Saturday, April 30, 2011

Taking a Ride

A gorgeous spring day is a perfect day...for a 16 year-old driving, don't you think?

While the Husband and the 9 year-old were at baseball practice the 16 year-old drove around with me and 4 siblings in his able hands. I think I gripped the arm rest the whole time but I only used my imaginary brake in the glove box once and really that wasn't his fault, I just reacted to the person in front of us riding their real brakes.

I don't know quite when I became old enough to have a child learning to drive. It's all a blur. I swear just yesterday I was sniffling into tissues at his preschool graduation. Have you seen the advertisement where the dad is telling the little girl all the driving safety rules and the camera pans back and she's suddenly a young woman. Yeah, I identify with that one.

So today while he drove we chatted a bit and I gave a few minor suggestions (some he even appreciated, ;) ) and I thought about how in just a few months he is going to want to take the van out by himself! I did not hyperventilate right then, but I cannot wrap my mind around it. Not at all. Perhaps that is why I didn't hyperventilate? Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, don't ya' know?!

It is at these times of clarity and realization that I really wish my parents were still alive. I want to call and apologize because I was a brat, a big ol' spoiled brat. I cannot apologize in person, but I do tell them I'm sorry and maybe in some way they get it. (Or they're sitting in Heaven laughing because of all those hexes my mother put on me about hoping I have 5 just like me...Yes, I do believe she's laughing.)

I was a brat then and I still am now sometimes. Hopefully much less often. I suspect the Husband would waffle on the answer. ;)

I can look at our growing kids and see pieces of me in them. I can see pieces of lots of family members in them. I can see glimpses of their Heavenly Father in them too. That is a gift and a reminder to me that each person is created in His image. When I remember that, I respond much better than when I don't. In those moments I'm less of a brat. In those moments I can be brave and face the future because I am reminded that God is right there sparkling through the faces and hands and feet of this whole beautiful world. Even 16 year-old sons learning to drive.

Thank you God for showing yourself to me every day in many ways. I am so grateful for the glimpses. May you all find those glimpses of glory and greatness in unexpected places too.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

If You Can't ..

Back in the day...I remember sitting in the sorority house listening and singing along to, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

A few months ago in one of my courses the instructor, a psychologist by trade, told us to take out a blank piece of paper and draw two large, non-intersecting circles on the page. The first circle/pie represents how you spend your time right now, separate it into segments showing the ways you spend your time. (All the pieces of pie that make up your day.) In the second circle draw the segments the way you would like your day/pie to look. Does my description of how to do the exercise make sense? I hope so. It's a graphic way of literally seeing how you spend your time.

So if you, spending your precious time right now reading this blog, did these circles, how similar would your two circles be?

I had something of a revelation in those few minutes. I think many people had very dissimilar circles. I did not. Surprise! While my life isn't exactly as I had imagined it would be and I have unrealized dreams and goals and stuff, I spend much of my time doing things I want to be doing.

Okay, to be honest, I do not love scrubbing floors and toilets but that's a tiny non-issue sliver. Truth be told, in the grand scheme of my life, that sliver is insignificant enough to be microscopic.

Life is short and precious and unpredictable. While we all have responsibilities and obligations, we have a choice how we respond to the responsibilities. I can choose how I spend each day and how to enjoy my day. I cannot go shopping in Paris, but I can read a book I love. I cannot spend the day at the beach but I can knit those socks so warm and cozy.

As a stay at home mom/student I could find lots of things with which to busy myself and some of them might be productive and purposeful and some of them may or may not be enjoyable. If my whole pie was filled with those "To-Do list" tasks at the expense of nurturing who I am as a person, I would have a pretty bitter pie.

I have chosen to fill my pie with things I love and to frame the less-enjoyable bites in a tasty crust of love. You see, even though I'm not a fan of changing diapers or wiping noses, I am serving and raising some pretty wonderful little people who depend on me.

All this to say, if your pie isn't filled with things you love, maybe find a way to love them, wrap them up in a tasty crust of new perspective or change it up a bit and add some tasty extras to your pie.

You've got one incredible, miraculous life. You can use your ingredients to make a great pie. Sometimes you might have to get creative and sometimes it might not be exactly how you imagined it, but you can love it because it's yours to experience fully.

If you can't live a life of supermodels and glossy magazines, love the life of your reality. Just try it. Don't do it for me, do it for you. Pretty please. :)


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

People Are People

I am going to admit something right here for anyone who cares to read it...
I am not following the royal wedding hoopla.

I have nothing against it. In fact, I wish the couple a long and happy marriage. I wish the same to every couple that chooses to "tie the knot" regardless of birthright though.

I am not a "celebrity" person. I think that's what it boils down to. I guess I really took it to heart when my dad told me, "Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time." (Even when I tried to find all of the ways in which people might not do that, and yes, I did do that. ;) )

I have nothing against anyone who is captivated by the spectacle and the fairytale. I'm not judging. I'm just not interested in the same way I don't really care what the famous are doing or eating or wearing or reading.

A famous talk-show host loving a book is not going to be the impetus for me to run to my local bookstore to buy it. (Seriously, back in the day when I worked in a bookstore people would come in searching for a book they saw on such a show. They didn't know what it was about but they wanted it because it was on her show and "maybe the cover is blue?") If I hear about a book and it sounds interesting I might look into it, but celebrity testimonials are of little value to me.

They're just people like you and me. They just might have a talent or heritage that gets them some airtime. It doesn't necessarily make them more discerning or equipped in all areas of life.

I am interested in the insight of others and value other's opinions, don't get me wrong. I do not exist in a vacuum.

I just...

I just believe that each person has intrinsic value and has a great deal to offer. We all put our pants on one leg at a time (God-willing). We all, each and every one of us, are God's children, precious and uniquely made.

Enjoy whatever entertains you. Embrace who you are and what interests you. Live life fully. Love the the people around you. You are valued and special.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Deja Vu..

Do you ever get that "deja vu all over again" feeling? Do you think I've been here or seen this before.

Easter Sunday as I sat at the dining room table looking at my angelic brood, I was struck by how calm the 11 year-old (*C*) was sitting and eating his dinner next to the 3 year-old (*I*) who had exhibited the devastating effects of sugar and artificial coloring and how one can go from manic to asleep in the blink of an eye during church that morning.

I remembered that the currently calm, though sometimes still impulsive 11 year-old used to be just like the 3 year-old. I could see it like I was looking at time-lapse photography, if I ignored the fact that *C* never had the blond locks *I* is sporting.

I could see the phase for what it was. I know that as frustrating (and embarrassing) as the 3 year-old can be, he will eventually grow out of it. He will. I hope. I pray. I think. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

This too shall pass. I am holding onto that glimmer of hope as I try to reign him in without stifling his spirit...too much. ;) You'd think, sometimes, that the child has never been given rules. You'd never know this boy who can be like the Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil, is also the boy who will sit and read books with me for an hour or sit and play games like "Memory" which require focus and patience, and that he usually wins fair and square because he does focus and he remembers where all of the cards are unlike me who tried to remember the criteria for Dementia (key word tried)because of my lack of short-term memory. :O

All this to say, you never can tell from an hour or two with a child what they're like the rest of the time. Don't assume from what you observe that you know how things roll in their home. Snapshots don't tell the whole story. Just like my Easter dinner with the angelic brood wasn't an accurate portrayal of the day. All this to say you never can tell whether that wild child will some day sit watching birds and keeping track of which species he's spotted. You do realize how quiet and still you need to be to watch birds, right?


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Still Smiling...

Today I took the time to do some shopping All. By. Myself. And I liked it. :) I did a leisurely browse through the bookstore and then wandered the mall with a vague idea of what I wanted but nothing too major.

While I was walking through Gapkids, one of the women working there engaged me in conversation. I discovered that she had three boys and one girl, all grown, and 9 grandchildren. One of her boys is in the field my oldest boy is planning to enter and she said, boys are always on the go, "I only had three, but you have five..and you're still smiling!" She didn't mean it to be offensive and I didn't take it that way. Instead, I responded, "I wasn't yesterday!" and laughed.

Yesterday I was feeling the full weight of all the things I do for which I feel unappreciated. I felt pulled in a thousand different directions. I felt nagged and honestly, if someone could be "talked at" to death....

Can you tell I wasn't feeling the bounty of my blessings? Not. So. Much. I am not proud of it, but I admit it. But this morning, after some rest and some quiet (my introvert self got to re-energize)I was ready for a new day.

A. New. Day. A. New. Life. Tomorrow, on Easter, we celebrate newness of life in a very special way. On Good Friday, I was living with a pretty poor, unthankful, ungracious I am feeling the guilt of my crankies but already feeling the benefits of the new life I was given on that long-ago Easter morning.

We are a resurrection people and though we aren't celebrating it yet on the calendar, I can still smile today because I know it's coming! Phew!

Wishing you Peace and Blessings and a very Happy Easter (one day early..sort of. ;) )

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I Do With It...

I have the time, sort of, in the way we all have time, we just choose how we use it.

This morning I have to the time to sit here and write something witty that will hopefully make you laugh or t least strengthen your smile lines. And yet...

I just finished a school weekend and though the kiddos are on Spring Break only the two littles are at home with me this morning.

I have the time, but to what do I give my time? There are chores and children, hobbies and obligations. I have things I want to do and things I must do and things I need to do but would really rather ignore. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the things I want to do and lose sight of priorities of the best kind.

Last night I was reading a book and Miss M was having trouble settling down so I picked her up and snuggled her up next to me in bed. At first she was more interested in trying to grab the pages of my book but I read to her and she settled in. If she decides to be or marry a farmer when she grows up, maybe it's because I was reading her this book. Eventually she was still and silent, resting in the crook of my arm, breathing steady and relaxed hands resting gently on top of the white duvet.

I looked at her little hands, so big compared to what they were 33 weeks ago yet so tiny and soft, and I thought, what if life was just about taking the time and the space to just be present in this way with my children? What if there were no outside distractions? What if I just let life go around me and I did the laundry and the dishes and snuggle and read books and didn't get wrapped up in other things? In that cozy, quiet heart was overflowing with love and contentment..and a deep fear of what I may have been missing by doing all of the other hobbies and interests and activities; things that fill my life but maybe miss the point of what my life is about?

All I could think of was the poem that says, "I'm rocking the baby and babies don't keep." I know that babies don't keep because my first baby is visiting colleges and my other babies are growing up and reaching their own milestones. And that is my job as a mom, right? To get them to these milestones, to get them to the point where they are growing up and realizing their own dreams and goals. I am good with that. I can only hope that we've done our job pointing them in the right direction, to be good, honest, moral, God-loving individuals.

Do I sound melancholy? I'm not really going to enhance the laugh lines today, am I? I don't feel melancholy as much as I feel conflicted. I don't want to miss the things that "won't keep" in order to do something inconsequential. I have my own interests and dreams and hobbies, but some things, like dust bunnies, will always be there.

I'm trying to balance it all and sometimes the line I'm walking feels impossibly narrow and I feel the wobbling taking over. At those times, I need to stop and breathe and, yes, you guessed it, pray.

Lord, I pray for vision and understanding, that I may realize is best in this time and space. I know that whatever choices I make, You will find a way to use them for good and that there will be opportunities to learn and grow. It may not always feel good, but I think that's part of living in this human, broken world. How I respond, how each of us responds, can make all the difference.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Line

Last night was one of those nights when I was thankful for my children and thankful for some of the lessons I have learned through the years.

It was time to reinforce some boundaries with the 3 yo and I had the fortitude to do so because I've walked down this rocky path before. I needed to say, "No." I needed to mean it and stick with it. (And then I needed to hand off to the Husband, because sometimes tag teaming works well too.)

I was talking about the word "No" with my MOPS ladies last week. One of the wise women there talked about how it used to be very difficult for her to say "No" to opportunities but then she realized that by saying "No" to something she didn't feel called to do, it freed her to accept other opportunities which fit her. Not only that, our pastor (also our speaker for the day) pointed out, sometimes by not taking on a role we allow someone else the gift of serving.

Unfortunately, there isn't anyone lining up pining for the opportunity to convince a 3 year-old that bedtime is really bedtime and not "wild child" time. But it's part of my job description- "Wild Child Whisperer", except when I'm not whispering but saying loudly to the older brother just to be heard over the din, "Would you just be quiet so I can deal with him?!" (At this point tag-team parenting was not an option and the only line was of offspring loudly demanding my attention.)

We need to set boundaries and draw lines in all aspects of our life. We need to decide how and when and why and where and with whom we do things. Sometimes the government sets the boundaries (like the speed limits everyone follows so carefully) and sometimes we need to draw a line and say, "I will not wear, watch or do x,y,z." Sometimes we can change our mind, reevaluate. Sometimes what worked back when doesn't work now. (That mini skirt just isn't working for me anymore.) Sometimes with new information or a new mindset we need to redraw the boundaries.

I have found that I am increasingly comfortable drawing boundaries in my life. It is far easier to draw the lines in my advanced age. LOL. Maybe it's the strength training of being a mom. I can stick to my word even if it's not popular, because let's face it, being a mom doesn't always make it possible to make the "cool" choices.

I think, too, that my faith in God gives me strength I need in difficult situations. I can respond honestly and with care. I can stick to my word. I can find peace even when the boundaries might be unpopular. I can draw the line and erase it if needed, or I can see that the line needs to stay right where it is. Sometimes I need added strength, like tag-team parenting, only I get my strength and peace from the loving God.

I pray that you have strength and peace in your life.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's Funny When...

In the words of Jimmy Buffet, "If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

In that spirit here's a list of things that make me chuckle, laugh, smile or remember that we shouldn't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff, mostly. ;)

I smile when...

My 3 yo puts his pants on backwards because he likes the pockets to be in the front.

My 6 yo plays the same song over and over and dances around the living room with abandon.

My 9 yo cheers on a player on Jeopardy, on his favorite sports team, or the hero in a movie. His joy of life is contagious, his confidence convincing, his sensitivity touching.

My 7 mo snuggles with my friends, giving them a baby fix and resting my arms...and then she gets extra friendly by grabbing places she really shouldn't.

My 16 yo asks me to take him driving because he wants to spend time with me...and when I laugh and tell him it's "getting deep in here" he looks shocked that I would suggest such a thing.

My 11 yo ponders the mysteries of the world and is not deterred by the laws of physics as we understand them today. His unquenchable creativity is inspiring.

My husband sings and dances with the kiddos. He is the biggest proponent of not sweating small stuff or worrying about things out of our control. Definitely a great influence on me.

I smile when I realize that life is full of blessings large and small. I pray that you find lots of things to smile and laugh about today and every day. You have to laugh know what Jimmy says!


Saturday, April 9, 2011


Just a little note: if you leave me a personal question in the comments section, I have no way of responding "personally." :) For personal questions, you can contact me using the e-mail address listed in the sidebar.

April Showers?

What's he doing? *C* and *N* (not pictured because he was hiding from the camera in shame and rightly so) are cleaning mud off of the fence and the patio furniture. Mud they were flinging around.

Are you wondering why? The Husband was too. Apparently they thought it would be cool to see how it looked? Really? These are my straight "A", "pleasure to have in class" children? Really? And these little brain trusts were surprised when the Husband sent them inside for a bucket and cloths to clean up their mess!

What were they thinking? They weren't thinking, they were outside playing and they just decided to try something new and different. Impulse control isn't fully developed yet. That's a shocker. Not! Now, you might think these boys are destructive, but they're not. They just don't always anticipate the consequences, another developmental hurdle to climb.

What's a mother who wants to live in a house without mud splattered all over, without walls dinged from Bey Blades, without socks strewn all over her living room to do? She waits and prays and repeats the same lessons over and over because they will hear her eventually...and God hears her prayers right away. Her prayers help her to stop and respond appropriately, to respond with patient correction, to share the love God has shown her with her children.

Gracious Lord, I am so thankful for April showers that bring May flowers. I am also thankful for the mud (yes, I am). The mud taught my boys a lesson about cleaning up after themselves. Thank you for growing me in patience through this interesting opportunities I would miss out on if I did not have such energetic and spunky children.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Aren't You...

I was reminded recently of a day when we were at a seminary cookout and a stranger came by looking for money to fix his flat tire. Obviously it didn't occur to this person that seminarians weren't exactly rolling in cash. The Husband and one of our friends offered to drive him to where he needed to go and to get him help but would not give him the cash. The man was offended that he wasn't being given what he asked for. "Aren't you a Christian?" he demanded. The guys assured the man that they would help him get his tire fixed, but that wasn't good enough, he wanted his terms met and not doing so somehow equated with being unChristian.

I have discovered that many people believe that living a life of faith means not speaking your mind, not reacting, or just accepting whatever they demand. Being a Christian is not about being perfect. Modeling God's love is not about agreeing to disagree with someone who denigrates your beliefs. We can coexist but disparaging or being disrespectful of one's faith can feel like being bullied. It doesn't need to be intentional to be hurtful or insulting.

Recently a friend was struggling with a frustrating situation. I suggested that she had two choices, "Stay and be the change or beat feet." She knew those were her choices without me saying it, it's not brain surgery. If you don't like what's on television you can change the channel. If you don't like the messages you're getting, you can choose not to expose yourself to them.

She had choices. I have choices. You have choices. We all have choices. Sometimes we have the energy to stay and be the change and sometimes it feels emotionally safer or physically easier to beat feet. The choices aren't always easy and they're not always popular.

I am fairly non-confrontational. I made a choice to walk away from a situation instead of engaging in conflict. I felt it was the most Christian way to respond. Instead, by walking away quietly I was accused of being unChristian. Walking away was unChristian. I validated all of the negativity the person felt and believed about my faith by walking away.

Did I make the wrong decision? I don't know. I shared the struggle with the Husband. His response, "Did you break any commandments?" "No." "Well, you did what you thought was best." "But what kind if witness am I?" The Husband replied, "The kind that isn't a doormat. Shake the dust from your sandals."

There are many ways to walk in faith and glorifying God may look different to different people. Judgement is not for me but for the Lord. I do not claim to know all of the answers for everyone. I just try to do my best each day to walk the walk. Sometimes I am more successful than others, but since I'm human and saved by grace through faith and not by works of the law, I know I can keep on keeping on.

Some days I'll get it and some days...I'll fail. If I fail you because you didn't see God mirrored in my life, I am sorry. I have feelings and faults just like everyone else. It doesn't change who I am and whose I am or who He is.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

What If...

I confess I get my ideas for this space from all sorts of places.

What if...every building was built without thoughts of aesthetics? A bunch of square or rectangle cement block buildings, or whatever is cheapest?

What if...we spent only the bare minimum on everything, just enough to subsist. No thought to style, no special hair products, no fancy mobile phones, basic housing and food, no cosmetics or cosmetic surgery, no decorations only utilitarian items, please. defines Asceticism as "rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; austerity." What if we all lived that way? Surely no one would live in need. There would be no hungry, no homeless. Imagine what that sort of world would look like.

I am a proponent of social justice and living simply so others can simply live. I also believe that a world of austerity and asceticism would not be terribly interesting or exciting or creative. It would be very cookie cutter, except who would eat cookies, because that would be above and beyond the bare minimum and certainly not necessary for living, right?

What is my point? No, I am not going on the cement block building bandwagon. Furthermore, I love cookies. My point is that it is very easy for anyone to judge how another spends their money. It is very easy to say what they should or should not do with it. It is easy to sit in judgement about how another lives their life, what they believe, who they support and how they spend their time.

Let's all STOP right there. We don't know what the other person's story is. We don't know their background or understanding or motivation. We're reacting based on our own beliefs and understanding.

I am going to suggest that sitting in judgement of the way another lives their life, spends their money, goes about their business, etc. is questionable at best. (Unless someone is breaking the law and even some laws are unjust and should be opposed on social justice grounds.)

I guess this is a good time to point out that Jesus taught us this in the Greatest Commandment, to love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor, not judge them. Loving isn't sitting in judgement. Yes, sometimes love is about correction, but if we're not interested in the correction, only judgement, we're not loving our neighbor...and I bet we're not judging our own actions in the same way...loving them as we love ourselves.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:3-42) Jesus is aware of the woman's sins and he accepts her where she's at. He neither condemns nor judges, but instead reveals who He is. What if instead of condemening we revealed the love of God through our words and deeds, through evangelism and walking the walk.

What if...we did what Jesus did?


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Making Lemonade...

Not real lemonade with fresh squeezed lemons, simple syrup and plenty of ice. Not the flavored powder you mix with water. The proverbial, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade type of lemonade.

I think we have all had those times when life gives us lemons and we can either make lemonade or suck on the sour fruit and get bitter.

About 16 years ago, my dad was "forced" into retirement. I don't remember all the specifics and while he wasn't fired or let go, it wasn't his plan to retire when he did. He and my mom spent a great deal of time together doing things. No big trips, but they were really enjoying their time together. They made some lemonade out of the lemons. That time was quite a gift for them because my mother died less than a year later. I lived close enough that I was blessed to see them enjoying their time together just being.

I was reflecting on this earlier today during a MOPS meeting. There was a discussion about marriage relationships and how often when couples are in the throes of child rearing they can lose touch with one another. I found myself reflecting on how although we do not get out on regular dates and have a few kids, I don't feel that lack of connection.

I realized that it was the silver lining to a rather unexpected and unplanned employment and vocation journey. We have time together during the day. We are able to parent together more often. We have other stresses, don't get me wrong, and they're biggies, but we are a team and we get through the challenges and struggles because we are committed to each other, our marriage and our family. (You might say we're both stubborn.)

Oh, and we have faith in God who is far greater than any obstacle or struggle we could face. God is a big part of our marriage and has been since we started talking about getting married.

Mine is not a perfect life, but sometimes a little lemonade goes a long way when you're in the desert and don't know when you're going to find your way out.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

That's Gonna Leave a Mark

Two, not one but two, of my boys are sporting Lego injuries. In all fairness to Lego, the bocks are not to blame as much as the operators, or in this case, the children living in proximity of said interlocking plastic brick-like objects.

The other day *N* and *I* were roughhousing a little bit. We do not encourage it, but apparently it's a testosterone thing, or they're just behaving like animals. I told them to stop. Really. The next thing you know, *I* is losing his balance and does a face plant into the living room carpet. Carpet, that's not so bad, right? It is if your forehead lands on a Bionicle mask with pointy things sticking out of it. (That would be it, at the top of this post.) Oh how the boy cried. We did not realize his forehead had become intimately acquainted with the aforementioned mask until we saw the lovely scrapes which matched the blue protrusions from the mask.

A day or so later, I was looking at *E* and said, "What happened to your head?" He had a scrape-looking think across his forehead, fairly thin and about and inch or so long. *E* put on his best sad looking face, which is good, he has a future on the stage, I tell you, and pointed to the boy wearing the other Lego scrapes. "He hit me with this." Apparently *I* got angry with *E* and whacked him with a Lego base piece. Aaw, isn't that the brotherly love we all dream about?

Sometimes weird stuff just happens. Fluke accidents and impulsive three year-olds keep my life interesting (and 6yos and 9 yos and 11 yos...). I wish they never got boo boos. I wish I could protect them from the emotional hurts that we all experience by living in a world full of other people who don't always think before speaking or acting.

I kissed their boo boos, and I admonished the wild boys to take a chill. I see the marks from the Legos and I think about how we are all marked by God too, as His children. Our marks are not visible like a scratch but they shine from the inside out when we share the love of God with all we come into contact with, through kindness and generosity, by being the hands and feet of Jesus in our daily life.

That's gonna leave a mark!