Building The Perfect Dad

I haven’t blogged in a long time. There are a few reasons for that. Time is little and precious, as are my children, and I am often called upon to draw horses with my kids. Sometimes I’m too busy, and a lot of times I’m too tired.

But mostly I’ve been occupied with my latest project.

I’ve been writing a book about my dad. I’ve written about him many times on my blog and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I tell my kids stories about him, I remind my little sisters of things he did with them because they were too little to remember him.

So one day, I decided that it wasn’t enough to just write about him occasionally or share a few stories about him with my kids. I want them to really know what he was like, to understand his humor and what made him tick. Even though he is not here in the flesh, I want them to see his face and hear his laugh as they read about the man that loved me so much.

I realize, though I only had him for sixteen years, I’ve been given a very precious gift. I had a dad worth telling about, that was faithful to my mother, hard-working and honest. I’ve never doubted his love and I knew he was always rooting for me. He thought so highly of me that I tried my best to exceed his expectations because I wanted to make him proud. He’s been gone more than half my life, but his influence still compels me to live intentionally.

I know not everyone is so lucky to have a dad they can be proud of. My own dad did not enjoy a happy childhood. My grandfather terrorized his family with beatings, squandered the little money they had on beer and women and crushed hope daily with his fists. My dad was raised in brokenness and didn’t know what a good father was until he learned about God’s unfailing love as an adult. He learned that what his dad sought to destroy, God our Father set out to redeem, take into his arms and make whole.

What I am increasingly aware of as I write my dad’s story is that his story can’t be told without being constantly reminded of God’s grace and love. That they are so inextricably intertwined that the first doesn’t make sense without the other. Grace is what holds it all together, makes sense of his darkest days and is the underpinning of his greatest moments.

Because my father chose to receive God’s forgiveness and love, he became the kind of dad he never had. He defied the odds and lived a life that showed me if a great man like my dad believed that God was faithful and worthy of our praise, then he must be.

My dad’s greatest legacy and the one thing I want my kids to know about him is that God can redeem anything and anyone, and nothing is beyond his power. Whether it’s building a father out of a broken man, or raising his son from the dead, nothing is too impossible for God’s grace and love.

An Exercise in Humility

I had my very first free personal training session a couple mornings ago. I thought it would be a brief tour of the facility, introducing me to the pieces of equipment that would blast away my fatty problem areas and perhaps a little product plug for the latest protein powder and how delicious and not-chalky it tastes.

Not so. The trainer, surprisingly, put me to work right away. He had me lifting weights and doing these horrible things called, “burpees”. I had heard of them and how they worked miracles in their grueling and terrible fashion and now I was going to do them.

I did just fine for the first few minutes, but as he had me alternating between weights and burpees, things went downhill very quickly. My awkward flopping to the floor and scrambling to hurl my body back upwards was quite a sight. I evoked all the grace and majesty of a walrus hefting itself onto an ice floe.

The rest of my training session was a hearty cocktail of physical contortion, pain and just a skosh of humiliation sprinkled on top. To make matters worse, my nose was runny from allergies so even before I was red-faced and gasping for air, I was crusty and probably blowing snot-bubbles every time I exerted myself.

An inspiring Rocky training montage it was not – “Gonna Fly Now” would not be the soundtrack of my performance. All my lurching and heaving was more suited to the sputtering of a Whoopee Cushion.

But whatever, that’s ok.

I care enough about losing weight right now that it really doesn’t matter to me that when I run on the treadmill, I look like I’m running under water. I don’t focus on the fact that when I jog, small vermin could surf on the rocking and rolling waves of my tummy fat. I really, truly do not worry about how awful I look and smell when I’m working out because I have a goal I’m trying to reach.

I’m sure my trainer had a good laugh after our session. There are probably some great jokes they’re cracking around the water cooler about my stunning failure.

When you care enough about change, you don’t worry about how weird it looks and sounds, who’s watching and what they’re saying. When becoming a different person matters enough, you throw pride to the wayside.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve looked like a weirdo in public. I’ve had plenty of people poke fun at my Christian beliefs and ridicule the way I live. But a few tasteless jokes and ignorant words are nothing compared to what some people suffer.

The world is never going to run out of hecklers and haters. There will always be someone eager to snuff out good and bring others down, but don’t let them steal your joy or your resolve. Good is worth fighting for, even suffering for. Never concern yourself with what people think when you’re on the right track.

The Sweatpants of Defeat

I recently wore sweatpants to a family birthday party. My brother just stood there in his black V-neck sweater, sleek tie and fashionably slim pants, looked at me disapprovingly and shook his well-groomed head. I asked him what the problem was and he told me, and I quote, “People that wear sweatpants in public have given up on life.”

I laughed in his face and told him that I wear sweats to the store, to friend’s houses and that if it was socially acceptable, I’d wear them to work. While he was still recoiling from that bit of news, I told him, “Shoot, most of the time, I don’t even do my hair – I just let it dry and hope for the best!”

(I must admit, that approach to curly hair is kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes it works out fine, other times I look like I’ve been chased through a very humid jungle.)

I think he was tempted to disown me right then and there because as he put it, no self-respecting person would present themselves to the world that way. Like our father, he sees it as an expression of unabashed laziness and a deplorable lack of class.

I’m sure many would agree with them. I know he’s got somewhat of a point, and I would agree that sometimes what we take for granted as a lowly sweat suit is really just people wearing the defeat they feel inside.

I love my sweatpants, though. My sweats love me and don’t give me any grief about gaining a few pounds. They give me room to breathe and space. They extend themselves for me.

My jeans, however, are not so forgiving. I feel like I owe my pants a deep apology for stretching them to their limits and embarrassing them in public with front pockets so puckered and stretched they look like mouths gaping in horror. They’re aghast. They’ve been abused, and now they’re screaming because they can’t take it anymore.

I am currently trying to get rid of those unwanted pounds because frankly, it’s cheaper to lose ten pounds than replace an entire wardrobe.

Other than that, I’m pretty comfortable with myself. Sure, I have a few hang-ups about my body, and I still think swimsuits are the devil. But I honestly don’t care what my appearance says to strangers as long as it doesn’t lead people to believe that I think I’m better than them.

I guess I should be offended that my brother implied that I looked like a bum, but I’m not. I know he still loves me, even if he thinks I’ve joined The People of Walmart.

While some are wearing their failure, the rest of us just don’t feel like putting on a show. We don’t feel any less fetching, and it’s not a cry for help. We’ve got all the love and attention we need.

I am ok with myself. I’ve got God on my side and supportive friends and family. I have a husband and kids that love me when I’m ugly and when I’m at my worst. In a lot of ways, they are like my favorite sweats. Just think: when you’re sick, when you get tired of sucking in your gut and you just don’t want to impress anyone anymore, you want sweats. Sweats, like great friends, allow you to let it all hang out. They keep you covered and hold you together when you’ve let yourself go. They stretch with you and don’t judge. Everyone wants friends as forgiving and comfortable as a pair of sweats. It’s the kind of friend I want to be.

So when I’m in my sweats, I’m not wearing defeat, I’m actually wearing a metaphor for the life I want to live: humble, tolerant and always ready to receive people just the way they are.

Take that, David! (Just kidding, I’m pretty sure he never reads my blog.)

I Didn’t Get Around to Sending Christmas Cards…..

To everyone that manages to find time to take family pictures, I salute you. To all of you that find the time to take those pictures, turn them into Christmas cards and actually mail them out, you get a gold star.

I did not send out Christmas cards this year.

I’m wondering how many people will be taking the Derricks of King County off their Christmas card list next year because of this year’s faux pas. I’m sorry, I really did want to send out cards.

Things just got really busy. My husband has been working ten-plus hours a day and weekends for quite a while now; I was painting illustrations like a mad woman (surprisingly not good for artistic inspiration) for a few weeks to meet an insanely short deadline for a book; and finally, sometimes I just wanted to watch Duck Dynasty in my brief minutes of free time. Christmas cards were just not priority one…..or fourteen.

Plus, my husband and I have this bad habit of forgetting to document the highlights of our life with pictures. Consequently, other than a plethora of random images taken with our phones for our own amusement, we don’t have much photographic proof of a life.

But it has been a wonderful year. New house, another nephew, more friends made, unexpected adventures and just a good time being a family. So instead of sending out cards, I have a few pictures that I think spread cheer as well as any red and green greeting card:

1. This picture is a miracle – all are smiling with eyes open and no meltdowns or skulking. If I were on top of things, this would have been our Christmas card.

Our only real, professional family picture this year.

Our only real, professional family picture this year.

2. My son, the budding artist, is a pick-and-choose “realist”. The color of the horse is apparently a non-issue. He did insist, however, they must be anatomically correct, hence the dangling parts in the middle of each stallion.

The horse stencils that Judah named and embellished.

The horse stencils that Judah named and embellished.

3. This costume drooped and wilted no matter how many tucks and folds I pinned. But even a sagging cape that dragged like a lazy tail didn’t diminish any of my boy’s belief that he was every bit as stealthy as the real batman.

soggy batman

4. My nephew’s sausage legs – I’m pretty sure they don’t bend. At 5 months and 22 pounds, he’s like lugging around a small man.

My 4-year-old's long leg and my nephew's glorious thighs.

My 4-year-old’s long leg and my nephew’s glorious thighs.

5. This just makes me laugh. I found this in a nursery that shall remain nameless: a toy that counts Mexicans. A simple case of mislabeling, I’m sure, but it’s comical to think that after junior learns his colors and shapes, he gets cracking on Mexican-counting.

Mexican toy

6. This is an illustration from Angela’s new book that I wrote about in my last blog post. This painting reminds me of the importance of saying “yes” to adventure. I had no artistic goals this year, let alone illustrating a book, but I said “yes” and don’t regret for a second.

stable pic

This wraps up my “Christmas card” for 2012. I hope you all enjoy a beautiful Christmas and wish you peace, love and a little adventure in the coming new year.

Merry Christmas!

Angie D 12/24/2012 (c)

The Santa Issue

When I was around eight years old, a neighbor asked me what I asked Santa for Christmas, to which I promptly replied, “I don’t believe in Santa. My mom and dad buy my gifts.”

Her frosted blond hair curled in horror and she quickly recovered with, “Well, just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he’s not real. He lives in your heart.”

Jesus lives in my heart,” I shot back.

This little exchange was, I believe, the seed of the bad blood that continued over the years. It was obvious she never liked my know-it-all confidence and clearly preferred my cute little sister.

My parents were of the opinion that lying is always wrong and taught us the stern truth about Santa: there was indeed a gift-giver named Saint Nick, but never the portly intruder in red that invades homes worldwide via chimney every Christmas Eve, eating our cookies and stuffing our socks.

Besides offending my middle-aged neighbor, I don’t know if I ruined anybody else’s Christmas that year.

It’s the last part that has kept me from telling my son the absolute truth right away.

Kids are natural town criers. I’ve never met a little kid that knew the truth about Santa that didn’t crow about it to everyone they met. Telling kids about Santa too soon is like telling them about sex before they’re ready – everyone will hear about it and squirm. Some just cry.

My son is four and has asked if Santa is real and I just ask what he thinks and listen to him reason out what he believes is true. Right now, he is of the opinion that because reindeer are real, Santa must also be real. I’ll just let him go with that for now. I don’t want him going around telling all his little friends that Santa is a fake and be responsible for crushing their candy-coated dreams.

How we deal truth is important. We can treat it like a gift or a closed fist.

I won’t lie to my son about Santa, but there are a couple of reasons I’m not in a hurry to stamp out his budding faith with one reality-infused whump.

First of all, I want to help my son be sensitive towards the kids whose families have built up visions of Santa with jingling bells and reindeer hoof prints. For him, this is just the beginning of learning to respect what others believe. I don’t ever want him thumping heads with truth, but to reach hearts with kindness.

Secondly, I don’t want to disrupt his current understanding of faith.

I don’t want him to quickly dismiss anything he can’t see as false and unlikely. As he’s starting to weigh out the signs of what could make Santa “real”, I want to take his search for evidence of this “other” even further and point it to Jesus. Eventually he will learn that the signs do not point to the North Pole but to a very real Jesus that compels us to celebrate.

For me, Santa is just the beginning of the conversation. It’s the opportunity to talk about love and truth, faith and the unseen. But rather than pump him with the belief that there is a kindhearted Santa with gifts for him once a year, I choose to redirect his hope towards a grace-filled Savior that has blessings in store for him all of his life.

Another One Slipped Through

I was at the grocery store the other day when I was surprised to be welcomed by a young man sitting by the door. He was a greeter for the store and was surprisingly young and attractive. He looked like he should have been working in a trendy shop at the mall instead of sitting in the corner of a grocery store surrounded by carts and holiday fliers.

But when he opened his mouth, it was clear that he was different. He talked to my son about his dragon toy and how much he liked the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon” and was clearly not just being kind to my young son. There was something less developed about him, less sophisticated than a man his age should have been.

Immediately I felt twinges of fear and sadness for him.

In a world that is always looking out for number one, people like this are often overlooked or ostracized.

Then I thought of how many kids I knew in my teen years that needed a buddy and some that desperately needed professional help. I thought of kids I spend time with every Sunday at church or have met at camps that are clearly struggling but don’t have the skills or support to deal with life and end up repelling the friends they need with their anger and brooding.

And now, I think of the Sandy Hook massacre. From Columbine to now, these tragedies have continued to crash upon us like a relentlessly whipping wave, each rushing wave pulling back only to gather more strength and more fury to sweep away more innocent lives.

Whatever you feel about gun control or mental illness, I think we can all agree that this world is hurting.

While I understand the need for creating laws and procedures to protect our citizens, no law no matter how complete or perfect will heal a hurting soul.

These horrific events should be a wakeup call to people everywhere, especially Christians. To not just surround and protect your own with love, but to be on the lookout for others that need help and encouragement.  As Christians, we must be a safety net for those teetering on the edge and the hand that swiftly grasps those about to fall into the cracks.

We need to tirelessly pursue others with the message of the love of Jesus and His saving grace. We must show that God desires wholeness – body, mind and soul.  And above all we must share our hope: we are not doomed to destruction and defeat because Jesus has conquered it all.

Let us be quick to respond to others with genuine friendship and pray for God to move our hearts with true compassion for those around us. Let our words be saturated in godly love and intention before it’s too late. Let’s not wait until the hurt is so deep that our words can’t be heard over wailing grief.

People are Mean

There was this kid at my high school that was rumored to be a circus performer. He was a year younger than me so I didn’t have classes with him or know him at all, let alone if that was true. Circus performer or not, he clearly loved to juggle and do other carnival-style feats and would practice his little stunts during breaks and lunch time.

I remember this one particular group of kids that would often ask him to do tricks in the middle of the jam-packed hallway between classes. They’d chant and clap and cheer until there was a ring of rubbernecks around him and he’d eagerly comply with their entertainment whims.

Unfortunately, they weren’t actually interested in his talents. They were just looking for someone to ridicule; just a bunch of heartless gawkers looking for a freak show, a dancing bear. There was a lot of muffled laughter and overenthusiastic applause to keep the show going. And it did. Because for a fleeting moment, that kid thought he was a star. It was like watching someone coerce their love-starved dog into doing silly tricks for a little appreciation and a pitiful treat. It was pathetic.

People are mean. Some people enjoy being mean the way some of us enjoy crumbling dirt in our hands and watching the grains sift through our fingers.

Middle school girls are especially mean. Gossip, insults, silent treatment, exclusion, out-and-out lies and bullying are what my daughter sees or is sometimes the victim of daily.

It’s really hard for me as a mom to not want to storm through her cafeteria and go all Jesus-and-the-money-changers on those kids and start flipping over tables and beating the bottoms of those sadistic kids with a big ol’ paddle. Instead, I’m doing my best to teach my daughter how to stick up for herself and others, to talk things out first and when that doesn’t work, tell the teachers about it. I am trying my darnedest to help her empathize with these bullies and remind her that when people are unhappy and unloved, they lash out.

Mostly, though, we talk about forgiveness. Because when the little tiffs blow over, when she moves on to high school or college – no matter where she goes – there will be more mean people and unfair treatment waiting for her.

I wish I could tell her it’s just the way kids are at her age. It would be nice if I could tell her that she won’t have to worry about getting hurt at church or other places that should be “safe”. I would love it if people simply grew out of their meanness.

But we all know it’s just not as simple as all that. Understanding and practicing forgiveness are the only ways to cope with this harsh reality.

Designed by God, forgiveness is a strange and beautiful paradox. When we forgive, we are healed; when our hearts are doused in pain, forgiveness ignites compassion. It keeps our spirit soft and our hearts intact. It strengthens resolve to say “yes” whenever you can, help whenever you’re able, support, guide and encourage whenever its needed because you know how badly it hurts to be ignored, rejected and betrayed  – especially by those you thought were on your side.

I don’t want my little girl that used to burst onto playgrounds looking for friends with her pigtails flying and arms wide to become jaded and reticent because of the thoughtless behavior of others. I would do anything to spare my daughter from unkindness, but people will always fail, including me. And when they do I don’t want my daughter to lose faith in humanity, I want her to find strength in the God that restores her heart and renews her mind so that she remains confident in herself and tender towards others even when they’re mean.

Angie Derrick 10/25/2012 ©

Awkward Family Photos

My brother got married a couple weekends ago.

I am truly happy for him, but I kind of have a love-hate relationship with weddings. Receptions are fun and it’s always a good day to celebrate love. But I am not a big fan of ceremonies, not just because I have a small boy sitting next to me that has absolutely no patience for anything that doesn’t include snacks or dinosaurs, but because sometimes I don’t either.

I’ve heard some uncomfortably intimate vows exchanged, seen unbearably long slideshows and heard some pretty painful renditions of classic love songs that were maimed beyond recognition. I know a lot of people that would call these awkward happenings “good TV” but I don’t enjoy watching people embarrass themselves.

Thankfully, for my brother and sister-in-law’s sakes, the wedding didn’t suffer any of these foul-ups.

All in all, it was a pretty smooth day, no overly complicated problems to solve, no bridezilla moments. The most awkward and difficult portion of the event (in my opinion) was trying to assemble our herd of Cubans for a family photo.

It’s incredible to me that a family that gets together every 6-8 weeks for birthdays never takes a moment to snap a few family photos. Yet at every wedding, we make it priority one to get every relative, significant other and pet into one happy portrait. It’s usually my grandma that seizes what she perceives to be an opportune moment and rounds up the family with an urgency that rivals any disaster preparedness drill. And there are enough of us that when we stampede towards the nearest exit for picture time, we basically clear a room and probably leave any remaining guests to wonder if there was a fire or other emergency that they should be filing out too.

With so many people to gather, it’s very difficult to get 100% turnout on the first try. Once we start lining up in photo-formation we quickly find that several people are missing. Then with the rest of the family still in their portrait-perfect rows, we usually send out a small search party with the aggravating task of dragging in the stragglers.

Call us hardcore, but we don’t accept many excuses for not showing up for family photo time. You were next in line at the buffet you say? Well, you’ll just have to line up again later. The baby needed to be nursed? Just bring him along still plugged in, no one will care, we’re all family. We’ll be sure to tag the blanket in the picture before we post it on Facebook.

It’s a real headache to get over forty people in one frame, all looking in the same direction, smiling with both eyes open in fewer than ten attempts. Then when you consider the pandemonium of howling back-arching babies, whiny kids and grouchy adults, it compounds the difficulty exponentially.

I honestly don’t remember if we ever got one successful family picture at this last wedding. It’s a hassle each time, but I’ll be really sad if it never happened.

Because even though I am complaining and irritated that my son is a sweaty mess from running laps around the reception hall like a sugar-crazed maniac and my hair and makeup have so deteriorated that I look like I was just discovered by a search and rescue squad after wandering a mountainside for a week – I still want to preserve the moment. I want to look back and see all the people I love in one happy picture.

There are some pretty obvious reasons for capturing moments either with pictures or little celebrations like counting your blessings or making the most of time together. But I would like to suggest another reason: to keep your heart tender, full of grace.

Think about how you feel towards your loved ones when you look through wedding albums and baby books or when you pour yourself into planning a special anniversary date or even how you feel when you tell the world on Facebook that your kid just got Student of the Month. You are proud. You see them in a more forgiving light and warm feelings that are often forgotten in the little annoyances of daily life are rekindled.

I actually hate to get my picture taken and sometimes it’s an inconvenience to stop and take pictures. But I never regret that minor interruption when I look through my albums full of friends, family and happy experiences. As I thumb through old photos, I never get tired of marveling at how blessed my life is.

When I am reminded of how truly precious the people in my life are it makes it easier and even a pleasure to respond with love and grace.

 

Angie Derrick 10/10/2012 ©

Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

My son had a little friend over the other day and during their long ambling conversation about dinosaurs, peanut butter and jelly and who’s-dad-is-stronger, their bathroom habits came up.

I was in another room when I heard Judah exclaim, “You mean, you can wipe yourself?!?”

My son was thoroughly impressed. In Judah’s eyes, this ability sets apart the men from the boys.

Honestly, it really doesn’t take much to amaze my kid – his favorite food is corndogs, so he’s not exactly qualified to deem anything noteworthy.

His taste might not be very discerning but he makes no apologies for being tacky. My son’s world is raw and unfiltered and he hides nothing. Every thought, feeling and impulse he has is on display.

And here is the shark “attack”. Pure poetry.

Me.… well not so much. For instance, not a ton of people know this, but I have a very goofy side. I like to send my sisters ludicrous messages and text pictures like bespectacled dinosaurs and shark attacks that I’ve made out of punctuation and symbols. I love being silly when its least expected.

I don’t always show that ridiculous side right away (or at all with some people) because my deadpan expression and my naturally intimidating eyebrows tend to confuse people if they don’t know me very well. They can’t tell if I’m kidding, mocking them or slightly unhinged.

This is the dinosaur I sent to my sister.

It’s important to know your audience and sometimes the group in question just won’t appreciate the sarcasm, i.e. my grandma and small children. I find no joy in leaving the people I love flummoxed and offended, so some things are better off left unsaid.

Then there are the things that go unsaid because you’re afraid. Will you be shunned, judged or will someone’s opinion of you be so altered that you can’t go back to the way things were?

With little kids there are few “no-go” zones. Right now, my son sees no problem with stripping down to his birthday suit in public during the summer if he’s too hot. He has no qualms about jogging to the bathroom and announcing, “I’ll be back in a minute, I have to poop!” as he huffs by. He doesn’t know that singing and dancing down the cereal aisle of Safeway is not a social norm.

But as we all know, things change dramatically as we get older. I have experienced and known others with plenty of “no-go” zones. Try to get to the bottom of an offense and instead of working it out, it’s glossed over and deliberately forgotten because it’s too uncomfortable to share those feelings. Ask about something difficult from the past and you get crossed arms and pursed lips. Attempt a deep conversation and you’re met with sarcasm and joking to deflect any emotions that creep in.

I’m not talking about rudely prying into peoples’ business, I’m talking about really understanding each other, what experiences have shaped us and knowing how to survive difficult seasons together.

When we mark those zones as impassable, I believe we are missing an opportunity to grow and experience lasting authentic relationships.

I think that’s why Jesus told us to come to him like a little child. He wants us to approach him without fear, with a sense of wonder and fully expecting to be adored. We are cheating ourselves of a full relationship with him otherwise.

What about regular people? Yes, people are flawed and won’t receive you with the same perfect love that Jesus does. We are unpredictable and hurt even the ones we love. While I would never advise a person to bare all their secrets to someone untrustworthy, it’s also important to remember that there is a certain amount of pain that goes with human relationships and if you’ve found people that love you enough to work through it, go there with them.

It’s not always easy to find friends that will go the distance with you. But you can get through a painful situation strengthened and secure when you decide that love and trust are the goals and Jesus is your guide and mediator.

Angie Derrick 9/27/2012 ©

Waiting: When Months Turn Into Years

Every morning that I drop my son off at preschool, I join a procession of moms politely jockeying to be first in line to the classroom. It’s subtle, but I think it’s pretty clear that we are all anxious to leave our tiresome offspring in the hands of other capable adults. Maybe I’m projecting, but I think if we weren’t so hung up on what others thought, you’d see a lot of moms skipping and doing cartwheels on the way back to their cars and then speeding off with Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” blaring and the windows down.  Off in the distance all you’d see is hair blowing wildly out the window like a flag declaring: Hallelujah, let freedom ring!

In this brood of mothers and children, there are a few put together mommies with their cute little hairdos, bright lipstick and shiny heels tapping along the walkway like a sprightly pony.

And then there are the rest of us.

Like a bunch of ashen zombies in yoga pants and fuzzy ponytails, we have tired and glassy eyes that tell of the unspoken horrors of trying to get out the door on time with small children.

I look at myself and other moms and I don’t recall as a kid thinking my mom looked this haggard. But I noticed recently in a professional family portrait, that maybe mom was a lot more frazzled than I remembered.

In this particular portrait, mom isn’t wearing any makeup and her hair is a bumpy mess of curls. But more obvious than the underdone appearance is mom’s bedraggled expression that read like a miserable groan: I have three kids.

I don’t have three, but even having just two children is stressful enough to have me looking like life grabbed me by the hair and jerked me around.

Kids are great and all but raising them is tough on the body and pummels the spirit.

I remember when my son was a baby, every so often I would have these internal panic attacks because it had been months since the last time I wrote, painted or played piano. I would freak out because I was desperately afraid that if I didn’t keep being creative, one day I wouldn’t be, even if I had the time.

I realize now that I wasn’t just anxious about losing my skills, I was afraid that I’d forget how to be “me” and become a faded and fragmented version of my old self.

Child-rearing isn’t the only occupation that can rough up one’s soul. There are many times in life that you might have to set aside normalcy and put off dreams in order to support others you love.

It’s been during these tough seasons that I have attempted to “have it all” and add and add until I felt “normal”. I Knew I couldn’t do everything one hundred percent, but I still wanted to give it a try. When that failed, then I’d opt for a more long-term strategy. Something more akin to what Oprah once said, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.”

Though this statement offers a positive perspective, it’s missing a source of hope. It’s based on human wisdom and plans. In Jesus I have real hope, and he cares about my soul, loves who I am, and even wants me to dream. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That’s not just an optimistic mantra it’s a path to true happiness.

Right now raising my kids takes up more of my time than building my dreams. There is a lot of trading, settling, and going without and sometimes it’s gut-wrenching. God knows this and is prepared to take care of me when I’m tired and discouraged. I can look to scriptures like Isaiah 40:31 for encouragement, “But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”

There are a lot of things that I have been waiting for and will likely keep waiting for a bit longer, like going back to school, writing fulltime and painting a few masterpieces.  Until those desires are fulfilled, I can depend on God to help me thrive during this waiting period and not merely survive.  No matter which approach I take, whether it’s achieving my goals by my own willpower or by God’s direction, it’s going to take time. So while I’m waiting anyway, I’m better off putting my trust in God.

Angie Derrick 9/24/2012 ©

 

 


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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