Last week Derek and I were invited to a retreat about generosity. I went mostly because it was a night away at the beautiful Glen Eyrie retreat center next to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. For two days a small group of us talked about holding things loosely because everything, EVERYTHING, here and in our care belongs to God. Much of the conversation revolved around being generous in areas of finance, but I spent much of my time thinking about what it means to be generous with my talents and to have a generous spirit in everyday interactions with people. That I want a generous heart with my attention, not just my stuff.
There is a thing about generous people, they give and they make you want to give too. That’s how it is for me with author Kathi Lipp.
I met Kathi a few years ago at the MOPS office. She did a talk for the staff, a preview of sorts before MOMcon and I was an instant fan. Kathi is engaging and warm and made me feel like I was her new best friend, though I was one of many in a crowd listening to her. And when I talked with her after, it was confirmed I was willing to be her BFF if she would have me. Because she has a generous spirit!
And in the years that have followed every interaction I’ve had with this woman has been genuine and encouraging. She is generous with her attention and her heart. I’ve watched as she has been surrounded by women who connected with her during one of her talks and she has made each one feel noticed and special. Because she DOES notice them and she knows they ARE special. So in lots of ways I want to be more like Kathi because Kathi is more like Jesus.
So I was thrilled to hear the title of her newest book: I Need Some Help Here: Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan. I knew I’d be hearing from a seasoned mom (of both the old fashioned and step variety) who had my heart in mind. She is generous you see and she wants us moms of youngers to know God’s reassurance when our kids (or really life) doesn’t go like we think it will.
Even from the introduction she reminds us moms that she is in it with us. In Kathi’s words:
“Like you, I want the best for my kids. I would lay down my life for them. (Alex here, okay so she gets me right off). I want to take every pain away, to stop every potential issue before it happens (Alex again, does she REALIZE I’m about to have a child in middle school?!), to keep them safe and healthy. And I want them to grow into men and women who love God and live by his word.(Yes! This woman reads my mind and I’m sorry this book was written just for me, but keep reading.)
But, frustratingly, sometimes the next step isn’t “do”. Sometimes the next step is just to be still and know that he is God.”
And there. Bam! Right from the start she hits us with the hard part. We must trust God in all circumstances. Yes ALL. And not just the wayward child who has made bad decisions (and I don’t use “just” lightly there, I’m thinking there may be no deeper pain than a child we believe to be self-destructing in some way.) What I mean is there are ways our youngers are “not going according to plan” as well.That Kathi’s definition is broad and includes unexpected life that impacts our kids.
For me it was a child’s hospitalization. Which over years turned into five emergency room visits that developed into longer hospital stays. Or the split-second just last week at preschool that is forever seared on my heart at the devastation on my daughter’s face when a group of girls turned their backs on her and left her out. Kathi’s words are generous because they have my heartache in mind. They are all about God’s promises that he loves my girls in the midst of their pain. In the midst of them growing up in a world that is not as it should be. This side of Eden.
So here’s the thing about generous people, they give and they make you want to give too. So let me be as generous as I possibly can through written words on a screen, you have my full attention as I say this, life hardly ever goes according to plan. Parenting even less. We need to remind each other that the only unchanging factor is God’s nature. Kathi’s book is this week’s reminder for me.
God sees you. He knows you. He loves you. Regardless of how your day is going and how your kids are doing.
Hear it. Believe it. Absorb it my friends.