Family

Not the Christmas I Planned

It all started last Friday when I was out shopping. And I fell. On the only patch of ice in the entire mall parking lot because it was TOO WARM FOR ICE. Just call it a Christmas miracle – well, sort of, in a backwards type of way.

I managed to fold my left leg underneath me – which meant that my knee I had just finished doing physical therapy on for 6 weeks. All I could think of as I was lying there looking up at the cloudless blue sky was that at least it wasn’t January 1st when my deductible would start all over again!

On Sunday, my oldest son Brock said he felt congested, but we thought it was a cold. After taking his temperature that afternoon just to be on the safe side, we went to a Christmas cantata, and then he went off with his best friend to a youth group activity and to spend the night at said friend’s house.

The next day, he had a raging fever of 102.5.

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Yesterday morning, I was sound asleep when the phone rang around 8:30 a.m. I was so groggy, I could barely understand what my husband was saying on the phone, until he came back to bed to inform me that my dad was in the hospital due to chest pain.

Needless to say, I leaped out of bed and set a world record getting ready and out the door.

Then yesterday afternoon, I took the congested kid to the doctor, only to find out he had influenza A which meant someone was going to have stay home (i.e. me!) with him for the inlaw’s Christmas celebration unless said kid would make a miraculous recovery.

So, Christmas is not going like I planned. At all.

I couldn’t even go back up to sit with my mom and visit with my dad while he awaited bunches of tests on his heart because I didn’t want to accidentally infect him with the plague (i.e. influenza A). Seeing as he is still on chemo, this is a real concern.

Then my mother-in-law called this afternoon – AFTER I made the dessert for tomorrow – to say she had decided to postpone our Christmas until next week.

This was NOT the Christmas I had planned (and baked) for – I can’t remember a time we all stayed home for Christmas Eve AND Christmas day. Not since that year my husband had the stomach flu and I had to leave my parents’ house early because it hit me out of the blue, too. I think my kids were 5 and 2 at the time.

At the risk of sounding all schmaltzy, I’ve been less upset than I thought I’d be. In fact, I find myself feeling, well, thankful.

I mean, we WILL be doing Christmas with the extended family – just a bit later than planned.

My 13 year old and I went to see a movie this afternoon. He’s 13 and he STILL went with me to a movie. In public. I’m thankful he still wants to hang out with me.

My oldest son, the one with the flu, has actually had a very mild case. While he is congested and under the weather, he has not been completely miserable and that raging fever seems to be pretty much gone. Not to mention, this couldn’t have hit him at a better time – after his last game and a full 7 days before his next game and he doesn’t have to miss any school.

There’s never a good time to be sick, of course, but at least this is not as bad as it could have been. He might even be able to play on Saturday. I’m thankful both that his flu seems pretty mild and thankful for him as I know he’d hate to miss a game. Ever.

My dad went home today. Every test he had – EKG, Echo, blood tests and a stress test showed no new heart problems. For a man who has had his share of medical issues the last few years, it was a huge relief that he didn’t have to have a heart catherization – on his birthday! I’m thankful both that no new health crisis has cropped up and that he is still here to celebrate with. Cancer has a way of making your realize the brevity of life.

Tonight, we had a nice dinner together after weeks of eating in shifts due to practice schedules and games. We didn’t even have the television on. I’m thankful for that peaceful meal amid the bustle and hustle.

We sat down together and watched a movie when usually everyone is plugged into their own device. I’m thankful we could experience scary dinosaurs together. (Gotta love the Jurassic Park movies!).

Tomorrow, we get to sleep in as late as we want. We can open presents leisurely, watch more movies, play games and just enjoy each others company (well, enjoy my older son from a distance since we don’t want to catch his flu!). I’m thankful for that time to just be together without a schedule pressing in on us.

While I will missed my parents tonight and will miss my in-laws tomorrow, I am thankful we just have a postponement of the festivities. So many people this year are facing a Christmas knowing their loved one will never be present again.

While this is not the Christmas I planned on, it is a Christmas I am thankful for, nonetheless. After months of feeling like I have been nonstop running, God put a pause in my life, a pause to just breathe and enjoy my family. A pause to see all the blessings in my life.

For that, I am truly thankful.

Merry Christmas!

Rosanne

There are No Guarantees in Parenting

I remember the first time I looked at my oldest son after he was born (well, the first time I actually remember after being knocked out for an emergency c-section). I remember being amazed that this tiny being had been in my stomach not that long ago, and then I gulped.

Why? Because I realized I was now responsible for keeping this little scrap of humanity alive. It felt like an incredibly weighty responsibility.

Before Brock was born, I read a ton of parenting books. I had a plan. Within a couple weeks of his birth, I learned the hard truth that children don’t always go along with their parents’ plan – no matter how well-intentioned they are.

Brock was born early and he had a lot of trouble feeding, so my idyllic vision of breastfeeding went out the window when I took him to the doctor for the second week and he was STILL losing weight.

I remember how crushed I felt to have failed this first test of motherhood. What kind of mom can’t feed her own kid? As someone who had always gotten A’s, this felt like a big fat F on my first mom report card.

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Then I kind of got over that first failure and Brock was such a great baby and toddler. He slept through the night and he didn’t throw tantrums. I could just explain why we did things a certain way, and, bless him, he’d look at me with those enormous blue eyes, nod his little golden head and I thought, “I have this mothering thing down!”

Then Brody came along, and everything I thought I knew went right out the window. While he got the whole breastfeeding thing without any problems, when he got to be a toddler, explaining things to him didn’t make a bit of difference.

I’d lean down and gently explain to him why we did or didn’t do something. He’d look at me – his brown eyes glinting with mischief, give me a big smile and enthusiastically go do just what I had told him not to.

He was also a champion tantrum thrower.  I left more than one store feeling humiliated, my head bowed in shame after Brody screamed all the way through the store. Once again I felt like I had earned a big fat F on my mom report card. I was sure everyone in that store thought I was the worst mom ever because of how my child was behaving. It didn’t matter that Brody’s tantrums netted him exactly nothing. It didn’t matter his cute little picture should have been next to the word “strong-willed” in the dictionary. Nope, what mattered was my child’s behavior directly reflected on me – his mom who was supposed to control said behavior.

God certainly used Brody to teach me humility and to teach me a truth that I think parents everywhere need to hear.

You can do all the right things as a parent and your child can still make poor choices or struggle or have problems.

The thing is, in this day and age of so many resources for parents, so many blogs and websites and books and radio programs, it can feel like there is a secret formula for parenting – one that we just haven’t managed to find yet. And if we can just get that formula right, our children will never have difficulties. They’ll never struggle. They’ll never make bad decisions.

But God is the perfect Father and look how His children act sometimes.

The thing is kids are little human beings with a free will. They make good choices and they make bad choices, and all of those choices are not a reflection of your parenting skills or lack thereof.

Of course, this doesn’t negate our responsibility as parents. God entrusts these children to us and we need to raise them up, with God’s help, to the best of our abilities.

But we also need to remember that our abilities will never BE enough in and of themselves, and whether our kids turn out great or not so great, it isn’t completely up to us.

I mean, I wish I could tell you that I have prayed for my children every day of their lives – but I didn’t.

I wish I could tell you I never lost my temper or yelled at them – but I can’t.

I wish I could tell you I was always the best example to them – but I wasn’t.

Both my boys are great kids. At 13 and 16, I am proud of the young men they are becoming. They’ve each had their individual struggles and difficulties, but they are turning into Godly young men that make my mama’s heart just about burst with the joy of it. But I certainly don’t feel like that I can take the credit for that.

I know plenty of moms – moms who were way more together than I have ever been and who loved their children and who were godly – whose kids have made bad choices and strayed from what they have been taught. I’ve looked into tear-filled eyes of moms wracked with guilt as they sift through their parenting years trying to figure out what they did wrong.

The truth is how our children turn out just isn’t all on our shoulders. If they serve God and follow hard after Him, we can’t take all the credit for that. Just as we can’t blame ourselves if they follow hard after the wrong things either.

See, here’s the thing, no matter how lovingly, how carefully you mold a piece of pottery, for it to be functional it has to go through the fire.

So, yes, absolutely do your very best as a parent, but set down the burden that it is all up to you. God works in each of our lives and He doesn’t waste anything – not the good or the bad – and that includes our children’s lives as well.

Blessings, Rosanne

Why the New Nicholas Spark’s Movie Is Worse than 50 Shades

In recent months, I’ve seen quite a few blog posts and articles shared on various social media outlets like Facebook about the controversial book being made into a film, Fifty Shades of Grey.

While I couldn’t agree more that women should avoid this movie like the plague, I haven’t seen much on another movie that just might be more dangerous to the minds and hearts of women everywhere.

See, Fifty Shades of Grey is pretty in your face about its values and thoughts on sex and relationships. It promotes some very unhealthy dynamics, but those dynamics are not really hidden in any way.

Nicholas Sparks’ new movie, The Best of Me, is a lot more subtle. On the surface, it looks like a sweet movie, maybe even a date movie for you and your hubby. I mean what’s not to like about true love that lasts the test of time?

Beautiful Couple on bicycles

But the messages of this movie and others like it, are subtly undermining marriages because they set people up to fail.

If you aren’t familiar with Nicholas Sparks, he is the king of sweet romance books, many of which have been made into movies. You’ve probably heard of the movie, The Notebook, which was based on one of his books by the same name. (and yes, I watched it and yes, I cried at the end just like the rest of America!).

His latest book turned movie is The Best of Me. The plot is basically about high school sweethearts, Dawson and Amanda, who are separated by tragic events.  They are reunited 20 years later at a funeral of a beloved friend. Amanda, who is in a less than ideal marriage, indulges in an affair with Dawson before the two of them are parted tragically once more. This is pretty typical of Sparks, as his characters rarely have happy endings. In all of this, both Dawson and Amanda are portrayed very sympathetically and seem noble.

Amanda does have a difficult marriage. Her husband has drinking issues and is difficult to live with due to their daughter’s death. However, Sparks frames the story in such a way that it seems completely reasonable for her to have an affair with Dawson – since he was her true love and all. And of course, their love seems wonderful because it’s never really had to stand the test of every day life.

In these types of story, love is like some mystical Holy Grail, and if you are lucky enough to win the love lottery, you will meet “The One.” Once you meet “The One,” your life will change. Suddenly, you will feel complete. Your life will have purpose. Your love – because it is true love  and he is your soul mate – will conquer all.

All that sounds wonderful doesn’t it? You are probably wondering why I am being so bah humbug about true love. Well, I’ll tell you. While this is fine for movies or books, it doesn’t work so well in real life. What happens is the inevitable – those first ooey, gooey romantic feelings wear off. You might even feel – gasp! – unhappy in the midst of the reality of picking up dirty socks or financial difficulties or discovering your husband thinks you will be spending all holidays with his family.

In times past, people just sort of sucked it up and made it work, but in today’s society, true love is the ideal. Finding true love trumps the more boring commitment to your marriage, especially if you aren’t feeling so happy and fulfilled.

So, if you are unhappy the doubt comes in that maybe, what you’re dealing with is NOT the realities of married life over the long haul, but you just picked the wrong person. He must not be “The One.” Because if he was, surely your life would have a lot more rainbows and unicorns than it currently does.

This message that infidelity is okay if the circumstances are right is subtle and all the more dangerous for that subtleness. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey which hits you in the face with its immoral message of anything is okay for an orgasm, movies like The Best of Me, frame immorality and sin in a way that makes “true love” and “fulfilling yourself” a worthy, almost noble goal.

It negates the hard work a good marriage entails by making it seem that if you are truly soul mates, a lifelong love will just come naturally.

It’s interesting to note that the vast majority of famous “great loves” all died pretty early into the process – you know, before they experienced the dirty socks on the floor, being up all night with the baby or the reality of you with the stomach flu.

While “being in love” is a wonderful feeling, true love is NOT just a feeling. It is a choice – sometimes, a hard choice.

We do our newly marrieds a disservice not to be honest that even if you love your spouse, even if you have a strong relationship, there are going to be days when they get on your last nerve. There are going to be days when you wonder if you made a mistake or when that suave guy at the office looks more appealing.

The thing is, marriage is really NOT about making you happy. It is about making you holy. Movies like the Best of Me give a false picture of what true love really is.

What lies have you bought into about love and marriage? I’d love to hear how God opened your eyes to them!

Blessings, Rosanne

 

A Gift Wrapped in Disappointment

I had plans – big plans. I had an editorial calendar and it all made sense in my head. But then life happened. Life with it’s busyness and it’s disregard for my plans, my schedule, my list of to dos.

After a whole school year of good health, we’ve had a week of sickness. A week of sickness that followed hard on the heels of losing a friend to cancer too early and starting a long term subbing job earlier than expected.

My oldest had the stomach flu last week, and my youngest had some fever on Friday. It disappeared only to return Tuesday night with a vengeance. I’ve made soup, taken temperatures, and pushed fluids. did I mention I am not a natural nurse?

I have missed baseball games, my oldest son’s award assembly, part of a day of work, and get togethers. I’ve been a little disappointed that illness has tied me to home – keeping me from all the plans I made.

I was feeling pretty grumbly about it tonight, but you know, sometimes gifts come wrapped in disappointment.

Forest road. Landscape for background

It wasn’t the week I had planned, but this week I’ve gotten to slow down – no rushing around or flitting off to games. Instead, I sit and I’m still. I get to spend time with my youngest (who will be 13 in a little over a month), and he leans his head on my shoulder and seeks out the comfort only mom can give.

And it’s a gift because I don’t know how much longer that will happen.

I don’t really remember the last time I picked him up and carried him. I just know that one day I realized it had been a long time and he was too big to heft in my arms.

I don’t remember the last time he sat on my lap. I just know that one day, I realized it was a long time and he was now much too cool to cuddle with mom.

The days go by slowly but the years pass swiftly when you have young kids. These days, I look back with nostalgia at when my kids were tiny and our time was our own. Rushing from games to practices to activities is a part of this season of my life. I’m sure in about 10 years, I’ll look back at it fondly, too and wonder why I savor the moments more.

But this week, I got to slow down and just be with my youngest. While I hate that he’s been sick and under the weather, I can’t help but feel that this time is a gift, a gift I almost didn’t find wrapped up in the disappointment of changed plans.

As I wrap up this month of looking at God’s promises, I am once again reminded that God knows the plans He has for us, and often they aren’t what we had planned. I’m reminded that God often doesn’t give us what we think we want, but what we truly need.

What need has God met unexpectedly in your life lately? I’d love to hear about it!
Blessings, Rosanne

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