Category Archives: Single mom

Vulnerable to hope.

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“I hate that she has no hope.”

So said my thirteen year old about me/to me in therapy. She was angry.

What could I say?

It is hard to share appropriately with one’s children your real outlook on life. Especially if it’s bleak.

It is not that I’m hopeless.  It’s simply that I have no emotional bandwidth to even think if I have hope or not. There is no emotional margin to consider such things. On a macro level I always have hope, even if it’s not for this life but the one coming.  I can always find that.

But on a micro level, it’s like asking someone fully awake and haemorrhaging on the operating table if they feel hopeful about their situation.  There’s no time to consider that!  All they can think about – if anything at all through the pain and shock – is whether the surgeon can stitch them up in time to stop them from bleeding to death. All while their children are watching.

My daughter’s words stayed with me all week.  I tried to explain at the time but it cut no ice. She is hurting so badly and I’m not providing her with any rope to climb out of the pit alongside me.

I’ve chewed on the truth this week and I recognise that, while it’s true I feel there is currently no margin for hope, that’s not the whole story.  I’m also protecting myself from hope.  When sufficient margin/time has been regained to allow for it, I know I am scared to make myself vulnerable to hope.  To dream. To open myself up to new possibility beyond where we are right now.  Beyond the debris and the broken glass and the re-creation.

Yet the consequences are grim.  ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick.‘ This week I see that there is another way of reading that verse.  Without hope, I am a poorer version of myself.  Putting off hope doesn’t do me any favours and my children desperately need to see that I have it so that they can have hope themselves.  The fish stinks from the head. If I take hope off the table for the time being, they can’t see it either and we’re all heartsick.

I can’t do that to them.

So how do I allow for hope in the midst of my overwhelmed-ness, my grief, the enormous and unending minutiae of setting up a new life on the opposite side of the world? How do I make room for it?

More sleep would help.

More time will help.

St Paul always helps. He talks about hope on the macro level: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.’

Along the lines of ‘Everything will be all right in the end, and, if it’s not all right it’s not the end.’

Meantime, Paul also talks about hope on the micro level: ‘We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’

What does it mean to glory in suffering?  I don’t think it means to enjoy it, that would be whack-a-doo.  I think it means to own it.  To recognise a) that you are suffering and b) to put it in its correct context.

i.e., as a Christian, your suffering is not outside of God’s control. He doesn’t will it upon you (ever), He’s allowed it, He’s right with you in it, you are passing through it (it’s not eternal) and He will bring good out of it.

This does not make suffering for me, “OK! Not so bad!” But it is transformative to know that any suffering is not just random bad luck, unjust and completely without point.

With that assurance I can (Step Two) persevere in it. To me, perseverance is taking on the weight and still pushing forward.  Still going.  Not giving up. (Bashing on regardless).

And this produces character?  No, evidently not. Not all coal under pressure becomes a diamond.

The carbon that forms diamonds is much purer, and requires much greater temperatures and far more direct pressure that can only be found deep into the earth.  Carbon near the surface just becomes coal.

Character is produced in human beings who are willing to go in all the way.

Because only then may we discover our character can be transformed by the heat and the pressure. We ourselves will be the proof of transformation when we come out the other side.  Stronger. Wiser. More knowing. More generous. More forgiving. More patient. More kind. More Christ-like.

And THIS gives us hope. Not hope of something else, but hope of God in us. This transformation shows us that we shall not go forward from this point as the people we were before, doomed to repeat ourselves over and over again. We have been refined in the fire, God can change us.  We can now hope for an encounter with the life God has for us that is new and hopeful – simply because we are too. We shall become more fruitful.

Ah, I see now.  I can have hope right now in this process of transformation.  That by owning the suffering I am in and persevering through it, I will be transformed. For His glory. It’s not for nothing. I will become more truly who I’m meant to be to do better things in a better way for Him.  And I can hope for that transformation from glory to glory right now in the midst. It’s already happening and it will bless me too.

THIS HOPE, I can make myself vulnerable to.  For there is more than this and I am being prepared for it by Him and for Him through this season of difficulty.  God does have more for me.

This hope shall not put me to shame.

jsg/feb 17

Taking Names.

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Apologies for taking a gap since last writing, my children and I are crossing the Red Sea. Which SUCKS BIG TIME.

I’ve never really thought about that before.  What it was like once the Israelites were actually in the Red Sea crossing it.  Yes, they’d been standing on the shore with the murderous Egyptians bearing down upon them and saying, “Anytime now, Lord, would be good.  A way forward ANYTIME NOWWWW.”

And the Lord gave them one.  The author of creation turned creation on its head and parted the waters.  Fantastic.  They had a way to go forward, now they just had to take it.

And there was the rub.  Because the waters parted, yes, but not to reveal cocktail waitresses offering refreshments and golf carts to help these weary, scared refugees (Over treacherous terrain? Deafened by indescribable noise? Under time pressure?)  The Lord gave them a way, and this was it.  This was the Lord’s plan, and it was not a second-best kind of deal.  It was huge and terrifying and they hadn’t seen it coming.  It was to save their lives and, as they embarked looking over their shoulders, the way back was firmly closed.

Have you ever considered how many of the Israelites took their children? Children who had probably had an entirely different experience of Egypt.  Who hadn’t been making bricks without straw, who’d had friends and food on the table and a routine.  Things had been relatively OK in their world.

Then their parents ripped them from all they had and, with only snatched explanation, dragged them from all they knew with only the clothes on their backs.  All the comforts of what they had understood as “home” gone.  In an instant.  And no turning back. No choice. No vote.

I empathize with the Israelites.  Have you ever taken a child somewhere they don’t want to go?  And the going itself is brutal?  And there’s no change coming up soon?  And there’s no way back only forward?  As a parent, you’re meant to be the one who gets it. Who cheer leads your offspring forward and tells them it really will be OK in the long run.  When you yourself don’t know the outcome exactly, so the faith you express to your kids is absolutely the real thing.  FAITH.

Faith in the One who provided you with the way – the only way – forward.  A miraculous way for sure, but horrifying, daunting, hard, and challenging to your core beliefs in ways that make previous tests of faith look like child’s play.

Like the Israelites, my children and I have had to leave everything on the shore behind us in the last month or so.  I have kept my faith and my hope. However, over the past two and a half years, I have lost everything else that I had been standing upon: marriage; dog; community; house and home; lifestyle; nationality; social strata; career; and adult independence of any kind. In the list of things that cause stress in one’s life, the fact my brain and heart have not actually exploded must be confirmation that the Lord’s hand is on my life to sustain me.  So I’ll take it.

I’m meant to be the one cheer leading my kids, when for much of the time I want to curl up and wait for the Red Sea to drown me too.  Bereavement catches me unexpectedly. Standing in a sofa store realizing that, before, I’d had a perfectly good sitting room I’d lovingly created over two decades.  Looking for a cup to measure dog food when, before, I’d had the perfect scoop at home. Catching a reference to a TV show that, before, I used to know the time of.  Seeing a photograph of bright sun that, before, I had felt on my skin every day.

At least four ideas for blogs have gone through my mind over the last three weeks, but none of them smacked of what I know to be true.   I am not hopeless.  Just because the way is horrid and horrifyingly humbling, it doesn’t mean it’s God’s no-better-idea.  It is in fact His best, so I am not without hope. (Just because I want to scream and have a tantrum right along with my children doesn’t mean I’m not still going to keep them and myself walking forward, because I know I can and I know I will.  I’m just HATING IT. At this point.)

Interestingly, one of the things I am struggling with the most is the loss of my independence as an adult.  I miss being in charge of things one usually takes for granted – groceries, diet, decor, space, rules, organization, calendar, TIME. I miss being able to pour myself a glass of wine after I’ve put my kids to bed and just doing something FOR MYSELF. It absolutely sucks.

But then I challenge myself with what I’m really saying, because the truth is I don’t want to be reliant on anyone ever – not even God.  I want God to give me a way forward where I won’t have to be so constantly on my knees asking for forgiveness, strength, grace, direction and provision.  I want a bit of a straight run.  A bit of a “I’ve got this now, thanks Lord.  We’re out of Egypt. I’m going to get us comfy and then I’ll check back in.”

HA! How wise the Lord is.  If He’d given me the Country Club lifestyle would my faith resemble in any way what it is today?  Of course not, I know myself.  I’d be a good-person-Christian. A church-on-Sunday and giving-to-Charity and doing-the-right-thing sort of Christian.  Not a down-on-my-knees-bloodied-bruised-stripped follower of Christ crying out, “You’ve got to get this, Lord, because I can’t do it! I trust You! I need You!  I’ve put all my chips on YOU! I LITERALLY CANNOT GET THROUGH TODAY IF YOU’RE NOT WITH ME. Fill me with Your strength, Your hope, Your truth, Your life, Your joy, Your peace.”

All of which are the genuine article – REAL strength, hope, truth, life, joy, peace.

So yes I hate my loss of independence and I hate this perilous crossing over from my old life of bondage into my new life of freedom.  But I wouldn’t trade it for the life I have in Him.

When the Israelites got through the Red Sea they went into the wilderness.  I’m going to skip that, I hope.  But then when they did finally get to the Promised Land they had to fight for it. Good grief, did the struggle never end?  Will mine?

And the answer is no.  Because in the struggle is the life, the hope, the peace, the truth, the joy. The life that constantly keeps eternity in mind.  The life that cries out “All for You, Lord!” not “All for me!” because His plan is better than any I could come up with — and He has proven that to me over and over and over again.

So now I’ve finally written a blog, I’m not calling it “Crossing the Red Sea” or “Say Not the Struggle Nought Availeth.”  I’m calling it “Taking Names”. Because this Promised Land when we reach it is not one we’re called to simply receive but to conquer. So I’m going to take it, I’m not going to be afraid of it and I’m not going to wait for it to come to me. 

When these seas are behind us, I’m going to enter this Promised Land not as a victim of my past, but as the victor of my purposed, planned and prepared future.  The God who has promised me land is a God who loves me and has brought me HERE.  Through Him I’ve got this far so, with Him, what can stop me now?

As my children have struggled with new schools, new schedules, new home dynamics and new friendships this week, I’ve told them in the quiet following tears (and as much to myself), “Are we under these circumstances or over them? We are over them. We are children of the King and we are purposed to be a blessing wherever we go.  We’ve got stuff to do.  So don’t let anyone put you down.  You go into that school tomorrow and let your spirit cry out, “I’m here!  And I’m coming! I’m a child of the King and He has promised me this land so get ready!  I’m here to be blessed and to be a blessing! How are you today?”

Yes, we’re going to be kicking ass and taking names.  Because that’s the plan God has for us at the end of this ghastly sea crossing.

Jsg/Sept 16

 

 

Dreadful Moments, Sweet Memories.

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There are times in one’s life when it’s really better to shut up. Sometimes it is other people you wish would shut up, but I’m talking about those moments when it is far better to just shut up yourself.

Because there’s nothing to say. Life is what it is. What’s happening is happening. There’s no explaining it and there’s really nothing more to be said.

If God is over it, then He has allowed it. So just shut up.

He’s good.

He’s faithful.

He’s true.

He wills my good.

He denies me nothing that is good.

And I could wax on about him testing me, transforming me into his likeness, refining me, burning off the dross, carving away whatever is not intended to be of me, working all things together for my good. His kindness. I could. But I’m not going to.

Because I don’t have to defend him to myself. I don’t have to explain him to myself. I’m OK. I know him.

I know his faithfulness.

I know his kindness.

I know his mystery.

It feels to me right now that there is so much coming against me that I should just try and stay as quiet and still as possible, keep my eyes open and hope that nothing hits me right in the face.

There’s no point trying to keep all the balls in the air, there are too many balls. So I’m just going to lie down in the ball pit, keep my face visible so I can breathe and wait for the next thing to happen. This thought is a huge relief.

Of course maybe it’ll be another ball. But maybe it’ll be a hand helping me out of the pit.

And while I’m in the pit, how can I know what else I am being protected from?

So, Josie. Just shut up and wait. Wait for hope to appear.

 

Jsg/feb 16

 

COMPARISON.

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Hello, my name is Josie and I am a Comparison Addict. A compara-holic.

This sounds a bit harsh but, then again, I don’t know who could withstand a daily dose of comparing given the current culture of constant comparison.

Just stand and look at the tabloids/person in front of you/a magazine/Facebook:

  • My hair never looks like that.
  • Their marriage is fantastic, look at them.
  • How did she lose weight so fast?
  • Bet they don’t have to worry about Health Insurance.
  • I’ll happy face you in a minute.
  • OH.SHUT.UP.

And then there’s the reverse:

  • See, at least I don’t have [x, y or z]!
  • I may be divorced, but blimey it’s better than [x, y or z].
  • I’d take my problems over theirs any day.
  • Whew! That’s perspective.
  • Man, it would be a nightmare to be famous.

My particular pity party at the moment is everybody’s “Happy 1000th Anniversary to my best friend/love of my life/best husband and father ever!!” pictures on FB. The temptation to be bitter is immense.

So I have to turn from my computer saying to myself, “Oh shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!! You think you’ve got it hard? You think your life is difficult? Oh for the love of God, Josephine, SHUT.UP.”

The ridiculous thing is that when my mind turns to comparison it is an entirely all-or-nothing scenario. Someone celebrates their Anniversary and I immediately forget any other challenge and reality of life I know they have faced/are facing. “Oh great, look at THEM. LOOK AT THEM!!  And who am I?  One big… fat… p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c… LOSERRRR.”

As you can see it’s pretty loud, brash, and ugly up here where my comparisons live.

Why can others’ joy make us compare ourselves as having less?

Why can others’ grief make us compare ourselves as having more?

Either way, it’s a trick. A big fat ugly trick that takes me away from the present moment and the reality – from every aspect – of my OWN LIFE.   All the things I have been blessed with either become less/meaningless or make me feel somehow superior to someone living through a nightmare.

Either way it cuts me off from community into the horrors of my own calculations. And the point is what exactly? Does comparison change my life at all?  Do the comparisons beginning with, “Well at least I’m not struggling with…” help me with anything?  When I say, “I don’t have anything like that, poor me”, is my life improved in any way?

Doesn’t comparison just mentally push me into a self-absorbed insulated bubble of “Not Me-ness” – for good or for bad?Comparison of either type is entirely about navel gazing, and then all I can see is my navel. Which just gives me a crick in my Spirit not to mention my neck.

The Lord tells us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn’. I am recognizing that I am only FREE to do this authentically when I do it without self-reference.   Losing my life I gain it by getting to participate truly in the joy of others, or getting to carry a bit of their load.

I think of Paul. “I have learned to be content in all circumstances.” I bet this took time, and I bet he achieved it because experience taught him to stop looking to left or right, in front or behind. He just kept looking up to the only one who has any control and is also the giver of all good things, and staying present.

The only place God can be with me is where I am now. The only place that I can be is where I am now.  Comparison is a temptation, not a gift.

So enough already. Ix-nay Omparison-kay.

And I can feel my attitude improving immediately.

Jsg/Oct 15

More and Less.

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This morning, a friend had to cancel a breakfast date. Initially I thought, “I can go home and get all those things done with the extra time.” But it’s been a tricky week, and I’d been looking forward to girl time. So I went on my own with my journal, and it was wonderful.

Becoming a single mother, I have discovered that I have both more, and less. I have less manpower to raise my kids (literally). I have less intimacy (zero).   I have less time to read at night (if I manage to stay awake).

However today, having an artist’s date with myself and realizing how many years it had been since I was free to do something so luxurious, I recognized again the more.

I have more social life. I have been to more movies in the past eighteen months than in the past 14 years. And I have had more one on one time with friends both married and single.

I have more time to think about myself. This can be good and bad but, on balance, is better. I have time to reflect on my response to things. I have time to consider my options.  I can plan knowing only me and the kids are (mostly) my parameters.

I have more responsibility. Knowing I am truly self-dependent makes it much less scary than it was. I need to find the money? I’m going to find it. I need to help the kids? I’m going to sacrifice other time to do it. It’s down to me only, which it felt like it mostly had been anyway but it’s official now – and freeing.

I have more discretionary time. This is not more free time, but being independent means I have more choices now as to how I’m going to spend the time I do have to get done the things I need to do. I am not needed by a spouse. In some ways, I’m sad. In other ways, WOW.

A favorite professor at Yale, Lee Keck, used to say, “I have more on my plate than I can say grace over.” If I look at my life as a plate, it is easier to see things and see where the spaces are.

I can see when I’ve overloaded my plate and what I need to shift.

I can see the spaces where things/people have been taken away. Experience has shown me that those spaces are not filled by simply letting other existing things bleed into them.  They just veil the space and provide the perfect environment underneath for moldy resentment to grow.

This morning I asked myself, what if I were to look at new spaces as opportunity as much as reminders of things lost?  To let them sit open until I know how I want to fill them?

What if I turned my question from, “What am I going to do now?” to “What am I going to do now?” And then look for opportunity?

I am less available practically to run errands or mercy missions for others now I’m a solo parental unit. But I am now more available if someone wants to discuss something with me or go to a movie/opening/event when I don’t have my kids. I am more available emotionally and spiritually to a wider circle than I ever could have been before.

Don’t be fooled, I recognize the less of things. I weep over them.  However I am sticking my pickaxe into the opportunity of today and holding on for dear life to discover what I can see now.  

My plate is different, and it can be as full or as less-full as I choose it to be.

So my revelation over coffee this morning (because I took the time to have it) was that perhaps the most compelling more of my now, is the greater freedom I have to choose.

Jsg/sept15

Truth is a Rock.

‘Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn.’

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My kids went back to school this week. This is actually more momentous than it sounds since for the last three years we have been homeschooling.

I loved homeschooling, as much as it challenged and exhausted me, and the kids loved it too. Spontaneous field trips, creative projects, learning history through different disciplines, math drills on the trampoline! You get the idea. However, our family is in the midst of a divorce.  The children’s father didn’t want me to continue schooling them at home, and I can no longer afford to.

So as my two walked off down the path last Wednesday, they were as much filled with anticipation and excitement as sadness and anxiety. The first few days have gone relatively well considering all change is hard. However, the grief at changing their style of schooling is going to take a little longer to overcome.

On the first two evenings, my daughter just plain refused to go back. Not because she hated the school, but because she rejects the change. It’s very painful. I’m the safest repository (aka mum) so I got all the heat. At the end of the second evening of exhausting emotion, I said to my sweet, weeping daughter, “You can call me whatever you like. But the truth is I cannot homeschool you any more. I CAN NOT. So, my love, you can either break yourself against this rock, or stand upon it. Either way, it is not going to change.”

Sometimes it sucks to be Mum.  I can’t change their new reality, but I can brace them for it. I can stand with them in it and encourage them that – as He always does and though we cannot see it yet – God will turn all of this change around for our good.

And then I walked inside. And poured myself a glass of wine.

All change is a kind of death isn’t it. And Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief apply across the board, no matter the type of death: the loss of a loved one/a friend/a career/a reputation/prosperity/a way of life/an unrealized dream/one’s health. While Kubler Ross avers that no two people grieve in exactly the same way, she pinpointed five emotions that are most commonly experienced in grief:

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance

And we flail against reality in the midst. Like a shipwreck survivor in high seas seeing a rock to climb upon but just wanting to go back to a ship that is no longer there.

One of my true soul mates died last week. And this is exactly how I have been reacting. She lived in Scotland and I am in LA, so I’m finding it hard to even grasp that it’s true. Then I’m angry that such a spectacular human could die so young. Then I’ve been fantasising about how I could have gone to see her if I’d known – and can’t I go now? My sadness has already brought me low and no doubt will last unbearably for a while and then in perpetuity. Even though I will slowly come to accept that she is gone.

Sarah Jane is still in the denial and anger period over school. And so be it. Why should anyone expect her to just snap out of it? There have been some very crappy changes over the past few years and she has every right to respond however vociferously she wishes. I have let her know that I will only be present for the flailing for a certain length of time, but she must make her choice to stand as she is able.

Truth is a rock. It is hard and unyielding. And it does not change.

For example, death happens. This is true. God didn’t intend us to suffer in this way but, here we are, and He’s given us a hand up onto a Rock that no waves can reach.

I have chosen to stand on that Rock. And that Rock is not an inanimate object or set of rules to live by, but a person. A person I know, chat with, question, hangout with, rail against, and listen to.

And while I’m standing on that rock, I remind myself from whence I came. That I was in the sea. I saw truth but I wanted back on the sinking boat. Until, weary and at the end of my own strength, I spotted the hand extended to me, and I met its owner, and I climbed onto a rock.

This was my journey. Not yours. You have all the same choices I have to make, how you make them is nothing to do with me.

Paul exhorts us to speak the truth in love to those in whom we are in relationship. This doesn’t mean just speaking it anytime even if I think my intention is loving. In my experience, silence can actually be more powerful and loving than anything that could be said. Sometimes your kid has to eat the whole bag of candy and throw up to realize he never wants to do that again, himself. He has discovered something to be true, I didn’t tell him the truth.

I didn’t shield my daughter from the truth of her situation, that could not have been loving. I spoke the truth to her in love, and because I am in a relationship with her which gives me the right to do so. I just pray she stops bashing herself against it soon.

Isn’t all truth that is actually heard founded in relationship? Quite beside the fact that speaking the truth without love invokes a nightmare. It’s a rock, it’s hard and it can HURT LIKE HELL. Not only to the one spoken to but to the speaker themselves.

So here is where this is leading. The story this week about Kim Davis has obviously provoked debate. Not to promote further discussion, but here’s my tuppeny worth. If you understand yourself to be standing safely on a rock (and even if you were on your own turf and not in your place of employment), how can it be constructive (aka loving)  to pick up a hard pebble at your feet and hurl it at those whom you consider to be in the sea?

I think I’d prefer to drown or look for a different passing ship, if I were them.

jsg/sept15

Taylor-Made Invitation.

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When I was first pregnant, my local baby store gave out magnets that read: “Making the decision to have a child  is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”

Any parent knows this truth. Among the many challenges and blessings of parenthood, there is also a two-edged relief to it in that Life is never really going to be about you anymore. Thank God! Whatever my worries were, who had time if now there was a temperature rising or a vaccine debate or teeth that just wouldn’t break through or a suspicious rash?

I myself have two kids, and I am almost at the end of divorcing their father. It sucks for me, but my heart truly breaks for the two youngest family members who have no choice, no control, and no vote. I do not come from a divorced home so when my 12 year old daughter, Sarah Jane, throws at me, “You have no idea what I’m going through!” She’s right. I don’t.

There are many things I wish I could change for my kids, but I can’t. There are many things I would like to provide for my kids, but I can’t. And then, out of the blue, just when it all seems completely bleak, something miraculous happens.

One of my daughter’s oldest friends invited her to Taylor Swift’s concert in LA. Amazing! I, Sarah Jane, this same friend and her mom had all gone together two years ago, but this year there was no possibility of me affording it again. And now, she’d been invited! 

There was huge excitement in the couple of weeks leading up to going. And then there was the making of the poster. And then there was the choosing of the outfit.

SJ came up with the idea for her outfit from Taylor’s Shake It Off video. Fortuitously we had the skirt and a top that would work, so I could sew a bit of ribbon on.

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What blew me away was that Sarah Jane then made a template of Taylor’s crest and cut it out on sticky backed felt in blue and yellow to match.

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For non-Swifties, let me fill you in on how these concerts go.  At Taylor’s concerts on her current 1989 tour, there is something called Loft 89. This is where an extremely select group of fans get the opportunity to meet Taylor after the concert. All girls dream of this (I can totally see why thinking back to my 12 year old self). So as well as being super excited about the concert, there was also discussion as to whether there was any chance they would get picked for this rarefied treat.

Of course the odds are ridiculous and (in true mom form) both of us mothers encouraged the girls to focus on the gift of attending the concert LIVE and not to worry about any of that other stuff.

Off they went looking absolutely fantastic and bursting to the seams with excitement.

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Meantime, I settled down at home with my 9 year old son to watch a movie that his sister would never vote on: Robocop. We were set for the night and absolutely thrilled to think of our girl rocking it out down at the Staples Center with her favourite pop star.

Then at 9.29 pm I got a text from my friend saying her husband had just texted to say Taylor’s Mom was taking the girls down to the front.

WHAT?? Was he joking? Surely not. And indeed not! As we were to discover, Taylor’s mom had come up behind Sarah Jane (as she was jumping up and down in her cheerleader outfit waving her sparkly lit sign) and tapped her on the shoulder. Sarah Jane turned to her sweet face to hear the words, “Would you like to come and sit with me?”

There are 15,000 people in the Staples Center, and Mrs Swift picked Sarah Jane.  There are simply no odds for that.

The girls squealed and, along with their paternal chaperone, made their way down to the very front of the stage where they were just 20 feet from the action. TWENTY FEET.  And they had stools to stand on and bottles of water aplenty.

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They had the time of their lives. They have a memory they will tell their grandkids (who won’t even know who Taylor Swift is) and they will never forget how – out of all those people – they caught Mrs Swift’s eye and they were invited down to the special invitation-only pit at the end of the runway to dance and sing and scream all night.

I could never ever ever have organized that. When I read the text, I burst into tears of incredulity. What struck me most was how piercingly tender it was of the Lord to bless my little girl with such a treat. Like he was saying to me, “Look at this, Josie.  I got this!”  It mattered so much more to me that it happened for SJ than if something amazing had happened for me.  That’s your parent heart again.

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There had been no likelihood whatsoever of them being chosen! I sobbed with gratitude (as one does). All those little girls look amazing, and yet there was my little girl who has had a tough time over the last three years being blessed with something of such ultimate worth to her, and so far beyond her wildest dreams. And we had even been blessed with the ticket so it had all been entirely out of my hands.

It was a humbling and joyous moment for all of us. Ecstatic in fact.  SJ came home on a complete high the following morning with eyes shining, brandishing her BACKSTAGE wristband. It has been hard to pull any of us down ever since.

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Then, as my pal the other mom was dropping Sarah Jane off and we were marveling at it all, she pointed something out that I had missed. How the girls’ evening was really an exact reflection of the Gospel.

The insight took my breath away. There our girls were in a throng of thousands, apparently “anonymous” and someone came to them and said, “I know Taylor personally, and I can get you to her. Do you want to come with me?”

Except in the Gospel the story goes even further than that. Our girls had the night of their young lives but didn’t actually get to meet Taylor because that was a different wristband. But we do. In the Gospel, there’s only one invitation, one wristband. We get to answer that tap on our shoulder and go right down to the front and be introduced to the person who’s up there. Not only that, we come into relationship with them and get to live with them forever. That is quite an invitation.

What a night it was for us last Monday night. A Taylor-Made Invitation for my girl and her pal to move up to a front row seat and enjoy the show. (Thank you, Mrs Swift).

And what a day for any of us, any day.  A Tailor-Made Invitation for all of us to turn and just say yes, and go forward.

Forever.

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