31 Jul

Parched. Dry. Thristy.

zinnias

Crispy around the edges. That’s how I feel.

Parched. Dry.  Like the heat of life has burned the beauty right out of me.There are no traces of the spring full of hope and days drenched in Jesus.

Summer swirls all around me. Heat rises and circles around us.

I stare at the flowers….one too many days without water. One too many days they were left to battle the heat of life without the sweet relief of rains.

Oh how I feel like those flowers.

Parched. Dry. Thirsty.

My mind drifts to Jesus at the well. It is mid-day and the sun is beating down. He’s there to meet a woman who is parched. Her life has left her dry. He speaks to her of living water. (John 4)

I hear His whisper….whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

But I feel like the flowers. The rain comes but they still are weathered and burnt. Oh how I want to drink deeply from the well my Jesus offers.

I’ve never liked the phrase, “His ways are not our ways.” Truth is I struggle with God not letting me in on His plans. I shake my fist at the sky and tell Him how I want to plan, to prepare, to just know what He’s up to.

And then life got turned on its ear. For two years, my hunky hubby and I have walked our family down a road that lead to foster care…we thought it was for one child. We did the training, we signed a zillion papers, and we waited. And waited some more. Then one day it seemed the doors were opening, we were walking through them…there were meetings, visits, painting, packing, moving, and the painful realities of parenting in the wake of trauma and abuse.

Suddenly the calling isn’t what it looked like. Hard choices are made. Life changes again.

My heart is dry and sad as we live in the wake of a placement gone wrong. Sadly wrong.

And I wonder how do you live when you don’t get God? When the phrase “His ways are not our ways” is so achingly true in your everydays. When callings seem to fade or change or hide or dry up. When you’ve built and fought, trained and focused on something that leaves you empty and sad.

Perhaps these Zinnias hold God’s whispered answer.

zinnias

Even in their whitered state there is beauty. Not a conventional, put in a vase and admire kind of beauty. But the beauty that comes from life, from experience…and when you look at the middle…there are seeds. Flowers have one job…grow and reproduce.

And even in the whithered silence of life there are chances for growth…there are seeds…there are new flowers….there is life.

I am parched. But, my sweet Jesus whispers Scripture when I won’t open the Bible. Rains living water into a heart that is cracked and hard.

I am dry. But, my sweet Jesus draws my attention to the work He has for me to do with him. Blows the sweet winds through a house that is stuffy and locked up tight.

I am thirsty. But, my sweet Jesus is my answer. And even as I sit, tears pouring down my face in a room that was supposed to hold our son…his healing and growing. Jesus allows me to see the growth, the faith that has stretched.

And my heart trails to them….the women who have lost a child through miscarriage, adoption or death. That empty place where your tears won’t stop falling and your heart aches in waves that threaten to drown you in sorrow. I don’t know why God allows us to love and lose. But I do know that when we love — wide open, hearts free — we look like our Jesus and people need to see that…even in the briefest of glimpses and the hardest of moments.

The truth is I wish things were different. I wish we could have had help, that we had the skills to help a boy that was fighting so many things. I know there is no failure where love rules and Jesus is preached, but there is emptiness in the wake. There is pain in loss.

I have faith that as I just dwell in the Word (a good friend urged me to just write Scripture when I can’t find words to write what I’m feeling….and I have been) Living Water…the graceful ebb of my sweet Jesus will flow into me. I might be crispy around the edges for sometime, but my heart will be full and ready to overflow, again.

13 Nov

Light Bulb Moments

You know the moment…

…when they get it.

When the lightbulb goes on…when it clicks.

One of the coolest things about being a homeschooling mom, I think, is getting to share these moments with our peanuts. Seeing them really figure things out and take hold of ideas. Watching that lightbulb come on!

Well, I suppose this year I had my lightbulb moment about homeschooling. (Light Bulb!! — love how Gru says it in “Despicable Me”…watch it —>>> Light Bulb)

I’m not an expert. There are women who have done this years (and years and years) longer than I have. There are women with degrees, businesses, books and blogs. They are the experts in homeschooling. But this year, for the first time, I think I am becoming an expert in something…my kids.

With my calendar, my planner, and piles of curriculum around me I sat just a few short months ago. The puzzle of our school year coming together — workbooks, reading, field trips, videos, crafts — they were all becoming boxes to be checked off. And even while I planned I knew something was different….but I didn’t know the what.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure when I figured out what was different…sometime between day one and day whatever this?? (we are in the ninth week so you do the math…I don’t do math before coffee)

The difference isn’t really the what I planned…well it sort of is.

The difference isn’t really in the how I planned….well it sort is.

The difference was in my understanding of what I’m doing and why. The difference is my understanding of my children. Of how they learn…what they like…where they struggle…their strengths…their weaknesses opportunities for improvement (ha!)…what drives them.

I prepared for our lil man who has to move even when sitting still…coloring sheets and small activities while we are reading our zillions of books.

I prepared for our girl who needs to read it and write it before it locks in her brain…her response to reading or listening to information is to journal it out and read it back to me when she is done.

There are piles of library books, stacks of math manipulatives, bins of lapbooks, and now a whole stack of already completed crafts that accompany our subject matter. And let me just tell you…this is so not for me. I learn best with simple book, some notes and to recopy the notes later. I don’t need my hands on things or to work it our in clay, but my kids do. They are hands on learners — exploring the world with every sense and putting the pieces together with everything we do. The more they can touch, play and hear what it is…the more it becomes theirs.

I have spent the last few years leading Bible studies. Teaching women to dig deeper into God’s Word — to really see what each verse says…about the Biblical story and about God. This past summer I stepped back from teaching to just focus on things at home (you know like being a wife and mother, preparing to be a foster-mother, oh and tackling that ever-growing pile of laundry). I have felt a little lost. Like I no longer had a calling or a purpose (cuz those things I stepped down to take care of don’t count??). And then one day I saw it…yep, another, lightbulb moment….I could teach my kids to study God’s Word…to fall in love with God verse by verse.

So, we started the year with Joseph. Each day we read a couple of verses and talk about what they mean. What it tells us about Joseph, the people in his life and God. We’re in week nine and Joseph is hiding silver cups and still hiding his identity. It has been so cool to watch my kids own this story — to retell it, to ask question, to feel for Joseph, to look for where God is even when life’s circumstances don’t clearly show Him. This morning they acted out Joseph’s story so far — laughing, playing different parts, using invisible people, chasing each other through the house like some Keystone Cops show — and they knew it. Every details. Every dream. Every circumstance that seemed unfair. That God stayed close. Watching my kids this morning made me feel like a Bible study teacher again. Gave me a dose of what I’ve missed — watching people fall in love with the Bible…with God.

And really, this is the lesson I’m learning this year. God called me to homeschool…this challenging, humbling, giggly adventure with my family. He has never asked me to be an expert in anything more than what He has given me — my family…my kids.

I wonder if God is as excited about my lightbulb moments as I am about our kids’??

05 Nov

I’ll Always Come Back to You

come back to you

It seemed we were walking in a painting. Leaves of every color swirled in the air all around us as the gentle autumn breeze spread fall colors like a smooth water-color brush.

We had explored briar-guarded hollows, walked along barbed-wire fences, collected a delightful spectrum of fall glory in our little basket. Standing on the top of the hill overlooking our back yard and house I wanted to freeze the moment. To always remember their delighted giggles as they chased each other through twirling leaves. To remember the questions they asked and the answers I sometimes feel ill-equipped to give. To freeze childhood…to linger in these moments of falling glory.

Before I could find life’s pause button it moved on without me. She shot down the hill in a hurry to run free and explore. And as so often happens when you are the one with the littlest legs he was left there with me on the edge of adventure. Hesitating he smiled up at me, “Mom, I’m going to put my stick in your basket. Okay? Cuz I don’t want to lose it, but I want to run. I’ll always come back to you so I can leave it here.”

Clumisly knocking and twisting he shoved his stick in the basket and he was gone. Running on after her….into adventure.

come back to you 2

And there I stood autumn dancing on the breeze around me…..

I want to run…I’ll always come back to you….

Life became a blurry mix of colors as my eyes teared up and I was lost for a moment.

He’s six.

There is so much life to live. Roads to run, hills to roll down, adventures to be had. For this breath, for this moment he is still our little boy.

But I know how life moves (how that pause button eludes) and in a breath…the ragged breath of a life loved at full speed…he’ll be a man. Always a little boy to my heart.

Let it be so, Father.

I barely breathe the prayer…a whisper from my heart.

How I long to be a mother that helps him find his wings. A mother that helps him develop roots. The place he calls home (no matter where we are) and the place that he will return to when his life is bigger than our back yard.

My hunky hubby and I speak often about making our house the “soft place” for our children to fall (really for all the children in our lives). As they grow and learn, push against boundaries and lean hard into life, we will want to be that place even more so. A place where love meets you at the door — offering a full fridge, stuff to do, life to be lived out loud full of honesty and a healthy dose of sarcasm, where questions are encouraged, laughter is in full supply, and there are dogs to warm your feet and lick your face.

We talk about it now. We plan it for someday. And I realize we live it everyday…because tomorrow will be today. And tomorrow that sweet boy with the knobby knees who looks up at me with such an impish grin will be the man who looks down at his short lil mom as he hugs her goodbye.

Our hill spread out before him, he pumped his skinny legs as fast as they would go. I just watched him go.

come back to you

I carried the basket full of leaves and the precious stick cargo down the hill. Smiling as I heard them laughing and playing.

“Hello, mom!” A cheery little voice greeted me as a sweet lil face popped over the back fence. Our monkey man has been very proud of his new ability to scale fences and avoid gates. My heart skipped a beat…a whole lifetime of dreams and adventure await him. But today, while his hands are still small I get to be his mama.

In a flash he was down from the fence and opening the back gate for me. “Mom, come watch….” he hollered as he shot off towards the monkey bars.

The gate clicked behind me. The back yard a brilliant world alive with green grass, falling reds and yellows, dogs wrestling for a ball, and two sets of bright blue eyes twinkling at me from the swing set.

Here surrounded by Autumn in its full glory I breathe it all in. The colors, the smell, the sound of the breeze through the changing trees. And I whisper a short prayer as I watch my sweet peanuts play….

…Father, please help me always see the glory that falls around us….

I linger there.

31 Oct

No. Just no.

It has been three months.

Three months since I stepped down from teaching Bible study, three months since I stepped down from ministry, three months since I took the “I am committed at home and no where else” stance.

Three months.

The first few weeks I cried and moped…like my dog had run away or I’d lost something valuable. What was I if I wasn’t a Bible study teacher? I wasn’t sure.

While still moping, I was looking through some old emails from my Grandfather (he passed away last year) and buried in an email about all the ways he loved and appreciated our family’s visit I ran across these words, “Just don’t get so involved that it interferes with what other things you want to do or in your family life.  We know you are both involved in the things you do but be sure to put your family first.” The words hardly made a dent on me when I first read them (nearly seven years ago), but this time they hit me.

The truth is the most important things God gave me are at home — my husband and marriage; my children, parenting and homeschool; and keeping our home. But these last few years I have found neither my identity or my “calling” in those things. I wasn’t sure I knew how to “just” be a wife and mother. And I didn’t know how much of a battle that would be….

…a battle not fought against myself but against everything else the world, the church, the organizations/clubs, the ministry, and life try make my first priorities.

Motherson

So for three months I have practiced (and am kinda getting the hang of) the art of saying “no.” Just no.

“Wendy, could you…”….no.

“Wendy, we need…”….no.

“Wendy, you have kids, so…” ….no.

If it is not something do with my marriage or bringing up/homeschooling our children I reserve the right to say no. I have helped out on a few things when my committment can be very short term (were talking a few hours or one night). Beyond that, nope.

Truly this started, because we are gearing  up to be a foster family and I wanted to make sure I was 100% committed here. But, in the wait God is showing me something not only in my life but around me.

(excuse me while I climb up on my soapbox)

I watch as women around me are stressed, overcomitted and buckling under guilt and fatigue. Guilt that their children and husbands aren’t getting what they need/deserve and tired from trying to make it all happen. And I know that I am…I have been that woman.

Well meaning individuals ask, cajole, beg, require, demand and offer things that just need not be my responsibility right now. It just isn’t where I need to focus. And I watch as other women afraid to say no, too “nice” (or maybe too self destructive?) to say no, take it all on. And they crumble….I crumbled, a lot, too.

This is where the church needs to step in, where women in different stages (older kids, no kids, empty nesters, grandmothers, whoever) need to stand up for each other, and we need to support each other in focusing on the most important blessings God has given each family…the church…all of us…FAMILY. If mothers are empowered, supported and not overburdened they are pouring into children who can learn abot God and His love and even serve along side mom when the time comes. If women are encouraged to spend time with their husbands, to invest in their relationships (not leave them on the shelf while they serve apart) imagine the strength that will frame these families…the love, respect, and passion that will be modeled for kids.

Now, before you get all up in arms with me — yes, your ministry, your church, your job, your organization, your whatever-you-are-committed-to is important. And if you choose to run it, volunteer or work there that is your choice and I fully support you. Just two small things: 1) make sure it isn’t more important than what God gave you at home 2) don’t expect that it will be most important to me. It isn’t.

My children participate in many things run by other mothers. And I am thankful for those mothers and respect their drive to serve/work outside the home as well as in the home. And I pray for them, that they can serve well and love well. I pray that God continues to use them mightily and helps them see His priorities for them (whatever they might be).

What would church look like if we supported families to invest at home first…we likely wouldn’t have as many  ministries (what would you feel about that?)? …we likely would have parents more invested in what and how their kids are taught — from homeschool, to public school, to Sunday school (what would you feel about that?)?

There is freedom in the word “no”. One that many women…mothers…dont’ know. Our children are over committed and so are we. Childhood whizzes by at frenetic pace as we drive from here to there, serve on this committee or that one, and fit in family time like it is the icing and not the cake. It is time to allow mothers to have their cake (AND eat it too!!) without guilt or lack of support…it is time to put families first, for real.

Are you challenged in this area? What are your priorities? How do you figure them out? What advice do you have for other mothers struggling to do it all?

 

21 Aug

Why I Hate Homeschool

The door was closed. And locked.

The fan was on.

And still I could hear him.

Standing on the stairs, our sweet little boy was telling me how he was waiting for me so I could see what was in his hands and he was going to hide it behind his back so that I couldn’t see it when the door opened but maybe he would just put it on the top parts of the stairs so then I couldn’t see it when I came out but I still could see it and it wouldn’t break cuz he had worked a very long time on it and had I ever worked a very long time on anything did I like legos cuz he liked legos did they have legos when I was a kid because that was a long time ago and maybe girls didn’t like legos back then but….. (oh, it went on, but I am sure you get the point)

Here I was in the bathroom. I wasn’t hiding. I was, well, using the bathroom for its intended purposes. And, yet, there was no peace.

In that moment I hated homeschool.

(please, don’t lecture me about all the moments I’ll miss when they are older or they grow up so fast or blah, blah, blah…I’ve heard. I know it. But let’s be honest, it’s hard this motherhood thing…no matter how fleeting or sticky sweet the memories seem in the rearview mirror…it is hard. And sometimes a girl just wants to pee in peace.)

I had been up since 5:30. Saw hubby off to work with fresh brewed coffee and a kiss. I had my Bible time, showered, gotten dressed in real clothes (knew I was gonna rock the day when even had on matching bra and undies….okay, I know TMI but you and I both know that makes a huge difference and somehow don’t you feel more like a grown up?) and reviewed teacher’s guides. As I unloaded the dishwasher, I prepared a hot breakfast. The kids helped unload the dishwasher and chatted excitedly about the first day of school. We ate breakfast together (even remembered to pray over it!). We took first day of school pictures. We did our prayer sticks, devotion and Bible study. The kids were excited to investigate their new school supplies (especially the super big eraser that said “Oops!” on it).

crayons

The morning had gone perfectly. Sure there had been a few shed tears over drawing arms on a self-portrait and the fact that there were no breaks for the Wii in the middle of our first lesson of the day. But hey, the end of summer vacation is a shock to their systems and I could shrug it off. I was “Big Mama” (yep, totally still rocking that Superhero thing) able to homeschool, keep a neat home and look after my man…all while looking cute, keeping up with my girlfriends and blogging!

And suddenly I was in the bathroom wondering why there is no peace, even in here.

This hating homeschool feeling welled up in me.

I felt angry.

Then I felt sad.

Then I felt guilty for feeling sad and angry.

Then I just felt numb.

I should pause here and tow the party line that homeschooling is a delightful experience for your family. Learning becomes the heartbeat of your family — discovery and relationship guide your days. The chance to influence our children’s character by teaching them and surrounding them with love in a godly atmosphere is a blessing.

And really all sarcasm aside, it all totally is, but…

Right now. I’m sitting numb in the bathroom. Hating homeschool.

I see those moms at the street corner waving goodby to their smartly dressed scholars as they ride away on the big yellow bus. I see them high-fiving as it turns the corner. I can taste the mimosas they toast as it roars out of sight. Do they go home and jump on the bed? Or nap? Or eat ice cream for breakfast? Or wander every aisle of Target just looking at all the cuteness with no runs to the bathroom and never once uttering “don’t touch”? No, I bet they enjoy a trip to the bathroom in silence and wonder what their children are doing at school.

The curse (and ultimate blessing) of homeschool is that I’m with my children ALL day. We do life together. And we enjoy it!!! Last week, during that mirage called summer vacation, there were video games, movies, outdoor adventures, sleeping in, and lots of other things that occupied their minds and time. I was invisible, except for when the phone rang and summoned them inexplicably to my side to talk incessantly. Oh, yes, there was even peace in the bathroom….sometimes.

But this week, when the school bell rang it shifted the atmosphere in our home. It was time to learn and it is my job…as mom…as teacher…to help keep those little brains turned on. Funny thing about our kids (maybe all kids?!?!?) is that the more you engage, the more they engage. They soak up all we pour out and they seek us out…and follow us to the bathroom.

The numb feeling begins to subside and I begin to realize that the kids aren’t the only ones that have to adjust to school being back in session.

“…and I didn’t use special blocks on this one cuz (oh, he really did talk the WHOLE time I was in there) I didn’t have the right colors you know I had to search through lots of boxes to find the pieces I want we sure do have a lot of legos mom but I can never find those flat ones you know the ones that are flat that have…” (bathroom door opens) “…oh, you are FINALLY out of there!! Do you want to see my creation mom?”

His blue-green eyes are so full of pride, and rocking back and forth on the step he is so squishably cute.

I tussle his hair and climb the stairs with him to investigate his latest creation.

“Mom can kids play legos during reading time at public school?” “No probably not, pal.” “Oh? Well, I love homeschool mom.” (yep, he totally did say that!!) “Me too, buddy, me too!”

 

14 Aug

Yep, I’m that Mom (the list goes on)

{this all started here yesterday}

As I watched the page hit numbers climb yesterday, it was evident there was something ladies were connecting with.

I realized, perhaps, we are all that mother.

And so, today the list continues….

…am I the mother who forgot to put “tooth money” (we don’t do the tooth fairy” under our son’s pillow not once, not twice, but THREE times (for the same tooth)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who paid a small child $3 for a tooth (late penalties!!) ? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who doesn’t do the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who sometimes pretends to not hear the kids on weekend mornings so my hunky hubby will get up with them? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wonders if church is worth it when we’re 15 minutes late cuz shoes were “lost”, hair had tangles and we haven’t spoken since we got in the car? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wants her children to fall in love with all the same books I did as a kid, so I have someone to discuss them with? Yep, I’m that mom. (btw, our daughter just finished Anne of Green Gables….my plan is working!!!)

…am I the mom who enlists her children in sorting dirty clothes and putting away clean clothes all in the name of life skills (but secretly wonders if it is because I hate laundry and this way I don’t have to deal with it as much)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who worries my baggage will become their baggage? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who blasts my child for rolling her eyes at me and then catches myself rolling my eyes at someone else? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who is invisible until the phone rings, I’m in the bathroom or making dinner? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who coaches my kids on not growling at video games and tells them if they are frustrated to walk away, only to threaten the life of every Candy Crush programmer on a regular basis? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who has a stack of parenting books by my bed and yet still wonders how you do this mom thing? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who brings her camera everywhere and is constantly snapping pictures of her darlings? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who is constantly snapping the pictures so I don’t have to be in the pictures? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who sneaks into lil peanuts’ bedrooms to see them stilll…oh, I mean to see them sleeping? Yep, I’m that mom.

Yep Im that mom

…am I the mom who directed and edited a movie last week? Yep, I’m that mom. (sorry couldn’t resist…gonna be using that one for a while}

…am I the mom who has served in church out of guilt even when it brings stress and discord in my family? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who remembers the days when I wore makeup, only owned one pair of jeans and cared about any of it? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who began sponsoring Compassion International children to teach my kids about poverty, giving and living for Christ…only to have learned more than I could have ever imagined? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wonders if there is some place that buys dogs hair by the pound (cuz if so, we are millionaires…just look at the living room carpet)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who is up late working on ministry projects only to over-sleep and miss time with my kids? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who cleans before company comes and banks on the old shut the bedroom door to conceal the mess technique? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who cringes every time someone asks me to serve in the children’s ministry (“cuz obviously I like kids if I homeschool”)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wants to know that I’m not alone…that someone else gets it…that I’m not the only one? (once again, say it with me girls) Yep, we’re that mom!

Praying for you today mom. God made you to be that mom!!

{have more that mom moments to share?? We’d love to hear ’em…comment below. After all moms love company!}

13 Aug

Yep, I’m that Mom

In response to a recent funny comment from a friend (if it was not meant to be funny, then she most assuredly is not my friend)…

The final line in a paragraph chocked full of who do you think you are and you are pretending to be something you are not was, “are you really that mom?”

I’ve been pondering that question.

If you mean…

…am I the mom who managed to pull off an awesome week of summer camp at home for our peanuts last week. Where we made capes, dressed up and played a ton? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who lost my cool over yet another sibling squabble, yelled at our sweet lil peanuts and burst into tears before retreating to the laundry room right before some of that superhero fun? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who gets lazy and leaves my children digging through clean laundry baskets rather than folding it and putting it away some weeks? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who every now and then hides a candy bar on top of the fridge to devour in the post-bedtime silence? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who posts a blog about parenting and within in minutes has both kids in time outs shaking my head over this whole parenting gig? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who sometimes puts the kids to bed a bit early and skips their bedtime stories so I can make out like a teenager on the couch with my hunky hubby? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who pauses in the midst of dinner preparation to play balloon rockets with the peanuts? Yep, I’m that mom.

balloon rockets

…am I the mom who oversleeps, leaps out of bed to find breakfast prepared by the seven-year-old, and feels overjoyed and like a failure at the same time? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom that some days doesn’t shower until nearly bedtime cuz the day gets away from her? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who can feel in the mid-afternoon that I’ve forgotten to pray or read my Bible? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who makes a certain brand of boxed brownies (following the recipe) over and over for friends and Bible studies cuz people will rave? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who cries out to Jesus in the midst of this crazy roller-coaster of mothering because I feel lost and unworthy of the amazing gift He’s entrusted me with? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the homeschooling mom who worries that the kids aren’t “socialized” enough in one breath and growls at the calendar full of their activities in the next? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wants them to learn to tie their shoes but silently thanks God for Velcro shoes and the freedom it grants us all? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who mourns over the children I placed for adoption sometimes so deeply that I miss the children sitting in my lap? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who has her own box of crayons that she won’t share with her kids? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who wrestles with her past, worries about the future and tries to make the most of today (most of the time)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who judges other women for speaking harshly to their children in the grocery store (guilty of the same thing herself)? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who giggles when my son says “butt” or my daughter farts while she laughs? Yep, I’m that mom.

…am I the mom who is hard on myself and needs a little grace? (say it with me girls) Yep, I’m that mom.

So, my dear, anonymous commenter (yes, that is a word now), I apologize if somewhere along the way I made it seem like I think I am perfect or that I am, in fact, trying to be something other than who I am. I am just a girl (to quote Gwen Stefani) and I do the best I can (most days) and am blessed by the opportunity to share glimpses of my life with those who choose to read my blog.

I pray for all of us…all us moms….that everyday we are that mom…the mom God made us to be!

 

30 Jul

We WILL have fun

Sometimes I get it right. Like today.

Sometimes, I don’t. Like yesterday. {plastic pool + ice cold water from the hose = fun afternoon, right?? Add a bee sting on a tiny foot, a little girl attitude and a deflated momma ego and it becomes a fail. Fail.}

Today, I awoke with new resolve. We will have fun today. We will get it right. This summer camp at home thing will produce smiles and fun. It will.

An hour into filling water balloons I was smiling to myself. Oh, they are going to love this! Buckets full of birdie balloons at the ready. Just a few more to fill, some green pigs to draw on the driveway and we’d be ready to play.

A balloon springs a leak. I get wet.

Our son discovers the bucket full of balloons and gets excited about throwing them at his sister. When I try to explain we are going to play a game and if there are some left over they can have a war, he bursts into tears.

A balloon pops off the faucet spraying the kitchen and me. Mostly me. I get soaked.

Small boy continues to cry.

I fill another balloon, dry it off and draw a face on it.

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If we survive to play the game. We will have fun.

I give our son a choice. Calm down and play, and maybe have some fun or stay inside and be angry.

He opts for maybe having fun. Maybe.

Off to the driveway we go. Buckets of balloons loaded and ready.

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I grab the sidewalk chalk. I begin sketching boxes and round things.

I’ve got the lil man’s attention.

“Mom, that looks like a pig.”

“A green pig, mom.”

“Mom, are we playing Angry Birds?”

{if only I could insert the delighted squeals}

Now we’re all drawing pigs and scenes.

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And then it is time to play…

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{in order for a pig to “fall” it has to be completely wet….here the sun was a pig}

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{oh yeah, and some of the “birds” were real balloons filled with water…and sometimes they bounce}

IMG_7241{the final battle required team work and lots of balloons…and yes, the boy did play in his socks}

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{it took more of the actual water balloons then I thought it would so we took a break after level 2 and filled up a more balloons and re-hydrated the players}

Some days I get it right. And I just wanted to share {and well, maybe, brag a little too!}. But we had a great time…Daddy is jealous at work and the kids are ready to play again soon.

Summer camp at home is now 1-1. Never one who likes ties I’ll have to try again tomorrow. More water balloons (after all this week’s theme is water) and more games. I’m hoping for smiles, not perfection, and some fun memories along the way. {oh, and maybe, just maybe, a little family therapy session with balloons!}

{btw, we had lots of balloons left over and the lil man was able to get everyone soaking wet!}

21 May

My Heart Hurts for Them

storm

Tears streak down his face.

Somewhere deep inside I breathe a prayer of thanks. Thank you that this is the injustice he struggles with today…how many cartoons he got to pick.

When mommas hold their breath on the edge of fields of rubble….

When family’s salvage treasures from under destroyed houses….

When storms ravage and life hurts….

Thank you, father, for the tears of innocent childhood.

My heart hurts for them…them. Those who are victims of storms, of fear, of a life that seems cruel. I think of them as clouds hang dark and close over a blanket of destruction that  just a breath ago was neighborhoods and life. Those moments when why can hardly be uttered and God seems so far away…when the air tastes like grief and it is hard to see grace through the debris.

I turn off the tv and close the news webpages. Shielding little hearts and eyes from images my heart can barely take. And then I realize the luxury of these moments. That lunches and backpacks were backed yesterday with love…no knowledge of final goodbyes or last mommy hugs. This day was like any other until death broke in. And my heart screams for the mothers who know a grief I cannot fathom…and I whisper for God to come close…because that’s all I can do.

Here I sit, my babies safe, my home intact.

My heart aches and I want to whisper, why??? 

All I can do is lean into Jesus and know that He knows….that He is there. That it is the Lord’s sovereignty that I praise in the sunshine and question in the rain. And I know that He is God of restoration….as sure as spring comes after a barren and cold winter…as sure as the sun after the storms in Oklahoma…as sure as the stone rolled from the empty tomb.

When hearts ache in the waiting for answers….Jesus.

When life feels destroyed and our security seems broken…Jesus.

When it is dark and the storms loom large….Jesus.

My heart is heavy today…for a land I’ve never walked on, for families I’ve never met.

I whisper prayers…short…heavy…

Lord, please be there.

Jesus hold them.

As sun streams through the windows and little hands push pencils across paper. The dog’s slow breathing moving my furry footstool slowly up and down. The birds (and cicadas) filling the air with siren songs. The sounds of laundry and vacuuming filling in the chorus of normal life. Thank you, Father, for this breath, this life, this love…fleeting though it is.

 

 

 

31 Aug

Dust on My Sewing Machine

dusty sewing machine

I could write my name in the dust. It’s that thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{Okay, yes my first thought was when in the world was the last time I dusted in here, but that doesn’t make for a good story and really I am not sure I want to admit that either in print or in my own head!}

There is dust on my sewing machine. There is dust on the machine that sews the dresses for the orphans. There is dust on a this mama’s drive to support the dreams of her children.

Sigh. {not too hard though, cuz that sends the dust flying…cough, cough}

When the summer began I had great plans of days filled with sewing, crafts, books and quiet moments with my children. Here it is, August. And there’s dust on my sewing machine. A haphazard pile of library books sits perched on the half wall; where they were dumped after a quick trip to the library last week. There are too many toys strewn across the breakfast table to use it for crafts. And my children didn’t get the memo on quiet….at all.

I sit and trace circles into the dust. I feel like a failure. Like I’ve missed the mark on the mama people think I am. On the mama I want to be.

But, yet….summer isn’t over. While the sun is beginning to set on the horizon of summer months, it isn’t over. We still have golden moments to live. To capture.

And being the mama I wanna be doesn’t last a few months. Yes, maybe it does last but a few years before they are out of the nest. But that is years away (and don’t roll your eyes at me and say they’ll be gone in a flash…that is a post for another day). For now, tomorrow is another day.

Another day to look into their eyes. Tickle their toes. Giggle with them. And dream while the world is huge and full of possibilities.

For me, it is easy to get paralyzed by the woulda, coulda, shouldas of life. It is easy to plan and when the plan fails or falls short it is over. As though it was a one time gig.

I came.

I saw.

I failed.

Now what?

I love to plan. I love lists. I love planning my lists and listing my plans. But often life grows beyond my list or outside of my plan. It is not a failure…it is life. And I have to learn to roll with the waves of life, and not abandon hopes and plans to dust and memories.

So, today, I’ll dust.

And tomorrow, perhaps we’ll read a book or start a dress. Or cuddle. Or watch the passing clouds. I’ll plan, and we’ll live…and years from now when the house is empty and quiet we’ll remember the living. The loving. Not the dust or plans.

22 Aug

Hear This

he who has ears

“Mom, hear this.” His small voice calls from the stairs. He’s asking me to listen.

How profound this request seems to me….so much deeper than asking me to listen to him. He’s asking me to see him. To take in what he has to say. To really be in this moment with him.

It is in his pleas for attention…for hearing…that I see myself…hear myself.

Longing to be heard I raise my voice. I shout. I rant. I talk over. I feel lost in this world of hustle and bustle.

In our world of: “pick that up”

“put that down”

“don’t do that”

“didn’t I tell you to do this”

“quit touching her”

“don’t ride the dog”

“use your words”

“stop yelling”

“speak up”

“sit still”

“hurry up”

“follow me”

“give me a moment”.

This ebb and flow of words. Of constant talking and giving orders to keep our world in order. I feel lost. Like I have no voice. Like beyond the mother-hen-isms of our day-to-day I have nothing that is heard….even when people are listening.

I suppose I feel that way of God too, now and then. When prayers (as the song says) feel like they are bouncing off the sky and there is no sign of acknowledgement or answer. When the Bible is words on a page that seem to be full of sayings I don’t get and rules that I can’t figure out how to apply. When God feels distant and I don’t know if I’m heard. I wonder if He really hears me.

Does He hear my dreams of big things for Him? Does He hear my anxiety over new curriculums, ministry, and losing friends? Does He hear when I’m tired and don’t feel like I can go on? Does He hear when I feel like I can’t find Him and the Bible seems like words written for someone else?

God, please hear this. Hear me.

I understand our son’s want to be heard. The younger brother of a very verbal, very talkative older sister. The son of a father full of life, stories and words to say. The son of a mother who talks, sings or seems to make noise all day long. HEAR THIS! He shouts. HEAR ME!

Oh, how I know those cries.

Hear me.

I had the pleasure recently to lead a ladies’ Bible study on the book of Matthew. Walking through Jesus’ life and words. Searching for Him.

And as we discussed the phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” I thought of that little boy on our stairs. Of the little girl in me crying out to be heard.

Jesus whispers, Hear me, child

Enter into this moment with me. Hear me in this moment.

He’s asking me to see him.

Hear me deep in your soul…make my truth yours. Make me part of you.

Hear this.

Oh, how hard the hearing can be.

When the phone rings,

email pings,

texts vibrate,

the tv shouts,

the radio sings,

the dryer hums,

the washer swishes,

the vacuum roars,

the children recite,

the news drones on and on.

When everyone needs a minute or has something to tell me.

When there are lessons to be taught and studies to lead.

When there are relatives far away to catch up with and friends you never get to see on the phone tonight.

With noise. And stuff.

Where is the moment to listen? Let alone hear. Apply. Live.

The answer…easy and hard. Make time.

That little voice on the stairs pleading, “hear this,” stops everything for me. I pause whatever I’m doing…eyes and ears on him. Listening. Entering into this moment with him. It isn’t always easy or convenient, but necessary. That’s what love does. It pauses to engage. To listen. To hear and to know.

Oh, how much more should we be listening when our Savior says…whispers…calls…he who has ears, let him hear!! 

And there it is my friends. The truth of my life (and maybe yours?). I have to choose, daily — moment by moment — what I will listen to, what will capture my attention, my focus, my heart. I can’t hear Jesus if I am not listening for Jesus. Seeking Him. Studying, praying, praising, listening to a talk/sermon…being still and centering my life, heart and ears on Him.

Do you have a daily quiet time? Some time you carve out for you and God. A time to fill up with His words and listen. A time to hear?

I encourage you, start today…it doesn’t have to be long or involved — just you and Jesus. I’m willing to bet (if I was a betting kinda girl) that as you begin to develop the habit of listening for God, you’ll want more. You’ll pause more, lean in harder and your heart’s cry will become, “Speak Lord. I’m listening. I want to hear you.”

 

16 Jul

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

little pitchers have big ears

…amazing grace…

…how sweet the sound…

My voice fills the shower and just for a moment I don’t worry about how I sound.

It is about me and God. My heart offered to Him, in the brief quiet space that is all mine today.

…that saved a wretch like me…

The acoustics in the shower embolden me. The words strong and loud.

…I once was lost…

The real world begins to press in from just outside the shower. To do lists. Chores. Calls to return. Family to care for.

But just to linger for a moment…one more breath in this space with Jesus.

..but now I’m found….

Refreshed, recharged and dried off I stepped out of the bathroom to find my family sitting in the bedroom.

They were listening. My hunky hubby and sweet little peanuts were soaking up the edges of my worship.

“It was beautiful, that’s why we had to listen,” my husband told me.

Embarrassment threatened to ruin this moment, to rob me of my peace, to dry up the worship that still swirls around our hearts.

As a mother of two small children, the phrase “little pitchers have big ears” is familiar to me. That so much of what we say and do as adults pours right into the little ones. I try to watch what I say and save adult topics for when peanuts are elsewhere.

But  in this moment I learned something…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that little pitchers have big ears…and while I need to protect them from all that is more than they need to experience, I also need to fill them up! That hearing mommy worship — not at church or life group, but just as a girl reaching out to her God is huge!!

The truth is, people are watching. People are listening. Beyond our children there is a world full of broken people, empty people. And they are listening. They not only need to hear that Jesus loves them, but they need to see that we love Jesus. That sun or storm, easy or hard, Sunday service or long weekday, happy or sad. We love Jesus.

So friends, worship out-loud today – sing, pray, teach, tell!! Someone needs to see that Jesus works, and that loving Him (and being loved by Him) is what is meant to fill us up!

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