A Letter to My Children

To My Dear Children,

 

Nothing in this world has brought me greater joy than being your mom.  It hasn’t always been easy but I wouldn’t trade any of it for even one second of being motherless.

 

Yet I know I haven’t always done it right.  I’ve probably messed you up in some ways.  Maybe my fluctuating moods caused too much confusion.  Or you felt that at times I was impossible to please.  I know I’ve raised my voice more than necessary.  And I’ve probably said some unkind things.

 

I wonder if I was too strict about some things and not strict enough about other things.  I’m certain that I wasn’t always a good example.  And I probably changed the rules from one child to another.  That wasn’t fair.

 

I’ve tried my best.  I fell far short of perfection.  Hopefully you never felt that I expected perfection from you.  My goal was to have a healthy balance between discipline and grace.  I’m sure one side weighed more heavily at times.

 

You’ll never know the insecurities I felt as a mom.  The times I questioned my decisions.  And the moments I wish I could take back.

 

Despite these (and other unnamed insecurities), may you know without question that my love for you is unbreakable, unsinkable and indestructible.  And regardless of my many shortcomings, I can only hope that somehow you still felt my love even when I was angry.  That you sometimes saw Jesus in me.  That you felt my prayers.  And that I somehow lessened your hurts when I wrapped my arms around you.

 

Love,

Mom

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

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His Sufficient Grace to See You Through

bible-verse-2-corinthians-129-my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-make-perfect-in-weakness-2013One of my favorite verses has always been “my grace is sufficient for you.”  But I must admit that at one time I saw it as a way out of difficulties, rather than Christ’s empowerment to see me through circumstances that may never change or would literally bring me to my knees.

 

You see, this scripture isn’t a promise things will get better.  But it is a promise that He will give us everything we need to get through our trials and troubles.

 

When I think back over the past 21 years of parenting, I’m amazed at all God has seen me through.  Medical scares, emotional struggles, rebellion, depression, heartbreaks, teen pregnancy…just to name a few.

 

Some of these were short-term problems, others long-term and some continue to remain issues.  But regardless, God’s grace has been and will be sufficient.  It could be that He supplies the strength to press on, the words to speak or the ability to stay silent.  It may even be that He simply provides the oxygen necessary to just keep breathing.  What’s critical in that moment and in the days, weeks or sometimes months following…He knows full well what I need to get through it.

 

I run into trouble when I forget two important things.  One is that it’s HIS grace I must rely upon.  Too often I try to manipulate or control circumstances that are out of my hand.  And when I do manage to make a difference, it usually makes things worse.  I have nothing in me that can get through the difficult times of parenting.  But He does.

 

The second thing is the sufficiency of His grace.  It’s enough.  Whether the healing doesn’t come, the struggle remains, the rebellion continues, the depression gets deeper, the heartbreak seems unfixable, or whatever else…He is more than enough.  Outside sources may help.  But they can never be relied upon.  Nor can parenting methods.  I have no ability in me to parent well.  But He does.

 

Whatever you may be going through today or whatever you may face tomorrow, know that God’s Word is the anchor of hope.  His grace truly is sufficient to meet all of your needs.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

 

Playing the Grace Card

the-grace-card.001I must admit that I get a strange kick out of people’s reactions (specifically church people) when they see my teenage daughter with her daughter.  The good news is the majority of people show no reaction or it’s a pleasant one.  In fact, some are downright gracious—exuding joy and delight at the sight of them.  What they’re doing is playing the grace card in my daughter’s life.  Those who, even if in a small way, contribute positively toward the path that leads to God.

 

Unfortunately—but at the same time, thankfully to a lesser degree—I also see those who don’t play the grace card. Perhaps even contributing to a stumble here and there along God’s path.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences.  I want to be one who plays the grace card.  As a mother, wife, friend, co-worker, acquaintance and even stranger.  I don’t ever want to find myself in any way contributing toward steering someone off God’s path.  I don’t want to come across as holier than thou or making it seem that my sin isn’t as great as someone else’s sin.  Yes, even in parenting.

 

Aren’t we all lost sheep in need of a Good Shepherd who will guide us through life?  Don’t we all fall short of His glory?  Aren’t we all stained with sin?

 

I believe grace is what can bring a lost soul home.  Bit by bit I’ve seen it recapturing my daughter.  And I truly do give a lot of credit to those who have played the grace card in her life.

 

When once I felt angry, now I just feel sorry for those who can’t—or won’t—play the grace card.  Those who stare with judgment in their eyes, those who refuse to acknowledge them or even outright avoid them.

 

But I’ve also come to realize that I’ve been in that same place.  Where I have refused to play the grace card…at times toward my children and at times toward others.  I don’t want to be stingy any longer.  I want to play my cards right.  After all, God sees fit to play the grace card every single day of my life.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

But Grace…

imagesIt wasn’t one of my finest moments in parenting.  I was exasperated, tired and overwhelmed (throw in some hunger and it’s a recipe for disaster).  Trying to reason with unreasonableness.  Wanting to see some sign (just a glimmer) of maturity.  So desperately searching for a quick fix instead of going through hurdles to arrive at a sensible resolution.

 

The circumstances matter little.  However, I think almost any parent can relate to these feelings—where eventually you’ve passed the point of no return.  The best case scenario is it occurs in private.  Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the case.  So my inability to parent well was now on public display.  Ever been there?

 

In the moment you really don’t care (at least I didn’t).  But later…when the dust has settled.  The nerves are calm.  Rationality is restored and time has passed—you have no choice but to face the ugly truth.

 

You messed up.

 

All your good intentions destroyed.

 

The parenting pedestal suddenly looks a whole lot higher and more impossible to reach.  Then comes the guilt, wishing you could turn back the hands of time…wanting a do over.

 

The “if only’s,” I shoulda’s,” and “Coulda’s” play over and over in your mind.

 

It’s time for a beat down—me versus me, knocking myself to the ground and standing nearby, the enemy of my soul…taunting…reminding me of the details so I wouldn’t forget one moment…assuring me I’d blown it for good.

 

It’s so easy to stay in that place of defeat.  Game over.  I lost.  No star for me.  No mommy award coming my way.

 

But grace…

 

Oh, the sweet sound of that word.  Redeeming.  Restorative.  Rebuilding.

 

It covers my every ugly moment.  It reminds me that missteps and mistakes don’t define me as a parent.  It’s a key that unlocks the door…of a cell I put myself in.  Truth is, the key isn’t even necessary.  All I have to do is walk through the door to enjoy my taste of freedom.

 

My self-contained, self-appointed prison.  My own judge and jury.  All of this for a lapse…an imperfect being who is destined to mess up again.

 

Like I said, it’s easy to stay here…to plant myself in the soil of defeat…to wallow in my flawed state.

 

But grace…

 

Grace lifts me out of the pit.  Grace brushes off the dirt.  Grace cleanses from the inside out.  Grace sets the prisoner free.

 

Grace does better than turn back the hands of time…it erases what was done and beckons me to leave it behind.  To release the heavy load and experience the ease of walking in forgiveness.

 

But grace…

 

It reminds me to spend less time focusing on what I do wrong and more time on what I do right.  And as I receive His grace, it allows me the opportunity to pass it onto my children—that they might walk in the same freedom.

 

© 2014, Stephanie Romero

Where I Learned the Most about Grace

the-grace-card.001Don’t get me wrong, anything I know about grace—I first learned in my relationship with the Lord.  It was His grace that pulled me from the pits of a broken life.  It’s His grace that I lean on each and every day.  In the spiritual sense, all I’ve learned about grace comes from Him.  But in the earthly sense, where I’ve learned about it the most is through my children.

In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that so often in my life, it’s been my kids who have offered more grace to me than I have to them.  When they were little, I would sometimes blow it…lose my temper or get upset about something insignificant.  Yet they always forgave, quickly offering a hug and kiss.  They didn’t hold a grudge and they didn’t bring it up later.

There were also times I put unrealistic expectations upon them or burdens they were never meant to carry.  But they never held it against me or complained.  And there have also been times I focused on the small stuff, making mountains out of molehills.  Yet they were able to easily let it go.

There was a time in my life that I blamed my parents for everything.  It was easy to shift responsibility for my actions upon them because I could recount all the things they didn’t do right.  It took a lot of healing, maturity and growth to stop pointing the finger.  But I also saw how despite my imperfect parenting, my children time and time again have offered nothing but grace.

Grace when I yelled over spilled milk.

Grace when I forgot to pick them up from school.

Grace when I said something hurtful.

Grace when I was too tired to listen.

Grace when my anger got the best of me.

Grace when my assumptions were flawed.

Grace when I made the wrong decision.

Although I now have a grown son and two teenagers, I’m still the recipient of their grace.  And it still amazes me.  May I learn to be as grace-filled toward others as my children have been toward me.

Look With Your Heart, Not With Your Eyes

Photo by kalandrakas in Flickr

Photo by kalandrakas in Flickr

You know what I find gets me into trouble as a parent?  Looking at my children through my eyes, instead of my heart.  Because you see, outward appearances aren’t always an indication of what’s underneath.   But guess what?  We can do the same thing toward other people’s children (especially tweens and teens).  In fact, this is where it can be an even bigger struggle.

It may be looking through our eyes at a child’s appearance—someone with a funky hairstyle and wild colors, tight-fitting clothes or ear holes that are so big you could fit a hand through them.  Our eyes take it all in and we immediately make a judgment about their character.

Or we can look through our eyes at a child’s behavior—loud and obnoxious, opinionated or sullen.  Our eyes take it all in and we see nothing but trouble.

We all know the saying not to judge a book by its cover.  And although we may preach it to our children, we don’t always live by it.  In fact, oftentimes we can’t get past the cover—so we fail to realize the treasure that’s contained within.

Something incredible happens when we start looking through our hearts.  We understand that fashion sense isn’t what makes a person.  And it’s not an indicator of what a person believes.

We also come to realize that behavior could be a mask—for a child that is hurting, stung by life’s sharp arrows.  Or it’s just a matter of trying to figure themselves out, coming into their own and discovering the person God has made them to be.

Eyes see what’s on the outside.  Hearts are able to look deeper within…to see the redeeming value in every single child. 

© 2013, Stephanie Romero

God Doesn’t See Mistakes

Credit:  Studio Cl Art in Photl.com

Credit: Studio Cl Art in Photl.com

Sometimes I get the sense that people might think I’ve somehow conquered parenting—that because I write about it, I’ve managed to master this fine art.  Please, let me assure you…I haven’t.  You can ask my children.  They would probably be happy to set the record straight.

Let me give you some background.  I originally started writing “Mom Moments” through a yahoo group.  But in January 2009, I switched to Word Press, with my first blog Joys and Sorrows posted in February of that year.

This year “Mom Moments” became “Treasuring MOMents” because it was the first time a child had left the nest and I came to truly realize how every moment as a parent should be treasured.  I write about parenting not because I have all the answers or because I do it right.  I write on this topic because I am passionate about it.

My childhood (as I’m sure is true for many of my readers) wasn’t the most ideal.  It had challenges that no child should ever have to live through.  And so when I first became a mom, I found that no matter how much I wanted to parent differently—I was starting to fall into a dangerous trap.

Part of the problem was that I believed it couldn’t be stopped.  My upbringing had already determined my destiny as a parent.  That was a lie from the pit of hell.  But it took me several years before I realized that.

I am by no means a perfect parent.  I mess up.  I make wrong decisions.  I sometimes yell and lose it over the smallest thing.  I make promises I don’t keep.  I’m many times short on patience.  And as you recently learned, I even forget my children.

But…I’ve learned something very important.  All the ways that I may view my mistakes as a means to ruin my children…God sees something totally different.  He sees restoration and redemption.

This has been one of the most freeing things that God has shown me.  It took a long, long time for that truth to get into my heart.  But with the chains of shame, guilt and regret no longer upon me—I am free to raise my children in the way Christ would have me.

The key has been grace.  They see it lived out.  My children recognize I’m not perfect but they’ve never doubted my intentions or my love for them.  I’ve enjoyed the gift of grace given to me by God but I’ve also given that same gift to them.

For too many years I saw only the bad in me as a mom.  Now I see the good—not because I am good, but because GOD IS GOOD!

© 2013, Stephanie Romero