Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rambling.... into 2108

I just ordered my 2015-2016 blog book. 2015….so long ago….  There were technical and preferential issues as to why it’s so late but I won’t go into all that.  But my ninth 7x7 hardback book is on its way and that makes me happy.  Scanning posts and pictures as I was arranging them on the pages just caused me to remember how much I love having a small record of what is going on….because we forget SO much.  And even now, as I sit to write many months and moments have transpired I don’t even know where to start. {I realize I say this EVERY time!}  So today, right now seems a logical place to begin….

My house is quiet and there is a fire beside me.  I am sitting in one of my Grandmother’s chairs I’ve had recovered a couple of times.… after my mom did and after my Grandmother did.  It’s my winter spot.  The kids just went back to school this week— on Tuesday — and I wound up working that day so Wednesday after a morning meeting, I came home to a quiet house and this note by the fireplace:

Jeff knew I had been struggling.  Oh, I told him but I didn’t NEED to tell him.  He could see it all over my being.  My social introverted self was about to implode.  My social meter had gone “boing” and was dangling inside the glass.  There is NOT ONE THING to complain about.  Our Christmas was absolutely wonderful— full of family, traditions, our road trip, yummy food, friends— and some really great and not so great Georgia football.  The hard part is finding recharge time— down time— a bit of solitude— breathing room— just a little bit of space.  And sometimes you don’t realize how bad off you are until you are in the middle of a stupid argument with your 14 year old.  You think, “What is wrong with me?  I just picked this fight and I don’t even care about the outcome!”  I KNOW my family is tired of me when I get to that point because I AM TIRED OF ME too.  And here is where I get to practice walking in the Spirit when my flesh is screaming for me to just please itself.  Sometimes the practice goes well and sometimes I give in to me.  So today, it’s quiet. And I get to work on my Bible study.  I get to go through the stack by my computer.  I get to read by this fire.  I get to type some thoughts down.  And I am so thankful.  I just texted Jeff and told him I was feeling better by the hour.  ; )

At some point, like when the kids won’t care,  I want to document this parenting journey— the tweener years into the teenage years— because it has been so surprising to me.  Stuff happens faster than you can blink and some things you don’t ever think to prepare them for because you would have never thought it might be an issue and if you did, you didn’t think it was time yet.  I feel like I was blindsided in the tweener years and was NOT prepared for their doing exactly what I had prepared for them NOT to do.  Ha!  That should make any parent with kids over 10 laugh!  But here we are in this house—at 14 and 16 {next week}— and every day is different.  The schedule is different, the emotions are different, the moods are different, the needs are different.  I guess the same can be said of any age of kids, but I think with teenagers, it’s all just BIGGER.  They are premature adults trying to figure things out as everything seems to be changing — not to mention what we’ve learned with all the new brain research.  {It’s a wonder any of us made it out of the teenage years!  The “teenage brain really IS a thing!}

My favorite times with them is when a real conversation starts— criteria for “real”— something that matters and the child you know you are raising is doing the talking— not some persona they are hoping to keep up so kids think they are cool until they realize how foolish it is to have this “other persona” and give it up— which calls for celebrations of the largest kind.  I love those moments and they happen mostly around the dinner table or when I have one of them by themselves.  Sidenote— like this whole post isn’t— The power of the “dinner table” is undoubtedly underrated.  It’s so true that good things happen around the table— not EVERY night {and who has a schedule that can make that happen?} but even if you get “magic” one out of ten, then the mashing of potatoes was worth it.  Cook the dinner.  Set the table.  Sit down.  Without phones.  “Make it happen” is what I tell myself around 4.  The effort will pay off.

I am so rambling….then there are the irrelevant conversations you have over text with your teenage girl who decides at school the day BEFORE the cheer competition that she is pale and needs a spray tan.  These words have never been uttered by her before.  She was booked until 8:30 or 9 that night and she leaves for school at 7:00 am the next morning and leaves from school at lunch for the competition.  When I read the text, I was like, well, this will be easy.  I don’t have to say yes or no, I can just ask her “When?”and she will answer the question herself.  But of course, there is a girl on the squad that OWNS a tan sprayer and they are going over there AFTER their pre-competition dinner that night.  It’s not important how all that ended but it’s conversation you engage and then hopefully she trusts you the next day with saying something like, “I don’t feel pretty” when she really doesn’t feel pretty and you get to share words of life, hope and Truth.  Over text.  Of course.  I’ll take the words any way I can get them.

Then there’s B who is an idea a minute with his words.  Nothing like Brighton Sanders has made me want a driver more— or maybe a planner who can keep track of it all and do all the texting back and forth with other moms to make it happen!   He wants to be going and doing and seeing at every tick of the clock.  He’s always got a plan, making a plan, working a plan—- or thinking up the next plan before the present one is carried to completion.  He could employ his own driver.  I am amazed by how much time we could spend driving him around— AND it begins to make you LONG for a driver when you are really terror-stricken to let them drive.  I don’t think I’ll ever do this but it makes you understand why sometimes parents use Uber for their kids.  Kind of.  However, I won’t forget ONE of the Saturdays he was ‘chained’ to the house—- not really but to hear him talk about it…. BALL and CHAIN…. Around 4 o’clock, he leaned over the couch where I was reading and said, “You know, Mom, it really hasn’t been all that bad being here today.”  Well. I may or may not have rolled my eyes before I turned and said, “Home is not such a bad place to be. I’m glad you were home today.”  And I really was.

And that’s where I find myself this morning in a much needed quiet place— recharging for the people I love the most.  They truly do get the worst of me when I honestly want them to get the best of me.  I know my weakness but I also know His strength and I trust that always, always, always, His grace is sufficient for me. {2 Corinthians 12:9} Especially on the days I am the worst version of myself.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Letter 2017

As I was addressing cards just now, I thought of you as I wrote your name and little things I wish I could say just to you— but it was only your envelope and I think writing on the outside of an envelope is considered tacky… by someone… or at least a “no-no” by the post office.  So…. since I will most likely NOT get that personal little thought written on your card, I’ll say something personal right now.  What is this life without relationships?  You people to whom we send these cards — family, friends- past and present— you have added and are adding ABUNDANCE to our lives.  When Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have LIFE, and have it abundantly”, well, YOU are the abundance for us.  More than ever, especially since we lost my sweet momma this summer, I am convinced that the abundance of life He meant for us is FILLED with people to love and people to love us.  I’ll take this opportunity to THANK YOU one more time for all the kindness shown and care given to our family over these months.  I think I can speak for my whole family— we are overwhelmed by you.  You are making this journey of grief tolerable, and even sweet, as you love on all of us and remember with us what a delight my momma was to so many.  Thank you.  Two words have never fallen so short.
This year, we became official parents of TWO teenagers. Crazy.  Julia dropped piano, added cheer {?!?!?!!?- I’ll leave it at at that} and sadly can’t make ballet work even though she still wants to continue.  She filled her summer with some really great things,  got her learner's license {another ?!?!?!?!?}, made some new friends and decided she wanted to work hard in school.  Brighton kept piano, decided to try out for quarterback {got second string}, became a teenager, started a pressure washing business, chose some really great friends and grew a mop of hair.  Some of these things matter. Some of them don't but I love that my kids are seeing things and deciding to go for it—whether it be activities, certain friends, mission trips, a position on the team, grades etc.  So I fight to hear what they are saying through all of these choices.  I fight to engage them in the busyness of back and forth and to and from.  I want to hear their thoughts that lead them to these places.  I fight to create the space that's "large" enough so they feel there's room to hear them in the fullness of a day.  Car time, kitchen time, table time, after bed-time, texting time, retreat time, homework time, couch time— I’ll take it wherever I can get it!
Jeff has made the transition to Christ Together as Associate Director.  Christ Together is doing on a national level what Jeff has been doing here in Fort Worth for the last 17 years— to be a catalyst to unify the evangelical churches in our city in order to give every man, woman and child multiple opportunities to see, hear and respond to the gospel.  He will continue to provide leadership and support locally as we both love this city and the churches that serve it.  

Me?  I write Christmas letters and drive kids around.  

Merry, merry Christmas to you.  We are grateful for each one of you.  I pray you fight to create a space large enough this Christmas to ponder the wonder of this Story we celebrate.  To elaborate on the hymn, O Holy Night, when He made His first appearance as a human, beginning another chapter in the Great Rescue, His desire was for our souls to FEEL their worth, to KNOW how much He loves us and how “WITH us” He wants to be.  He came.  He’s here.  He’s with us.  

Monday, November 20, 2017

For This, I'm Grateful

The first words are always the hardest— whether you are walking into a room full of strangers, preparing to speak in front of a group or writing a post….. which I am attempting.  I am feeling the time— the time that spans between writing— and it discourages me from doing this.  However, I am stubborn enough to keep trying because I realize how quickly life spins, how days run together, how things can fall through the memory cracks and we miss lingering on the goodness and the giving of thanks.  So maybe that's a good place to start.  Giving thanks.

Momma's passing has made these months unique in the sense that many things are just different.  Even though I've lived 1000 miles from her for many years, there's a hole in my life, in my thoughts and even in some routines like calling her when I hop in the car to go pick Julia or Brighton up.  My daddy and I felt it when he came for a visit and when I went to visit him but here's the blessing. The hole she left is enormous but what she left behind is more than enough to fill those holes we feel— different than before but filled.  We have memories to retell and even memories to discover.  Her influence on me and those close to her is strong so we experience her impact often.  And the love.  I can't say enough about this— not only the love she had for each one of us and the particular ways she expressed it, but the love that surrounds our family- God's love which is more than enough but by His grace, we love each other and are loved by friends and family far and near.  All of this… this is what fills the hole- the memories, the influence and the love.  For this, I am grateful.

Jeff and I celebrated 25 years of marriage— that's a big deal, right?  I think that constitutes a little lingering.  When I met Jeff in the summer of 1990, I hadn't yet turned 20 and had even fewer notches on the maturity belt.  But the defensive tackle from Furman stole my heart with his talk of God and His grace and I and my faith have never been the same.  Twenty five years under his leadership has been anything but stagnant or stale— even though there would have been times, in my stubbornness, I would have welcomed stagnant.  He keeps our eyes on the future while making for much fun in the present.  For him, for this, I am grateful.

Summer ended and then school began……and this week before Thanksgiving we get a breather.  But these school days are where the days spin — and you wake up and it's Monday again.  This is where I struggle— struggle to keep focused on what matters.  I KNOW how important that is— I VALUE family time, teachable moments, dinner at the table, having ready ears for ALL of the words— but many of these days just seem to dissolve into each other and the weariness wins out.  This I fight.  Some days I fight harder than others.  This year, Julia dropped piano, added cheer and sadly couldn't  make ballet work either even though she STILL wants to, got her learner's license, made some new friends and decided she wanted to work hard in school.  Brighton kept piano, decided to try out for quarterback {got second string}, chose some really great friends and hasn't decided yet if he wants to make good grades.  Some of these things matter. Some of them don't but I love that my kids are seeing things and deciding to go for it—whether it be activities, certain friends, a position on the team, grades.  So I fight to hear what they are saying through all of these choices.  I fight to engage them in the busyness of back and forth and to and from.  I want to hear their thoughts that lead them to these places.  I fight to create the space that's "large" enough so they feel there's room to hear them in the fullness of a day.  Car time, kitchen time, table time, after bed-time, texting time, retreat time, homework time, couch time.  For these, I am grateful.

This week we are coming off of 20 days with only one night with all four of us under the same roof.  There were just some scheduling things we could not do any differently.  Jeff and I go home today after a postponed celebration of our 25th and we are excited to be with our kids this week.  We have some new fun planned along with our normal traditions of the week.  We have one of our favorite families joining us for Thanksgiving which makes my heart SO HAPPY. But today this homebody is thrilled to have the week in front of her with the three people I love the most spread all throughout it.  We have more fun to have, more people to host, more things to bake, more thanks to give, more love to share, more apples to wash, more caramel to melt, more fires to build and more memories to make.

For this, I am grateful.

These are some pictures that totally messed up but are too fun not to share.  We took them this summer while we were in the Pacific Northwest and my settings were all WRONG but they are too funny not to share and remember.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Grief: Powerful, but No Manners

{Momma's charm bracelets, full of decades of memories, worn by the girls who call her "Nana"}

I read things on grief— well, anything actually— and I think, why do I need to say more?  What more can be written?  And then I remember, I process as I think and I write as I think.  So I write.  For me.  And if my processing through my fingers helps anyone else, then let the clicking of the keys commence.

I'm finding that grief is a broad word with no bottom, no boundaries in any direction at all— and so, basically, it has no manners.  It crashes in on a normal day—one with a perfectly wonderful beginning— landing in your lap and you have to figure out what to do with it.  Quickly, mind you. You don't get a run through, a chance to practice or time think it through, as people like me like to do.  You get it on the fly and truly do the best you can.  I knew my mom's cancer was spreading but she'd THRIVED with it for so many years— hardly ANY "hitches" in her "giddy up".  I knew cancer would be what would get her but THE call from my brother came just hours after getting a thumbs up text regarding mom and a report from her doctor.  However, I was 2 1/2 hours from home and my Jeff.  No manners.  No thought of circumstances.  No thought of the receiver.  Just barged right into my life that afternoon saying, "Figure me out."  I am finding that takes a while.

Grief is fascinating too because it's universal.  Grief is something that slams into everyone on the planet at least once and most likely several times throughout a lifetime.  BUT even with it's broad strokes and it's impartiality… it is a unique experience—  highly personal and extremely private for most… even though it's a shared experience across cultures and continents. However, the universal experience splinters off in a bazillion directions as we remember the one we lost.  Oh, how the stories differ!  My family is humbly grateful that our stories are sweet.  Each one of us has our own beautiful and honest memories of Momma but when we put them all together and add in the memories of our extended family, closest friends, acquaintances and even a complete stranger in our case, we've really got something special...something lovely that keeps her relationship with us and her influence alive in us somehow.  That's a grace gift— a grace gift from the Lord.

 And there are more stories, of course, we all have them and should share them— what led up to it, how we found out, where we were, how we felt, how we feel, how we responded, how we remember them— and maybe, most important of all, what our grief looks like now— while we clean the house, go to work, cook dinner, attend meetings, celebrate occasions, have dinner with friends, go to church, run carpool….. grief in the midst of Wednesday afternoon life. Each one of us has to learn this.  I saw a book title— A Broken Heart Still Beats.  Yes, it does— a tender reminder to us that we live in spite of loss with the loss.  And my prayer is that I learn to live with loss well— with a bigger and more tender heart.

I love this quote by Anne Lamott, "If you haven't already, you will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and you never completely get over the loss of a deeply beloved person.  But this is also good news.  The person lives forever, in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up.  And you come through, and you learn to dance with a banged-up heart."

Last thing I've thought about, grief is powerful in a practical kind of way in that it is capable of much.  It can bring together or it can tear apart.  Grief can lead to self-absorption or it can gift you with open arms to give, receive and accept.  It can break down barriers or it can put them up.  Grief can lead to a keener understanding of love and joy or it can lead to far deeper pain.  Grief can steal or it can give.  It can lead to resentment or it can lead to a fuller appreciation.  Grief can drive us to a plethora of activities or it can lead us to….. grieve… in honor and respect of the one we lost.  Grief can turn one away from God or it can be the ballast that makes stronger the road on which you run to Him.  And because, by God's grace, I hardly know anything else, that's what I did.  His track record with me has been faithfulness— I didn't say "understandable" or "comprehensible"— but absolutely faithful.  Every day I live, I walk on the road which has been built up — and is still being built— by every minute spent in His Word, by every pastor, every teacher, every mentor that teaches me His Truth, by parents who loved me and made church priority, by a husband who encourages me to pursue Him more, by my children who need to see me set my feet securely on this path I ask them to try.

This is why I run to Him in my saddest moments.  This is the road I know to be strongest…the road I know that will not disappoint.  This is the road that leads to Him, the One who is all powerful, capable of handling my messy, confused emotions because in His perfect manner He is closest to the brokenhearted, the One who knows grief to the fullest.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Desk Personified

Because I feel a little "stuck" in my brain and words aren't really coming well in any form or fashion I thought I might try to write because more often than not my fingers seem to function better than my mouth.  I've pulled out this book— link that explains that here and I've allowed the book to fall open to a page and out of three choices, the least awkward one is, believe it or not, "What Your Desk Thinks About at Night".

I actually really like my desk.  I have one in the laundry room that I try to do all the yucky stuff like paperwork.  That word covers a lot of jobs.  Some is actual paper and some is virtual paper via the amazing world wide web.  Even though I like the convenience of filling out forms and just clicking to send them where they need to go, I really don't like signing my name using a mouse.  That may be more tedious than getting out the envelope and stamps.

And then I have my happy desk.  It used to to be the schoolroom desk/table but now it's mine.  All mine.  It's still in what we call the schoolroom/guest room —thanks to Jeff's handy skills in making a Murphy Bed— and here is where I get to do things I really love.

So what in the world would my desk think at night?

If she really wants to accomplish something tomorrow, she needs to leave her phone somewhere else.

I go to sleep looking forward to the best part of her sitting down with me which is usually her bringing in a good smelling cup of coffee.  I also like that it's warm.  And I am grateful she wipes up whatever she may spill.  I'm white and I show mess. I like to be clean.

The weight of the books she leaves on me at night is unnecessary.  She could take off at least five and I'd rest much better.  I think she just likes the way they look— or maybe she thinks they make her look smart— or maybe the books remind her of something.  Actually, they do slide around up there a good bit.  Maybe she does look at them.

The sounds at night are different right now.  It's quiet earlier.  Their schedule has changed because I hear her kids in the early morning hours.

And now my nights are shorter because she gets in here earlier than she has in a few months.  Not EVERY morning and the weekends are sporadic but a lot of mornings she's slipping into the chair while it's still dark.  And some mornings after she's disturbed my peace she has the nerve to put her head down and doze.  And I know she's sleeping because her head is extremely heavy.

At night, I'm glad to have a break from her elbows and forearms that never seem to leave me.  If she's not writing with her pen or typing, she's leaning over a book.  To me, she seems to waste a lot of time in here— especially when she brings in her phone.

I need my rest at night because after the early morning hours, she leaves and comes back and so many days, she puts her feet under me — and her arms on me— and loads me down with all sorts of books, papers, and folders.  She leans on me more than usual— shuffling around the books— leaning over to see them-- putting more of a strain on me.  However, if it's a particularly long day for her, I'll get a whiff of that coffee once more.  Later, I can rest my tired self.

As I rested last night, I thought about today and how little typing and writing she did.  She sat a lot.  I know I am just a desk but things have been different lately.  She moves slower-like drags a little- even at moving her things around.  She drinks more coffee than normal.  She remains still for longer period of times.  And she's been in here a lot more regularly and for longer periods of time.

I have a drawer that was giving me some problems as I began to rest last night.  That one has never bothered me before but then I realized it's because she's been using it a lot lately. I thought and remembered, she keeps Kleenex in there.  I've been a desk long enough to know, she could be either sick or sad.  If she were sick, I don't think she'd be up so early.  If she were sick, I don't think she'd be sitting here with me but in the bed.  If she just had a cold, I don't think these books, that big heavy one in particular, would be so important to her.

I know I am just a desk, but yes, I think she is sad.

Monday, August 28, 2017


If it seems weird to you for me to post this-- maybe it is but I want a record for my family in this one place. There is so much I want to say but the words aren't coming yet.  However, I am grateful these words came quickly the morning after.  And for now, this is still all I have.

Joyce Ivey Dennard, 74, passed from this earth to her home in heaven on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Treutlen County.  Her quiet battle with cancer since 2008 has come to an end.
Joyce was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 20, 1942, to Thomas Wright Ivey and Julia Sue Potts Ivey.  She married Richard Marion Dennard on August 9, 1964, at First Baptist Church, Conyers, Georgia.  They would celebrate fifty-three years on August 9th.  Two children were born to this marriage.  They and their families survive Joyce:  Blakely Sutton Dennard, his wife, Adele, and children, Richard Jackson (R.J.) Dennard, his wife, Megan of Pooler, Georgia, and Hunter Nicole Dennard of Suwanee, Georgia; Krista Dennard Sanders, her husband, Jeff, and children, Julia Karis Sanders and Jeffrey Brighton Sanders of Fort Worth, Texas. She is also survived by her younger brother, George Thomas Ivey and his wife, Patsy, of Brinkley, Arkansas.

Joyce was a graduate of Tift College and earned a double major in Chemistry and Biology. Joyce worked as a biologist at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta (specifically dissecting mosquitoes) before moving to Soperton in December of 1971 to help her husband establish Dennard Drugs.  Not only was Joyce the administration behind the scenes but also the one who added beauty and class to the front of the store in the way of gifts, jewelry and china.  She was also a homemaker, creating meals and traditions for her family to enjoy and to remember and cherish for years to come.  Joyce's main desire was to be with her family and friends and to quietly love them as best as she knew how.

A very close second to this would be her love of travel, experiencing new places and new adventures. We've always said, "Momma is always sitting on GO!"  Just say the word and she would pack a bag whether it was a ski trip with the Pournelles, a spring break adventure with her college-aged kids, a trip to Texas, a church youth group trip as a chaperone, a random baseball stadium, or a flight across the world or a weekend of fishing with her husband and their friends. A close third would be watching her children, and later her grandchildren, participate in all their activities.   We can all attest she's sat through her share and many other's share of baseball games— throwing in plenty of baton performances, football games, cheer competitions, ballet recitals, soccer games, softball games, and piano recitals. She taught the Mixed Adults Sunday School class at First Baptist Church Soperton for fifteen years with much help from her friend, Brenda Brown, who filled in many times.

Joyce with her kind heart and bright smile taught us many things— too many to name here.  To be married to her, raised by her, friended by her, loved by her were gifts. Her cancer didn't slow her down until the last month or two and even then we all thought she'd "bounce back".  She taught us how to face difficulty with faith, not fear, and with courage, not complaint.   She was beloved by her family and friends, who will miss her every day.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The celebration of her life will be held in the First Baptist Church, Soperton, Georgia, at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 30, with Pastor Jeff Sanders officiating. Burial will be in Westview Cemetery with Sammons Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Pallbearers will be R.J. Dennard, Brighton Sanders, Jeff Watts, Hugh Gillis, Jr., Wade Clark, and Mark Bowers.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Not My Job, But Yours Be Done

I'm beginning to realize why my older friends didn't talk much about raising teenagers. {And you may remember when I said the same thing about middle schoolers….} There are times when I've been like, "Why didn't so and so TELL ME?"  "Why didn't they sit me down and fill me in on the best ways to handle these little budding adults that have shown up on the second floor of my home?" "Why didn't they tell me that I would feel so ill-equipped and confused much of the time?"  Here's the reason they didn't tell me— because they knew I really wouldn't be able to understand it until I got there.  Here.  Wherever. They knew they could tell me, warn me, encourage me in some specific areas but that I really wouldn't— couldn't— take it to heart because I had no way of knowing what raising teenagers would be like.

Until I was actually doing it.

Life with teenagers can be great.  On good days, we can teeter on the "friendship" side of parenting— seeing glimpses of what our adult relationship might look like, we can actually agree on a life issue, we can have some meaningful interactions on close to the heart subjects, and we can think, "Hey— I really like you."  And SOMETIMES life with teenagers can feel like a bubble blown from dollar store mix— it’s fragile and one more breath in the plastic wand and it bursts.  A good ol' "bust" just may be the better term.  And these "busts" leave you wondering if things will ever be light and normal again……if hormones will ever run on cruise control again…if anyone will ever smile in our house again…if coat hangers will ever be used for hanging clothes again.  You know- dire issues like that.  Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about— with the bubble— you ask a simple question, like, "Have much homework?" and there are tears followed by questions of why you don't love them anymore and life is NOT normal.  Or light.  *

And you are dumbfounded.  Homework vs. their place in your heart.  The game has changed.  The stakes are higher.  Fo sho.

Look at all of them!  If not a teenager already, look how many just a few friends have to raise!!  Love. These. Kids.
Having a few more years behind us, we think we know what's best for them—and most of the time we do, but they simply can't see it.  OR they see it fine, but wouldn't even pretend they did.  A few things fall into that category these days— things I'd love to see them doing but they just haven't owned yet.  I DO know these particular things ARE best for them so I pray.  And pray some more— praying that God will do the things that only He can do.  Remember Blackaby's Experiencing God in the 90's?  I picked it back up again after 20 years and guess what?  It's STILL amazing.  And I loved being reminded of these things— the things ONLY HE can do.  {See?  If only HE can do them, then it's struck OFF my list. I don't know about you, but I am all up for that.}

1.  Draws people to Himself
2.  Causes people to seek Him
3.  Reveals spiritual Truth
4.  Convicts the world {us, our children and everyone we know!} of guilt about sin, righteousness and judgment

How freeing is that?  Those are His jobs, not mine.  I take huge comfort in that and the really incredible thing is that He is faithful and I am counting on Him to do His part. And you can bet I will remind Him of it— respectfully.  Of course.   When will I respectfully remind Him?  Every time I try to think of a creative way to get them to read Scripture on their own.  Every time I want pure repentance— like some sackcloth and ashes action.  GRIEF over their sin.  Every time I see them struggling with a spiritual Truth after I've laid it out as clearly as I know how.  That's when I have to remind Him that drawing, revealing and convicting is HIS job.  Not mine.  I am not in control.  I have none.

Are you detecting the focus here?  Are you sensing who this parenting thing is really about?    So a few months after I began reading Experiencing God again— enter Paul David Tripp's book Parenting.  It IS about parenting but as I read it, it is so much more about the work needed in my own heart.  Just like marriage, parenting is just another degree of our sanctification, another prying off of our fingers from our own desires and agendas, another microscope on the sin that is still active in my own life.  So don't read it if you don't want to be thoroughly challenged— BUT, know this, it's not a burdensome book.  AT ALL.  It frees you— just as Henry Blackaby's principles from Scripture do.  There are just certain things we were never meant to do.  We can encourage it. We can teach it.  We can model it.  But we cannot make them choose it for themselves.  It's only by God's grace that I chose Him all those years ago.

So, these days, I am more convinced than ever that parenting is really about the work He wants to accomplish in me— letting go of my desire for control, comfort, "rightness", and even peace.  He wants me completely aware of what’s ruling my own heart, my absolute dependency on Him, my perpetual need for Him— and how that kind of dependence looks moment to moment.

And yes, I am still figuring that out.  Parenting moments are hardly EVER planned.  Friends, we've got to be at the ready.  I think His Word has a few things to say about that.  So maybe we can talk about that another time?  Until we can do that here’s some favorite verses.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wow.  So be it.

{Here's the link to what my friend wrote several months ago now regarding Tripp's book— and a bit of her parenting experience.  Don't we all learn so much from each other?  Grateful for community within the Body of Christ.}

{* Instead of “Have much homework?”--- “What did you do last night?” or “How was the party?” or “Why did you miss curfew?” or “What is this text all about?”  In these years there could be things that happen that tear holes in our hearts-- this is a burst bubble of a different caliber-- so just know those things are tumbling around in my mind as I write this.}