Choose your own STEPS and Don’t do as I do… please do as I say.

Every year, our beautiful daughter, asks for one thing from me on her birthday – this blog. She knows it is good for my soul to write, and good for her heart to hear. But where did 19 years go… I want to focus on all the thing I wish I could do over, but more importantly the things we can begin.

Mary and I often talk about how I always knew what I wanted when I was younger for a career. I did become the nurse I wanted to be and made the decision easily in high school. It likely started as I watched the care of my Grandfather when I was young, followed by caring for my mom, followed by caring for my Grandma, and just knowing that is my personality. I had it all figured out – graduate from college, get married, large family of 6 children, and stay home to raise them. However, God had other plans. I have often ignored His plans and allowed them to be drowned out with MY plans and the plans of others. I have made many (most) decisions without deep enough prayer to have peace. However, God has taken those messes and blessed them to lead me to where I am today.

So, when Mary struggles to figure it all out of where she wants to be down the road and she compares her life to mine it is hard to help her find her pieces to her life puzzle. I was blessed not to have a lot of opinions of my future, just support. At times, especially in school, instead of supporting her, I shoved her to do harder and be more. It was not intended to be meant that she wasn’t enough, although I realize now that is how it was interpreted. I just always knew she was/is capable of whatever her largest dream would be. I wanted her to reach those dreams despite all the voices that tore her down.  There are times when we talk about past years that I am so sad that I missed so many signs and opportunities to pour into her soul.   I missed so many chances of putting words and actions into her soul, that today, she doubts, worries, and questions who she is and who she wants to be.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back and have do-overs, but I do have today to change and that may have impact on her future. Helping her to know all the words and actions – good, bad, critical, uplifting – has created her to be the amazing woman she is today.

I wish I would have been more honest and transparent about my struggles, instead of always trying to protect and making things look easier than they were. I like to just “handle” thing and keep my feelings and concerns to myself. I hate to admit weakness and will rarely accept help.  Sadly, this has taught our daughter the same – that if you struggle you should hide it and do it alone. In reality, it has lead me to face many battles alone that could have been shorter battles and more successful with a little help by my side. It has left me lonely when all I wanted was to just call someone and say I just can’t do it anymore. I still struggle to this day with my walls and my carrying my own burden (that can be a whole separate blog).

I wish I would have made my physical health and self-care a priority. Though some of the adventures in the past could not have been avoided, like my recent unexpected surgery, I could be in a better physical health. We share some medical history, that I have unfortunately bestowed her. I cannot really preach her a sermon, when I need to have it played back to the person in the mirror. I put everyone, everything, every job, etc. in front of taking care of me. I have improved in stealing time for a hot bath, but lack anything beyond that. I look at my body and my health and most days wish I would have done something sooner, but this ultimate procrastinator always said tomorrow. Just to think I could be a strong healthy woman….

I wish I would have made my spiritual health a priority and transparent. I have become very open recently with her in this area. I am not sure at the point where things changed, likely when I left no room to spend time with God or to hear his plans. I have great spiritual upbringing with Christian parents who raised me in church. I found I relied on my past spiritual base to keep me going, but without the continual filling of that it dried up. It is easy to go through the motions and then it becomes easy to just stop doing the motions. Sadly, when the motions stopped there was no example left.

It is easy to look back over 19 years (still can’t believe it has been 19 years) and see things I wish I would have done differently. It is time to change me today to be the example she needs in a mom. My Mom, Mary, left this world to go to heaven to send me our Mary. I still can close my eyes and know the example she lived out loud transparently – struggles, health, spirituality.   I want Mary to have that same example.

From this day forward, Mary, don’t do as I do, but please do as I say…..

Don’t look at choosing the wrong initial path as a failure, but that you were brave and took a step forward. Although, it doesn’t now feel to be the best path, experiences and education is never wasted and it is never too late to pick another road to travel. The important thing is to choose the road YOU want to be on and believe in enough to travel alone. However, you will not be alone because those that love you will join you, support you, and carry you. If you choose the path based on other’s expectations, you will reach the end but be sad you missed the turn.

Make finding your small community a priority. Be open, honest, and transparent with those select lucky people. Allow them in for the hard stuff as well as the fun stuff. Let them be the ones who pray for you, laugh with you, and cry with you. It is okay not to have it all together and okay to let people see that side of you. Reach out and let them know the load is too heavy and you need a hand. Don’t be your mom and handle life alone!

Make your health a priority.  You have watched your mom slowly fall apart, go without sleep, stuff her face with food to calm the sadness, etc.  Give yourself the sermon you give to your mom. Don’t be beating yourself up a few years down the road wishing your health would have changed. Your mom looks back now and realizes procrastination has hit the hardest in this area of life, and she can’t turn it back now. Chose one small step everyday to give you the brightest future of having the family you have always dreamed of.

Make your spiritual health the biggest priority. Your mama has learned the high cost of spiritual emptiness and cost of hiding the empty. God never moves, so if you feel He is far away, it is because of your position, and not because of His.   Seek Him in scripture, in songs, in sermons, and in prayer – just be sure to NEVER stop seeking Him. Never make the past motions be enough to sustain you. Be intentional though and don’t go through the motions. Many prayers have been said over your life, Mary, but they are never a substitute for your direct 1:1 with Him. Draw the circle around your prayers and never stop! (Know your mom never will stop praying for you too).

I truly believe in Leviticus 3:23 that God blesses us with a new serving of mercy every single day.   Don’t be your mom whose hands are so full of stuff, calendar too full of deadlines, a heart too full of doubts, a brain too full of worries that she doesn’t open her hands, her heart, her soul every morning to take them in. Look at my life, Mary… a series of successes and failures. Do not follow my footsteps as we have discussed the many times the path was wrong, and often alone.   Pick YOUR path to be the BEST YOU and know that you will be loved and supported. Never be so busy or burdened to select your new daily serving of mercy.

I pray for or beautiful Mary Faith that you open your hands wide open for all the amazing opportunities to grasp in front of you.

I pray that you open your eyes and look UP and know that God is the only opinion that matters on your life and that those that love you will walk right beside you.

I pray that you open your ears to hear Him and those that love you and that our collective voices will drown all the negative ones (including your own) you have carried for too long.

I pray you open your mind and unleash all your amazing dreams boldly knowing they will happen.

God sure knew what I needed when He sent us you! Happy Birthday Mary Faith!



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