Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Mother's Thoughts

Who Will I Be?

When it’s quiet and the day is settled
And I find myself sitting here alone,
I wonder when you look back someday
What part of me you’ll have known?

Will the words of anger and frustration,
Be all that ring in your ears?
Or will I have cheered you on
Enough through all the years?

Do you really know
All the good I see in you?
Or do you only hear the criticisms
As we muddle through?

My heart hurts when I realize,
All the poorly chosen words I’ve said.
Wishing I’d chosen patience
And words of grace instead.

I wonder about your heart,
Is it aching too?
I hope and pray tomorrow,
I’ll know better what to do.

This challenge we call motherhood,
It’s a battle all uphill.
I’m determined to train and teach,
To lead you in God’s will.

But sometimes I get my will in the way
Of God’s good plan becoming known
Forgetting it’s not for me to mold you,
But just to help you learn and grow.

I don’t always like the process,
Or even all I see in you.
But it never changes the fact,
That my love for you is true.

Who will I be when you look back
Over all the years we’ll share?
Will you only remember my frustration?
Or be confident of my care?

As I fail you and I falter,
I pray God will meet us there.
Covering us with grace and mercy,
Answering every prayer.

And I will pray that the Father,
Will cover my failure with His grace,
And if only one thing will you learn from me,
May it be to continually seek His face.

And I pray when you look back,
That’s the person that I will be,
Not competent or perfect,
Just forgiven and set free.

I pray I’ll have shown you Jesus,
Forgiver of my sins and yours,
The Healer of every hurt,
And our connection He’ll restore.

The multitude of my sins,
I pray will be covered by true love.
Overshadowed by grace and mercy
Flowing down from our God above.

And I pray when you look back
To answer “Who was my mother?” .
You’ll think fondly of this woman,
Who loves you like no other.

By Diana DePriest
© May 15, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Walk Like a Duck

This morning I was rushing down Orangethorpe Avenue trying to get the kids to school. Why was I rushing? Well I'm a mom with three kids and it's Thursday, doesn't that pretty much sum it up? As I was driving down the street I noticed that the cars were approaching the railroad tracks at an extremely slow pace. I couldn't figure out what the deal was. I was in the slow lane where the car in front of me was barely moving, if at all. I tried to get over into the fast lane to hurry past it, but all the cars behind me were beating me to the punch, and so I was stuck behind this curious slow car when all of a sudden it pulled away to the fast lane, and I found myself staring at a small family of ducks trying to cross a very busy road.

In a split second I went from wondering what the delay was making me more late, to trying to figure out how to protect this daredevil of a mother duck and her six little precious ducklings following along. I watched nervously as the mother would start to try to cross over into the fast lane, all the while watching the cars hurry into it to pass me from behind.

Mama duck would start to turn, babies following, a car would pull around. I would hit my horn, trying to warn both the duck and the driver of one another's presence, and mama duck would "pull back into my lane" and the car would drive on. But she was determined, she wasn't going to head back to the side of the road where safety might be found, she was going to cross the road, and the side I was driving on was just the start of it. Honestly, if I could have, I would have asked her the obvious question, "Why did the duck cross the road?" But now wasn't the time, at that moment I was just trying to figure out how to keep her from getting squished.

Finally she went for it, into the fast lane, and the car that was coming up alongside me saw her just in time and stopped. He turned towards me and got a big grin on his face, I smiled back nodding. Watching this mama and her dedicated followers trying to cross the road really was a precious sight to see. As the driver beside me stopped Mama finally made her way across to the other side of the road, babies all in tow.

It was only then that I thought to grab my phone and take this picture. The smiling driver in the other car took a picture as well. Aren't they just the cutest? I wish my cell phone took better pictures, because this really doesn't quite do them justice. Six faithful little followers, they stayed right on mama's tail. As she was trying to cross, she would step toward the left, and then when a car sped by or I honked my horn and she moved back to the right, they would do the same thing exactly, instantly. It was the most adorable little zigzag of a dance. Mama would take a step to the left, then a step to the right, and they were right in sync with her.

I have to say as a mom, I had a lot of respect for her. I only have half as many "little ones" following after me, and unlike her orderly little brood, my three were always moving in at least 10 different directions. But not her kids, they followed her step by step. So my overwhelming insight watching this little brood wasn't actually related to what kind of parent I am, but more about what kind of kid I am. Not in relation to be a child of my earthly parents, but this got me to thinking all about what kind of daughter I am to my heavenly Daddy.

I know the Bible talks about us being like sheep, but it's not a very flattering image in my mind when I consider it. When I think of us as sheep, I think of the mass of us just pushing around following whoever seems to be most sure of where they are going. And I picture the shepherd, our Good Shepherd continually have to reach in with His staff and pulling us back from danger and our own foolishness. I see Him loving, and patient, but I see us as just needing to be saved from ourselves, without wisdom, and without any real focus.

These little ducks impressed me though. They still didn't know where they were going, very much like the sheep, but they were completely aware of who they were following, and not for a single moment did they allow themselves to become distracted from the one who was in the lead. It struck me, that if there was logic involved, this little crowd was headed in the exact opposite direction of what made sense. I don't know where Mama Duck was headed, but it seemed very apparent that she surely knew where she was headed.

Those little ducks were actually wise in their ignorance. The best place for them to be was following Mama. She would lead them to the place of provision, she would lead them to where they would be safe, to where they belonged. It was interesting, because I saw no sign of anxiety or panic among the little followers. I think of times I have driven my car past a bird walking on the ground, and they always jump and flutter in panic. I didn't see any of that among these little ducks, despite the many fast cars moving through traffic only feet away. Mama was determined, she would take steps forward, when necessary she would turn another way, but continually she moved toward her destination. Those little followers, never for a moment did they do anything other than focus on her, they didn't look at the cars, or the road, even each other, they all focused on mama, and they all stayed in perfect step.

It occurred to me, that's the kind of "kid" I want to be. I want to be so focused on my Daddy, that wherever He leads me, nothing else would distract me. Even if it didn't seem to make sense to me, I want to have the kind of faith that is founded in the "Who", not a "where" and not a "what." I want to be so confident in Him, that all I keep before me, is following Him, wherever He may lead, whatever it may mean I have to face. I want to do it with the same kind of confidence because I know I am following my heavenly Father there.

As the ducks finally crossed over to the other side of the road, I will confess I was really worried about their well-being, traffic was coming on strong and fast from the opposite direction. I still wanted to stay and make sure the mother and her babies made it to safety, but treffic would no longe rwait, and we did have school to get to. I did drive back by later to make sure I didn't find any duck remains, and I am happy to report mama must have led her brood on safely to their destination. It was definitely an "iffy" situation, one big car moving too fast, and the little ducks could have been no more.

That, however, isn't true of us when we "walk like a duck" behind our heavenly Father. When we keep our heart and minds completely focused on Him, determine to follow Him step for step, we don't have to worry about something bigger or stronger taking Him, or us down. God is bigger than any circumstance or challenge that may seem to be coming towards us, even if at the force and speed of a mack truck. Unlike that mama duck who is vulnerable and limited in her ability to protect her children, her "followers", nothing and no one can come between us and our God, and nothing can touch us that He does not allow through the protective filter of His love and grace.

Teach me Father, to follow You, like those little ducks followed their mama, with confidence and peace, confidently knowing You will watch over me and mine and keep us safe. Help me to remember there is nowhere I can go that You are not with me. Help me to remember that I trusted you with my eternal destination, and I can certainly trust you with every step I take on the road to get to it. Father, teach me to "walk like a duck," and follow You in confidence wherever you may lead, in Jesus' name.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves Me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him My salvation."

Psalm 91

Monday, May 10, 2010

Truly, Madly, Deeply - Redux

Today is our 19th wedding anniversary. Nowadays being together that long is somewhat rare, being happily together that long is really rare. I am crazy, madly in love with my husband and best friend, and in honor of this special day I am re-running a post I wrote on an ooey-gooey feeling day a few months back.

Happy 19th anniversary babe, I love you!

Truly, Madly, Deeply

I was making our bed this morning, and had one of those ooey gooey waves of love for my husband wash over me. I was able to move around at an easy pace this morning and was tucking sheets under the mattress and I was overwhelmed with what a lucky girl I am. I am crazy in love with my husband. I don't always act like it, but I am.

I'm proud of my marriage. Looking around and watching so many of them fall apart, I am very proud of the fact that ours is going strong. But I don't take it for granted, you have to work hard to keep a marriage strong.

That was one of the first lessons I learned, marriage is hard work. It's a fact, and one most young couples don't realize when they first sign on for what they imagine will be some great romantic adventure meant to last the rest of their lives.

I look at the picture above, two (kindly) pudgy, middle-aged folks, those madly in love 19-year-olds had nothing on this couple. And although there was a time when our inseams were longer than my waistlines, that's just about the only advantage those two cool kids had over these... grown-ups.

It's been a hard road to get "here," but I'm so glad we took it.

No, it's not our anniversary, and it isn't Neal's birthday - I just really found myself counting my blessings this morning, and he is without a doubt on the top of my list. I know a lot of women adore their children and tolerate their husbands, but I would not count myself a member of this very large club. I don't just tolerate my children, but they are second to my husband, and I honestly think that's the way it is supposed to be.

I don't wonder, "what will we do?" when the kids are gone. I look forward to those years with great anticipation, knowing an empty nest will someday mean more time for "us," with less family business to partner over and more time to just be together and connect. That will be the reward at the end of the challenging years of our journey. I hope Neal and I are both blessed with long lives so that we have a lot of those years together. (Maybe working on those waistlines would be a good effort to make.)

We aren't attached at the hip or anything. We both have our own interests and things we like to do, but we connect through them when we can. I like to write and read and blog. Neal isn't much of a fan of reading, he'll probably never see this, but he supports me, lets me share the occasional blog I wrote, or listens as I drone on about the latest book I'm reading. He has his softball. I have left Monday nights untouched for 17 years, even when it meant I had to pull double parent duty at times, because I know he loves to play. And when our schedules allow, I go and root him on from the stands... LOUDLY of course, it is me after all.

I grew up going to baseball games incessantly as a kid. My dad was an umpire and I went to high school and college games as well as lots of Angel games. By the time I met Neal I was BURNT OUT... and if I never saw another baseball game again I would have been great with it. But a couple years into our marriage when Neal came out of the "closet" as an Angel fan, I came back around too. When he turned into a hardcore fan, I jumped on his bandwagon. It wasn't long before I found myself watching the games even when he wasn't around, because it became something we could share. I love it now, because he loves it.

Our romance quotient is great. I will keep it at that to spare you all pink cheeks, but it is our friendship that truly sustains us. I LIKE my husband. I like hanging out with him, I like talking to him, I like the person he is.

It took a lot of years, but regularly praying together cemented our relationship even more. I believe the most intimate thing we share together is seeking the Father together. When we let it lapse because of life and its schedules, we can feel it, we suffer for it. We bicker more.

I say more because even when things are good, we bicker. The other night I asked Jake if it bothers him when we fight. He adamantly told me it REALLY bothers him when we fight. So I asked him about our recent camping trip. We had a couple "incidents" on our family outing. He laughed, he said, "you didn't fight on our trip, that's just bickering. That doesn't bother me."

I make no apologies for bickering. You take two different people from two different backgrounds with two different ways of communicating, and there will always be conflict. Bickering shows my kids that when things get a little rough, you work it out.

I wonder how many marriages are cut short because couples give up too quickly when the waters get rough. I know there were lots of times in the last 20 years when I thought it would have been easier to walk away than stick it out and work it out. But I'm sure glad I didn't.

If love is an action, marriage is a commitment. You don't base the love of your marriage on what you "feel" but you choose to love your spouse, and you act it out... "fake it till you make it" even if you have to, but you need to spend a lot more time concerning yourself with how you can love better than how you can feel more loved - it will change your marriage. And as far as the commitment goes, well, there are no deal breakers. You decide in advance that it is "until death do us part" long before the trouble comes (and it will come) and when it's tough, divorce isn't even an option... (and even though I said "til death," murder isn't an option either... )

Yeah, I am a blessed woman - I am so in love with my husband - truly, madly, deeply; but credit where credit is due... it's had a lot to do with wise investments, of God and self into this incredible adventure called mariage.

Don't think me prideful, but I am truly proud....