The High Road

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It’s been raining here in Oklahoma. The ground is wet. But, I didn’t think it was too bad, and I needed to get to my car. Living in an apartment has its advantages and disadvantages. And today, the disadvantage was I didn’t get home from work before my neighbors, and my car was parked down a bit. I didn’t want to stay on the sidewalk. I would just cut across the grass. It would save me 1.2 minutes. So, I took that first step. And then the 2nd. Then I was trying to hurry, because, with each step, my shoes sunk into the mud, hidden beneath the blades of grass. And my feet were getting wet. And cold. All so I could save a little bit of time.

For many single moms, this is how our holidays go. We start out with great intentions, but we decide to get off the high road. The holidays can be difficult. It doesn’t matter if you have sole custody or joint custody, for a single mom, it’s hard! With joint custody, we have to share our kids with another parent. For the sole custody momma’s, you’re it! No breaks. No extra sleep. For the mom’s who get child support, it’s probably not enough. For the mom’s who don’t get any, you try to figure out how to squeeze pennies out of the budget.

Frustrations can build. Unmet expectations can crescendo. And before you know it, that high road is gone, and you’re walking in mud; wet and tired. And grumpy.

I’ve been a single mom for nine years. Nine years of joint custody. Each year has its own “hard.” Last year, I thought I had this holiday stuff down! Then, the call came. Their dad asked if he could take them to Texas. On my holiday. His grandmother was getting older and wanted them all there. Three days before Thanksgiving! As I talked to my ex, I asked how long he had known about this request. Five weeks. He had known for five weeks. Ugh.

After a big sigh and a quick prayer, I was reminded of the advice I had been given during my divorce. “The high road is never the easy road, but it’s always the right road.”

So, I agreed. In that moment, I chose not to look at why I wasn’t asked earlier. I got off the phone and called my kids. And when I told him that my parents and I were going to move our Thanksgiving back a couple of days, I heard the relief in his voice. “Thank you, mom.”

I thought back to other years when I dug my heels in. And just kept sinking deeper through the entire holiday season. I didn’t enjoy it. And my kids probably didn’t either!

I’m not saying that you should always give in! I’m not suggesting that time with you isn’t just as important as time with dad. What I am saying is that sometimes, we have to take the high road. The harder road. Because, when it comes down to it, our kids didn’t ask to have two homes. They didn’t want to share their parents. And, sometimes, we make choices for what is best for our kids. And last year, that was fulfilling a desire of their great-grandmother.

Take a deep breath, momma. Pray. A lot! Talk to your kids. See what they are feeling. And, try to stay out of the mud during this happy season.  

The Holding Place

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The phrase “But God…” is often the statement that follows some of my most recent frustrations. God is the giver of all things good right? But what about when you feel like he is holding you in place that doesn’t feel so “good”. Is he the giver of those moments too? I am learning to embrace those moments as a holding place. As I call out “But God…” he answers back with a simple “Just wait”. So I wait until I can tell I feel prompted to move. I wait for peace in a place that doesn’t feel comfortable or natural to my flesh. I wait in the holding place until I am ready. This is the place he can grow me and stretch me, when all I really want to do is run forward. As the good Father he is, he knows when to let us run and when to keep us in place. However, the problem factor in his glorious plan is often me! As situations come about, I hear myself saying “But God…” as I try to interfere with his plan and purpose so it is more to my liking. I offer suggestions to the all-knowing God like my plan is somehow more intelligent than his. I would like to think he just lovingly smiles down and embraces my thoughts as he gently offers a reminder to hold my place. To wait for his guidance and learn to hear his voice in the chaos of my own thoughts.

Waiting does not come easily to me and I believe most can say the same. So what do we do in the holding place if we aren’t trying to revise the Lord’s plan? We praise him for the very place he is keeping us! We find gratitude for the one thing that is keeping us in place, preparing us for his gifts in his perfect timing.  The holding place is designed to protect us from receiving before we are ready and from stepping into places we were never designed to go. It’s when we are ready that we can fully experience the blessing he has in store. I wonder what he is protecting you from in your own holding place. What plans he has designed just for you as you learn to praise with a grateful heart right where you are.

I am finding beautiful things in this place and I am learning to quite the noise. To shut out the distractions and turning my “But God…” into a “Thank you, God”. I think Donald Miller paints a beautiful picture of this in his book “Through Painted Deserts” when he states that “Life is a dance towards God, I begin to think. And the dance is not so graceful as we might want. While we glide and sway our practiced sway, God crowds our feet, bumps our toes, and scuffs our shoes. So we learn to dance with the One who made us.  And it is a difficult dance to learn, because its steps are foreign to us.” This makes me wonder if God is just waiting for me to learn his dance. To let him lead me in place that feels foreign to me, but natural and graceful to him. I think it’s time for us to let go and be led. To lay down our suggestions and dance with our creator in the holding places of our lives. And when he says “Go forward” we will be able to freely run into his blessings!

-Daisy