Thursday, March 10, 2016

When Tired and Burdened Is Right Where You Need to Be

      The cousins came for a visit. That made everything we did take a little longer and every place we went a bit more work. Winter always wears everyone out and everyone could use some more outside time so I promised them in the afternoon we would go to co-op and fly kites. I mean, doesn't that just sound magical and childlike? 

     So we get there and the small kites won't fly. That leaves a half dozen other kids quarreling over who gets to fly and hold the ONE kite that does make it up into the air. Emotions ensue and for the next two hours Mom attempts to console a screaming two year old, challenge a bored 7 year old and yet somehow have some grown-up conversation mixed in there as well. Feeling defeated, I wanted to gather them all up and head home. I felt like crying right along with the child screaming in my arms. 

     How many times do we feel exhausted, overwhelmed, cleaning up one fiasco just in time to witness another one beginning? 

Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.
 
   The endless spiraling of chaos that sweeps us off our feet and sometimes knocks us on our backs. And yet, we keep on. 

     Because that infant needs another bottle. That two year old wants you to sit and hold her. That preschooler is heartbroken a child lied about her. That seven year old wants you to lay with her awhile at bedtime. 

     And you do it all.

   Because when you lay down and your head finally hits that pillow, your heart and mind want to rest on the things you did rather than beat yourself up for the things you did not. 

     Motherhood can disheartening, wearying and lonesome. You constantly feel like you are failing to teach some vitally important lesson. You feel burdened about what is right now and worrisome of what is ahead. And you are pretty certain you should be saving for their future therapist because you are messing it all up.

     And then these words come to mind: "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." ~Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

     When you are sleep deprived and cannot think straight, He will give you rest.

     When your little one is sick and you see them suffering, He will lift your burden.

     When the days seem long and you cannot figure out how to get through the next moment,  He will lead you.

     The trouble is, we try to carry these burdens ourselves. And that is where the load gets weighty. But if we (I) can grasp that being burdened and tired is a safe place, a perfect place, really, for Him to meet with us, then we do not have to dread our situation.

     And that takes us further than we thought we could go.

     When people disappoint or hurt us, we can continue to give our time and best efforts.

     When situations are out of our control, we can still have joy and trust the process.

     When the unexpected challenges our abilities, we can trust that we will be enabled. 
   
    And we can feel strengthened to go into tomorrow with new mercies, more strength and fresh perspective to take on what lies ahead. 







     

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THOSE LITTLE ONES GROW UP TO BE REAL PEOPLE

     Tonight I went to a mom's group and the faces and stories were as varied as toddler's sprinkled cookies. The personalities, looks, and demeanor were not carbon copies like we make of important papers. These women had stories, children of all ages, and did I mention, stories? The single most re-occurring theme was "Enjoy the Journey". I think I could fill up three very eager little girls' piggy banks with coins for each time I have heard something similar. But either the place I am currently, the women saying it, or just my willingness to hear, I got it. 
     
     I mean, I am sure I will "get it" again...and again...and again. But tonight it clicked for the first time- these endless days are turning into whirling years. I am seeing the pages turn before I feel like I have read to the last paragraph. These children are growing. 

     And I do not just mean "oh-they-are-in-a-bigger-size-now" growing. But these ideas and jokes they come up with are completely independent of me. They are not reciting my words and my teachings. They are coming into their own and developing their personhood like never before. It astounds me to see my child tell me something she created in her mind and I am like, "Wow, I could have never come up with that." Or tell a joke that catches me off guard and actually makes me laugh.

     I was once a child. You were a child. You did not stay 6 forever. Or 2. Or 14. Or 18. You grew and your parents instilled things and led you and did their very best they possibly could (with a lot of mistakes in the process) and here you are now living out a life. That is exactly what is happening in our homes today. These children are growing into these relational little beings right in front of us.



     And gradually, we let them go out on their own. We let them step out into something they have not done before. 
     
     And we take our hands off.  

     And it hurts a little.

    And we might be scared. 

   But we do it. Because the alternative is to paralyze them and stunt their growth. So we watch from the side. Holding our breath that they do not stumble. And sometimes running to them if they do and sometimes...not. Allowing them to build and learn the skills of starting again when they have taken a fall.



     The point is, we are raising our children. And they are precious children. But we are also raising future adults. And the decisions and direction we lead our children in can either allow them to become the unique person they were created to be, with their differences from you and possibly similarities too. Or we can stunt them and force them and perhaps damage them from entering the next phase of growth.

     We are raising our children.

     But we are also raising future adults.

    We want to enjoy these little people when they are big people too.

     

     

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Golden Nuggets

Mom of three (girls) sits down to write a letter to her young children. In it she hopes to convey the lessons she has learned, the aha-moments and most importantly, her deep love for them. Here is the result.

Dear beautiful girls of mine,

    I have been fortunate to be with you, at home, from the day you came into this world. Some days I appreciated this blessing more than others but every single day I saw a part of you bloom that I had not seen before. I have watched you discover light and shadows. I have seen your curiosity come alive when you played in the water. My heart has almost burst when you have shown compassion or given something of your own to someone less fortunate. The talks we have awaken curiosity even in myself. Our minutes, hours and days have been spent singing, discussing, learning, playing, imagining and growing. You have been under my constant care and love day in and day out. I hope to continue to be able to be there and cherish every moment possible and to continue to teach you all I can so that you may walk out this life as fully and completely blessed as I have been. However, we never know each day what the Lord has in store for us. If mommy is able to be present with you all your growing up days we will rejoice for that gift we've been given. And if the Lord chooses another path for us, we will walk it out in faith that He knows what is best. Either way, I wanted to share some nuggets of wisdom I have picked up through the years. If you can bury these treasures within your own heart, I believe you will continue to see beautiful blooms come forth all the days of your lives.

1) Jesus loves you. 
    He always has and He always will. The love I have shown you pales in comparison to His perfect, never-ending, never-stopping, never-giving-up, always and forever love for each of you. Fall head over heels in love with Him. It's about a relationship, not rules but love does transform. Love changes us from the inside out. Discover Him and who you are in Him.

2) Learn to trust Him in your youth.
    God places a simple faith in each child. As we grow up, doubts and fears fight to replace that simple faith. You will need to continue to grow in your faith as you mature but if you can learn to place your trust in who Jesus is now, everything else will work itself out in the end.

3) Hearing "no" is not a bad thing.
    Life is going to be full of possibilities, adventures and thrills but there is also a moral code we should all abide by (found in the Bible). Learn to tell yourself no as well as to accept it from others. Believe me, if you cannot learn to hear "no", you will always be fighting against yourself and others. Freedom exists because there are boundaries.

4) Choose JOY.
    No matter where you end up in life, your attitude will determine everything. If you find yourself in a less-than-perfect environment, you are living real life. Ups, downs and everything in between will be a normal part of your years ahead. Decide now that you will keep moving forward and keep a smile on your face. Lasting joy comes from the Lord, not by what you may or may not experience.

5) Stay in touch with family.
    Something I say to you daily is, "Sisters love each other." At times you may need it most, your family can be there for you. Be there for them as well. Write letters. Make phone calls. Visit one another. Be very purposeful to protect these special relationships. They are treasures you will not want to lose.

6) Be a good friend.
     You will have many people cross your paths in the years ahead. Not everyone will stay long and not everyone will treat you right. But, if you will decide that you are going to treat everyone the way you want to be treated, you will find that you have developed lasting relationships. As your daddy has always said, "Selfishness is the cause for every bad thing". Sew good seeds in others whether you will reap a harvest from it or not. 




7) Find ways to give to others.
     Whether it is a handmade gift, listening and sharing your time with them, extending a hand of service, or any other creative way you discover- give. And when you have nothing left to give, give a little more. You will not always feel empty. The more you give, the more you will find you have to give. It is an amazing miracle that we may never understand. Hold back your hand and you will quickly believe you have nothing to give. But, if you will always have your heart ready to pour out for others, you will never run dry.

8) Keep your imaginations alive.
     Build. Create. Explore. Discover. The life you have is a gift. You will discover talents and treasures that God has buried within you. Don't ever let them die. He has placed these in you to bring Glory to Him and for you to enjoy the process. Be a light and shine as brightly as you are able, holding nothing back and never hiding because you shine too brightly. Some may try to discourage you from shining but never allow that sparkle to dim in your eyes. You are alive most when you are imagining and creating. 





9) Do not despise the mundane.
     Whether you go on to become President or a nanny, astronaut or chef, librarian or architect or anything in between, there will be aspects of life that are constant and unavoidable~ laundry, paperwork, phone calls, making your bed, or any number of trivial tasks. Maintain them. Do not allow yourself to believe the lie that you are above such things. We all must live a real life with some tasks more "boring" than others. Remember #4 and be joyful in ALL things.

10) Ask for forgiveness and learn to forgive.
      Others will do things that hurt you and they may or may not be ready to apologize. Forgive them anyway. This does not mean you have to continue to allow yourself to be hurt by them. But do not allow them to steal your (#4) joy. Also, you will make mistakes and hurt others. Be ready to humble yourself and ask for forgiveness.

11) Honesty is foundational to every relationship.
      Your father and I desire that both of you understand from an early age the value and importance of the Truth~ telling the truth, believing the truth, living the truth. Do not allow small lies to creep in and taint your stories or your life. Discovering the truth and sharing it with others is powerful. There is no need to exaggerate or minimize in your re-telling of such things. Remain honest and your integrity and character will lead you to places and platforms you never could have dreamed.


Love always and forever,
Mommy 

Note: After reading the above I encourage each of you to take a few minutes and think about some important truths you value and would want to pass on to others. Knowing what you believe is important helps you prioritize teaching it to others. Enjoy the process!

    

Monday, June 2, 2014

Living Without Blinds

Moving across states, family being separated, and attempting to no longer live out of boxes as soon as realistically possible can stir up some dust. After saying goodbye to my family who opened up their hearts and home to us for five months and unloading the storage units, I sat on a plastic bin covered in hot pink duct tape labeled "girls room".  We had arrived to the long awaited move in. I looked around, a bed with no blankets, a table with no chairs, toys and books dumped over from the green duct-taped bins. Nothing in it's proper place. Who am I kidding? Even with my perfectly color coded organization and key, nothing even had a "proper place" decided on yet. 





Basically chaos. 

People were asking me left and right (with all good intentions), "Are you so happy to be home?"

HOME?? 

Not able to take a shower because we couldn't find soap or a shower curtain for that matter. Whiny kids asking to eat but oh, yeah, grocery shopping? That had not even entered the equation yet. Luckily I did do a quick run for toilette paper and paper plates. Whew. That was a life saver.

And as I scanned over the room, seeing a complete disaster and kids running wild, I looked out my uncovered windows and saw a couple of neighbors looking right in. Our eyes caught each other and they quickly turned away. 

Great, no blinds either.

With Josh working spring hours, early mornings and late nights did not afford us much time to just go at it and get the house in order. So, we pecked at it one box at a time, one corner at a time. 

And the windows stayed bare. And the neighbors continued to watch. Don't judge. You would probably take a peek here and there too. It's like a train wreck. You know you shouldn't look but...

And as I lived out my crazy-family-chaotic-mess in front of others, I found myself letting down. There was something relaxing and unobtrusive about the raw and real.

It has caused me to think of how little we allow ourselves to be exposed before the discomfort and awkwardness sets in. Having window coverings in your home keep the world at bay. Something so simple but when they are absent you really notice pressure. 

Pressure to be pinteresting. (Yeah, I just coined that phrase. Okay, maybe others have used it to, I don't know so I'm taking credit here)

Pressure to have "it" together.

Pressure to look good all the time.

And then this resounding WHY pops up and whispers, "Do you really think others have 'it' together all the time? Or are they only showing you themselves when they do?"

With a fast moving culture and a lot of plates to keep spinning, we are bound to not only drop a few but to shatter them to a million pieces in the process. And I would like to go on record saying, I do not want to hide those shattered plates anymore.

Imagine with me...

You lose your job. Your bills are going unpaid. You have to remain minimally phased, unscathed by the burn marks of fear and uncertainty.

Your child is wayward. Unresponsive to any attempt on your behalf to guide or instruct. You fear the consequences to their choices could be life threatening and you have to keep a smile and chock it up to "the teen years".

Your overwhelmed and are doing all you can just to maintain. You aren't able to move forward in any regard because the demands of your daily life are all you can handle. Make some jokes and tuck away the stress.

It is almost laughable how we demand a family portrait front when behind the scenes things are broken down and need attention. I am beginning to ask, "what would happen if we broke in front of others? What would their response be?"

With Pinterest ideas demonstrating the perfect decor and look, and social media profile pics showing us at our most pleasant, there is little room to pull back the curtain and show the mess in our own lives.

I do not know what the next chapter holds. We actually still have no blinds. But as I sit in front of my bare window and those passing by take notice of our moments of continued chaos, I have decided to allow others to bare their mess. It is not only okay to be broken, it is who we are. Everyone of us bears broken pieces and to require others to keep those pieces hidden prevents any of us from knowing one another truly. 




See? It can't always be sunshine and roses.


  


As an individual, there is a depth to you that no one knows fully. You have an available strength and a gifting that no one else holds. God placed it there. And if we allow ourselves the honesty to be broken, we can shine so bright that others are stronger just by being around us. In our mess is where God's strength is most available.

So next time you feel that tug of insecurity that you should close up, hide behind your "blinds", make a conscious decision to step out into the openness. Be raw. Be real. Ask God to take your hand and lead the way. And allow others that same vulnerability. Let's be amazed how deep our relationships can go when we are free to be the mess we are.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Turning the Page

Here I sit. My eyes tired and probably red. My head swarming with yesterdays trials and today's accomplishments. Spring is here. Life is popping up everywhere you turn. Take a walk and hear the insects humming, see the bird's full nests, feel the warmth on your skin.

I do not necessarily have an abundance of "down time" these days to monitor where I am mentally, emotionally, spiritually (or any "ally" for that matter) before this big change fast approaching. The Move. The start of something new. There will be a lot of firsts to take hold of and some lasts to let go of.

It is not very common as an adult you get to move back in with your folks and rebuild a life with them (albeit temporary). And mom and I refer to this season we are now seeing come to an end as a "blessing." Not cliche at all. When I first came, she had a heart to heart with me in the van in the parking lot of Baby's R Us. Before we went hog wild on the huge sale we teared up together. She told me how her and God "had a talk." She had began telling Him how she did not know how this was going to work- us invading their lives, their home, their personal space. Being a family of five you can't really do anything but invade when you enter a home. Mom told me the Lord shook her up and said, "Do you not know this is your blessing? I am giving this time to you as a blessing and I can take it away." She said from that moment on she knew what it was. It was a beautiful start to this season of mixing and tangling our lives up together.

Now I am trying to untangle not only mine but my three young daughter's lives so we can start the process of invading my home town again. We have a beautiful new home there (that I still cannot even believe is mine) awaiting us and a pool that will get used excessively. We will start homeschooling this fall. We have friends to catch up with. Family to get reacquainted with. Lives to be rebuilt. And as excited and nervous and anxious as I am to begin to build that new life, I also am having a difficult time letting go here.

The laughs of seeing my dad give piggyback rides to the two oldest every.single.night and if one night does not happen they make it up with two the following evening. Being able to hop in the car and drive 2 minutes to visit with my sister and her family and cook an impromptu meal together just because we can. My mom and I talking face to face about her work, her memories, her love for my girls. My parents' church that has sustained me and encouraged me in ways they will never know. The peace of being together with those you hold so dear yet see so rarely in "normal" life.

Saying the lives we have created here will be missed is understated in the most grand of ways.

Yet....

Much remains untold in our new world. For the first time in our married lives we have an open book in front of us. Our lives are unwritten on levels we have never even imagined (as "unwritten" as owning your own business and raising three children is). When we talk, my husband and I just imagine together the possibilities that lie ahead. We dream together. Question together. Place it in the Lord's hands together.

So as I finish folding and packing and zipping up our final memories here, I ask for your prayers as we turn this next page. We are about to start a new story...

I leave you with a few snapshots of some of my "favorites" for the month of April.


A favorite coffee spot while the girls run and play on neighbors' swing set. 




The cousins getting to experience the beach (albeit the weather was not 80s but stuffing
9 of us in a hotel room built for 4 proved to be
an adventure on a whole nutha' level)

Ummm...what IS that?? Yep, it's going on the face


I found several Pinterest recipes for natural face scrubs but they all
seemed to make enough to do a family of 50 so I concocted
a smaller dose.
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
2TB honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
A stirring stick
Add olive oil first, then honey (this helps get every last
bit of honey out), then sugar.
Mix together with stirring stick and...


VOILA! You have a face scrub that even your dad (or husband or
whoever would never think of using an exfoliate) WILL use!
Just rinse with warm water. No soap and then 
part dry with a towel. And FEEL the softness!


I kinda have a new obsession with wine bottles. They make beautiful
decor for any season and there are so many ideas. This one
is wrapped in hemp. And ouch is all I have to say about
using a glue gun. If you know me and have me over, you will
probably be receiving some variation of this.


So I watched this infomercial...'nuff said.


A beautiful sunny Easter celebration with some of my
favorite people. 

The end. Or shall I say...
The Beginning...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hearing "I LOVE YOU" Through All The Noise

Teething baby fusses. 
Preschoolers feuding over who gets to have the red sucker.
Dinner dishes sitting on the counter from the night before (yelling, HEY, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CLEAN ME??)
Phone ringing.
Emails coming in.
The noise does not ever really stop. 

The other night I took what I was hoping would be an uninterrupted bath. It was not. The two older girls came in about a half dozen times, one complaining her homemade sack puppet was stepped on by other sister and "ruined forever". The other asking for the fifteenth time if she could wear her princess dress to bed. I had been hoping to get alone with my thoughts. Have a time-out of my own. But it did not happen.

I started wondering, "How on earth am I going to stay fueled, keep up, if I can't even get 2 minutes alone to think?" Besides hiding out in the bathroom, which never really works because they stick their little fingers under the door telling me their latest news, I wanted to be able to have moments I could think without interruption.

But then I realized life is an interruption. I mean let's face it, there is noise coming from five different directions at any given moment. Take this moment for instance...
Baby girl is repeatedly ramming her walker into Mom and Dad's antique dresser and needs constant reminders that it is in fact not okay to break things as I pull her once again to the opposite side of the room.
One child needs help putting on her crown and pulling her hair out of her face.
The dog is whining and begging to be let out.
My phone is buzzing reminding me that today is the absolute last day I can put off going to the grocery.
My husband is calling to remind me he exists and how much he loves me and can't wait for our family to be together again.

I sigh. A blissful, tired sigh. Life is good. Life is overwhelming. Life is full.

Often when life seems it's fullest we step into what I call maintenance mode. This is when all we are doing is what needs to be done just to stay afloat. In those times, it is very easy to forget very difficult to remember that people are loving us, thinking we are special and grateful we are in their lives. That reassurance can fuel us into tomorrow (who am I kidding?), into the next moment.

That friend who emails to say, "Hey, just thinking about you...".
When your dad gives you your favorite seat even though it's his favorite seat without much grumbling (yes, that happened and yes, it means love)
Little eyes watching you and little footsteps following you.
The coffee pot started for you.
The text messages saying, "when things slow down I can't wait to have a cup of coffee with you and catch up."

Alia who has to watch Poppi take out Lilly every time to make sure he does not fall-
aka- I love you, Poppi

You will no doubt have your own list but a list none-the-less and they are of other people who are very likely in "maintenance mode" themselves but they are reaching out to let you know they love you, you are special and they are thinking about you. See these acts of kindness as such. Do not just hurry through the moment and not take it for what it really is- an "I love you" through all the noise.

My girls in our beautiful mess demonstrating one of their favorite songs from
Daniel Tiger, "Making something is one way to saaay,
I love you."

Tune your ear today to hear the whispers. They typically are not loud and proud, but gentle nudges that, if we are listening, can hear, "I love you."


And if you can be that whisper in someone's ear who is needing it today, even better.







Thursday, February 20, 2014

WHY?

Sometimes there is a lot of beauty. 

Little girls, dressed up like a princess, skipping down the sidewalk, as carefree as one could possibly be. Dancing to life. Drinking in the sunshine. That is a beautiful, lovely sight.




However, sometimes there is a lot of ugly.

So ugly our stomachs twist in knots and we have to lock ourselves in the bathroom to compose ourselves before heading back into the tumultuous sea storm of "whys". 

It's impossible to completely shield your growing child from the reality of the world we live in. They get to grow up right smack dab in the middle of the good, the bad, and the ugly, just like all of us. 

This week has certainly brought a resounding call of why from all over the nation. Kids and "grown-ups" alike have surely asked it, if only to themselves. 

The problem is, as such "grown-ups", we are accustomed to answering questions. We get to practice daily.

"What day is it?"
"Where is the moon?"
"How tall am I?"
"Will you take me to...<fill in the blank, parent>"

Sometimes a simple two word answer suppresses the curiosity of a child before they head off in a completely different direction. Other times one answer leads to another question. And another.

And another.

This week, a 10 year old beautiful, innocent girl was kidnapped in broad daylight from her own neighborhood by a complete stranger and murdered. My stomach churns just recounting it.

Thinking of that precious girl's family and the unbearable weight of grief they are going through causes much prayer and anguish to rise as incense out of the hearts of many. 

The ominous "why" returns. Peeks it's gnarly head out looking to be snatched and locked away. If only we could physically grab hold of it. Contain it. We could have our answer, things would look better?

Feel better?

I am reminded of a time about 12 years ago. I was going through a difficult situation of my own and my husband, who at that time was simply a caring friend, did something I had not experienced before. We were not dating, however, the following experience sealed my heart to his.

The tears were pouring. I shared the pain I was feeling with him, not knowing at that time what I was looking for. As he responded, his words full of compassion, in some strange way dulled the pain, if even just a little.

"I don't know what to say. I have no words. I wish I did, but it is just hard."

So many times, well intentioned people want to bring comfort, heal the hurting. They can tend to think that if they could just "explain the why", they might bring help to those in mourning. 

I have read books about, heard discussions on, had others try to explain to me the infamous~ "why bad things happen to good people" and never once has it brought about the intended results. 

Sometimes a simple, compassion filled statement from someone who loves us can bring a soothing balm to the open wound:
    
             I don't know. I wish I did. I have no words. It is so hard.

The Scriptures bring such life and put things so simply when we as humans can tend to over complicate things.


It is okay not to have the answers. Most of the time, if we are honest and pressed, we do not have an answer anyway.