragement from the ones passing, "Get it out and come on!"  "You're almost there!"  "Can't quit now!"  Some runners would stop and pick up lost bibs from sick runners, walk beside complete strangers and push them to continue.  Some would shout as they ran by.  But we were all going in the same direction.  All with a common goal.  Finishing what we had started.  What we had trained and wanted for so long.  There wasn't anyone whispering on the sidelines, "Look at her, she shouldn't be running!"  "Who told him he should be a runner??"  Not one biting word.  Not one sideways, prideful glance.

Spectators.

I guess what honestly surprised me the most were the very people who came out just to watch.  Those there to cheer on loved ones but added so many other runners to their list.  Runners had their names painted on their shirts and I quickly learned why, "Keep going Chris! You look great!"  "Water station is up ahead, Melissa, keep going!"  Cheering on those they knew and those they didn't.  Building up complete strangers because just from watching they knew how hard the task at hand was and how quickly those negative thoughts could sideline a runner who had come so far.  They sat through hours and miles of runners and held signs, passed out waters, and patted others  on the back.  I ran next to a woman who had "Amy" written on her shirt and those shouts of encouragement meant for her, were heard by me and I seemed to run a little easier.

The finish line came whether I expected to or not.  Those 26 miles seemed to go so slow as I was running but in the last .2, I couldn't believe it was over.  It had gone so fast and it was done.  I was done.  I got a medal on my neck, a silver blanket wrapped around my shoulders, and a banana placed in my hand, but quickly they were looking beyond me.  To those coming.  Ready to do the same.  Welcome them.  So many runners crossed the finish line and went back to run with others trying to finish.  So many found friends, and coworkers to encourage.  Others went to stand at the finish and cheer the hundreds left.  No one was comparing.  No one was judging.  It was all about getting everyone across that line.

I didn't see the final runner cross that line. But one thing I am certain, there were people there.  Not shouting, "Come on!  Everyone is ready to go home."  "What is taking you so long?"  "Why are you so slow?"  There were shouts of welcome.  I can almost imagine the cheering was even louder for the last runner who stayed the course than for even the first.  What I learned that day was a marathon is not a race for 99% of the people who enter; it's not a race because in a race someone has to win.  It's a run.  A run to start, make it through each mile, and finish.

Today, God brought to mind mothering.  On the eve of Mother's Day, I can't help but reflect on my own mothering.  Sometimes I look back to March 17, 1999 and I think how confident I was.  I had read all of the books.  I had prepared a nursery.  I had bought all of the cute clothes and the latest and greatest gadgets.  But nothing could have prepared me for my first moment of mothering.  As he cried those first nights in the hospital and I couldn't find a way to feed him or soothe him and I felt behind before I even began.  Who told me I could be a mother?  Walking into that hospital I was prepared and confident, walking out was a completely different story.  From that very moment of strapping him into the carseat and wondering how all of the buckles fit, I have been losing confidence ever since.  But what has gotten me this far, is not my preparation, my knowledge…it's the others.  The others that have built into me.

My husband.

He has been my biggest cheerleader since walking into that hospital.  He never left my side.  He encouraged me in that delivery room and everyday since.  When those fears and doubts and moments of failure creep in, he pushes them out with his words of confidence.  He points me to our Savior.  He speaks Truth.  He never lets me wallow in self-doubt.  He has my back and I don't think I could have done a marathon without him but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I could not do this mothering marathon without him.

Other mothers and spectators.

You know the ones.  The ones who validate.  Those who affirm.  Those who just let you ramble.  Those who don't let you down.  Those who love because they know how important this job is.  I have had older women come along side and speak Truth in love.  I have had pep talks from my mom.  I have had pity parties with my sisters and shared yellow cake and chocolate frosting and all of a sudden I can keep going.  I have had women in my same season of life walk beside me and bounce ideas with.  We have grabbed coffee, swapped kids, run miles together.  All the while loving one another just because we are on the same path.  I have passed younger mothers and have seen that look.  I hope I have spoken encouragement to them and helped them to run just a little bit stronger.  I have been "cheered" on by complete strangers, those who just know how hard this job of mothering can be.

God.

He is the very one I do this for.  His glory.  His plan and His purpose.  He tells me that I can do this.  He knows my name.  He is the living water.  He is my source of strength.  He is my reason to get up everyday and do what He has called me to do.  He is not comparing me to all of the others.  He knows my struggles and knows the right words to keep me moving forward.  He is there for each and everyone of us as we run this marathon of mothering.  His love and compassion is as great for the first as it will be for the last.  These children?  They are His.  They are His reward.  Our medals.  He wants them to rise up and bless us and shine for His Son.  The end of the run is not our reward, He says the very run itself is.

Why do we make mothering a contest?  Why do we compare ourselves, our children, our marriages?  Why do we think it's all about being better than the next person?  On this Mother's Day, why can't it be our marathon?  Why don't we stop watching others and judging them and just encourage them?  There is a common goal, especially for families of Believers…to see each other and our children in Eternity.  Why don't we cheer them on?  Why don't we come beside and hand each other Truth?  Why don't we stop running and take a minute to walk to encourage another?

My running marathon days are behind me... I think.  But my mothering days are not. I feel like I am at mile marker 13.  Close enough to the start to know I have to keep going, but far enough from the finish to feel weary.  I am currently purposeful in surrounding myself with other marathoning mothers.  Those headed in the same direction, with the same goals.  Those who just want to encourage and love me where I am. We don't look the same and the way we run our own marathons of mothering won't look the same either. I am determined to be one of the marathoning mothers for those around me.  I want to encourage, cheer you on, and truly celebrate with you when you finish your mile well and eventually come to the end.  Then I want to go back~run along side those still in the run.  Those who just need that one spoken word to keep going.  I want to finish my marathon well and help those around me, in front of me, and behind me finish well too.  This Mother's Day, let's not make it about ourselves but about all of us.  One run.  One goal.  One Mothering Marathon.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Haven't Missed it Yet




Change.  Never an easy thing for me.  Some thrive on it.  Some live for it.  Some crave it.

Not me.  I like status quo.  I like same ol' same ol'.  I like predictable.

But I married a Marine.  Change has been a part of the last 20 years and I would choose change all over again for that one man.  But my heart longs for predictable.  And God knows because He created me that way.  In our ever-changing life, I sought out sameness.  Predictable.  Stable.  Constant. I could countdown weeks by our routine.  Prepare for my husband's return, survive through his deployments, and serve him happily while he was home.   It's why we have tacos on Tuesday.  Pizza on Thursday.  Cinnamon rolls before church.  I mop on Monday.  I clean bathrooms on Thursday.  I wash sheets on Friday.  I iron on Sunday.  And God left us in Beaufort for 8 years in a row.  8 precious, sweet years.  And we thrived.  We dug our roots so deep because that is my heart's deepest desire.  He gave us a tight circle of friends.  A strong church.  We plugged in.  Everything was easy.  Day to day was very close to the same.  Week to week was closer.  And year to year in Beaufort was even closer to predictable.  My heart was content because it was how I liked life.

As retirement got closer, I could feel the winds of change.  And I avoided them.  I ignored his appointments with the movers.  I didn't talk about his retirement ceremony.  Just pretended it was not coming.  But like life often does…the change came.  And it came quickly.  And it hit me in the gut.



Soon, nothing was the same.  Our house was empty.  We said our goodbyes.  We drove away.  I still don't think I have fully comprehended the fact that I no longer live in Beaufort, SC on N. Eastover as a member of Community Bible Church.  I am no longer the story time leader for VBS.  I am no longer a 4th-5th grade AWANA leader.  I no longer run the streets of Habersham or take my girls to The Larew Dance Center.  I have spent much time missing what was home to me the past 8 years.  I miss my church.  I miss sitting in the upper balcony and saying hi to Miss Ann at the door as she hands me my bulletin.  I miss the swing bridge.  I miss meeting at the pillow store to grab Preston or drop off Cole.  I miss laughing with Jacki in the hall when we were supposed to be in Sunday School.  I miss seeing sweet Miss Laura and Miss Claudia as I turn in my progress reports.  I miss seeing Cin come around the corner on the limo of golf carts to get a treat for Belle-Belle.  I miss Chloe knocking on my door to see if the girls could play.  I miss Ale' Grace hanging out in my kitchen.  I miss having teenage boys on my top porch on a summer night.  I miss having picnics in the Princess Park out our front door.  I miss gingerbread houses with Sue and watching her perform science experiments that we never got to work.  I miss chit chatting with Charlotte on her front steps.  I miss listening to Audrey's encouragement in the front hall on Sunday morning.  I miss gearing up for VBS story time.  I miss Common Ground Hazelnut Lattes.  I miss slumber parties with Melissa and Jane.  I miss giggles from the Curry girls upstairs.  I could go on and on.  I even miss Scrappy and her sweet family.   I wish I could say I haven't missed it yet, but I do.  I miss it all almost daily.

We are here now.  Bullard, TX.  Where everything only 4 short months ago was different. Ironically, it was the first time the change felt permanent.  No Marine Corps road that led back to Beaufort.  No "We'll be back!" I felt so alone and vulnerable.  New house.  Husband gone.  New town.  No church home.  New school.  No friends.  New streets.  No furniture. New everything. And yet nothing.  I felt as though I had been stripped bare and just left.  I felt abandoned.  I missed home.  I was grieving.  Nothing the same.  Everything different.

Except Him.



In the first few seconds of landing in Bullard, He showed Himself.  My sister and her girls were standing in my driveway to welcome us to our new home.  He blessed us #1.  A new refrigerator.  Blessing #2.  Smiling faces running through the new house.  Blessing #3.  Family visiting more in the first week then in the entire previous year.  Blessing #4.  And on and on it went.  A few days later, I was struggling to find the good even though He had so clearly shown Himself faithful.  He brought me to the boys' new school and gave me my first friend.  And through her story about *her* move to Bullard and how so long ago she was missing the blessings God was trying to give her, I made a conscious decision that day to not miss one blessing He would give us.  Not one.  I would allow myself to miss what I had grown to love but I would not miss His grace and goodness and blessings He wanted to give me in Bullard.  Some days were harder than others, but I was like Daniel.  I made the choice ever before that first step. I resolved not to miss God in the everyday moments and, in the midst of all of the change and my grieving, I would look for Him.

Daniel 1:8
But Daniel resolved….



I was invited to lunch by a sweet lady who just wanted to welcome me to Bullard and to Brook Hill.  She brought me cookies one night on a particularly hard day. I didn't miss it. I was invited to join a Bible study that quickly grew my circle of friends.  They were incredible prayer warriors.  One stopped by just because she was close to our house. I didn't miss it.  I sat by my first ballet moms at the girls'  new school who prayed with me.  Three neat guys befriended Cole.  The founder of the school sat by Logan at lunch one day just because and started encouraging him.  I didn't miss it.  A first A on a test for my boys.  My neighbor across the street had a daughter. I didn't miss it.  A sweet friendship soon developed with my girls.  That neighbor is now a friend. The workers at our new neighborhood grocery store were so nice.  And remembered me.  I didn't miss it.  Phone calls from friends back in Beaufort at just the right moment.  Texts from new ladies welcoming us to town and to Brook Hill.  Introductions.  Invitations to lunch.  I didn't miss it.  A mom just happened to sit by me during a very hard time one night at Open House.  She prayed.  Asked others to pray for me too.  I didn't miss it.  The boys were happy at the new school.  I had lots of time with just my girls.  I didn't miss it.  Sweet fellowships at churches we visited. I didn't miss it.  I met so many new prayer warriors and friends.  Our house was fitting us perfectly.  The weather was beautiful.  I didn't miss it.  I discovered my new favorite donut shop.  My new favorite pizza place.  Target a few miles from our house.  Baseball teams for the boys.  I didn't miss it.



Amidst all of the change, He was my constant.  My constant reminder that He was here.  He was in Bullard and He was in control.  He would never change.  And most of all, I felt loved, taken care of, and secure.  Even in the middle of so much change.  I felt like a little girl crawling into the arms of a big father in the middle of a scary thunderstorm.  His arms wrapped around me daily.  He was using so many people around Bullard to encourage my heart.  He never let me get down a road of self-pity without amazing me with His goodness.  He spoke to my heart.  He brought verses to mind.  He was very real.  I didn't miss it in those first few weeks of being in Bullard.  I haven't missed it even in this day.  And I resolve not to miss it in the days ahead.  He is a good, good Father.  It's Who He is.  And I am loved by Him.

And I haven't missed it yet.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Do.


I do.

At 22, I couldn't have known.

You know the saying, "If I knew then what I know now…"



So many questions 20 years ago.  So many unanswered questions.  So many doubts.  So many unknowns.  I would like to go back.  Talk to 22 year old Amy.  


Dear 22 year old Amy~
You are married now.  You wonder if this young man standing next to you will live up to all of the statements being asked of him on the altar.  How could you know if he will in sickness or in health?  For better or worse?  For richer or poorer? At 22, you don't know.


20 years later, I do.  
He will be the strongest man you will have ever known.  He will be your rock.  He will be the logical one.  He will make you feel safe.  He will be stronger after 20 years. 


At 22, your day was wonderful; everything you had hoped it would be~ but I know doubts that will have crept up in your mind.  How could you know June 3, 1995 if he will be a man you can respect for a lifetime?  Will he keep his vows to love you forever? Will he come home because he wants to?  How could you know if you would trust him with everything you have even during long months of separation?  How could you know if he would still make you laugh, still be the one you want to share your life with, still make you feel safe?  At 22, you don't know.


20 years later, I do.  

I know he is true to his word.  He will do what he says he will do, or do everything in his power to try. He will give his life to Christ at 28 and it will change everything.  He will provide a home, food, vacations, and be a great Dad.  He is who he says he is.  There is nothing he will hide from you and there is nothing he would not do for you.  You will admire how much he loves your children, how deeply he loves you, how much trust you will have in him, and how much he will love the Lord.  He is honorable and would never do anything to make you doubt his love, his word, or his commitment.  You will feel loved, safe.  
You couldn't know at 22.  But what you don't know at 22, I know at 42.  At 22, on your wedding day, you don't know.



But 20 years later, I do.
So, enjoy the ride~ the moves, the memories, the children…him.
Love,
42 year old Amy




Thankful that 20 years ago, I said "I Do" without knowing if you would.
Given the chance to do it again…
knowing what I know now….
I would.
I love this man.
I do.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Boy, Your Man


 How did the fireman in this picture get to be 16?

As I stare at my little boy in this picture, I am in awe at how fast 16 years can actually go… and I begin to think of you more and more.  16 years ago you weren't even a thought.  I had so much more to think about and all of the things that I was busy teaching my little boy.  I was too busy loving my little boy, tying shoes, and playing in dirt.  I was enjoying bike rides with him sitting on the bike seat right behind me pointing out all of the things I wanted him to notice.  I was bringing my little boy to all of the places I wanted him to experience and all of the people I wanted him to meet.

You never entered my mind.

I was too busy being the mama to my little boy.  He was a delight.  I am so honored to have been chosen as this little boy's mom.  Not everyday was easy, but I knew everyday was a gift.  My little boy never left my side and if ever there was a Mama's boy, he was it.

I remember a friend had come to visit us in the hospital.  After a few minutes of admiring my baby boy's sweet face, she jokingly made a comment I will never forget.

"Too bad you didn't have a girl.  Boys eventually leave their Mama's."  

Her words were a blow in those first precious moments with my sweet little boy.  But somehow as I moved past her comments, I thought she was wrong.  As my little boy grew, I knew she was wrong.  Even looking back on those moments today, I am more sure than ever that she was wrong.  Boys don't leave their Mamas.

Boys need their Moms.  My boy needed me on those dark nights when he was afraid.  My boy needed me when he felt bad and needed to be rocked, when he couldn't reach the tip top of the block tower he was building, and when my boy scraped his knee.  I was his protection from the big bad Santa Claus when he was two and from the mean little girl at the Waterfront Park.  My boy needed me to push him on the swing and to teach him his letters.  I caught him when he jumped into the pool and picked him up when he fell down.  My little boy needed me and I loved to be needed by that little boy.
                                

Truth is Boys don't ever leave their Mamas.

Men do.


For this reason a man shall leave his father and *mother* and be joined with his wife and they shall become one flesh.
~Genesis 2:24



As I looked at him as he pulled out of our driveway today with a quick smirk and "Love you Mom,"  he looked more like your man then he did my boy.  And I thought of you.  My boy would never leave me.  But one day, your man will.

                                              

Tears are welling up in my eyes as I typed that last sentence, but not because I am sad I am losing my little boy but because I have so much respect and love for your man.  I realize that although I don't have much to teach him anymore, I do have so much more I want to train him in.  I realize how short my time was with my little boy and how close he is to leaving my house as your man.  And I want him to be ready.

I also think of the responsibility and job I have left before you are joined with your man.  I think of you so often and I pray for you as I go about my day.  As I find less and less things to be teaching him, I find more and more things I want to encourage him in and build him up in as he grows into a man.  I think of you.  I think of you when he forgets his clothes on the bathroom floor and I have to remind him for the hundredth time to go clean them up, when he doesn't make his bed, or when he helps me unload the groceries without being asked.  I think of you when he tells me how good dinner was, when he clears the dishes, or grabs a heavy item from my arms.  I hope you love it that I have taught my little boy to hold doors open for women, how to tell them when they look pretty, and how to treat them like ladies.  I hope you love that my little boy had two younger sisters that he practiced on.  He practiced helping them, showing them affection, and protecting them.

I think of you when I show him grace when he leaves for class and his room is a mess because he had been up late working on a paper.  I pray you will love and respect him and show him that same grace when he messes up with you.  I think of you when I make him go back and apologize to his siblings, hoping that one day he will be quick to apologize to you.  I think of you when we have talks about a girl he is interested in and I am encouraged by what those qualities are.  I am sure you are exactly what he is looking for and I pray that he will be the exact man you are looking for.  I think of you when I catch him reading God's Word and I hope one day you will be thankful that your man prays.  I think of you when he goes to work when he doesn't feel like it because he knows that work is what men do and in that work your man will honor God.  I try to encourage your man to be a hard worker and I hope one day you will reap the fruit of that encouragement.  I hope he makes you laugh and I think of you when he makes me laugh.

Today my little boy no longer looks like a little boy.  In fact, he looks closer to your man than he does my boy.  The fact is. .. he IS closer to being your man than he is my little boy.   I don't have anything left to teach my little boy.  My job is now to encourage and continue to build up in the young man you will one day call yours.  I am praying for you.  I am praying for your man.  And I am praying for me as I finish my season of teaching and training my boy to be your man.   Until then I promise to not grow weary and to finish this mothering race well.  When the day comes for you to call him yours, he will leave me.  He will leave me and be joined to you because that is how God designed it.  My boy will have become your man.  And it will be good.

Love,
Amy



March 17, 2016~So much in this young man's life has changed in one short year, but I am more convinced now than ever, he will be ready.  He has overcome such challenges and has become even more of a man than when I wrote this just one year ago.  He will be ready to leave our home.  He will be ready to stand firm in what he believes.  He will be ready to face the hard.  He will be ready to be a man.  Her man.  



















Thursday, January 22, 2015

Go. Be a Peacock Lil. Part 2

I could not have known how this sweet baby would completely change my view on my mothering.  People always tell you never to compare your children but for this young mother of two very easy boys, it was hard not to.

They were both excellent sleepers.  She was not.  They both were content to stay in bed in the morning and look at books until I was ready to go in to them. She was not.  They were both fantastic eaters.  She was not.  They were both snugglers.  She was not.  They were both Mama's boys. She was not.  They were very needy.  She was not.  And the differences only seemed to intensify as she grew.

For the first three years, she rocked my world.  Everything I knew with my boys, she did the opposite.  Everything that worked so well with the boys, did not work with her.  Things my boys got in trouble for, they only got in trouble for it once.  Things my Lillie got in trouble for, she got in trouble for it again and again and again.

 And again.

Truth be told. I had gotten prideful.  I figured the obedience in my boys was a direct reflection of my great parenting.  Before our salvation in Christ, I had also struggled with Logan.  He did not listen at all.  Some of it was his age, but I was going down the road of reasoning.  With an 18 month old.  I often left friends' houses in tears because I found myself reasoning with him to help his friends clean up or to get his shoes on.  Or to leave.  I was reading a book called, Positive Discipline.  The premise was to tell the child only things they COULD do and never to say NO.  The little sinner in him loved that I felt very out of control and that only gave him more.  Once we were saved and I began to grow in God's way of raising children and after many older women coming alongside, we began to teach and train Logan God's Way.  Amazing.  It was the first time I had stepped out in obedience to God's Word and I watched the blessings flow.  Once Cole came along, we had it down pat and both boys responded so well to God's Way of teaching and training.  Two very sweet and obedient boys in tow, I had begun to think it was me.  How great my parenting was and I had forgotten to give God the glory for the wisdom.  I often joke, that's when He decided I was to have a Lillie.

We moved away from our church in Beaufort shortly after her first birthday.  And it was shortly after that, that her little personality truly began to bloom.  She was a runner.  A runner away~er.  From me.  She never knew a stranger and would go to anyone who had a heartbeat.  We half-joked that we would one day find her picture on a milk carton.  I just remember always looking for her.  I looked for her at home, at church, in stores, in the park.  Always looking.  Always asking her brothers, "Where's Lillie??"  We'd always find her.  Usually with a person and very content.  She also loved to be alone.  By herself.  She could entertain herself for hours.  Our "I love you"s were followed by, "OK" or "I know."  She seemed to be in another world even when she looked at you.  And eventually that "world" was dubbed, Lillie Land, and I didn't like it.  She didn't eat well.  She didn't stay at the table for meals.  She always stood on her chair and had to be reminded to sit.  She always took things that didn't belong to her.  She pestered the boys.  She was always in the ER.  We made trips for busted lips, busted chins, and more busted lips.  Walking into the ER one night, the check in nurse saw her and said, "Lillie!  Good to see you again.  How old are you now?"  To which Lillie proudly replied with dried blood all over her Ariel Wedding dress up dress and her fancy click-clicks, "Free!"  The nurse laughed and said, "Wow.  You made it to 3."  She never slept past 6am and she rarely took a nap longer than 45 minutes.  She ran around the room at ballet when all of the other dainties were clinging quietly to their mothers' hands.  She wouldn't let me fix her hair and rarely did she let me pick out her clothes.  She always seemed to be a mess and I just couldn't let it go.  When she pushed, I pushed back.  She came into a room and left a room the same way…with a wake behind her.  She always seemed to be in trouble for something and she always seemed to be "meeting me in the bathroom."  {Code for a spanking}  Where the boys were very remorseful for what they were being disciplined for, Lillie just seemed stone cold.  Where the boys obediently submitted to receive their punishment, she ran around the bathroom crying and clinging to her bottom.  Where the boys needed hugs and reassuring afterwards, Lillie just wanted down.  Everyday felt more and more like a battle and everyday I lost a little more joy in my mothering and in this girl I had prayed for.  I was embarrassed and didn't know where to turn.  To admit that I was at a loss to any of the new mothers in our new city was not an option.  Instead of drawing near to the One Who made her, I chose to go at it alone.

God never let ME go though.  I knew what He said and I knew she needed to come under our authority.  I knew her struggle with her Dad and I at a young age would only lead to even more difficult struggles at an older age.  I plowed ahead.  Doing the things I had done with the boys and continuing to struggle with this daughter I had prayed so diligently for.  I knew that He had answered a prayer, that He had a plan for her and I thought all I had to do was fit her into my mold and image of what she should look like and it would all work out.  I used words like quiet, gentle, and little lady.  I forced her to do hair, to wear matching clothes, to stay in her bed in the mornings, to hold my hand while we walked, and to be still.  I would force her to be the daughter I thought she should be.  A chicken.

By God's Grace, we received orders back to Beaufort, SC and back to the church where we had first heard the Gospel, had first seen how great marriages could be, and had first been taught God's Word.  These women knew how to raise babies and they loved it.  They found joy.  Just being back with them and under their teaching, encouragement and love, gave me a renewed resolve to press on with teaching and training Lillie.  By this time, our fourth child had come along and she was everything I thought that Lillie was going to be.  She was an easy baby, very loving, very needy, and such a joy.  So Lillie still baffled me.  She still pushed my buttons and she still caused me such great frustration.  One particular hard spell with Lillie, I was listening to Mothering From the Heart on the radio.  Our pastor's wife was doing her weekly question and answer show and I broke.  I wanted to know. I needed direction.  I wanted someone to know.  I needed help.  Practical help.  I called.  I still remember how nervous I was to ask my question live, so I dictated it to the person on the phone, hung up, and waited for her to answer.  Because I didn't give too much information, her answer was pretty vague and a million, "But what if….?"went through my mind.  I had to talk to her in person.  I don't remember how I actually got that time alone with her, probably cornered her after church one day, somewhere, but I got that time.  I was able to ask her my "What ifs…?" and she listened.  She asked questions, she listened some more, she probed my heart, she gave me practical tips and options I had not tried and she encouraged.  There were tears in my eyes as we talked because of the conviction in my heart.  The draining conviction of three years of carrying a burden for a little girl who I was trying to change.  She gave me such practical advice that day but what stands out in my mind and in my heart more than anything were the words, "First, you need to be on your knees for this little girl.  This little girl that God created.  He can give you wisdom to raise her; He created her.  He created her this way and you need to first be praying that you do not change her…." I don't remember much else after that.

My heart wept.

Pray you do not change her. 

God made her this way.

It was like I had been kicked in the gut and hugged all in the same moment.  I had been trying to change her.  I had been trying to fit her little square personality into a round hole. I was not embracing her joy for life.  I was not noticing her creative mind.  I was missing moments to dance.  I was stomping out her little spark.   I had been trying to "fix" all of the things that I didn't understand.  I had been trying to make her not Lillie Grace instead of trying to understand a Lillie Grace.  The words, "God made her this way," broke through my hard and prideful heart.  He was the One Who had answered the very prayer for her and yet, I did not go to Him for the wisdom once she came.  He was the One Who knew her every thought, her rising up and her sitting down and was intimately acquainted with all her ways, and yet, I never went to Him for wisdom.  I never sought His help.

From that moment of clarity, I never looked at my Lillie Grace the same. I knew she needed to be taught and trained to come under our authority so eventually she would see her need to come under God's supreme authority and her need for a Savior, but now, I would seek to know her and how that teaching and training looked for her.  I saw and embraced her joy.  I treasured her sweet spirit.  She's made it to 11.  I would love to tell the ER nurse from so long ago, "…and in style!"  I am in awe of how she sees life.  She has learned to become more loving and tell her family she loves them.  She gives hugs more than ever.  I am more deliberate in my words with her and I know now to step back sometimes and let her go.  She smiles with a joy that fills my heart.  She dances like no one else is looking.  She makes us laugh and she makes herself happy.  She can be totally content to be alone in a crowd and we lovingly admire her time in Lillie Land.  With age, she has gained that self control of the Holy Spirit and in time He has shown me ways to let her go or reel her in.  Teaching, training, raising, and loving her still feels sometimes as if I am putting together a 1000 piece puzzle without having the box top to look at.  But I know the One Who holds her box top.  I will look to Him in my mothering of a Lillie Grace. He has been very faithful in my mothering of a Lillie Grace.  Sometimes she is the very person I wish I could be.  She is not a chicken.  She never has been.  And I'm sorry Lillie Belle.  So sorry for missing that.  Go.  Be a peacock Lil.









Thursday, January 8, 2015

Go. Be a Peacock Lil. Part 1


Secret Keepers tell a story on their tour this year….

There once was a beautiful, colorful peacock who thought she was a chicken who happened to live with a brood of plain chickens behind a chain fence. Although the only one in the brood who was a peacock, she didn't see herself as any different and everyday she spent trying to act like the other chickens.

Day after day she would try her best to act more and more like a chicken.  The more and more she tried to act like a chicken the more she didn't fit in.  The more she didn't fit in the more she tried to act like the plain chickens around her.  She had a very miserable life trying to fit in to a group she was never intended to fit in with.

One day a beautiful bird in the distance flew gracefully down and began to slowly walk around.  As this bird walked, its tail feathers began to spread into the most beautiful, colorful fan of color.  The peacock was mesmerized by this beautiful bird.  She watched it for hours and couldn't take her eyes off of it.  As she watched this magnificent creature, she pulled away from the plain brood of chickens behind her.  Eventually, it was her alone by the fence.

"You know you are a just like that bird right?"

"What do you mean?" asked the peacock who thought she was a chicken.  As she looked to her side, it was the oldest chicken in the brood that had sidled up beside her and was looking in the distance too at this amazing creature.

"That's a peacock.  My dear.  You are a peacock."

"I. Am.??" The thought baffled the peacock who thought she was a chicken and she had to know more.

"You are just as beautiful.  You are just as unique.  No one has ever told you to go.  Go. Be a peacock."

"But this fence…?"  The thought of joining up with that amazing bird was unfathomable.

"You can fly.  You are a peacock. For all this time you have been trying to be something you are not.  You are not like the others.  You are not a chicken.  You are a peacock.  Go. Be a Peacock."

With a deep breath and a quick pause, the peacock spread her beautiful wings, flew over the fence and gracefully landed a few feet from the other peacock.  As she landed the beautiful bird in front of her, slowly and steadily spread the most beautiful tail feathers she had ever seen.  Something inside of her began to tingle and before the peacock knew it, she had a fan of feathers surrounding her body that she had never seen before.  She was a peacock.  She was not a chicken.  She would spend the rest of her life being the peacock God had created her to be.


September 2004

Every run began the same way.  I would begin my run clearing my head and turning my thoughts to God.  I would pray.  I would thank God for Who He was, what He was doing, and what He had done. I had been a Christian for about 4 years and I was growing.  God was blessing us with our third child and I was due in January.  Everyday I had started praying specifically for a little girl.  Although I couldn't imagine having a girl, I knew that was a desire of my heart; to have a baby daughter.

I had very much enjoyed my times as a boy mommy to the two that God had blessed us with, but the what if….always stayed with me.  What if we had a girl?  What if the baby inside was a girl?  The more I prayed the stronger my desire became and at times it felt wrong.  I had come to want a girl more than anything I could think of.  I kept praying that God would give me a little girl.  I knew Hannah had prayed specifically for a boy, so I was sure my specific prayer for a girl was not wrong, but I couldn't shake the guilt my request was becoming somewhat of an idol.

One day standing in line to check out at Walmart with my two sweet boys, There was a teenage girl and a mother in front of me having a very heated discussion.  Not wanting to eavesdrop I kept my boys engaged in conversations about things around us and in our buggy.  Lots of eye rolling and a few, "Watch your mouth"s, I knew things were not good.

"I'm going to wait in the car.  You can do this by yourself!" and with that the teenage girl stomped away.  Very disrespectfully.  The mother caught my eye and with a look of apology, she just timidly shrugged her shoulders and began unloading the overloaded cart by herself.  Big tears began to spill down her cheeks.  Slowly, I walked over and began to help her unload.

"Do you know what you are having?"  she asked as if to smooth over the awkwardness.

"I don't.  We already have two boys, so I guess in a way I am assuming a third boy."

"You can only hope.  Whatever you do, pray you don't have a girl like mine."  And with that the clerk told her the amount, she paid, and was walking out before her comment had time to sink in.  That was it.  That's what my prayer had been missing.  The peace I felt from that moment was like a direct encouragement from God.

The next morning on my run, not much changed, except my heart for this growing baby inside of me and my prayer.

"Dear God.  You know my desire is to have a baby girl.  I pray for a little baby girl but only if she would grow to honor and love you all the days of her life.  I pray for a little baby girl who loves You.  If that is Your will, I will teach her to love and serve you.  If not, then I will thank you forever for the sweet boy you bless me with.  Amen"


The amazing thing was the peace I felt.  I was suddenly ok with whatever God choose to bless our family with.  I knew He knew better.  He would only give me a daughter if she did not have a rebellious heart and He would give me a boy if He knew that is what we needed.  The gender would be perfect for our family and I was full of the peace I had been wanting.

In October, we went for our 6 month ultrasound and we were excited to find out what the gender would be.  In my heart, I believed it would be a boy.  I just knew from the peace and change of heart over the past month.  That strong desire for a girl only at any cost was gone so my heart was content with the thought of a third boy.  I truly believed God had taken away the desire for a girl, because only He could know.

As the tech pushed the sensor over my belly, he said, "Do you want to know?"

Immediately Patrick asked if he could guess.  After looking at the screen, he went behind my head and said, "I will hold up one for a boy and two for a girl."  Instantly, the tech looked up at his fingers and said, "Nope."  My heart smiled although I had a thought of loss for just a moment.  You see, Patrick had said the entire time that we were having a girl so I assumed he had held up two fingers.  As the tech and Patrick looked intently at the screen, I had a moment to myself.  I remember saying a quick prayer, "Thank you God for this baby.  Thank you that you will give me a child who will honor you, not one who will have a rebellious heart."  And with that I was ready to welcome baby boy #3 to our family.

The tech called the head ultrasound tech in to confirm what he had seen and his comment was, "That's girl country right there!"

What.  What??  What?!?  Big tears of joy rolled down my face as I sat up to see the evidence of the desire of my heart that God had given me.  I was in shock.  He knew my heart.  He knew my desire had been a child I could raise for His glory.  He gave me a daughter.  A baby girl.

Thoughts of a shy, quiet girl sitting still beside me with a beautiful pink dress and her hand in mine came to mind.  But this is not what God's thoughts were.  That was not the girl He had created for me.  He created a Lillie.  And she would rock my world.

to be continued…..