Big Kids, Bigger Problems, Biggest Grace

I spoke to a friend of mine recently who also has a large family. In asking her about parenting adult children, she made the comment, big kids have bigger problems. Being a mom is the toughest job anyone can ever have. I’ve been a stay at home mom (SAHM in modern vernacular) my entire life. I still am. I work from home most of the time, a mixture of choice and a lack of funding to get out and do my “job” more. I am in in my twenty-ninth year of homeschooling with three years left to go. That’s enough to get social security benefits and retirement.

NOT

farm

Commitment to farm and family didn’t earn me much in the way of finances, thanks, or applaud. Most of the time during my many years at home, I heard the typical SAHM line,

“What do you doooooo all day?”

To which I always wanted to respond,

“Eat bon-bons and read movie magazines.”

I declined the sarcasm and instead made small talk about the size of my family keeping me busy instead.

Now that I run a non-profit and have the title of “chaplain” to go with my SAHM I get the reverse statement,

“You must be sooooo busy, I don’t want to bother you.”

For the love of God, please bother me. I get starved for adult company and to do what God has prepared me for. (Very slow coming in this area of the country, and in my life.)

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Yes, I am busy. Too busy. Yes, I am a chaplain and CEO. But…

Yes, my son – my one and only son who is still at home and homeschooling continues to be my priority. It is for him that I stay home. Mostly he educates himself with very little input from me. But in his words, he’s my “side-kick.” We are often stuck like glue. The last two years he has been involved in a local -co-op and enjoys it. He is talented in photography and neglects the assignments we give him to please his co-op teachers. Typical kid.  He spend hours on the piano or cello.

And yet, he still snuggles. Sometimes. When no one is looking.

He’s a great kid. A great young man. Not really a kid anymore, the days of childhood on the farm are over. Sadly. He’s also in the growing up process – the pull me close, push me away, I love you, you annoy me, stage of life. He needs to grow up some before he realize life is full of contradictions and it’s how you handle the contradictions that matter. He is easily influenced. He needs to grow up a bit to learn who to be influenced by. He’s a complicated human being with even more complicated emotions, thoughts, and ideas.

Lenten Longins Sam cello

Like we are all are.

Staying home was, and is a choice. It is my choice and it has often come at a very high price. It is not a better or worse choice than working, though I am partial to staying home, at least in the informative years.

Obviously.

However, I know a lot of kids who thrived with working moms and public or private schools , and plenty of kids who have not done so well homeschooling. I am not a homeschooling nazi anymore. It was not a magic formula for my kids to all grow up safe, secure, respectful, filled with faith, or close knit. Some of the children appreciate the sacrifices I made, some don’t. Some are modeling their childhoods, some aren’t.

Choice.

The kids have choices too. They grown up and make choices, while we are left to sit idly by and pray for them to make the ones that are in God’s plan, pray for them to be safe, and pray our hearts don’t break as we watch their hearts break.

Praying-hands-with-bible

Prayer is never idle.

Sometimes they listen to our counsel.

Sometimes they embrace our counsel.

Other times they completely disregard it, tossing iit out like an old worn out sock that’s no longer useful.

It hurts our hearts when they turn a deaf ear and choose to be fueled by impulse. It tears our hearts open when they accuse us of interfering, or making it about ourselves when we weep with human emotions, effected by human relationships. Sometimes in this life, we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Relationships are difficult. They are most difficult with the ones we love.

And when we hurt our kids – that’s the ultimate evil to the heart of a mom, and it takes great grace to forgive ourselves, reset our emotion valve, and move on with purpose.

Moms bleed every time our children get hurt, it’s just the way it is. The bigger the kid, the bigger the pain, the larger the blood loss for mothers.

The skirmishes of childhood turn into full blown military combat as our children embrace a broken world.

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Our bodies bleed through the process of birth. And if by chance a child comes through the process of foster, or adoption, our spirits bleed through the birth process. As they grow, it’s as if we feel them struggle all the way through the birth canal into adulthood.

Some labors take longer than others. Birth was never easy for me; I had some really long, painful, labors.

Grace.

It looks different to everyone, at every age, in every situation, in every stage of life. It is the one constant we have in raising children.

For the parents of adult children, grace takes on a whole new image, and a brand new voice.

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Grace holds our hand when we look back on our many and varied parenting mistakes. Grace winks His eye when we listen to our children give their interpretation of a story, knowing it is so far from the truth of how it really happened. Grace lifts its cup when we celebrate the victory of watching our children happy, loving, and being loved. Grace opens the prison doors when we need to break free from the guilt of a a child whose life is marred by problems, difficulties, addictions, losses, mental illness, or the thousands of painful experiences parents all over the world are facing. Grace covers us when when we are left out in the cold by a child whose moving on, means moving right over the top of us.

Grace gives us the strength to move ahead – one step, one moment, one breath at time, when the unimaginable happens and good-bye means forever, in this life.

Mom’s need lots of grace and as our children grow older, the grace just keeps on growin’.

Maybe I keep on growin’ too.

Probably both.

Either way, it’s working.

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

I am learning to let His strength come “into its own.” I am learning to appreciate the gift.

For parents of big kids, hang on. A spanking, a time out, or grounding may not fix our problems, or theirs, (oh it was so easy then!) but with God all things are possible when we live in the power of His strength. We may have bigger problems, but we have ever increasing grace, and even BIGGER blessings.

“Never” – the Oath of the Weak

I have failed in life many times, in many ways, and in many things. I have failed at being a wife, a mother (oh so many times) a friend, a chaplain, an employee, and a disciple. I have failed at correction, at leading, at submission, at cooperation, at fundraising, at meeting deadlines, and at keeping promises and commitments -the list is long. Some failures are my own doing, some are the circumstances of life, and some are the failures of others. I lost a missions donor (and more) because someone else deemed me a failure in my personal life by their own perceptions (simply difference of opinion not a gross wrongdoing) – does that make me the failure or them, for basing God’s work of the Kingdom on human flesh instead of God? Or should we just leave room for being imperfect humans with differences of opinion instead of judging it as failure?

dark portraitThe worst failures are the ones that effect the people I love – the worst failures have hurt Dave and my children. Those failures will continue till I take my last breath.

I have learned never to say never. Of course even in that statement, I just said  “never” and in doing so failed.

I am simply full of holes, but I am in excellent company.

The bible is full of failures, my contemporary missionaries, pastors, friends, partners, family members have also failed. God is able to expand His Kingdom in spite of us, not because of us. The question is do we keep moving forward in our failures, or do we give up?

Giving up isn’t an option for me. It wasn’t for Peter either.

Peter was a huge failure. Matthew 26 tells the story of the last supper Jesus shared with his twelve friends. They sat together as He explained how he would suffer and die, and they were to remember His death by the bread and wine.

Then Jesus told them, “Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says,

I’ll strike the shepherd; helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.”Peter broke in, “Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t.”“Don’t be so sure,” Jesus said. “This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”

 Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.”  (Emphasis mine) All the others said the same thing.”

I am not a young contemporary speaker and writer. I am not a young anything anymore. With age has come some wisdom and a whole lot of additional brokenness and humility. I don’t love speaking engagements because I want to wow others with a well polished and theatrical performance. I love sharing my experiences with others because I have done, seen, and experienced more than the average person; and I have witnessed the faithfulness of God’s great love to restore, renew, and redeem broken vessels through the worst of failures.

Bury a child in an abusive cult – you can’t feel like you have failed much greater than that.

And yet, our failures are the bridge to God’s grace.

10403774_1433409290251863_102890549182627700_oEvery time we fail, we realize how much He loves us, and how much He doesn’t care about what we can’t or can’t do. He only cares about how much we are willing to surrender and let His grace work in, and for us. That’s the Good News.

We will fail. We all have our thorns. We are only made strong in Him when we recognize that He doesn’t need us. He never did. We need Him. We are just here to facilitate what He has done, and is already doing because of His amazing love.

The Apostle Paul knew His grace is all we need,

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”    2 Cor. 12:9-10

Jesus, I am weak, never let me go.

Holy Love in the Philippines, Feeding the Poor

Partaking the Passion and Death of Christ through Service to the Poor     Day 2     By Bryan Mattilano

Holy Friday marked the 2nd day of the feeding operations. In God’s Grace, the typhoon that was threatening Eastern Visayas went to the northern part of the Philippines and weakened.

Day 2.1

Early in the morning, my family prepared the menu composed of chocolate porridge, hard-boiled egg, milk and chocolate bars. My father suggested the menu since Holy Friday in the Philippines, we would usually prepare something sweet to incite fasting and abstinence.

day 2.3

Children were taught by my Nanay, Lucila, to say graces before meals as some of the BHWs look over the children, ready for the distribution of the meals.

Day 2.4

Some of the cute kids were eager to partake the meals as they were prepared with their utensils. Some of them came from the outskirts of San Jose along the foot of the mountains and far flung rice fields.

day 2.5

day 2.6

We owe the success of these operations to our Barangay Health Workers (BHW). These awesome ladies were untiring in gathering all the kids and the upkeep of the proceedings.

day 2.10

Holy Week 9

 

 

Holy Love in the Philippines

As we enter into the weekend, please consider how selfless servants in developing countries spend their Holy Week, and may we learn from them as we read the words of Filipino volunteer, Bryan Mattilano,

Holy 5” Compassionate Reach International , together with my family and the Barangay [Village] Health Workers (BHW), initiated feeding operations in our barangay beginning] Holy Thursday.

As Christ dined with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist, we may also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.”

Holy Week11

Thursday: Supper of Salvation

Day 1 “There were 192 identified malnourished children in the barangay, and 163 of them participated in the feeding program. All the children were weighed and the height was measured. The MUAC strip (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) was also used to determine how malnourished each child is.

Holy 2

The menu was composed of rice, chicken adobo, egg, vegetables, and hot milk.

Holy 3

The Barangay Health Workers (BHW) identified each of the malnourished children in every purok (sections of the barangay), getting the weight, height and the MUAC measurements, for the locations of the feeding, and follow-up home visitations.

Holy 6

From 163 respondents, 103 of them (63%) are already at risk for becoming malnourished, while 38 children (23%), were identified as malnourished. Only 22 children, (less than 13%) were in normal ranges for nutritional adequacy.

Holy 1This malnutrition is due to scarcity of resources: sufficient food, water, sanitation, and hygiene, brought about by the devastation of Super-typhoon Yolanda, in November of 2014.

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines 1/2014

The super-typhoon also destroyed the local crops, rerouted water sources, killed coconut trees, and negatively affected the landscape and other resources in this fishing and farming community.

IMG_0489

The feeding operation was just on time with the Holy Thursday as Christ dines with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist.

Holy Week 9

May we also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.

Holy 4

More than anybody who are most vulnerable are the children…. ” 

Holy Week 10

PLEASE NOTE:   Filipino volunteer Bryan Mattilano, is a professor at the University in Tacloban.

Bryan grew up in San Jose, and his parents and family still reside in the village (barangay). San Jose is a 40 minute commute by jeepney or other public transportation from Tacloban. This work of great love and compassion, is done by Bryan, his family, and other volunteers, without pay, and during their “vacation” times.

Bryan, Chp Jamie 1

Bryan and Chp. Jamie – January of 2014, providing trauma support for the local population, and trauma training for the teachers of the elementary school.

Please consider becoming a sponsor of the feeding initiative in San Jose so we can continue to help rebuild lives, while caring for the least of these.

Compassionate Reach is a volunteer organization.  100% of donations go towards helping the poor, needy, and traumatized victims of disasters.

For more information email:  jamie@compassionatereach.org  and go to our website.

Thank you on behalf of San Jose and the volunteers of Compassionate Reach International. 

Contact us to find out how you can train as trauma chaplains, and/ or volunteer for mission outreach and disaster response, with Compassionate Reach International.

The Face of Jesus in the Philippines; Holy Love

As we enter into the weekend, please consider how selfless servants in developing countries spend their Holy Week, and may we learn from them as we read the words of Filipino volunteer, Bryan Mattilano,

Holy 5” Compassionate Reach International , together with my family and the Barangay [Village] Health Workers (BHW), initiated feeding operations in our barangay beginning] Holy Thursday.

As Christ dined with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist, we may also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.”

Holy Week11

Thursday: Supper of Salvation

Day 1 “There were 192 identified malnourished children in the barangay, and 163 of them participated in the feeding program. All the children were weighed and the height was measured. The MUAC strip (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) was also used to determine how malnourished each child is.

Holy 2

The menu was composed of rice, chicken adobo, egg, vegetables, and hot milk.

Holy 3

The Barangay Health Workers (BHW) identified each of the malnourished children in every purok (sections of the barangay), getting the weight, height and the MUAC measurements, for the locations of the feeding, and follow-up home visitations.

Holy 6

From 163 respondents, 103 of them (63%) are already at risk for becoming malnourished, while 38 children (23%), were identified as malnourished. Only 22 children, (less than 13%) were in normal ranges for nutritional adequacy.

Holy 1This malnutrition is due to scarcity of resources: sufficient food, water, sanitation, and hygiene, brought about by the devastation of Super-typhoon Yolanda, in November of 2014.

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines 1/2014

The super-typhoon also destroyed the local crops, rerouted water sources, killed coconut trees, and negatively affected the landscape and other resources in this fishing and farming community.

IMG_0489

The feeding operation was just on time with the Holy Thursday as Christ dines with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist.

Holy Week 9

May we also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.

Holy 4

More than anybody who are most vulnerable are the children…. ” 

Holy Week 10

PLEASE NOTE:   Filipino volunteer Bryan Mattilano, is a professor at the University in Tacloban.

Bryan grew up in San Jose, and his parents and family still reside in the village (barangay). San Jose is a 40 minute commute by jeepney or other public transportation from Tacloban. This work of great love and compassion, is done by Bryan, his family, and other volunteers, without pay, and during their “vacation” times.

Bryan, Chp Jamie 1

Bryan and Chp. Jamie – January of 2014, providing trauma support for the local population, and trauma training for the teachers of the elementary school.

Please consider becoming a sponsor of the feeding initiative in San Jose so we can continue to help rebuild lives, while caring for the least of these.

Compassionate Reach is a volunteer organization.  100% of donations go towards helping the poor, needy, and traumatized victims of disasters.

For more information email:  jamie@compassionatereach.org  and go to our website.

Thank you on behalf of San Jose and the volunteers of Compassionate Reach International. 

Contact us to find out how you can train as trauma chaplains, and/ or volunteer for mission outreach and disaster response, with Compassionate Reach International.