“Do Not Fear”… But I Do

Precursor… Yesterday, I informed my eighteen year old son, he would once again, have to leave my house.

Yesterday, I was beyond grief. I was mad. I was scared.

Today at church we were introduced to a new song. I meditate on it as we are always encouraged to do.

“I am no longer a slave to fear.
I am a Child of God”

… and yet I’m afraid because I’m not sure of where my son is in all of this.

He is also a child of God.
Isn’t he?

Is he still saved?

Could he just be screwing up his time here, but still be with me in eternity?

Am I responsible for where he spends his life in eternity, or how he spends his life here on earth?

If he suffers here while he’s here on earth, but not when he’s in heaven, am I OK with that?

He had accepted Christ as his Savior at one time. Is it still true if he doesn’t give him that position right now?

Is there an age requirement? Was he too young at the time, and therefore irrelevant?

I believe our sins are not what keeps us from entering heaven, but rather, not accepting God’s gift; which is acknowledging Christ came to die for our sins.

Is my son still saved?

Am I upset over his choices because of the consequences he will suffer here on earth, or because of not knowing his eternity?

I’m also aware that one could live a life that looks good but still not spend eternity in heaven.

Which would I rather him live with?

I’m so confused.
My heart aches.

“I am no longer a slave to fear.
I am a Child of God”
… how can this be true?

You are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. – Galatians 4:7

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear”…but I do!

No, I do not fear for myself, but I do fear for the life of my son.

What am I missing?
What do I not get?

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Things We Hope For

I have a secret.

My son, Tunes, is back! He’s actually been back for a couple of weeks.

One happy momma, RIGHT HERE!

Not because I can’t let go. Not because I’m being codependent or enabling. Not because, “I told you so.”

But because I love my son, and God is faithful.

He’s grown up so much. He’s not a little boy anymore.

We’ve got some boundaries set up. Not that they’re any different than before, but they’re there.

He will be treated as a grown man, as long as he continues to act like one. He starts acting stupid, well then he’s out.

He will start paying, continue working, and act responsibly.

So far, he’s been doing a great job. I couldn’t be more prouder of him. Well, except when he eats my Italian turkey sausage that I’ve been saving.

But I’m not even mad, because he’s eating. That’s something he was neglecting to do while he’s been out of the house for the past nine months.

I don’t include Subway, as eating if you only do it twice a day, everyday. He has a hook up. Still, he’s resourceful. He made it work. I’m just glad he’s eating real food again.

Last night was the first night he sat down and had dinner with us.

Oh, how I’ve missed him. And when I say missed him, I don’t just mean him physically being in my home.

No, he’s finally broken through whatever has been holding him back.

He’s growing into the person I knew he could be. The one I’ve been dreaming of. The one I’ve been praying for.

When I see Tunes, now, he’s smiling. He’s talking. He’s sitting down, watching TV or interacting with his siblings. He’s loving on the dog he’s never liked. He’s helping his brother with his homework and he’s playing with his sister.

He’s never done these things before. I don’t know what’s been holding him captive, but he’s finally free of it.

It makes my heart sing.

In all honesty, I know it wasn’t his decision to come back. He really didn’t have another option. His room he was staying in was requested back.

He did try to make other arrangements first. They were put on hold, until the end of the month. We shall see.

But until then, I will marvel at the young man he has turned into.

When he left, two months before he graduated high school, and I poured my heart out to God in prayer, I had no idea the plan he had for my son.

But I trusted he had one. I trusted he loved my son, even more than I did.

I didn’t know it, but I knew it. Does that make sense? It’s, faith. Having it is easy, growing it is… well, scary.

My Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for the opportunities to grow my faith, my faith in you.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1

Why Are You So Concerned?

I got a special treat tonight.

My daughter asked if she could borrow my phone to call her brother, Tunes. Not really believing he would answer the phone, I gave it to her anyway.

He came over and had dinner. We talked about his life and work. We talked about his plans for his future and his struggles.

Somehow we turned to our phones and started sharing funny videos and amusing posts from Facebook.

As the night grew later, each one of the kids took their showers and headed off to bed. Mike joined them.

And then there was just the two of us.

For the next two hours he shared with me videos he had found, or posted online; all of which were centered on how corrupt the United States was.

From its education system, to the pharmaceutical companies, to its politicians in office, to the banking industry, America was doomed.

His light demeanor turned dark. He plans on one day, moving to another country.

He doesn’t know which one, but any of them, is better than this one.

Knowing I was about to start something he doesn’t like to talk about, I took a deep breath and pondered if this was the right time. If it was worth jeopardizing the small precious time I got to spend with him.

I started with…

“I know you don’t want to hear it, but…

“Everything, everything you just showed me, everything you just told me about, you can find in Revelation.

Silence.

“You are not telling me anything I don’t already know. There are dark, dark times coming.

“Christians study Revelation and watch for the signs and feel the need to share it with everyone they know, just like you are doing.

“It’s not new. The New Testament says the end of the world will come like labor pains. Fathers will turn against sons, and daughters against mother. (Matthew 24:3-51)

“I wonder though, if you can spend this much time, researching how dark this world is, why can’t you spend as much time investigating what I’ve been telling you about Jesus, to see if it is true?

“Start with the Bible. There is plenty of scientific proof that the Bible is for real.

“There are archeological evidence that back it up.

“There are sources outside of Christianity, that provided historical evidence that support the validity of what it says.

“There are people who have done more than simply thrown their hands up in the air and said, ‘Well I don’t believe it’, and have actually done their research and set out to prove Christianity as a hoax, and have converted because of what they have found.

“If it is so important for you to educate others on the demise of this country, why can’t you spend just a little bit of time researching what I have been telling you?

“There is nothing you can do about it. It does not matter which country you try to run to. The whole world is coming to an end.

“So, you can watch it. You can study it. You can get mad and outraged about it. You can go out and proclaim it to everyone you know about it.

“Or you can look to God, someone who has overcome it.

“You say you don’t understand. You don’t know how there could be a God, but I will tell you His brain is so much bigger than ours. He is supernatural, and just like trying to explain how a car works to an infant, it is impossible for us to understand it in our puny little brains. (John 3:12)

“So he shrunk himself down in the form of Jesus so that he might dumb it down it for us.

“Now I don’t claim to understand it all, but I know he gave us the Bible, which has been evidentially proven as true, and in it says the way to the Father, is through his Son. (John 14:6)

“He sent his son, so that we may spend eternity with him. He gave us a way out of this sick, dark and destructive world. (John 3:16)

“And yes, it sucks living here, especially if you see what is coming; but life here is only temporary. We are only here for a short time.” (James 4:14)

I rolled my ball of yarn out on the kitchen table and I told him to imagine that it didn’t start here and stop there, but actually went on infinitely in that direction and eternity in the other.

I then placed my index finger on one spot of the yarn.

“This is were we are at. Your birth started on this side of my nail and your life here on earth will end here on the other side of it. Everything you experience here is but a breath, and then you live in eternity. (Psalm 144:4)

“So my question to you, is what are you going to do with the education, gifts and skill sets you have, during this short amount of time you have?

“What legacy do you intend to leave?

“The legacy I want to leave to my children, and my grand children and my grand children’s children, is that I loved.

I loved everyone.

I made sleeping mats and hats for the people who live on the street. Probably some of them deserved to live on the street, but I love them anyway.

“I love the needy as well as those who are mean.

“And even though I have a child who doesn’t believe what I believe; I want them to know, as well as you, that I will still listen to you, I will still be there for you, I will still support you, because I will always still love you.

“I want to impact the world that way.

“I want every person I come in contact with, to be better for it.

“But not because of me, but because of Jesus.

“Because he took a single mom with four kids who had nothing and made her something.

“I may not be rich with money, but I am rich with love.

“I have more friends who are family now than I ever did my whole childhood.

“And I want those in my small world to know Him, and what he has done for me. He has transformed me.

“I am fully aware, without being ‘fully’ aware, that life sucks and bad things happen. But my trust is in the one who has overcome this world.

“Why are you so concerned about what is going to happen right here, when you have eternity to worry about?

“Which eternity will you live?

“Because there is a Hell and it’s not under ground. It’s here.” And I let my finger run forward on the yarn.

“And it is here.” I pointed to my finger sitting on the yarn.

“It is full of pain and regret, and anger and despair.

“Or will you spend eternity with our Father?

“I don’t know if I will be spending my eternity in heaven with him, or I will be spending it here on earth once Jesus returns and brings the New Jerusalem, but I will be spending it with him in one of these two places.”

“Mom.” He showed me his phone and it was nearly 11 pm. “It’s time for me to go home.”

“No. You are home, but I will drive you to where you are living.”

My time to talk was over.

As I got back home, and set my head on my pillow after changing for the night, I texted him, “Love you. Thank you for coming over tonight. You’ve been missed. :)”

He responded, “At least know you raised a son with the same beliefs as you.”

“Look it up. Find the proof you need. Investigate. You are not a dumb kid. You are an educated man. Research and then make your own conclusion. Not one that your mom has given you.”

Good night.

How it’s Suppose to Be

It’s been five months now, that Tunes has left our house. I miss him a lot.

A few weeks ago my husband cleared out his room. It was time. What he didn’t take with him are packed in bags and secure in our garage.

We played around with ideas about what to do with his room. I even briefly dreamt of a craft room for myself, but know I still have too many kids at home for that.

Ultimately, we decided to separate our next two oldest boys. They’re both in highschool now and could use the space and privacy. It was a good decision.

When the room was cleared out, my awesome husband also patched his walls and painted. This last weekend he ripped out all the old carpet that came with the house when I bought it, and laid down the same flooring he installed in the other public areas of the house. It looks very nice, very clean.

We bought some room darkening shades he’s going to install and he mentioned we still needed to buy a ceiling fan because it got so hot in there while he was working.

I agreed. Tunes often complained how hot it was in his room.

(Deep sigh.)

I told my husband I loved everything he’s doing to the room. It looks great, but it also upsets me.

He immediately tried to console and told me what he was doing in Gamer’s room, he also planned to do to the other kids’ rooms as well.

That wasn’t it.

This was Tunes’ room. For eight years my little boy slept there, changed there, was sent there. He lived there. It was his.

There were holes in the wall where he hung his TV up, only to move it and to move it again.

There was a big pink stain from some kind of an experiment he was working on that he couldn’t get cleaned up, or hidden.

The curtain rod was wobbly and bent from all the weight of the many blankets he would drape over it to block the light out and then, since his bed was up against the window, would lean on and pull down. I swore he was going to fall through that window some day.

I just feel sad. I feel I let him down. I never got around to making his room nice before he left. I wanted to do that for him. Just like so many other things I wanted to do for him but didn’t. He was in too much of a hurry to get out.

I hope he knows I would have. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or didn’t think he was important. I just thought I had more time.

I didn’t leave “my” house until I was 23. I was working and going to college. But by then, my mom had already left. My parents were on the path of divorce. Which was fine with me. She had lived there, but really she had been gone for years.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’m here. I’ve always been here. I’ll always be here.

I don’t know. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed be.

He’s doing really well, from what he’s told me. He’s struggling, but managing.

Everything he’s doing just seems really scary to me. I’m glad he’s not controlled by my fear. I’m proud of him for facing his own.

Today, Justice came home from his dad’s and saw what has been done to the room. He joked with me and asked,

“Hey mom, what’s Gamer doing in Tunes’ room?”

Yeah, I don’t really know. But I’m happy for him. I’m happy for them both.

This is the Day!

Today is the day! Although he is graduating Thursday, today is his last day of school!

Oh I’m going to have an emotional week, but today is just such an emotionally charged day filled with so many conflicting feelings, I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t have asked for today off instead of Thursday.

Today is the last day I get the honor of driving my son to school. Eight weeks ago he had lost the privilege of living in my home, but still, Monday through Friday, I was able to see him.

I will miss him more than he knows.

Today is the day I wasn’t sure would come. Not the date, of course, but his last day as a graduating Senior. For the past year I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of him not graduating this spring. I had finally decided in ten years, nobody will care what month or even year he would graduate, only that he did. But two months ago the idea of him not graduating at all became a real possibility in my mind. I had to be ok with that too.

Today I picked him up at 6:45, like I have been. I was a little concerned he was going to tell me he wasn’t going at all today, but he did.

I wanted to decorate the car with balloons and write, YOU DID IT!, on all the windows, but I knew it would upset him, so I didn’t.

But I got a hug.

He sat in the car and grunted and groaned about how he didn’t want to talk to me about why his hand was bandaged up.

He snapped at his sister, who also understood the significance of the day and wanted to come.

He feebly explained he wasn’t a morning person as justification for being a jerk.

In honor of it being his last day, I took him and his friend to McDonald’s and bought them a nutritious and brain fueling breakfast. Ok…it was food…maybe.

After a few more disgruntled quips, and disagreement about a graduation gift, I drove quietly the rest of the way to his school.

He felt bad, I knew it. He reached over to give me his first and last hug before he exited the car.

“Love you”, I heard sounding more like a question he was asking me.

“I love you, too.”

Regardless how you behave, I love you. I always will love you.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Most Undeserving, but Covered in Grace

It was 17 years ago. I was working at Valley Center of the Deaf as a secretary.

Prior to being their secretary, I was a job coach. Daily, I drove to my clients place of employment to address any work issues regarding communication or culture differences, they or their employers, might be experiencing. If I wasn’t doing that, I was working with my clients on job leads, resume building, and interviewing.

It was a lot of work for an introvert. There was just so much human contact and customer service, on a daily basis. I was exhausted.

So when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I knew this was going to be too much for me. I had spoken with my direct supervisor and had asked if I could transfer to a secretarial position that had just opened up.

Everyone thought I was crazy. Why would I go backwards on my career ladder? Honestly, I didn’t realize I was.

But I knew working in an office with a handful of people and a whole lot of paper was going to be less stressful than working with strangers, representing clients, and educating the world of work the meaning of reasonable accommodations.

I needed less stress considering I was entering into a new field of work that I knew nothing about, and quite honestly, growing up had no desire to enter; the ranks of Motherhood.

I had a lot to learn in a relatively short amount of time, considering I had only had a few experiences with babysitting, which all were dreadful and none of which included an actual baby.

Thank you Jesus for that. That would not have ended well.

I had a lot of learning to get caught up on.

I had a friend who took pity on me and one night, invited me over to practice giving her baby a bath. Pathetic, I know and I was.

Afterwards, my friend left me alone with her child for just a minute as I was suppose to put her in her jammies for the night. Upon returning she found her baby in only a diaper and me wrestling with her arms and legs to be still.

“She won’t let me put her feet in.”

“You have to make her put her feet in.”

I then watched her masterfully take hold of each limb and place them in their respective position of the jammie, all within seconds.

My kid is so screwed.

My son’s dad taught me how to maneuver the diapers. The pretties, face away from you and down when placing it under the baby’s bottom.

Mother-in-law taught me to push all the plumbing down into the diaper, after weeks of not understanding why I had to change my son’s clothes and bedding at every nightly feeding.

May I remind you, I was 27 when I had my first child.

I did not deserve a baby.

My babies did not deserve me as their momma.

My son was probably around one. He was already walking and getting into everything. It was a Saturday and his dad had to work. I too, had to go into the office to bring in documents and print the billing that I was able to put together at home.

I remember thinking it was not going to be an easy task considering I had to bring my son in with me.

It was an extremely warm day, as all Arizona days can be. I popped the trunk of my car, as well as propped open the three doors that led to my office in the front of the building.

My son sat quietly in his carseat as he watched his mom walk to and from the car as she carried boxes into the building.

I left the driver’s side door open to let the air circulate and keep the car cool.

Upon grabbing the last box from the trunk, I used the weight of the box to help slam the lid down, I used my right hip to push the driver’s side door close, and kicked the two door stops out of the way to let each door slam behind me as I entered the hall to my office.

In my office, I probably moved some boxes around, turned on my computer and printer, made some room on my desk to work, and as I started to open the billing program, thought to myself, why did I think this was going to be difficult?

… … …

THE BABY!

Now I could say, it was only five minutes, but do you know what could happen to a baby, or anyone, who is left in a car, on a hot day, in Arizona, with the windows up, for only five minutes? And what if it wasn’t just five minutes???

I was the mother who left her baby in the hot car, and nobody knew.

I don’t deserve my babies, and my babies don’t deserve me as their momma.

My heart cries everytime the news reports of another child who has died inside of a car.

My heart cries everytime I hear of family, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, or of a stranger, who has lost their child in their sleep.

My heart cries for the mommies who’s baby’s eyes never opened.

My heart cries everytime a child goes missing, or one runs away.

I cry for those who struggle to become a momma.

I cry for those who can’t.

I don’t understand why my son was saved and others are not. But I know it was not because of me. I am undeserving and there are far more deserving parents out there than me.

I understand to the depth of my soul the amount of Grace; unmerited favor, my Savior showed me that day, 17 years ago.

It is why I take my job as a mother so, so seriously. For whatever reason God felt it necessary to place these babies in my care, regardless of my desires, capabilities, and qualifications and then protects them from me at the same time.

I cannot express the amount of fear, gratitude, self-loathing, change, that took place that day. Rearview mirror face the backseat. Counting kids, in the car and in the house. Checking the backseat after dropping the last kid off, then rechecking and checking again once I’m at work…until my last child was six. Ok, I still do it.

I do not deserve my babies and my babies don’t deserve me as their momma.

I will continue to strive to earn the honor that was placed upon me at their births.

And more importantly I will continue to strive to honor the God who protects my children through all my striving.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your grace and your mercy on all those who are undeserving, undeserving like me.

Doing Things Different

I remember my dad telling me, while I was in grade school his job was to teach me life lessons. During high school, his job was to let me be more independent and live out those life lessons but when I fell, he’d be there to pick me up. It was his way to prepare me for being an adult.

You know those babies who it seems like they want to skip crawling, and move straight to walking? I honestly don’t even think it’s possible, but there are still kiddos who seem they are in such a stinkin’ hurry to grow up.

Tunes was one of those kids. He was walking at ten months. Anything and everything he had just a little bit interest in, he may not have excelled in, but he sure did pretty well.

I could always see how his brother Justice felt like he was falling short while walking in his brother’s footsteps. Many times it would be enough for him to flat out, not try.

Tunes has never been one to follow the rules. He’s always had to try things his way. He’d have Legos kits, but was never interested in following their plans. He would take his working toys apart and try to invent something new. He’s always thought differently than other people. So why am I so surprised he’d want to enter his adulthood any other way?

Tunes lost his privilege to live in our house. He is now living with a friend and his family, taking two classes at high school and has managed to get his grades up two weeks before graduating, has been working 30 or more hours at a job he’s had for the past 9 months, and has recently obtained a second job that’s located in same parking lot as his first.

He seems to be doing pretty good.

He’s never been a conventional kid, why would he start now? Why didn’t I see this coming?

It’s when I think about all the steps he’s skipped to get here, it’s when I become anxious. I feel I’ve let him down since I haven’t been able to walk him through them. So many things he didn’t get to experience in my house. So many things my dad would qualify as practicing and opportunities; going out with friends, driving a car, falling in love, I don’t know if I get to help with.

I feel there’s such a huge area of life he’s skipping, and I’m struggling to be ok with. I would never want to be one of those people who stand on the sidelines waiting for something to go horribly wrong, just to say, I told you so.

But I will stand here, waiting, watching, and wondering, where I fit in.