Out of the Mouths of Babes

Full disclosure here. What you are about to read is something I wrote six years ago. The actual scene on the toilet happened about three years before that. It’s a memory that always makes me smile and causes me to remember a couple of things: 1) what we allow in our minds will one day come out of our mouths and 2) people are watching us and being influenced by our words and actions whether we know it or not. Be mindful folks!!

If you’ve read this before, I hope you’ll enjoy it once again. If this little story is brand new to you , thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to go back in time with me!

It was a busy day like all the rest. Meals to prepare. Laundry to finish. Faces to wipe. Diapers to change. Songs to sing. Games to play. Books to read. Crafts to complete. Hugs to give. Learning to guide.

During one of those really busy moments, I heard a sweet little voice coming from the bathroom…

“Mrs. Becky I’m done! Come help me please”

“Just a minute Sweetie. I’ll be there in a second” (I was in the midst of a very important load of laundry, you know!)

So I commenced with my laundry rotation . But because it was so quiet and because my brain was so full of things I needed to get done, instead of going straight to the bathroom to offer whatever assistance little Sweetie needed, I walked into the kitchen to wipe the counters or some other truly unimportant task. Then I heard it. A sound coming from the bathroom….

Leaving a 3 year old in need of assistance in a bathroom could’ve resulted in many different scenarios. There could’ve been toilet paper pulled completely off the roll and scattered all over the floor. There could’ve been hand soap smeared all over the mirror as torrents of water spilled over the sink. There could’ve been other things that were far worse and harder to clean up!  But what I found was almost as shocking.

She was sitting on the potty, patiently waiting for me……SINGING! I stood just outside the bathroom door and listened, trying to make out the song she was entertaining herself with. It wasn’t Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It wasn’t the ABC Song. It wasn’t even Itsy Bitsy Spider. As I tuned up my ears, what I heard nearly brought a tear to my eye……

Come on and rain down on us. Rain down us Lord.”

Over and over…….

When I opened the door all the way to see this precious angel, she was not only singing this praise song, her hands were in the air and her eyes were closed. I promise…..I’m not making this up!!!

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Not your normal every day preschool sing along song but I was deep in the midst of preparing music for a women’s retreat. In trying to learn this new song I would be leading, I played it ad nauseum throughout the day. It was our lunch music. It was our dancing music. We made up hand motions for the song. And within a very short time, not only did I finally know the song, the children I kept during the day obviously had it memorized and were ready to spout it out like a fountain in moments of boredom!

:::S I G H:::

As I think back on this day, it causes me to stop and think of the stuff that flows out of my mouth…especially during those times I’m not getting my way or I’m having to be super patient. Is it as sweet as chocolate flowing from a fountain or is it as smelly and nasty as garbage falling out of a garbage truck hitting a speed bump? Am I singing praises or spouting ugliness? Am I lifting up those around me or crushing their spirits?

Then I have to stop and think….when my responses in times of waiting are , well, less than stellar, what am I filling my head with during the day? Because you know, what goes in, must come out. Sweet chocolate or disgusting garbage.

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Mmmmm….I like chocolate sauce!

When the baby just won’t stop crying, am I sitting in a corner crying with him or am I mustering up all the love I can find to bring comfort?

When the teenager is shoveling around an attitude that he surely picked up from who knows where , am I shoveling it back at him or am I responding back with grace and love?

When I’ve waited too long in line and my feet hurt and I can’t stand it one more minute…..or my patience has worn thin…..or it’s just been a long day and I want some quiet…..how am I responding to those who need or even demand my attention? How are YOU?

That initial gut reaction can so quickly become something you’ll regret….something you probably will wish you could take back. When I think of Little Miss Sweetness in the bathroom, she could’ve so easily changed her response to my lack of immediate attention by, oh, I don’t know…playing in the toilet, making a mess of the bathroom, screaming out of impatience, crying from unbearable boredom. But earlier in the day, she had been filled with a simple song that overflowed from her heart and when she needed it most, she reached into her tank

and poured out praise….

                                                              she poured out love….

she poured out thankfulness

I’m gonna close this little blog post with a video. It’s the song we were listening to that day and so many days before then. To this day, every time I hear this song I still think of that sweet baby girl waiting on me ever so patiently, singing like a little angel , praising Jesus in her own way…..from the toilet of all places. And I’m reminded how I need to work on waiting more patiently for attitudes to change , for things to work out as God wants them to, for each storm to pass. And I’m also reminded of how much I need to fill my fountain with good things so that when I need it most, the good things will flow out and splash on everyone within my reach!

Are your fountains flowing out “Chocolate” or “garbage”? Let’s choose chocolate!

Doing Christmas Well When All the Kids are Adulting

I look around my house at all the signs of Christmas approaching. The tree in the corner brightly lit. The garland on the mantle with stockings hung with care underneath. The wreaths on the front door and windows. Scattered nativities to remind us of the birth of Christ. Snowmen to remind us there’s rarely any blasted snow in Georgia!! Gosh, that reminds me of the Christmas my #4 kid was three years old. First, we had to wake him up on Christmas morning to run downstairs for present time. What three year old has to be woken up on Christmas morning? And second, he thought we were fooling him that it was Christmas because when he ran to the window he saw no snow! And how could it be Christmas without snow?? Little goof ball actually climbed back into bed!! Oh my! He’s gotten used to brown grassy Christmas time in the 18 years that have passed since that morning! We just live in a big snow-less bubble!!

In spite of the fact that I have seven whimsical stockings hanging, each with their own child appealing design on the front, all five of our kids have grown up and are adulting like bosses these days. Yes, these are the stockings I purchased at Michael’s back in 1998. Yet every year I have this inner debate with myself over whether or not to gift these stockings to their much older owners or just continue the tradition of hanging them in order on our mantle. Each year, “continue the tradition” seems to be the winner. Because as non-traditional as I am sometimes….as much as I attempt to live in each present moment…these stockings are the holder of so many Christmas memories from the childhood of my five. And I hang on to them. Why not? I loved Christmas with my own 5-pack of adorable kidlets at home. I miss it to be honest. Christmas isn’t the same without the pitter patter of their little feet racing to the tree on Christmas morning.

It’s just not. Not whining here. Just stating facts and all!

With that said, while I embrace the memories held in each Santa stocking, I am also learning to embrace each new moment of Christmas-ing with my adult kids. We’ve had to start new traditions. Sometimes each year has been the beginning of a new tradition….no biggie! We’ve had to bend a bit. That’s OK…God made us flexible on purpose! But all this has lead to doing Christmas well with these amazing grown up people!

So I don’t stomp my feet and insist on having Christmas my way!! I cringe at the thought of creating that much stress for my family!! Stress is born when a momma holds on too tightly to wanting all the Christmas things to remain the same year after ever-lovin’ year !!! That would get boring, right? But I’m not gonna lie. If I could have all my babies and their babies under my roof every merry Christmas Eve night , I would be happy as a kid who just found Santa’s workshop! But the last thing I want to do is put pressure on my sweet things who are trying to make more people happy than just me. So come here New Way of Doing Christmas! Let me give you a big old hug!

I’ve also found this year the need to be more flexible with the day and time of our family celebrations. We celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before Turkey Day because of conflicting work schedules. It felt a bit weird in the planning but when that Sunday came, I found a Macy’s parade on YouTube that we watched , the Cowboys were playing football and nothing about the day felt less than completely Thanksgiving-y! Tiny changes in our Christmas celebration will happen as well because sometimes ya gotta share your people. And that’s OK! Sharing is caring and all that. I think we all learned that when we were kids!

Truth is, though, I’m not certain if I’ll ever stop missing my kids being little at Christmas. Not a Christmas has gone by since my kids started growing up and adulting that I haven’t had at least one “moment” in my darkened living room as I sat basking in the glow of the lights from the tree. A cozy fire roaring in the fireplace. A lone tear escaping my eyes. Memories flooding back of my own childhood Christmases, blurring lines with remembrances of the joy I felt each Christmas with my own small children.

Have you ever done this? If you have, know it’s OK because now you know at least one more person who does the same. We don’t ever want to forget the good memories we made with our young families. But living in the moment as we build new memories is honestly just as amazing. I can look forward to each new Christmas no matter how we “do” it. The other night, my man and I hopped in the car by ourselves with no children buckled in anywhere and toured the neighborhoods in our town so we could ooo and aah at their spectacular light displays.

I also bought Christmas cards for the first time in a bazillion years. Pictured on our” re-entrance to holiday card sharing ” is just me and my man. Just us. None of our kids. None of our grandkids. Felt weird…but also very accepting of our empty-ish nest status.

I’ve known forever that Christmas isn’t about the things we do to bring on the Christmas feels. I’ve known forever that the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus….God sending His Son as an adorable baby with a mission to be our Savior. So part of doing this Christmas season well is letting my focus be more on that and less on what my now vintage stockings remind me I’m missing.

Because even in the memories of “1990’s and 2000’s Christmas” is Jesus. In the “right now Christmas” is Jesus. He’s the only thing with any amount of consistency. He’s always the right answer. Especially when the house is too quiet. And when our row at church, which used to hold all seven of us, feels empty. When we’re singing Christmas carols off key by ourselves. And when those grown up kids we love so much may not even see in person the stockings we hung just for them. Jesus is in it all. Always and forever.

So Merry Christmas to the young and those who will always be young at heart. Happy Holidays to one and all.

Until next time, keep clamoring with all the holly jolly you have!

Still Calm and Knowing

Still Calm and Knowing

As I look at the calendar today, it’s almost shocking to me that we’re at the end of yet another school year. Our school district is on an early start/early end schedule so our seniors will actually graduate a week from Friday! We have sat at the graduation ceremony of all five of our children now. Not one of them any easier than the one before them . Graduation is a stark reminder of how quickly time passes. It seems just like yesterday we were bringing home our brand new, fresh from God newborn and yet today , there they are. Walking across a stage or a football field, ready to take on the world on their own. It hardly seems fair!

Every so often on this blog, I’ll resurrect a post from my former blog if it’s fitting. Today is one of those days. Because it won’t be long until another set of parents will be on the verge of launching their baby birds out of the nest and into the world of adulting. And we can all use a reminder of Who is ultimately in control, not only of our lives, but our children’s. So once again…or for the first time…be encouraged and calm and know that our beloveds are in far better hands than even our own.

I put them in a car to spend their first weekend away from me. It didn’t matter that the person they were leaving with was their dad. They were 2 and 4 years old and I had legitimate concerns. Would their hair get brushed in the morning and would he know how to attach the all essential hair bow in that mane of hair ? Would their clothes match all weekend? Would they eat the right things? Would they be afraid at bedtime because I wasn’t there to tuck them in? Would they sleep OK in a bed they weren’t used to? Would they play in the street or fall off a swing or skin their knees or get eaten by a pack of hungry mountain lions?? Would they miss me as much as I missed them?

And a little voice deep within my soul gently whispered to me, “It’s OK. You’re their mom but I AM God.”

It was kindergarten registration. I sat with my sweet little 5 year old boy on my lap in a tiny little chair that I’m not sure I would’ve fit in comfortably even if I was 5. As I sat and watched other parents come in and out of the room with big old smiles on their faces , anticipating the freedom that was about to ensue in their lives as their kid finally started school, I sat with tears streaming down my face. Oh I was about to go into the full out ugly cry right there in front of 24 other beaming parents and God Himself. Then the sweet kindergarten teacher came and sat next to me, patted me on the knee and said she understood how difficult it can be when it’s time to send your first born to school. I looked at her with tears welling up into big Lake Michigan sized puddles in my eyes and said ,”He’s my FOURTH child!!” Then I proceeded to release the dam of tears that was blocking my vision from filling out the mountain of paperwork required to send your precious baby to school. Would he make friends? Would he be too shy to even say a word? Would he eat his lunch? Would he fall off the monkey bars during recess ? Would other kids make fun of him? Would he get eaten by a pack of hungry mountain lions roaming the playground? (Those darn west Georgia mountain lions!! They need to leave my kids alone!!)

Then a little voice deep within my soul gently whispered to me, “It’s OK. You’re the mom but I AM God.”

We were standing out on the front porch, about to go shopping for this , that and the other when she looked up at me and very matter of factly said these words. “ I know I’m only 13, but I’m pretty sure that if I could drive, I could completely take care of myself and have my own house, pay my own bills and all that.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at my darling baby girl. This wasn’t a fit of teenage rage, mad at me and wanting to be away from her family as soon as possible. She was a 13 year old girl wanting me to know that she felt she could handle life on her own one day. I loved her spirit of confidence and independence but the thought of my first born child on her own, away from me, doing her own thing….forever…..well. Was she really ready to face those pesky mountain lions? I wanted to cry….she was growing up too quickly.

Then a little voice deep within my soul gently whispered to me, “It’s OK. You’re the mom but I AM God.”

The music started. It was a familiar tune . My vision blurred. Babies in long black robe- like garments with weird looking hats on their heads began marching in from the other side of the football field. Oh wait….they’re not babies. They’re full grown mini-adults finishing high school … or college. Ready to make their marks on this big old world. Ready to face life’s challenges and excitements and adventures. On their own. Without their momma’s by their sides. I’ve done this seven times now (5 high school graduations, 2 college graduations) and I still have at least 1 more college graduation to go. Will it ever get easier? Will I ever be able to watch my children pack up and leave the safety of our home without getting a big old lump in my throat? Will I ever stop having mini panic attacks when I think about those proverbial “mountain lions” waiting to pounce on my kids and devour them whole?

Then a little voice deep within my soul, One I’m way more familiar with now that I’m older, gently whispered to me, “It’s OK. You’re a good mom. But I AM a GREAT God.”

I am Mom……not God.

Let me tell myself that again, just one more time.

 I AM MOM…..NOT GOD!!!!

Ok, so I yelled it that time but sometimes I just need that loud reminder that as a parent, there comes a time when I just have to trust that I’ve done a decent-ish job as mom and let go and trust God with the rest.

When they want to drive a car…..God is riding shot gun.

When they want to go off to college and haven’t invited me to be their roomie….God is there with them.

When they have to make those first grown up decisions and they don’t want my opinion….God is waiting to guide them.

When they become parents themselves and they see Mom through new eyes…….God gently starts this process with them.

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And a gentle voice will speak into their souls just as gently and persistently as He did mine, “You are Mom ( or Dad). And I am God.”

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”..Luke 1:45