Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You Are Seen

Sometimes God gives me specific words that I am supposed to speak to someone or about something.  I cannot ignore the words...I try sometimes because I am not sure if I can speak or write them the way they need to be presented.  I doubt if I am capable or worthy to deliver a message.  Then the words just marinate in my brain...they come to life...I can see them, and that is when I know that if I do not share them I will miss the moment.  Someone needs to hear them, so here they are...

You are Seen

You are Known

A few years ago at a women's Bible study, I listened as a grandmother shared that she is sad because her daughter doesn't truly know her.  She felt like her daughter did not know her...see her. These words marked a moment in time for me.  I don't want to look up in 30 years and my daughters not know me.  My thoughts.  My heart.  My beliefs.  My hurt.  My story.  I did not want to look up in 30 years and not have a relationship with my daughters that was based on knowing and being known.  I came home and shared with Emma Grace what I felt and what I worried about, and her response was simple.  "Mom.  I know you.  I know you too well.  Please stop sharing so much."  She laughed at me and reminded me that instead of worrying about what might be, I should just live my authentic life today.  (God's gift in the shape of a petite, blonde child will always be one of my favorites.  One day she will be my very best friend and I cannot wait!)

A few months ago, I watched from the distance as a marriage fell apart.  The husband worked long hours and was often away.  He was working in order to provide a certain lifestyle for his family.  But his absence caused his wife to feel unseen...unknown.  When she decided she was done, she was done.  No turning the relationship clock back to the time when she felt fully seen my this amazing man of her dreams.  The damage was done and she was tired.  She wanted desperately to be known.  I don't want to wake up one morning and feel like Scott doesn't know me.

A few weeks ago, I had two conversations with two different teenage girls.  They were struggling to find their place at school.  They explained that they felt like no one truly knew who they were and if they did know, they didn't feel like they would be accepted.  Two amazing, young ladies who struggle with forming close friendships because they either couldn't or chose not to play the part of the American Teenage Girl.  Was there a guide on what to wear, what to say, and how to act?  Were there other girls who felt the same way, but just didn't let their guards down in order to allow truth to prevail?  Truth of how desperately they just wanted to be known and to be seen.  I don't want to walk into a room of "friends" and feel like I am putting on a show.  I don't want to go through life playing a part.  And I certainly don't want that for these young ladies!

After my conversation with these sweet girls, I just couldn't shake this feeling that we are desperately failing the next generation of women.

If women were able and willing to be totally transparent and honest
If women were able to share their failures
If women were able to be free to live their life authentically
If women modeled to the next generation that their self worth came only from God
If women believed that God created us perfectly
If women understood that they were truly loveable
If women were kind to other women without judgment
If women would stop comparing
If women spoke words of truth
If women encouraged other women
If women loved God above all else...above husbands, children, family, friends, possessions, power, status, etc.

Maybe then women would feel seen because they would know with every ounce of their being that they are seen by the One who created them.  When we begin to feel known by an all knowing God who does not need us to explain who are or what we think, then we can live our lives being known by others.  When we agree to live our lives in truth and to act courageously, then the next generation will have a much better chance of becoming all that God designed them to be. 

We ALL want to feel connected to someone.  We seek this connection through people, service, work, success, and various other ways.  This sense of connection is part of us.  God created us to want this connection because this connection is what draws us to Him.  As we connect to God, we will no longer try to fill the void with people and stuff of this world.  As we connect to God, we begin to feel known and seen.  Because God sees us and knows, we are then able to live our authentic lives.  As we live authentic lives, we are able to be truthful with other people and share our hearts.  When we share our hearts, we begin to feel connected to others. 

Oh sweet friends, that feeling of not being known...we have all felt it.  So many of us still feel it.  You are not alone.

I don't want to be unknown or unseen by my daughters, my son, my husband, the church, or the world.  I don't want to waste one more second living a lie.  I choose to see and know others and to be seen and known.  It starts with me. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dear Kindergarten Teacher

Dear Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher,

I find it necessary to pre-explain the upcoming year for Zoey.  I think you need to have a full understanding of who this sweet child is and why this common occurrence (you know, going to school) has her mother acting like a crazy person.  I fully realize that this isn't something special.  Thousands of parents drop their sweet, baby-faced children off for their first day of school.  But for me, this first year of school is a huge deal and it is complicated and messy. 

Zoey at Kindergarten Round Up

Zoey is special.  Yes, I realize ALL children are special.  And I love all of my children and adore them and their first year of school was just as dramatic and traumatic for me.  I have issues...another letter for another time.  Zoey is our bonus baby.  She is either our "you are doing a great job with this parenting thing so here is one more for you" or "oh boy do you need a do-over so please don't screw this one up too".  Zoey is the only child in our home who still thinks her mommy is beautiful, perfect, and can do no wrong.  The other kids have my number and their eye rolling or blank stare full of judgment and silent thoughts is in full force.  But Zoey will still crawl up into my lap.  She still tells me a hundred times a day that she loves me.  I know that I am still her person.  I also know that school was created to ruin that for me.  (Sarcasm...maybe...)

Our Bonus Baby, Zoey Makenna Grace

Zoey has not been in MDO programs or preschool.  Ok there was a 3 month stint when she was 3.  She broke her leg and we pulled her out in November and she never returned.  I "homeschooled" her at home.  I use quotes because it wasn't super structured once Scottie went back to school.  She is super smart.  Super social.  Loves people,  She is freakishly good with numbers.  She knows her letters, sounds, numbers, colors and shapes.  She can count to 15 in Spanish and plays a mean game of "I Spy" in EspaƱol.  She cannot read.  Not sure how I failed in this particular area, but I did.  So learning to read is high on her priorities, so we greatly appreciate your help in this area.  Zoey doesn't know the words to Old MacDonald, but she does a mean lip sync to Meghan Trainor. 

Zoey is funny.  She is quick-witted and can make us laugh.  I could write a book about the funny things she has said or done, publish it, and make enough money to pay for her college one day.  She will most likely be extremely inappropriate.  I am sorry...ok, kind of sorry.  You see she is the youngest of 4.  Her audience is numerous and mature.  Her 17 year old brother and 15 year old sister have given her quite a bit of  comedic material.  She will most likely say penis and vagina.  I don't have time or energy to make up cute names.  It is what it is. 

Zoey and her sisters, Scottie and Emma Grace

Zoey will talk too much, too loud, and be super sassy.  She is kind and sweet and will make a good friend.  She knows what it is like to have someone in her life with learning differences and she is patient, caring, nurturing and so very accepting. 

Zoey's father is a "master" (pastor) at our church.  Please don't judge her or us by his occupation.  She will most likely tell someone the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, but she will embellish and add to the story.  With the older kids, I would have corrected her, but now I have decided that creative story telling is a gift.  It is totally a gifted and talented trait, right?

Speaking of "master", there are several words that Zoey says incorrectly.  I know I should correct her, but the truth is that I think organized should be n'organized.  Why change Zoey's word when it is in fact the best word.  Don't think we didn't notice the words.  We noticed.  We just liked Zoey's language better.

We are old parents.  I am no longer the energetic, super involved 29 year old I was with Jacob.  I am old.  Tired.  Busy.  When I cannot show up to something and there are other moms there, please do not judge me when my friend Jennifer shows up in my place.  I have learned with my old age that the only way to do this parenting thing is to have a village, and well she is my village. 

I detest homework.  Too many years of watching it suck my family time away.  I cannot stand it, but we will do it. 

I will encourage my girl to have a good day, to be brave, to work hard, but above all to be kind.  I will always tell her that how she treats others is the thing that will make me most proud and not if she can stay on green all day for not talking.  Her spirit and being a light to everyone around her is more important than finishing first and making the highest grades. 

When I drop Zoey off at school on Monday, I will not be excited.  I will smile and take her picture, but I will not be excited.  You see, Zoey going to Kindergarten is happening at the same time that my first baby, Jacob, begins his senior year.  No one should have a senior and a kindergartener.  It is just too much for my heart to take.  I remember stalking my Jacob the first week of school.   I would park my car with Emma Grace and Scottie buckled in the back watching a movie.  I would watch him walk around at recess all alone.  I just wanted to rescue him and take him home. 

As Zoey has all of these firsts, Jacob will have all of his lasts.  (Ugh and all of his new adult firsts.)

As Zoey prepares for elementary school and learns to read and write, Jacob will continue to become independent and prepare to leave our home.  As Zoey makes first friends, Jacob will be applying for college and choosing roommates. 

Jacob and Zoey
I am so sorry Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher.  I know that your job is to teach and serve your 22 students.  I know that each student has a unique story.  I know that the world does not revolve around Zoey, but for this mom the world does revolve around her kids.  Forgive me for the emails I will send.  Forgive me for forgetting to send forms back signed.  Forgive me for not volunteering 15 hours a week.  It isn't because I don't care about my child's education, but rather because I care too much about lots of people.

If you aren't sure who I am on the first day, I am the old mom whose old husband will be prying my old, wrinkled hands off of my sweet daughter's arms.  I will be the one who looks panicked and sad.  I will be the one whose daughter will pet my head and tell me that it is "ok silly mommy.  I have to grow up some time and I will still love you the most, but I need to learn now."  (Yes, Zoey is well adjusted and normal and excited about school...gag!)  I will not be high fiving the other moms celebrating the freedom gained when the kids are in school.  I will slowly walk out the room, looking over my shoulder to make sure that Zoey looks happy and confident.  I will check my phone and read a text sent to me from Emma Grace making fun of me and my melodramatic antics.

Oh how I hope you enjoy our Zoey.  She is loved so much by her family and our "village".  We get her.  Enjoy her.  I hope you enjoy her as well.  Zoey is going to change the world!


Zoey's Mom

P.S. Did I mention that I already kept her home a year longer than she had to because I really don't EVER want her to go to school???

Shine BRIGHT my sweet girl!