It’s been one of those “mama” weeks for me. You know one of those times when your thoughts are filled with the hearts of your children. I don’t know that there is really ever a week when your mind is not filled with “mama” thoughts if you have children, but this one has been extra special. My girls live far away from our home now - one in Oklahoma City and one in Atlanta. So visiting them and being a part of their lives takes a little more effort than it did when the giggles and pitter patter of their little feet could be heard across our wooden floors.
Last weekend we went to Oklahoma City to see our youngest, Mary Elizabeth, perform in the musical Pirates of Penzance at Oklahoma City University. It was a treacherous drive up as we traversed snow and icy roads to get there - most unusual for Louisiana. I had made
a giant pot of gumbo with salad and french bread to share with all the visitors coming in to see the show, but when we arrived the snow soon began to settle in and I went into “mama mode.” We need more food! My sweet husband was sent out on the icy roads to the grocery to buy food to get us through the weekend. What if we were snowed in and the grocery stores shut down! Five inches of snow is quite a lot for this Louisiana girl.
Amazingly the shows were not canceled, at least at OCU, although other schools did shut down and we were able to see all 3 performances. Special friends from Baton Rouge even braved the treacherous roads to come show their love and support for Mary Elizabeth. That’s true friendship, commitment and love!
She was, of course, amazing, hilarious and oh so talented!!
In between shows I cooked and washed clothes and clothes - you know that “mama” thing we do. And we ate and ate! And I loved it!
I was at last satisfied when we left and all bellies were full, all her clothes washed and put away and large portions of “mama’s” taco soup and gumbo were safely waiting in the freezer to bring comfort on another day when I couldn’t be there. You see it’s not a burden.
When your children move away, you miss doing those special things for them like cooking and washing - those things that sometimes drove you crazy and to the point of exhaustion when they lived at home.
Of course, there were lots of tears when we left to drive home even though we will see her again sooner than usual for her senior recital and spring break. As we drove the long 101/2 hours home my mind was filled with how fast the four years have flown by. She will graduate in May! Oh my! And she plans to move to NYC to pursue her career in musical theater.
I walked that journey of pursuing a performing career years ago. I know how exciting it is. How fulfilling it can be to sing and perform great works on the stage. I also know how hard it is. How dark that world can be. How desperately the light of Jesus needs to shine there.
My mind was full of memories and thoughts as we drove home. I wondered what I could do to help her. She would ultimately have to find her own way I knew. The city is exciting and big and difficult. Our oldest daughter lived there for several years after she graduated in art. ( We’re not big on practical college degrees in our family!) We had watched her blossom into a beautiful young adult there, but also struggle with the demands and pressure of working and living in NYC. My girls certainly are not afraid of adventure.
I guess they get it honestly. I remember driving off in my car at age 22 - just me and my dog named “Troubles” - to Oklahoma of all places for my first professional theater job. I knew no one there, had no place lined up to live, just the promise of a job in a theater! It’s crazy now when I think of how young I was and how ill prepared I was. Now I know how my parents must have felt. Two years later, Ken and I moved to Salzburg, Austria three weeks after we were married to study music. I had received a fellowship to study music at the Mozarteum Conservatory. We had very little money, but big dreams. And we did grow tremendously as musicians. But, God had bigger dreams for me in Europe. I attended my first Bible study there at a little English speaking mission church. I thought I was going to Europe to study music. God was bringing me there to grab hold of my heart and His Word forever.
As we drove home I began to write down things I wanted my youngest to know. Wisdom I hoped she would value as she faced life truly on her own for the first time. Today I'm writing this blog on her 22nd birthday and when your children get to that age and stage of life you wonder..... Did we do it right? Is she prepared? What can I say to help her in this next stage of her life?
I began to think of how I could give her these “lessons for life” in a way that would last and linger when she moved to the big city and would surely face victories and disappointments.
I found myself thinking about our Restore Retreat. In our creativity party we make a box of “Soulcare” cards to keep for ourselves or give to others. They might have quotes from Scripture or favorite authors, faith lessons or just little cards of beauty. That seemed to be the answer for me - the perfect little graduation gift from “mama”. I would make a box of “Soulcare” cards for her. A gift from the heart to hopefully help nurture her soul. A few things I wish I had known when I took off for my first job in Oklahoma.
I imagine you have lessons that you could share as well. I know that many of these lessons run deeper and truer when you learn them in the experiences of life, but it seemed it wouldn’t hurt to package them all together as a reference for the future! Besides I’m still in serious “mama mode”!
A few days after we return home I look at the list I've made for my cards. It’s long, probably too long. It will take me until she graduates to complete the box of cards for her in my spare moments. I hope she’ll be blessed, read them, be encouraged and feel loved, a little touch of “mama” in her new home and life far away.
I pray that they will be a voice of wisdom, truth, and a beautiful visual reminder of home, lessons learned and lived.
I’ll share the list with you. It’s in process still. Perhaps I’ll post some pictures of her completed gift when she graduates. You see like so many gifts we dream up or make for those we love, it’s often in the process that we in turn are blessed. It’s been so good for me to make a list of the life messages that I hope my children will value as they make their own way in this life and journey of faith.
Making the list has caused me to examine once more the legacy I want to leave with my own life.
Worship the Lord - with your life, with your voice, with your service. Romans 12:1,2; John 4:21-24
Study and Meditate on God's Word. It's a love letter written to you, Jesus' Words of life. Psalm 1:2, 19:14
Surrender you life each day to the control of the Holy Spirit. He will be your counselor and guide, living water for you soul. John 14:26, Eph. 3:16
Give generously and offer grace. Mt. 6:21,
Eph. 4:29, Col. 4:6
Always remember that You are God's beloved, a daughter of the King. seek to live your life for His Kingdom purposes.
2 Cor. 6:18, Rom. 8:14-16
Love Lavishly. John 13:34
Create your own little sanctuary in your home. It's important to have a place where you have a history with the Lord in His Word and in prayer, an oasis where you meet with Him, even if it's just a simple chair with your Bible, journal and a candle to remind you of His light to guide your path.
Fill your life with art, music, beauty. Try to go at least once a week go to a concert, a play, a museum, a garden to nurture the creative spirit within you.
Practice hospitality. Open up your home for meals with others, Bible studies, those in need and celebrations with friends. The provision of a home is a blessing to cherish. 1 Peter 4:9
Nurture a heart of gratitude in your life. If you look for 3 gifts found in each day for which you are grateful at the end of a year you'll have over 1000 gifts! Write them down as a remembrance of God's faithfulness in you life.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Work hard. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Give yourself permission to rest. Mt. 11:28
Seek Wisdom - Exercise and educate your brain and talents. Take a class, read a book, live a life of learning. Proverbs 4:6-7
Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23
Go to church. Make time to invest in your faith journey with a community of believers and teaching of the Scriptures. Acts 2:22
There's power in prayer! Phil. 4:6-7, James 5:16
Walk your days with Jesus- stay close and you'll be fine.He will show you which way to go, learn from Him and live in Him. He will carry your burdens and your dreams.
Offer forgiveness and ask for it. Luke 11:14, 1 John 1:19
Follow your dreams! Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 34:7
Be faithful-a faithful disciple of Jesus, a faithful friend, a faithful employee, faithful to your calling , faithful to use your gifts. Deut. 6:5
Trials will come, but you know the One who has overcome.
So trust in His faithfulness, and rest in His peace. They are part of your story and part of how God is conforming you into the image of His Son. Surrender to His work within you. James 1:2-4,12; 2 Cor. 2:14
Look for ways Jesus is speaking into your life - into the windows of your soul - through His word, His beauty in the world, your relationships, your dreams.
Live your life with integrity and offer the light and love of Jesus to those who don't know Him.
Practice the art of listening. Proverbs 2:1-5,
Invest in friendship. Proverbs 27:17, John 15:12-15
Remember who you are where you came from. Don't forget your southern roots. There's nothing quite like a gracious southern lady to usher gentleness into the hard places of life.
God is writing a beautiful story of His redemption, love and grace with your life. He has woven you into his eternal story. He has poured out amazing gifts into your life to be used for his glory and Kingdom purposes. Enjoy the privilege and the journey!
Celebrate your life and live it for His glory!
What would your list look like?
Consider taking a few moments this week and write down some of your own “soulcare” thoughts - things you would want to share with someone you love, a daughter, a son, a friend.
What are some valuable faith lessons you’ve learned to value in the story He is writing on your heart and through the adventure of your life?
I think it’s worth pausing, reflecting and writing them down. What life messages do you want to leave behind? For the years do seem to fly by and before you know it your children are living out their dreams and raising children of their own.
Resources: Scripture Images from Pinterest
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