Psst, It’s Not What you Think

by | Apr 2, 2012 | Uncategorized

Navigating conversation with my teen, it’s like walking tight rope. Words fall off for lack of generational balance, bounce below on trampoline and crumble into oblivion. I brush myself off, try a different technique and start across the thin line all over again. Once-in-a-while I make it to the other side of understanding, onto the platform of safety without a fatal fall.

When I turn around to see where I came from. How that thin line held me when doubt turned my head  down, I know His hands cupped me gentle along the way. Those are the days that give me hope, to try again. Engage the one who rolls her eyes at my questions.

And the more I engage, the more I realize that I am the pupil, learning from a portal of time and perspective that is more like the backyard pool than a ship charting seas with endless horizon. She keeps me focused on the things that float on top, not what I think swims below my feet, too deep to see or feel.

Because the deep water soul life, it swims to the surface at just the right time.  When that light sword exposes what swims in ebony waters, the gaze of the eyes all heart.

And I will be waiting, floating in my boat on top, ready to grab her hand and pull her in so we can row through those deep places together.

It’s been twenty-five years and I mingle with friends in reunion, the ones that once rolled their eyes beside me on bleachers and orange shag. The friend with the Lauren Hutton gap who invited me to be part of her family. I lived on a golf course one teenage summer, far from my house of dreams and the empty refrigerator.

She approaches me, apologizes like it haunts her every day of the twenty-five we live separated by stretches of pavement and welcome signs. Says she regrets the way she acted, how I had to move out of their house because her eyes, they rolled in a way she just couldn’t see anymore.

I didn’t even remember it. I just remembered how the breeze blew my hair in the golf cart, the feel of wet turf cooling my bare feet when we ran to the pool in our swimsuits. How we laughed in the company of Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees hanging on her yellow bedroom walls.

I told her about how grateful I was to her parents, for taking me in when my mother decided to move away. How I saw clear again, after living blurry all those years with the cockroaches and wine bottles.

She said she didn’t know that about me, that I lived that way. I took a step back and my perception stepped off the curb, fell right into the pool of splashing perspective.

I was sure I walked through the halls naked, that my peers knew what all my private parts looked like after the police came to my door the night before the tardy bell rang. But my friends, they just liked my blue pantsuit, Dorothy Hamill haircut and the way I laughed at everything.

Now when my daughter answers “I don’t know” to questions about her friends, I believe her and then I go look at the beach ball and rubber duck floating in the pool.  And I’m fine with that. Just that.

 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:5-6 ESV

It’s Monday and I counting gifts today with Ann.  Won’t you join me?

  • A day with my girl shopping for her Easter dress.
  • Three boys on motorcycles doing wheelies and making us laugh.
  • An air-conditioner going out in March, instead of July.
  • The new one installed before the weather hits 90.
  • For friends who ask questions because they care.
  • Grocery shopping with H, so we can start our diet today.
  • Plans for our anniversary trip to London and Scotland and the realization we haven’t done this in twelve years. What a gift!
  • For emails, comments, tweets and texts that speak encouragement to this writer, new on the trail.

Linking with Playdates with God, Miscellany MondayOn, In, and Around Mondays,  On your Heart Tuesday, Just Write, Soli Deo Gloria.

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  1. Paula

    The anniversary that approaches this May???? Jim left for France today and I leave Wed. My mind is always wandering thanks to your DEEP perspective. It is sooo true that our own perception is often NOT what others see. Love you and really FEEL as I visualize your thoughts. Love you, as always, Paula

  2. Redemption's Beauty

    Paula, you must have read this the second I posted it! I have been thinking about you loads this week. It’s been awhile since we talked. Yes this anniversary, can’t wait. Love you too!

  3. kulasa

    It is so soothing reading your words and viewing the photos…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Glad to hear that Kulasa, glad to have you here in community.

  4. toshowthemjesus

    Parenting always triggers memories in me. And then I see the past from the perspective of the present. It’s changed. Thank you for sharing! And I know how bad it is to lose AC in the summer–for us, a hot S. Florida summer. A blessing to have it fixed. And a trip to Scotland! Wonderful! We went many years ago. Beautiful country! Blessings to you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too. And I realize how abnormal my perceptions are compared to my husbands and the way he was raised. Yes, so looking forward to our trip to europe!

  5. wynnegraceappears

    Shelly, I had to take my eyes back on this a second time, this beauty. I wish I had never rolled my eyes as a girl, wish I had never hurt those that had to watch it. I am convicted even as I read at how body language can cut deep. I missed you last week, your everydays. Know you were restoring and hope you were working on the book. I will email you later for an update on your project. with His love, elizabeth

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think just knowing that those years of eye rolling are a stage we all walk through, it helps in parenting. But I too grieve my hurtful expressions. Thanks for your support Elizabeth.

  6. Jen Ferguson

    I am absolutely terrified of raising teenagers. I see where i am today with my almost 8 year old and she’s already rolling her eyes. But you give me hope — this pressing in, this continual trying, and the remembering that I was once a teenager, too.

    PS Did you get my last email about the prayer list? The first one bounced back and I resent it, but just checking…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I was afraid too Jen but more about my own worries of not parenting right. It seems that he gives us grace at every stage. I did get your email. At the doc now with my son. I’ll respond a bit later.

  7. tara pohlkotte

    oh goodness. I’m already nervous of the almost 4 year old’s eye rolling getting 10 more years of practice 🙂 yes, it is so true though isn’t it…those of us that like to dwell in the deep. We can pull ourselves under looking for truths in our depths, when we really needed to keep our eyes on the surface, at the life rafts all around us.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well, I didn’t know this during those initial years when all the changes happen. Read way too much into things that weren’t there. Maybe your knowing this will save you some of the tears I shed. I am thankful for his grace and what He redeems in my own frailty.

  8. Dawn@Dawnings

    Beautiful, Shelly. I wrote about talking with my teen today, too. I love it when God puts people in the same place at the same time. There’s comfort in the company.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love those sacred echoes Dawn. Can’t wait to read yours today. It’s been a bit of a crazy day, but I’ll get there eventually.

  9. Kristin

    So beautifully written! I also thought all my friends knew of the divorced parents, the emotionally sick mom being taken away, the church having to bring us food so we could eat. They knew nothing. But my God did, and he took care of me in amazing ways. He is so good!
    May you have a blessed week as we ponder His walk to the cross, His death, His resurrection and I know we’ll both be praising next Sunday 😉

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Kristin, it sounds like we shared a similar journey. And God is so good to redeem our pain and suffering for His purposes. So thankful for what this week means to us, and the rejoicing we can do on Sunday!

  10. simplystriving

    “Those are the days that give me hope, to try again.” Praying those days continue to be close enough together for the both of us!
    Beautiful post. who knew we as parents would probably learn more than those under our study…
    What a hidden blessing we get to unearth every day!
    (and yes…I can say all this because my oldest is 3) 🙂

    Hugs to you, friend! (hope your son is feeling better)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I think it is how most of life works, I am finding. I learn so much more than I expected, around every corner. And oh, I remember those wonderful threes. They are so yummy at that age. Enjoy every drop! Found out Harrison has strep, he is home again today poor fella.

  11. Beth

    Teenage girls–Yikes! I’m so glad I have boys! I’ll pray for you as you plumb the depths with your sweet girl, Shelly.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh, I have one of each Beth. They are definitely different and I am so blessed!

  12. tinuviel

    You are my neighbor (again?) at the Monday Multitudes community today. Shelly, even though I don’t know all the details, I’m so sorry for the pain in your past, for the policeman at your door, the empty refrigerator, the feeling exposed. Redemption is beautiful. Thank you for having the courage to share your story. May the Lord keep healing and keep holding you steady on the tightrope day by day. Grace to you in Jesus.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I am thankful for my story (though I wouldn’t want to re-live some of it) because it makes me who I am. Thank you for your empathy and redemption is beautiful – on everyone. Appreciate you kind thoughts and prayers.

  13. r.elliott

    Shelly..sweet connection with your daughter…and yes..parenting is part of the redemption He brings to our past. I remember when I was PG…wow…I can create a whole new family…making my home anything I want it to be…and He is so faithful to give us all the Grace and Wisdom we need to parent our children…even teenagers…I used to be afraid of the thought…but to be honest…they are some of my favorite years…especially as they get toward 17 and 18….
    Oh wow…sweet anniversary trip…awesome:)

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It’s a gift, this redemption through our children. Isn’t it? I am definitely enjoying my daughter at this age. She is so lovely and the conversations easier and she teaches me a lot about life.

  14. Heather Kopp at

    Shelly, your daughter is so lucky! What a great mom. Love your perspective, and especially the reunion part. Isn’t it funny we forget and what we remember? Love this and love your writing and love the soul in you. Thanks, Heather

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks for saying that Heather, hope she says it too. I feel inadequate on most days and then I look back at all the times I worried about things and see how clearly God’s hand guided provential all along the way. And yes, perception is a funny thing isn’t it? BTW, been praying for you and I about this blogging journey and think I got some clarity for me. Hope you are seeing clear too.

      • Heather Kopp at

        Shelly, thanks for the prayers. I am feeling amazingly better. Free. Had some kind of breakthrough and the blog has dropped down my list of priorities. Who said, “Teach me to care and not to care.”? Thanks, friend!

        • Redemption's Beauty

          Feeling the same way Heather. Glad for the breakthrough!

  15. Dolly

    Your words describe so well how I feel about the conversations I sometimes have with my tween…what a fun trip for your anniversary…Blessings to you 🙂

  16. Nancy Franson (@nancyfranson)

    I’ve been known to burst into tears while walking past little girls’ Easter dresses hanging in stores. How I miss those days of shopping with my little girl! And, yes, we went through the eye-rolling years and made it safely to the other side, thanks be to God!

    This was really poignant, Shelly, the way you describe feeling exposed before all your friends while growing up, although they didn’t know your story.

    Thankfully, you made reference to Andy Gibb and orange shag so that kept me from becoming completely undone. 😉

    • Redemption's Beauty

      You always make me laugh Nancy. I thought about the whole disco ball and Abba conversation with Deidra on Facebook when I wrote that. Easter dress shopping is actually becoming fun as she grows up. Swimsuit shopping, well that is a whole other conversation!

  17. socksformum

    Your beautiful redeemed heart shines through in this post! Thank you for sharing this. My girls are now grown but those days of walking on a tightrope seem like yesterday. Actually, I’m still walking on a tightrope with one of them. Have a wonderful anniversary celebrating the gift of marriage and love.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I guess navigating conversations period can be a bit of tight rope walking can’t it? So glad you visited today and saw the redemption – that blesses me.

  18. Jennifer Johnson Camp

    “And I will be waiting, floating in my boat on top, ready to grab her hand and pull her in so we can row through those deep places together.” I want to be ready, waiting, present and open to how my children need me . . .and your post here, as always is just so beautiful and full of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Jennifer, your heart in the comments always blesses me. I think we will both be ready to grab their hands and pull them through deep waters. We have Him to guide us.

  19. Shanda

    I have an 18 year old and we have those rare moments when we connect. In between those are when I also feel like I am walking a tight rope. Even when I think I have found the balance, I am often pushed away and find myself falling off.
    I do get impatient when she doesn’t see what I see in her friends but you have helped me see that maybe she really doesn’t see.
    Motherhood! I feel the same with my two boys who are 21.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Nice to know we are in the same boat Shanda. I think I made (make) judgments base on my own lens of experience and have had to remind myself to think in a clean slate kind of way. My husband is often the voice of reason helping me to see this.

  20. steph

    okay, i’ll admit i had to re-read this one because i got distracted by a few flashbacks (hello, andy gibb!). i know. he really wasn’t all that. but anyway. . .
    what a beautiful, poignant, bittersweet, glorious write! my girls are (almost) 12, 13, and 15. and this was just an amazing source of encouragement and inspiration as we enter these next several years. i am loving this stage of life with them, even with all the ups and downs. but it is good to be reminded of such things as these. and to let them grow and flourish in their own right. . . while waiting in the boat to give them a hand up when they need it. it’s a beautiful privilege we have as their mothers, is it not?
    thanks for putting this into words. i absolutely loved it.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Steph, that made me laugh – about being distracted by Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees. And what about Abba, were you an Abba girl too? And yes, such a privilege to be a mother to our precious children. Thankful for grace along the way!

  21. Denise

    Such a wonderful post.

  22. dmlynn

    I am blessed by this post. I feel such a rich deepness, if you will let me use that word for lack of a better one ‘deepness’, expressed from your heart through your finger tips. I will have to reread this post once again, and perhaps I think… I’ll have to read past posts to further gasp this story. And I can’t wait! I can’t wait to grab my yummy cream & sugar cup of coffee and read more here at your blog.

    Blessings to you,
    Deanna @

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Deanna, so nice to meet you. I checked out your place and left a comment over there.

  23. waterthecamels

    Do you mind if I print this out and tuck it away in my Bible. The teen years are just around the corner and they terrify me. Thank you for your wisdom and insight!!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Of course I don’t mind. I think we are all a bit afraid of those years. And I think about how afraid I was to have a baby period and how His grace carried me on those days I threw my hands up. It’s there for the teen years too. Rest in knowing this.

  24. Elaine

    I keep thinking that when my children get to this age one of my best tactics for understanding them will be to remember as best I can, how I was at that age. You know, much like you said so beautifully here. 🙂

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Me too, with the caveat that my perspective isn’t theirs. Thanks for visiting Elaine. Nice to meet you.

  25. Nicole

    This was so beautifully written.

  26. carissa

    gorgeous pictures! great words and insight to go along with it. thank you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Carissa, thank so much. Loving your blog and all the resources you share.

  27. Cristal

    How in the world did you know I needed to hear this? Okay. It was God. Teenagers – wow. Just beginning my walk across the tight rope with my son. But, I’m glad to see you went first. And you’re making it. And I can follow you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh Cristal, so nice to know I have you along this journey. At least just behind me a bit. I think girls and moms walk on tightropes more than the males that we love *wink*. So glad He led you here, that the words resonated.

  28. Sandra Heska King

    I fell off that thin line so many times, walked on so many eggshells–and still even now that she’s older. But those times of deep connection–so precious.

    That you thought you walked naked and they loved your laugh while your heart hurt–that broke mine. xoxo

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Aww, that last sentence in your comment touched me Sandy. You have a compassionate heart that I love. It is crazy that I thought everyone knew about the ugly of my life and they really didn’t care that much. Crazy and freeing all at the same time.

  29. Laura

    I hope God brings your words back to me when my girls are teens. A wise friend once told me that in the tween and teen years, when they act like they don’t want to talk and hibernate in their rooms, to pursue them–even if it means doing things you don’t enjoy. Sounds like you have found a blessed perspective.

    Surprising, years later, what we learn others knew or thought about us in high school…..

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Well, I am trying Laura. I learn from other moms who are a bit ahead of me. I often feel guilty for not doing more, but He knows what she needs more than I do and she is a lovely girl with a generous heart. Her Dad and I couldn’t be more proud.

  30. ljbmom

    Hello, beautiful. These words are ravishing today. I feel them. I have one of those eye-rollers too.It’s hard, this tightrope/trampoline, isn’t it? I’m going to read over your words again and remember my own time as an eye-roller. Wisdom. It is so much better when given away.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Laura, love that – wisdom is so much better when given away. So true isn’t it? Always love seeing your visit here, you bless me.

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