Taming the beast…

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Once upon a time… a long time ago.. when I was a little girl.. I had a cat.  Ha!!  In truth, my siblings and I had a LOT of cats.  I am not really sure where they all came from.  I can’t remember ACTUALLY picking out a single cat in my life.. They just appeared over night.. often in multiple numbers. 

To little girls?  YUP.. it was heaven.

My sister and I loved all those cats.  But the problem was.. our cats weren’t actually tame. 

They would come to us when we called them.. (because we always had food)… They would follow us… (because we never brought enough food).. But very rarely could you hold a cat for more than a few minutes. 

In fact.. you know the National Geographic Nature shows .. the ones where the tiger lazes peacefully in the sun.. looking elegant and regal… Then the camera man flashes an image of that same tiger in full snarl mode.. attacking its prey…

YUP.. you just got an image of our cats….

One summer day?  My sister and I decided WE were going to tame those cats..

Ok.. we just wanted to tame one cat.. A particularly cute gray cat that we had named.. “Cutie”… (Original right?!?)… So we put our brilliant minds together and came up with a plan….

We needed a leash…

I mean if you saw all those elegant people on Television.. They led their tame and obedient dogs around on leashes all the time… That HAD to be the key… (And besides.. can’t you imagine showing up to social event with your elegant and regal “Cutie” cat walking tamely at the end of a jewel studded leash… YUP… we were going to be the envy of ALL our friends…)

So we NEEDED that leash…

Now as you can imagine… YUP.. no jewel studded leashes were laying around.. But we were NOT to be deterred.  We would simply make one.  So?  We raided my Mother’s yarn stash.

Even though we were young.. my sister and I were intelligent.. So we knew that 1 strand of yarn wouldn’t be effective.. and we suspected it wouldn’t be comfortable.  So we braided 3 strands together for an elegant leash.  We knotted one end into a loop for the handle.. and the other end into a slip knot.. (For easier capturing, of course..)..

Then we were ready…

With a dish of cat food… We began to call KITTY KITTY KITTY…..

And Cutie came running…

So elegant.. so unaware of her new destiny… unsuspecting of the danger that (cleverly hidden behind our back) leash held.  Cutie fell right into our trap…

In a flash, my sister slipped the leash around Cutie’s neck.. and tightened it enough so it fit snuggly.  It was so simple… so easy.. (to steal a phrase from one of my daughter’s favorite kids’ book…)… so perfectly perfect….

And then everything went wrong…

…quickly…

When that leash tightened on Cutie’s neck.. she snarled… I stepped away (..hey.. I had seen that inner tiger in action…).. That hardly tamed cat pulled and pulled on the end of the leash.. terrified and snarling… Until we released the end of the leash..  Freed from the apparent danger, Cutie quickly scaled a 50 foot tree at the edge of the woods… Running gracefully across the first branch … Cutie leapt beautifully to the next tree.. And nearly made it…

Nearly…

You see Cutie still had that beautiful, hand braided yarn leash… trailing behind her… And as you know.. Yarn is like Velcro.. it sticks to everything… And stick it did… The loop caught on a branch.. And Cutie’s elegant escape was cut short, jerking her back…

And she was falling.. falling… until she came to the end of that 3 foot leash..

Our relief that our ingenious leash saved Cutie from a 30 foot drop?  Well that relief was short lived…  It was immediately apparent that our ingenious hand tied slip knot leash had turned into a noose.. A great noose too.. because through some bizarre twist of fate.. apparently my sister and I could make some seriously strong knots… As that cat flailed and snarled and flipped and swatted and flailed… in a constant scurry of motion.. All the time, making the most horrendous wailing noise… We began to pray the knot would fail… and then Cutie could fall to safety…

It did not…

I began to cry… and to call my Dad…

Now… My Dad?… My Dad didn’t like cats… he never has.. And he was especially not fond of the pack that adopted our household…

But with my sister and I calling for him?  He came running out of the garage ..(from whatever important job he was fixing).. Came running to see 2 emotional girls pointing up into a tree.. at a blur of motion he guessed to be a cat.. on the end of a rope..

Now just as Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh.. to do the job God instructed him to do.. My dad’s face was less than eager..  but still he fetched the tallest ladder he owned.  When that ladder fell 10 foot short.. My Dad went and retrieved chunks of 2×4’s .. hammer and nails.. Holding the hammer, nails, and boards.. he scaled the ladder.. and began to nail the “steps” into the trees…

All the while?.. Yup.. my sister and I implored him to hurry…

When my father nailed the last board into the tree.. he climbed those make shift steps.. stood on his tip toes.. and finally reached the cat.  Holding Cutie up with one arm.. my dad tried to unloop the yarn leash from the tree.. which sounds relatively easy..

But you see.. Cutie?  Cutie was NOT tame.. not tame at all.. and she was terrified… So while my dad was saving this cute gray cat..  standing on his tiptoes on a 12 inch board (30 feet above the ground)… risking his life for his daughters’ sake?

That cute gray cat.. was shredding my dad.. I watched in horror as my dad struggled to hold onto the flailing, snarling ball of fur .. who was scratching my dad’s neck and face.. and arm.. the same arm that was saving her life..

And then?

Then when Cutie’s neck was free.. she tore free of my dad’s safe arms and JUMPED to the ground.. landing safely on all four feet.. and sped away.. (In fact.. it was a long time before we saw Cutie again..)..

My dad? 

My dad took in a deep breath.. and slowly climbed down from his death perch.. slowly climbed down the long ladder.. and put his feet on solid ground.  I could see the angry looking scratches on his cheek.  There were trails of blood running down his neck.. But his face?  It was completely emotionless as he looked down into our faces…

Looking down into the faces of his two young daughters’ tear stained faces.. he calmly said.. “Leashes do NOT belong on kittens.”

“Ahhh.. okay dad.”

With that being said?  He folded up his ladder and went back to the garage.

Those steps that my dad had nailed into the tree?  Those steps stayed… For years, we would check to see if they were still there.  I remember pointing them out to my younger brothers and telling them the story of Cutie.  Our attempt to tame a wild cat.. I remember watching their solemn faces as they listened in horror to my dad’s narrow escape with his life.. (ok.. I liked to make it more dramatic then it was..)… Those steps were still there (old and decaying) well into my adult years..

For me they stood as a clear reminder..  

When ever a task was put before me.. whether it was by my parents or put there by God?  When I would be tempted to forget the instructions and run away (Just like Jonah ran from Nineveh?)… I can still see my Dad locking his jaw and climbing that tree to save that untamed beast for my sister and I.. Even though he didn’t like cats.. even though he was probably fixing someone’s car.. even though he doesn’t like heights.. Against all of those undesirable reasons.. my dad moved forward .. determined to do the job expected of him. 

I remember those steps my dad nailed into the tree..  when I move forward to tame my beasts…

Where are you?

ImageEveryone makes a journey through their life.  My journey was pretty even paced until I had kids.  Then?  Then there were quite a few years where the journey was rough.. and full of pot-holes.   When my son was unstable?  And we tried medicine after medicine to try to help him?  There were days (and weeks).. that I was so exhausted that I begged God for answers.  Days that I dreamed of those dog-days of childhood. (You know?.. the days when you were a teenager.. and you were SOOOOO bored.. and you were the ONLY one in the world still at home and not at the beach… with NOTHING to do?!?..)  … Yup… There were days I wanted to be bored again…

But I knew that it was all part of God’s journey for me.  I knew that EVERY step on that path had a purpose… So after some tears.. and a deep breath (or two.. or three…)… I prayed for strength .. and took that next step…

When I look at Jesus’s journey on this Earth… it makes mine look like those dog-days of childhood.

Actually.. the beginning of Jesus’s life wasn’t so different from mine.  After His amazing birth and His family’s escape to Egypt… Jesus’s childhood sounds kind of .. well?.. kind of boring..  His family moved around some.. Jesus went with them.  Mary and Joseph took their family on “vacation” every year.. to Jerusalem.. Jesus went with them.

And then when Jesus was 12.. His parents left him behind.. When they noticed He was gone?  They rushed back to find Him in the Temple..

After that.. There is nothing much to note.. The Bible merely states that Jesus lived in Nazareth with His family.. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Luke 2:52 .. In other words.. Jesus grew smarter… He grew taller.. He made God proud.. and everyone liked Him.. An excellent childhood… but still?  Pretty uneventful..

So in Jesus’s Journey through life? The path through His childhood was pretty easy..

In fact, the Bible says His Life was pretty non-eventful until Jesus was 30.  Why 30?  I am not sure.. maybe I will ask God someday when I see Him.

But what we do know is that at 30.. Jesus started His Ministry.  He collected disciples.. and started His Journey to spread the news of God’s Love .. and God’s Plan for us.. And for this part of His life?  Jesus actually did travel a lot.  If you read through the book of John?  You see all of the places Jesus travelled to.. Mostly on foot.. sometimes in a boat.. and even walking on water once.  We know that His ministry lasted around 3 years.. But still that is a lot of walking even for 3 years.

As those 3 years came to a close, Jesus prepared to carry out His Father’s Plan.

Yes.. at the ripe old age of 33?  Jesus prepared to die.  Not because He was sick.. No.. Jesus had been well cared for by friends and followers on those 3 years of Ministry.  He was not about to die for anything He had done.. Jesus was blameless.. sinless.  No.. Jesus was preparing to die for each and EVERY ONE of those friends and followers… and He was preparing to die for each and every person who was about to put Him to death.  To die that we all might live..

All the while Jesus was preparing to save us?  He had to keep walking down that Path.. one step at a time.. And those last few days? I can imagine it took a lot of strength to keep walking.  To watch a crowd of your country men demand that you die?  Yet He kept moving forward.  When they forced him to carry a gigantic cross on His back?  Jesus kept moving… He kept putting one foot in front of the other.. When they beat Him? Just kept walking.. He followed His journey.. for us…

So I have to ask?

Where are you?

In your journey through life.. where are you today?  Where are YOU on Good Friday?

Where am I?

Am I in the crowd that demanded the release of a murderer .. instead of a sinless man?  No… I see no sense in this.. except that it must have been God’s Plan…

Am I with Peter?  Am I denying that I have a personal relationship with the One true God’s Only Son?  Am I denying that I spend time each day in prayer with Jesus?  I think sometimes I am.. Not purposely.. but when I can’t find the right words to express my faith.. sometimes I remain verbally quiet… But Peter?  Peter loved Jesus.. and so do I?  So yes.. sometimes I travel with Peter….

Am I in the crowd that watched Jesus drag His heavy cross?  A cross that is to symbolize his crime?  A crime He didn’t commit?  Do I stand in that crowd and watch Jesus struggle?  Do I reach out a hand wishing to help?  Do I step forward?  Step forward and allow myself to be forced by the soldiers to carry the cross with Jesus?

Am I with the soldiers?  Am I hitting God’s Son? Poking Him with sticks?  Stabbing through Jesus’s side with spears?  Am I offering Him sour wine?  Am I laughing at God.. and His Miracles?  Taunting Jesus’s inability to call on God to save Him?

Am I with the Priests?  Am I still doubting that Jesus IS the Son of God?

Am I with the crowd who divided up Jesus’s belongings?  Am I gambling with them to see who would take His robe or His sandals?  Am I hoping that having a Holy item will bring me prosperity.. or luck?

Am I standing with Mary, Mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross?  Am I holding her hand?  Am I holding her up as she watches that beautiful boy.. that beautiful soul die before her eyes?  The miracle child that God gave her. The child that grew within her. The child she protected and raised. The child she watched and wondered at. Am I watching with her as Jesus’s blood pours from His wounds? Do I hold Mary’s hand as the crowd laughs and taunts Jesus? Do I hold her tightly as He struggles to hold His head up? Am I crying with her?  No.. when I imagine standing with Mary.. my chest hurts so bad I can’t breathe.. I wouldn’t have been crying.. That would take too much strength.. I am on my knees with Mary.. wanting to reach out.. wanting to demand they take Him down… wanting to scream at everyone of Jesus’s innocence.. scream the insane injustice they are carrying out.. But all of that takes breath… so I just kneel.. and hurt… Right next to His mother…

Am I hanging on the cross next to Jesus?  Are my sins so great that I deserved to be crucified?  I have sinned.. All have sinned.  No one who has sinned is worthy of Heaven.. so Yes.. I should be hanging on the cross.. I should have nails through my hands and through my feet.. I should have holes in my sides..

But I am not.. Jesus took my place.. He took THAT section from my Journey away from me.. So instead?  Instead I am forced to walk PAST His crucifixion. But where we stand to watch?  God has left that decision up to us…

When Jesus knew that Every item on God’s Easter List was finished (John 19:28)… His last words, “It is finished!” echoed through the air… Jesus knew then that His Journey was done.. Jesus had fulfilled God’s plan for Him…

So.. today at noon.. when the sky should dim in rememberance?? When every head should bow in shame?? When a tear should come to every eye?

Where will you be?

Which one?

ImageI have been sick for almost a week now.  A nasty stomach virus that completely shut down my world. I will not share details.. but for 2 days I cancelled everything and lay quietly in my bed.

Now it is Thursday.. and I am scrambling to catch up.  After all.. it is only 3 days until Easter and I have NOTHING ready for my kids’ Easter baskets.. No Easter clothes bought.. No candy for our huge family Easter Egg hunt… and my oldest daughter is leaving tonight for her senior trip to Washington DC (…not happy about the timing on that..) …

So I am making a list so that I get EVERYTHING done…

Then I wondered.. Did God have a list that He wanted to get done before Easter?  NO.. Before Good Friday!

Did He sit down and make a list…

*Make sure Jesus yells at the people selling things in My Holy Church.

*Make sure Jesus shows everyone Love.

*Make sure Jesus shows everyone Miracles.

*Make sure Jesus tells everyone My Plan for them.

*Make sure Jesus teaches them how to pray.

*Make sure Jesus tells everyone the path to Heaven.

*Prepare Jesus to die.

That last one?  It makes my throat hurt… more than a little.. 

Can you imagine being God today?  Can you imagine Him 2000 years ago?  The day before Good Friday.. (How can you call it Good Friday when such a beautiful person was about to die?)  How do you prepare to sacrifice your own Son?  Knowing that His sacrifice would save the souls of so many.. knowing that it WAS the Perfect Plan… but knowing that you were going to have sit there and watch Him suffer?   Sit there and watch people torture Him…

I look at my children and I wonder.. which one would I sacrifice if I had to?  Which one would understand that sacrifice more?  When I think about their sweet faces.. I am not sure that I could.. Could I chose to save your child and sacrifice mine? 

I am not sure I could do it..

But then I know I could not just watch your child suffer.. to keep mine safe either…

So Which ONE?  Which would I chose?

I am thankful to say.. I would chose none of our children.  I wouldn’t have to… None of our children are perfect enough.  My children have all sinned.. just as your children have sinned.. just as WE have all sinned.  We all fall so far from God’s standard of Perfect .. that we are ALL unworthy of being a sacrifice for the world.  Not one human was worthy of saving the world.

Then there was Jesus.. A child without fault.  With no sassiness.. no quarrels… no backtalk.. no laziness. The only perfect child.  So God’s plan was the only plan that would work…

I am so thankful that it did.  I am so thankful that God chose to sacrifice His son.. chose to watch him suffer and die for NO crime.. so that MY children can join Him in Heaven. 

But today… When God is looking down at us?  When He sees us scrambling to fill our Easter Lists.. when we are choosing which color peeps to put in our children’s baskets.. Is He happy? 

When I looked at my own list?  My eyes filled with tears.  It seems so frivolous to care if my daughter has a new Easter dress.  It seems pointless to wonder if I will be able to find Easter candy that follows my kids’ dietary needs. 

Today as I go through my Easter List.. I chose God’s Son…

Now to figure out how to fit him in a beautiful basket.   

Their biggest fan…

My parents are my biggest fans… That is not to say that I am their favorite child.  I am one of seven siblings.. and my parents love us all equally.  I mean how could you compare any of us to each other?  My older brothers were both Nuclear Engineers on naval ships.  They know how to fix and maintain an engine that powers a massive ship… I barely know how to change the oil in my car.  My sister can make beautiful jewelry… and other beautiful creations.  She used to manage a store before that.  She has focus and a drive that I could only dream of.  My younger brothers are all wonderful “boys” that I am proud to know myself.  They are all successful at work.  One is a supervisor… I can barely keep my kids on task.. let alone adults!  One knows how to work on “renewable fuel cells”… I don’t really know what that means.. I keep picturing him working on giant batteries!  And the youngest is a manager of an auto parts store.

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praying for success….

Every single one of them have hearts of Gold…. so how could my parents choose a favorite?  They couldn’t… There is no common ground to compare us on.

So how could they be my biggest fans? If I am not their favorite?  Well .. in a way I am their favorite… I am their favorite distractible, creative middle child … and their favorite youngest daughter.. Just like my oldest brother is their favorite firstborn… And my sister is definitely their favorite oldest daughter.  In fact, we all have traits that make us shine… and they are so proud of us for them.

But that does not mean I was spoiled.

Ha.. in fact … there were definitely periods of my childhood that I thought my parents were the “meanest” parents in the world.  When my parents explained I wasn’t allowed to go to the local skating rink.. because there were rumors of activities there that my parents did NOT want me exposed to… Man did I think they were mean… I mean REALLY!! Those were just rumors… right?!?  When my parents insisted on meeting every one of my friends before I could spend the night with them?  Honestly.. whose parents do that?  And when my parents wouldn’t let me go on a date until I was 16.. and THEN they had to meet each and every one of them?!?

Yes… there were plenty of moments in my life when I thought my parents were mean…

But every moment of my childhood .. I knew that I was loved..

Every moment of my childhood.. I knew that my parents were trying to do the best they could for me.

How did I know?

Because they told me.  They told me .. and all of my siblings.. that they love us… every single day.  Even when they were frustrated with us… even when they were disappointed in the choices we made… even when we were making them crazy… They always told us,  “I love you.. and I know you can make better choices.”  “Your mother told me what happened today.. and I am disappointed.  We both love you and expect better from you.”  It was so heartbreaking for me .. to see tears in my father’s eyes.  Each and every punishment I received in my childhood was explained to me.  When my father told me that the spanking I was about to receive.. hurt HIM more than it would hurt ME?!?  I didn’t believe him.  I mean I was the one about to be spanked .. right?!?

Wrong…

What hurt more than anything… it was the tears in my father’s eyes.  The quiver to my loving father’s voice as he explained why (as parents) they couldn’t let me get away with questionable behavior.  The hesitation my father always showed in giving out punishments.  What hurt was that I KNEW it was ALL because of a choice I made… It was ALL because I had a weakness.

Those tears in my father’s eyes?

They followed me everywhere… The memory of that hurt I caused.. it kept me from making so many more mistakes in my life.  That does not mean I was perfect.. I am most definitely NOT perfect.  I have had my fair share of punishments.

And then?

Then I always had a hug.. and forgiveness.

Why did my father go through with punishing us kids?  If discipline was obviously so unpleasant for him? Why would he still do it?  He did it because he knew what God expected from him as a parent.  And God tells us what He expects from us in His book,

“He who spares his rod hates his son (or daughter),

But he who loves him disciplines him promptly,” Proverbs 13:24

So my parents disciplined us promptly.  Because they had such high hopes for us.. Hopes for us to be the BEST person we could possibly be.. The person that God wanted us to be.  So?  So my parents were mean.

Sounds like I was a naughty child.. doesn’t it?  I wasn’t extremely naughty.. but I WAS a child.  Children always make mistakes.  And just like my parents were there to tell me that they loved me and were so proud of me… They were also there to catch me when I fell .. and tell me they were disappointed.  They were always there to tell me they KNEW I could do better next time.  And I always felt cared for..

EVEN as a teen.. when I felt their logic was somewhat “misguided”?  I still felt loved.

Since those days.. so long ago… I have come to see their wisdom.  Not just in parenting my two children.. one so strong willed.. and one with special needs.  No I have seen it in others around me.

I have seen parents who are so busy “providing” for their child.. that they forget to care about their child’s needs.   Not just be annoyed with their child’s bad behavior.. but to be saddened by it.. To not just punish their bad behavior.. but to discipline them.  To use love to guide them.. explaining why good decisions are necessary.. even when those decisions are hard…

Some parents are just “too tired”.

Oh… and I understand tired.  Not only do I have a strong willed, independent, free thinking daughter.  I also have a son who has autism.  Along with autism, my son has bipolar.  Bipolar affects the moods..  For reasons unknown.. the body releases an imbalanced amount of hormones.. causing the person to be unusually happy.. or scared for no reason.. distractible … or restless.. Sad for no apparent reason… and on certain occasions.. a crazy mixtures of more than one of these emotions.

For my son… it happens with the season changes.  And spring is the worst.  Maybe it’s the increase in sunshine that disturbs the serotonin balance.  Maybe it’s the increase of exercise after the long winter?  Maybe it is a natural excitement for the coming summer and it’s freedoms?  What ever the cause… my normally calm and loving child turns into the Energizer bunny … mixed with… a sassafras tree.  Back talk, aggression.. refusal to cooperate…  Constant chatter… lack of sleep (for me or him)… Constant hunger… Instant anger…

Yes.. I know tired….

There were days I wanted to give up..

There were days I couldn’t discipline my son… Days that my tears were more than just pools in my eyes.. Days that I couldn’t even explain my punishment to my son… days my voice did more than just quiver..

But I trudged on…

Why?

Why continue to discipline when it seems pointless?  Or in some eyes.. why discipline my son’s actions when he obviously cannot control them?

Because I love my son.. and I know what he is capable of.  I can see what kind of man he could be with proper discipline.  I can see the glimmer of the person God wants him to be.  My son needs to see that there are ALWAYS consequences for his behaviors.. That no matter how hard it is to control his imbalanced emotions.. That he has to do it.  And my job?  My job is to guide this wonderful child as he grows.  It’s my job to guide my head-strong, independent daughter.  To guide them both with love .. and patience.. and discipline.

I trudge on because I remember my father’s eyes.. I remember how he never gave up on me.  No matter how tired he was after a long day of work.  No matter how he must have wanted to do anything else .. anything besides giving his children another “talk”… Because he loved us?  He trudged on that extra mile..

Those eyes remind me of my Heavenly Father’s eyes..  As I have grown in my Faith.. I imagine our Heavenly Father’s eyes look a lot like my father’s.  Imagine they fill with love and pride at our accomplishments… and I imagine they fill with tears and heartbreak when we disappoint him.

And yet… Our Heavenly Father is always there to pick us up when we fall.  He never gives up on us…

So when exhaustion threatens to overtake me?

Then I pray… “Please Lord.. give me the strength to make it through this next mile.. or so.. Please fill me with love, patience.. and discipline… So I can show my child I care… In your name I pray..”

Something else drives me to trudge on… another thing I see when I want to give in to exhaustion…

I have seen the eyes of a child whose parents did not love them.

I have seen the eyes of adults whose parents did not bother to go that extra mile.  The eyes of a grown child .. eyes that know that their parent isn’t their fan.  The child who doubts that their parent even loves them… The child who knows their parent doesn’t like them.  And in their heart.. that child “knows” it was their own mistakes that forced their parent to not care.  How do they know?  Because their parent tells them..  That child?  That child doubts the reason they were created.

We have all seen that child..

The child that cannot seem to do anything right.. The child who is constantly grounded… The child who feels like they are a disappointment.  The child who disobeys (over and over) to get attention.. Any attention…

I can’t imagine being that child.  Not being sure that someone will be proud of my every accomplishment.. Proud that you won the coloring contest at the grocery store.. proud of the “A” you earned in English.. proud that you mastered the curved tail on your cursive “g”.. I couldn’t imagine being the child that performs.. wondering if anyone in the audience was clapping JUST for them.  I couldn’t imagine not being assured that someone will still love you when you make a childish mistake… I couldn’t imagine going to bed at night and not feeling cared for.

But I have seen that child.  I have seen them in stores.. at parks.. at school.

I have seen a parent tell a child that their birth ruined their life.  I have watched a parent berate their child for being worthless in the middle of a gym full of people.  I have seen parents laughingly admit that their child doesn’t know any better.. or that they aren’t capable of anything better.

In those moments?  That parent failed their children..

We have all seen that parent…

I can imagine being that parent.. because I have been that parent… Not everyday… not every month… But I have been that parent.  The parent that forgets to discipline and settles for punishment.  When I am exhausted.. exhausted beyond the extra mile… I fail my children.  I have yelled at them more than a few times.  I have sent them to their room with a, “I can’t even stand to look at you right now.”  I have finished chores for them when I was too exhausted to make sure they followed through to the end.  And once…

Once… In a particularly trying time of my life as a parent.. Once I even told my daughter I wasn’t sure I even liked her anymore.

The pain I saw in her eyes in the moment?

It made my heart stopped.

And I cried.

In that moment I failed my child… and I knew it.  That failure is worse than any exhaustion.  Worse than any other punishment I ever received.

When I finished crying (and praying for forgiveness).. I went in to talk with my headstrong daughter.  First?  First I apologized to her.. because of course I like her.. I absolutely love this beautiful creation that God sent to me.  I explained that I let myself give into frustration and lash out on her.  But that it wasn’t her fault.. No.. the fault was mine.  I tell her that although no one is perfect.. my words were unacceptable.. and asked her to forgive me.

After I hugged her.. and told her I loved her.. with tears in my eyes (and on my cheeks).. and a quiver in my voice… Then it was time to correct my punishment .. and change it into discipline.  I explained to her that I CANNOT let her be disobedient and make poor choices.  That even though discipline is exhausting and unpleasant.. I do it because I love her… I love that beautiful soul that God gave her so much.. and I explain that it is my job to guide her.  A job given to me by God himself.

Yup… I told her that discipline sometimes hurts me more than it will hurt her.

Even though I apologized to her for my weakness.. and she forgave me?  That moment still haunts me.  Will that be the moment that sticks out in her memories of me..?  Not of love and patience.. but one of anger?

I pray every day that it won’t be.

I also pray for God’s guidance.. His love.. His patience and His discipline for me in my own life.. To help me be the parent He meant for me to be… The parent like I had…

So I guess I am praying to be my kids’ biggest fans.  To love them and hope for their best future.. beyond anyone else in THIS world.. That is what I strive to be..

But I know that God is actually their biggest fan.. He cheers them on everyday… Tears of pride at their accomplishments.. Tears of disappointment when they fail.. But always the unfailing love and support.  I can strive to be like God … but I know.. I will always fall short of that.

So in this instance?

I am aiming for second best…