Sometimes, All You Can Do Is Hang On

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If I look down, I’ll fall!

And then…my kids will tumble off…

If we survive, we’re doomed! I didn’t pack any snacks or hand sanitizer.

Welcome to me…unhinged in a National Park. Fear of heights is a relatively new blessing. Something short circuited when Aaron and I were newlyweds. On top of the Sacred Heart church in Paris, a strong wind blew. I stopped. Dropped. And rolled into the fetal position.

We kept the shovel he used to scrape me off the floor as a souvenir.

Ever since, I imagine myself plunging to my death at the slightest heights. My sweet husband thinks I’ve lost my mind. I don’t even allow the kids to walk next to the mall railing on the second floor.

It freaks me out.

What if they decide to climb over and jump to Santa?!

It could happen.

If anyone fell off this cliff in Sequoia, Santa wouldn’t be there to catch us.

I decided the best way to prevent a tragedy, was to glue my face, arms, legs and stomach to the cold stone; like a flattened fruit roll up. This offered room for other hikers to push past.

Yes, this was a good idea

Mommy! Aren’t you going to the top with us?!

Nah…Mommy is going to smell this rock for a bit.

People were staring. Some tried to help, Do you need a tissue? Essential oil?

I don’t reminisce over this snapshot often.

However, I’m a visual learner. I’ve been asking God to teach me by showing me. During worship on Sunday, God brought this distressed picture of Jenna to the forefront.

There I was, clinging to the side of the cliff.  When I looked down, I was seized with fear. When I looked up, the clouds were crushing me. But, just like in Sequoia, if I kept my face towards the rock, I knew I would be OK.

He was clear.

This is what you look like, Jenna. You’re panicking. Stop looking away from the rock.

We’re living through a season of great unknown in our adoption journey. I don’t know how to stop shifting my gaze in every direction. I’m looking for answers.

Will this break me, Lord?

Will any good come out of this?

God is the fire by night, the cloud by day. But he is always the rock.

There is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

King David was protected by the rock, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge …’(2 Samuel 2-3).

The Israelites were pursued by the rock,  “…for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

God’s people were given sweet provision from the rock, “He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag” (Deuteronomy 32:13 )

There’s no shame in taking a season to stop and grasp to the rock…the rock that is Christ.

We were made to climb with Jesus.

Honestly, there are days all I can do is cling to Him.

God knows. He gives grace if we’re not ready to forge to the top. But, it’s those pesky what ifs that pry our fingers from our stronghold. We glance down and imagine our broken bodies at the bottom. Even more, our shattered expectations of what God should’ve done.

I have a choice. I’m learning to train my thoughts to press back into the solid rock. My arms wrapped tight around Jesus.

Yes. This is a good idea.

I may look like a crazy-lady-pancake fastened to my faith. I’m not ashamed.

God answered my question. Can any good come from this?

Yes.

God’s protection,

God’s pursuing love,

God’s sweet provision.

This time, I’m not gripped by fear, but faithfulness. I’ll be brave enough to climb again soon.

For now, I’m just going to hang on.

 

A Marked life:

If you don’t feel strong enough to climb, it’s OK to cling. 

There is no Rock like our God!

 

 

Barefoot Parenting

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My friend’s eyes spied my daughter climbing through our side window, cradling a rabbit.

Yup. Our children use windows like doors.

Realizing this may not be the norm for most families, I let out a raw laugh,

Didn’t you know? We live like animals around here!

Her face lit up, Oh, we don’t have screens, either!

Ah, a kindred mamma spirit.

But, I did notice your kids don’t wear shoes very often…

She listed various times and events she’d witnessed my shoe-less children. It was a completely non-judgmental, endearing encounter. We giggled as she collected her cuties.

I didn’t recall half of the times she mentioned.

I kept saying, Really?!

Oh yes, last week when you picked up Micah, no one had shoes on then, either…

Really?!

Apparently, there’s a crack in my parenting I wasn’t aware of.

The door shut. Jesus help me. I am truly raising animals.

My head sunk back. The admission slipped out in a single breath, Jesus, there are so many holes in my parenting.

His spirit whipped back sharp and clear,  It’s Ok. I can make them Holy.

God isn’t surprised I’m not a perfect mom. If my kids do miraculously grab a shoe…they can’t find the other one anyways! Still, I imagine he delights in watching their naked toes running through grass and tiptoeing through Target.

He must’ve been pleased with his servant Moses, barefoot before the burning bush and Joshua, a mighty warrior, barefoot before battle. “Take off your sandals,” he commanded them, “for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15) Holy translates to ‘set apart’.

Before both men where commissioned into their own form of battle, they were asked to remove their shoes. Well, my friend, parenting is a battlefield!

God is asking us to take off our shoes, too.

In ancient culture, removing one’s shoes had great significance. It could signify many things: reverence, submission, redemption of property, transfer of power, showing the legality of a purchase. It was also symbolic of giving up one’s rights.

Yes, God can make the holes in my parenting holy. However, I need to give up my parental rights to the perfect father.

There are areas I can’t reach in the hearts of my children; no matter how hard I strain to touch them.

The tears I don’t see,

The pain they don’t share,

The lies they believe,

The innocence I can’t protect…

These places are holy ground. They must be set apart for the Lord.

Because let’s be honest, we’ll never know the whole story of what happened at school that day. It isn’t possible to intercept every cruel word and relationship thrown at them. Sometimes, things slip between the cracks.

No matter how hard we try, there will be days our kids aren’t wearing shoes at Costco.

Sometimes this happens, because ALL the time, we are just human. Human parents, stomping around in our big ‘ole boots, thinking we got this parenting thing all figured out.

We think we love our kids more than God. Mamma Bears, you know this is true. This lie violently twists and tightens around our sandals, making it feel impossible to ever take them off in submission.

I’d lay down my life for my children in a heartbeat!  But, their Father in heaven already did.

I can’t beat that. I can’t love them like God does.

When we yank those sandals off, the rocky terrain of faith may bruise and bloody our sensitive soles.

Praise God, we have a savior who kneels down and cradles those steadfast Mamma feet. He gently washes and restores. Tenderly fitting them with readiness and peace, he prepares us to follow him into battle.(Ephesians 6:15)

He will even help us find that other stinkin’ shoe!

God’s ways are better for our children, because his love is bigger.

No parenting class, yoga pose, discipline strategy, special smoothie or supplement will help us to fill in the tender areas we fail as parents.  I want to be a generation of parents bowing before the great I AM, taking off our shoes and declaring, “Only through His strength, can we battle for the lives of our children!”

He is the only Father that can comfort their silent whimpers, mend their broken spirits, heal their bruised hearts, and whisper directly to their souls, You are loved, you are seen…when we cannot. We must intentionally dedicate them to the Father who never fails.

Parenting is holy ground.

I want to be barefoot before the Lord.

 

A Marked Life: Next time you see bare feet…

  • Ask God to continually fill in the spaces you can’t reach.
  • Take off your own shoes as an offering.
  • Trust his ways are better, because his love is bigger.