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Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Working away in my garage, humming to a song on the radio, I heard the words “Dear Younger Me, if I could tell you everything that I have learned so far …”

We all know what it is to ponder where our life would be if only we had known when we were young, what we know now.

That reflective introspective moment quickly pivoted my thoughts away from me, when I heard the line “a smoother ride” and was instantly in a truck, just the day before.

I had been accompanying my daughter to our mechanic, who was to look over the truck that she wished to purchase. The entire ride, wait for the mechanics diagnosis, and drive to return the truck back to it’s seller, I wanted to place my hands on her shoulders, force her to make eye contact with me, and tell her (sternly)

DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY! Go purchase a nice, safe, compact car.

But, I couldn’t, I can’t.

You see, my parents, whose failings I could fill a lined piece of paper (and, as parents, we could all fill an entire notebook with our own failings), did one thing I have grown to respect beyond their failings … they let me chose.

Though not church-goers, they fully supported my personal faith with Christ, even attending and celebrating my baptism as a teen.

They welcomed me home with open arms when I quit university (something I now regret).

Then, two months later, despite still owing student loan money, I decided to take a trip to Mexico with a friend (I am pretty certain that they probably almost severed their tongues from biting them) yet they never said a negative word.

They also said not one discouraging word when, at nineteen, I declared that I was getting married. (not sure I could withhold from voicing my discouraging words, if I were in their shoes).

they let me chose …

Over and over, they let me make my own decisions. I have had no one to blame when I blew it, other than myself. I have been the self-scholar of my life’s choices, learning from each one.

It’s not that they never gave me advice, but that that is all they did … gave advice, then loved me with an unconditional love, whether I chose their advice, or choose my own way.

God is the original model of what it is to parent this way. He has given us his advice, knowing exactly what the consequences of our choices will be, then he lets us choose, while loving us, unconditionally.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Though I would love to be able to write a letter of what to do, and what not to, or to throw up a stop sign whenever my younger self is about to make a life-altering decision that I may not like the consequences of down the road …

I am who I am today because of all my choices,

good, bad, and even the yet to be determined.

And so, though I want more than anything a smoother ride for my daughter than I might have had, I also know that she needs to make the choice as to what her ride will be …

even if it is a truck.

“the choices that you’ll make
cause they’re the choices that made ma
and even though I love this crazy life
sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride,
dear younger me …

every mountain, every valley
through each heart ache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be.”

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When I grow up I want to be a ….

That question always flashes me to my mother singing that famous song by Doris Day;
“Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be”

From an early age we ask little ones what they want to be when they grow up. Usually they respond, a fireman, a teacher, a nurse, a policeman, a mommy. As these children grow up and enter school they are exposed to so many more future possibilities; a paleontologist, a librarian, a janitor (all those keys), a doctor, a bee keeper. Then they hit high school, and the possibilities seem endless.

What do I want to be?

Through the years I have wanted to be a mommy, a teacher, a nurse, a special needs assistant, an architect, a doctor, a counselor, and a writer (with a really good editor, who could deal with my poor grammar).

At thirty-nine (with four years experience) I am still asking myself that question. I have had tasks, jobs and titles that have paid the bills and fed my soul. I have worked as a Draftsman, an office assistant, a residential care aide, and an educational assistant.

As our kids are becoming older, I find myself asking that question now again, with the same unknowing vision of the future.

My most favorite jobs so far have been stay-at-home mom, (approaching it as a serious job, with no soaps and bon bons for me) and working with students as an Educational Assistant. But, I can see the nest emptying in the next few years, as our kids ‘get a life’ of their own. I also recognize that I have gone as far as I can in my ‘paid’ profession, and wonder if it can sustain me and my undiagnosed ADD for another twenty years or more.

I really do not know what to do, but I know that whatever I will BE is already there.

Who we will be, who we are, has far more to do with our character than our education and skills set. Who we are is a combination of our strengths and weaknesses, past accomplishments and failures, our beliefs and how we put them into practice. Who we are is foundational in discovering how to best use the passions and abilities we have within us.

So, now what?

“Whatever will be will be, will be … que Sera, Sera”

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To my Copper Knob,

I remember a dear old Scottish lady (who made the BEST shortbread, in the world, hands down … but I digress) looking at you, the first Sunday after your birth, and saying in her strong Scottish brogue, “oh, look at that beautiful copper knob.” From that moment on, there is rarely a time when I look at your bright copper hair, and do not hear the echo of her voice.

As you awaken today to a new day, to your fifteenth birthday, I will flashback, while you will flash forward.

You, as a brand new fifteen year old, will be thinking of your future. You will be hoping that your parents will fulfill their promise of a cell phone when you are in grade nine, TODAY (no comment on that one). You will be thinking about how it is only one more year until you are old enough for your driving ‘learners’. You will be thinking about three more years until high school graduation (and that means, your own car, IF you have decided not to date in high school … so you will probably also be looking forward to the freedom of having your own car AND the freedom to date … but, I digress). You will be looking forward to the future you desire most (and I will not share here, because that is YOUR hearts desire).

For myself, as the mother of a brand new fifteen year old, I will be thinking of your past. I will be thinking of how I was not with you, last year, for your fourteenth birthday. I will be thinking your thirteenth birthday party, when you CONVINCED me to allow you to invite EVERY GIRL IN YOUR CLASS to your sleepover party (really, you should consider a future as a lawyer). I will remember your emotional struggles through adolescents, relationships, and math (and how I paid you, YES I PAID MY CHILD to have her ‘let’ me help her with her math homework … again, a career in law might be worth considering). I will remember your first day of school, your first steps, your first words. I will remember how you never saw differences in people, and that some of your best friends were fifty years or more older than you (especially that next door neighbor who you loved so much that, if you saw he was outside, you were out of your car seat before our vehicle came to a stop in the driveway). I will remember the day you were born, and what seemed like forever before you took your first breath.

You look ahead.

I look back.

Each day of your life, my influence on you decreases. Each day of your life, you grow up, and apart from me (and your father). Each day of your life, you become more independent in your thoughts, your actions and your choices and plans for the future. That is how it is supposed to be. And, it IS good … even if sometimes it feels as though a limb is being torn from MY being.

There is a portion of a wedding ceremony, that your dad reads when he is performing a marriage that states, “you are giving your children to life’s adventure, and not merely away from yourselves. This is what you raise your children for, to let them go their way. And in their going they come back again to share their discoveries.” It is this that gives me joy in anticipating the future with you, that you come back to us, to share your discoveries and joys, with us.

I am proud of who you are choosing to become. Do not forget that who you become is YOUR choosing. The most important choices in your life are ones that your father and I cannot make for you. There are many that I wish for you, but they, and how you choose to life your life, are in your hands.

I love you, my Copper Knob, my favorite red-haired daughter. Continue to put your life in the hand of your Creator, and you will never walk this life alone.

Your favorite mom.

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What would you advise? What would you suggest? What would you do?

A young woman discovers she is pregnant.

She works an office job. She makes little money. She does not have a car … or her drivers license.

She still lives at home with her parents. A household where she has witnessed, and experienced, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Her boyfriend, of a few years, asks whose baby it is. He is not planning to stick around!

She is pregnant.

What would you advise her? What would you suggest she do? What would you do, if you were that girl?

Really, what would you advise? What would you do?

The girl has options:
1. abort the pregnancy
2. go to term, and allow the baby to be adopted
3. keep the baby

What would you do? Seriously!

This is not a new, or uncommon situation. It is one that has directly affected the lives of many women, through all generations. It is not an easy situation. It is not a comfortable one.

Now, seriously, what would you advise? What would you do?

I will tell you what this young woman did …

She continued the pregnancy, and delivered a healthy baby girl. She kept the child. She, and her child, continued to live in her parents home until she met and married a man who proposed to her, and asked to adopt her child simultaneously. The child grew, and was joined by two brothers (who were royal pains in the … neck). She grew up, married, had three children, had friends, and hobbies, and a job she loves. She found her Creator through the faith and life of her grandmother. She has not had a flawless, perfect life, but she has had … life.

Today, forty-three years later, I celebrate my birthday. In real terms, I celebrate my meaningful life, because my mother made a tough decision, without any knowledge of how this decision was going to play out.

Even as I contemplate the circumstances through which she made her decision, and even though I am thankful for the life she chose to give me, I do not know that I would advise or counsel another woman to do the same. Her circumstances would make the decision to continue the pregnancy and to keep her child so … unwise.

Whether or not my mother acknowledged this at the time or not, we do not know the future, and we do not know the purpose in pain, or the value in struggle. Only our Creator knows why the DNA of two people came together to form a new being, a new life.

My life has not been flawless, or perfect. It has not been without pain, or struggle, or heartache. I have not lived a life without regrets, or sins. I have felt hurt, and pain, and not understood why bad things have happened in my life.

But, I have had … life.

And I have my mother and the strength that she possessed when she decided to continue her pregnancy to term, give birth to and raise me.

Thanks mom, for giving me a happy birthday.

Now, what would you have done?

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. ”
Psalm 139:13-18

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On Saturday I was heading out with the beast on a walk, along with my almost fifteen year old daughter. My daughter was telling me of her opinions and decisions on various topics, opinions and decisions that were far more wise than I would have had at her age.

I came home almost giddy! It is not often that, as a parent, you feel any sort of success. Usually, as parents, we feel only failure. This time I was doing my happy dance (now that is quite a mental picture).

Way back when our oldest daughter was a preschooler I heard someone speaking about parenting. This person said it is important to guide your kids towards thinking about, and making decisions BEFORE they are in a position of having to make them. So, when our kids were preschoolers, I would ask them BEFORE we went to purchase a Slurpie what flavor they hoped to get, and why. Doing this alleviated the frustratingly long time it would take them to make a decision, while there were dozens of people waiting in line behind us. Sure they sometimes changed their mind, but, overall, thinking ahead helped their anticipation of what they chose to grow. As they got older we would talk about drug and alcohol use in teens, and they would talk about the possibility of using those substances, and how that might hinder their future goals (another discussion that happens  W A Y  before grade 12 … more like since they could talk). So, as their peers started experimenting they have known, before peer pressure was involved, what they would choose, and why (this is not a guarantee, but if they have a goal they have chosen, and a reason for choosing it, they then have the intrinsic motivation to make choices, not in the moment, but that help them achieve their goals).

The why is important, because it gives them their own reasons for making decisions. I have always feared that my kids would make important decisions BECAUSE I told them, and so teaching them to think for themselves, set goals for themselves helps to ensure that I am not raising robotic clones.

Now don’t go thinking that I spent my Saturday patting my back. Raising kids is like playing mad scientist with a lab rat. We never know if what we are doing, and teaching, and praying for will actually produce a productive member of society. I am fully aware that even if there was a manual for successful parenting (don’t we wish) our kids still have to make their choices all by themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, she is not perfect, and can still make ridiculous decisions, as any teen (or adult) can. What I do see is that she is pulling through this time of adolescence with wisdom and an end goal as her guides.

And that gives me great hope for her future.

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These words come from God, in Exodus 9:1, when he told Moses that he needed to declare (not request) to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Now the people God was referring to were the Israelite people who Pharaoh had been using as the equivalent to pack mules, working in fields, building the kingdom for a king who seemed to forget that they were the majority people group in his land. It could be said that the Israelite people were singing “another brick in the wall,” (Pink Floyd) with all the brick making they were to do.

The words God instructed to Moses came into my thoughts the other night when I attended church with my eldest daughter. She has been attending a different church, of a different denomination from us, for over a year now. I was eager to go with her to church, to worship together, and to see her in her ‘own place.’

I am a strange mother, when it comes to church. I tell my kids, once they are in middle school, that they are free to attend any youth group, of a Christian church, that they choose. I tell them they are free to attend, or not attend, the youth programming at our own church. All that I ask is that they go, and participate in a youth program, on a regular basis.

I am stranger still, because hubby (aka. their dad) is a pastor of a church.

He has also been a youth pastor, many years ago. From that experience, he, and we have come to understand that our kids experiences with God and church do not have to be isolated to where we attend (and where their dad works). It is far more important to both of us that our kids worship and serve sincerely than to worship and serve with us, just because WE want them with us. We want them to never think that God is only where we are. We want them to see God as there for them, as individuals, not through the experiences and choices of us, as parents.

Over the years we have worked intentionally in broadening our kids experiences of church, and christianity. When hubby is off, we attend other churches, of varying denominations, of varying worship styles, and of varying means of expression. We have encouraged awareness to things of the christian sub culture (music, literature, camps, missions). We want them to know that God is bigger than any church, any denomination, any method of expression, and any pastor.

Exodus 9:1 … the entire verse says, “then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship (some versions say ‘serve’) me.'” God does not want US (as parents) to be worshiped, or served, but God, who we are all called to go and serve.

And so, with all that said, last night, I was longing to worship with my daughter, for a change. My mother heart just wanted to sit and stand beside her, worshiping and serving our God … together. And, it was good. But, it is better knowing that she is seeking God, for herself, not to please me or her dad. She is on a journey that we, as her parents, blanket with our prayers. It is a journey that does not stop when a person finds ‘their’ church, but when one finds themselves in the arms of our Savior, at the end of their earthly life. And it is there, in heaven, that I will get to worship and serve my God, with all my family around me. And it is there that longing will be no more.

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