Category Archives: Family

The Wingman

By definition, this word has a couple, different meanings.  I need you to get the urban dictionary connotation out of your mind for a few moments to hear this important message.

I often have words on my mind before I pray…before I even ask God for something to share.  More often than not, I will have just a couple words that end up turning into a chapter in what I hope will some day become a book.  This morning…

Wingman

This couldn’t be from God, or could it?  I mean, the God whose been a part of my life certainly has a sense of humor…maybe He’s just trying to make me laugh.  I had to humor him and sit down to my computer to find out what both the silly dictionaries and the reliable ones said about this word.

Wingman…Wingman…Wingman…

Over and over again. I pictured Aubrey.  What? Yes, I pictured my daughter.  I paused and opened a letter she had written to me for just this moment.  I wrote in my journal about how I loved my husband for loving her so much.  I reflected on the wonderful day the three of us just had yesterday, which I could re-live over and over again.

That’s when it hit me.  I’m a wingman! Not in the bar scene sense.  Not in the military sense.  But in the take the military definition and apply it to life sort of sense.  WOW!

I was on to something here.

By dictionary.com’s definition:

Wingman: a pilot in a plane that flies just outside and behind the right wing of the leading aircraft in a flight formation, in order to provide protective support.

Her whole life, I’ve been in the lead, hoping to set the right example, taking the right steps (and sometimes the wrong ones too), giving orders (sometimes a little too often), helping her to reflect on things, learn from situations, and essentially  see things my way in hopes that she gathers enough from our deep conversations to make informed decisions in life. 

As her mom and her best friend, I don’t want her to fail.  But I’m reasonable and know that sometimes that will happen.  I want her to have the strength, the confidence, and the skills to make it through those moments where the outcome isn’t favorable, even if it is just spending money on something that you realize later wasn’t worth it.  These moments could contain BIG things  or small ones but in each lies a lesson that she will eventually pass on to her child(ren).  In some delicate way (or not so delicate if she has “off” days like I sometimes do) she will share this very situation with the next generation, maybe even a few words of wisdom I’ve given her with the flare she’s added all on her own.  It’s a cycle that is often like the game “phone” where words are passed from person to person but instead of the final person sharing a message that sounds nothing like what started off, it’s going to be something profound, life-giving and meaningful.

Every day she opens a letter I’ve written for her so that the entire 25 days we’re apart, she’ll know how much I love her, even though I’m sure she already has a pretty good idea 😉

I didn’t want to be sentimental on every single one, but I found myself writing life lessons from Day 1.  It wasn’t my intention, but it happens.

It always happens.

Whether she asks for it or not, I give advice, I share my thoughts and, if I’ve been in a similar situation, maybe even tell her what I did.  If I’m lucky, she thinks I came out alright and takes my advice.  If I’m faithfilled, I know that what I’ve shared will be taken with a grain of salt and used to do with it what will work best for her.

Ah…then there were other letters…when I realized how grown she’d become.  She’s much like me in ways such as maturity, forward-thinking and independent.  She’s a free spirit too, one that I look at and thank GOD for giving her more of the good qualities of mine than the not-so-favorable.

Wingman

It’s been 15 days so far since she’s been gone and all I can think about is how proud I am, how blessed we are as a family, and how I know she’s going to be more than just fine.  You see, my job thus far has been so important.  As her mom, I was blessed with a role that would mold and shape her into someone who would more than handle anything.

She’s far surpassed that.  She’s taken what I’ve shared with her and ran with it, in such a way that she knows how to develop the right kind of relationships.  She has a faith that is strong, that she’s not afraid to share with anyone.  And for the most part, she doesn’t really care what people think of her.  Many of the lessons I’ve taught her, she’s put her own spin on to teach the teacher.  What an amazing experience!

I knew that there would be a step forward at some point, when I would realize it was time for her to take the lead.  I knew she’s been there for some time now but I failed to see that with her in the lead, there was now a new role for me…

Wingman

In order for her to lead the formation of her life, I had to let her be in the lead plane.  I had to slow down and take a secondary role where I would compliment her while still protecting her.  My part had to change so hers could grow stronger.

I read an excerpt from a blog posting about being a wingman and it was SO TRUTHFUL right in the midst of our very situation.

The writer says that there are three qualities that make up being a good wingman:

  • Mutual supportThe best leaders expect wingmen to be on the lookout for threats to the formation and empower wingmen to intervene and keep the formation safe. This isn’t always comfortable, but it is always the right thing to do and an expectation that should be created in everyone. Of course, to intervene and provide support to a teammate, it’s necessary to first sense a problem.
  • Situational awarenessnot just of one’s own situation, but that faced by teammates. From the day anyone in any walk of life joins a team, no action or inaction — positive or negative — is free of consequence  for  teammates.   This means every team member must know where s/he is in time, space, and circumstance, but also remain aware of the situations confronted by teammates, and how individual actions might impact group dynamics.
  • Individual reliabilityIf each individual meets expectations and is always in position, the formation will spend less energy on mutual support and more energy on making the enemy suffer. 

Although the writer was quite literally discussing qualities of a pilot, he hit the nail on the head, explaining who was now.  It’s time for me to take a position as part of her team, but no longer leading the formation.  I couldn’t have found a better way to explain the position I am now in as her mother, her friend, her wingman.

When I got to Individual reliability, I was floored.  In that moment, God brought it all together.  He used this analogy in such a way that by point three, I was realizing that my job wasn’t over — it never will be over.  In order to be a good wingman, I have to continually work on myself as well.  I can’t slow down or lag behind.  I have to be the example, even if I’m no longer in the lead.  And I have to help my team stay in formation by taking up a role that will make us stronger to fight the enemy that tries to attack us each and every day.

He comes in the form of thoughts in our minds…but he’s different to everyone.  We are attacked where we’re weakest and trust me, he’ll never stop trying to find the weak spot in your formation.

We have an armor of protection (Eph. 6: 10-18) that we need to clothe ourselves with daily but we also need to remain in formation.

So now what’s next?  That’s not up to me.  I know my role is just as important to her now as it ever was before.  But accountability is key; moreso than ever before.  Holding myself accountable to take the position as wingman seriously will do wonders for her when it’s time for her to do the same for her daughter/son.

Deep breathe.  Sigh.  Close my eyes.  Do it all over again.

I’m confident that this shift in formation was with perfect timing.

I’m comfortable with where she is in life.

I’m blessed beyond belief to have been a part of it all thusfar.

And I’m looking forward to all the years ahead.

Baby girl, you have no idea what’s in store.  When I say you’re going to do great things, I believe it to be true!

Continue to take it all in.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Be you.  Be the best you.  Take notes.  Love big.  Love forever.  Love life. Live life.  Judge no one.  Stay true to your beliefs.  Honor God.  Honor your family.  Use your faith to battle your weaknesses.  And always, always, always, know that I love you so incredibly much.

Love,

Mom aka your wingman

Read the full wingman blog post HERE

Cilantro

There I was, making guacamole, trying to pick off the perfect leaves of cilantro. When I was done selecting just the right amount, I decided to pick off all of the bad leaves or those that were going bad. I don’t know if you know this or not, but if you take the bad leaves or semi-bad leaves off of the bunch and put the rest back into a baggie with a paper towel, they will last so much longer, many times 2 weeks in my fridge! To care for this bunch that often only costs me two quarters sounds a bit excessive, I know. But who wants to have all the ingredients for a delicious salad or guacamole and fail to have good cilantro? So I take extra good care of it (I have a few other food tips if you want them too, just ask!).
 
Anyway, the metaphor here is simple. Cilantro represents you and your circle of friends, something we’ve been talking about quite often in youth. The bad leaves are those that could potentially cause the others to go bad. Inevitably with cilantro, they’re all going to go bad at some point, but many of those delicate leaves are going to fulfill their purpose by serving me and my family for dinner. They’re going to make us smile, satisfy our craving for guacamole, and fulfill our hunger. That’s right folks, there is a greater purpose for cilantro.
 
But there’s also a greater purpose for YOU! if you don’t skillfully select the people who shouldn’t be a part of your circle, there’s a better chance of things not going as they should. Those people are going to come into your life, believe me, but you have the choice as to what role they play. Will they be a part of your inner circle or will they reside on the outskirts where your kind gestures make way for a safe distance? Who are you letting influence you? What kind of impact are they having on your life? What in the world are you doing with people who make you feel worse when you should be feeling better?
 
There are so many questions to ask when closing off that circle of friends and even family that you allow into the depths of your life. Some people have to stay on the outskirts simply because they bring out the worst in you, other because their attitudes towards others are damaging yours.
 
When I was a teenager, the key was just in having friends. It wasn’t about quality friendships or even trying to choose people who knew me for….well, me! I used to be embarrassed to say that but I know now that my past is something that I can share to help others learn and grow. You see, I may have had many acquaintances, but not a whole lot of lasting friendships. I was impressionable. I was reasonable. And I gave people a chance, too often, to be a part of my inner circle when they never even worked for it. I realize now that my circle should have been smaller — so small that it would leave room for only myself, some family and a few close friends. The rest could still spend time with me but they wouldn’t see the parts of me that caused me to doubt, feel anxious, nervous, not confident, or even worse, just plain bad. Why? Because those that shouldn’t be part of my circle make all of those insecurities worse; maybe not intentionally but because they had that tendency to be the bad leaf in my bunch, I should have weeded them out sooner.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming my poor choices or lack of direction at times on anyone other than myself. However, I am saying that had I chose to close off my circle sooner and broadened the vision for my future, I may have prevented so many struggles with doubting myself and being untrue to the faith that I so desperately tried to hold on to.
 
Regret isn’t in my nature. I may have made some pretty poor choices and acted so unlike my true self more often than I’d like to admit, but I don’t regret a thing. If I wouldn’t have done every, single thing right and wrong in my life, I wouldn’t be here today, writing about cilantro! My path may have been full of shortcuts, detours and a few deep waters, but the other side is plush, green grass with beautiful sunsets and birds chirping in the background. Every day might not be my favorite, but my life is…because I got it back. I closed my circle and open it very rarely to let in those that compliment me. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take out the bad leaves now just in case they try to spoil the rest…
 
I have a purpose, just like that bunch of cilantro I’ve used as a metaphor. And although I make guacamole, I know my purpose won’t end when I dip the chip! I have to carefully, skilfully, purposefully choose who, what, where and when each and every day. It’s a circle that is ever-changing, revolving and fresh. So before you make your next choice, maybe you should take a look at who and what is around you. Are there any leaves that shouldn’t be in your bunch?
Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." ~1 Corinthians 15:33

Are There Intentional Circumstances?

I’m a writer. It’s in my heart and, quite frankly, I’m convinced it’s in my blood. My father could write, I had a grandmother who wrote a book of poetry, and now I know that my daughter can write as well. She’s always enjoyed writing and has been very good at creating wonderfully descriptive, fictional stories when asked to in school. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I truly heard the inner writer come out.

I was running late, getting in the shower and she wanted to show me her grade on a paper she wrote for Honors English. I didn’t want to blow her off, but I REALLY needed to hurry or we were going to be late. So, I told her to read her paper to me once I was in the shower, and consequently, I’m glad I was already wet because it made the tears fit the scene. As she read her 3-page paper, I was convinced that she would continue to do just as I have, creating a bond between herself and writing, even if only for her own strength and comfort. She could go on to do more with it but, like me, I believe she’ll use it to impact whatever or whoever it is she’s helping rather than having it as a lifelong career. She’s passionate about people, even if she doesn’t feel comfortable with strangers or making new friends; which is quite opposite of her mother I might add.

Her story was self-reflective, talking about who she is, where she came from and explaining why she is the way she is. She is confident. She is awesome (she says so in her paper!). And she knows how to make her momma cry. She talked about me in a way that I hadn’t heard before. She said things that I only hoped she had felt. And she understood that, even though life is difficult at times, we are who we are because of what we do with the situations we are presented with. It was the best thing she’s ever written and I am proud. I don’t think it’s fair to get into all the details but I will tell you one thing, she’s going places.

Last night, I confessed to a room full of women that I’m scared about letting her go. On one hand, I’m worried that she’s going to make the same mistakes I have in the past but on the other, I don’t believe anything I’ve ever done is a mistake because it led me to right where I am; and let me tell you, this place is pretty cool! I explained something that I tell Aubrey often and that is, as parents, our job is to raise our children to be better than we are. When I look at her, at almost 15, I know I’m doing something right, yet I worry that she’s going to make the wrong decision. Here’s where the tears came, in front of that group of amazing women…I’m so afraid that she’s going to make a bad decision that I don’t let her get into a situation where she CAN make one. ‪#‎truth‬

At some point, I’m going to have to let her go, little by little, knowing that I did a good job. I know I’ve made an impression because of what she wrote yesterday and the choices she makes each day. It’s just a matter of convincing myself that, even if she makes a poor choice, it will be her choice to make. However, I know that she’s already far stronger than I was at her age. I pour my knowledge into her. I’m open, honest and a little less than discrete with her at times. I don’t want her to question things, or wonder, “what if?”

I can confidently say this morning, that I have done a good job; not to get a pat on the back, but just to be honest about all of the “what if’s” in my life.  Like…

“What if I would have not finished college?”
“What if I wouldn’t have put my all into being a mom?”
“What if I wouldn’t have been a single mom for so long?”
“What if I would have stayed where I was for so long because it was comfortable?”

What if, What if, What if?

Then, this morning, I continued to read a book that I’ve been getting up early for lately. I didn’t make it very far before something jumped out at me.

“Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” ~Lysa TerKeurst

It brought me back to all of those “what if’s” and suddenly, I had the answer I didn’t even know I had been searching for. People say that we are the product of our circumstances, yet I sit here, reading this sentence understanding one very important thing…we CREATE our circumstances. Sure, there are unavoidable things that happen to us in our lives, but they do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT, dictate what our choices will be. My life would have been so much different had I not made the conscious choice to step out of a path that would have taken me down a road that I would have not allowed me to be who I was to be.

That’s it folks. It’s really that simple. My amazing daughter, is a product of the circumstances that I created for myself and I’m pretty darn proud of that. Knowing what she knows, sharing what I know with her and being surrounded by people that she is, I know that no matter what situation she’s in, Aubrey will make the choice that is best for her. Regardless of whether I think it’s wrong or right, it will be what she needs to bring her to a similar point in her life, 20 years from now. I envision her sitting on her bed, typing away in the wee hours of the morning, sharing her understanding of life as she knows it.

We have to believe that whatever it is we’re going through is either A. directly reflective of a choice we made or B. something that we will later look back on and see as an opportunity to grow, to learn, to have a story to share with someone going through the same thing later on.

Don’t feel discouraged. Don’t feel stuck. Don’t feel like you can be anything less than the best YOU. We can all make a difference somewhere, doing something but we have to first make a difference in ourselves, then in those around us before we can impact the world. As Stephen Covey once said, put first things first.

I really have no idea where this came from, but I’m certainly glad it came out here. My heart to write is evident, but it’s up to me to make the decision to share it. I choose to share. These words keep coming up everywhere I go so I’m going to repeat them again – BE INTENTIONAL. In all you do, in all you say, in all you are.

Thanks for hanging in there. Hope this helps someone today. Praying for you all.

For You, My Daughter

I want you to be strong, yet sensitive; Confident, yet humble.

I see you like me, only better, wiser, more capable of handling what life throws at you.

I love…

your personality…

your drive…

your decision to not worry what others think…

your hesitation to be the center of attention…

I know there are times when I hover.  It’s because I love you.

There are times when I tell you what you need to do in a situation, when it all actuality, you already know the right thing to do.

Your choices are wise.  You care about others, but you stand proud of who you are.  I love that about you too.

Sometimes, when I give you advice, it comes out as a lecture, I don’t mean to.

I feel like I’m talking to a younger version of myself–and that scares me.

You say you want to be like me?

Well I’d love nothing more than to for you to be where I am right now.

Why?

Because I’m happy and blessed.

But I don’t want you to go about it the way I did.  I don’t want you to face the harshness of life and see yourself making bad decision after bad decision.  I don’t want you to feel like a failure at times and struggle to make it to the next day.

But even still, every struggle was worth it just to be where I am today.

I want you to stay strong.  I want you to see the end result way ahead of time so that you know, every choice matters.

It’s just as easy to make the wrong decision as it is the right one…it’s just the outcome that is different.  

You see, I want what’s best for you and, although at times I think I know what that is, there’s someone else that knows even better than I do.

He’s got your back when I don’t even know that you need someone there.  He knows when you’re at a bridge and aren’t sure if you should cross it.  He is in your heart, on your shoulder, guiding your steps and always, always, always letting you know whether or not you’re headed in the right direction.

I may not always have the right words to say, but He does.

I may not have always made the best choices, but He has shown me the way.

I may not always set the best example, but He does.

I know you are made for so much.  I know that you are going to leave a legacy and it’s starting right now.  You have shoes to fill but God will give them to you when it’s time.

You have purpose.

You have reason.

Most of all, you have love.  My heart is yours.  My life is where it is because I wanted more for you.  God showed me the way, but you made me see the bigger picture.  Without even knowing it, you lit my path so that no one could ever take my focus again.

I wanted more for you – so I became better for you.  I won’t always be perfect.  We won’t always see eye to eye.  And we certainly won’t always agree.  But one thing is for sure…

I love you more than words can say…

I love you to the moon and back…

I love you most!

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine!

All those sayings and so many, many more, were created for you.  And this, this is for you.  My life, my love, my heart, my direction, my best.  God gave me you so that YOU can live for Him.  So that you could fulfill your  purpose through Him.

He’s showing me my way too.  Every, single day, he shows me a new direction.  He leads me down a path and gives me the opportunity to make a difference.  I chose Him.  I will continue to choose Him.  Because without Him, I can’t be who I need to be for you.

So this is it.  These words from my heart, they’re for you.  I hope you know how much I care.  How much love I have for you.  But most importantly, I hope I show you every day how important God is.

I can guide as much as I’d like but God is your go-to person – now and always.  He’s going to be there at the times when I’m not and long after I’m gone.  One day, all my words, all our time, will be a distant memory.  God will be here to see you through.  He’ll show you how to be, how to live, how to feel free.  Trust in Him.  That still, small voice in your heart will always let you know when you’re doing right.

Follow His lead.

Know He is good.

Just as He says to me when I struggle, I’ll say to you right now–these words are for you, my daughter.  Listen to them with open ears.  Watch what He can do with an open mind.  Open your heart to all the opportunities that through Him, are possible.

I love you.

Love,

Mom