In a few short weeks, my oldest son, Bobby, will be graduated from high school and leave home, and I’m not ready. I’m sure that I am not the only mother facing a child’s graduation wondering how all of the time passed so quickly. It seems like yesterday that I sat with my kindergartner at the computer looking up every fact I could find about bats because Bobby could not concentrate on home schooling until he had answers. Wasn’t it just last fall that he was six years old and asked for a tuxedo for Christmas so he could take me to dinner?
Ever since Bobby was small, he has said that he wanted to be a pilot someday. This always struck me funny because he was terrified of heights. On more than one occasion, I had to cram my adult-sized body into the high tubes of McDonald’s play place to rescue my petrified little boy who was frozen in the middle. Just weeks after his graduation, Bobby will be joining the Air Force, and, maybe someday, will fulfill his pilot dream. There’s something about him joining the military that makes his leaving home more permanent than if he had chosen to go straight to college. Isn’t he too young for that?
The truth is that Bobby is more than ready. He has always seemed like an old man trapped in a child’s body. His favorite singer when he was young was Elvis Presley and he has always loved classic movies and television shows. It’s as if he was born with wisdom well beyond his years. Bobby has been a lifesaver as I return to the workforce after over two decades. I’m not sure how our family will cope without his presence, but I know it’s time.
It’s amazing how one minute, my heart overflows with pride for this boy and excitement for his future and the next, my heart is breaking at the thought of letting him go. I know that I am not the only one feeling this way. I also know that this is what Bob and I have been working toward for our son. We knew that this sweet boy who, after getting a sled for Christmas when he was two, said, “Where’s the reindeer?” would someday be a grown man of God stepping away from us to fulfill his God-given purpose. I couldn’t be more proud.
Well, we made it. Lent has finally come to an end. The Lenten sacrifice is over, and Christ has risen. The question is, have you?
St. Paul said, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised form the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The purpose of Lent is not to give something up as a sacrifice to endure for the forty days leading to Easter. We sacrifice, we suffer, so that we may grow. If we only focus on doing without a comfort, such as chocolate or soda, and return to the abuse of those comforts as soon as Lent is over, we have missed the point. Our success during Lent does not lie in the temporary suffering that we achieve through our own power, it lies in what we allow God to achieve through our suffering.
This Lent, my growth did not come from giving something up, although I did do some of that; it came from my deep desire to learn to trust God. It has been many years since I have truly trusted in God’s will for me. Because of this lack of trust, I feared hoping. I have been so afraid of disappointment that I have often refrained for praying for my desires. However, over the past six weeks, I have allowed myself, forced myself, to risk asking God to fulfill my dreams. I began with little things. About two weeks in, I cried out in desperation, and he answered. It wasn’t the answer that I had expected, but it was better than I imagined. And through that came healing.
I read a while back that it takes twelve weeks to make a habit. I have found that to be accurate. Even if I perfectly trusted God every day over the past six weeks, which I didn’t, I’m only halfway there. If you made strides in your spiritual journey, you’re only halfway there. If you can stay on track, you’re Lenten growth will not be lost. Relying on God will become a habit, and we will finally be able to trust—to have hope without fear.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating Easter by partaking in what you have done without during Lent. However, as we enter the Easter season, let’s make a conscious effort to remember the growth this Lent has brought about. Every ending brings forth a new beginning. Sometimes endings are incredibly painful. Nonetheless, no matter how difficult beginning again is, there is always hope. We just need to trust that God can bring forth beauty from our suffering.
"I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C.S. Lewis
I’ve lost track of how many times I have read Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I never tire of it (or its following eight books with the same main characters). It truly is like visiting an old friend. Most of us have at least one friend that no matter how many years pass between conversations, we just pick up where we left off like we just spoke yesterday. That is exactly what it’s like picking up this book for at least the sixth time.
Many people don’t understand how I can read a book so many times. This book is special. It is this book that pulled me out of my depression nearly a decade ago. It was one of the books offered for free on my Kindle. I’m not sure why I picked it. It’s not even my preferred genre. Usually I read crime books. There’s something about the puzzle of solving cases that draws me. Assassin’s Apprentice is an old world fantasy.
I’m sure this is not the only time I will write about this particular book series or this author. It’s hard to convey all of its amazingness in one short blog post. When I read the first chapter about the bastard son of the man who would be king of the Six Duchies, I was in a dark place. I had turned forty a couple of years before and had not taken it well. Half of my life was over and I felt, as many do, that I had accomplished nothing in my four decades. My head knew that raising our five children was very important, but I got so caught up in trying to survive each day that I lost my joy. It wasn’t that I was sad; I couldn’t feel anything. No highs, no lows, just the feeling or trying to keep afloat.
My depression revealed my selfishness. I’m not saying that everyone who suffers from depression is selfish. I just had never thought of myself as a selfish person. But at that point, we were living in a place where my family thrived, and I did not. I was miserable there. I desired something in my life that was just my own—a hobby or something—but there was no time. I desperately wanted to go back to school and finish my degree, but our remote location made it impossible.
This book series changed me. It awakened the parts of me that had forgotten how to feel. FitzChivalry’s struggles were my struggles—his feelings, my feelings. And by the time I finished Assassin’s Quest, the third book in the trilogy, it all clicked for me as I read these words:
It is one thing to be willing to die for another. It is another sacrifice, the living of one’s life for another.
At this stage of my life, it was essential that I lived my life for my family. They needed me. There would be a time when I would be able to fulfill my own goals, but that point in time wasn’t it. My husband and kids came first. It had to be that way, and I accepted it.
I have since seen two of my daughters grow into amazing young women, one of which has given me four beautiful grandchildren, witnessed my sons become men, and my youngest daughter turn into a lovely young woman. I wrote a novel (Among the Reeds), finished my degree, and found my hobby—writing.
I firmly believe that God used The Farseer Trilogy to save my life. I realize that an old world fantasy book is an unlikely resource chosen by God, but it was the perfect way to reach me. It was subtle and powerful. Now, as I hold my Kindle in my hands, experiencing FitzChivalry’s story all over again, I am extremely grateful for my old friend. And I know that this will not be our last visit together.
I’ve reached the age where I have to read every obituary that’s posted on Facebook. I can’t resist the temptation. And every time I read about the person’s life, I wonder how many stories he or she took to the grave. My father was a great storyteller. His stories enraptured me most of my childhood the same way they enchanted my own children. Most of us would never think our own stories are that fascinating because our lives are ordinary. For some reason, my dad never felt that way. When he died, I wondered how many stories he took with him.
My favorite of Dad’s stories were the ones about his horses. I loved to hear how, when he was very small, his dad put him on a quarter horse that he was breaking. The horse pitched a little when she broke into a gallop and threw Dad to the ground, breaking his arm and spraining his ankle. My grandmother didn’t let my dad on that horse again for a couple of years. Despite a rough start with that horse, Beauty became my dad’s favorite. As he would tell me about her, he’d grin and his eyes would sparkle as he looked beyond me to his memory of jumping Beauty over fallen trees in the pasture or of how he never lost a race with her. Through these stories, Dad showed me what an honor it was to gain a horse’s trust and to be able to trust her just the same. When I experienced the same honor with my own horse decades later, I appreciated the miracle of it more because of Dad’s stories. Through his stories, I got to know relatives that I never met and see another side of my precious grandparents. He told his stories not so he would be remembered, but so that those who were no longer living would not be forgotten. It was his responsibility to pass on their legacy.
Now it is mine.
Dad’s stories weren’t unique or incredible. They were just of a boy who was born during the Depression, survived the Dustbowl in the 1930s, and loved baseball and horses. His stories taught me not only about his own experiences, but also about who I am. We need to tell our stories to our children, even if we think that they aren’t that special.
If you are blessed to still have your grandparents, ask them to tell their stories about their childhood, their marriage, what your parents were like when they were small. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask your parents about what their lives were like before you were a part of their story. They may say that their stories are not that fascinating and probably not worth listening to, but I promise you, they will be honored to share their history with you, and you will be so glad that you’d asked.
I challenge you to tell your story to your children. Tell them what it was like when you were small, what their aunts and uncles were like as you were growing up together. Tell them about how you and your spouse met and what it was like when you discovered that they were on the way. Tell them what they were like when they were babies and how proud you still are when you look at them. Don’t be afraid to share your story.
I can almost hear my dad’s laughter when I remember him. It’s what I miss the most about him. I know that he would be proud to know that his stories live on. Someday, I hope that my grandchildren will be telling my dad’s stories to their own children. And maybe they’ll have a few stories about me to tell as well.
Most people are afraid to write. I know that I was for many years. I suspect that most of us have an inner-writer buried deep inside of us that is dying for his or her voice to be heard. That was certainly the case for me. I had stories and characters floating around in my head for decades before I finally released some of them. I wasn’t sure if I would ever introduce them to anyone else; I would have to overcome a different kind of fear before that would happen.
I told myself that I didn’t have time to write. Raising and homeschooling my children certainly took much time and energy. Realistically, I was embarrassed to. I thought that my family would think that I was ridiculous for taking the time to write words that no one would ever want to read. The truth was, I didn’t figure that anyone would want to read my words either.
I began in secret, snatching up bits of time when no one would miss me or wonder what I was up to. I’d had a dream of writing a novel since I was in high school. I’m not sure why. I didn’t even like to read then, but God put this desire in my heart for a reason, I suppose. As an adult, I never tire of reading, which probably is what stirred my inner‑writer to life.
I wrote for a couple of years before voicing my desire to my husband. When I did, something totally unexpected happened: he supported me. He was so excited that he began to think of ways to make time for my writing. On several occasions, he rented hotel room for a night so I could have hours of uninterrupted writing time. He often would get discouraged when I came home with only a few pages of content. He couldn’t understand why it takes so much time to create a story. However, it was his constant questioning me about when I would finally be finished that allowed me to complete my first novel, Among the Reeds.
Lack of time is just one excuse to delay writing. For many, I imagine fear is the bigger deterrent. The pen, or keyboard, is a direct connection to the innermost parts of the mind and heart. Many times, I don’t understand my thoughts or feelings until I put them on paper. I avoid writing about certain subjects because I’m afraid of what inner demon I might have to face. But, face them I will.
I’ve only just begun allowing the writer inside of me her voice. I’m sure that God has placed many stories, characters, and ideas in there somewhere for me to discover. I can hear him speak the words of Isaiah 41:10 to my heart as encouragement.
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you.
Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
With pen in my right hand, or both hands on my keyboard, I will face my fear. Stay tuned; this is only the beginning.
Lisa R. Perron
I have a heart for adoption. Three of my five children are adopted. Because of that, our family looks different than most. In this blog, I want to give you a glimpse of my God-sized, God-designed family and share all of the lessons I've learned along the way.