Category Archives: motherhood & family life

Dear Children… About Your Inheritance…

“I need something.”

The cryptic words from College Son flashed across the screen. After 3 weeks of minimal contact, this could mean almost anything. Historically speaking our relationship dictated this typically meant some research advice or proofeadery.

“What?” I replied while  bracing my jetlaggy brain for a challenge.

“Your recipe for spice cake.”

I stalled.

Ummm….  Seriously?

Inheritance Title

See, this is no ordinary recipe for no ordinary spice cake. I’ve been making and perfecting this dreamcake for over 20 years. This is my closely-guarded recipe for THE spice cake  I’ve kept tucked under my (ahem) “belt “ all this time.  It’s the kind of recipe a Ninja-Chef really must have in their personal arsenal for special occasions and surprise guests, new baby welcomes and potlucks. Savory, spicy-sweet and best of all: sinfully simple. I don’t part with it easily.

My daughter asked for it a year ago. Unbeknownst to me, she entered a contest and won a 250-dollar gift card to Ikea. She bought a chair. A chair. (Isn’t that like selling your birthright for stew? Never mind.)

Something they’d grown up with, now it was College Son’s turn to ask.

“Never.” I teased. Emoji-smiling, he explained that his girlfriend (the one I am trusting God to make my DIL someday!) wanted to make it for him.

At least she can cook.
From scratch.
My mock-resolve melted.
I sent it.

“There.  Now you have your inheritance.” I said Emoji-winking back. Digitally, we exchanged smiles, hugs and kisses and he was happily on his way with a piece of his family history. Truly, as silly as it sounds, he now possesses a solid piece of his shared inheritance.

Doesn’t seem like much, does it?

It’s no surprise though that if you took any of our children aside and asked them about their inheritance, three out of three times, their first response would be a mixture of low-toned laughter and chagrin. They know, by the worldly definitions, we’re “broke” and planning to be “broke-r” before it’s all over with. At least this is the current nature of our estate in terms of dollars and not a whole lotta sense!

Love And Marriage

Still I have a strong feeling in the pit of everything within me that their next response will be a knowing and satisfied smile. Because in reality, they know we have given them everything we have to give and oftentimes it’s been far more than anything our parents were able to give to us.  They also know it’s never been about money in the bank.

Make no mistake: it’s been a touchy subject through the years as they’ve reached the ages and stages where their friends were given cars, educations and luxury items we never were able to afford—at least not the way most people have done it. There have been many tears and tantrums on both sides of the equation. But we’re here. We’ve made it and we’re better than intact: we’re whole.

And while we pray there’s still plenty of time to amass more “wealth” to add to their inheritance, there are many things besides a knockout recipe for spice cake we’re striving to leave as our legacy– solid and eternal things we hope they’ll always treasure and, if Jesus tarries, preserve and pass along to many future generations.

The Family Bible

I hope they’ll find treasured comfort in knowing that we not only loved them and each other to the highest best of our ability but that it was a love deeply rooted in our shared love for God.

I hope they’ll find great inspiration in how we found this God-love so wild and wonderful that it was worth risking our place in a world-driven status quo to spend an adventure-filled lifetime stumbling along the lesser travelled path towards His greatest good.

I hope they will hold close and share often the stories of these adventures–many spent with them– and discover this same courage in themselves to step out in new directions to spend and experience their one beautiful life serving our one amazing God.

Humbly I hope they’ll cling as tightly to Jesus as we have because they’ve witnessed time and again how His grace, mercy and forgiveness have seen their two imperfect parents through many…  many….   many times of failure.     And every success.

I hope they’ll talk about how their Mom “trusted God and sought to pray the hell out of any situation!”, how their Dad was never so afraid of failure that he wasn’t willing to try—fail and try again and how both of them together fought arm in arm against the enemy who came to seek, kill and destroy their marriage and family.

And how through that same powerful grace from God, together… they won.

The Great Commitment

So that here now and in the future when they’re possibly surrounded by little ones of their own and telling the “once upon a time” portion of our newly-written family history— when they talk about the things they share together, most of the story will be told from the perspective of vast wealth and riches— of lives that were shaped and held together by God— all the while knowing and communicating that their inheritance from us was never merely “enough”:    it was always everything.

That’s our prayer.

And that amazing spice cake?
Well,  that was simply a bonus.

Lorretta signature

The Fading Signs of Motherhood

Oh these times… they are a’changin.  The signs are everywhere….

Fading Signs

Not long ago, while cleaning an overgrown area in the yard, I spotted them: two pool noodle and pvc-pipe “swords”. Each was wrapped soundly in what had to be an entire roll of duct tape and lay hidden beneath a few seasons of vines and leaves— likely captured in the midst of a neighborhood skirmish or dropped in place at the sound of the dinner bell. Four years? Five? Surely, they had no idea it was their last battle.

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Later, while prepping the bathroom for a long overdue paint job, I was forced to remove this little sign from the shower wall. No longer important but once upon a very real time, it was all a mother could do in this house to ensure she had at least one washcloth with which to wash her face. One that hadn’t been used to wipe mud from a shoe— or worse!

Mom's face cloth

Then… there’s this charming memento of a former time when this gesture only made me feel a little bit better about the situation since it was largely ignored and at least once a week I’d find myself nearly “bottomed out and shrieking” in the wee hours of the dimly lit night.   #word

Toilet Seat

There are no more army men in the refrigerator.
I haven’t stepped on a Lego in ages.
The potted plants haven’t seen a Matchbox car or dinosaur in quite a while.
AirSoft BB’s still haunt the corners only  because I kicked the box  while cleaning the closet.

The  bunker-style holes in the back yard have been filled in and the old tires used for camouflage have recently been stacked and turned into a bird bath. The honeybees like it too.

The American Girl doll is wrapped and safely tucked away along with many dog-eared and well-loved lap books waiting on the next generation of readers to come along. Pointe shoes hang here and there testifying to the countless lessons and lost bobby pins of a chiffon-and-lace girl — now happily married and continuing the legacy many hours of driving away.

A page is turned.
These are the fading signs of Motherhood.

Home schooling only factored in more gravity to the massive responsibility I’ve felt attempting to mother these past 24 years. Twenty-four. Whew. Depending on where you find yourself in the equation, 24 years may or may not seem like a long time. If you’re currently up to your elbows and eyeballs in chaos and bodily fluids, well then it seems near-about eternal!  

However, if you’re like me— who just this very moment heard “number last” call “I love you” while driving off (in YOUR car) to get a haircut he’ll pay for with his own money, well. There is hardly a way to define that tender mix of pleasure and pain — both necessary ingredients in this beautiful recipe of life.

“This is good.” I tell myself.
This is how it’s supposed to be.

With equal amounts of fear and trembling, joy and imagination…you raise them up and hold them close with the goal of somedayletting them go.

I blinked and BAM! My “baby” son is now a senior in high school. In all fairness, it wasn’t really a blink but I’ll straight up tell you:  it’s a bit stunning to think about it now that it’s here. Sometimes sadness, or at the very least melancholy threatens to creep up around the edges of my heart. It’s the feeling that something is flat over and done and I’ll never have it again. With a strange longing, I look back at these memories sweetly colored and draped with nostalgia and it almost overwhelms me.

Until I stop.
Because I must.

Because nostalgia can be a slow, killing disease. Nostalgia can rob you blind of the wonderful here and now and well, let’s be honest— those days were good, but they were equally hard and now this— even the hard stuff– really good too. I’d be a fool to insult the truth by attempting to paint a picture of perfection that really doesn’t exist in any situation. FACT: none of us has it all together. Although together, it’s nice that we try.

It’s one of the first things I noticed when I first started writing: how much support the common Mommy can find out here. Honestly, it floored me. I was drowning in personal crisis back then so it also grieved my heart terribly to find so much affirmation and advice, camaraderie and consolation given and shared so freely.   I didn’t have that.   My heart ached at first because OH!! I wished I could turn back the hands of time and live my Mommy years again in the company of others who might understand that I was an ignorant pioneer in this experience.    I needed mothering myself.

I didn’t stay there long.
Sure, I have my regrets.
There are things I’d do more better.
There are some things I’d do less…..  or not at all.

I’m not going to preach or pronounce over which is which because there are some things we each must learn in order to fully rely on and freely fall into the arms of Jesus. In this way, we are forever children too.  Besides, how can I regret anything that keeps me on my knees before him?

Letting Go

It was the words of a friend that comforted me most reminding me that God is sovereign especially in this regard: He knows. I was born for such a time as this, no mistake. 

It’s all grace.  Abundantly received and now more to be given beyond those years.

To my today Self.
To you.
To my adult children and future grandchildren .
To my neighbor with a herd of young’uns running around the yard.
To the unwed mother down the street.

Grace:    It’s the most necessary ingredient of motherhood.

Like a well-loved lap book in the hands of God, grace has rubbed smooth most of the sharp edges of my life. He knows my heart so time and again when I stood perched on the edges of making a huge mess of it all and about to topple over into some Mom-crazy abyss, God bridged the gap with Himself and somehow allowed us all to cross safely over, through and beyond to today.   How kind.

How kind that He has given me today. I can almost laugh at my former ignorances because I have the gift and the memories today:

We lived and loved together under this roof out loud.
Clenched fists, hot tears, slammed doors and angry voices.
Many, many precious “I’m-sorry-I-love-you” moments on both sides of the equation.
Kitchen dancing and hide-n-seek.
Night terrors, bad dreams, potty training and puke buckets.
The ebb and flow of motherhood balanced out with forehead kisses of God’s grace.

What a precious, precious gift.   It’s been good.

Dancing into the next season,Lorretta signature

 

Blind Spots in the Heart of Motherhood

There’s no place to hide and no point in denying that when it comes to the ones we love—especially our children, we are prone to developing “blind spots”.

Yes, despite my Creator-endowed super powers of all-seeing-all-knowing mother-ness..I’ve struggled to be fair-minded when it comes to my kids. There’s something deep down in all of us that tends towards denial.     We can hardly help it.

Blindspots

We’re their primary caregivers and first cheerleaders tasked with the dual privilege of drawing out the best in them while rooting out the worst— oftentimes in the same moments, using some of the same methods and always hoping for success in their future.     However, it’s hard to be consistent.      It’s hard to be fair.

Knowing this about myself helps.

I had no idea when I began writing  that this “Tale of 2 Mothers” was about to go viral on the interwebs. It’s an important story on a number of levels but  especially because it has gone so well in all the ways it could have gone so wrong. Beautiful how these two mothers “get it” and have modeled humility, love and respect towards one another because they both have the same goals in mind. Their children can now see what that looks like to be loved in the best of all possible worlds.

I want to be a part of that world, don’t you?

Let’s face it: there are few things that make us more vulnerable than the achilles heel of motherhood. It’s drawn out the best and the worst in me over the years. Whether it’s shrieking like a banshee at the “big kids” throwing rocks on the playground in the direction of my children,  or praising my child for sharing so generously—all that passion and pride tends to be drawn from the same murky well. 

So murky that sometimes at first,  I couldn’t see …that my kid threw the first rock or the candy they were “sharing” so nicely with their siblings was actually stolen from the grocery store the day before. (Sigh) Hard stuff.

When they were young, it was a simple matter of instruction and demanded compliance often mixed with exhausting levels of inappropriate frustration because I not only wanted them to do well, do better and succeed— I wanted to look good too. Sadly, I feared looking like a bad mother.  It’s a terrible pressure we Mommies put on our children, on ourselves…on one another.

Growing up alongside these three I’ve been privileged to share life with, over time my methods have grown softer, more understanding and less fear-motivated. I still want the very best for my now nearly-grown children but I am more able to trust that God does too and He invites— but doesn’t need— my help to do it.

As true as that is, I can’t deny the temptation I face every now and then to “stack the deck” in their favor. I can’t deny how hard it is to fight the urge to rescue them instead of letting them feel the weight of a poor decision or their sin.

It’s hard to watch them fall.
It’s hard to watch them fail.

I can’t deny how it hurts to face someone criticizing your child and refusing your apology because, let’s face it, “we have different parenting styles”.  Hard, hard, hard.  Hard because, deep down, I believe we have the same loving goals in mind despite our blind spots.

Awareness IN faith

As you know, I’ve been reading through the Gospels again and there’s this place in Matthew 20 where the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) kneels before Jesus asking if they can sit in the places of power on either side of Him in His glorious kingdom. Jesus replies that she doesn’t know what she’s asking. She doesn’t. He gently tells her that these places are taken by those prepared by the Father.  Some indignation and awkwardness between the disciples follows but Jesus uses this as another teaching opportunity to remind them of who they are to be— it’s our reminder too.

I think about that mother and I just feel her. She honestly thought she was making the best move for her sons. She acted out of love…out of ignorance and Jesus was so gentle and kind. I’m not certain about this but it’s occurred to me that the places on the right and left of Jesus that God had already filled… might have easily been the places on either side of him as He hung on the cross. Like he said, oftentimes, we think we can “drink the cup” but don’t know what we’re asking. And God knows best…wait for it.

paradox of humility

A few weeks ago the speaker at our community girls event mentioned how she’s learned the Christian life is not about simple obedience. Instead, she said, it’s found in the joy of abiding. I absolutely agree.  I’ve learned that God really isn’t after blind obedience. He’s truly after abiding because He knows that heartfelt obedience will joyfully follow.

It’s why Jesus instructs us to abide with Him because when we get to the place where we are so deeply abiding…existing for and through Christ alone…well, obedience is no longer a problem.  THAT’s what I’m after with my children— to teach by modeling before them what it means to abide.      I pray it’s working.

I know it’s not the perfect parenting solution. I only know to lean on the perfect Savior and I surely know all about my daily, daily DAILY need for his help to do this thing called motherhood.

I’m nearly done with this season as my last one at home will be launching in a few years. But it’s my intent to be more gracious and grace filled towards other Mommies just trying their best to get it right. I want to do my best to remember that we all have blind spots… because we love and thankfully it’s because He first loves us….and I only have grace to spare.

What do you know about blindspots? Grace?

  from my heart,   Lorretta signature

Linking with Jennifer, and  the Missional Women of Faith.