Today is a guest post by my friend Melanie Shankle, author of the Big Mama blog and the book Sparkly Green Earrings (which I recommend – so funny and sweet). You will love Melanie’s tender heart and hilarious sense of humor, so enjoy!
When I was in the process of writing Sparkly Green Earrings, I knew that my daughter Caroline would read it one day. In fact, it was my hope and prayer that she’d read it and know how very much she is loved and that I treasured all the moments of her childhood, even though there have been more than a few of them that I thought might buy me an early ticket to a retirement home. Or an all-expense paid trip to a mental institution.
And considering she’s only nine years old, I’m sure there are more to come.
But she completely caught me by surprise one night when she announced she’d like to buy my book on her Kindle. I told her she could, never imagining that she would actually decide to go ahead and read it, because she is a fan of anything with lots of action and adventure and maybe even a little science fiction thrown in. I can say with all certainty that my writing contains none of those things. Largely because I have little to no imagination and that’s why J.K. Rowling is a kajillionaire and I have to do my own laundry and sweep my own floors.
Well, at least one of the reasons.
Caroline began to read a few chapters of my book every night before bed and we’d usually laugh the next morning about how she used to refuse to poop on the potty or the time I was eight months pregnant and locked myself out of the house wearing a non-maternity bikini swimsuit.
But then one night before I went to sleep, I walked into her bedroom to check on her and her little voice said, “Mama?”
“What is it, baby?”
Her voice started to crack, “I read the chapter tonight where I went off to Kindergarten.”
“And? What’s wrong?”
She launched into full-blown sobs, “I read where you cried in the car after you dropped me off at Kindergarten and now I’m just so sad that I had to go to Kindergarten and leave you.”
Well. I had not envisioned this scenario.
I hugged her to me and said, “Babe, that was five years ago. And I did cry in the car because it was a new step and I was nervous and excited for you, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Remember how great Kindergarten ended up being? Remember how much we loved Mrs. Cook?”
She sniffled and replied, “Yes. But Mama? I was five when I went off to Kindergarten and that was five years ago now and I’m just afraid I’m growing up WAY TOO FAST and that I’ll be mean to you when I’m a teenager!”
Yes. That makes two of us.
Then she began to cry again as she said, “I don’t want to ever have to move away from you and Daddy. I just want to live at home forever and never leave.”
And as much as part of me wants that too, I know it’s not the way it works. God has made this incredible little person that I get to love and raise and spend about eighteen years with under the same roof, but he’s also created her to have her own dreams and desires. A big part of my job description is to continually lead her to him in everything she does so she’ll have the courage and faith to go where he leads. Even if that’s far away from me.
(Please God don’t let it be too far away.)
(And if it’s far away, please let her remember to always call home. Every night.)
So, as I tucked her back into bed and smoothed her hair away from her impossibly sweet little face, I assured her that it’s hard to believe right now, but a day will come that she will be ready to leave home and start her own life. And that I am so excited to watch her grow up and become the person that God intended her to be and I will always be cheering her on from wherever I am and that she can always come home when she needs her mom. Then right as I kissed her goodnight, I said, “Sometimes when we think ahead to the future it seems scary because we don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but God always makes us ready for the next step.”
Which is so true.
But in that moment I saw so much of myself. I fear the future. I worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow or what could happen the next day and I can take myself straight to FREAKOUT town full of worst case scenarios in about 2.8 seconds. If you think I’m kidding then I’ll confess that in the last six months I’ve diagnosed myself with at least four different types of cancer based on symptoms I read on the internet.
Did I just lose you on that? Did you just click away to quit reading the words written by a crazy person?
And what God has shown me lately, which echoed LOUDLY in my conversation with Caroline, is that I am guilty of envisioning possible scary scenarios without factoring in the mercy and grace he will give me in any situation I encounter. That I like to sit and worry about what will come or what might come without trusting in his provision. I’m doing the grown up version of Caroline worrying about leaving home even when that’s still at least nine years away.
Maybe you don’t relate to this at all. Maybe you are very healthy and secure and never doubt or worry. If so, please let me know what that feels like.
But part of me bets you do. There are so many days I feel like Peter when Jesus called him to walk to him on the water. He stepped out of the boat and, for just a few moments, experienced the sheer wonder of standing on top of water that he’d fished from all those years. But then he started to doubt. He began to look around and likely envisioned himself sinking straight to the bottom. Or maybe he thought there might be a shark nearby waiting to bite his leg off because that’s totally where my mind would go. Whatever the case, he let his fear of what might be ahead take his eyes off the one who holds it all.
I once heard it said that courage isn’t an absence of fear. It’s doing what you are afraid to do. It’s having the strength to let go of the familiar and move ahead into new territory.
More than any words written in a book, that’s what I want to give my daughter most of all. A faith that, even when all else fails, knows that God never does and he goes before us, holding our future in his hands.
And I like to believe he’s cheering us on all the way.
Have you got your copy of Sparkly Green Earrings yet? You can do that here. If you want a chance to win a copy, just leave a comment and I’ll pick one winner via random.org!
Buy this book now, thank me later! Also, just wait until you read the porch + sickness story, you will laugh out loud. -SM
P.S. Desperate is still on sale for only $3.99!!! I don’t know why, but hurry and get it if you’ve been wanting it! Also, don’t forget to enter this giveaway for the maid service (and more) and this one for the Blessings Unlimited Grace & Gratitude Collection!