You do things.
You get me coffee.
You clean the pans that have scum left from the night before.
You give me time to execute my dreams.
You love your kids.
You give them your best.
You think about how I am feeling.
You encourage me in my dreams.
You tell me I can.
You show me you care.
You make sacrifices and time.
You give me the best Apple computer a writer could ever want.
You think about what I will delight over…
…all while being daddy of two, leader of home and strong at work.
If there is one thing a woman wants, besides God, chocolate and new clothes – it is a man that loves her. I have that in you. You are mine and I am yours. When I see you, I see Jesus.
If there is one thing a kid wants, besides candy and toys – it is a daddy who cares.
You make breakfast a coveted affair.
You lug them around on your shoulders.
You tackle and toss and take your kids places they have always wanted to go.
You laugh and dance and fuss over little things.
You bring little gifts home from work.
You make time for stories.
You pray morning and night over things that count.
You take them on new adventures.
You do breakfast tours in new cities.
You make your minutes count.
And what I know is all these small moves of love, will end up as giant leaps of the heart kind. They will know significance. Believe in it. They will know belonging. And rely on it.
They will know they can because daddy always believed they could.
They will believe Father Daddy will carry them because you did.
They will know Jesus because you reflected him.
She will find a good man because you are good man.
They will remember. They will remember the “You are courageous” comments. They will remember the “Don’t give up,” words. They will remember the, “Spin for me” requests. She will remember the, “You are beautifuls.”
You are sowing security. You are making it the fabric of our family, the knitting of our future. It counts. It will reap rewards.
We cheer you today, daddy. You are a man doing well. Working hard. Giving your all. We applaud your generosity, your heart and your passion – for us.
Wifey and Kids
P.S. From your little boy: Daddy, I love you, daddy. You are strong. My heart feels glad to be with you, daddy.
P.S.S. From, your even littler girl: Daddy, you make me feel happy.
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I had it all wrong. I always thought family was this ship you had to keep moving in the right direction. One that all crew members needed to approach in tandem, knowing their role and pushing through to the next destination. With this, I figured, it was my job as mom to run a tight ship.
Efficiency was key: Get those shoes on and be in the car by the time I get out of the bathroom. Rules were paramount: I set the guidelines, you follow them. My authority reigned: Don’t question, just obey or else! My voice counted: Don’t express opinions, just express a head nod and move that dish to the dishwasher.
I don’t know when I turned into such a jerk. In the moment, there is always a way to justify it (how else are you going to get things done, the kids won’t respect you, the house will be a mess, perfection will sink into oblivion). Somehow family, for me, turned into a model-toy that I was carefully constructing according to instructions, schedules and guidelines. All parts were required to fit within my needs. I moved them according to my desires.
With this knowledge, my heart has been on a journey to change course; it is pursuing a redirect. Just the other day, my son looked at me to say, “Mom, that’s a mean voice.” My initial response was to say, “Son, that is not mean. If you want to hear mean, I could really show you mean.”
But, if I am going a new path that means I have to try new things. I looked at him and said, “You thought that was mean?” His head nodded.
What he thought was mean, I thought was on level 2 of my stern-voice scale, but still, I was trying and trying counts for something, so I tried some more.
“I am sorry. I will speak nicer, son.”
The day progressed and so did my heart. A heart just trying – trying to be calm, to be present, to be aware, to be humble, to be eager to love, and quick to let go of to-do’s. By days end, I felt shipwrecked, but what happened next brought buoyancy back.
At story time, this 4-year old outer-space pajama clad kid looked up at me to say, “Mommy, I am sorry too for all the mean things I have been speaking to you.”
And, there it was, what seemed like galaxy of distance, came together in a meteor crash of sense. He is just the same as me. He feels the same too. We are in this together.
Family united, rather than divided.
What I build in myself, I build in him. What I forge around me, will be forged around him too. What I lay down, he will have permission to lay down as well. What is hard to do, we can try to do as one.
At days end, I don’t want to give him me as I am today. I want to give him full of grace, sailing with mercy, loaded with compassion, flying with patience. I want him to have all of that. I want more for that beauty. And, in a way, in this day, I gave him a small ride towards this. And, one day – counts. It counts for something; I will take that and own that and relish in that.
Small beginnings matter.
When I simply understand, when I take a minute, when I sit down, when I listen, when I confess, when I become humble, the family makes strides towards godliness. Together we move ahead, not to my pre-set plans, but to God’s pre-set sanctification. We move towards what is greatest, rather than what I deem as great.
Jesus relates to me when I am weak. He sympathizes with that kind of thing. He says, that testing you are going through, me too Kelly, me too.
We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.
He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Heb. 4:15 MSG
What will we choose in the rapid-fire moments of “family”?
Will we choose to to take a stand in our ways or
will we choose to stand in God’s mercy?
Will we accept his help or will we drive the helpers?
Will we chart a course or will we enjoy the ride?
The second we set down the burden of pride set upon our shoulders of despair is the second we rise up in the freedom of surrender that finds itself in the shadow of the eagles wing. Work falls to the wayside and we see things from new heights, with new vision and new hope. We soar. We let go. We glide. We ride.
“What a relief,” we say,
“We never knew it could be this easy!”
And we sail.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31
I just read a book. It’s not even on a topic I thought I was struggling with, but good words always tend to find a good home in one ready to receive them.
These words did more than just that; they took my heavy baggage, bent them up and dropped them at my feet in a time-to-let go kind of way (dang, Lord, I wasn’t intending this!).
You see, when baggage breaks, it’s time to dump ’em, toss ’em and be done with ’em. And, now, I can see how messed up my baggage really is; it’s filled with stolen items, things I could only pretend to fully own. Things I tried to make myself believe would always be mine – that I could use to fill my needs.
But, I never owned them to begin with.
What we think is ours, always has and always will belong to God.
He lends us what we love, so we can see his love – for us.
What is lent is always called back home sometime, in God’s time.
In my heart, God is calling back the idea that I own my kids, my husband and my dreams – because I don’t. They always have and always will belong to him.
But letting go, feels like letting a dog run without a leash. It’s scary. Risky. Uncertain.
To let go of what I clench, to release my imprints and to undo my harness – it’s not work for the faint of heart. For so long, I have relied on these crutches as my own personal hopes of glory, hidden, but golden tickets to personal satisfaction and fulfillment.
But, what happens, one day, when God decides,
that I can no longer clutch and crutch –
right around his great promises?
What happens then?
Because, you see, something like this could happen:“My son purchased drugs which, combined with a beer later that evening, caused respiratory distress, resulting in death.” (Dance With Jesus, by Susan B. Mead)
What would I do then? When the kid that I supposedly owned, ruled and managed ended up – gone? Would I go down with him? Would my crutches be so swiped out from under me that my face would break in a million little pieces?
I think it might. I don’t know what I would do.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21
I suppose I am learning, it is in the taking away, that we often find the praise. At least that’s what happened with Susan, when she lost her son.
She says, “Do I want him back with me? Yes- for a moment. Then I realize how selfish that would be because he is now in Paradise with Jesus.”
Amen, sweet Susan.
Her words knock me in the head. She found her praise as she rose up her hands in abandon to the one who held her most prized possession.
She found her praise – in that. Wow. And, rightfully so, he can take care of her child far greater than she ever could (no offense dear).
He can take care of my family far better than I can too.
The more I let go, the more space my loved ones have to learn HE IS who I am preach HE IS.
The more I let go, the more they know the great rescuer God, verses the great rescuer mom, wife, daughter, sister.
The more I let go, the more they see Jesus step in, rather than my need-based insecurities step up.
Then, people can start to Dance with Jesus – without crutches that limit their movements before a great God who delights in them.
And, I dance – as I let my child climb in his seat by himself, as I let my husband make that mistake I know he is about to make, as I see a disaster ready to happen and trust God, as I step back when my kid may take a learning-lesson tumble, as I don’t give the advice a sister really should follow and as I humbly listen to all God’s plans for the main characters in this game called life.
I am free.
To find glory in the death of my goals.
To find renewal in God’s new breath of life.
To find hope outside of my 5-inch working hands.
Where do you need to be freed – to dance? To rely on the gentle guidance of one who cares?
This movement is powerful;
it’s a waltz that follows the lead of a One true God
who we actually believe is the One true God.
Real needs surface, then the rescue happens, but what we find out is that – it was always intended for us.
Finally, our hands open, our praises fly, our hopes belong to him. We no longer have strings attached to others. We cup and offer, and he answers and pulls these hearts even closer to him (whether they be on earth or in heaven).
Why do we let go? Because we love them, but most of all, we love him, we know him, and we trust him. In this, as Susan so vividly pictured in her book, we can let them – and us – dance with Jesus.
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My thoughts on Dance with Jesus: This book transports me to a different time and a different place. It wraps its arms around me to pull me into the life of Susan B. Mead, and boy, does she take me on a ride. The unique and charming characters in this book rally your heart and lure your soul into deep healing, joy and release all at the same time. The miracles of God’s wonder move you from a place grief to relief. Thank you Susan for jump-starting me on the journey of letting go.
We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering. As familiar family faces fade into the background, I develop a personal action plan of what I’ll eat, how fast I’ll eat it and when to fill up my plate again.
I hear distant sounds, words and discussions, but I am mezmerized by utter gratefulness as I take it all in – the pure beauty of the Thanksgiving spread set so perfectly on the table. Surely, God knew what he was doing when he gave us food; it truly embodies one of the greatest things we have to be grateful for.
But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed. Agitated. Frustrated.
It could be one of many things – someone got ticked off, another couldn’t get drinks fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. Truly, it could be anything.
Who knows the exact reason why? But, all that mattered to me is that my moment was lost. My joy was stolen. Agitation filled me. Disappointment gripped me. Despite my best efforts to make this Thanksgiving great, someone messed it up. Again.
Why can’t we give thanks in peace? Why can’t we all get along? Why does it feel that we have to endure Thanksgiving rather than enjoy it?
This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness. Not a time to push buttons. Not a time to get flustered.
Somehow we idealize Thanksgiving and Christmas. We turn them into perfect little gems of days that should only deliver sparkle, joy and peace. We think that, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. We hold on to these expectations with such strength that they crush under the pressure. And, this is when the true Thanksgiving weight hits us. We feel bloated with disappointment.
I guess I have come to realize that the bounty is not all about me. If we are going to truly be thankful for the bounty of the Lord, we have to be thankful for who the Lord has created. He created us all with strengths and weaknesses. It can be so hard to do. It can be so overwhelming when a storm blows in, threatening the day, but – if we trust the Lord – we can trust him to work things out.
God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen, and embrace imperfect at the table, so that expectations don’t leave us hiding in the bathroom with tears.
5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving Chaos:
1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.
Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand what he needed, but he gave what others did.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
We are all chief sinners. But, in so many ways, we stand as chief judge. God is faithful to forgive us. With this, on Thanksgiving Day, let’s choose to sit at the foot of the cross. Let’s sit as saved sinners, basking in the glory of Him who is high and lifted up.
When we sit in this position, suddenly, we sit with more compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. We sit knowing that we are the same. We sit grateful for the one who paid it all. Who loved despite our actions.
Then, we find we have greater compassion and a heart to love.
2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)
True thankfulness sees both abundance and scarcity and gives thanks. Why? Because both are from the Lord. Both have a purpose. Both are meant to refine.
We can rest in the truth that God has good plans (Ps. 40:5). We can rest in knowing his ways are greater than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We can rest because the Lord promises to work for our good through trials (Ro. 5:4). We will be refined, refreshed and renewed.
When we feel Thanksgiving Day is only giving us yucky food, we can choose to see the great silverware, the great centerpiece and the great God who is at the center of it all.
3. A storm may brew, but know God will bring you through.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)
When we are weak, the power of Christ sits upon us. In the stormy moments, we can run into his arms, feel his embrace and let him recharge us with his love. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but God stands ready to help us. It’s ok to feel weak, but it’s not ok to feel ruined when God stands ready to help.
Call out to God. He is famous for rescuing and helping in a time of trouble.
4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).
People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.
We can hold to this truth, when the Thanksgiving feast looks like it may topple.No matter what others do, think or say, they are not the essence of who we are. Christ is. We are part of his family. We are his beloved children.
5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food of Thanksgiving.
True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.
He makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
Bonus Tip (consider it your Thanksgiving second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.
We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.
The fact of the matter is that when we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are. When our standards aren’t higher than the Thanksgiving Day roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains. And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.
Thanksgiving is a special day, a needed day. A day to see all that we have – burnt food and all. If expectations consume us, we may find all we have consumed is an inability to be happy, a heart of discontent and a spirit of bitterness.
The truth is that people will disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when Thanksgiving leaves us hungry for more love.
Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.