Unclenching

As in, unclenching my fist and letting go.  As in, letting go of my girl, who in my mind is still the sweetly bald 7 pounder I brought home from the hospital oh….24 years ago or so.  This is hard.

It shouldn’t be.  She’s my grown girl, already married and with a girl of her own, and yet… She’s been away from here by 7 hours for over a year now and there was hope that soon her little family would wing its way back South to be near the family of her birth, but it wasn’t to be.  At least not right now.  And this Mama is finding it a little (OK, a lot) hard to unclench and let my little girl fly.  We are Southern women, and we always want to be near our Mamas.  (In fact, when my husband was searching for a new job a few years ago, one stipulation was that I could not be more than 4 hours away from my Mama.  And I’m not – we live 3 hours away.)

She’s not going any further away than she already is, just in a different direction, but 7 hours away can feel like 17 hours sometimes,  even with all the technology that helps us stay in touch (FaceTime, anyone?  If you had told me when I was a young grasshopper that one day we would talk on phones without a cord and SEE the person we’re talking to… well, that was the stuff of Star Trek, my friends.   Beam me up, Scotty!).  And what gets me is how all of a sudden I start to second-guess my parenting of her.  Yet all I have to do is look at her own well-loved girl to know that, with the grace of God, I must have done something right.  She is an excellent mother and I flatter myself by thinking maybe, just maybe, she learned a little of that from me.

A wise woman once told me that you do the best job you can raising your kids, then you have to let them go and trust them to do the right thing.  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6.  Did I train her up in the way she should go?  Is she really not going to depart from it?  Did I teach her all the things I should have?  Her upbringing is different from the one her sisters are experiencing, if for no other reason than the age difference between the three of them.  I used to jokingly tell her that she was my “practice baby” which isn’t all that far from the truth because don’t the two coming behind receive the benefit of a somewhat experienced mother?  And do we ever stop mothering our children, whether they’re grown or not?  I have to say no, based on the way my 89 year old grandmother still tells my 70 year old mother what to do.

I don’t know why this move should bother me any more than the first one.  And I know her little family will be loved and taken care of, because she will be near her mother-in-love, who is a dear woman.  And so I am unclenching my fist and I am letting go.  I can already feel the beginnings of That Peace:  you know, the one that passes all understanding, because I surely don’t understand it.   It’s because of That Peace and the One who gives it that I am strong enough to let go, strong enough to smile through my tears and strong enough to reassure her that she will have a wonderful life in that new city.  I’m already looking forward to visiting her there.

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Voice

It’s Five Minute Friday!  Wanna play?  Click here: http://lisajobaker.com/ .

Aaaaand…. here we go.

It was 1992, and I didn’t know who I was.  After being part of a duet for so long, I couldn’t remember what it was like to go solo.  Seriously, I couldn’t remember what kind of music I liked or what television shows I enjoyed because I had so long immersed myself in my husband’s needs, choices, preferences.  I had to take the time to think before I turned on the radio or TV:  what do I want to hear or watch?

This is part of my story.  Everyone has one, if we just take the time to listen.  Or read.  J  All of the people doing this Five Minute Friday exercise?  We all have a story, a voice that is whispering, or screaming, or somewhere in between: “Hey!  I’m over here, and I have something to say.”  I remember a morning news show that once did a series where they blindly picked a city off a map, then blindly chose a name from the telephone book and asked that person if they could tell their story.  It was fascinating the things you could learn about what seemed to be ordinary people.  I wonder what we could learn if we just asked one person we know to tell us their story.

We writers, we don’t have to wait for someone to give us permission to speak, to use our unique voice.  We can tell our stories, we can SPEAK, whether one person hears us or a million people do.  There might be someone out there who needs to hear our perspective, our voice, so they will have the courage to raise their own voice and tell THEIR story.  Use your voice – tell your story.

Time’s up!

Look

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I see her eyes light up as she spots them:  a pair of green heels high enough to cause a nosebleed, covered with what seems to be a pound of emerald green glitter.  “Can I try them on?” and she does, and then she wobbles over to check herself out in the mirror and strike a pose for my approval.  My sweet girl, at the tender age of 11, is searching for her “look” and I am her hovering mother, torn between cheering her on and putting on the brakes.

I’ve done this once already with a girl now grown and with a girl of her own to guide, but somehow this child is more delicate, more easily wilted with a cross word or glance.

And so I try to impart some wisdom along the way:  the world looks at the outward appearance, but God, He looks at the inside; and charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised; and pretty is as pretty does… But I wonder, does any of it stick?  She is fascinated by the outrageousness of Lady Gaga, and I try to lead her toward the dresses and cowboys boots of Taylor Swift.  In a world where skin is in and nothing much stays hidden, how do I convince her that there needs to be some mystery?  Her clothes don’t need to scream, “Look at me!” because the people that truly matter, we already SEE her.

I run my eyes over the length of her – when did she get to be so tall?  And she truly is beautiful, both her sweet countenance and her loving heart, and I know I can’t take credit for all of that beauty.  And then comes the next question:  how do I guard her loveliness from the world?  And that, my friends, is a whole other blog post…..

Race

Five Minute Friday!  Whoop!  Whoop!

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Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.


Here goes:

Some days you just can’t win.  I know in my heart that life is not a race but I sure don’t live it that way.  I know that the race doesn’t always go to the swift but to those who endure.  Hey, I’ve read the fable of the tortoise and the hare, and let me tell you that the tortoise is soooo not me!

So I race to get myself and the kids ready for work and school, respectively.  Then I race to work, race to get my errands done before the kids get home from school.  Race from one activity to the next.  And in all the running around, I forget to live.  What to do, what to do?

The world tells me I need to do it all, but the Father tells me to “Be still and know that I am God”.  The world says “Go, go, go” and my Father says, “Sit for a while with me”.  And I learn that sitting is not necessarily sloth, and that I don’t have to meet the world’s standards.  This is a lesson I must learn over and over again, as I get caught up in the racing and forget to do the living.  Racing around is not living – it’s being a hamster on a wheel, spending all its energy and getting nowhere.  I need to be more conscious of making my moments count instead of speeding through them.

Time’s up, but this is apparently a topic that resonates with me….

Welcome

Five Minute Friday:

Raw is the best way I know to describe how I felt.  Watching my husband of 7 years walk out the door and leave me alone with our 3 year old daughter had stripped me of any energy to concoct a calm and cool image.  But as a Believer (albeit one who hadn’t always been walking as she should) I knew that the one place I could run for peace was back to the Father.  We had just recently moved back to my hometown and I didn’t feel comfortable going back to the church I had attended as a teenager, so I went to church that my aunt, uncle, cousins and their assorted children attended.  Sunday after Sunday I sat in the pew and wept.  It didn’t matter what the message was or what hymns were sung – I was broken.  This little church with a congregation of about 100 kind souls welcomed me in, and they did it in the way that felt like love to me.  They patted my shoulder, hugged my neck (I live in the South where we don’t just hug, we “hug necks”) and let me mourn and be sad without trying to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way.  I needed to be left alone, yet be with people, as odd as that sounds.  It was exactly what I needed at that time and I will forever be grateful to those people for loving me during that time.  That felt like an open armed welcome to me at a time when I was grieving the end of my marriage.