The Secret to Leaving My Kids

*Photo credit: Shane Long Photography

It was approximately 9 days after we became parents that we left our baby for a couple of hours to celebrate our anniversary with dinner out. We have never hesitated to leave our babies with friends or family for an evening or a few days (if anyone wants to take them longer…let’s talk later). Our firstborn was colicky, and we were happy for any chance to get a break from the crying. We were used to quite a bit of travel before we had kids, so it was an adjustment to not be able to enjoy those trips as frequently or easily as we once did.

This summer, our oldest two kids each spent a few days on their own visiting my parents. I told my mom that once school got started, we would work out a time for Evangeline to stay with them as well. I made the very familiar drive toward my parent’s home, and we met halfway. 5 year old Jack was with us. It was a little different to send Evie off for a weekend. She is my little sidekick. Now that the kids are in school, she’s my buddy at home. By the time you have three kids, the offers to take them all for, well, anything are rare, so I am pretty used to having this one around. I wasn’t worried about missing her, though. I felt that nagging anxiety of watching my child ride away down the interstate and knowing that for the next few days, I could not do a thing to keep her safe or protect her throughout her day. I completely trust my parents with that job, but it doesn’t prevent scenarios from running through my mind of accidents that could happen or situations out of their control.

As the anxiety rose, my mind kicked in to remind me of the only thing that gets me through each day as a parent: I can’t protect Evangeline from everything that could possibly harm her even if she is right next to me. The One who can protect Evangeline from any and everything that threatens to harm her was going with her. He was beside her in the car, and He watches over her life far better than I can. He sees all, He knows all, and I can rest in the confidence that she belongs to Him, anyway. He sees her at all times, when I do and when I don’t.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” Psalms‬ ‭139:1-2‬ ‭ESV

We picked up Evangeline yesterday. She was thrilled to see us. She is currently fond of saying, “I like you, Mom.” I was so happy to hear that sweet voice. I am so grateful that, while she was gone, I had a half day to myself which I enjoyed immensely because I chose not to worry about my baby and trust God to take care of her.

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A Special Place in My Heart

“So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Yesterday I was talking about a good friend of mine, and the other person said, “That’s wonderful. It is so hard to find a good friend.” I was taken aback by her statement. I honestly have not found this to be true for me. God has overwhelmingly blessed me time and time again with amazing friends. My high school crew from church was rock solid. I still have so much love in my heart for my college roommates from 20 years ago. I worked with some amazing people in Springfield who still hold such a special place in my heart. My first few years in Waverly were hard because I held back. Once I jumped in, I was just floored that so many deep, spiritual, Jesus-loving people were all at this amazing church I was blessed to serve. I have met lifelong friends here, friends who have walked with me for 10-15 years now (much longer than I told God I wanted to live here).

This summer, I feel like God has been giving me songs to soak in. This week’s song is “Defender.” A couple of days ago, I opened my email to see the name of one of the best people I know. She just wanted to share this song with me. Yep, the same song I was already living in. How awesome is God, that from 8 hours away, He puts this song into the heart of my soul sister, and she sends me a message reminding me that God is with me and fighting for me when I feel weak.

This stage of life for over 8 years, staying home with kids, has looked so much different than I ever expected. So much harder, so lonely and isolating. I didn’t realize that, as a pastor on staff at a wonderful church, I was sure used to a lot of encouragement, support, a lot of validation in my ministry and the work to which I had committed myself. I had no idea how stepping away from that into full-time raising kids for a few years would test my faith and foundation more than I had thought possible. At the same time, when I feel woefully inadequate for some of the challenges God has placed before me, I have been gifted some amazing friends to cry, pray, hug, and carry me when I couldn’t walk on my own.

Jesus, You are so good to me, far better than I deserve. I sometimes feel guilty for the abundance of lifelong friends you have placed in my life. Thank You for knowing that life is hard, harder than we expect many times, and we need to lift each other up and allow ourselves to be lifted as well. Thank You for the reminders this week that I am not alone, You have not forgotten me here. Praise Your beautiful Name.

If you are looking for a good friend, send me an email. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does.

I’m sharing this version that I listen to whenever I can. The second song in the medley is another one I have soaked in the past month or so.

Defender + Do It Again