{don't step here}

A few weeks ago I interrupted my kids' summer plans of vegging-out-in-the-air-conditioned-house-alllllll-day by forcing them to come pick wild flowers with me. I was helping with a party for a friend, and with the wild flowers in bloom along every country road in Southern Indiana I knew we could get enough to decorate.

I had been scoping good spots on my adventures to and from photo shoots for a week or so, and knew there was a place that had shoots of beautiful little purple flowers that would be perfect, so we would start there.

Begrudgingly, they helped me get containers of water in a galvanized tub and off we went.

I parked at the side of the road and headed into an overgrown patch of purple flowers that had caught my attention days before. All of the space around these intermittent patches of flowers was mowed and as I neared I saw why the mowers stayed away from here- it was wet, "marshy" looking soil. As I walked directly to the flowers I realized there was a small ditch full of water, and that just on the other side of it was muddy, soggy soil- just enough to keep me away from any of the flowers on this side.

"Don't step here!" I cautioned the kids, "it's nothing but mud." I turned and walked away to see if we could get to them from the side or back, away from the road and the ditch, thinking it would be a bit drier that way.

And then it happened.

"Hey mom! You can go right HERE------" and taking a big step over the water, she stepped HARD into the DEEP mud just on the other side of it.

And with a squeal, Tali was in mud almost up to her knee.

Pulling her leg out, her favorite Cons were caked in mud. Her new white shorts splattered.

I could have been mad. I just told her not to step there.

But all I did was shake my head, laughed out loud, and said "I told you not to step there... there's a towel in the back of the car", and went on looking for a way to the flowers, which I found.

As she cleaned herself up, and moved on to an easier location to cut flowers across the road, I happily collected the perfect purple flowers for my decorations, and thanked God for providing them at just the right time, mud and all.

And then I could see it.

I could see how He so often says "don't step here, Becky... this way is nothing but mud" and in my stubbornness and pride and thinking I can find a better-faster-quicker-easier work-around than His way... I step right in it.

At one point in my life, I actively sought out the mud. But that's not what I saw here. Tali didn't want to get mud on her brand new white shorts, and she DEFINITELY didn't want to have it seeping in every stitch of her Converse. She just wanted to help mom get to the flowers and thought she knew the way.

She didn't realize that my words of caution weren't about the obvious water in the ditch, it was because I could see the soggy soil on the other side. I recognized the mud shining just beneath the tall grass that obscured it from her sight.

Being a parent looks a lot like that. It's guarding our children and saying "don't walk there" because we can see the mud. We can see the heartache, we can see the pain, we can see the compromise, we can see the danger. I have said to both of my children at various times "I don't say no because I hate you, even if it feels like that- it's because I love you enough to say no".

Sometimes I have had to say no to things the kids really wanted to do. "All" of their friends would be there, or are playing that game, or seeing that movie, or are allowed to... Honestly, the easy thing to do would be to say yes. Honestly, this momma's heart never wants her kids to miss out. Honestly, I don't want to be the "lame" mom.

Honestly, I want to fit in too.

So I get it.

But at the end of the day, Jim and I are set as guards about our children, and their hearts. And sometimes our job is to say no. Even when the yes is a lot more comfortable.

And each of us have this Heavenly Father who is so much better than us at parenting. Sometimes I miss things. Sometimes I let something go and then look back and realize the slippery slope we've found ourselves on, how easily it would be to slide into the muck, and we have to regroup (which is even harder than the "no" would have been in the first place). Video games put on the shelf indefinitely. Television shows no longer tuned in. Relationships learned from.

But if I'm really honest, there was this voice in my ears all along saying "Becky, this is the way... walk in it". If I'm really honest I wanted to say YES to them so much more than I wanted to heed His "no".

My walk with the Lord has been one of learning that His "no" always has a purpose. A protection. I am learning that He sees things just beyond the obvious that I cannot know. I am learning that His way... that narrow road is worth it.

And my heart rejoices that my children are learning that too.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to give Tali what felt to me to be an all-too-familiar NO to something. I can't even tell you now what that something was, but I do remember the conversation we had later that day. We were in the car when she said: "Mom, you and dad always say yes unless you have a REASON. We know if you tell us no, there is a good reason why."

And my heart sang. For you moms with littles and it seems so hard and the answer always seems to be NO and it feels like a lot of chasing and stopping and disciplining... let me offer you this hope... someday they will see.

Some day you will be riding in your car, sipping on a Lic's milkshake, and your daughter will say "I trust you" and it will be worth it

Some day your child will tell you that he had a choice to make, and he chose honesty. And it will be worth it.

Some day you will have a daughter navigating an entirely new kind of relationship and you will give her advice and she will say "I just told him the same thing last night!!!" And it will be worth it.

They might not always like it (and we have had heated discussions in GameStop or via text message because of it), but somehow in this crazy-hard journey that is full of so much joy and adventure and peace... they are learning the purpose in the no.

Somehow, in this crazy-hard journey that is full of so much joy and adventure and peace... I am too.

I am also seeing that there is a lot more "yes" than "no" in our Father's heart. Tali said the same thing over those milkshakes- "Mom, you always say yes unless you have a reason".

Father is perfect in His love, and so, if he is telling you no, you can trust Him. Our God knows that the mud, whether it sneaks up on us or allures us, is a thief. It steals our time and our joy and our purity and our peace. When He says "this is the way..." it's not because He wants to keep us from the joy of another journey, it's because He so clearly sees the pain down that path.

Father doesn't want us holed up in our homes all of the time- He wants us out picking the flowers.  He wants us enjoying the journey. He wants us living this life, and living it to the FULLEST. He knows it can get messy out there, but if we will listen He will show us where to step. He will show us the way.

I think about Michelle Duggar from "19 Kids and Counting"... when she is talking to her children she will say "I need your eyes" because she knows "when you have their eyes, you have their attention".

As we walk this out, I hear our Daddy saying "I need your eyes"... He needs our eyes fixed on Him. He needs our ears attentive to His voice. He needs us to trust His path and His good purpose in our lives. Would you give Him those things today? Would you give Him your focused attention in this next step He is asking you to take? Would you allow Him to guide your parenting? Your next career step? That relationship decision?

Will you listen when He says "Don't step here, it's nothing but mud..."

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