a GRANDmother’s advice:

All young mothers have been told to enjoy every moment of their child’s life. It’s great advice…so heed it! Now I have two GBs and they are literally growing up before my eyes! The girl will hit double digits this year and I’m wondering where has the time gone? I was there when she was born. I’ve been with her for every birthday. I’ve made every “Grandparents Day” event. And still it seems like just yesterday when her mom told me that she was having a baby.

So from a grandmother of 10 years and a mom of 40 years, take my advice…cherish your children. Every moment that you share with them is precious. The birthdays pass by quickly, the milestones in milliseconds and seemingly in the blink of an eye they will be forging their way into adulthood.

Love them. Embrace them. Listen to them. Hug them. Support them. Kiss them when you want to strangle them. Teach them. Learn from them. Celebrate their victories. Comfort them in their struggles. Cherish every second. Make unforgettable memories with them. Color with them in their coloring books. Make them hot chocolate when their cramming for an exam. These are only a few tips. I could give you many more. Some things I did well and others I learned after making mistakes. Always and I do mean Always watch your words. Speak kindly to them. When they’ve had a fender bender, used old school crayons on your newly -painted walls, or dropped your iPhone in the toilet…count to ten and remember that things are replaceable. Your words will be remembered years later. Speak  kindly to your children even when you are providing discipline. Pray for your children. Love them. The years go by quickly. Cherish every moment. They’ll never be irresistible, cuddly newborns again.

My “girls” are grown. I am über proud of them. I respect them as accomplished, capable women. I also remember how sweet they smelled when they were born. And sometimes when I look at them, I still see them as my beautiful little girls.

So all you moms, cherish every moment that you have with your children. You will be so glad that you did.

This is a GRANDmother’s advice.

WAR and it’s living casualties

The announcement that the name of the soldier accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan was to be released to the public disturbed me. I don’t for one minute condone what happened, however these are extrordinary circumstances. I can’t even watch movies that portray the horrors of war.

This soldier was on his fourth tour of duty! Most of us have no idea of  the level of atrocities he has experienced while simply serving his country. The tragedy that engulfs a soldier 24/7 while they are deployed is inconceivable. I don’t give him a pass. Most members of our military manage to keep it together. I am surprised however that more of them don’t lose it!

And what about his family? The man has a wife and children. I pray that the military has a dedicated support system in place for them. There has to be some compassion extended to his family. Haven’t they already given enough?

War is ugly and we’ve been at war for over 10 years. How long will it take for our military families to heal from the enormous price they’ve paid defending our freedoms? What can we do to help them?

There are no easy answers or pat remedies for the consequences of war. It just makes me sad. Sad and angry.

This situation troubled me since I first heard about it. Today I read an article in the NY Times about the blog his wife has been writing. It made me scream through my tears. I don’t know them, but my heart breaks for them. Was it really necessary to release his name?  Don’t we owe that family some consideration?

Despite what he is accused of doing, I want to thank him for laying down his life to protect me. I want to apologize to him that we (our country) put him in such a “no win” situation. And I want he and his family to know that I will be praying for them. My prayers are also extended to the families of the Afghan families who lost loved ones.

War is ugly…very ugly and there are many living casualties because of it.

P.S. I wrote this last week…it didn’t seem to fit the theme of my Blog. Today I read an open letter written to the wife  of Sgt. Bales  and after posting this in the comments section of  wittylittlesecret.com I decided to go for it. I’m calling it “my other random thoughts”…

 

And now that they are grown…

For some reason we parents believe that we can exhale after surviving our children’s teen-age years. Not so much…

The concerns that we had when they were infants, toddlers, school age and even those terrifying teen-age years when they learned to drive, date and become young men and women pale in comparison to the level of concern a mother has when they become legal-age adults. We’ve prayed, nurtured, sacrificed, lost our cool and wept, all in the attempt to secure a successful, fulfilling, God-honoring future for our babies. Honestly because we can’t press the rewind button in our lives, when they grow up we have to let them make their own decisions. It would be nice to say, “let’s just do this over” because I’ve learned some better parenting skills that might insure a better outcome. That’s not going to happen. We’ve made mistakes as their parents and they will make mistakes also. Mistakes are a part of our imperfect lives. However the God who is faithful is well able to take care of our children. Trusting God with the lives of your grown children will grow your faith. If a mom has no relationship with God I don’t have any answers for her. For me, the grace of God is the first thing that I’m certain, kept me and my girls. I tried my best to prepare them for the “real world”.  My best intentions were futile wishes without the grace of God.

It is heart-breaking to see some of the mistakes that they make. But, we have to let them make the mistakes and experience the consequences. This is where trusting God with “His children” becomes an unwavering must. It would be wonderful if we could somehow run ahead of them and eliminate all the temptations, trials and tests they will face. Unfortunately that is not real life.

My babies are 31 and 40. (Yikes, I think I just hinted at my age!) I have prayed for them more now that they are adults than I did when they were children. The influence that I had when they were young is not the same as it is now. When they were children I could just tell them what to do. When they grew up, I needed to let them come to me for advice. They didn’t want to hear my condescending, unsolicited two cents worth. When they ask my opinion now, I choose my words prayerfully and carefully.

It is vital that we demonstrate unconditional love for our children. They are trying to find their way in uncertain times. The internal pressure that they feel as they make decisions is much more difficult for them than it was for us.  They need our support, not our judgement.

Another thing that I learned is that I have to provide my children with a “safe place” to work through things. Being judgmental has alienated my girls at times. I could see the danger signs screaming at them to take another road, but my disapproving attitude just ushered them into that wrong choice. Instead of helping them, my attitude could have been the deciding factor in their wrong decision. I have learned to listen to them and to comfort them when things blow up in their faces.

No “I told you sos”! I don’t like that when I make a poor choice. Why should they be any different? My goal is for my girls to be confident in my unfailing love for them. I want them to know that they are deeply loved by their mother.

Another thing that I’m sure of is they need our approval. Approval of them, not always of their actions. They need to know that we will not alter our beliefs however we will love them through whatever ungodly decision they make. We literally have to separate the sin from the sinner. No amount of disapproving grunts, eye-rolling, name-calling or threatening will do the trick. Whatever you do, regardless of the circumstances, NEVER turn your back on your child. We represent the love that the Father God has for all mankind. He has NEVER turned His back on us. We must follow His example. There is no human alive who doesn’t need to feel loved. Our adult children are no different. Honestly, neither are we.

These are a few of my lessons learned. I’ll call them the basics.

1. Have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ

2. Love your grown children unconditionally

3. Show them acceptance and approval

4. Don’t alter your blble based beliefs

5. Practice forgiveness

6. PRAY

Finally, if you know that you’ve made some mistakes in word or deed concerning your children…ask God to forgive you, ask your child to forgive you and forgive yourself. Be quick to forgive and make any necessary adjustments. Our lives are but a vapor and regrets are oh so painful. Don’t stop praying for those grown up kids. They need your prayers.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13 NIV

“Good Deeds” and Reflections of a Real Single Mom

God’s timing is perfect…though sometimes curious.

Over the week-end I posted a hopefully encouraging blog dedicated exclusively to single mothers. Every word of it was true to my experience. A snapshot or sound bite of what it was like raising two daughters alone and without the benefit of child support.

Last night I went to see Tyler Perry’s latest film “Good Deeds”. Even though I had spoken to several people who had seen the movie, I was totally unprepared for what I saw. I believe it was his finest offering. I truly enjoy the message-filled antics of Madea, however “Good Deeds” is different. It grabbed my heart and reminded me of some of the most difficult times of my life. Without giving the whole story away, the movie resonated deep within me. It made me recall some of my lowest moments. It also made my heart smile at the unmatched joy of motherhood. There were some extremely hopeless situations that I had to navigate.  For whatever reason I rarely concentrate on those times.

My point is that doing the “single mom” thing is more than a notion. It can stretch you to the end of yourself. A daunting undertaking that will provide you with tears and laughter. Some of the highest days of your life and some lows that will make you believe that life couldn’t get any worse. Being a mother is the most important role a woman can play. Doing it alone is scary.

I’m writing to the single mom today to acknowledge that although we made it through, and ours is a quote unquote success story, the ending could have been very different. I personally know some women who worked hard and tried their best but their adult children are not doing so well. My only answer for how we survived is the power of God’s grace. He was gracious to us. Before you allow despair and depression flood your mind, before you give up, please know that the grace of God is sufficient for you in any situation. Call out to Him, He is as close as a single tear rolling down your cheek or the silent scream of your heart. Whatever else you do today, please call on Him, He is waiting for you.

I wept last night, both in the theater and on my way home. It was a good cry. A cry that was a reminder that your greatest challenge can produce your greatest joy. Last night through tears, I thanked God because we really did make it.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Any Single Moms in the House?

Recently my oldest daughter celebrated a “milestone birthday”. She is the picture of every parent’s dream of success for their adult child. A loving wife, doting mother, competent business woman, school board member and a Women’s Ministry leader at her local church. She is a multitasking queen.

I have the privilege of watching her up close and personal from the comfort of her home. (Gotta love the “mother-in-law suite”) The life she has fashioned for her family is both inspiring and beautiful. My son-in-love is all about family. Together they have established certain standards for their family. They have dinner together every night barring a schedule conflict. The family dinner is the norm rather than an exception in their home. Their weekends and holidays are well planned events. Often those plans are simply playing a game together or just being in the same room while pursuing individual interests. Their family unit is traditional, strong, and loving.

Quite a different scenario from her childhood experience. Our family looked very different. My daughters are the product of my being a single mom. I was always juggling responsibilities. Doing the math and using creative options to accomplish goals. We were an impenetrable unit, doing life the best way I knew how. We were and still are “The Allen Girls”. There was an abundance of love coupled with some honest mistakes on my part. The good news is that we survived. I believed that I needed to fill the role of both mother and father, which by the way is an impossible task. So for all the single moms who are trying to do both jobs, stop it immediately! I’m here to tell you that when you accept the fact that your only role is to be the best mom that you can be, you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. God never intended for you to be both mother and father. His plan for the family looked more like the life my daughter is leading. However, nurturing the family unit with all the pieces in their proper place is still a challenge with it’s own set of problems. The truth is that raising children is a team sport. Attaining success in this arena must include Jesus as the captain. Single moms please know that God will give you all the grace you need to be an amazing mother.

I thank God for my parents and other extended family members who helped me out whenever necessary. My biggest area of gratitude belongs to my Heavenly Father. Somehow His hand was always present in my life even before I called out to Him from my bathtub on a day that I just wanted to quit. The grace of God sustained, encouraged and propelled me to a place of contentment in my vocation of single mom. My circumstances hadn’t changed, my perspective was different. I could depend on His grace to be my anchor. That single fact persuaded me to never give up.

So, to all the single moms in the house let me assure you that you can do this. As I reflect on how I put one through college and the other through cosmetology school, I have to just shake my head knowing that without God I wouldn’t be able to encourage you now. Our family unit wasn’t ideal but the God who makes “all things beautiful in their time” protected, provided for, and allowed us to have a good ending. He is not a respecter of persons. What He did for me and my family, He will do for you and yours. You only need to call on Him.
P.S. (the other daughter is a successful Hollywood hairstylist)

My daughters are my second greatest joy; my adorable GBs are my first. And my God, well He is above all things to me.

To all the single moms in the house, let me encourage you. You can do this!

PROMISES…Broken

There is music that makes you smile, tap your toes, maybe even wiggle your hips. There is music that invokes wonderful memories. And then there is message-filled music that touches a special place in your heart. Those songs can encourage, inspire and maybe even prompt you to compose a Blog!
It has been my “go-to” worship cd for months. I took the appropriate holiday break and listened to my favorite Christmas music, but when the season was over I returned to Martha Munizzi’s “Make It Loud”! It’s one of those cds that is good from the 1st to the last chord. I’ve had several favorite songs from it throughout the months. The lyrics to the song “I Know That You Love Me” speak to my heart every time I listen to it. This morning while peacefully singing along, the phrases “so I hold on to nothing, I know that You have me, with unending mercy because that’s what You promised me” caught my attention. I began to think about the word “promise”. Just how binding is a promise?Do you remember all the promises that people have made you and kept? Or do you only remember the promises that were broken? How many times have you broken a promise?

My conclusion: God is the only One who has never broken a promise! In fact He sent Jesus to the earth, to die on the cross for all of mankind and be the Guarantor of His promises to us. His Word (the bible) reinforces this truth throughout; I’ll simply share this passage of scripture in support of my conclusion: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2Corinthians 1:20 NKJ
The Lover of your soul, the Creator of all things aka GOD will not disappoint or ever break His promise to you! He remains the eternal “Promise Keeper”.

Shoes…More SHOES…and Moccasins

Heels,flats,boots,sandals,sneakers…you name them I luv them! I’m the woman who chooses the shoe and then the outfit! Colors, patterns, pretty much nothing is off limits for me when we’re talking SHOES…except for the color black. I often hear women say that they have a closet full of black shoes…not me. When the occasion called for me to wear a black shoe, I’ve even had to buy a pair. (now that is not a real problem for a woman who seriously luvs her some shoes!) The interesting twist in me owning very few black shoes is that I usually wear black. I luv black. It is my favorite clothing color! Coincidentally you can wear almost any color or pattern on the shoe if your outfit is black. People see you, glance down to your feet and BAM…color, pattern, you’ve made a definite impression!

Over the years men, women and children alike have taken notice of my shoes. I’ve been referred to as “the lady who wears those wild SHOES!” Being recognized for the shoes that I wear made me do some thinking… What if we all began to step outside the necessity of wearing shoes, as well as the frivolity of spending small fortunes on shoes and began to think about walking a mile in another person’s shoes? 

The same people who admired my “cute” shoes usually had no idea the path my shoes had taken. They didn’t know that as a 20 year old single mom, I owned one pair of shoes! They had no idea that even when I was young and a bit clueless about the responsibilities of motherhood, I realized that my daughter’s needs took precedence over mine. When she went off to college, I invested in an expensive pair of work shoes. It was important that my feet didn’t hurt as I walked to Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Europe. My job as an International flight attendant allowed me to earn enough money to provide her with the extras that her scholarship did not. Years later those long walks “across the pond” caused me to need surgery on both feet…(the same feet, in the “cute” shoes, that so many people have noticed). When my youngest daughter was an up and coming 20 year old hairstylist, she channelled my “shoe luver” compulsion! Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin were her “shoes of choice”! And fortunately in that season of single-parenthood, I was thrilled to buy her a few pairs of her favorites.

ImageWhat’s my point? Simply no matter the shoe one wears, be reminded that only you (and God) know the journey you’ve taken in your shoes. So before judging another person’s life, consider walking a mile in theirs. Whether plain or fabulous, run over or brand new…the shoes don’t tell the whole story! We’d all do well to consider “walking a mile in another man’s moccasins” before passing judgement. You can share an unlimited amount of compassion and possibly be a change agent in someone else’s life when you consider a person’s story and not just their SHOES.