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.

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 ©

 

 

Maintaining Sanity as a Parent

As the mother of a ten-year-old daughter and a nearly two-year-old son, I am well-acquainted with the daily stress of refereeing bickering children. Yes, you read that correctly, my ten-year-old actually argues with my toddler. You would think that a bright fourth grader would have nothing to fight about with a child whose vocabulary tops out at fifty-five words and is mostly composed of animal names and sounds, but they manage to find common ground to butt heads on.

Usually it’s on the topic of “mine”. I choose to look at it as philosophical differences on the familiar, yet esoteric concept of ownership. My daughter argues with lawyer-like showmanship and conviction, and my son stands his ground stalwartly with constant, loud, and emphatic shouts of “MINE!” Through this lens I can muse to myself, what clever, however irritating little monkeys. But I digress….

It takes a great deal of inner strength and patience to handle squabbling children, but it seems to take even greater doses of mental dexterity and emotional grit to manage the conflicts you yourself have with your children. I can’t say that I have arrived, and I am decidedly limited in wisdom and knowledge. I try to glean from the experience of others, pray, read, and remember that this particular part of life is natural and a frequently available opportunity to grow. But when I really need to muster endurance, I choose to remember why I had kids in the first place, and why the battles are worth it: I had hope.

Hope is the only thing we can legitimately cling to because the struggles of parenthood start early and accumulate in rapid succession. We ourselves came into the world fighting our mothers; we opposed her from almost the very beginning. From the first few weeks of gestation our presence within her can cause her to wretch and feel ill for months. As tiny fetuses we have the capacity to cause swelling, insomnia, varicose veins, wild cravings and heartburn, among other things. And as though foreshadowing the depth of our wills we drag red lines into her tender belly like claws stubbornly digging in. Then once we are born we scream and cry for what seems like months on end.

In many respects, to have a child is a strange and completely counter-intuitive choice to make. We in effect are choosing to have our bodies stretched, deformed, aching and burdened and then torn open to bear a child that much of the time will rob us of sleep, a social life, and our figures. We even wear diaper bags so heavy laden with baby supplies that they are, for all intents and purposes, our ball and chain.

So why do we sign up for such madness? Why do we look forward to what we know will test and maim our physical and emotional core?

I think sometimes it’s because we want a do-over, the opportunity to vicariously start life from scratch and cultivate something perfect. Other times I think we crave pure love and devotion, both from the child and to them. But at all times, I think it’s that having a child is one of the most complete manifestations of hope we will ever experience in this life on earth. Hope endures so many things, like the discomfort and pain that comes with carrying, birthing and raising a child. Hope says that the trials are worth it, that in the end, there is a prize to be won. And for that little piece of treasure, we’re willing to pay the price.

Without the slightest guarantee, and with the countless risks that accompany bringing a child into this world, we hope with reckless abandon. We look into the future and spin vivid dreams from hope: taking in the still sweetness of your sleeping baby and watching with awe the delicate puffs of air in every breath he takes. First laughs, first steps, first words; we want to witness each milestone and wonder at the miracle of life and the genius of our creation. We look a little further and see tickle fights, giggles bursting over like popcorn from soft warm bellies. We see lazy weekends cuddling in fluffy bed covers turning into visions of a gown like white clouds skimming across a petal-covered aisle on her wedding day. Hope foretells what life could be, and the amazing moments we have to look forward to.

It’s those hopes and dreams that I choose to remember from the first days of pregnancy with each of my silly, sweet kids. When the stresses of parenthood, fights and hectic schedules start to overwhelm me, I go back in my mind to those days. Fortunately most of my days are not experiencing the drawbacks of parenthood, but seeing my wishes come true and watching my sweetest dreams unfold daily before my very eyes.   

Angie 3/29/10 ©


  • 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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