Monday, July 24, 2017


"My kids will never...." the young mom began.

We were sitting in a Sunday school class one day when the conversation turned to a parenting topic.  Although, it wasn't anything highly controversial, it was still an issue that parents of teenagers would eventually face.  The comment came from a sweet young mom who's oldest child was 7.  As I listened to her argument, it made perfect sense.  It was well thought out and backed by conviction.  But with an oldest child of only 7, it was a bold statement to make on an issue that was still about 8 years out.

Neverland.  It's a place 15 years ago I thought I would never be.  The movie Peter Pan would have you to believe that it's a place where no one ever grows up and when your children are young, it certainly feels like it could be real.  Days are long and the years are short was what I was always told.  Enjoy it because it goes fast~was a comment I heard often as I was trying to calm a small toddler.  In a blink of an eye~was what I heard pushing four children under the age of 7 through a crowded Walmart Supercenter.  Don't blink~....too late.

My kids are grown and growing up.  My oldest is 18 and has one foot confidently out of our home ready to pave his own path in college.  My youngest is 11 and in the excitement of beginning middle school.  Three of my four are teenagers.  Two of the four are taller, outweigh me, and are the size of men.  I miss the days of pushing a stroller, carrying an infant, or changing diapers but I don't long for them.  I love where I am and this season of mothering.  I am re-hearing advice from older mothers from my younger mothering days and I am smiling at the future.  Their words coming true.  It truly is an enjoyable season.

But I am in Neverland.  It's not a bad place, it's great in fact.  Just a place I swore I'd never be.

Shortly after I had my oldest child, a beautiful soul shared the Truth of the Gospel with me and I became a Believer and follower of Jesus Christ.  It was in His perfect timing because I had a very unruly 18 month old and I was dreading the Terrible Twos around the corner.  I was disciplining using positive reinforcement and never saying "no" to him.  I could go on and on about all of the struggles I had but the victory came from the older women who came quickly alongside me, sharing Truth about bringing up babies, Truth about God's heart toward children, and practical advice to put those Truths to work.  I quickly learned that there was so much I didn't know.  There was so much that I wanted to learn and so much that I could apply.  I sat under great teaching and wonderful mothers who were several chapters ahead of me in their Mothering Story.  I listened.  I took notes. I searched the Scriptures for myself.  I called into Mothering From the Heart radio shows.  I called seasoned mothers.  I prayed.  I sought out mothers who were just a few steps ahead of me in their mothering.  I saw good behavior, I asked how.  I saw sweet spirits, I asked how.  I saw respectful talk, I asked how. I saw happy homes, I asked how.  I took it all in and it changed how I mothered.

But in came a small portion of pride.  Small pride?  Really there is no small pride.  Pride is pride and I was there.  We were following the algebraic equation for great children.  The algebraic equation that I came up with in my own head.  A + B=C. Follow it and there may be bumps, but there will be a perfect C at the end.  I would share my thoughts with some and I cringe now at what must have been coming from my mouth.  Never this.  And never that.  And certainly never those.  Never.  Never.  Never.  It's very easy to say never when never is so far away.

My 7 year old became 10.  My 10 year old overnight became 14.  My 14 year old is leaving for college in 3 weeks at the age of 18.  How did I get to this point because truly it seems as if it has been a blink of an eye. It went fast.  The years ARE short.  And now I am here.  My oldest at 18 and my youngest creeping up to the teenage years. It's a humbling season of mothering. I am in Neverland.  Somehow I got here and my thoughts are different.  My nevers are different.  Some nevers completely gone.  Some nevers are still never.  Some nevers we laugh at.  Some nevers are adjusted.  But my heart is the same.  My prayers are still fervent.  My desire to teach and train my grown and growing children is even stronger as I see them slowly walking toward the door.  But my nevers?  I am sad that they were ever spoken.

My nevers changed because each season changed.
My nevers changed because my children grew.
My nevers changed because my children built trust.
My nevers changed because my perspective changed.
My nevers changed because our lives changed.

Nevers change.  God never changes.  Children change.  God never changes.  Technology changes.  God never changes.  The world around us is changing.  God never changes.  Children grow and it becomes their turn.  God never changes.

I am thankful that I listened so long ago to the wise women who had gone before.  I remember one conversation that took my pride and my algebraic equation and removed them both.  It was my first true step into a new season of mothering and I felt like I had hit a brick wall.  I was embarrassed and was looking for some Truth to hold onto.  A Titus mom told me "Remember this moment.  Never say never because you don't know what life will hold.  But hold onto the God Who never changes and never says never and can do anything that seems impossible to us."

So if I have any advice for younger moms now.  Never say never.  Don't look at women ahead of you in their season of mothering and say, "I will never..." because you don't know the story, or the child, or the circumstances.  Keep your eyes instead on the One Who never changes and worry about staying in His Will for your mothering those He has given you.  My desire is to be in God's Neverland.  Never changing.  Never leaving.  Never turning away.  Always there.  Always in control. I don't want any part of the Neverland of pride.  My mothering is not done.  There is potential for me to say again, "I will never..."  My desire is to stay far away from that Neverland.

Because in a blink...they do grow up in Neverland.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Front Row Center

My daughter's first dance recital was anything short of crazy.  The rehearsals, the preparation, the makeup, the costumes in 100 degree heat~all of it.  Crazy.  By the night of the performance, I had seen her dance more times then I care to mention along with every other number from start to finish.  I had sat through every rehearsal, every meeting, every backstage moment.  But still in those final moments of dropping off that sweet worn out 5 year old, "Mama, where will you be watching so I can find you?"  I went into a litany of reasons why she wouldn't be able to see me between the lights and all of the other moms and how she would need to be focusing on her dance steps and remembering to smile pretty....blah, blah, blah was all she seemed to hear.  As she was being led off by a backstage mom she asked the simple question once more, "Where will you be watching, Mama?"

"Front Row Center!"  I yelled back so her sweet little ears could hear.

Everyone knows that is the best seat for any show. I fully intended to sit front row center too. I had told her that is where I would sit and that was exactly where I was headed.  Until I came up to the front two rows marked RESERVED.  Her dance teacher would eventually be in the front row center chair and there was nothing I could do about it now.  Since I had watched every rehearsal, I knew that she would actually be on the front row stage left so I picked the next best seat to front row center, a seat on the side I knew I would best be able to see my little girl. This became *My* front row center.

And so it has been for the last 18 years.  My front row center is the best place for me to see the faces that rock my world.  The little people to grown children who I have poured my very life into.  My front row center looks different for each child and for each event and for each moment.  Sometimes my front row center was quietly holding a frightened child in the middle of the night lying next to them on the bed.  My front row center has been sitting out in my car as a lesson takes longer than it should.  My front row center has been on the visiting side of the field so I could get the best angle at the position he was starting.  My front row center has been at the top of the bleachers to see over a dugout.  My front row center has been on Game Changer when I had to be in four places at once.   My front row center has been in another room of our house while teenagers hung out.  My front row center has been on the opposite side of the stage so I could watch the expression of my dancer coming on.  My front row center has been peeking through a small window on my tippy toes to see what was happening on the other side.  My front row center has been slowly creeping my way to a better view.  My front row center has been on the phone listening to the tears.  My front row center has been through pictures and video taken from a sweet friend when I was front row center for another child.  Sometimes my front row center isn't even actually a place but in my heart. In the moments quiet with my Heavenly Father on behalf of the ones He has entrusted me.  In the pleas for Him to intervene because only He could see.  In the unspoken needs that I didn't even know existed.  My front row center is the very God Who created them, sees them, knows them, and can be trusted with their very life.

I am about to take a new front row center from 4 hours away as I send my oldest off to college.   This will be the farthest front row center I have ever sat.  I have never not had a day where I wasn't there being in my front row center for him.  18 years of knowing where he was, who he was with, what he was doing...being in my front row center.  My view will look very different in the next few weeks.  I keep picturing the day we go to drop him off.  For the first time, I won't know his friends, or be able to picture what he is doing.  I won't be able to meet up with him at the end of a long day with a talk over reheated supper, or to hang around the kitchen table or to come in to hug him good night.  It will be a very different look from where I sit and one I am not 100% sure of what to expect.  So I am giving my seat up.  One that was never really mine to begin with.  One that was always saved for me in advance.  He will be, has, and always has been the One truly in that seat.  He knows his coming and his going.  His lying down and his getting up.  My front row center seat will be trusted to the One Who can be trusted.  He will be my game changer, my video, my text.  And I will go to Him when I can't see from the small window, from the opposite side of the field, from the driver side window.

I will be on my knees in the quiet of my closet.  Giving Him my seat.  Allowing Him to be the One to watch over this young man who has been one of the stars of my show for the last 18 years.  I trust God with his life.  With the plan for his future.  With his daily comings and goings.  Through my Heavenly Father I will be "watching."  Taking in every moment by praying and going to the One Who sees him.  I imagine him asking as he takes his first steps out of our home, "Mama, where will you be watching?"

From the front row center.