ok so you get some photos with this story...

maxx was asked to the prom by a girl from church. a senior. she used to be millie's best friend. until millie stopped going to church. well, stopped going to youth events. and at church she sits sullenly by us. not with the youth. sigh.

anyway, there is one week a year where maxx and abby are the same age. they both love music. and have fun together. so she asked him to prom. last year she asked another boy from church to prom. so she has never been asked to prom.

maxx wanted to do something special for her to make her feel special. like those girls who have boys who do cool things to ask them to prom. so he showed up at the retirement home where she volunteers to surprise her with a song and some flowers...

here are some photos...

there is a video of his singing. and her joining in (it was a song they had sung together at dessert theater last year) and all the older folks knew the song and joined in. my friend dina said it was like a real live musical moment! you know i love a musical moment.

it was a great afternoon. except there is always a bit of sadness mingling with the joy. i guess that is how it is this side of heaven. there is always this thought, "this is how it is supposed to be with millie." or "this is what i wanted for millie." or the worst thought of all, "why isn't it like this with millie?"

and then i put these photos and the story and the video on facebook and i received all these sweet responses. a lot about how good i was as a parent. and i wanted to correct all those well meaning people (some who know that not all my children have achieved this level of sweetness... yet.) i wanted to tell them that i can't take credit for maxx. because in some way that would mean that i take on the blame and guilt when my children choose something different. and i can't handle that burden. i can't walk under it. breathe under it. keep smiling under that weight of my own parenting having to set a high enough standard. 

the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. blessed be the name of the Lord. (job 1:21)

He giveth us children who are obedient, caring, kind, and joyful. and sometimes for our good and for His glory He takes those qualities away. i pray only for a season. those qualities come only from Him. we try as parents to set an example (reflecting darkly in a cloudy mirror). but we cannot ensure that our children will follow our example... and we hope and pray that they don't follow some of our examples. i haven't always shown the most patience. or love. or self control. 

i wish i could take credit for maxx's selflessness and caring. or that singing voice. but i can't. i know it comes from Some One else.

philippians 2 (the message)

Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

i am teaching the youth sunday nights through the book of philippians. it is an incredibly humbling book. and one that leads me to rejoice in my sufferings a teensy tiny bit more. like just a little bitty bit more... my praises usually run this gamut... "ok maybe i will praise you for a daughter who isn't quite what i bargained for. who doesn't love me like i want to be loved. who doesn't even like me most days. who doesn't make me look like a good mother. but whatever Your will is in this... i know it is for my good and Your Glory. and i will try to be a tiny bit more joyful about that. for five minutes. then i might complain again. so forgive me five minutes from now when i see some teenage girl on facebook posing in a photo with her mom and tagging her as 'the bestest mom ever'. because that will make me cry."

sanctification is hard. and long. and so slow that it is barely recognizable. at least that is what it looks like in me. it is an uphill battle and sometimes i sit and rest and sometimes i go back downhill because it is easier...

walking in obedience when you want to give up and stay in bed and pull the covers over your head and not be a mommy today is hard. and long. and takes a strength that doesn't come from me. "counting it all joy" is beyond my strength. but He give strength to the weary. He is strong where i am weak. and the alternative to obedience feels so much easier for about 10 minutes. and then i realize it brings a boatload of regret...

not screaming at your daughter that she is ruining your life and sometimes your marriage. not to mention she is making you look bad at church and stealing your joy... takes a lot of self control. and anger management. and wisdom to know that those things are not really true. they are lies that satan is whispering in my ears. because it is MY reaction that is stealing my joy. MY selfishness that is ruining my marriage. and MY pride that is hurt when she isn't with us at church.

not de-friending or avoiding friends just because they have sweet and wonderful teenage daughters. fighting with everything in you not to become bitter and jaded. and wishing that their daughters would stop taking cute selfies of them and their sweet mommas. all those things won't help me feel any better about myself. the thief comes to STEAL my joy and my friends, KILL my relationships, and DESTROY my friendships. Jesus helps me to rejoice with those who rejoice in their teenagers. and He has given me many friends who mourn when i mourn. and who pray daily for millie. and for me. and for our family. He is good. He is loving. and all of this is from His good and loving hand. 

but then there are days (few and far between) when i taste the fruit of step by step obedience and millimeter by millimeter sanctification... and it is sweet. and filling. and it is enough. He is enough. whether your children are (seemingly perfect for now) maxxes or (trying my last nerve) millies, they will never be enough to satisfy your heart. only He will do that. whether you are the perfect parent or one that is barely breathing under the burden... you won't be enough. only He will be.