Eye rolls, humble pie, and Jesus

My husband and I have a running joke. Every time we say something with absolute certainty, the other will say, “Um, yeah, just like cars are made for four, right?”

 

Because we are those people. Those obnoxious, know-it-all, self-assured people who told everyone, “Yep, two kids for us and we’re done. One kid, one parent.The world is designed for families of four. Just look at cars–perfect example!”

 

That was right before we found out we were having our third.

 

Making us a family of five.

 

We purchased a minivan.

 

Believe me, I’ve said lots of words I’ve had to eat. Some were typical of my age and stage in life and are, therefore, eye-roll worthy:

 

  • I’ll NEVER take MY baby to a restaurant
  • MY child will NEVER throw a fit

 

 

Others were a little harder to swallow because humble pie was served right along with them:

  • I’ll NEVER get a speeding ticket
  • I’ll NEVER be a teacher
  • I’ll NEVER go back to school

 

The policeman didn’t care that I was a great driver every other day of the week – that day I was jamming down and going 57 in a 35 zone.

 

After floundering in the wrong major for too long, I rushed into a surefire path towards graduation. So what if it meant graduating with a degree in education (bleck!). The letters I really wanted were MRS, and a little degree wasn’t getting in my way.

 

Once I got out of college, I was so done! But not according to my school district. Disgustingly enough, they were devoted to excellence in teaching! Every teacher had to get a masters degree. Back to school I went.

 

Hence the humble pie – I knew better than to speed, that blatantly, anyway. And I actually loved teaching. And I adored going back to school. I lapped up learning like it was liquid chocolate. Or, maybe like a big ole slice of chocolate humble pie.

 

I am learning not to make grand, bold statements. Especially when I don’t know what I’m talking about (like, future events). I’m trying to tone it down. But my personality is absolute. I know my mind. I know what I want – and don’t want.

 

I knew, without a doubt, that I never, ever, would be a special needs mom.

End of story. Turn out the lights. Everyone go home.

 

I didn’t want to be a special needs mom. I knew it was beyond my capabilities. That role was tailor-made for someone a lot braver, smarter, and deeper than me. I was certain God knew it. I knew, down to my bones, that He had no confidence in me. I’d never done anything to give Him or anyone else the impression I could do such a big job.

 

Yet…during my first pregnancy I had dreams. In my dreams, the baby within me had special needs.

 

For months, I rode the waves of panic, prayer, hope, caution, then finally, peace. Peace? Maybe I should say uneasy peace. It was the result of my reasoning: God would give me what He thought I could handle, which was probably not much.

 

Sure enough, when Kristen was born, she was perfect. I celebrated God’s no-confidence vote in me. That was a-ok.

 

Six months later, Kristen had her first seizure, and she was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis. We were given a list of life-altering symptoms including seizures, noncancerous tumors within vital organs, skin lesions, behavior problems, and mental retardation.

 

HOLD ON–what happened to God not giving me more than I can handle? I can’t do this!

I never wanted to be a special needs mother. I don’t have the right stuff.

 

But you know what? I didn’t have the right stuff, and I still don’t. I never will. But Jesus does–that’s all that matters!

II Corinthians 12:9 says, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (NIV)

 

How good Jesus has been to fill my weakness with His power these thirty-one years. He has made my weak will strong; my weak resolve firm. He has created new eyes to see beyond the surface, a new heart to embrace the sweet life I never would have chosen.

 

I never thought I would love being a special needs mom. But I do. I love being Kristen’s mom. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Sometimes our nevers deserve eye rolls. Sometimes our nevers are served with humble pie. But always, our nevers need Jesus.

Linking up today with Suzie Eller’s LivefreeThursdays.

Design never

 

5 Tips for a Good Father’s Day and Beyond (especially if you’re dreading it)

No matter how much time goes by, I’ll always be a little sad my daddy isn’t here for Father’s Day.

 

He died in 1995 — a super grandfather, a good dad and husband.

 

I have delightful memories, some regrets, and times of just plain missing him.

 

But in the end, I walk away feeling good. Because what I once thought I wanted in a father wasn’t what I got. And I’m so glad.

 

I’m glad my dad wasn’t what I wanted him to be.

 

Don’t get me wrong. He was an excellent man with good character and integrity. He treated us well.

 

But somewhere along the way, I got the idea that my dad ought to be 1) outgoing; 2) talk to us on a regular basis like a TV dad; 3) be happy all the time. But that wasn’t my dad. He was quiet, shy, and he didn’t show his emotions. I wanted an extrovert, but he was an introvert.

 

Which brings me back to I‘m glad my dad wasn’t what I wanted him to be.

 

I learned early that people are who they are. You can’t change a person’s DNA. My dad didn’t have the capacity to meet my unrealistic expectations. I was frustrated. Then reality set in: my dad wasn’t going to change, so I had to change my thinking.

 

To have a relationship with Daddy, I had to get rid of my expectations and get real.

 

In the end, that was the biggest gift Daddy gave me. He unknowingly taught me that expectations are dangerous. When we expect something, we almost always get nothing in return. Our expectations often are unfounded and unrealistic.

 

Looking back on our relationship years later, I’m so glad we stumbled through and made a way for daddy love to show itself in a non-stereotypical, non-TV, non-Leave-It-To-Beaver way.

 

I’m not one to force advice on anyone, but today I wanted to share what I’ve learned from putting aside unrealistic expectations and embracing your dad.

 

5 tips on Father’s Day and beyond

 

Be generous towards your dad (or your husband in the daddy role). Open your eyes and look at him realistically, with grace. So what if he’s not perfect? You aren’t either. Look for the good.

 

Do things on his terms. In order to be in relationship, we have to do things we don’t want to do sometimes. As our parents age, we need to do more things on their terms. If I’d waited for Daddy to do things my way, I’d still be waiting, twenty-one years after his death. Your ground isn’t holy–don’t plant your feet there.

 

Get to know your dad. Some of the best times I had with Daddy were when we drove around his childhood town and he told me stories of pulling pranks and running wild with his brother on lazy summer days. It was a side of my serious dad I couldn’t imagine. Shared times and telling stories add dimension to relationships

 

Stereotypical dads are boring — but your dad is unique. How is your dad special? My dad took me to the bookstore on a regular basis, and we’d stand and peruse magazines and books for hours. I don’t know a lot of dads that did that with their daughters. Think of the things that make your dad special and dwell on those things.

 

Instead of wishing for another kind of dad, enjoy the dad you have. He’s not a TV dad, but he’s real and he’s yours. Stop griping about his deficits and just enjoy him. He’s your daddy.

 

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Brave little things

What makes a person courageous?

 

Saving a baby from a burning building? Standing in front of a bulldozer to block demolition of a bird habitat? Flying through the air at superhuman speed?

 

Or is it simply walking into a dreaded meeting? Smiling when you’re really sad? Doing chores, because they must be done, even when it’s physically painful.

 

Maybe courage is all of these.

 

I define courage as doing what’s right, even when you feel afraid.

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 Maybe you’ve read about the Good Samaritan. It’s one of those well-worn stories that gets taught in Sunday School as standard fare. I don’t remember the word courage used to describe the Samaritan, but I’m thinking he was pretty brave.

 

Yet to read it closely, putting myself into the story, it takes on a whole new meaning. Would I be more like the Samaritan than the priests? What does my current life tell me my choice would have been, had I been there?

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

Too many times I’ve chosen to look away, like the pious ones. But I think they were awful! I want to be courageous, like the Samaritan. He did what was right, in spite of what he might have felt, in spite of what was popular, in spite of what others thought of him. In this act of courage, the Samaritan shows mercy, kindness and compassion that mirrors Christ. I want to be like that.

But we can’t just make that happen with the snap of a finger. It happens in little building blocks. We have to take in God’s Word daily, and then do our best to make His Word live in our lives. When we have a daily relationship with the Lord through Jesus, it’s easier to be compassionate, kind, and reach out to hurting people. Jesus tenders our hearts to be more like His.

 

Today, we’ll have an opportunity to start building blocks of courage. Whether it’s in the form of smiling at an unpleasant person, giving grace instead of holding a grudge, or trying something difficult, proceeding courageously instead of shrinking back will be your small building block. In living out God’s grace and mercy that He has shown you time and time again, you will be dying to your old self and becoming new. Brave.

 

Choose to be courageous today, my friend. I will, too.

 

 

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–Teresa