Thursday, June 15, 2017

Realm Squasher

Last night as my husband and I were talking about a particular child who is in a competitive sport, but doesn't want to be, we realized that competing against others just isn't his thing.

Thinking about it in the light of day and examining my heart, I've come to some ugly and true realizations.

I have a child who HATES school. He will never come home with a straight A report card.

I have a child who struggles with some really serious anxiety issues. To the point of not being able to go to the bathroom when he needs to because he is overly anxious.

I have a child who was repeatedly told to fix some things in his performance to get a better score and try as he might he couldn't, until we took the pressure of competing off and then the improvement came.

What does that mean for me?

Here's where it gets ugly.

I have to realize that I am never going to be able to brag about my child's academic successes. He probably won't go to an ivy league school (bonus: we don't have to pay for ivy league). No matter how smart he is, he will not achieve the successes that come in the "regular" academic world. I also have to accept that what I always hoped for him, may not be what makes him happy.

I have a child who will never compete in the sport he enjoys, because competition shuts him down from making progress. So we will see his progress. No one else will, and there are no ribbons or trophies for those who don't compete.

We may have to homeschool the one who is so anxious he spends too much time in the bathroom agonizing over his fears. No smiling from risers and cute waves into the audience.

All those bragging rights about acceptance letters, trophies and ribbons, Christmas concerts and Spring Sings with waving smiling kiddos, are not going to be our regular world. We take them when we can and thoroughly enjoy them. I am becoming increasingly aware that I will not have the kind of Facebook posts, or Instagram pictures that let the world know how amazing and wonderful my kids are.

I'll admit it. It kind of makes me sad.

It makes me sad, that as their mom I wanted/needed bragging rights.

That even for a moment I wanted people to look at me and say "She is an amazing mom, look at what her kids have achieved."

That doing what's right for my kids may have taken a back seat to what all the expectations are for those who are "successful."

Writing this I realize I keep saying "my kids."  These are not my kids, they are precious sons of a Heavenly Father who has let them come to my home for a little while. They are children of God. They just happen to be in my care for a while.

I need to stop looking for the world to give them trophies and accolades because those will all go away.

I need to look for Him to give me guidance as to how to raise them.

I need to see them as He does. Just as importantly, they need to see themselves as He does.

I need to stop seeing them as potential Facebook fodder and more as precious gifts, gifts that will mature and move away.

I need to help them realize who they are and that no college acceptance or rejection, last place trophy or concert defines who they really are in my eyes or His.

I need to realize that in the scholastic realm, sports realm, I can do it all realm, our kiddos may not be participants. Ultimately those realms don't matter. They may seem important for a while, and they can teach important things. But in the wholeness of life, they are dust collectors, and pride enhancers. I don't need any more dust collectors. I'm already struggling with my pride, I don't need any more to get over, thank you very much.

So I guess I am a realm squasher. Pretty sure I might put that on my next resume. It's actually starting to sound catchy to me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dancing in the Storm

I recently returned from the privilege of joining with several other women in taking 27 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 to camp.

In the woods.

In tents.

For five days.

And it was fantastic!

It was such an honor to be surrounded by these amazing young girls and awesome leaders! And I feel like I had one suspicion confirmed for me: girls smell better than boys. Even after five days of camping.

I digress.

There was an afternoon that was set aside for us to take the girls to a lake and do some canoeing. Just after lunch as we were talking about it, the sky quickly started clouding up. As I looked, I couldn't help but think about the coming storm and what that would do to our chance of canoeing. But, undaunted we set out. On the way, it started raining. I'm not talking a light sprinkle, or even a steady drip. I'm talking pouring!

Then it went from pouring to hailing! Yes, hailing!!!!

But we continued to the lake. Hoping that maybe the storm had already passed the lake. No such luck!

When we got there, the storm was coming. We said a prayer that if possible, the storm would pass us, but if not that all would be well.

So we waited out the storm.

We did it dancing.

We turned on the music in one of the trucks and danced in the parking lot. We got rained on just a bit.

Sure enough, about a half hour later the storm had worked its work and the clouds were skeedaddling away, we got the girls on the water and had a great time. We even saw a bald eagle!

Here's what I took away from this experience.

The storms will come.

Sometimes, when we pray, the Lord will remove the storm and get it clearly out of our midst.

But often, He allows the storm and gives us a chance to wait it out.

But why? Why doesn't He just make it go away already? What about our plans?

Well, the storm has its purpose too. Maybe that bit of ground needs rain. Maybe that rain will put out a small fire. Maybe that lightning will start a needed fire. Maybe that storm will make us wait and learn patience. Maybe that storm will give us the chance to dance.

I don't know why some storms come to us.

I know in one of the big storms in my life I have been saying for a long time, "go away, I'm tired" but it hasn't gone away. I know I'm far more patient than I was years ago. I know I have far more endurance that I did before battling many storms. But I also know, I'm not there yet. I'm not at the end. He still has more for me to learn and experience.

And maybe, this time, or for just one day I will be wise enough to accept the storm, turn up the music and dance through it, knowing He has a purpose in it.

That may sound very easy and even idealistic. Right now, in the midst of the storm, it is even hard to write. But the reality is I need a break from looking at, wondering what will come of it, and trying to anticipate what will come next. I need to let go and just dance.

Do you?

If so, turn up the tunes, dance your little heart out and let the rain fall. It will fall no matter what, so we may as well turn our faces to it, let it wash us, and pull out that smile that may need dusting off from the storms we are in the midst of.

If you are on the other side of the storm, thank the Lord for helping you make it through and maybe you could turn on some music for someone who is in one. If you are headed into one, pull out your raingear: the scriptures, prayers, words of those who inspire you to find the Lord. And load up on music that uplifts and inspires you, and put your dancing shoes on. For those somewhere in the middle, don't give up!! Keep praying and fasting and holding to the promises of God.

And in the words of Lee Ann Womack, "I hope you dance!"