Sunday, October 2, 2016

When real life isn't what you expected

Confession, before I had kids, I was seriously clueless and had these crazy unrealistic expectations about parenting.  You know, the hallmark card version that no one really lives out. examples:  sweet family meals, frolicking in the fields, styling little girls' hair, playing dress-up, and good-night snuggles. The reality looks more like loud, messy family meals, wrestling instead of frolicking in the fields, picking mud out of hair, an occasional cape or
superhero costume running through the house, and whining about bed-time. When our expectations aren't realistic we can sometimes feel let down about the real-life version we are given.  But what I've realized is that the version we have isn't less than we pictured, it's just different. Sometimes VERY different, but the joy of raising kids IS. STILL. THERE. in the noise, in the roughhousing, in the never ending challenge of disciplining and fostering disciples, the task of growing these kids up. It's there in the weariness and the overwhelming responsibility. We just have to stop chasing our vision, and get in line with God's. 

I read once that we should occasionally grieve hard the life we thought we would have, and then get up and thank God for the life we have.

Our oldest is practicing his sharp shooting skills for his first youth hunt next weekend, with his dad. My heart tugs a few different ways at these milestones; first I get a little sentimental at how fast these years are flying, and then I hear this little voice that's stealing a bit of my joy. This voice whispering visions of what I thought our family would look like, a family that would include at least one little girl. Tea parties, nails, hair, and mommy-daughter things are all things I don't have. If I linger too long, or let that voice grow in volume I can just kiss my joy goodbye. That voice of lies, voice of "what-if's" starts to not just whisper but starts shouting, and it's deafening and defeating to listen to... and that's a place I've done some battling in. That's a place I'm learning to have victory in kicking those lies out.  You see, I am raising 4 boys. Four hard and tender, crazy and caring, Loud and Loud and LOUD boys. Boys who love Jesus, and are growing in their faith, boys who are learning to stand up for what's right, boys who still hug me goodnight. Boys who build tree houses, but call for me to climb up to take a look with them. Boys who invite me into their world of boy things to celebrate with them! Wow, what a privilege!  These boys are WONDERFUL. They challenge me and keep me on my knees in prayer, but they are such a gift. If I allow my heart to wander to the "What-if's" and just start hanging out there, my contentment is gone, and I'm missing out on what is right here in front of my face.  If I wish these moments away, then I'm missing out on the blessings God gave me to raise. 

So join me in something, do this with me okay? Just stop. Stop wishing and pushing for your version of things, and surrender to God's. He will surprise you in all the good ways. He will supply what you need to face challenges and be your strength in the times when you are spent. Keep pouring into these souls you are raising. And do not listen to those not so subtle whispers or those hard to miss shouts that are lies. Don't listen to the list of "what-if's" don't give him even another second of your joy. Kick him out! 

Real-life is hard, but real-life exists in the common everyday things. It's in the teeth brushing, laundry doing, floor sweeping, dish washing and keeping house moments.  It's in the band-aid applying, scrape kissing, sick snuggles when they need mom. It's in the being a welcome home for your husband, a cup of hot coffee waiting. Real-life, all you've hoped and wished it to be is NOW. 
Real-life is in the kids playing outside
the kitchen window while I do supper dishes.
Don't miss out on the gifts of today to be waiting, or wishing for a vision of what you thought it would be, cause you'll miss out on the wonder of what it IS!  Real-life is ugly, it's raw and hard and beautiful and full.  Real-life is finding Jesus in it all. It's in leading these little ones to know a Savior, it's in a Bible verse that gets you through stress. It's in relying on Him when you are just done. It's in His faithfulness when you are faithless. It's in the soul soaring, praise giving freedom and forgiveness of sin! John 3:16 is real-life! This world, this life is just a vapor, eternity is a'waiting!