Laying on the couch after a long, trying day, I started thinking of things I’ve learned over the years – sounded like a good blog to me, so here goes.
The curse “I hope you have a kid just like you someday” works
Yep. My mom slapped this curse on me several times. I remember telling my mom I didn’t want to have any kids. I was 16 bending down to retreive ice from the freezer, Mom at the stove. Not much after I had a miscarriage while I was living in California and was told that when they performed the D&C, they damaged my uterus and I had a 20% chance of carrying a child to full term. When I got pregnant with my oldest son, I contracted the flu. I thought I was miscarrying again and it killed me. Thankfully I went to the doctor and he told me I was just sick. Matt was born full term weighing 8 lbs., 1 oz. healthy and happy. He was the best baby. Slept all night at 3 weeks old, rarely took a pacifier and didn’t at all after 3 months. He was the epitome of parenthood. Then along came Michael. Love that kid to death, but the poor kid is just like me, has to learn everything for himself – the hard way. Seems to resist any direction. He’ll be a graduate of the school of hard knocks…just like his mom. Fortunately, knowing that even I made it, I feel confident he will to. Just yesterday he told me out of the blue that he was going to church with his friends…as long as he has God in his life, I feel better. I have faith.
It’s not for us to know why some things happen – “Everything happens for a reason”.
After my mom returned home from her stroke in 2001, dad setup a hospital bed in the living room. My siblings and I would take turns on the weekends to relieve my dad so he could get out and we could spend some time with her. I remember one day she was crying and told me that she didn’t know why God let this happen to her, but she knew He had a reason and it wasn’t for her to understand. I realized then how strong my mother’s faith really was. Two years later I wrote my mother’s eulogy, in it I stated that I knew why He didn’t take her the night of her stroke: she got to meet and know her last granddaughter and her first great grandchild, she got to watch me graduate (being a high school dropout this was especially meaningful to me), and those precious years gave all of us, including my dad, the time to truly let her go. None of us wanted her to hurt anymore and we enjoyed the opportunity to love on her all those extra days.
If you all read my post on Facebook today, you’ll see that my daughter didn’t get her driver’s license today because of a new law passed on July 1st. She has to wait an extra 4 months. I felt horrible at first because we had a few days in June where we could’ve gotten it but I thought we had time. Thankfully, my friends reminded me things happen for a reason. Maybe the delay avoided her from being in a horrible accident. Maybe the additional training time will enable her to learn something that will help her, or someone else, in her future behind the wheel. Just like in my story about the farmer who lost his prize cow, everything happens for a reason: sometimes we end up seeing why, yet other times…we don’t. We can’t question why, which is especially hard for those with an analytical mind like mine. We just have to have faith in God and His will.
I am just like my parents…
Yep. We’ve all feel this epiphany at some point. As young people we tell ourselves we’ll never make our kids stay home or have an early curfew, and we’ll buy them everything and smoother them with love, we will never yell or be an assholl…but as we get older we see why our parents did what they did with us. Maybe we don’t yell as loud, but we yell and hate ourselves afterwards. Bills and jobs don’t allow us to just take off whenever we want or go to Disneyland every summer and showing love doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want. I remember calling my mother several times and apologizing for being such an ungrateful child. I even wrote her poems and letters. Being parents ourselves we get the opportunity to see the grass from the other side. It’s not always so green. Great intensions get us nowhere. We can only try as hard as we can, even if we fall short of our own expectations. Being a parent is the hardest job we will ever have, yet the most rewarding, because some day, our kids will realize…they are just like us, too.
“Do as I say not as I do”, doesn’t work, but setting an example does.
I’ve realized that my some of my actions taught my kids the total opposite of what I wanted to teach them. Staying up late, going out frequently, spending money frivolously…each poor act set a bad example. Telling them they need to save their money then going and blowing mine then complaining about the bills had a reverse effect. Letting money burn a hole in my pocket taught my kids how not to save. (Although I will say that my oldest son is a great saver. He’d be the one to eat the cake first saving the icing for last. And my daughter has potential.) Living a life of blaming others and not being accountable or responsible gave them the training they needed to blame the world as well. I will say they didn’t learn all my bad habits. My oldest son has had very few relationships because he is extremely selective. (So proud.) And my middle son is the same way and has dated the same girl for over two years. My daughter tends to be selective as well and quickly disengages herself when she feels a bad feeling about a relationship. (Hopefully that’s a good thing.)
And I hated chores as a kid but I see that chores have their purpose. Doing dishes, cleaning your room, and vaccuming teach us how to take care of our surroundings. Bathing, cleaning our ears, brushing our teeth teaches us good hygiene. Helping prepare dinner, changing oil, changing a tire, teaches us how to take care of ourselves. Mowing the lawn, painting the house, cleaning out the car, putting up after ourselves teaches us how to take of our belongings. Yeah, it sucks but each chore has it’s purpose whether we are children or adults. And, as another good habit, it’s best to learn them early because learning them later is much, much easier.
While my older two children have moved on to their adult lives, my daughter is still living at home. When I get into going to church, she gets into it too. When I listen to Christian music, she elevates to it, too. When I choose to have a positive attitude, she adopts that as well. And, as I stated earlier, Mike went to church yesterday, so he also is following my example. Here’s my most proud moment: my son was in boot camp. I had talked to him on the phone and could tell he was down. He made like he hated it and wanted to quit. I wrote him that night and filled it with love and encouragement. The next letter I received, he said he laughed at my thought that he would actually quit. He said that he knew that sometimes we just have to do what we have to do to get where we want. He said he was strong…and he got that from me. I cried so hard…even though I’ve been knocked down many times, I always managed to get back to my feet. He showed me that he learned from that. And the kicker is, I didn’t even realize I was giving anyone a lesson. I pray I continue to be a good example to them even when I don’t know they are watching.
Life is what you make of it
We can spend our time bitter with the world, but that gets us nowhere. It’s like walking in a circle passing the same highs and lows every time, never really getting anywhere. Not until we realize our faults and retrain ourselves from some of the things we learned as children can we ever break free from the cycle and truly grow as a person. You can hate the rain, but without it, the grass would be brown and the flowers would never bloom. Without the darkness we can’t appreciate the light. So, I find delight by dancing in the rain and welcoming another lesson, another opportunity to grow. (James 1:2-3)
Don’t knock it until you try it
As a kid I hated trying new things. I was thankful I had strep throat when mom made frog legs for the first time, but now, I love to try new foods. (Warning: don’t taste citric acid, it’s nasty). In just the past couple years I’ve learned that I love eggplant, spinach, squash, tomatoes, soy milk and prune juice…and yes, you heard right, even prune juice. Guess that might go well with ‘I’m just like my parents’. Call me old, call me crazy, but just don’t knock it until you’ve try it. This world has much more to offer then stress.
I cannot live with faith, hope and love
Here’s where I’ll end this post. Thanks for bearing with me. Not sure if anyone likes reading my long blogs so I’ll apologize now for rattling on. I’ve had faith for a long time but my faith was more in myself then in a higher power. I’ve always known there was a God, but not until recently did I start realizing the freedom of having faith in God. With faith there is freedom from pain through His mercy and grace. Having faith in God means trusting in something we can’t see. Faith is the substance of all things hoped for, the evidence of believing things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). With faith in our pockets we struggle through our dark times reaching for the light. Knowing the light is there, that the darkness has a purpose. How sad to think some people go through life thinking that life has no purpose. They lack faith. Faith is the conviction that things happen for a greater purpose. No matter how bleak, how devastating, faith sees us through some of the worst of times. Faith is trusting God’s will (James 1:5-6) and the fruit of faith is strength. (Proverbs 24:10)
As far as hope, who doesn’t hope, but now, I have a different kind of hope. I don’t hope for outrageous things like I use to like winning the lottery or hitting big at the boat. That’s just wishful thinking. I have a different kind of hope. I have confident expectations. I realize hope is having a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown. (Romans 8:24-25). I have hope in my future. Having this kind of hope frees me from fear and anxiety that plagued me before. (Psalm 46:2-3). Hope produces peace and happiness and from hope springs love. (Colossians 1:4-5)
Love. Oh…my nemesis ‘love’. While my foundation of faith and hope haven’t changed too drastically, my perception and definition of love has. Love is hard to define as it has so many levels and degrees: love for parents, siblings, friends, children, spouse, significant other, pets, food, etc. It’s hard to wrap love into one neat all-encompassing package. But, I have realized that love is even more than I ever expected. Love is acceptance. Love is giving. Love is everything. And, most importantly, love starts with us. God gave us a very direct order on love: to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. (James 2:8-9) Yet, the sad part is, we rarely love ourselves as we should. Consumed with the world, we get lost. We want someone else to love us as a way to make up for it. (Wow…that just hit home for me.) Love covers all sins. (1 Peter 4:8) So many commandments are wrapped up in love because love does no hard. (Romans 13:8) Faith, hope and love are all enduring virtues we shouldn’t live without.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” ~ James 1:2-3
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” ~ Romans 8:24-25
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” ~ Psalm 46:2-3
“because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel” ~ Colossians 1:4-5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” – James 1: 5,6
“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” ~ Proverbs 24:10
“You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” ~ James 2:8-9
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” ~ 1 Peter 4:8
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” ~ Romans 13:8-10