Wallpaper Christianity…

I’ve been so focused on the new job that I’ve felt like my brain has left me zero room to process emotions–does that make sense? I’ve been struggling with feeling like God is near (is He? I mean, of course He is, but He’s hard to hear when the world is so loud & obnoxious), in the middle of trying to get thru the day-to-day…
But He finds ways & places to capture our hearts, sometimes when we least expect it, & emotions, like water, WILL make their way thru.
Sitting at Hannah’s grave hurt today… it hurt in a way that it hasn’t in a long time. 💔 

Maybe it’s the season–after all, her birthday was October 30th, & November 28th is the date of her death. Maybe it’s the fact that this time of the year, I feel pulled in more directions than are humanly possible to reach. Maybe it’s that time is flying by, & I get this “hitch” in the center of my chest every time my son outgrows another piece of clothing…

I sat at her grave, putting up her Christmas tree, & as I was making things “just so,” I felt God say, “Wait. Take a breath–you need to process this.” David & Jericho were in the car–they could wait. I sat there & looked at the beautiful hills…15 years. 15 years of memories, of decorations come and gone…15 years of tears, of occasional stoicism or anger, many years of finding, losing, and re-finding peace in the unknowing….even peace in the non-understanding…and still, 15 years of unanswered questions…

I still find myself asking if it will ever make sense…and I still find myself leaning back on Him, knowing that He is still there to catch me. He is in the unknowing, even when He is all we know.

You know, people have gotten really crazy with what I call “wallpaper Christianity.” I can’t do the whole, “live, laugh, love” thing on my wall…I have a Cricut, & I’m pretty sure David’s biggest concern when he bought it was that I’d plaster the house with all of that, “this is us” crap, LOL, but he needn’t worry…usually….But the other day, I saw a sign on Facebook that I’m going to have to duplicate. It said, “I still remember the days I prayed for what I have, now.”

Oooooh, that got me.

I still remember the letter 14-year old me wrote to her future husband, & all of the prayers poured into this man that steals my heart & my bath towel, or forgets to change the toilet paper roll. I still remember the prayers poured into finding joy again, or into recovery. I remember the prayers poured into learning to trust God all over again, into finding who I was again….and I remember on a daily basis, the prayers poured into the crazy-pants, static, loud, lovable, kind, adorable, occasionally obnoxious, and always-amazing now 8-year old miracle that I get to call, “Son.”

Even on the days where I have utterly failed at wife-ing or parenting, I remember those prayers, & I am endlessly grateful.

I’m thankful for this journey. Above all, I am thankful for a God Who loves & sustains us thru the the business & chaos, & Who lovingly calls us to selah, or “pause” & to listen to His voice….Who created us as emotional beings & Who never tells us to “stifle it” or to “suck it up.” He understands our processes because He created us in His image, & He IS an emotional Being–He loves, He grieves, & He celebrates. He doesn’t expect or want us to pretend; He wants our reality & our actuality.

We may want to focus on “live, laugh, love, ” but He is also in those commas & spaces between,,,in the parts no one wants to paper their walls with. He is calling us to pause in the chaos, and to allow ourselves to feel…to feel all of it, and to share it with Him.

So, I got a little….well, I almost said, “wrecked,” but it was more like an emotional flat tire: easily fixed, but not to be ignored. And that’s okay. There is peace after the processing.

I hope that you get to take the time through the next few weeks to breathe, to feel, and to fall into His arms. He will always be there.

Happy Thanksgiving, and if you don’t hear from me, Merry Christmas, beloveds. May you find your selah in this season.

Unpacking the Brain Backpack, AKA, “What grade did my kid just get?!?!?”

My kiddo is smart.

I’m not saying he’s like, “genius-savant-off-the-charts” smart, but the kid can keep up conversations with people three times his age. Half the time, when he’s in trouble, he can skillfully debate with my on a level that leaves me shaking my head (and he definitely keeps me on my toes). I’m not looking forward to the teen years, let me tell you.

He’s quick-witted, easily distracted, and possibly OCD when he gets on a topic of choice. He may have a slight dose of ADD, but as long as he continues to maintain acceptable levels of self-control, I’m not going to look at getting a formal diagnosis. The investment into keeping him in a small, faith-based school means that he’s getting a lot of one-on-one relationships and education, so we’re able to maintain independence as parents when it comes to our child’s unique personality (Unpopular opinion: When your kid is 1 in a class of 24, with 1 teacher, and they have a lot of energy/thoughts/need to express all of the above, the teacher can’t possibly give them the space they need to do that, without affecting the other kids. Kids then fall behind, because they’re not getting what they need and they’re in an impossible environment. It’s hard on the teacher, the child, and the parents, and many times, parents are told they need to get their kids “under control.” The conditioning has become to get your child a formal diagnosis, an Individual Educational Plan, medication in many situations, counseling, and an asterisk that they are “different” or somehow not on a level that’s even with their peers. I feel like this would be the path we’d be facing in public school. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but I am saying that it’s not for us. Small classes, individual attention, a solid curriculum, and most importantly, a foundation of faith, is the education I grew up with and is the education we chose for our child. I understand it is not for everyone—I’m not here to pass judgment, and am in no way saying that all kids are treated the same, or should expect to be. I will definitely say that I’m a huge advocate for Christian education, and that if you ever have any questions about it, I’m more than happy to answer to the best of my abilities. I went to Christian schools from Kindergarten through my Bachelor’s degree, and my son is now in his 4th year of Christian education, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the good, the bad, and the scary.). My son’s teachers have all celebrated Jericho’s strengths and have challenged his rough edges; I don’t always agree with them, but I will always support them (and when I don’t agree, I reach out to them to clarify my questions, and they ALWAYS respond with kindness).

Second Grade is challenging my son. I have to say that I don’t believe it’s challenging his intelligence as much as it’s challenging his patience and his focus (and looking back, I wish I would have realized the same things about myself as I faced my own academic issues). He gets the facts straight for his classes, but then doesn’t exhibit the focus he needs in order to recall those facts. He doesn’t want to slow down enough to have legible handwriting for his answer to count as correct.  This has led to a number of discussions (many ending in tears) about, “Jericho, what is the point of knowing the answer if you won’t take the time to write it neatly enough to be read? You KNOW this stuff!!!” I find myself getting frustrated. I don’t want to go the route that devolves into hurting feelings, or making him feel like he’s “less than.” It can be challenging to convert, “DO better!!!” to, “Hey, you’re awesome, and you’re enough…and you’re also way smarter than a “B,” so slow down and do the job.”

I want him to understand that he is more than capable, and that it’s WORTH IT to slow down and to do it right…

But what does he hear???

It’s very difficult for me to stop, refocus my words, and to clarify both my intention and my love for him. I look at his little face when he’s turned in a “Bad” grade, and I know he’s beating himself up for it more than I ever could.

When we’ve had remote learning, he’s told me, “I don’t WANT to do the work with you!!  You expect me to be PERFECT!!!!!!!”

It’s not true, but oh, how that hurt my heart to hear. I still want to cry when I think about it—have I failed him, in pushing him towards his potential? Or do I keep pressing in? 

I’m not inclined to accept mediocrity when I know he has the ability to excel, but at what cost?

“You’re not here to be his friend,” I remind myself on an almost-daily basis. I love him too much to let him take the easy way out, even when it’s hard for me to stand my ground.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not Tiger-Momming it over here. I consistently tell him that I want to see that he’s TRIED. If he tries and he gets a “C,” I’m totally okay with that—but I want him to TRY. That’s what matters to me, more than letters. Speaking of “C,” last night, he brought home a “C” on a science test.

I about fell over….the words escaped my mouth before I could stop them” “What in the world?!?  A C?!?!”

Cue the tears.

He cried, and he wailed, and he yelled, and he had a Total. Meltdown. David was working upstairs, and he came down to see what torture I had inflicted in the household, to warrant such a racket.

I hadn’t said a word, other than my initial shock. You see, the night before that test, Jericho had recited almost word-for-word, the entire Study Guide. He knew it all. When I went to bed the night before, I just knew he was going to kill that science test, and maintain his GPA (yes, we talk about it in the Second Grade). He knew all of this stuff, and for him to bring home a “C” was a genuine shock to me.

He cried his little eyes out while sitting on my lap. I shushed him, told him it was okay, and quietly said that I just wanted to unpack what happened (I never raised my voice, if you’re wondering). He kept yelling. It took a while to calm him down and to focus, but once he did, I told him this story:

“Your brain—sometimes, your brain is full of cats in paper sacks. It’s nearly impossible to get your thoughts wrangled together and to focus through to find what you need, right?

Jericho, think of your brain like your Backpack. Say you’re going to Grammy’s house, and you need socks. You throw them into your backpack, first thing…and they sink to the bottom, as everything does when you throw it into the backpack, first.

As the day goes on, more things go into the backpack: Shoes, pajamas, stuffed animals…everything goes into the backpack, on top of everything else….

But you need your socks….and they’re at the bottom of the backpack….So what do you do?”

“You dump the backpack out and you find them.”

“Exactly. So, you sort through everything to find what you need, right?

It’s the same thing for your Brain. Think of your Brain as your Backpack:

You see, you KNEW all of the answers to that science test. You had it!  But things happened….maybe a video game, or a TV show. Maybe you put a puzzle together that you were excited about, or you had a really great recess. All of those were things that went into your Brain Backpack, on TOP of the science stuff you knew so well, the night before.

So when the science test started, you needed to take a few deep breaths, focus, and really concentrate on sorting through all of the “other” stuff in your Brain Backpack, and find the answers you knew in the bottom of the bag—THEN you can pull the answers out, and write everything down as you know it.”

I don’t know if this mental picture will help him on his next test, but I know that as parents, our responsibility to encourage him towards excellence while protecting his self-esteem is very important to me. I never want him to feel like HE is not enough, even when his efforts are lacking. I’m grateful that he’s first of all, in a classroom, and secondly, surrounded by educators who are on the same page as David & I are, in lovingly pushing him towards his potential while giving him space to learn. It’s a delicate, balance and one that I am very challenged by.

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s not for those who aren’t willing to look at tear-filled eyes and still stand their ground (in love). I’m not his friend; I love him so much more than that….and I’m so grateful for my spirited, smart, hilarious little mini. He’s a good kid.

This video by The Holderness Family basically sums up our lives right now, and I couldn’t agree more!!!!!!!!!

Side note—Since my last post, we got a dog! Say “hello” to Noodle the Mutt—she’s about 5 months old, and she & Jericho are still getting used to each other, so that comes with its own set of challenges. I never wanted a small dog, and David never wanted a rescue or a mutt….Noodle happily meets all three of those “nevers” and we couldn’t love her more.

Saying Goodbye to Santa…

I always knew this day would come, but I thought it would be more like, 9 or 10.

I knew that even barely introducing the concept of Santa Claus would have its consequences, but at some point I decided that cuteness and imagination outweighed whatever those would be….and now it’s time to pay the piper. My son has announced that “Santa isn’t real.”

Telling Kids the Truth About Santa | POPSUGAR Family
This might be the most fearsome Santa I have ever seen. Get this guy outta here!

Now, I have never confirmed or denied this fact. I’ve simply given him a response that is inspired by my life mentor, C. S. Lewis: “Is that a gamble you want to take?” This is loosely based on C.S. Lewis’ Trilemma, of whether or not you want to live your life in such a way that believes Jesus was real, or that He was a madman….It’s a pretty big gamble, and it makes perfect sense to me to utilize this logic when it came to the possibilities of Saint Nick, who is, as we know, based on a true story. But I digress…

The facts are the facts, and now my son is calling me on my bluff. In the interest of never again undermining my parental truths, this is the year that we metaphorically end Santa in our household…but how to do it in a way that spares imagination? In a way that keeps Christmas full of childlike wonder? IN A WAY THAT GETS ME MY GOSH-DARNED PICTURES AT CABELAS OR BASS PRO EVERY FLIPPING YEAR FOR THE SAKE OF CONTINUITY!!!! IT’S FOR POSTERITY, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahem….

So, this year, I have a plan….Okay, it’s not much of a plan, but I thought I’d share it with you. Here goes:

  1. Jericho has only ever received 1-3 gifts from Santa. I think that’s only fair, since we work our butts off and deserve most of the credit. He’s not used to getting giant gifts from Mr. Claus, because Mr. Claus didn’t slave over an overflowing desk for the previous 11 months.
  2. Jericho has gotten a letter from Santa several times, including one which contained a gift certificate to Goodwill. Yep–at that point, Goodwill didn’t even MAKE gift certificates…but I know a fluffy lil’ elf who’s handy with clip art, thanks to years of yearbook editing.
  3. I got one gift for Jericho that’s earmarked from Santa, and it’s something he knows I would NEVER in a million years buy him. Really, I just did it to mess with him. I’ll pay for the therapy later.
  4. Finally, I wrote him the Last Letter from Santa that he will ever receive. I think I’m sending him out with a bang; I’m including it below. Feel free to borrow it if you need to.

Although I have a few regrets about introducing my kiddo to Santa in the first place, I don’t feel bad about how he’s ending. I think I have successfully brought the focus full circle, and that I’ve managed to write something that keeps the wonder and miracle of Christmas in a child’s reality, as opposed to something that’s magical and unattainable. Santa may not be real, but hope and joy are, when they are founded in the Reason for the Season.

It’s Jericho’s last Christmas with Santa, and it’s mostly sweet as opposed to bitter. He’s growing up…why does it happen so fast? I’m nostalgic, but I have so much hope for his beautiful future, and for the destiny God has for him. It’s an honor to get to watch this kiddo grow up.

Make beautiful Christmas memories, y’all. For those hearts that are hurting this season–and I know far, far too many–may His peace fall over your hearts and souls, and may His Love be the healing you need. Merry Christmas to all…..

Dear Jericho:

Merry Christmas!!!!! I see that you’re doing so well this year: You’re getting good grades, you’re learning about Jesus & the Bible, and you’re learning new things! You’re growing so much…you’re growing up, and that’s why I’m writing you this letter.

You see, when little boys and girls start growing up, certain things lose their “sparkle.” Stories about Santa Claus and reindeer are replaced with Mario and video games, and books about the North Pole are replaced with YouTube. It’s all part of getting older, and since I’m over a thousand years old (yes, over a thousand!!), I’ve watched generations of boys and girls grow up and move past believing in me.

And that’s okay.

You see, Christmas isn’t about me—it never was. In fact, all I do, and all any of my workers do (my workers—you know, the guys in the stores that dress like me, that Mom makes you take pictures with? Yeah, they work for me—but you’re right, they’re not me!) is to try and represent the truth of Christmas to a world that needs love and hope far more than it needs toys or games. When I lived in Europe (waaaaaay back in the day), I would see people in need and I would try to help them get food and shelter. Many people lived in poverty, and had no homes. I would try to get toys to the children, to bring joy to their lives, because many of them lived in sickness & in sadness. Jesus says that “the poor you will always have with you,” & it’s true. There are many, many poor & homeless people that live on this earth—even in Arnold or in Imperial!….And for every person that is poor or homeless in their body, thousands more are poor in spirit, living a life without Jesus in their hearts.

I know that you know “Santa Claus” as the TV and movies show him, is not real.  But the hope & joy that people feel when they see me is VERY real, & it’s a bright light to their soul that shines this season—almost like that beautiful Star of Bethlehem that shown over the stable where Jesus was born! THAT’s why we celebrate Christmas—not because of me, Santa Claus. We celebrate the Birth of the Baby that would save us from our sins, & Who would give us love, hope, & life forever. He’s a Reason to celebrate all year long!!!

So, you’re grown now…you’re 7, & you’re very, very smart. You’ve learned my secret…that no, I’m not real, but that I represent things that are very, very real: Hope, Joy, & Love. These are things that can only be found in Jesus, & I lived my life on earth in a way that celebrated Him to all of the people I knew.

Jericho, this will be my last letter to you, & my last present to you, so I decided to make it count…your mom might get mad at me over this, but she knows if she says too much about it, she’ll wake up with coal under her pillow!!! May your Christmas always be full of the hope, joy, and Love that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Always Your Friend,

Santa

Raising Rainbows

I know, it’s been a while since I sat down and wrote anything. Life is BUSY, and it’s hard for me to discipline myself enough to focus on the monitor! So, to catch up—

The last blog was all the way back in July! It’s been over a MONTH?!?  What the heck?!? In August, we had some childcare crises to navigate, so we were running all over the place to make sure we were covered. My challenge for the school year is to find a new summer care program for my son, because he just didn’t seem to be as happy at the one he’s been in. I need to figure something out—I’m taking suggestions!

School started mid-August, and Jericho started the First Grade. He has a new teacher, and a new routine, and he seems to be settling in well! I also signed him up for Cross-Country!

I never did sports in school; I was always a music/drama geek, so the concept of team sports didn’t really come my way until I “played” volleyball in college (I use the term, “played,” VERY LOOSELY. I sucked.). My family did martial arts, which is a solo sport—well, solo, until they throw you in a ring and you have to either beat someone up, or get pummeled. I didn’t do so well there, either. J Either way, I believe in athletics and teamwork, and I’m really glad his school is so supportive. I was a nervous WRECK!

It was a million degrees, and I was mostly afraid that he wouldn’t finish the race, but HE DID, and I don’t even know if he came in last—I didn’t pay attention to that. He FINISHED!!  I was so stinking proud (and stinky—did I mention it was a million degrees?!?!)!  The first thing he said to me was, “Did I earn my Taco Bell?!?” Yes, baby, of course you did.

20190910_074255

And then, he proceeded to eat everything on the menu.

tacos

As he gets older, one of the things I’m learning to work with is the endless list of questions. He doesn’t stop asking questions, and I try to answer them all; sometimes, I get overwhelmed and have to make him give me five minutes of silence, but normally, we have some pretty great conversations. He’s known for about a year now that he had a sister, and that she was a baby when she died; he’s now at a point where he’s asking pretty intense questions.

I’m learning to navigate.

He’s learning about germs and bacteria. His sister died of Late-Onset Group B Strep with Bacterial Meningitis, so the fact that a bacteria caused her death is fascinating to him. Yesterday, he was asking me about the technical aspects: “how did it kill her?” “What did it do?” “What kind of germ is it?” “Why couldn’t the doctors fix her?”

I don’t ever want to lie to him, or gloss over something. If he asks the question, I’m going to answer it in the most matter-of-fact, non-emotional way that I can. Working in healthcare for as many years as I have, I’d like to think I can be pretty good with divulging clear facts without emotional interference. It’s a compartmentalization kind of thing. He asks, “how did it kill her?” My response is, “Well, it got into her brain, and it made her brain stop working.” I leave out the other parts that will always hurt to remember…but I do remember, and it does hurt, and I can’t put into words what it’s like to say something so simple but to have such a complicated, graphic memory in my mind.

There are things he simply cannot know, but that I remember in vivid detail.

And there are moments of hope and love in the middle of those painful details…there are even moments of humor…And someday, when he’s much older, we’ll discuss the way Jesus wrapped Himself around our hearts with love and friends, and with memories of people who kept us lifted up in the heaviest of times…

But for now, I will stifle those emotions and those memories, and I will stick to the scientific facts that a six-year old boy is fascinated by.

When you’re raising your rainbow baby, there are no manuals for how to jump these hurdles. There’s nothing that tells you what to say when they ask you the hard questions, and he’s just getting started. Right now, he’s into the science of a germ that takes the life of someone. At some point, he’s going to get into the questions of faith, and healing, and “why didn’t God save her?” “Wasn’t He powerful enough to save her?” “Didn’t He love her? And you?”

I’m not sure how I’m going to answer those questions when they come—especially when sometimes, I can’t even answer them for myself. I’m past the point where the self-doubt, the accusations of the enemy, and the guilt Satan tries to throw at me over her death, sticks. It took YEARS to get through that part, especially since guilt over everything tends to be my go-to reaction when bad things happen. But I’m through it. Medically, I understand there was nothing we could have done. Physically, I understand that we did everything by the book. Because of that research, I am free from all of that.  Spiritually, sometimes I still struggle. It’s hard for me to pray for healing for other people, because that one time, it didn’t happen…

But the Bible says that we still pray for healing…We still pray for others, even when doubts tap in the corner of our minds. So, I pray, and I trust God to use His wisdom to do what He will.

I’m a pretty Type-A kind of person when it comes to life. I have lists, I have outlines, and I have step-by-step methods by which I keep things organized in my office (I try at home. It’s kind of pointless). I like to have questions and answers, and if I can’t answer it, then I FIND an answer for it. It’s been very difficult to come to the place where I let go and I trust God that He has all of the answers. I don’t understand, and I never will in this life, why my daughter died. I don’t get it, and when my son asks me “Why?” I don’t know what I’m going to say.

My go-to answer is that we’re not entitled to answers. We’re not entitled to understanding all of His whys and hows, but what we’re promised is that He knows, He cares, and He loves. How He chooses to love is up to His discretion, not mine, so I have to sit back and trust in Him.

I’ve been very candid to explain to Jericho that had we not learned the things we learned during Hannah’s birth and death, he would not be here. I want him to grow up being thankful for the sister he never knew, and for how God used such a sad thing, for His glory. I want him to understand just a smidgen of the miracle that he is.

These questions are TOUGH, and I wasn’t necessarily prepared for how they would start to be asked…but he’s asking.

I think that as long as my answers continue to point to the redeeming grace of God, even when we’re talking about the science of it all, that we’re on the right track….

And as I learned yesterday, the track isn’t necessarily a fun one to be on….but as long as we run the race, and we don’t give up, there’s a tremendous amount of glory in finishing it and in completing our mission!!!…

Things I’d Say to Myself at 15

I’ve been seeing this thing on Facebook (yes, I still Facebook, although I’m on it a lot less–mostly because I’m sick of seeing the same things. How do I get it to where I can see ALL of my friends’ stuff in my news feed?!?! I swear, technology makes me feel much dumber than I’m actually supposed to be) where people write things they’d say to their 15-year old self. I find it fascinating, introspective, and a bit sad…but it made me curious, as to what I’d say to that girl, so long ago….

WALMART ARCHIVE-0017

Look at that kid. Now, I’m not sure if I’m exactly 15 in this picture…but I remember wearing that shirt in England, and I went to England & France when I was 15, so I’m thinking I’m somewhere close. I think the biggest thing I notice in this picture is how much sharper my collarbones are…how much thinner my face is, and how much bigger my glasses are…I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, but okay…..Those high-waisted jeans aren’t doing me any favors, but that’s a great many pounds ago, and I can get lost in the rabbit hole of sadness, where my weight is concerned…oh, for the days of having a working thyroid!

There are no scars on that neck, nor are there any scars on that body that couldn’t be covered with basic makeup. There are freckles, which haven’t gone anywhere, and there is a tremendous lack of self-confidence that I see in that picture, that has only slightly improved with age.

So, what would I say, to that unconventional girl? There’s a lot that comes to mind…

  1.  You’re going to be okay. Yes, you’re nervous about everything–your hair, the sky, whether or not you’re going to get dress coded for whatever today–yes, life is going to hit you without restraint, but You. Will. Be. Okay. It’s going to take a long time, and you may feel okay one day, but wrecked on another. It’s alright–you’ll be okay.
  2. Love is real, and your wait was worth it all. Since you were 3, you’ve wanted to be a wife and a mama. Even though guys are curiosities at this point (oh, Cass, you think you know SO much), you’re not going to fall in love for a long time. And when you do, it’s going to hurt, and he’s going to let you down. And so will the next guy, and he’ll hurt you even more than the first. You’ll cry; you’ll feel broken and unloved. And you’ll watch your friends grow up and get married, and start families; you’ll feel rejected, and then one day, you’ll realize that, per #1, you’re okay. Jesus has taken His time repairing your heart and restoring your faith. One day, a fateful e-mail opens the door for a lifetime of love and insanity, but it couldn’t happen until you were in the right place, spiritually, and you DO get there. He’s worth it all…Your marriage is tough, but fun; amazing, and sometimes awful, but it’s always worth every step you take with each other. He’s going to drive you crazy, but you can’t imagine your life without him…And he may not remember to say it, but he can’t imagine his life without you, either. Hang on, little girl–those dreams of being a wife and a mama come true.
  3. Your mom loves you. You’re sometimes too similar; you’re sometimes too different, and you don’t always speak the same language. She works hard and she’s tired, and she always loves you. She’s not perfect, and you only hurt yourself when you expect her to be. She’s growing up, too, and everyone learns for a lifetime. Don’t project your own feelings of rejection onto her–that’s not where they’re coming from.
  4. You feel like an outcast, everywhere you go. That doesn’t really go away, and you learn to live with it. You challenge yourself with it, you make yourself talk to strangers and be inviting, just to create your own atmosphere where you feel comfortable. Once you’ve made a habit of forcing yourself to push past the chains of self-rejection, you start to find camaraderie with other weirdos, and you eventually have a solid group of weirdo-friends.
  5. The one person that stays with you, from before you were 15, until today, many years later, is Vinita. Cherish that friendship–don’t ever take it for granted, because no matter how much of a jerk you can be, she will always love you enough to keep you real. Keep that best friend (you just can’t know how much she will mean to you as you grow up. She’s the best).
  6. You have some medical garbage to go through. Pay attention to your body, but don’t be paranoid. Also, advocate for yourself. You’re worth it.
  7. Your body. Cass, you’re growing up in an era that celebrates stick-thin women. Society doesn’t stay there, and it’s amazing, but even now, at 41, I feel physically appalling. I can’t celebrate this body, because it doesn’t look the way I want it too…but it never has, has it? At 15, I looked 21 (and that was a huge problem–carry mace). I felt judged by people that didn’t understand how hard it was to dress curves that arrived far too early…I dealt with men who were inappropriate, and had to stand up for myself early on. I was never “thin,” and I never felt like I had a figure worth admiring, but because I had large breasts early on in life,  people felt like they had to comment on them  (both men and women–it was AWFUL). You may feel like you look the worst, and you’ll struggle with that for a lifetime, but know that you don’t. You’re not the kind of pretty that Hollywood tells you to be, but you’re unique, and you have a great sense of style (but not in THAT picture, LOL). You learn to dress what you have, and you’re pretty good at it. 🙂 (Too good–you have shopping issues. Get It Under Control. The sale will wait).
  8. You have huge dreams. That trip to England, those things you felt the Lord say to you? They don’t happen when you thought they would, and you go through a big portion of your life feeling like God was too disappointed in you, to let you do the “big things.” In fact, you still feel like that sometimes, even at 41. But don’t give up….I haven’t forgotten the prayers said on the wooden floor of an old church in Clacton-On-Sea, Essex…and I haven’t forgotten what He told me. God doesn’t lie; He just doesn’t answer on our schedule. But He’s “not a tame Lion,” and He will have His way…
  9. At 15, you have absolutely no career plans (people might think you do. Lies.). You want to be a writer, and it’s such a slow-burning thing. Your college plans go belly-up in your first semester; your career plans go belly-up after a failed internship your senior year. You literally do not care about what you want to be when you grow up, partially because you’re trusting God, partially because you’re not allowed to go the school you want to go to, and to major in what you want to major in (no Webster, no B.A. in English). Your academic plans get derailed time and time again, and you wind up in health care…where once again, your academic plans get derailed, and you start to think that Master’s degree is never going to happen. It might not. Your career in health care, although unexpected, takes care of your family, and you’ll be surprised that you enjoy it. You still want that Master’s degree, but you get to a point where you’re working to fund your child’s education…even if you’re not so sure you see the point of a degree anymore…You wanted to be a wife and a mom–you get those dreams, and they’re hard-earned. You find joy in those things, in ways you never found in a classroom or in an article. You’re published early on, and you do nothing with it. It sits there on a shelf in a library (it’s a boring book, like, for real–non-profits? BORING) and you find a great deal of joy in editing for others, but your dreams of writing that perfect story haven’t come true…yet…Have hope. Make connections. There’s this thing coming called, “blogging.” Maybe you should get into that. 🙂
  10. Finally, the most important thing I’d say to 15-year old me: Jesus. You’re growing up in the middle of the rebirth of the Charismatic Movement in the Church, and the things you’ll see both in the U.S.A. and abroad are going to create permanent milestones in your life. You’re going to go through multiple crises of faith as you grow up. One thing you never do, though, is wonder whether or not God is real–you always know. Your family, your school, and your church poured into you a solid foundation of faith, and even when the tempest rails, you’re grounded. When you’re shaken, God puts people around you that hold you together….even when you’re destroyed, and you will be, in ways you can’t fathom. You never find the words to tell the Lord exactly how you feel, but He knows. You have so much to be thankful for. There’s a song in your heart that the enemy tries to silence in the harshest of ways, but it carries on, even when you lose your voice. You were made to worship, and you’ll do it for eternity; never let that be dimmed. If you feel like your faith is shaking, reach out and talk to the people around you that love you–they will walk you through it. Get in the Word, and rewire your brain to stop looking at the Bible as a textbook. It’s a lifetime lesson that you’ll work on learning, and it’s hard, but that Word is a Love Letter. No one and nothing will love you or carry you like the Lord. He carries you a LOT, and He never fails. Don’t forget that.

Wow. Looking back at 15-year old me is a bigger trip than I thought it would be. I was a hot mess back then, and I’m a different person now….that’s still a hot mess…

I’m grateful for the journey.

And the improvements in Curl Control. 😉

 

Summer Goals, #PlayGloria, and Kindergarten Graduation

I go through phases where I write constantly, and then it’s “crickets,” and honestly, I don’t really know why. Is it a self-discipline thing? An emotional thing?

Maybe it’s an energy thing, and I haven’t written anything lately because I’m perennially exhausted.

I’m still here, in case you were wondering (in case I’m wondering?).

The schedule’s returned to an unreachable pace, with David not only being back to work, but working a different shift. I’m so grateful that he’s employed, but I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. We see each other for around 15-20 minutes per day (usually trying to have conversations that are perpetually interrupted by, “MOOOOMMMMM!” and “LOOOK AT MEEEEEEE!”), and then I’m off to bed, and he’s doing the evening entertainment for the offspring (who couldn’t be happier, because Tired Mom is also BORING Mom). Our marriage is breathing on the fumes of weekends, and our house is perpetually messy.

Our lives are full.

No photo description available.

Meanwhile, since my last post, my son has graduated from Kindergarten. In the ceremony, his class recited Scriptures, sang songs, and basically let us know they were going to join together at some point and take over the world. I believe every one of them could do it. Jericho’s classmates are a beautiful mixture of personalities, and I’ve loved getting to watch them interact over the year. My little guy has matured and learned, and is showing more and more of an amazing personality.

We have Summer Goals (and even as I write that sentence, I’m laughing at myself). None of those goals involve housekeeping, but I supposed it must be done. Frankly, our dog is so old (“how old is she?”) that we’re kind of waiting for her to cross that Rainbow Bridge and go to Jesus, because the carpet will need to be replaced throughout the house…and I’m hankering for a change in our color scheme, so the entire house will need to be overhauled and deep-cleaned. It’s times like this where I’m grateful that we’re still in our “starter home,” and it’s tiny.

I’ve started Jericho on a First Grade curriculum from Brain Quest, and every day, he does 2-4 pages in his workbook. My goal is to get him through the book this summer, just to keep him sharp and to work on his handwriting. He still gets “6,” “9,” “d,” “p,” “g,” and “3” backwards. I haven’t gone so far as to discuss it with my office’s peds department yet…I’m not hugely concerned, because he can correct it when I call him out on it. I’m planning on mentioning it in his eye exam next month.

That being said, get your child’s eyes examined every year! It’s a relatively painless examination that can help their future!!!!  PSA—and done.

ANYHOOO, a little thing happened this week that completely de-railed any attempts that I’ve made to finish this blog in a timely manner. THE SAINT LOUIS BLUES WON THE FREAKING STANLEY CUP, and I’ve cared about little-to-nothing else this week. Image may contain: 1 person, stripes

Since I’m given to panic attacks at the mere THOUGHT of ginormous crowds of people, I’m going to be watching the parade from my app. It’s going to be amazing, and I’m so proud of the team. I’m not a big sports person—I always mention that I don’t like baseball, but I consider myself a Cardinals fan, simply because I love what the camaraderie brings to the city. I do, however, like hockey, and even though I never watch the games (my family is not a “sports” family, but we’ll scream like maniacs at a cooking show), I think hockey requires the most skill and tenacity of any sport. I admire hockey players—anyone that sacrifices their teeth for anything, gets mad respect from me. Also, my youth pastor’s dad was the trainer for the San Jose Sharks back in the 90’s, so my love and appreciation for the game runs deep (I’m SO glad we beat them for the Nationals!).

Sports talk aside, things are moving along at a frantic pace…it’s hard to find time to slow down and EXPERIENCE things, as opposed to just getting through them. I’m usually doing the latter, and by the time a week’s gone by, I’m wondering where it went? Too many hours spent on the couch and not in the sunshine.  Being in a somewhat-constant state of fatigue makes me feel like I’m missing out on so much…oh, and the MOM GUILT!!!  I can’t.

I keep telling myself that I won’t be like this, forever…Jericho asked me the other day, “Mommy, were you ever not tired?” Ouch—that hurt. I basically told him I’ve been tired for the last 7 years. J I’ve been without my Dear Thyroid for 4 years this month, and all of my Facebook Memories that come up threaten to drag me into the Abyss of What-If, so I’m trying to ignore them.

I deal with a lot of “Mom Guilt,” partially because of my personality, and partially because there’s so much to work with.  I’m a working mom who had to use formula, so start there, and work your way up, mom-shamers.  My son is starting to get Six-Year-Old Sassy, and he’s watching too many episodes of “Teen Titans,” (hey, I didn’t start him on it…but they’re hilarious, so now I’m mom-guilting over a moral failure) and eating too many tortilla chips. Overall, though, he’s getting lots of playtime during the day in his summer program, so during the week I’m not feeling tooooooooo horrible about coming home and being chill.

I know this sounds mushy and all, but every day I look at that kid and I swear, I love him more. Even with his sass, he’s still funny and sweet, & he’s creative. His imagination is limitless, and he reminds me of my favorite parts of my own childhood. I need to get back into the routine of reading him a bedtime story; he’s been staying up later than I do, so I’m missing out!!

This summer, we have Six Flags passes, and are planning on going if the sun comes out any time soon on a weekend.  We’ve had so much rain! I love watching Jericho start to tentatively embrace roller coasters. He’s working on riding his new bike; he got a bit scared of it, so we have to ease him back into it. I don’t think I coddle him (David does), but I know so well what it’s like to be afraid of everything, and to feel like less of a person because of it. I don’t want that, for him. When he’s afraid of something, I tell him that it’s okay to be scared. We take it slow, until we’re ready. If he isn’t ready, I think that’s okay—he will be. I’m surprised at my own patience in those cases, but I think that’s what it takes. I want him to enjoy roller coasters and bike rides, and roller skates and bowling, and everything fun (we’re back to bowling again, BTW—I LOVE it!!!). If it’s fearful, it’s not fun, and I know that too well. We have nothing but time, to make those leaps—even if that’s not true, we can live like it is, at 6 years old.

bowlMy goals for this summer are to take it in…to enjoy parenting, and to not enjoy too much TV…to take my time doing life in general, and to spend less time embracing the things that bring me down. I love that song by Lauren Daigle, called “Look Up, Child.” Rico-Bean sings it a lot, and I think it’s major goals, for me. That’s my goal—to Look Up, and to keep from letting myself be weighed down by fatigue, or stress, or whatever albatross has decided to land on my neck. It’s summer—it’s time to get free, to live free, and to stay looking up.

And maybe, to spend some time blasting “Gloria!!!!!” on repeat while my son yells at me because he’s sick of the song….He’ll get over it, and we’ll have these memories to last us a lifetime. I’m so proud of our team. #LETSGOBLUES!!!!!!!!

Image result for st. louis blues

I’m a “Parenting Expert,” and So Are You…

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/parenting-experts-agree-kelly-clarksons-view-spanking-210541633.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

This.

Is.

National.

News.

WHY, people?!?!?!

A mom, who happens to be a celebrity, is disciplining her child in order to prevent said child from hurting herself or from behaving badly, or basically from growing up to be a narcissistic sociopath.  WHY IS THIS NEWS?!?  WHY IS THIS NATIONAL NEWS???

Last night, I watched a Facebook Live video of Elliott Davis of Fox2News outside of a local homeless shelter that was turning people away on a fairly chilly evening. A young woman discussed how she’d been turned away repeatedly from shelters, as she was neither a mother nor a “currently”-battered woman. THIS is news. Our city and our mayor decided that apartment property values meant more than helping the homeless, and shut down the only 24-hour shelter in the city. THIS is news.

I read an article where a 5-year old child is dying of a rare cancer, with a picture of her grieving grandfather next to her hospital bed. THIS is news.

Kelly Clarkson, mother of 2, stepmother of 2, sweet Southern girl, OG American Idol, helluva singer, and wife to the son of none-other-than Ms. Reba McEntire, is NOT news because she chooses to discipline her child. She is NOT news because she (& presumably her husband) choose to raise their child according to Biblical principles, to classical principles of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.” She is NOT news because she & her spouse would rather not add to the national malaise surrounding parenthood, where we rely on teachers to play doctor and dole out prescriptions, and tablets and video games to play teacher so our kids learn to read. She is NOT news because she takes a normal, everyday Midwestern/Southern approach to raising her child as hands-on as possible as a working mother, and in making the tough decisions to PARENT as opposed to beFRIENDing her child. (Sidebar: I’m not knocking children that legitimately require medication in order to succeed physically or academically. I, however, do not believe in the increasing practice of teachers having to be the ones who “diagnose” a child’s need for such medication. A parent that is involved in their child’s life is aware of any issues and takes care of their kid. I see many, many children that do not have an involved parent, and THAT is pathetic. Teachers are not doctors, and they’re not parents, yet in today’s world, they have to be both. It’s not right.)

It’s easier to be our kids’ friends…until it’s not, and we realize we’ve screwed it all up & created pandering little narcissistic snowflakes that can’t be disciplined enough to do their homework OR TO HOLD DOWN A JOB.  And then, when our little snowflakes do something stupid, like publish videos of people who commit suicide in Japanese forests, and become national embarrassments like Logan Paul? Then THEY become National News.

People are really skewed on what “news” actually is. Mr. Trump keeps hammering away at the slogan, “fake news,” and he’s got a point: When the news media would rather focus on nonsensical stories such as Ms. Clarkson and her decision to properly raise her child, instead of on major issues such as homelessness, or drug addiction, or the suicide rates in our young people, then we really do have an issue with “fake news,” and it needs to change. There are much bigger issues in the world.

There are parents in the news on an almost-daily basis for abusing their children….for abandoning their children…for choosing drugs over their children.

That’s news.

Swatting or spanking your child because they’ve been disobedient?

NOT news.

I love how this article talks about “parenting experts.” I posted on Facebook that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PARENTING EXPERT.” They’re like, NONEXISTENT. I’m going to run full-on into a flippin’ UNICORN before I run into someone I consider to be a “parenting expert.” Every parent is different. Every CHILD is different. Until you can tell me you’ve mastered every possible personality and interaction, don’t call yourself any kind of “expert” on this race we call human, unless you’re the One Who created us all.

You can study kids all you want. You can study adults all you want. You can study the kids until they grow up to become adults, and then you can study them some more. You’re not any more of a “parenting expert” than I am. We know what WE KNOW. We don’t know all of the variables that make us, or that make our child, or that make other people’s children, who they are. I think I know my kiddo pretty darn well. However, I can’t tell you WHY he does some of the things he does (Why does he lick the shopping cart?!?!?!?  WHY?!?!? Can you tell me that, “Parenting Expert?!?!?”). I can tell you what I think, what I see, and how I want to attempt to change what he does. I can try every method I know, and occasionally, I can ask my friends or read a book to get advice. I can tell you that I definitely pray every single day to be a better parent, but I make mistakes, as does my husband. Tempers run short, and days can be stressful. Sometimes, the noise level in my house makes me want to rip my ears off (and that’s with just ONE KID). We are all constantly in the process of learning how to live, and of learning how to be better human beings.

I am grateful for people like Kelly Clarkson who discipline their children and help shape them into better little people, that will eventually become better adults that can make this a better world….and THAT is NEWS.

Discipline is so important. We don’t spank our children in anger–that’s where spanking becomes reactive, and potentially abusive. In our house, there’s a lead-up: Redirection–>Warning–>Time Out–>Spanking. Generally, that’s how it goes, unless he’s doing something that will cause him imminent harm (taking off in a parking lot, which he knows is a HUGE no-no). I kind of think of discipline as a labyrinth game–you remember, the one that had the maze you had to use the knobs on, to get your marble through the maze without letting it fall through the holes? Image result for labyrinth game

That’s life. We have this little marble, and we have to mold and shape and direct him to go through life without falling through the holes. We have to set up barriers to keep him safe, and create paths for him to go through, and pick him back up again, if he falls through. Those barriers and paths are created by discipline and by encouragement, and we have to commit to it. We have to be consistent in it, which is hard when you’re a tired, working parent. We have to be disciplined to maintain discipline, and it makes everyone in the house a better person…

But it’s not easy.

Like I said before, it’s easier to be your kid’s friend, especially at this age. They’re fun when they’re in a good mood, right? And when they go in Time-Out, or get that spanking, they get crabby and whiny, right? And whining SUCKS. But what do we do? Give them whatever they want, and feed the snowflake mentality? We have a generation of kids that can’t take the heat of discipline. They can’t take the barriers, and all they want is encouragement…they’ve fallen through the holes of the labyrinth board, and they’re LOST. It’s the saddest thing, but hey, at least they’ve got their participation trophies, right?

Stop it.

My son doesn’t get what he wants all of the time. Money is tight, and that’s a good reason to tell him “no” on a material level. He should get used to not getting what things he wants, because that creates financial issues. He keeps screaming at people when he doesn’t get his way. That doesn’t work for me. He’s spending a lot of time in a corner, and he’s getting privileges taken away. At some point, it’s going to stick, but we have to be consistent with it. “Son, you can’t scream at people when you don’t get your way.” Every day for the last 4 days, I’ve had to remind him. Every day this week, he’s had something taken away for his behavior at school. I remind myself that we’ll get there, eventually. He’s 4. Every day, there is discipline. Every day, we discuss what happened, what he did well, and what he can improve on.

We are making an adult that will have a global impact.

Every parent is making an adult that will have a global impact.

My goal as a parent is to direct my beautiful child through this labyrinth called “life,” leaving global impact behind him, and an eternity with Christ in front of him. My success as a parent is marked by that one goal: Jesus.

Every Time Out.

Every spanking.

Every privilege that is taken away.

Every encouraging word.

Every reward.

Every gift.

Every day.

It starts and it ends with the only Parenting Expert that matters: Jesus.

If the end of my journey as both a human being and as a parent is marked with Him, than I’ve done it right. And if society thinks that discipline is the wrong thing to do, then that further solidifies my belief that I am on the right track, because I’m not raising a child who goes along with society. I’m raising a man who has the strength and the courage to defy it.

We parent with love, with encouragement, and with discipline.

We create world-changing human beings that have an eternal impact.

THAT.

IS.

NATIONAL.

NEWS.

 

 

 

The Toddler on my Lap, or Thermodynamics in Motion

I just kicked my son off of my lap.  He needs to take a nap, his Dad is snoring on the couch and needs to take the child upstairs, (as well as to take himself and his snoring upstairs), and I need to write.

There’s currently a general rebellion taking place, according to the wailing now coming from the small bedroom upstairs.

Now, if the chld could sit still on my lap and keep his grubby paws off of my keyboard, all would be well, but nope–pushing buttons of any kind is Just. Too. Tempting. So, off he goes, wagging his tongue at me for good measure (which got him into additional trouble). He’s something else.

I am not going to lie: Sometimes, all he has to do is smile at me with his ridiculously cute face, and I’m just undone. Sometimes, when he sits on my lap and I smell that Little Boy Smell (it’s a mixture of the fledgling remains of Baby Boy smell, dirt, and farts), I am undone. Sometimes, I hear his adorable voice say, “You’re the bestest Mama EVER!” and I am undone.

And sometimes, I internally buckle myself down, and say, “YES, CASSIDY, HE’S CUTE. However, you’re not raising an entitled hooligan, so keep him in line!!!!”  Things in life will naturally go from order to disorder….especially if toddlers are left responsible for control….

Parenting is a difficult balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction…we have to figure out what actions to take, to raise up a Godly, kind, compassionate, strong human in this world…and how to be Godly, kind, compassionate, and strong humans, ourselves.

He’s so darn cute. We sat down this morning and built a marble maze (I’m gonig to spell this incorrectly, but I believe it’s called a “Rube-Goldberg machine?”). He watched, David started it, and I did the bulk of it (because unlike SOME people, I WEAR MY GLASSES, and can read the fine print). I was quite proud of myself when I finished it, considering my hatred of puzzles. The machine pulls marbles up to the top, and circulates them throughout the machine using a variety of levers and gears. It’s pretty darn cool. We used to call this “science,” but now it’s called “S.T.E.M.” Whatever it’s called, I like it.

I like it because it gave me the opportunity to have a discussion regarding consequences with my son.  Thermodynamics aside, it was good to have a tangible method of teaching him about actions, reactions, and consequences. Hopefully, this machine will stay together long enough for us to reiterate the lesson a few more times.

If I could label each marble and each gear, I wonder how it would lay out? Spending = debt = indentured servitude. Sharing = joy= eternal impact. Kindness = more kindness in return. Fear = anger = resentment= hatred = violence = war.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

What actions have impacted your year thus far? Can you look at the beginning of 2017, and see the gears in motion and how they’ve affected you where you are now?

What will you label your gears in 2018, and how will you put them into motion?

And what actions/reactions do you hope to see, for this coming year?

“Let Me Entertain You….” Or How About Not?

My weeks are crazy. I work full-time, I drive around 2 hours/day round-trip for my commute, and I try to run a livable household. I know that’s not anywhere near as crazy as some people’s lives, but it’s a full plate for me. I’m grateful to have my husband as a partner-in-crime, but during the week, we feel a bit like “ships that pass in the night.” It’s why we cram SO much into our weekends, and why my house stays messy. I’d rather make life experiences and memories on the weekend, then deep-clean my house. No kid ever grows up and says, “Gee, remember all of the fun we had while cleaning the house? Remember how much we LOVED a clean floor?”

Nope.

So, my house is messy, but my heart is full, on the weekend.

During the week, however, it’s a different story (okay, my house is still messy, even during the week). During the week, for me, I’m up at 4am, off to work by 5:15, in my office by 6; I leave at 3, get Rico from school at 4, try to come up with something for dinner (and cook it, unless I just say “to heck with it,” and feed him peanut butter sammies), and I’m usually in bed by 8. The days kind of blur together, and I know that’s common.

When I get home from work, there’s this feeling of absolute hectic panic that sents in. What am I making for dinner?!? What groceries do I have? WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS CHILD GOING TO EAT?!?!?!?!? Meanwhile, while I”m assessing the supplies, Jericho is throwing a three-ring circus in our little living room, complete with occasional yells of, “LOOK AT ME, MAMA! LOOK AT ME!!!!”

Sometimes, I stop everything and I take a look at the chaos he’s created. His little imagination is the greatest gift, and I love to see where his brain takes him.

Sometimes, I can’t stop (raw chicken, anyone?), and I have to yell back, “I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t! I’m making dinner.”

Occasionally, this conversation upsets him or makes him angry; usually, he just keeps repeating himself incessantly until I finally am able to stop what I’m doing, and give him my full attention.

One thing I really wanted to stress when becoming a mom, was that I never, ever wanted to be too busy to give my son what he needs in life. If that’s a hug, if that’s a cuddle–I always wanted to be able to stop the world and give him that gift. I wanted to be present for every single moment of motherhood. It didn’t come easily to me, and I always wanted him to know he was more important than anything or anyone in my life.

Medically, that hasn’t always been the case. Whereas some women are physically just made to be moms, I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them. After I had my daughter, I went into heart failure. I did the same thing with Jericho (though not nearly as badly). 4 years after having Hannah, I had issues with fibroids, scar tissue, and an abdominal wall fusion that required major surgery. A few months after having Jericho, I had 2 different procedures to get rid of my evil gall bladder. This was followed by a complete hysterectomy (again, scar tissue and fibroids) and a thyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer. Being without a thyroid has been the most challenging part of my entire convoluted medical history; the fatigue, combined with the emotional imbalances that come when you don’t have a thyroid to regulate your hormones, have made things difficult. David has really had to jump in more than anyone realizes, to keep our son well-cared for when I literally cannot get out of bed.

I’ve done really well since earlier this year; earlier this year, I wound up with mono, which meant that I spent a lot of days coming home from work, fumbling through something quick-and-easy for dinner, praying for David to just get home from work, and then going to bed at 6pm. Maintaining that level of fatigue is nearly impossible, and it took some pushing for me to get the right diagnosis with my PCP. Once we knew what it was, and that it wasn’t thyroid-related, David & I both took a breath. Had I been that tired on what was looking like a permanent level? We had no idea what we were going to do.

So, gradually, I’ve felt better and better, and now, I’m back to my “normal” post-thyroidectomy self. My levels are good, our house is still standing, and our child is happy….

Unless I can’t stop everything and pay attention to him.

On Wednesday, Jericho wanted me to hold him for a while. I started to say, “just let me read the paper,” but stopped mid-sentence, picked him up, and put him on my lap. The fact that he WANTS me to hold him, has an expiration date. I’m aware of it more and more, so I take the hugs whenever I can get them…unless raw chicken is involved.

Yesterday, he was running amok in the living room, and wanted to me to come and watch him. I was making dinner and dealing with raw chicken, so I told him that I couldn’t come into the living room. He was frustrated, but I explained that raw chicken is disgusting, and that I was up to my elbows in grossness. His fascination with gross outweighed his frustration, so he acquiesced to my instructions to “stay in the living room!!!”

This means that he promptly came into the kitchen to watch the rest of my food prep.

While I was working on dinner, I found myself having one of those internal conversations with God: “Lord, I wish I had a clone. I wish I could take the time and pay more attention to him, but there is just so much work to be done.” I think my Mom-Guilt was in full play.  I mean, why am I working? I’m working because we’re broke. Why are we broke? BECAUSE I SHOP TOO DANG MUCH. Oh, and we’ve also had 2 million-dollar babies, periods of extended unemployment, one year with 2 mortgages (2008), and blah-blah-blah. We’re in debt. So are most Americans. I work to work on debt and to prevent more. I work to provide a future for my son. I work because I’m good at it, and I like it. I work for a lot of different reasons. The mom-shaming that is so exacerbated by social media is something that I simply do not have time to embrace. This is how I parent. Go parent your own way for your own child. I refuse to embrace the judgment ascribed by so many that do not work, or even by so many that do. We are a double-income family because we HAVE to be. Period.

But my conversation with God, though brief, really summed up a lot. I wish I had a clone, or maybe more hours, or maybe an assistant (HA!), or Rosie the Robot. I wish there was more of me (and less pounds of me). I wish I could be a perfect, always-present parent.

I am not.

And I felt God answer in His way, in His beautiful, gentle way, into the recesses of my heart: “You are a good mom. Your heart is always with your son. Even when you’re not paying attention to him in his way, you are paying attention to him.

It’s not your job to entertain your son.  It’s your job to care for your son.”

Consider me undone, Lord.

Sometimes caring for my son means I focus on making him a healthy dinner, instead of embracing the circus in the living room.

Sometimes caring for my son means I surrender to knowing that I can’t do it all, and to trusting the man God gave me to do more than he should have to do.

Sometimes caring for my son means I tell him, “not right now.”

I wonder how many times God has said the same to me? “Cassidy, My job is to love you…to care for you…not to entertain you.

My job is not to tell you what you want to hear.

My job is not to give you the material things you want (hello, iPhoneX!).

My job is not to make your life easy.

My job is to love you.

My job is to call you to higher things and higher thoughts.

My job is to draw you into Me, and for you to run with Me.

My job is to be your Bridegroom, and for you to understand what it means to be my Bride.”

Oh, Jesus….to be Your Bride…

Suddenly, all of the accoutrements of stress wash off, and I’m laid out before God. I’m reminded of my only job–my Only Job–even above being a wife and a mother.

My job is to love Him.

My job is to make Him the center of it all…the goal of my every day, the focus of my every moment. My job is to be for Him, above all others…and in that, everything else comes into alignment.

Regardless of the chaos of the day, the endless need to give attention to others, the rush, the pace, and the fatigue, He is my Center.

He’s not my “entertainment.”

He’s my heart.