The Things We Choose

3:12 PM

I've been reading my friend Carol's blog and she's written several times lately about her father and the legacy he passed along to her family.  She lost her father to pancreatic cancer 10 years ago, and her memories, and her Dad's legacy are truly beautiful. Very thought provoking. 

I remember her Dad well.  Her family grew up only a few streets away from mine, and her mother and mine were best friends. We were also raised in the same church.  Carol is a few years younger than me, so while I saw her frequently growing up, our paths didn't truly begin to cross as friends until we were adults.  But I have many memories of her parents.

I remember her Dad's contagious laughter, and I think Carol got that from him.  I remember hearing him play the piano, just as she talked about. And I remember the freshly baked bread. YUM! 

But as makes the most sense, I have more memories of her mother being around while I was growing up.  I know her mother was an important friend to my mom over the years. Which brings me to the subject of this post.  The Things We Choose.  

As a woman, we make choices. As a mother, we make choices. Daily, hourly. Minute by minute. What to spend this hour doing. What to do while the kids nap. Obviously, the list is endless. The possibilities are endless. But for each woman and mother and wife and person, those choices must be made. And they're different for each person. I find it interesting, however, how the choices we make affect the choices our children will make when their day comes.

I know this to be true because I look at my mom and many of the choices she made and I find myself making similar ones.  Thinking about Carol and her family reminded me of how my mom, as a stay at home mother to lots of young children, made some distinct choices to both preserve her sanity and maintain her physical, emotional and spiritual health.

My mom didn't homeschool her kids, so her days looked very different from mine in many ways. But in other ways, she made time to fit in certain things that I find myself also fighting to make time for. 

I don't know how many days a week this took place, but I know that at least a few days a week, for years on end, my friend Carol's mom would come over to my mom's house in the mornings while the kids were off to school and they would exercise together. And pray together.  I must have filed this piece of information away in my mind. I didn't grow up in a family that went to a gym in the evenings, largely because my mom fit her exercising in during her mornings. And she coupled it with quality spiritual time with a dear friend.

How valuable that decision was! Even as a kid, I deduced several things from her choices: 1) fitness was important to her - and she always looked amazing! Much better than any other moms we knew! 2) she knew the value of deep friendships with women in similar life situations. You need that for moral support and sanity! 3) having another person share in your prayer time kept you spiritually accountable to someone - and in the Word. Always a good choice. 

My mom continued this pattern with her friend for years, until circumstances moved her friend away. And I remember this breaking my mom's heart. But to this day, she maintains a solid friendship with Carol's mom. I love that.  And to this day, my mom makes exercise a priority. I love that too. And it goes without saying that my mom makes her spiritual walk with the Lord a priority. She is a prayer warrior of the highest echelon. She made it a priority to find time to spend with the Lord when the kids were napping or at school, and this became a pattern that has blessed her and now has been passed down as an example to me.

Although in lots of ways, I make different choices from my mom, just as she made different choices from her own mom when her day came...I find myself culling through the choices she did make and adopting those as my own.  

Since I homeschool and my mornings are full, I am not able as easily to get together with friends to work out during my mornings, so my husband and I go to a gym in the evenings and we work out together almost daily.  Physical fitness is important. And key to my sanity! And I know my kids are picking up on this too.

And I have been blessed with key friends, Emily in particular, without whom my life would be dry and lacking.  Very few of them live close enough to pop over several times a week, but even daily or weekly conversations where we hash out our daily struggles and prayer needs and commit to praying for each other - this uplifts, encourages, rejuvenates and drives me on with renewed purpose.  I envy my mom that she had that daily time with her dear friend. I had that for awhile and found it so valuable. For now, though, I am grateful to have the friends and to know they are there and praying for me and going through what I am at the same time. And I choose to fight and pray over and cherish these friendships.

Spiritually, my mom left a deep legacy of choices that I may always measure myself against and be found wanting.  But I have that standard and it challenges me. She takes long, daily prayer walks (for which I reap the benefits!!) and right now, I don't have that much time. But I do pray constantly and do my best to spend quality time with the Lord during my kids' nap times. And my children are being raised to know the Lord and love Him. They believe in the power of prayer and that their prayers are important to God.  They are being taught the Truth and to understand that there are many choices we make daily that define our hearts and lives.  Our lives definitely revolve around our love for and commitment to serving our God, although I know in a thousand ways we could be better.  

I know so much of parenting is a matter of grace - God's grace through me, in me, protecting my kids from the mistakes I make.  I do not profess to have any sense of mastery at this. I struggle daily as many of you do. I lose my temper and raise my voice and pop my kids when they repeatedly disobey.  I wish I were the picture of calm and maternal grace, but that is not always the case.

Fortunately, I have been blessed to have watched some pretty amazing women, my mother and Darlene included (Carol's mom), raise their families, making choices along the way and while imperfect, their choices included a heavy reliance on a strength-giving, grace-giving, all-sufficient God whose love shone through them into their families and has resulted in far- reaching legacies of faith, physical, spiritual and mental health and enduring friendships.  I hope the things I daily choose will reap the same long-term rewards.

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