Last Christmas, the only family picture we ended up with was a selfie with, as you can see, heads cut off, my grandbaby not looking, and my husband half hiding behind my hair. But the photo made me happy, and I wished my Facebook friends a Merry Christmas with it anyways! Sometimes the best photos are simply that candid look of unplanned moments—when someone reaches out their hand to take a picture and captures happiness.
I once heard that it takes about 12 pictures to get a good one, so it’s still totally legitimate to take a couple dozen and keep the one that works! I do this all the time with photos of my garden, my family, and especially that little beauty on the bottom right of the photo above. I’m constantly deleting pictures on my phone to free up space for the next unexpected opportunity.
I used to be a “school parent.” I homeschooled my daughters Melissa and Jenna for several years and then enrolled them in a Christian school where I drove every school morning for eight years until they each graduated. For many of you reading this, that’s where you are today. You get it…how when we’re parenting kids, there are so many of those “save-able” moments, the ones we absolutely want to keep!
But then those other times. Those times when, looking back, we wish it were possible to hit a little button and permanently delete. I imagine you know exactly what I’m talking about. Yelling when we’re running late to school, exasperation when homework remains unfinished and it should be bedtime, impatience which really stems from our own lack of sleep rather than what our kids are doing. (And, Jenna says I can tell you about all our fights over the little rubber bands for her braces…but I almost don’t want to.)
I had PLENTY of those moments when my kids were growing up. (I still do.) So I’m thankful that although we might not get actual, complete “do-overs” in parenting, we definitely get re-starts—possibilities to begin again, to reach out a hand with another opportunity to know our kids better, love them, and be the best we can be for them.
It’s hard. Yes, it’s hard. I recently read a Facebook update about a parent facing unexpected pre-Christmas surgery for her daughter. I know more than one parent going through an illness of their own. Moms and dads wondering where to find the money for just a little Christmas shopping. Parents who are hurting deeply because their children are hurting.
To me, that was pretty much the worst.
I have these words hanging in my office: You call me out upon the waters. Maybe you know the song Oceans by Hillsong which tells the story from Matthew 14 of Peter being called by Jesus to get out of his boat and walk on the water towards Him.
Wow. What would you have done?
I wonder, would I step out of a boat and try to walk towards Jesus on top of deep water? What kind of faith does this take? Where does that courage come from? I’m still learning that it means looking only to Him to do what, humanly speaking, would not be possible. Peter did step out of the boat, but when he temporarily lost faith and started to sink, he desperately looked up to Jesus to rescue him.
I’ve been thinking this season that maybe God calls us to step out of the boat and into the water more often than we think—and the only stipulation for success is to keep our eyes on Him. Moms and dads, if you feel like you’re failing (sinking!) more than you’re succeeding, if you’re needing do-overs more than savoring picture-perfect moments, let me tell you that God’s grace abounds in the deepest waters!
Even if you’re familiar with this song, consider listening to it again with your role as a parent in mind. Let God speak to you about looking above the waves and finding Him in the mysteries and challenges of parenting—and of life. Then why not think about doing something fabulous with your kids this holiday season, completely unrelated to giving them a tangible gift? Something unexpected, where you listen, you laugh, you do what they want, eat what they want, but mostly where you’re all there and all in…for them.
You might not end up with all picture-perfect selfie moments with your family this Christmas, in fact there might be some you just want to throw away and forget. But step out in faith anyway. Keep your eyes above the waves. Walk on the water to Jesus—and then let your kids see your own real faith and love for Him.