Tough Love

I hate being the Mom. Being the Mom sucks sometimes.

I love being the Friend. The Goof. The Lollipop Fairy. The Boo-boo Kisser. The Cheerleader. The Philosophy Teacher. But I hate being the Mom.

The Mom–defined as the Law Giver. The Layer Down of the Law. The Disciplinarian. The New Sheriff In Town. The Obliterator of Fun. The Queen of Rules.

When my child comes to me and has a problem, my first inclination is to care for her emotions. Natch. But when the behavior continues without benefit from a pep talk or correction, I have to buckle up and hunker down.

My child is an easy one. She’s open to correction, soft-hearted, fair-minded, vulnerable, caring and intentional. Except when she’s not.

And when she’s not? I’m at a loss.

Lately, she’s been resisting change and challenge. This is a normal sign of teenage growing pains. Right? The urge to resemble a couch. I should know, I was a teenager and very much resembled our living room sofa.

She’s almost 14 and showing all the signs of impending, hard-core teen-tric lethargy. It’s concerning. I’m worried about her slipping off into depression if we don’t combat her lack of motivation.

That was my problem. That is a problem of teens, IMO. My freshman year was my most vulnerable. I tried to commit suicide my freshman year because I felt so isolated. Living by rules, wanting independence. On the cusp of adulthood, but still a child. Wanting total acceptance from EVERYONE, including your parents, NO MATTER WHAT!

These unrealistic desires could make any person frustrated, confused and DEPRESSED! Not to mention dealing with complex societal and peer group issues with a not-fully-matured frontal lobe. Suffering from inexperience, lack of impulse and emotional control, and hormonal imbalance.

With my mental illness history, I feel justified in being, at the very least, concerned. And she herself said, without prompt from me, “I’m unmotivated.” That’s awesome self-reflection and honesty. Great sign for us as we tackle her dissatisfaction.

Honestly, she has no reason to be dissatisfied. She has a nice, cozy home. Food to eat. Clothes (nice clothes) on her back and a good school. She has all the conveniences of modern society. I take her to school and pick her up. I am here for her in the morning and when she gets home. She is emotionally supported. And by Dad as well. But dissatisfaction is lying just under the covers of her more-than-adequate, queen-sized, Princess-and-the-Pea mattress.

Why?

It also doesn’t seem to matter that I remind her of her blessings. Put her life into perspective, in sharp contrast to those who have very little and have no opportunity to receive an education or are shot trying to get one. That has no lasting effect. I realize in my attempt to give her the finer things, I have denied her appreciation and gratitude.

We as a society are suffering from the same plight. Teenage apathy. Things are so nice that we forget how lucky we are. We are so dissatisfied after achieving some degree of success that we have to buy a therapist to figure out why. I’ve realized this, but my daughter hasn’t achieved any level of enlightenment in regard to privilege. And even so, do we act any differently? Or do we still chase those materialistic dreams of apparent success?

In my own life, I have accepted the ups and downs of luxury and deprivation. Some days you will suffer and at other times you will have plenty. Days with money aren’t stress free. You have to manage that money. No one has a money tree in their backyard. Any amount of money requires management. It helps when there’s enough to manage. I will say that’s less stressful. But having enough is only slightly less nerve-racking.

I try to be thankful for whatever situation I find myself in and remind myself, no matter what, you’re still breathing. It helps when you’ve been near death to frame life in this way. But I don’t want my daughter to experience what I have to know her place and value and blessing. I want to spare her that. But am I denying her an education in the lesson of life if I try to shield her from any pain or suffering? I’m not sure.

Last night, I showed her frustration on my part. I tried to be soft and kind, but I also let her know how frustrated I was. We try to be honest about our feelings. I let her know, “I’m trying here.” This was in response to her growing dissatisfaction with home, school, life in general. I could tell she was checking out. I could tell she was uncomfortable and uneasy. And she was. We are pretty in tune. Our whole family tends to wear our hearts..well, all over the outside, not just on the sleeve! LOL

I let her know, I’m trying to encourage. Prepare. Provide help-physical and mental. Shop for school supplies. Walk her into the office to learn about lockers. Pick up and drop off. Attend back-to-school nights. Be here physically while she’s adjusting. Help with homework. Communicate. Ask questions. Love. Listen. Linger. Snuggle up at night and let our hair down. Let go of the reins, at times. But doing all the right things doesn’t always leave her happy, well-adjusted or satisfied. That’s tough.

My happy, joyful, outgoing daughter has turned into the occasional emotional lump of tears. That makes me anxious, nervous, concerned. Frustrated.

I don’t want to guilt her. But I’m beginning to understand the power of wielding this device judiciously. Ugh. I hate that. But. A little frustration and letting her know how exasperated I might be? May be the only medicine. And it’s a jagged pill for her to swallow. But it’s also a tough pill to administer. You know the old saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Now I understand. Except my parents said that about spanking, not tough emotional love. LOL

Sometimes you wanna scoop your kids up. But sometimes scooping doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to be tough and show them, you got it pretty good, Kid. Appreciate it.

*Old man voice* “Back in my day, we rode a cow to school! And we liked it! Thankful to have a cow! And a school! And a butt made for cow-riding!”


NOTE: I did not ride a cow to school. But my mom did. LOL 🙂


What I really want for her is to know God deeply. To rely on him. What I really want is to see her help and work hard and get dirty in the business of God service. I’m hoping after graduation, she and I could find an outreach to really help people. Maybe even overseas. But that scares me. Mission work. Would I be endangering her life with illness or violence?

The Bible says:
Romans 14:8
“for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

I have to trust that God will protect us if we are about his business. He has plans to prosper, not hurt. But she has to decide what’s right for her. I trust her in that. That is a good feeling! And I know, I never want to be separate from her. That much I know.

And I want her to decide what’s best. Not become what Mom wants, not just do what Mom says. I just want to be a good mom and support her in whatever she does, wherever she goes, whatever decisions she makes. She may want to be a full-blown NYC artist or LA Nintendo character designer or international aid worker. Or Floridian housewife. 🙂 Whatever she does, she will change the world, offer kindness and show God through her spirit. That much I know.

I’m waiting patiently for her to make a decision about where she wants to go after school. It’s still 4 years away. Who knows where life will take us. Who knows what she will want in 4 years or what opportunities she will have. We have to be stable for the next 4 years to get to where God will have us. I think she deserves a 4-year period of stability to get through high school. To prepare her. To ride out this rough patch of frontal lobe and heart development! LOL

I’m ready for anything though. So is she. She has such a willing heart at times. She’s up for adventure, as I am, when we have each other to be brave. She’s my best friend. It took courage to get to Florida. Who knows what God wants for your life until you’re knee-deep in it, right?

After our come-to-Jesus moment last night, she had a pretty good morning. Praying that she has a great day. I pray that every day. But this morning I cringed at the thought of tough love after I dropped her off. But sometimes, it’s required.

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The Carousel

For my daughter. She just started high school and it’s a bit overwhelming. She’s doing great, but it’s a little scary.

The picture above is her at the KC Zoo, having fun on the carousel. She was 6. Shot with a Nikon, 35 mm, manual. It was a fun day.


Hold on tight, dear.
Don’t let go.
The carousel twirls faster
The more you know.

Life goes by
In a furious blur.
But it’s oh-so thrilling,
Full of adventure.

Up and down.
Always turning.
Moving forward.
Always learning.

You might get sick.
You might lose your head.
You might just love it.
Turn the world around instead.

Don’t be scared, Darling.
You have to be strong.
You’re not alone.
Mom’s here all along.

So throw your hair back
And laugh at the ride.
Have fun on the carousel.
Don’t leave it untried.


Proud of you, Honey. You’re so special. One of a kind. Brilliant, beautiful and bound for glory! Don’t settle for less, always challenge yourself. Don’t worry about what people wear, say or think. You belong to God. Your value comes from him.

And always ask for help! We’re here for you. Your teachers, counselors and parents. It’s normal to feel anxious, everybody does!! 🙂

Sad-urday

Yesterday was a sad day for me. Really tough. But fascinating.

I was a mock juror yesterday for a local mock trial firm in the Tampa area. I can’t say who I was working for or what case we were hearing. But I can say it was for a car accident working towards a civil settlement.

I should explain. Real case. Real accident. Not a real judgment or decision we were offering. It was a test before trial. The two parties involved were trying to reach a settlement and determine how a jury might find.

Needless to say, the occupants of the car had their lives changed forever oh-so many nights ago. It was hard to hear and hard to evaluate/judge. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s responsible and for how much.

It was a grueling almost-12-hour day for me, but a drop in the bucket compared to the families affected by the incident. Negligence was at play, on the part of the driver, along with recklessness. Many other jurors agreed.

I think we all assume too little when we undertake the responsibility of driving. We often take for granted the luxury of driving and allow ourselves to be distracted. Easily. How often do you rummage through your purse while driving one-handed? How often do your children ask about the mysteries of the universe or where their favorite toys are or if they can have some treat from the backseat while you’re navigating from Google Maps while negotiating a multi-ton vehicle on a 70 mph highway? How often are you looking for the perfect driving music on your phone or radio or CD player? Instead of 10 and 2 and using your peripheral vision to spot surprised deer, raccoons, rabbits and other cars and people!

I am a freak about my driving. I rarely let others drive me. I’m a defensive driver. Overly cautious. Sometimes too much to the frustration of my husband. I have driven professionally and pay close attention to the road. I often drive with two hands, white-knuckled! But even I make mistakes. Big mistakes.

The driver from yesterday made a big mistake. The biggest mistake a person can make. And he blamed everyone else.

That was tough.

Ever made a big mistake and instantly wanted to take it back? Ever made a big mistake and blamed the world around you, immediately, because you couldn’t accept the weight of your own idiocy? Ever made a big mistake and no one noticed, but the guilt inside ate away at you silently? For years? Ever made a big mistake and lied about it and no one ever knew?

We all fall short. We all sin. Small and big. And we all get grace. That’s tough. The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. None of us deserve grace. But we’re all made in the image of God. That’s tough. Because to find God’s face in someone so evil or ugly or un-remorseful is almost impossible. Almost.

So I’m going to pray today. For that young man. For this country. For myself. For those who died. For those that will live with their mistakes and consequences. Pray for God’s will and perfect plan.

That’s tough.

Love

Love is letting go

Of who you used to be

To fit inside the hope

Of becoming a better we.

True love is never found

Inside of someone else.

It’s a gift you give

When you sacrifice yourself.

If love is an altar

Where we bring our gifts to offer,

Then carve out that place

And make me so much softer.

I’m harsh and angry.

I’m hard and mean.

And I blame it all

On where I’ve been–what I’ve seen.

Erase that hurt.

Make me over, God.

Give me something real.

Replace this hateful fraud.

I want to love you.

I want to know you.

I want to love people.

I want to show you.

It’s hard to be vulnerable

And offer up my heart.

But asking you for help

Is a wonderful place to start.

Exorcism

I’ve got many demons.

Food addiction. PTSD. Depression. Self-esteem issues. Trust issues. Pride. Over-blown sense of fairness. Fear of people. Fear of intimacy.

These are all residuals from abuse, triggers or coping mechanisms. Haunting ghosts. My demons were born of circumstance and pain. Called upon before the age of 5. Schooled in my weakness. Summoned as experts of how to tempt, specifically, me. These are the things that will cause me to stumble and hold me back from fulfilling my purpose and destiny.

I imagine each demon:
black, faceless, with their name written across their chest, written across my existence, swirling, whispering, flowing around my body.

Floating me down some river of negativity. Holding me under from God’s intention for my life. Drowning me in doubt.

Or will they drive me to my purpose? Will I kick and spit and fight until I fly?


To my demons: Yes. I will overcome you. And in doing so, fulfill prophecy and promise. You have no idea who you’re dealing with–God.

I Heart You

Science book illustrations taught me that the heart doesn’t look like the symbol we all
know and draw. It looks like a wadded up dish rag. A fist-shaped muscle, an engine valve on a sports car. But it actually does look like that candy box of chocolate, sometimes.
It looks like a heart when it contracts. It squishes down and forms that cutesy, homemade Valentine’s Day card.
That’s when the heart is empty. No blood. Well, very little.
It squeezes in and squirts out all the juice. So basically, the heart has to work to look like a heart.
If it just lays there and doesn’t do anything, it just looks like a big pile of silly putty.
My heart wasn’t working. It was tired. I abused it. I was dying. August 2012, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at the age of 39.

I could blame everyone else. I could. But I’m the one who starved it. Beat it up. Ignored the fading pulse of life.


So we put the heart in place of love, right? Mary loves John. ❤

We put a heart there. So you wanna know my theory regarding love?
You can only know what love looks like when you actually use your heart. Take a risk. Go out on a limb. Love someone first. Flex that muscle.
We can’t know love until we lay our heart on the line. Our heart isn’t alive until we use it.
A heartbeat. EKG. Charted heartbeats on graph paper. Highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Up and down and everywhere in between. Sharp waves of life beeping out over a loud machined monitor.
And what does it look like when there’s no more breath or blood? A flat line.
Nothing’s happening. You’re dead.
I would rather have the high peaks and low valleys. Rather than dead. Rather than flat, silent space.
A heart at rest can’t do anything. You can’t love passively. A heart in action gives life. A big, pumping, flesh-and-blood organ races at the sight of food, flesh, fear. Love. Beauty.

A heart on fire makes things happen.


My heart is getting stronger. Every day.

¡Tricicleta Naranja!

I went for a morning bike ride today! Felt great. (Also! Painted my toes teal with sparkles!! 😀 Yay for glitter! It covers a multitude of mistakes. lol)

Here’s my commentary while resting on the porch at 8:53 am.

My face is very red and sweaty and freckled! My freckles pop when I’m red-faced. 🙂


The air was so sweet this morning. Humid, perfumed and tropical breezes. I had fresh morning flowers and swift coastal breezes to carry me back and forth from Sharky’s Pier. Glad to have that done and under my belt for the day. Great way to start the day.

It was difficult. But worth it.

I’ve been stuck for about a week or so. Just one of those things. I’ve had a larger appetite, so that may account for the stuckiness. I was down to 314-ish, but I determined that was an error. Did you know if you move your scale around on tile, it can weigh you differently?? Yeah. So I have picked a spot and I will always use that spot.

This morning before my bike ride I was over 324. Normal for morning before any liquid removal. 🙂 Current weight=320.8 lbs after morning exercise, breathing hard, sweating and taking of my Furosemide. I can tell I’m getting rid of more liquids now. That’s how you lose weight. Exhalation (breathing hard, seriously), sweating, and going to the loo. That’s not bad. It ain’t great, but I haven’t gone up all week. I hope that with my vigorous exercise (for me!) this morning, my body will wake up.

Also, I ran out of my med–Synthroid. We lost insurance at the end of May, so I couldn’t get a doctor to call it in. The last script was for Synthroid only. No generic. Well, Synthroid is very expensive without insurance. So I needed the generic equivalent which is Levothyroxine. I found out at least from my PCP in Missouri that I can take Levo because they tested my numbers on both Levo and Synthroid and they were the same. Good to know.

So I finally got a script of Levo and am taking it now. Only $11.90 without insurance through CVS! Thanks, CVS!! I really needed this med. Without a thyroid any more, you have to stay on Levo for life. It really does make a difference. Helps with weight loss, hormone production, body function, avoiding headaches! LOL It does everything that your thyroid does and thank God it exists. The thyroid does a lot–tiny, little, fleshy butterfly in your neck. Controls the whole body. Heart, endocrine, weight!


Thank you, God for flowers, doctors, medicine, trikes, beach, Florida, ocean, family and my body–as hapless as it may be. Thank you! God be praised. So happy to be alive and in need of medicine. So happy to have legs to hurt after bike rides. So happy to have all the little moments that make up even the worst of days.

SpiritPrayer

I’m sure, God,
Our desperate prayers
Don’t always sound
As they should.

We require
An interpreter
For our cries
To be understood.


Romans 8:26-27 NIV

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.


I prayed an angry, ugly prayer the other day, but thankfully, what God heard and what I said were two different things. The day started off bad, but quickly turned around after my desperate prayer.

statue

I forget that He is working for me, unseen. Always. He’s got it figured out before I even utter “Help!” I just need to come to him.

I do pray. Daily. But I have to admit–sometimes? It’s not as heartfelt as it could be. Or as clear as it should be. Or eloquent. Or un-profane. Or correct in any fashion.

I learned the lesson of God working unseen when I was young. From the story of Job. Job is a mess of a story, but if you can get through it, so very valuable.

I think many people think of Job as patient. The patience of Job. And he was. But he was never just totally okay with everything that was happening. He complained. A lot!

He was miserable. He sobbed. And cut himself with a broken clay pot. Dragged it over his sores. Sat in ashes. Lost his family, his house, every-thing! His wife told him to curse God and die. (Thanks, Wife!) Job cried out to God, “Why?? Why me??” (Why did you give me this wife?? lol) Complained to his friends. Rejected their flawed reasoning and comfort. But Job never cursed God. Or turned his back. And there’s the difference.

Job’s body was probably pocked with scars. From head to toe. And emotional scars as well. Job had every reason to curse God and die. Job had wealth beyond compare, a happy family life and then fell a long way down. When he thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. And he got frustrated. Desperate. Wrong-headed. Subjected to and influenced by bad reasoning.

I think we can get frustrated. Desperate. But the key is to always turn to God. To His power. Submit to His control. Never turn your back and say, “God doesn’t exist.” or “God has no power.” If you say that, then that will be true. God has no power where you will not allow it.

Submitting to the process is hard. Crazy. Ugly. Seemingly not worth it. But. In the end, all you can ever do.

Trust. It’s never over until it is. And it’s always darkest before the dawn. Trusting is hardest when you don’t understand how it can get better. But it always does. Eventually.

Job 42
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters…15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.


If you’re going through hell, keep going. –Winston Churchill

Gonna Wreck It!

I used to be an acting coach. We would put on classroom sketches to show what we had learned in class that semester for the parents. For our showcase, we picked Wreck-It Ralph and used themes from the show to connect acting, Christianity and Wreck-It Ralph. Here’s our opening intro music composed by my daughter, PenPrin, with video game sounds and my husband doing the voice of Wreck-It Ralph. Thanks, Kacey Moe. You should do radio or something. 😉

You know, Ralph sacrificed himself at the end for his friends. Just like Jesus. He was definitely a Christ-like figure at the end. We love you, Ralph. Can’t wait for the sequel!

Enjoy! Let me know your thoughts. Lilli loves composing music. She uses Noteflight. She has a whole bunch of songs.

Oh! And I edited this all together using Audacity. 😀