Last night I sat in choir rehearsal, just as I have done for about a hundred years now. I sat in the back row of the altos, listening to people of God singing in four part harmony, happy that they all had conquered their Covid fear and chose to come out into public on a Wednesday night and sing. But beyond the joy of sitting among God’s people preparing for Sunday worship, I felt a warm joy swooshing around my heart because sitting next to me, making a joyful noise, were two of my daughters. Adult daughters. Married daughters with their own little families. Choosing to be there. Singing like angels. In another area of our church, two of my grands were in their own little classes learning scripture at their age level….preschool! As I sit here now, I feel tears stinging my eyes. Tears of joy. Because I know how hard I tried, how much I prayed, how many times I cried and even how endlessly I fretted over raising them in a way that they personally would experience the love and presence of Jesus and choose to live their lives in Him and for Him. I messed up…..a lot. I insisted they be at church every Sunday and Wednesday (unless you are Southern Baptist, you won’t understand this second day of worship!). How I made them try to see the importance of being a part of student ministry, service projects, student camp, student choir and Bible study. When they were little, I took advantage of every car ride to tell them the stories of Jonah, of David and the feeding of the five thousand. We often had family meetings that involved big decisions and prayer. As teenagers I constantly asked questions and listened as they told me of good days, relationship issues and even painful experiences. I would ask them what they think Jesus would have them do or say….or I would tell them what God had to say about things. Sometimes I would stop the car and pray…..and sometimes I even prayed with my eyes wide open while I drove. I am sure they can still hear me saying “Make wise choices” as they flew out the door. I encouraged them to journal their thoughts, their struggles and their questions to God. I shared scripture with them. We talked about hard subjects and hard decisions. Worship music was the genre of music that played in our car and our home. I am sure they thought we were the meanest parents ever because of the boundaries we set for them, and the things we said no to. I know I drove them crazy telling them to honor their commitments, to use their gifts for Him, to do the right thing even when it was hard. I prayed with them, for them and over them, and still do. I taught them the importance of church, gathering together as believers to worship and study God’s Word. I realize that trying so hard is never a guarantee that they will choose to live for Jesus. My three girls are strong, beautiful, loud, funny, loving, opinionated, young women. Yes, they are still young in their faith journey, they are beginning families of their own and I see them making their faith the center of their families. Not just their faith, but teaching their little ones (and little ones to come) that Jesus loves them and died for them and cares for them like no other. So sitting next to them in choir rehearsal last night as they chatted and sang made this Mama’s heart swell and melt all at the same time. I didn’t do everything right, I messed up so much, but somewhere along the way God’s grace and mercy covered my mistakes and they experienced His presence on their own and fell in love with the Savior. Now I am crying as I sit here, because that is all I ever wanted for them, for them to know Him, choose Him and live for Him.
I am in a weird place. Not like an actual location or anything. I haven’t taken a road trip that has gone awry. I am not in a crowd of people that have an agenda I know nothing about. But now that I read back over those last three sentences, I have to back track and say they all are pretty accurate, generally speaking. I’ve been chugging along for the last twenty-eight years as a mother of three daughters. Thirty years as a wife. And here and there for periods of time as an employee. I have been mothering, pushing, washing, feeding, nurturing, loving, disciplining, teaching, wife-ing, cooking, chauffeuring, guiding and loving three girls and a husband. Mixed in with that, I have been teaching Sunday school to mostly 11th & 12th grade girls, serving in Women’s Ministry, singing in the choir, and many other ministries here and there. But today, I am sitting in a quiet house, wondering. Wondering what now.
I’m not sure who I am now. Before you become concerned that I am a writer with dementia, I know who I am, but I don’t know WHO I am. I’m not despondent. I’m not even downcast or depressed. I’m trying not to measure myself to unrealistic expectations or compare myself to all the amazing women of God out there making a difference!
I know things I want to do. Like have a clean house. Don’t laugh. It hasn’t been uber clean in months. Our oldest daughter and her family have been living with us while they are looking for and buying a house. So, keeping the house perfect has been low on the list and enjoying our grandson living in our house 24/7 has been at the top of that list!!! I have to say he is the cutest baby you’ve ever seen and having him here has helped us acclimate to being Lolly and Pop, especially considering he’ll be getting a baby sister in four short months. They are now about to close on their house and will be moving next week. Our middle girl child has been living her new married life to her sweet man in a downtown loft. She is now realizing her dream of working from home and as we’ve always said, we’ll all be working for her one day! The baby girl of the family is getting married in just over ninety days. Ninety-four to be exact. Our baby girl. She was an unexpected blessing twenty years ago. I know God has her here for a specific purpose because she was not in our plans, in fact we were done and moving on in life with the two beautiful girls we had! I have both smiled at her boldness to get married so young and cried that she’ll be off doing her own life without me in ninety four days. I keep saying she’s not old enough, that they don’t know what they’re doing, they aren’t ready. But then God reminds me that He created her, He saved her, He has a plan for her life, not me. She and her fiancé love Jesus and are gonna follow Him, not my plan.
Back to this weird place. So I am soon to be out of the mothering job and I am not working a job outside our home any longer. This happened last year while my sweet man was going through cancer treatment. It was both a blessing and a difficulty at the same time. But God has taken care of us, as always, and after much deliberation (mostly on my part), my man said he wanted me to stay home. So this weird place has taken away the two things that have been consistent for some time in my life. I don’t know why I’m so lost, because I have wanted to have the freedom to write and now I have it. And yet. And yet I don’t know what to write. We write to inspire others. We write to tell stories. We write to unleash the words that fill our brains every minute of every day. I am sure if we could look inside an average person’s brain and the brain of a writer we would see that the writer is constantly writing about life as it is observed. Always adding to the story. Always editing. Always creating. The words never stop swirling.
So this weird place is me standing, no, sitting, in my chair, staring at a computer screen. Me, looking around at the things that need to be done. Me, longing to be some kind of spiritual giant that could inspire people to cling to Jesus in every area of their lives. Me, longing to finally get a handle on losing weight and finally finding victory over the scale. Me, measuring myself up to the expectations in my head and failing miserably. Me, crying and asking God to please help me be good at something. Help me find success at something. And ultimately, just giving in and finding a quiet, cool place in the house to take a nap, to think about these things another day. I’m 58 years old. I have no degree. I’m an okay writer, but not a profoundly gifted writer. I am not particularly disciplined. I don’t look like Beth Moore or speak like Priscilla Shirer. I never quite meet the expectations in my head. I think I may have wasted this life that God gave me.
This weird place has locked doors right now. I feel like I’m standing in the middle of this weird place, completely baffled at what I am to do next. What door do I choose? I’m frozen. Not sure what I’m supposed to do next. I preach to my daughters and my Sunday school girls all the time that “God has a plan for your life, now go walk in it”. But here I am, in this weird place, wondering if there really is a plan for me and, if so, what that plan for my life is!
This morning I had a sweet moment. I snuggled with my grandson as I rubbed his little back and hummed the same tune I had sung to his mama as a baby. My grandson. Those two words still fall awkwardly from my lips. When I say them, I still feel as if I’m practicing words that are not yet real to me. He’s been here for over ten months and I’ve kept him three days a week since August and still I’m surprised that I am a grandmother. I often think of my Mamaw Bessie when I am holding him close. She had such a kind and gentle spirit. I remember the softness of her skin and the safeness I felt when she hugged me or I just sat next to her resting my face against her shoulder. As I held him and took in the sweetness of his eyelashes resting on his cheek, I continued to softly rub his back and pat his bottom. Without opening his eyes he slid his free arm up my arm and rubbed it slowly back and forth, then rested it there and slowly patted my arm. What a treasured moment of love. He is my grandson, my first precious grand baby and I love him so much.
These 3 beautiful girls surrounding me are mine, well mine and their Daddy’s, but they’re my baby girls. Yes, they all tower over me. But I’m still the Mama! I have struggled as if riding some winding, hill climbing, free falling roller coaster with the overwhelming responsibility of raising godly, stable, grounded, loving, kind, strong, unwavering, God loving daughters that can change the world. You see why I am often overwhelmed….the bar has been set high! And not having conquered all of these desirable traits myself, I am not sure I am equipped to raise them in a way that they are set apart for the Lord. I wrestle with the expectations that our home should be a place of peace and tranquility, and because of our love for each other and the Lord, there is no fussing, no disregard, no lack of respect, no inconsideration, and NO YELLING. Yes, I know, what alternative universe am I thinking we live in!! The reality is the dynamics of 2 teenage and 1 young adult (+ the mama) hormonal females living in close quarters, sharing 1 bathroom, going to school, work, social functions and knowingly and unknowingly sharing clothes causes a constant state of, well, friction! There is lots of loving, yelling, laughing, crying, dramatics, and even some times physical battles that occur on a minute by minute basis in our home. These beautiful girls are all strong….you just have no idea! All fighting for their own way, their own will while still trying to figure out this faith walk. This week has been filled with extreme moments that I am quite sure are contributing to graying hair I see in the mirror every morning.
Our youngest was in a week long try out for volleyball with daily cuts. She lasted till the second cut. The word devastated doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere that permeated her bedroom and demeanor. The world had ended. Life was over. I tried to encourage and make things better, only to be sliced into little pieces for my effort. That happens sometimes when you’re a Mom… A day and a half later, all is better and she is recovering and moving on. I have put my pieces back together again and have also moved on!
But the point of this blog “Just when I think I’m a loser Mom…”, and there is a point if you were beginning to wonder, is this. My oldest just applied to nursing school, for the 2nd time. She has worked so diligently the last 2 semesters, harder than I’ve ever seen her work. She has juggled A&P 1 and A&PII at the same time, along with working at a clinic and dating all at the same time. To get in to the program you have to achieve points thru a standardized test, then high grades in the pre-req classes. In the end we were confident that she would have “B’s” in both A&P courses, as well as the “B” she got in Microbiology. (As a side note, the names and idea of these courses both impress and terrify me! I don’t know how she does and likes it!). Anyway. It’s finals week. She studied a ridiculous amount of hours. She looked online on Tuesday and she saw a posted grade for A&P1….it was a “C”. She was heartbroken. I was heartbroken. Her Dad was heartbroken. This child has pushed harder, worked harded and perservered harder than I would have. She has been determined to be a nurse. She called me, and I could hear the quiver in her voice. She began talking about a Plan B. My heart sunk. I told her to email the professor and ask how she got a “C” when she had an 83/B the week before. She just had to know. No answer on Wednesday. The application had been submitted a week ago. The decision whether she gets in or not will be in June. On Wednesday, she called me again, this time she was in her car and she was crying. “Mom, I just heard this song on KLOVE, the words Mom, the words, I think they were from God for me. “I will trust in you, you’ve never let me down before”. Mom, I just have to trust.” She was still crying, but she had had one of those moments we all know about….that moment when you are struggling so deeply with something, and at the perfect moment God steps in and orchestrates a message, verbally, whether thru music or someone else, that changes you somehow. It allows you breathe and cry in wonder that the omnipotent God above heard you, saw you, and cared to let you know He’s got this. She was at peace, not matter what happens. So yesterday, she calls me, not crying this time, but shaky and joyful and ecstatic. The teacher had responded with an apology for making a mistake on her grade. My baby had made a 91 on her final (I’m impressed because I cannot even pronounce most of what she has me call out to her from her index cards!). Her posted grade for the semester in A&PI should have been a “B”. She called the school to let the nursing advisor know that the grade change was coming. When the advisor pulled her application, someone had already put down the “C”. She made notes and changed it to a “B”. So now we wait. But we wait knowning that no matter which way it goes, we experienced God’s intervention and that He has a plan for her life and she will trust Him in it.
My middle daughter is transferring colleges…again. There has also been some struggles between us over her current relationship. It’s been one of the most difficult things we have had to deal with. But, we are all growing from it. She is learning that she has to deal with our honest opinion and we are learning that she is growing up and may not always listen to us. Finding a place we can all live in peace over this has it’s challenges.
Last night I found myself sitting on my middle daughters bed having a long talk over the situation, then the oldest and the baby were there and we sat in a little “sharing circle” as the baby called it and we talked about a plethora of things, laughing and chatting. But I listened to them say things that made my heart swell with pride, for they are strong young women, trying to figure out this faith walk, speaking confidently, desiring to be in God’s will while trying to figure how to know that will.
I share this to say, I, at 52, am learning that no stinking family is perfect, there are no guarantees and loud chatter, dramatic hormonal episodes and such is normal in a family (with 3 girls anyway!). I can look in their faces, forget about the clothes scatter all over their rooms, the wet towels left on the bathroom floor, the make-up & hair paraphanalia that covers the counters, cups and glasses left in the living room, the dirty clothes piled in the laundry room, the late nights, the disagreements about relationships and expectations and see that they are amazing young women who are becoming beautiful, godly young women who will change the world!