Parenting: Story in Poem

Parenting

My eyes lock with

His, the scowl on his

Small face takes my heartbeat,

My blood pressure,

So high I can feel it

Throbbing in my ears. I want

To scream and shout, and

As I open my mouth,

I feel the same scowl

Plastered on his face,

Stretched taut across

Mine. Him reflecting me.

I see his eyes hard,

Like mine. His lips pursed,

Like mine. His hands clenched,

Like mine. Like mine. Like me.

All that makes me angry in

Him, I see first in me.

It’s everywhere in me

I want to scream,

Claw at my chest and tear,

Rip my own self out

Of my parenting, I wonder

If I could be a perfect

Parent, would he be

A perfect child?

I want to cry, scream,

Wail again, but not in

Frustration. This time

I want to scream from

Sadness, despair, hopelessness.

I can never be who

I am asking my child

To be. What can I do?

What. Can. I. Do?

My breathing tears, burns

Sharp and painful inside.

But truth rises in me

Like a trumpet,

Like a song sung to

Summon hope.

I cannot make him perfect, partly

Because I cannot be perfect.

But I can teach him

Humility. Asking forgiveness.

Self awareness. Admitting

Failure and getting up to

Try again. I can teach him

Dependence

On God. And hope

For change and growth beyond

His own capacity. I can

Teach him all this because

I can live all this.

I can live humility and

Forgiveness and dependence.

Grace and honesty and

Self-awareness and hope in

Someone greater than myself.

I can teach him, what I can

Live myself. And I am not

Able to live perfection, but

I can live grace and hope and

Humility and surrender. So

My eyes lock his

Softening to meet his iron

Gaze, and I relax.

Apologize. No but.

It’s just there, the offer,

The apology for

Him to accept or not.

A going first.

He can make his

Choice. I have made mine, and

I pray he will follow.

  • Alesha Sinks
Parenting When There Seem to be No Right Answers

Parenting When There Seem to be No Right Answers

I stretched myself into my bed, weighted blanket pulled up, wrapping my heart, heavy and tired. I felt exhausted. Angry. Bombarded…by all the opinions in my head.

Parenting is hard.
And there are so many good ways to parent…how do I know I am choosing the right one?

How do I know that the instant decisions I’m forced to make over and over and over every single day are the right ones? The best ones?

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So often I know, I know they aren’t. I apologize over and over. I snap and yell and rant again and again, and then must circle back to asking forgiveness.

I try this.
Then that.
I say one thing
Then I change my mind and try a different vein of logic or type of consequence or chose a rewards system or give simply let it slide because I
don’t
know
what
I’m
doing.

Maybe you hear them too? The dozens of voices. Opinions. Loud and demanding and, unfortunately, contradictory.

How do I know I’m listening to the right one?

And I can feel the them rising…the voices. Slowly louder and louder in my head. Crushing me with their volume and their weight.

Do this…not that.
If you do this, you will hurt them…
If you don’t do this, you teach them bad habits…
This is kinder…
This is wiser…
This is effective…
This is better for the long haul…
This is practical…
This is for their heart…
..and I am drowning in the voices.

But suddenly, in my head but not from within it, His voice speaks above the din. Softly. As if nearest to me out of them all.

“Don’t listen to them, listen to me.”

And I realize that somehow I thought His voice was there, in the chorus and chaos of voices in my head. I somehow thought His voice was among them, shouting at me with judgement, with fear, with shame.

I forget that His voice is different.
His voice is outside of the crowd. Separate. And only in turning the crowd of opinions down, will I be able to hear His voice, firm and safe. A steady place to rest my heart and mind. A safe bottom to plant my anchor.

The steady thrum of options and opinions isn’t necessary to my parenting.

Being guided by the Holy Spirit is necessary to my parenting.

So I’ll lay my anxious heart down tonight, a little easier. My head will be a little quieter. And my mind and heart will repeat this simple prayer.

God, let me see my children with Your eyes and Your heart. Let me hear Your voice and let my heart be sensitive to Your touch. Give me Your wisdom and strength and grace as I parent, and the humility to allow myself to be parented by You in the process.

And this simple mediation.

His voice is not in the crowd.

Be blessed

All The Little Blessings

He said it so clearly. Whispered it into my heart in that moment…

“Don’t get so hung up on waiting for the answers to the big things you are praying for, that you forget to stop and worship Me for all the little blessings I’m sending in the meantime.”

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We were simply trying to get two new keys made for our van.

THE van.

The one from a short list of things my husband had been faithfully praying for every day for nearly two years.

God had answered.

He’d answered that big prayer and two weeks later, we were still overjoyed and in awe. Still thanking God for it every single day.

But deep down, a part of my heart was also starting to look ahead at the next big thing we’d been praying for.
Longing.
Anxious.
Wondering.

Almost as if that one answered prayer sparked more discontent in me, rather than ushering me into the eternal gratitude and trust I thought it would.

{To read the rest of this post go visit my friend Kerry’s blog. She graciously asked me to write this post to share with her readers, but I wanted to make sure I shared it here with you all as well.}

Be blessed

Becoming Alike: {Mother’s Day Thoughts}

It shows up in the eyes of my little ones, again and again.
This searching.
This watching.
This learning.
And this becoming.

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I see in his eyes. This desire to become alike to those he loves.

In the eyes of a three year old, it easy to see and to interpret that look. That desire.

But in the eyes of a twenty year old, a twenty-eight year old, a thirty-eight year old, a fifty-right year old, it’s harder to spot.
It’s still there though.

This desire to be alike to those we love or to those we admire doesn’t go away with age.

Because perhaps, if we look closely, we can find beautiful ways that those we love have already shaped us. And that they have shaped us so deeply, it’s hard to distinguish their influence from who are most deeply are.

That can be a painful truth.
But it can also be a beautiful truth.

It has struck me again and again this year, and particularly this Mother’s Day, how there are so many pieces of me put in place by others. Unintentionally maybe. Subtly. Beautifully.

And as I become aware of them, it’s up to me to keep them, or change them.

Today, I want to focus on all the wonderful, beautiful things about me that were taught by and learned from my mother. I’m still learning from her, becoming like her, seeing the fruit of my childhood admiration come out of the deepest parts of me.

And today, I’m thankful for so many beautiful pieces of me that are credited to her. To her teaching, her loving, her serving, her planning and organization, her openness and honesty, and most of all her willingness to admit weakness and failure and her need for Jesus.

I have so many memories of her leading and guiding us toward Jesus, or simply watching her pursue Him herself.

I pray that this can be my legacy as well. That those memories and habits I watched in her all these years become so deeply a part of me that they become who I am too.

“Mama”

So many pieces of me
I take for granted,
Mistake as innate.
Till I stop and watch
You live and love.
Then with sudden clarity
I see myself,
All the pieces of me
That aren’t accidental at all.
Instead they are hours
And days and years
Of you sacrificing,
Pouring yourself into me.
Yourself out for me.
And most of all
Pouring yourself out
Before Jesus.
Letting Him fill you
So that you could pour
Into me something better
Than just yourself.
I hope that I
Can pour myself
Out that way too.

Alesha Sinks

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“Thank You”

I should have said
thank you
For the lessons you taught
All the ways you pushed me
Out and out and out of comfort
Till I could step on my own.

I should have said
thank you
For the footprints to follow
The path cleared and waiting
The shaping of heart and mind
The formation of me.

I should have said
thank you
For the things I learned
To not be as well as to be
There are both together
And I am thankful.

I should have said
thank you
For the things you taught
They are part of me so deeply
I can’t separate them out.
And I don’t want to.
Thank you.

Alesha Sinks

Be blessed

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For the Mommies: {Walking Through Your Day}

For the Mommies: {Walking Through Your Day}

I sat in church, singing songs of praise and wrestling with the monotony that seemed to plague my life and soul this particular day and the many of the days strung before it.

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It’s tempting to let those thoughts creep in. Thoughts that say, “Your life is pointless.” Thoughts that say, “Could your life be any more mundane?” Thoughts that say, “Of course God is with people doing important work, or out in their jobs surrounded by people who need Him. But me? Why would He be with me when I’m at home sautéing zucchini on a Tuesday afternoon?” Thoughts that say, “The vast majority of your days right now are too boring for God.”

I sat there singing, these thoughts tugging at the back of my mind, when God spoke through the chaos of my mind so clearly that I couldn’t miss it.

“I want to walk through your day with you.”

My mind instantly flooded with images of Jesus right there next to me, walking with me, matching me step for step, as I carry poopy diapers to the trash and wipe crumbs from the lunch table.

Even now, weeks later, I am filled with awe as I think about it. The Creator of the Universe, Savior of the World, the All-Knowing, All-Loving, All-Holy God want to walk with me. Every step. Every moment. Every mundane hour of my day.

And not just me.

Mommy, Jesus wants to walk through your day with you.

He wants to walk through the meal prep and clean up, the diaper changes and clothing changes, the play time and the nap time, the discipline and the teaching opportunities, the coffee reheating and grocery list making, the Facebook scrolling and the library book rereading.

He wants to walk through your day with you.

He wants to hold you through each moment.

He wants to be there with you.

He wants to be intimately invested in your life.

He wants to.

He isn’t dragging Himself through the day with you bored and exhausted and counting the hours. He isn’t giving you half-attention while He pours more of His love and energy into the preacher prepping His Sunday sermon and the perscuted Christian halfway around the world.

For one: He doesn’t have the limits we do. He can pour all of Himself into being with you and simultaneously do the same for the evangelist preaching his heart out to a full stadium of people.

For two: He is walking beside you full of hope and joy and comfort and wisdom and grace. He is interested and invested in you and all the little repetitions of your day. He created the cycle of days and the beauty of repetition and He desires that you see Him and serve Him in it. That you invite Him into it.

And more than that, He is able to use the monotony of your life for more than you or I would ever dream possible.

The things that seem so insignificant and boring to me right now are not boring or insignificant to Him. He values each moment of my life enough to be with me through it.

God’s Spirit lives in me. 1 Cor 3:16

Nothing, not even the mundane, can separate me from God’s love. Rom 8:38-39

God is with me wherever I go. Joshua 1:9

Mommy, Jesus wants to walk through your day with you.

Will I recognize that He is with me? Will I take advantage of HIs presence in my day-to-day? Will I? Will you?

{In posting this, I realize that I probably should have published this post before the one I wrote and posted last week. So if you haven’t read last week’s post, maybe head over and read it now.}

Be blessed

Free to Choose: {How Everything is Exactly the Same and Completely Different}

I sat across the wooden table with a bright, plastic tablecloth and weighed the words about to come out of my mouth carefully. I wanted to be sure I meant them with my whole heart…that I could say them truthfully. And for the first time in a very long while, perhaps ever, I felt that I could…

“I know its a lot of work, but I don’t have a job right now, I don’t have a lot of commitments. I get to choose what I am busy with. And this is something I want to choose.”

This is something I am going to choose…

….

The past year has been an incredibly challenging year for me in many ways. Lessons I had been learning, or attempting to learn, for years came to a head. It was do or die, and I felt like I was dying.
I couldn’t keep up.
I couldn’t slow down.
I couldn’t change my mindset.

After years of God teaching me about breathing, rest, work, and peace, I felt like a failure. All the things I had learned, I couldn’t seem to do. Life was moving faster than I could keep up with, and I had less responsibilities than I’d ever had.

More than once, I broke down emotionally and mentally.

I felt utterly stuck and completely useless.

All the ways I found my worth, all the things I used to identify myself seemed to no longer be true of me.
I wasn’t disciplined.
I wasn’t healthy.
I wasn’t organized.
I wasn’t a hard worker.
I wasn’t on top of things.
I wasn’t a help to my husband.
I wasn’t a joyful mother.
I wasn’t a planner.
I wasn’t a writer.

I was lost.
I was stuck.
I was done.

And it all came to a head, because, for the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t working anymore. I was staying home with our one-year-old and helping my husband transition into starting a business. I was still volunteering some at our church, but I had been doing that plus more before.

So why was I still stressed?

Why did I still end the day overwhelmed?

Over and over, my husband told me, “You have complete freedom to choose your day, to choose what you will and won’t do. Choose as best you can, so that you aren’t utterly exhausted at the end of each day.”

In my mind, I knew he was right, and I was so grateful for the freedom of this season. But at the same time, I couldn’t tune out the expectations I felt weighing on me.

And so I kept slowly drowning myself under the weight of should and can and want to and good, until even the most life-giving things became burdens that threatened to level me. It wasn’t until I saw myself failing my family over and over, because I could not seem to slow down, that I broke. I hit that point of feeling lost and stuck and useless. I thought I’d never change. I thought I was hopeless.

So I heartbrokenly laid down my self-made reputation, all the things I wanted to be and had thought I was.

I despaired of ever “rebuilding” myself into a good wife and mother and friend and follower of Jesus, and instead just begged God for help.

What I didn’t realize, is that this was exactly where I needed to be; that this was exactly where God wanted me. Once I laid down who I wanted to be and thought I should be, and just asked God to help me get through each day and to glorify Him somehow through it, He could start rebuilding me.

Once I laid down my identity and reputation and pride, He could start making me into the woman He wants me to be.

In the moment, it didn’t feel remotely right or spiritual or redemptive. It just felt like I was failing at life in every way.

I had no choice except to beg God for help, to beg Him to be enough for me today and tomorrow and the next day. To beg Him to be enough through me each moment of the day.

And He was enough.

He is enough each day. And somehow, He is rebuilding me.

Honestly, I look a lot the same as I looked before. But now, it doesn’t matter what I should do or be or look like. At least, it is mattering far less.

Suddenly, I am free to chose to say no to things that felt essential to who I was as a person just a few months ago. I can acknowledge something as good and choose to set it aside for the sake of something better. And when I get overwhelmed, I can choose to change my schedule, adjust my priorities, and reset my focus on the few things I need to have my focus on.

Because in this season, God has primarily called me to be a wife and mother who loves, supports, and takes care of her family well. I cannot do that when I run myself ragged with expectations. I cannot do that when I push my body, mind, and soul to their utter limits every week.

My family needs me well, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So many of the things I think I need to do to be a good wife and mother and follower of Jesus are not necessary. They are not what God has called me to do in this season.

As I seek God, I can lay those things aside with freedom and joy. My choice to not do them does not make me a failure or less-than or useless. I am not defined by what I do and don’t do as a mother, a wife, a daughter of God.

I am defined by who I already am in Jesus.

My challenge in this season is to stay in this place, to live each day in the freedom I’ve been given. The things I do, the ways I spend my time, look very much the same as they did before. My life is almost imperceptibly different. But my heart is different…

I am more often living in the freedom I always had, and that makes all the difference.

I can now choose joy over stress, peace over busy, best over good. I can make these choices because I no longer believe that these choices make me good or right or worthy or valuable.

I am free to choose, because I am free from my own expectations. I am free.

Be blessed

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