Breathtaking 

Have you ever watched a famous conductor of an orchestra? It’s a marvelous sight to behold. The really good ones are quite dramatic. The hands wave, the body bends, the hair flies! And the music, the music thrills the listener. It is breathtaking. 

As a mom of many, I spend a great deal of time orchestrating schedules, details, menus, plans, appointments and trips. It’s just part of my job description to figure out who needs to be where so they can do what they need to do when they need to do so. Sometimes I grow quite frustrated in my attempts as we all know, plans can so easily go awry. It is breathtaking. 

Holidays can really add to that frustration as we attempt to gather together with other folks at church or at home. What will everyone where? What will everyone eat? And let’s not forget, what will everyone think?  I saw several young mommas posting yesterday concerning meltdown moments. Breathtaking. 

There are times that in spite of our best efforts, it just all falls apart. Sometimes our best efforts leave us exhausted and frazzled. Many times the details we tried to work out land in a tangled mess of complications. Sometimes we wonder if it is worth the effort of even trying. Breathtaking. 

Look, I’m going to assure you of this one thing. If whatever is being planned involves people, you can count on difficulties. People are often difficult. Whether they’re three and defiant or fifteen and full of sass, they can push your wherewithal to its limits. Whether they’re the know it all relative, disgruntled young adult, demanding spouse, spiteful co-worker or nosey neighbor, people can be difficult. Heck, some folks just thrive on it. Breathtaking. 

Add a bit of extra heat like divorce, grudges, spitefulness and maybe a troubled past and things can escalate from a simmer to a full boil before you’ve realized it and wham, the next thing you know, a full boil over, a big mess. And who is supposed to clean that up anyway? 

Whatever happened yesterday, whatever may happen today or this week. Whether your plans went awry or if you are able to maintain that simmer without a boil over, here’s what I want to tell you. Here’s what I need to say to me as we try to catch our breath. 

No matter how much I may feel like it sometimes, I am not the great orchestrator of all things and all people, even ‘my’ people. The best thing I can do is pay attention to my own heart and keep it clean and do my best to influence and love and share the best that I have to offer. That best offering is Jesus. He is their Savior just as He is mine. The best I can offer is the sweet Holy Spirit. He is their teacher just as He is mine. The best I can offer is God the Father. He is the orchestrator of their lives just as He is mine.  He is breathtaking. 

Here is my prayer for those of us who have truly been trying our best just to realize we couldn’t juggle as well as we had hoped even with all of our practice. 

Father, I love you, I need you. Sometimes I wonder if the vast majority of what I do is a practice in futility. Sometimes I am weary. Sometimes in spite of my best intentions, things just don’t work out. Sometimes people that I love and care about are difficult. Sometimes that difficult person is me. Please help me to remember that you are perfect but people are not. Thank you for your love and grace and mercy. Without it, well, there would be no hope. Give me courage to step aside and allow You to do what you do best, orchestrate my life and the lives of those I love. Please, take our breathe away. Amen
  

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This Glorious Love

This is no ordinary love.

Stephanie Rodda

I find myself at a loss for adequate words to describe what am feeling.

As I contemplate the evidence of such great love I can’t seem to express the tremendous emotions that well up within my heart.

As I consider how greatly I am loved and how much that love cost. This was no bargain basement love, after all. This was love that was extravagant and excellent. This was love that redeemed my soul. This was courageous love that defeated death. This was valiant love that defended me. This was extreme love that died so that I could live.
This is a treasured love that when shared increases. This is a glorious love that offers forgiveness. This is a perfect love that is given to imperfect people. This is a pure love that is beyond any other love that can be experienced.

This love is precious and priceless. This love…

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Do You Love Them the Same?

This is one of the most heart-felt, soul-bearing, forth-right pieces I have ever written concerning adoption and the magnificent love that I feel towards my children.

Read it, ponder it, enjoy it and share it.

Stephanie Rodda

One of the most common questions about adoption is will I be able to love them the same? The implied but often unspoken completion of the inquiry is ‘the same as a child you have birthed’.

When I thought of writing about this subject I hesitated. I said out loud to myself, “Easy, Stephanie.”. This is after all, a tender subject. As a mom who never completed a birthing experience I may be a bit one-sided. I won’t argue that point. There are plenty of moms who have experienced both who can speak from their own experiences. I can only speak from mine.

Rather than try to do what I can’t, I will stick to what I know. I will share what it is like to love a child who wasn’t carried in my womb, a child born to a different woman with a different ethnicity, a different medical and…

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Rethinking Tough Love

I’ve parented a long time and will continue parenting for a long while yet. Still, I am often in need of fresh perspectives and a reminder of what is important, what is really important. 

Recently I attended some workshops dealing with trauma related and adolescent behavior. As is often the case I viewed some of the concepts with skepticism. You know, like when you frown a bit and say to yourself, “I just don’t know about that.” But I must also  admit I gleaned a lot of good practical information and felt there was a lot of value in what was shared. I was indeed given a fresh perspective. 

In addition I’ve done some reading and research on my own and I’ve arrived at some conclusions that have led me to rethink my stance on a very basic parenting technique that I’ve implemented for decades. It is commonly known as ‘tough love’ and as I said, I’m rethinking it. 

It’s challenging to parent in the best of times and let’s face it, these are not the best of times. As a matter of fact, these are downright scary times. 

I hesitated to blog my thoughts as they are still being formed and I’m not sure I can clearly communicate what I want to share. Yet, if you’ll read on, I’ll give it my best shot. 

Two terms you’ll often hear in the parenting world are ‘enabling’ and ‘manipulation’.  These are to be avoided. We, as parents, need to avoid enabling destructive or addictive behavior as well as guarding against emotional manipulation. This is true. And so, we suit up, like a catcher in a baseball team and prepare ourselves to protect ourselves from whatever our kids might hurtle towards us at any moment. It’s rather a defensive stance but better safe than sorry? Right? Well, I’m not so sure anymore. 

Sometimes I think we become so focused on being determined that we won’t enable and we won’t be manipulated that we are distracted from what really matters and that is relationship. 

All my life I’ve heard that you can’t be your child’s friend and parent them properly. I see that to a degree. We can’t be afraid to parent and negligent to properly protect because we don’t want to appear the ‘bad’ guy. On the other hand, before we cross our arms and dig in our heels on any given subject, we may want to reconsider. We may want to reconsider what it is we are attempting to accomplish. 

Sometimes I think we are so on guard for an attempt at manipulation that we overlook the obvious opportunities to strengthen relationships. And that, my friends, is what really matters. 

Sometimes I think we are so determined to resist the urge to help lest we might be accused of enabling a struggling person that we miss the chance to connect and impact a life. And that, my friends, is also what really matters. 

I have seen a lot of talk recently about a blog by a celebrity that I usually agree with. The basic premise was that once a child marries, that child can’t come home again. The concept of course is admirable and I understand that they’re trying to say that marriage is forever. But the more I thought about it the more I knew that I will never say that to my children. It won’t be the plan, certainly. It won’t be taken lightly, certainly. But my children will always know this, they can come home. They will always know, when it looks like they are out of options, there is an option. 

If I’ve learned one thing in my decades as a parent, it is this. Life can throw you curve balls. And sometimes when you’ve given it your very best, tried your hardest, made your best effort, you stumble, you falter. At those times, we all need to know we have a safe place. 

At what point does God say to me, you’re all grown up, you’ve messed up, you can’t come home. Never. Does that mean He will enable me or allow me to manipulate Him. Certainly not. But He will also never miss an opportunity to strengthen our relationship. He will never ignore the chance to provide me a safe place. 

His grace is amazing. His mercy is never ending. And He is my parenting example that I want to follow and pattern after. 

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” Proverbs 3:27 NLT

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NLT

A dear friend of mine shared with me some of her story. She was young and making terrible choices that actually put her very life at risk. Most of her family chose tough love. I’m not criticizing them. I may have done the very same thing. But one family member chose to maintain contact, repeatedly reaching out, refusing to sever the lines of communication. When the day came that she was ready to enter treatment and change her ways, it was that person that she reached out to. He was her lifeline. 

Another friend recently told me of a friends relative that was turned out of their home because of his addictive behavior. For decades they’ve refused any contact feeling that they were enabling him if they did so. She said something while we chatted that has struck a chord with me. “How many homeless, destitute people get better in that situation, alone?”

Oh, I know, we all have choices, we all must face consequences, and sometimes, when the situation is dangerous, dire decisions must be made. There’s nothing neat and tidy about such situations. 

But, y’all, in the end we can’t strong arm other people with threats and ultimatums. We can’t make them change by withdrawing emotional support. If we attempt that, aren’t we doing to them what we accuse them of doing to us? Manipulation?

Look, I don’t mean to imply that I have this all figured out. I certainly don’t know the details of your situation. All I know is this. As for me and my children, I intend for them to always know without a doubt, they can come home. I hope and pray that knowing that will help them know they can always come home spiritually too. Because, in the end, that is exactly what really matters. 

If you care to read more about this concept of dealing with a wayward child, you might find this article of interest. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-ways-to-love-your-wayward-child

Jeremiah 31:16-17 “This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,“ declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future, declares the Lord. Your children will return to their land.”

It is my intention to take our my guard attire and pray for wisdom in dealing with my children and those I love. I don’t want prove to them that I can be tough. I want to show them instead that there is hope, God will always love them and so will I.   

  

  

Prayer-Worrier or Prayer-Warrior?

Empowered or cowered?
Warrior or worrier?

Stephanie Rodda

It seems only right somehow that I have struggled with writing this post. I deleted it twice and now still worrying if I will be able to clearly express what is on my heart. These thoughts started percolating in my mind last evening. I was singing my heart out as thousands around me did the same. We were worshiping. It was a beautiful moment, full of energy, full of passion. Suddenly, although I was surrounded by friends and family, I was alone. Well, it was as if I were alone. Just me, just my voice, just my God. If you’ve experienced the same type of moment I know you’re nodding your head in understanding. If you haven’t you may wonder at such mysteries.

I’m not going to say that a booming voice from the heavens spoke audibly to me. But, I am going to tell you that I believe with…

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