Letting Go Of Your Child

It’s never easy. Letting go is never easy. Especially when you’ve had a needy kid. Life has always been a balancing act for me. One I fear I’ll never perfect. One kid is this way, and another is that way. One kid can eat anything; the other needs to proceed with caution. One has perfect balance; the other needs a hand. It’s just the way of it. But it’s also the life you carve out for yourself and your child when you’ve dealt with the big C. One kid is independent, but enduring surgery and chemotherapy takes a toll on the other … simple things can cause panic, weakness takes hold of the ankles.

Under that curly top lies a head of fear. Afraid of her own shadow.

I take her hand and often. If I can keep her from falling, I’ll do my best, I’ll be there, I’ll extend a hand. She often says, “I go where you go.”

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But time passes, and a kid growing up has a way of changing everything. She doesn’t reach out for my hand anymore.

I open the door for Him. “Come in.”

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I smile because I adore Him. He’s everything I’ve ever wanted for my daughter. Everything I’ve ever prayed for. Everything. I’ve known Him for so long, and I’ve just always loved Him. Something about Him. Even His name …

She doesn’t wait for me. She’s received Him with open arms, and she runs off with Him.

The chair scrapes the dining room floor, as she sits down to Bible study with Him. She’s always been nervous about reading out loud, but she reads aloud to Him. For Him. I’m so proud of her. She loves Him. She loves being in His presence. He brings out the braveness in her.

What do I do with myself? I try to find something to busy myself. This is so new. I’m not as needed as before. And I’m really feeling okay about this. I’ll go for a walk.

I open the sheep pen, and my feet hit the leaf covered dirt path. Hooves scramble behind me. I hear a different shuffling sound. She’s behind me with Him. The light radiates around her, and she’s glowing.

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It’s the sweetest sight I’ve ever seen. I laugh more than I should. I tear up more than I should.

I speed up. I don’t want to be a bother or interfere. This is good for her. I can’t help but look over, through the forest of trees, as the oaks are slipping on their sundresses. I grasp a small glimpse of her stroll … a shoe here, a pant leg there, color amidst the greenery.

He’s so tall and strong and kind and loving. He’s a gentleman. A real gentleman. I never thought I’d trust my daughter with another.  But here I am … trusting. Trusting more. If she trips, He’s right there. If she balances a log, He’s right there.

She’s more talkative than I’ve ever seen her. Where did the shy, quiet one go? She shares her dreams, her fears, her insecurities, her laughs … with Him.

All her late night conversations … Him.

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“Bye, Mom.” She closes the car door, and she’s off. The car travels through our windy driveway. She’s off with Him.

I wave my empty hand, blow a kiss, and watch the car till it’s out of sight. I look at my feet. The trees. The garden. The Rose of Sharon. And peace wraps around me like a shawl. I bow my head. Thank you, Father, for taking her hand and traveling this road with her. I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter man in her life. You’re everything I’ve ever prayed for, since the day she was born. I’m thankful she knows you. 

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~~~

Are you having to let go of something? Someone? How has God helped you through this? What insight has the Lord given you?

 

A Return to Family Devotion


I inch open the door. Two teeners are playing. I’m so happy to see them playing, taking life by the reins. Like they used to. When did life get so serious? 

One’s perched on the other’s back, having turned into some type of cowgirl. The other’s on all fours, and somehow I’m waiting for a “neigh” to bellow out of her mouth. Instead, all contagious laughs, giggles, smiles.



“What?” I nearly fall over laughing.

They jump up, place sweet hands in mine.

It’s bedtime.

“Do y’all want to start reading together through the New-Testament-in-a-year?” I ask the girls, switching gears and interrupting their Lone Ranger and Silver moment. But it’s been weighing heavily on my heart. 

Both nod so eagerly.

Whew! Because I’m going on fumes right now.



And I need to get at least one weight off my heart. Taking something off my shoulders would be nice, too.


We always did pretty good at family devotions when the girls were small. But things shifted somehow. I tried to get them started on Bible Gateway, helping them establish their own routine. No more “we” but God in thee. That went good for a while, but like with all things, discipline tiptoes out the door, and we’re left crumpled on the floor. And that’s a complete disservice to my girls.

I need jumper cables. Um, okay … spurs kicking into my sides.

Because when serious sickness enters your home, even teens can only go on fumes for so long. Anxiety hugs the heart, pinching in the night, demanding conversation.

And one daughter wraps her arms around me. My teetertotter emotions …. “I understand, Mama. Shh. It’s okay.” I adore her motherly way. What gave it away? Hands that I used to hold everywhereonce so tiny with tiny nails that I used to clip with the baby clipperssoothed over my face, wiping away the moisture. Tight hugs. My other daughter gifts me with one, too.

Life has been so busy. Where has my time with them gone?



Is it okay for a mama to admit she’s scared? She’s scared of the present, the past, the future. She’s scared of every day she tried to make it on her own and failed miserably. She’s terrified of the scars etched into her heart from days without holding her Savior’s hand. She’s scared of every reminder, every memory. She wishes for white-out, do-overs, the delete key for her heart. 

What does she yearn for more than anything for her girls? A clean piece of paper, a clean heart. One prepped and ready to type God’s beautiful future, beautiful present on their hearts, to accompany their beautiful pasts.

But we can’t pour out our heart’s desire on that blank page what we aren’t pouring in. The page will be written on, but it won’t be desirous, the Godly way. It’ll never sell.

And when I’m too tired, I’m reminded I’m too tired not to. I’m loading dirty dishes in the dishwaser, and I don’t think I have the stamina to finish, but I will. That’s my disciplined, determined self talking. And I’ll collapse into that bed.

And a brush of wind swirls past me, sweet arms envelope me. “You ready to read our devotion?”

“We better do it now, while I can.” Anxiety only falls away when we fall into the arms of God.

We plop down onto the floor, circle around, maybe hit the couch, maybe climb into my bed …. She takes my phone, hits the Bible Gateway App.



“The verse of the day,” she says, “is Ephesians 4:2‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.'” She clicks on “Begin A Reading Plan” and continues right where we left off. “Matthew 20:1-16,” she says. 

Verse 16 ends with, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

We all chuckle. “I used to say that to you when you were small all the time,” I say. “I wanted you to be giving. It feels good to give.” And I didn’t want them to fight. But my version usually came out like“If you want to be first, you have to be last.” And that’s where I might blow a raspberry, if I were that kind of mama.

fishing in the swimming pool … caught a plastic fish each and every time




floaties in the shallow end

They laugh. Then nod.

“I remember, Mama. I say that to all my Sunday school kids,” one daughter admits.

Yes. They haven’t forgotten. Full circle. God is writing on their hearts. The giving has been received. Because when we give, we always receive. An honest servant is always rewarded in time. It might seem like a rough draft, but it’s the real, published deal, where purchases are final. It’s sitting on the heart-shelf, waiting to be taken, to be given to their friends, anyone blessed enough to receive from their hands, maybe their future kids.

We take the limited time in this life together by the reins.

A return to family devotion.

~~~


Do you have a family devotion? Have you had to take life by the reins recently? 


Stepping Into My Characters’ Shoes


God, what are you doing with my life?

“Do you want to go?”

“Yes, of course.”

My curiosity soars. My novel, work-in-continual-progress, has a scene in this very location. I’d love to go. I need to go. I need to get inside my characters’ heads more, know their hearts. Plant my feet where they planted theirs.

We pass Greenville, Texas, heading into Commercemy novel’s setting and the city I have grown to love. “There’s Karalee’s school,” I say. Wonder where she’s at? What’s she doing? Hard to believe my oldest daughter is there and I’m here. This thing called change is interesting. Our hearts are so intertwined that I feel present with her all the time. Rejoice when she rejoices. Cry when she cries.

We proceed out toward the state park, passing farm after farm. Beautiful Texas, always beautiful to this Texan. 

I gasp. A city limit sign announces “Posey” … Posey, Texas. My heart claps. That’s part of my itty-bitty character’s nickname. I missed that detail on Google Earth. Wow. Unbelievable. 



Believable.

God, you’ve got this thing covered. I know you do. And you’re showing me the signs. Thank you.


We park the vehicle. 

My youngest steps out, branches out, and begins exploring. The one who’s seen devastating hardship. My cancer survivor. She’s discovering shells along the water’s edge. She’s found her niche.

Have I found my niche? I think so. 

My feet hit the ground. I pivot, absorbing the surrounding beauty, standing right where my characters stood. Building their imaginary lives has been sweet. They’ve so obediently taken each action I’ve required of them. Walked when I needed them to walk, erased what I needed them to erase, built what I needed them to build.

God, you stood right where I’m standing. You made all things, and you came hereliving, serving, loving, building, accomplishing, finishingto know me inside out. To know your creation, your people. 

“I could stay here all day,” my daughter says, beaming. 



Stay here all day. That’s it. I made the connection.

God, sometimes I’m slow, but I made the connection.

Walk out on the water. Go exploring. Discover the growth. Through the difficult, the scary, the times of ease, the times of beauty, times of uncertainty, times of seasonal change …

 



When you don’t know what God is doing, do what you love. 

He’s given you love. O Soul Within, find what you love. Do what you love. Continue doing what you love. He gave you a heart, to please, to love, to obey, to build, to follow, to lead, to accomplish, to do the thing He’s called you to.

Step in character with whom God made you to be, into the very shoes He designed for you.

Change is never easy … but proceed.

So ask the hard questions. Get inside God’s head. Yearn to know His heart. 

You are His and He is yours, intertwined. He’s where you are. He rejoices when you rejoice; He surely cries when you cry.

Find that placewith Himwhere you could stay all day. The place to do the living and dying. The place to typeThe Beginning and The End.

Do you want to go?

~~~
How has God been speaking to your heart?


When You Need Divine Intervention


One foot in front of the other. I leap over the one remaining stump on the property. And my muscles scream out in reluctance with each step. It’s been a while, a while since I’ve jogged. But I’ve been thrust into middle age, and I want to be the best middle-ager I can be.

Every cell hollers, “What are you doing to me?” as they jostle around. “We need divine intervention,” they cry.

Trying to lead, the sheep bump into me. They haven’t quite figured out the follow thing, and I stumble to regain ground. This middle-ager thing has my joints crying out, too. In the last month, my pain-free legs have turned achy and don’t pound the ground with steadiness like they used to. 





The neighbor’s donkey and goats stare at me as I pass, wanting me to stop. Eeyore’s silky soft nose calls to me. Thank goodness for the trees, hiding me from plain view.



I turn the corner, pass the swing, and almost jump out of this middle-ager skin. I stop abruptly. 

My daughter is sitting there, huffing and puffing. “I tried to catch up with you,” she says, struggling to speak between breaths. Inhaling deeply, she continues, “I called your name, but you didn’t stop.”

She’d taken the short-cut to catch up to me.

Tears sprang to my eyes.

I wrap her in my arms.

“I never want to miss your call.” 

Never.

Arm in arm, this middle-ager and teen-ager walk side by side. We break loose, proceeding to finish this walk, one foot in front of the other.

“Do you want to jog?” I ask.

She’s still huffing and puffing. “No.”

We laugh.

My mind is still whirling with the fact that she had needed me. She’d been calling out to me. I’d missed her. 

But she’d caught me.



And I thought of the One who never misses my call. That very morning, only moments before the jog, God had answered my call. Not just my call. I’d been working on an article that was stumping me, knocking me down. I couldn’t get the path, the plan. I had the information. But how can I make this the best it can be? How can I present this to glorify God? To honor the person it’s about? 

Stumped. 

I slumped around the house all day yesterday. Sat at the computer and pieced together two stories, just a little different from the other. No good. “God, I need help.” This usually comes fairly easy to me. What am I doing wrong? What am I doing differently? Have I been trying to take the short-cut? But this? Ugh. “Help me, God.” 

I share the information with my family, in hopes to get pointed in the right direction. Nothing.

That’s it. Stop everything. 

I write for help. 

I’d covet your prayers for an article I’m working on. Sometimes it’s so easy, but sometimes, like now … it’s just hard. And I beg God to show me what He wants revealed from this precious person’s life.

Instantly, one person after another offers to pray. Prayed right on the spot. For me. For this article. 

Lord, give Shelli eyes to see what you see in this precious person, and words to let the rest of us in on the secret. Amen.Shirlee Abbott

I love your tender heart, dear Shelli.Wendy Macdonald

You need divine guidance. I’ll pray to that end.Norma Wieland

So many more. I went to bed, pulling the covers up under my chin, in perfect peace, knowing prayers were being lifted on my behalf. I thought of It’s a Wonderful Life, everyone praying for George Bailey. Peace. A smile broke out.

I woke up this morning with a plan. Didn’t do a single thing, but ran into my office and began typing away. The article came together, like always.

It is finished.



Tears sprang to my eyes. And my spirit clapped for God, clapped for His people for faith, His people of faith, for the chance at faith.

Where two or more are gathered. Yes.

He will be found.

We serve the One who answers the call.




Can you share a time when you needed intervention? 

Gentle Applause To A Generation Not Crippled By Acne


Daughters, I’m so impressed with you. I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Standing at the glass back door, I overlook the shimmering water in my swimming pool. Perfection. I can’t believe I have that in my backyard. I’m so pulled to open that door, step outside. Oh, how I’ve longed to take one of those pictures of my feet propped up at the pool on a hot summer day. But one has to be outside, in the sun, by the pool, to do that.

One day, Daughters, one day.


One has to slip on the bathing suit, the horrid reminder. Of all those years of pain, of fear, of embarrassment. The reminder of imperfection. Of being different. 

What happens when you wish your self away? The very skin you’re in.

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution;<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30167BK" data-link="(BK)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30167BL" data-link="(BL)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> You suffered along with those in prison<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30168BM" data-link="(BM)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30168BN" data-link="(BN)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> So do not throw away your confidence;<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30169BO" data-link="(BO)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; color: #783f04; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> it will be richly rewarded.
You need to persevere<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30170BP" data-link="(BP)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30170BQ" data-link="(BQ)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> For,
“In just a little while,
    he who is coming<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30171BR" data-link="(BR)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> will come
    and will not delay.”<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30171BS" data-link="(BS)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
And,
“But my righteous one will live by faith.<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30172BT" data-link="(BT)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”<span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-NIV-30172BU" data-link="(BU)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>


But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. –Hebrews 10: 33-39


Do you hear that, Daughters?


















Years spent wishing away acne-prone skin, especially on my back, can cripple a person. My confidence, confiscated. The lack of confidence still follows me around today, like a shadow. Go away, shadow. 

Years thrown away.

I’ve shunned the outdoors for years, only able to bear it with joy alone. We have the most amazing swimming pool, with a hot tub and even a fireplace. The view is incredibly beautiful and serene. We’re so blessed. Who wouldn’t long for that?



Who wouldn’t long for freedom?

I slip into my memories of yesterday. But some reminders are not longed for in the heart.

Starting in high school, for years, I didn’t want my bare back revealed. Being in the drill team made that extremely difficult. Going to my changing area, I’d try to hide, hurry to change, cover myself. Cover my shame. 

Keep your back turned from everyone. Don’t let them see.

A visit to the dermatologist for slight facial breakouts led me to the threshold of help, but I was too embarrassed to tell them about my back. 

“Do you have any other problem areas?” 

“No, I don’t.” 

Fear and embarrassment, even youthful foolishness, lingered.

I’ll never be free.

In my very own prison. The prison that moves when you do. Secret miseries running deep through your pores into your very soul.

I hated to wear bathing suits, tank tops, bridesmaid gowns. No, don’t make me put my hair up. Torture. The beautiful topknot with ringlets hanging down only reveals my ugliness. Let my hair hang long, covering my back. Covering my embarrassment. Covering my shame.

Don’t see. Don’t look at me.

Shrinking back. Destroyed.

And who knows the pain of acne? Like needles sticking into my back. The slightest touch brings pain, to my back, to my heart. 

Years of on and off antibiotics, only to have it come back once off the medication. Persistence could define me.

Ushering out my appendix, along with an ovary, ushered away acne. Praise be. After all these years, praise be. After 30 years, I finally love the skin I’m in.

My daughter fights the same thing. How amazing that even though she’s adopted, God made her just like me. She comes to me. Her dress is gorgeous. Zipping up her dress, I notice the speckles of acne on her back, her shoulders. Acne that persists once off antibiotics. 

“Daughter, do you want to wear a light jacket? To cover the bumps?” My handicap trying desperately to cripple her. Generational bondage. Bondage that yearns to imprison others. I think I’m trying to help.



“Mama, I don’t care about it. All kids have it.” She smiles. She even beams. She doesn’t care. Well, okay then. Her confidence is like the dawn of a new day.

Daughter drags little sister to me. “Mama, look. She has her first bump on her face. Isn’t it the cutest thing?” Both girls are giggling, unencumbered, unembarrassed, unafraid. Beaming.

I’m amazed. 

Fearless. Flawless. Free.

Go therefore, beautiful girls. Love the skin you’re in. Don’t take 30 years to go out in the sunshine. Throw open wide that door, release your hands, and embrace life. Do not throw away your confidence, sweet girls. Remember the One you belong to, Beloved of the Living God. Go out into this world. Persevere, Daughters. Prop up your feet. Live and love. Bring pleasure to your King.