Thursday, August 31, 2017

Annual Donut Dip

So school has started and I’m tired already! The new schedule has kept us moving all day and into the evening, adjusting to early mornings is hard for us non-morning people, and I’ve taken up a running schedule for another race this fall. I remind myself that education and the ability to work hard are a privilege, so I am embracing this shift once again. Oh, and play is a privilege with remarkable benefits, so I am working that into our weeks as well.

We had our third annual donut dip on Monday before the school day started. No one needed to be anywhere till the ten o’clock hour, so we had a bit of time to ease into the week’s obligations. Jon was even able to join our escapade for the first time.

As this new-ish tradition goes, we head out in the morning at the end of summer for donuts and an early morning dip in the sea. No wetsuits or fanfare allowed. We get up and go.

With bed heads and sleepy eyes, we go straight into the morning fog and the Pacific waves to welcome a new school year together. A box of donuts makes it cheery and celebratory. (Michael opted to stay dry and warm, which worked out for me 'cause now I have pictures.)

Jacob didn't wait for his gang. He was the first one in while the rest of us took a moment for our sugar high to kick in!

A sugar high makes us do fun things...

In my opinion, this is a happy way to mark new beginnings.
Or just to start the day...


We are currently in the middle of a heat wave. It hasn’t been too bad for us on the coast, but I’ve still spent the better part of two days in swimwear: swimwear to work by the pool yesterday afternoon, then swimwear under a dress at Andrew’s practice, swimwear to drive across town to pick up others from various locations (wishing I’d changed), swimwear in the kitchen making an easy dinner, swimwear for a night run into the ocean with the kids, and wet swimwear again in the car as Olivia racks up her last few night driving hours before her driving test. I’m in swimwear again today ‘cause it’s forecasted to be the hottest day yet.

Here are a couple quick pictures one of my younger boys snapped before heading out for orientation and packet pickups at our charter high school last week. Guess who wasn’t looking forward to this event?

Two in high school now. One is taking half her course load at the community college. This strikes me as surreal.

I have been praying much about what it means to parent teens. This is not a responsibility and privilege I take lightly.

I don’t want to be Mommy to them. Our relationship must not be what it once was, where I  primarily protected them, made decisions for them, and provided necessary control in their lives. Those days need to be passing. They have past. Mommy instincts can be quite strong though; my desire to bring them up into independent, capable, and confident individuals doesn’t come by way of coddling or through over-protection and mistrust, so emotional reaction must be tempered with thoughtful and prayerful dependence on God. A more mature, faith-filled motherhood is needed now, because parenting well will come by letting them go out to practice what they’ve learned up until now, claiming belief as their own, and understanding that we all learn through failures and successes.

Mostly, we learn from our failures.

I am learning to have enough humility to embrace failure, to see that healthy individuality and the expression of gifts and strengths is a process, sometimes more like a journey on a bumpy road. I want to give my kids the freedom to become who God designed them to be, freedom to step out and discover a life that is their own. It will look different from mine, it will look different from what I might guess, maybe different from what I hope for. But they are not here for me. My kids are not projects for me to turn out according to my pre-determined plan. They are not here to satisfy me, or to bestow upon me accolades. They are not here to mirror me... not my ideas, dreams, beliefs, plans, or anything else.

I don’t want to impose on them emotional dependency, the kind that communicates without words that my happiness or their success is dependent on them pleasing me or measuring up to some standards of performance. My love for them is not dependent upon their behavior, their grades, or the degree to which they can please me. This is a type of emotional abuse that brings about adults that are emotionally stifled, that don’t make and own their decisions (or the outcomes of those decisions).

And yet, these kiddos of mine are teens and not yet adults. Contrary to what many parents in our society do, this is not a time to remove all input and hope for the best. No, it’s a time to press in relationally. Control is no longer the primary factor in parenting, but influence through compassionate, humble, persistent, and accepting friendship.

How do I do this? How do I let go AND press in?

I am asking the Lord to show me daily. I know that he will supply for all of my needs, that he has promised to guide, and he will grant the grace I need for each day, each moment, each circumstance, each question, each trial, each failure.

I remind my kids frequently of their individual worth, that they were created by a loving God who’s expressed will it is for them to belong to him forever through salvation. I tell them they were lovingly and uniquely designed with a purpose for living, that their lives are meaningful and precious. I remind them as well of their responsibility and position before Holy God, that there is hope and freedom for living fully now and in the life to come.

This hope and freedom is not of me or through me or because of me. Only God. This is clear to a believing mom, but practically speaking, many don’t live this out in relation to their kids. Many of us stay stuck in the little years, parenting in a way that holds our children back and demands allegiance to ourselves rather than to God.

My love is strong for my kids, but that love cannot be the focus of our relationship. The vast and unimaginably deep love of God must be OUR focus and hope.

Because… the fullness of all things are made complete in Him alone.


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