Free to Parent

  It’s finally here….. ……the book I have been writing for over 40 years and actually accomplished recently, as a co-author with my precious daughter Erin MacPherson. Free to Parent isn’t based on clever strategies or lifeless rule-driven control. (It very likely would have been had it been written years earlier.) Instead it’s about how parents can break free from parenting tactics that do little to nurture a child’s heart, and instead raise up their children in the freedom and joy of the Lord. Writing a book as a mother-daughter team has been a delightful journey, uniting not only our hearts around this project but also weaving together stories from both of our generations. You can order a copy today on Amazon! The best preparation for me to teach from this book, (as well as gain insight for the accompanying workbook coming soon ) have been the trials of this past year. This is especially true of my most recent challenge while traveling in Finland, when I suffered a retinal tear that left one eye temporarily blind. In hindsight, it is no surprise that Free to Parent was completed under the strain of challenges, where I would first need to authenticate the message in my own heart. I am still recovering from the resulting Vitrectomy, an eye surgery that involves the placement of a vision-impacting gas bubble within the eye, that slowly dissipates over time. Thus, for the past few weeks, I have viewed the world around me through very distorted lens. But God is using my distorted vision on the outside to bring clarity and focus for me...

Generational Influence

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4 Next week, I will head to Finland, my mom’s birthplace and where many of my relatives still reside. This trip comes on the heels of a erratic year during which I bounced back and forth between Texas and Oregon – from delightfully crazy times with an ever growing number of grand kids to slow paced days with my elderly mom, during which I spent significant chunks of time merely helping her find the objects she has misplaced.  Flipping back and forth between generations causes me to reflect. I think back to my childhood years when my mom had the energy and wherewithal to care for five children and still have time to tend to her large gardens and orchards. Then I fast-forward and try to imagine what the future will be like for my grandchildren. What kind of parents will they become? How am I influencing them now? And will I still be alive when they have children of their own? Time is precious and the season during which we influence future generations is short.  I was 20 years old the last time I traveled to Finland. I still remember sitting across the table from my grandfather sipping coffee together. He spoke a blessing over me that day and it touched me deeply. His softly spoken prayer formed a connection with me and gave me hope in ways I cannot explain. It just did. I never saw Jussi Ojala again but I never forgot him either. I still picture his crooked smile and...

A Powerful Reminder

 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 I recently accompanied my mom to a memorial service back in Oregon.  Listening to the pastor’s words, I was struck by how much her friend had loved to spend time with his family.  I had been urging my mom to fly back to Austin with me but she remained adamant against coming.  Yet as I sat there on the church pew, I  sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to buy her a ticket –  and to buy it NOW. So I reached for my phone and quickly texted directives to my oldest daughter. By the end of the service, my mom had a ticket on my return flight to Austin the very next day.  Now to make it happen was another matter.   My heart beat with both excitement and trepidation.  My mom is a stubborn, fiercely independent woman full of “sisu” (Finnish for persistent resilience) who doesn’t want to be forced into anything.   That evening when she was not looking, I packed her bag and secretly tucked it away in the trunk of my car.  When we took off for the airport the next morning, she merely assumed she was seeing me off with my sister. Opposed to flying anywhere, the resulting scene at the baggage counter was very messy.  At least the conversation was in Finnish.  She cried and I cried.   Neither of us budged.  After 45 minutes of pleading and demanding, she surprisingly gave in.  We were both checked in literally at the last minute!  The inconceivable had happened.  My mom was coming to...

Resist Complacency

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. Carl Bard Continued from last week’s blog…. To grow is a lifetime pursuit.  I am convinced of that.  Growth promotes growth When we are not growing, we become complacent;  something we must resist our entire lives. But it’s hard work to stretch ourselves.  To change. Harder still to even admit we need to change. Complacency and pride are the easier choices.  But they lead to an unteachable, hard heart, off the path of growth. We find our vitality in the struggle of growth.  And our purpose. This is true at any age. Caring for a mom with Alzheimer’s is the struggle I find myself in right now. While I deeply desire to help her, if I am honest, it can be the last thing I feel like doing.  It’s hard work emotionally. Her daily calls for help;  her desires to be restored to all that she once knew; her anger and frustration.  It’s an intricate walk;  a walk of sadness intermixed at times with hope, of guilt intermixed with resolve,  of frustration coupled with compassion. I wonder what good can come out of a disease that slowly kills the mind.   How can mom still grow in all this?  And how does all this help me grow? Does this leg of the journey really need to be so hard for her?  For us? How do I reach her?  How can I ease her anxiety? In response, God gently whispers the same answers to these questions that...

When Memory Fades

Today I mourn the loss of my mom.   Yet, she is still here with me.   I watch her smile and nod her head – her contribution to most conversations. I asked her what she likes about the meal she just ate but I already know the answer.  “Everything,” she responds.  It’s an acceptable answer that serves as a front to her lack of recollection. The caring, sweet, vibrant woman who loved me is slipping away.   I don’t understand this new person residing in her body yet. How do you deal with a person who has no short-term memory?  All she wants is to return home where her memories reside- where routines are familiar.  It is what she knows. Alzheimer’s disease has destroyed her ability to retain the present.  No amount of explaining or reasoning can cause her to understand why we had to move her. Or even remember how she got to her new place. I pray that in time she will be able to form new connections and memories. “But how long Lord?” I ask.  “How long do I stay in order for her to adjust?  And will it even happen?” Eleven days ago my brother, sister and I took away her keys and with gentle pressure, explained that she now needed to also move out of her home.  She took the news surprisingly well.  Looking back, I see now that she simply did not comprehend what we were saying and in her trusting way, went along with it.  Now, every day she asks me “how did I get here and why am I even here?”...

Gratitude

  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 The week before Thanksgiving the Veritas Kindergarteners were asked to proclaim what they are thankful for.  Many expressed thanks for their families, for friends, for food – the blessings we are all so grateful for.  My grandson Jude expressed thanks for fresh air! We certainly do have much to be thankful for and the giving of thanks is a simple gesture! Yet it is fundamentally profound and deeply life changing.  Healing even. A few years ago, I was blessed by reading Ann Voskamp’s book ” One thousand Gifts”  which changed my perspective on life.  She dares the reader to “live fully right where you are.” And the way to do this is by choosing to be grateful. Want to know God’s will for you?  This is it – that we REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS. Not merely for what gives us joy or goes our way but in EVERY circumstance we find ourselves in. When facing troublesome circumstances, I try to remind myself of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16- 18  “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This reminder serves to keep the mud from blinding my vision in those troubling times when I am feeling overwhelmed and flying out of control. What an amazing daily privilege and opportunity we have to enter his gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise where our enemy can’t reach us and God...