Under Construction

I sat across the table from my beautiful daughter Jessica, trying to speak past the lump in my throat. The restaurant in Southern California was noisy and crowded, but I was determined to get the words out. So much had happened in the past year and this moment was the culmination of all of it; the loss and betrayal AND the healing, hope and renewal.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

“Dad and I want to give you this,” I choked out and gave her the cash gift we had planned to give her last summer when she graduated from college. All of our lives had taken an unexpected detour and we were GRATEFUL to be back on course, following God’s plans for our future.

Three weeks earlier, I was at my usual Monday night Bible study and the teacher was summing up her story of God taking her through a year of extreme pain to work out some profound things in her life. As she spoke, I felt the sweet nudge of the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Your year is up.” I was so distracted by the thought, I HAD to check the date on my phone. Sure enough, exactly one year ago was my first appointment with my new Stanford cancer doctor… which kicked off a year of surgeries, appointments, and MANY personal struggles for my family.

I was very teary-eyed driving home that night.  It was an awareness of God’s presence speaking a personal message to me. “Your year is up,” kept replaying in my mind. It had been a year of unraveling for me on ALL levels—physical, personal, spiritual, financial, emotional… ALL levels… and God had taken me to a new, deeper intimacy in my walk of faith.

As I arrived home, Jessica had some news. She has been trying to move to Southern California for a year to pursue her career goals, and nothing has worked out for her. In fact, her year took a terrible turn and everything in her life was put on hold. This same “Your year is up” evening, she received a random text from a friend she had danced with on her competitive dance team in high school, asking her if she was looking for a place to live down south. Within days Jessica had an apartment, a room-mate, a car and a job!

“Your year is up!”

I don’t know exactly what it means, but something has definitely lifted, opened up for us.

We have just recently had a major crossroad by our home close for six weeks of repairs. A collapsed bridge would be ripped out, and a new, firm foundation laid. The much-needed roadwork would also bring a SUPER inconvenient rerouting of traffic, adding an extra 10 minutes to my commute down narrow, country roads. The detour would not be fun— inconvenient and long— BUT… very necessary.

Roadwork. Detours. Delays. …a great analogy for life.

It has been a year of construction, an undoing, and God has been faithful to repair the brokenness, rebuilding a solid foundation of security in Him.

As we left the restaurant, Jessica was all moved in and Eddie and I were preparing to drive home. We hugged her goodbye and there was such a sense of peace knowing God had made a way and the waiting was over. The detour had not been fun, but there was a new strength in all of us, especially Jessica, to journey wherever God would lead, trusting Him each mile of this new road.

And speaking of new roads….

The roadwork near our home was completed this week and we are able to drive on it. No more long, miserable detours waiting for the work to be done.

Take down the ‘road work ahead’ and ‘road closed’ signs!

The road is open and…

My year is up!

(Now if someone can just make sure Cory receives the ‘year is up‘ memo, we’ll be good! Hah!)

2 Corinthians 1:9-10  “…But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. God saved us from the threat of death, and we are sure that he will do it again and again.”

 

Parenting Pep-Talk

The sting of the slam signaled my words cut deep.  I had again said the wrong thing to my 21year old daughter, Jessica, and she was upset. What was meant as a helpful correction came across as a nit-picky insult.

(photo credit: Margo Design Studios)

I have to say… I was not prepared for the incredible pain of releasing Jess to grow up.  The last two decades have been an all-consuming focus on preparing her, praying for her, and protecting her and NOW… I have to find the ability to truly let go of her

No words.

(Well.  I actually DO have words because what’s a blog without words?!)

I quickly knelt down and asked God for help, praying Psalm 139:23-24.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I don’t want you to think I’m this super-spiritual-always-praying- or-always-in-church person, BUT… I really do understand my need for Jesus. Many times, for me, life boils down to this statement:

Life is hard AND God is incredible. He’s my hope, my strength, my comfort.

In the quiet of the moment, God nailed me. I was so quick to bring up her words, tone of voice and attitudes but was not dealing with those same issues in my life.

It was a classic case of Matthew 7:3-4 (NLT)

“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s (daughter’s) eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend (daughter!), ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ …when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”

It was a humbling realization.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic of parenting adult children, and I keep coming back to analyzing Ephesians 6:3

“… do not exasperate your children (provoke them to anger); instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The word “instead” packs a punch.

Instead of controlling my kids, I can be an example to them… a mentor.

Instead of demanding— provide clear boundaries.

Instead of “guilting” them into doing something—ask questions and guide them.

Jessica often says I remind her of Phoebe on the show Friends. I thought this was a compliment until I watched a few episodes and it became clear Phoebe strategically uses guilt-inflicting comments to let her friends know they’ve disappointed her.

Message received loud and clear.

In those moments as I prayed for Jess, I knew I needed to respond— to find a positive way to reach out to her and build our relationship. I decided to write a letter, a one-sided conversation where I could tell her how much I love her and how proud I am of her— where I could write my apology and express what God is doing in my own life.

If you’ve followed my blog at all this past year, it should not surprise you when I say… as I was halfway through writing the letter, my song came on … No Longer a Slave to Fear. It’s God’s love song to me, and he keeps using it almost weekly, to encourage me. I definitely felt the warmth of his approval.

I left the letter on the kitchen counter as Eddie and I prepared to leave. We were heading to dinner to celebrate his birthday. On a whim, we decided to run away from home and stay the night in Monterey. Sometimes the parents of adult children need time and space, making sure their relationship is strong. After all, it won’t be too many years before it’s back to the original two—Ed and I.

Are you currently parenting an adult child? Do you have older children living in your home? Any tips, thoughts, strategies or book recommendations you could share?

As for me, my focus is to work on being a better wife and mom, and my ultimate goal…

to be a better friend than Phoebe ever was in ten seasons!  Hah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different Type of Valentine Post

So… I told myself I was not going to write too much about Eddie in my next few posts because the first thing he said after I read the last one to him was, “You didn’t mention me as much as you usually do.”

Are you kidding me? He had a whole paragraph dedicated to how amazingly helpful he is and never complains and now he’s complaining about not getting enough blog time?

Anyway, I just HAVE to make an exception and brag on him one more time and then he’s side-lined for a bit!

Here’s how the day unfolded:

Jessica had a flight scheduled to leave San Jose this evening, and I had agreed to pick her up from work and drive her to the airport. Problem was, it RAINED all night and all morning and flash flood warnings started coming in.

I texted my friend, Brook, who works in San Jose and asked her if she knew if Highway 17 was still open. (It’s always the first road to close in stormy weather, but is the fastest route to the airport.)

Her response: “Drive in the fast lane to avoid landslides. Hah!”

Followed by, “The cars that have been hit by the big slides are usually fine. Worst case scenario—it pushes you into the divider. Take the van!”

An hour later, Brook sent me this picture:

That’s a mudslide on highway 17!

Within minutes, the news came in that all major roads out of Santa Cruz County were closed.

The next hour was a frantic group text of Eddie, Jessica and me trying to figure out how to get to the airport.

Let me clarify that…

…basically I was frantic and Ed and Jess were calmly discussing how to work this out.

Ed agreed to pull off work early and do his best to get her there on time. He had to clean up the construction site in record time, and as he bent over to grab a tool— his pants split open across his back pocket. Haha.

I came up with a super-sensible-no-risk-long-way-around plan, but Ed made the decision to chance it on one of his favorite, backcountry, mountain roads. I really tried to talk him out of it, but he responded with, “I’m bringing my chainsaw in case any trees are blocking the way.”

He was dead serious.  

The road was extremely narrow with lots of blind turns. When they met another insane person taking it, they would have to inch by, hoping not to scrape against them. Water was cascading down the steep banks as if they were driving alongside a waterfall. Ed said the trees looked like matchsticks scattered all over.

When I asked him what Jessica was saying during all this he answered, “Dad. Slow down.”

He immediately regretted telling me that as he realized I was taking notes for my blog.

They made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

On the way home, Eddie ACTUALLY did have to use his chainsaw to cut branches off a tree that had fallen. Can you believe it?!

He also joked how his good friend who likes to take that same backroad to work had said not to tell anyone about it being open—keep the crowds away.

(At this point I quietly deleted my Facebook comment about Ed and Jess making it over Old Mt. Madonna Road that afternoon.)

Eddie is my hero. In so many ways.

I hesitate to mention… he even picked up Taco Bell on his way home because I was too stressed to cook, and ,of course, really did not want to go out in the rain. I mean, I don’t even know how to work a chainsaw out on the roads!

I’ve ended a post before with a screenshot of my texts with Brook. I thought you might enjoy her humor and insight one more time…