Posts Tagged ‘Parenting Challenges’

crocnightA few weeks ago, Bicycling with Ava was released. A Crocodile under the Bed, displayed alongside – hasn’t had grandmother’s come bursting through doors saying, “I’ve got to have that for my granddaughter. Her name’s Ava” – but Croc has slightly out-sold Ava. . . and, well, it’s done something incredibly surprising and beautiful.

For every person who has walked by my table (at art festivals), reached out to look at the books, grandma’s and friends interested in Ava – they’ve got to hear about how A Crocodile Under the Bed is for ages 5 to 105 – because everyone has a crocodile under the bed.

The crocodile symbolizes the challenges. Challenges don’t go away. They just change. Five-year-old challenges are much different from the ones faced at 16, 22, 30, 41, 51, 65, 73+. Those challenges might be different, but I think all challenges, regardless of age, have the potential to steal our peace, hurt our hearts and, generally tie us in all kinds of emotional knots.

page1Parenting is full of challenges our children face: educational, health, relationship, choice challenges. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t know the answer. Even specialists have trouble identifying issues and solutions.

. . . and the people who walk by my table, I get the opportunity to tell them how Crocodile Under the Bed is a story about giving those challenges over to God–how we’re called by God to both prepare for battle but to rest in peace at the same time. . . . how, sometimes, only God can get rid of the crocodiles under our beds.

I won’t lie to you – selling my books has been a blast. I’m scheduling art and craft festivals to sell them at in 2015. It’s a venue that has so far been successful. It also allows the opportunity for real conversation, whether people buy or not – real conversation about a God who wants to get rid of the crocodiles under the bed – and that is the best part of it all – the best part of all!

Do you have a crocodile under the bed? Do you need to be reminded to ask God to get rid of that crocodile under the bed? Do you know that God loves you enough to wrestle those crocodiles for you?

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears”

Crocodile Under the Bed INTERIOR.inddTo order click here: A Crocodile Under the Bed

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Summertime at the pool growing up consisted of diving, racing and breath-holding. Diving, I wasn’t so good at diving, but the backstroke and breath-holding – I could give anyone a run for their money.

Breath-holding in competition might not be such a bad thing, but living breath-holding, well, it just about sucked all the good things in life right out of it.

I was living through challenges like I was holding my breath under water, pausing all living but the challenge. I assured myself I would breathe again when the challenge was resolved and tidily put behind me. Only then would I break through the surface into the figurative sunshine to gulp the fresh, summertime air.

It’s lonely there, under the water, counting the seconds till I felt my lungs would burst. It’s also isolating counting the seconds, focusing every thought on the right-now challenge.

Living life waiting to exhale is no way to live.

I’m still learning.

Some were sweet lessons like nine months of learning to live in  the wait of each son born.

Some learning to exhale lessons were a mixture of sweet and soul-sweat: 12 years for each boy to graduate high school – and learning to breathe through each individual academic, social and behavorial challenge – big and little, little and big.

The hard challenges, though, the hands-off challenges of parenting, where independence claims our children, where some are designed to learn through experience – or as one son described this independence-on-training wheels to no-training wheels:

“I took my independence on scoop at a time. He took it in one truck load.”

I cannot live my life holding my breath or watch my sons live their lives holding my breath.

One cannot live God’s plan holding their breath.

Faith means exhaling, to continue breathing while something as simple as a pot works on boiling or a child growing lives free-will.

I once shared office space with a professor who taught Tolkien. Waiting for students to come see us during office hours, we talked literature, students – and life.

“Breathe in, ‘Lord Jesus Christ,'” he coached. “Breathe out,’Have mercy on me.'”

. . . . and so I breath in “Lord Jesus Christ:

“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4)

and I exhale, “Have mercy on me. . .”

. . . . and He does.

Most days, I’m a fighter – and so I fight to live life exhaling. In the midst of a challenge, I find Him in a cup of Kiwi Lime Ginger tea, sink deep into my grandfather’s chair

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

– and maybe read a bit or knit, rearrange my garden – cut some lavender, hydrangea and bergamont,

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

cook some lemon curd or summertime gazpacho – and invite God to join me in all of it, steeping His goodness into my life.

breathing in, “Lord Jesus Christ”

breathing out, “Have mercy on me.”

I give Him the challenge – and right there the answer is assured, though I don’t know sometimes what the answer will look like. I can stop counting the minutes until resolution. I can exhale.

“But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding” (Job 32:8)

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