Moccasins.

This post isn't really about moccasins, but that's all I've been thinking about for the past week.  Moccasins.  And, in particular, Coralynn's moccasins.  First, let's back up a few weeks.

Late January, I was in the throes of our 40-day challenge, and I was loving it.  I loved seeing what I was capable of when I tried.  As a serial underachiever, I like to know that I am capable of doing more than I think I can.  I loved that I can choose the terms that I use to describe myself.  With my new found confidence, I decided I was going to try another challenge.

During that same time, I was part of a series of meetings concerning a team of people that are coming from Bethel School in Redding, California.  I volunteered to serve as a guide/van driver/useful person during their 10-day visit.  Immediately after leaving the meeting when I officially volunteered, I felt the Holy Spirit told me that I needed to improve my Spanish so that I could be even more useful.

So, that became my new challenge- improving my Spanish.  I asked a friend, who owns a tutoring business, if she could find me a teacher.  She did, and I agreed to spend 3-weeks, 4-hours a day learning, improving, and growing more confident in Spanish.  My Spanish Intensive Challenge began Monday of this week.  I have completed 15 hours so far.

I went to class Monday, and I was almost sick to my stomach with dread.  I really hate studying Spanish.  I hated it when I was a kid doing a summer program.  I hated it when I was in high school, and I've hated any and all attempts made here in Panama.  I'd come to the conclusion that Spanish simply was not my thing, but a deal with the Holy Spirit isn't exactly negotiable, so off to class I went.

We spent 4 hours working on my pronunciation.  FOUR HOURS.  My teacher is fantastic.  She is, without question, the best teacher and personality fit I've had in my Spanish attempts.  We worked on pronunciation, not because she's unreasonable, but because that's what I needed to do.

Can I be really honest here?  4 hours is an exceptionally long time to work on pronunciation.  I sent Tony the same message 3 times: "I am going to die."  I was mentally exhausted. Tony replied that he was praying.  I thought that sounded like a fair plan, so I started praying, too.  Well, not immediately, but the next day, I prayed in the van on the way to my class.

We started Tuesday where Monday finished off- with pronunciation.  I literally began to cry.  It wasn't just the exhaustion that got to me.  It was the hours of being told that I was doing it wrong. And, that is hard.  It doesn't matter how good natured you are or how upbeat your teacher is.  Being told for hours that you're doing something wrong is just miserable.

In my tears, I asked God to make the hard stop- to give me supernatural ability to move my tongue to pronounce everything correctly.  Instead, he gave me Coralynn's moccasins.

(I've now completely lost everyone, but stay close, we're getting there.)

One of the hardest parts of parenting is being truly empathetic of my children's emotions.  To truly empathize with my kids is difficult because I can't get out of my adult brain and into my child's brain.  Even though I've felt what they feel and I've lived through what they're experiencing, I'm not 11 anymore.  That changes everything.  I can remember what it felt like to not understand algebra as an 11-year-old, but I cannot be 11 in my explanation or thoughts.  Does that make sense?  My life experience gives me  perspective, and that's valuable, but it doesn't make me the SAME.  No matter how hard I try, there will be a disconnect.

Until, I went to Spanish class,and, for the FIRST time in my 12 years of parenting, I was not only empathetic, but I was the SAME as one of my children.

As I sat there crying out to the Lord as I was crying over the letter r, He showed me Coralynn Mae. He showed me my sweet baby girl sitting in speech class struggling to say the words correctly.  He showed me a three-year-old who didn't have the maturity to express the frustration and hurt she was experiencing.   He showed me the pain of putting forth so much effort and seeing so few results.  Hours turned into Days turned into Weeks turned into Months turned to more than a Year of being told, "Try it again."  No matter how sweet her teacher was, eventually, she had to hurt.  And, she had no vocabulary to express that because she was so little.

Let's be SUPER CLEAR- Coralynn needed to take those classes.  She needed her speech to improve.  It would have been a far greater blow to her psyche to allow her to forever speak incorrectly.   The point isn't that I should have somehow protected her- or myself- from the hurt.

The point is that the Lord gave me a gift in being able to completely, fully, and contemporaneously feel my child's pain.

My Spanish, I'm praying now, improves as I fight through my frustration, my pride, and my embarrassment.   I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to quit in the past 4 days.  Now, however, there is no question that I'm completing this challenge.  If Coralynn Mae can push through, I can, too.

Tomorrow, Coralynn goes to have her final speech evaluation.  Tomorrow, I pray with EVERYTHING in my being, Coralynn will be released from speech.  No, I haven't walked a mile in her Bitty, glittery moccasins, but I know- for real KNOW- my child's heart.

And that's a better gift than being able to roll my rr's.

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