Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Words

Maddie and I went from the doctor's office to the lab on a regular Tuesday.  We were impatient, finding fault with the PA's order that Maddie get blood drawn.  All we could think about was how annoying the wait at the lab was going to be, how dinner was going to be delayed, and that Maddie's friend was going to have to wait on us.  As I sat on the hard, plastic chair listening to name after name be called, the thought of  "What if?" came to my mind.  "What if" something is wrong? "What if" she is sick.  "What if" they never call our name and we are stuck at the lab for forever... "What if" it's serious?  and more...

Our name did finally get called, and Maddie rolled up her sleeve and rolled her eyes, thinking how unnecessary this blood draw was.  She felt fine.  Well, not fine, but fine enough.  So fine that her plans for the evening were to spend time with her bestie!  Sure, Maddie had experienced some strange health issues over the past 6 months, but they were things that we treated and endured and "fixed".

As inconvenient as going to the lab on a cold December afternoon was, somehow I knew it was necessary.  My instinct had taken her to the doctor and now my gut was telling me that something was really wrong.  Two hours later, I got a call with the lab results and a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.  We were given instructions to make our way to the ER for immediate treatment.   As I stood in the Target parking lot, accepting a phone call that would alter our lives, I was filled with doubt.  Not believing for a second that we needed to rush to the ER, I questioned the PA incessantly.   She politely overlooked my doubts and told me that she had confirmed the plans with the doctor, and that I was welcome to call him - which I did.  His caller ID announced me;  "Heather", our pediatrician and friend answered.  "Is it true?" I asked.  "Is it diabetes?".  Pause... "Yes."  "And we need to go tonight"?  "Yes".  "Will you call ahead for us".  "Yes.  I'm so sorry.  This is life changing and you can handle it."
 

I'll never forget going downstairs to Maddie's room to give her the news of the diagnosis and the urgency with which we needed to get her help.  Oblivious to what had transpired, her music was blaring and her pretty voice was singing.  I knocked on her door, and quietly told her what was going on.  I'll also never forget how much she trusted me and how quickly she responded even though she was filled with her own doubts.  You would have thought we had rehearsed tossing our belongings into overnight bags, as if we had planned this from the beginning of the day.  The other kids at home had questions that we didn't have answers to, there were plans that had to be made so that things at home were taken care of.   And like clockwork, God's grace kicked in.  It's really the only explanation for how smoothly the chaos was managed.

Arriving at the hospital provided some peace in the middle of the turmoil.  We were uneducated about T1D, and had no idea how much we would learn in a very short period of time.  What we were assured of by the nurses and doctors that cared for Maddie is that she would start feeling much better, soon.   Even though we were reeling from the events of the past hour, we took great comfort in knowing that we had found out what was causing the recent and strange health issues.

We spent the night at the hospital while Maddie's blood sugar was monitored.  Looking back now, I was in shock yet played the part of "capable Mom" well.  An Oscar worthy performance perhaps. Being strong for my daughter and husband, assuring everyone that we were going to be okay, never for a second believing my own voice.  But I felt that God was near.  I couldn't see Him or touch Him, but I know He stayed with me in the hospital room that night. I don't think He was fooled a bit by my acting, but He knows me best and knew what I needed.  He's like that, showing up and handling things when we cannot. 

Although the diagnosis of T1D is not the end of the world, it has most definitely rocked ours.  However, we have amazing doctors and nurses that are educating and supporting us.  We have had 3 weeks practice at blood sugar draws and insulin injections, and Maddie feels like a super-hero (her words :)) because she has mastered giving herself shots.  We have emergency stashes of food and candy and medicine.  A sharps container hides behind the coffee pot on the kitchen counter.  A drawer has been emptied of kitchen utensils in order to make room for diabetes supplies.  Logs are kept of carbs and units of insulin.  Food is weighed and calculated.

Maddie is a rock-star.  She is capable and strong, and although she gets scared and tired, she doesn't spend time feeling sorry for herself.   

 Right now, I am pretending to be okay;  faking it for a bit; continuing to play the part I began learning that first night.  "We'll be okay".  "We can manage this".  "We'll be fine".  Pasting a smile on my face and carrying on, because it's what I do, what I'm known for.  It's what folks want to hear from me.  They want to know that I'll take care of things, and that I have the faith to handle this.  It's what friends believe about me; it's what I usually believe about myself.  But really, I'm not okay.  The truth is that I am scared about my daughter's health.  I'm anxious about her future.  I question our ability to manage this disease in a life that is so busy and full.  I worry about not being strong enough for all of us, because I know that deep down I'm weak and selfish and ill-equipped. But I also know that God is here and that He loves us.  My faith in Him isn't just for the great times, but it's for these difficult times.  I believe that that these dark days that I'm living in are not dark to Him.  I know that when the grief overwhelms me and my inadequacies appear greater than my abilities He is here, holding me and watching out for Maddie. I know it, I just don't feel it all the time. My comfort is found in scripture, because it tells me the truth and that is what I need so desperately.  I think back to the afternoon that I sat in the waiting room at the lab, before we knew what we know now, my "What if" questions coming to mind.  Even in my sadness, I am comforted by my own conclusion that the God that walked with us into the lab is the same God that walked with us out of the lab.   Maddie's diagnosis didn't cause Him to change His promises or care of us.  He hasn't altered His presence or His sovereignty.  He is so full of grace and love and compassion for Maddie, for me, for our family.  He has showed us His goodness in so many ways and even in this hard circumstance, we are blessed. 

 Psalm 139:11-12 
"If I say 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me 
will be night'; Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.  
Darkness and light are alike to You." 


Psalm 23:1-4
"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath, and send me in the right direction.  
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty Shepherd's crook makes me feel secure." 
   

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

weekend seats

The wet grass stuck to my boots as I trudged across the wet soccer field.  45 minutes early to the game, per the coach's instruction, I set up my red chair and took my place on the sidelines.  It was a gorgeous, autumn Saturday for soccer.   Hot pink socks, new to the team for the month of October, adorned the fast legs of #14, the boy I had come to watch.  Our preparation for the game had started  earlier in the week as we had talked about the competition.  "You're going to play great!" was the mantra that I had repeated over and over.  At home, we prayed for the game and "oiled" him  up for the game (Young Living Oils); in the car Michael played his favorite playlist, songs to inspire him.  He was ready.  I sat in my soccer spot, delighting in watching my son do what he loves.  Not only is he skilled at the technique of soccer he is also a strong team-player, an encourager, and a coach-able player.    I love the camaraderie that the collective parents share as we cheer on our boys.  Saturday soccer has become one of my favorite activities.   The game ended in a tie, both teams fighting hard. As I packed up my chair and headed back across the  field, my heart welled up with gratitude for these opportunities  that Michael has to play well, to be coached by an incredible coach, and to get to have fun with his friends.


My minivan is literally my favorite thing,  and the seat I sit in is one of my favorite seats.  Really, I view it as a place of honor that I was chosen for, a location from where I fulfill this calling on my life of motherhood.  From this special seat,  I navigate around our lovely town  carpooling numerous kiddos, getting groceries, taking friends places. etc.  Saturday, I got to take Meredith to a birthday party for one of her good friends.  My sweet girl is just the best kind of friend.  If I was 11, I would want Meredith on my team of friends.  She is loyal and kind, she looks to meet the needs of others, and she is constantly thinking about her friends.  I love listening to her process the relationships that she has.  Nearly knee deep in middle school,  she has keen observations about what her friends say, what they wear, who they are, how they feel.  She has extreme empathy and is less worried about herself fitting in and much more aware of how to help her friends fit in.  I love how much she loves her friends. God created Meredith to be a good friend, and it is a blessing to watch the joy in her spirit when she gets to be with her special friends. . 


Later on  Saturday, I drove to south Denver to watch Maddie and her band participate in a competition.  The fall sun beat down on us as we watched from the metal bleachers.  Band after band after band took the field and performed their current show.  Parents and directors wore t shirts in their school's colors, words written across chests and backs proclaiming school pride.  There was a crispness in the air as we anticipated the FRHS show.  They are the best at what they do and they have the trophies to prove it.  Hours of rehearsals paying off on this one night.  I glanced to my left during a rival school's performance and noticed that our band was coming onto the field.  Pride flooded my heart and goosebumps covered my body as I watched them line up.  I am privy to the knowledge of why they have their backs to the field - it's to keep them focused, and it does.   The pomp and circumstance surrounding their presentation thrills me as I wait for them to make their final march to the field.  I've heard the music before, yet I just can't wait for that first note from the xylophones.  Maddie starts her dance between the 40 and 50 yard line.  I see her from my stadium seat, my heart sending out prayers for strength to catch her flag every time, which she does.  Occasionally I lose sight of her as she moves about the field but throughout the performance my mama energy is focused on her.  My beautiful red head  has persevered through hours of stress and practice and has emerged as a skilled member of this excellent marching band.  My emotions are raw, and I can't hold back the tears of gratitude that flow in honor of all that Maddie has achieved.





It's now Sunday morning,  the day that we go to church.  .  "Who is coming to church this morning?" the text says.  "Everyone" I write back.  Marky has been rehearsing since 7:30, pumpkin spice latte in hand to assist with the early hour.  I arrive at church and we make eye contact across the sanctuary.   She moves towards me and I give her a hug that somehow I know that she needs.  "You're going to do great", I say.  Her shy smile and shallow breathing show me that she is nervous.  We part ways and I take my seat on the cushioned pew.  I have sat in this seat countless times.   I have worshiped in the place countless hours.  The comfort and peace that our church gives our family is a blessing.  When Marky was 8, she  told me that her 2 favorite places in  the world were Grandma's house and our church.  I feel the same way.  It's a safe place to be, a familiar place to go.  I watched Marky take her seat at the piano on stage, a piano that I have sat at many times myself.  I listened to the notes that she played, oblivious to all other sounds.  This sweet child of God, serving Him with the gifts that He has given to her.  I'm standing now, arms raised, praising my Lord who has  made Marky's life so beautiful.  In this very space, many years prior,  I begged God to help me and my girls.  I cried out to Him to take the pain and shame of divorce, and turn it into something beautiful for my daughters.  Sunday, I felt God tell me "I heard you.  Just look at her.."  God was so faithful to answer those cries for me and my girls, and on Sunday, from the fingers of my daughter, I heard Him whisper "I love you."




Many different seats this weekend to enjoy this life I've been given.  Kids to celebrate and cherish.  Evey moment giving an opportunity to say "That's my kid!  Aren't they amazing?"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall

I'm reading a book right now called "Rising Strong".  So far it's been a fantastic book, filled with encouragement and insight.  Of course it's good, it's by Brene Brown who tends to write as if she has just finished reading my personal journal, offering solutions to every negative or destructive thought I've had throughout the day.  A strange thing happened while I was reading the other day.  The previous night did not offer much quality sleep so I was tired and my clarity of thought was feeble as I was turning pages, but every time I read the word "fall" my tired eyes and brain changed the word to "fail".  What the what?? This book was about getting back up strong after a fall, not about failing!  As I have mulled over my crazy word exchange, I feel as if I have peeked deep into my soul at one of my biggest fears.  The fear of failing.  Interestingly enough, I don't fear falling.  I expect falling and I have a pretty good track record of dusting myself off and getting back up.  But FAILING?  Well now, thats just unacceptable.  And what's the difference?  Well, it seems like I attach failing with my intentions, and I see falling related more to something unexpected happening.  If I'm unprepared for something and I fall, I don't see that as failure, I just see it as I have to try again.  Failiure on the other hand debilitates me and does a number on my self-esteem, telling me I'm not good enough to try again.  Both have to do with worthiness.  Am I worthy enough to take another try at something whether I fall OR fail? Letting go of past failures doesn't have to be ongoing.  I CAN just. let. go.  And trust that falling and failing don't have to lead to defeat.  My Jesus will make me victorious, fighting the battles I face FOR me.  Exodus 14:14 says, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Stillness in the falling and failing.  An attitude of my heart that trusts Him in every situation, knowing that whether I fall or fail or stand or succeed, He is holding me. And everything I know about who my God is will quiet my fears and steady my feet.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Safety first

She was born in the winter.  At less than six pounds she was tiny and mighty.  I marveled at her completeness,  her "person-ness".   Immediately after hearing that  she was a girl, my heart was filled with visions of dolls, and Mother/Daughter outfits, and moments spent reading "Anne of Green Gables" together.   I thought "We are going to have so much fun together."  Because this was my first mommy rodeo, I listened intently to the instructions given by nurses and doctors on how to take care of my baby girl.  Before we left the hospital,  I carefully read through every pamphlet, fearful that I would miss something important. We arrived home 4 days later, tired and emotional but so excited for our future together.

I showed up to her one-month check up, early in December, cold and flu season swirling around us.  I trekked through the slushy parking lot, car seat in hand, baby girl covered with hand-knitted blankets and a cute, cuddly outfit.  She was gaining weight slowly, but still so small.  The pediatrician told me that because of her size, age and the time of year it was, she was vulnerable.  That didn't change that she was growing, it just meant that the doctor was telling me to exercise caution with how much she was out and about, who she was around, and how many germs she was exposed to.  As this kind medical authority talked to me, first time mother, I soaked up every instruction to my very marrow.  I left the office with one item on my To-Do list... Keep Her Safe.  Other items on the list moved out of the way to create space for this, my now main priority.  Keep my sweet little baby girl safe.  She was vulnerable.  Not weak, just susceptible to unwanted things considering the season of the year that we were in.  With marching orders in hand, and narry another parent (step or otherwise) in sight, I took my baby girl home.  I remember that for close to 2 months, other than the occasional visit to the grandparents, we just stuck around the house, where it was safe.

Over the 16 years that sweet daughter and I have been a team, other folks and situations have arrived on the scene. Siblings and step-parents, teachers and boyfriends, coaches and BFFs.  Her world has expanded into dance teams and school and dual homes and youth group and all sorts of extra curricular activities.  She is amazing and capable and still growing, but still so small. Small, not in her maturity, but small in years; Her youth causing her to be vulnerable to life's harsh, unfair conditions.  She is still tiny and mighty, and her mom's to-do list hasn't changed.  4 kids and nearly 17 years later, the primary responsibility given to me during that December visit to the pediatrician has remained the same.  Protect them, keep them safe.   Motherhood has taught me that both of these things look differently at different stages of the kids' life and depending on the kid.  Crawlers need protected from stairs and electrical outlets, toddlers from streets and hot stoves.  School aged kids need protected from the bullies and teens need protected from the pressures of the world. 


If you step foot in a cell phone retailer, one of the things they will try to sell you is a case. Quite possibly they will tell you how much you need a case that is the end-all-be-all protector to your phone.  Protects it from water, spills, drops, accidents.  When you check out a library book there will be cellaphane wrapper covering the cover of the book, protecting the book from your careless actions.  Air bags surround every nook and cranny of your car, and the first instructions given when you board an airplane is how to properly stow your belongings for their safest arrrival.  Safety and protection is a big thing for all of the"big things" in life.  How much more precious are our kids then our things?  Why do we invest $$ and time protecting things that can easily be replaced and yet we minimize and ridicule the protectiveness of a mother, labeling her "over-protective", " controlling" and "out to ruin their child's life".  I understand that of course there needs to be a balance - neither all or nothing is good - but when did it become  popular and accepted to let kids raise themselves?  Hands-off parenting allows our kids to watch things and experience things that their innocent eyes and hearts aren't ready for. It hurries them along to a maturity that their vulnerable selves aren't prepared for.  "Letting go" has become so trendy, there's even a song to support this parenting philosophy.

I have always loved this story, told by the late Corrie ten Boom, holocaust survivor, imprisoned for her actions of helping hide Jews in WWII.   She writes "

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, "Father, what is sexsin?"
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
It's too heavy," I said.
Yes," he said, "and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”


Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place  

I just love this.  Protective, wise parenting.  Knowing that when it's time, Child of mine, you will be ready.  But for now, no matter what adversity I come up against, no matter who's voice shouts accusations and untruths at me, I will protect you.  I will keep you safe.  And then... When it's time.  I promise - I will let go.  Not of you, never of you, but of my responsibility.  When you become an adult, I will be released from my job.  Until then, I will pray for your safety, I will be careful and thoughtful in  how I mother you, and I will love you and protect you no matter what. 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Perfect Body

It's that time of year where all folks in media and in real life are wearing less clothes, showing us what they have and what they don't.  It's also the time of year where its easier to be active because the weather is cooperative and enjoyable! The perfect body seems to be something that we are desperately trying to achieve, yet it seems far out of our reach.  We compare ourselves to other people, both Hollywood stars and our neighbors.  We suffer from food and exercise related disorders.  Our minds are hoodwinked about the truth about our bodies.  What if we started looking at our bodies as what they already are?  Perfect!  What if we changed our thoughts to embrace the truth that we have the perfect body.  For us.

One of my daughters is involved in the marching band at her school. For the past 2 weeks, she has had to march in the heat and practice on average 5 hours per day.  Her body needs to be one that doesn't succumb to the outside heat or the internal fatigue brought on by the hours of practice.  And she's doing it!  Not once has she sat down and quit.  Her body is the perfect body FOR HER at this time.  It is doing for her exactly what she needs it to!  My other daughters dance, and my son plays soccer.  Each one of them has a body that does the activity that they desire to do.  We talk often about being grateful for the ways that our body helps us out.

This summer I have needed a perfect body to help me hike, carry multiple bags of groceries, balance on a paddle-board, transport a sleepy 9 year old from the car to his bed, stand for hours on end during my work day, walk long walks embracing alone time with my husband, and ride on a water roller coaster ride with my girls.  Guess what?  My body has done everything I asked it to.  Therefore it is the perfect body.  For me.   Because of this, I have been thanking my body for doing the things I ask it to.  I am trying to embrace it, knowing that its perfection lies in its appearance and more in its performance, which is everything to me.

What has your perfect body done for you this summer?

   


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Can I get an Epidural?

I think that when the baby is 10 years old, the mom should get another chance at that epidural. 

And then again at 13. 

And maybe one more chance before the little chick flies completely away.

Growing pains.  Those sharp stabs that cause discomfort and pain.  Every day there seems to be a new place in mothering that I run into one of these.  Places where I doubt and question everything I am doing. Dark spots where it seems impossible that anything good could come of things.  

But growth means good things are coming, right?  Around the corner maybe?  If I just hang on? 

Days like today, where I feel like everything went wrong, I tend to forget that we usually get things right.  My short term memory lapses and I slip away into a foggy place where parenting feels hopeless.  A place where failure and insult knock loudly at the door.  It's in these places where that epidural would come in handy.  Something to numb those pains of growth. 

In spite of these pains, I know that growth usually means that something great is about ready to bloom and with enough time, and patience, (and a little bit of wine and chocolate) we will uncover something new. And even when some days bomb, I must remember that there is mercy that is new each morning.   Mercy that might feel a little bit like an epidural. 



PS - School starts back up in 10 days.  Can I get an AMEN?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Perfectly Imperfect

The thing about summer that I am embracing is that most days are just perfectly imperfect.  There are messes, there are arguments, there are tantrums, there are mistakes, there are blowups, there are missteps.  And in all of these, we have the chance and the opportunity to make something beautiful out of something not-so-beautiful.  This summer, I decided on  Proverbs 15:15 to be our theme verse.  The girls and I are all on Instagram (#awesome!!) so we even developed hashtags for our summer verse.  The verse is all about whether you want to choose to be miserable OR whether you want to choose to be cheerful.  Every day, its a choice, And you get exactly what you choose.  The best part is that because of grace,  you can always change your mind.  It's been such a good reminder about the power that we have to take our "imperfectness" and be okay with it.  To recognize when we've hurt someone and ask forgiveness; to realize that we've overdone it in an area and so we make a u-turn; to clean up a misunderstanding with a friend; to show compassion to a family member who might not deserve it.

 Summer is just a short story of the year.  It's story that each one of us is contributing to.  One that is ever-changing and completelly unpredicatable.   It has chapters that are full of adventure, interesting characters, twists and turns, ups and downs.  From beginning to end, it is a story of love, laughter, and most of all the Lord's faithfulness. I'm grateful to be one of the quirkiest characters in our story.

 #choosecheerful

 



 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

recap

ENJOYING : time alone AND time with friends 

WATCHING : this movie   - Just such a great one!!

DRINKING: yummy coffee and delicious Sangria.  This was the best recipe!!

DOING: gardening, working in the yard, making a birthday cake, planning a birthday party.

READING : "The Forgotten Seamstress" and "Ordinary Grace"

STUDYING : "Fight Back with Joy"... again.  This study was so wonderful the first time that I did it and I just wanted to ruminate a little bit more in it.  So I bought another book and I'm watching the videos again. It's so worth it.  

EATING : While my family has been gone, I've eaten pasta.  and more pasta!!  It's not everyone's favorite thing around here, but it IS mine!  SO....I cooked it for myself 3 times since everyone has been away :). 

MISSING : All of my peeps.  Truly!  Three of them are on their way home right now, and the big girls have 5 days left on their trip.

 It's been wonderful to have some time "off" but I'm ready to get back to work.   I am meant to be  the mama and the wife, the keeper of the details, the leader of this pack.  It's my calling and my purpose and... turns out it's also my joy.  It's where my heart is, it's where my passion is, and since we've all been apart my heart has grown fonder of all of the little birdies in my nest.  Now it's time to get back together and get this summer party started.   

AND...

Today is our little brown-eyed girl's birthday.  Meredith Grace is 11 today.  She is absolutely the life of our family.  She is funny, bright, has the biggest dreams, and we couldn't be more delighted to celebrate her today. 

Happy Birthday, my darling little one. 
 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

a June break

I wasn't planning on having this kind of vacation.  I was planning on going on a short trip to the Sand Dunes for 4 days.  But at the last minute, I approached sweet hubby with the idea that I stay at home while he and the little ones went on our planned vacation, and the big girls were away on their summer vacation.  He very quickly agreed, nodding vigorously, proving to me that we ALL needed a break from each other.









Last Friday, the big girls packed their bags to go to Mexico on a 9 day trip.  Sunday morning the rest of the family loaded up the van with their bags to head to southern Colorado for a 4 day trip.  The pup, the kitty and the mama stayed home.

It has been a much needed few hours of quiet, solitude and peace.  Hours that I didn't really know that I needed.  But with a few days under my belt I realized that I indeed had short circuited my time, my energy, my focus.  I needed to re-charge these batteries and that is exactly what I've done.

I have been spending time outside walking.  I've watched some favorite movies.   I bought some cut flowers that I put around the house.  There have been  bottles of wine opened and  pages of books cracked.  I had dinner with one friend, talked on the phone to other friends, taken pictures, surfed the internet mindlessly and of course I've cleaned.  Scrubbed bathrooms and floors, dusted and straightened up.  I went through all of the piles and I've trashed what needed trashed and recycled what could be recycled. There is a pitcher of Sangria chilling in the fridge that will be shared with a few friends tonight as we enjoy the beautiful garden that is blooming.   AND...

I've missed the kids and the hubs.

Not constantly, but it's been there.  There is a noticeable difference in the noise, in the demands, in the chaos.  

But for 3 1/2 days, it has been so wonderful.

A break that I didn't even know that I needed.

June - the springboard to so many wonderful events and memories and moments.

And here is the plan for the summer for this mama.
Proverbs 15:15
"A miserable heart means a miserable life;
A cheerful heart fills the day with song."

 Every.  Single.  day.  I am going to choose to have a cheerful heart.  Whatever it takes!!  According to the dictionary, cheerful means "noticeable happy and optimistic; causing happiness by its nature or appearance."  This is the plan, folks. I am going to choose cheerful rather than miserable.  It's up to me!!!   Happy Summer to all!!!




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Sweet younger Mama,

I see you every Sunday, sitting in church with your little girls.  Usually, your daughters are wearing matching dresses, often their long hair has been braided (by you?) or curled.  They sit very quietly, proper.  I gaze from a few pews back with fondness,  remembering those days when my own 3 daughters were dressed and coifed and behaved to my liking.  I sit back with envy at the ease and beauty that you live in.  I think back to the "easiness" of challenges like getting the girls ready for church, the simplicity of those days tugging at my heart. 

My thoughts towards you are kind, although tinged with sentimentality of an easier time.  I smile because I've been where you are.  Those were beautiful days, and I probably didn't cherish them enough.  I don't envy you the ages of your kids because I am happy that I'm further along down this road of mothering.  However, I miss some of the compliance and sweetness... because,  I know what you don't ... That some day soon, you are going to enter a new place.   A darker, crazier, unfamiliar, place where you feel lost most days.  It's more like a black tunnel, less like a black hole.  You know that it is taking you somewhere new.  It's similar to a passage way leading from one stage to the next.  Inside this passage way you will experience sadness, pain, surprise, and ecstasy all swirling around you at various time.    There will be pain and there will also be joy.  The joy won't last long, but it will occasionally come.  Hormones really only allow for about 3 great days per month.

The ways that you parent and the tricks you keep up your sleeve won't follow you into the tunnel.  You will have to learn new methods.  No time-out is long enough for some of what you will face.   Inside this passage way, tucked in secret spots along the walls, there will be blessings, and there will be cursing.  Until you round the corner, you won't know which one will overtake you.  My suggestion is to accept and embrace, rather than fight and fret. 

One day, you will be surprised by the silence.  It will actually hurt.  The day your sweet little talkative girl sits next to you choosing to keep her thoughts and feelings to herself rather than invite you in.  In reply, you will fake a smile, and tell her you love her, and you will drive away clothed in the stoic facade that has become part of your normal wardrobe.  The tears will fall, but you've made great strides in letting Jesus wipe them.  Some days, under pressure, you will scream "I don't care what you do!!" all the while feeling "I care more than you know".  You will stay fiercely protective, just as you are now, but you will be forced to loosen your grip.  Fingers that are pried loose don't bleed for too long, I can assure you that. 

This tunnel has soft walls and floors, making the many falls that you will take more comfortable.  Falls of desperation to your knees in prayer, falls from being knocked down by ugly words, falls from attacks by your enemy, falls from inexperience, falls from being weak, and falls from being humbled.  Eventually you will learn that all of this falling has a purpose.  It is to prove to you the Lord's right hand is so strong.  He never gets tired of helping  you back up to your feet. 

I assure you that within this passage way, there will be small glimpses of light.  Lest you think that my words are just the rant of a worn out, flushed out mama, I can assure you that your perseverance and your heartaches will eventually produce fruit in your big girls.  For others, your girls will show  kindness.  For their friends they will be generous and loyal.  For their teachers and coaches they will practice discipline and respect.  Adults in your daughters lives will come to you with gratitude for your years of training, hopeful that your child can light the way for those around her.  

Within the sacred sisterhood of mothers, nobody talks honestly about these dark places.  It's like there was an oath taken, a vow of silence.  We don't prepare moms for what these teen years bring like we did the years when we had young kids.  I've never come across a book titled "What to expect when your daughter yells at you."  No grandmas and no aunts reveal the nitty-gritty truth for fear of being blamed for the halt of the family line.  No friends risk being brutally honest for fear of being judged or compared.  I know that  nobody's journey is exactly alike, but paired side by side, the paths could share some commonalities, some similar solutions.  This sure could be helpful toward successfully navigating what can be a really challenging time.   

My prayer for you, young friend, is that you will enjoy this time with your little girls while you have it.  Style the hair, match the dresses, and hold them close.   Listen while they will talk,   hug while they will hug you back, laugh when laughter is welcomed.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Then,  when your heart feels like it might break in the dark passage that is ahead,  I will shine a light and help you find your way.  My prayer for both of us, whatever season we are in, is that we would find our hope and our strength and our courage in God alone. 

Psalm 126:5-6
"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

This is a promise.  Believe in it.

With love,

A Sweet, older Mama

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May

It's May!! The busiest month of the year for mamas with kiddos in school.  I seriously don't remember even THINKING about this month before the peeps started school. It was just another month.  But not now!!  Now it is the end.  And the beginning.  And the beginning of the end. 

The lessons wrap up with recitals, the rehearsals conclude with performances, the tryouts payoff in positions, the tests result in final grades.  Everyone has something on the calendar this week!  My handy I-phone keeps telling me that several of the days I am double-booked.  Well, yes!  You're right Siri dear.  We are double booked...

And it's FUN and
EXHAUSTING and
EXPENSIVE and
ENTERTAINING and
WONDERFUL!!

And the truth is, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  My favorite thing is to celebrate my children's success.  I love watching them work hard for something and finish it strong.  It delights me to see them pleased with themselves.  Life isn't all about achievements, but it sure seems like MAY IS!!  In response, we make room in the calendar for everything little detail.  We cheer boldy and whistle loudly; we make costumes and write reports, we study and memorize and practice and pray. 

 Most of all, we pray.

We pray for God's peace, His presence and His will.
We seek His glory and humbly honor Him as the Giver of all good gifts.

Then we gas up the mini-van and hang on for the ride. 

 



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fear and Love

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I lived in an idealistic world.  I was certain that if I just had the nursery all ready and the diapers all stacked and the clothes all folded, everything else would fall into place.  I would magically know what to do when the baby cried; I would instinctively know all about her needs and her wants, possibly even knowing these things before she even "asked".  My first surprise of motherhood was having a C-section.  I had planned an ordinary birth with no complications, expecting to return home shortly after the birth.  Rather, I had a scheduled birth via C-section and stayed in the hospital for 4 days because this first baby was going to come out her own way... upside down and backwards.  This was my first clue that I wasn't in control of this being a mom thing.  My kid was. 

I have some perfectionistic tendencies about how I should do things and how things should go.  I want to do things right.  I like to do things without mistake.  I enjoy when all of the details of the day line up the way that I need them to.  Well, let's just admit it - The way I WANT them to.  Truthfully, I don't think that this makes me an evil or bad person.  Some will tell me that it does, but I disagree.  Wanting things a certain way causes me to be organized, meet deadlines, and live a generally un-chaotic life.  So why do I get shamed and blamed for this?  Why do I feel like being a high achiever and having expectations is something I should feel guilty for?  

I've been a mom for 16 years now.  And I am have been poking my head out of my idealistic bubble now for at least the past 6 years - the years that my kids entered double digits.  I'm still learning the same lesson -  that I'm not in control.  But wait... I have to be in control.  People are counting on me to be in control.  My teenagers need me to help with their schedules.  My younger ones need their laundry done and their lunches packed.  Why is there a place where parents can look up grades if parents aren't supposed to care about grades?  Why does my child hand me a permission slip from school needing my signature to leave on a school bus, and hours later this same child yells at me to stay out of her life?  This is the quandary. The secret to be uncovered.   To BE in control, yet not BE controlling.  To manage the household and the details of the calendar, to remember all of the dates of concerts and games and lessons and practices AND  to never be late and never be tired and grouchy.  To have the meals planned and the uniforms washed, to snuggle and read, to listen and guide.  To BE in control, and yet not BE controlling.  This secret, this balance, can only be discovered for me through daily mediation on scripture.  To seek my direction from God's word, teaching me about patience and humility; reminding me of His Will not my own. 

I shared with another mom a frustrating moment that I had in parenting this week.  I might have mentioned packing one of my child's things and setting them at the front door.  She laughed and said "Thanks for saying that.  Everyone thinks those things, but nobody says them.  Every mom puts on this act that motherhood is easy when really it's the hardest thing any of us have ever done."  Together, we encouraged each other and patted one another's back for making it through another day without a homicide or suicide attempt.  But why?  Why don't we tell it like it is and be truthful? That our feelings are hurt, and our bodies are exhausted, and we're sometimes forgetful, and we're often not present even though we long to be.

I think we don't tell the truth because we're afraid.  I'm afraid.  If I say the dreaded words "I'm failing" or "I can't do this anymore", I risk opening myself up to criticism, to other parents peeking into my home and shaking their heads at me.  I'm afraid that someone will tell me "You're a bad mom".  I'm afraid of disappointing my children and I'm afraid of ruining my children.  I'm afraid that I'm not enough and then I fear that I'm way too much.  I've got to stop allowing fear to be the controller and rather I need to pursue the Prince of Peace as the one who controls my heart and mind. He is the one who reminds me that He CHOSE me to be the mom, handpicked me for these kiddos because He knows that with Him, I am enough, I'm a great mom, I'm doing a good job.  Colossians 3:15 says "Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And BE THANKFUL."

The end of that verse, after commanding us to allow the Peace of Christ to be in control, gives us another command -  Be thankful.  This is the only way for me to BE in control yet not BE controlling.  If I let Jesus rule, then He is in control, and when I am focused on being thankful my heart will be surrendered to Jesus, recognizing Him as the one who helps, guides, directs, forgives.  In this mind-set, there isn't any room to be afraid.  I can trust my kids to Him, I can trust that He has the past and the future in His hands, I can trust that He is going to work all things out for our good.  These are His promises. They are written for me so that when I have an "at wits end" day of being a mom, I can find my hope in what my Heavenly Father tells me.  He is here, He sees us, He loves us. And...

 "There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not fully formed in love." 1 John 4:18 MSG

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Confessions of a Soccer Mom

Hi.  My name is Heather and I'm a soccer mom.  (I'm also a dance mom, a school mom, a field trip mom... I could go on and on...) 

My son has been playing soccer for about 3 years.  In that short time, I have gathered some thoughts about this game of soccer, my player-son, and myself.  Even though I have very little experience in this role of soccer mom, I feel as if I'm sort of qualified.  Mostly because I have a Team Snap App on my phone, and I have a minivan full of sideline chairs, water bottles, sunscreen and an emergency umbrella. 



Here are my confessions:


1.  There is no difference between competitive teams and non-competitive teams.  It's ALL competitive, every time, every game, every mom, every dad, every player, every coach.  If what you're watching isn't competitive then you must have made a wrong turn at the museum.

2.  Everybody is keeping score.  Even when they say there isn't a score because the boys are too young, and it's only about having fun.  Let me tell you people... NOBODY is having FUN if they are losing.  And EVERYBODY knows who is losing!!!  

3.  Your kid's newly washed uniform will have grass stains on it by the first play.  And the white shirt and shorts that somebody thought was a good idea for your 9 year old BOY will be stained and look grey for the rest of the season.  Nuttin' you can do about it.

4.  If I do not pray before every game, I am doomed. A girl who looks an awful lot like me will be impatient and irritated when the game doesn't look like she thinks it should. I knew that inside of me was a fiercely competitive  person, but I thought that was only when I was playing Scrabble.  Nuh-huh!!!  Oh dear!  Because Michael (player-son) has asked me to not yell his name from the sidelines, I restrain myself (most games).  But boy, it's hard!  It takes supernatural power to make sure that I am affirming and encouraging... even when we are losing or playing poorly. Great character is being built up in myself as I practice self-control, patience, and  unconditional love.  Who would have guessed that the greatest place I would need the Lord's presence is on a grassy field every Saturday afternoon??!

5.  We will be late for game warm-ups.  No matter how hard we try, no matter how early we leave... We will be driving like maniacs and spitting words out like "we should left when I told you" at each other.

6.   No matter how much I like you, if you mess with (harm, criticize, yell at) my son, I will come after you.  I know that I look sweet and gentle, however... The feelings that rise up inside of me when Michael is wronged are CRRRRRAAAAZY!!!

7.  I am proud of my sweet player-son every single time he touches the ball.  I'm so proud of this shy boy to have the strength to go out in front of fans, I love watching his determination, it THRILLS me to watch him cheer on and encourage his teammates.  One game he went over to his best bud and patted him on the back for a great kick -  I had goosebumps all over!!

8.  A good coach makes all the difference.  Our coach gets my player-son to run, to wear sunscreen, to pick up after himself, to give it his all, to respect and honor everyone on the field, to WEAR WHAT HE WANTS HIM TO, to bring specific things to practice.  We are so grateful for the character that is being established in Michael through soccer and our present coach.

9.  You will bring a chair to sit in and watch the game and chances are you won't sit in it.  Either because someone (daughters...) take it from you, or you are just way to into the game to sit down.

10. NOTHING has been more fun than having Michael play soccer.  I love it.  I love every practice that I get to drive him and his buddies to, I love every time I get to wash his uniform, I love packing his snacks and finding him cool cleats and listening to the soccer ball roll around on our hard floors.  I love watching his skills and abilities develop.  I love the friends that we've made through soccer and the high fives that our family makes over great plays.  I love it that Michael's grandpa comes to his games and that his sisters enjoy his games.  My greatest confession of all is that I FEEL SO BLESSED TO BE A SOCCER MOM!!  Go team Henricks!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Today

OHHHH!!! Let me tell you about my day!  So much disappointment, betrayal, anger, frustration, sadness... I could go on and on!!!   Oh -  and so much stress!!  And It's only noon!!

Well, actually.  Now I'm convicted.

Maybe I shouldn't tell you about any of those things. 

Because really, my morning has been all about my reaction to these things.  My perspective on these things.  And I started down the path to negativity and darkness, that familiar ledge where hope disappears from sight.  But then I remembered all that I have been learning about my Jesus and His fierce love for me, His steadfast belief in me, His unchanging character during difficult times.

So instead,  I will share with you the only truth that I know and believe with all of my heart.

Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

God is STILL the same God that I poured out my heart to this morning in a quiet moment with just Him and my coffee.  That quiet moment before any of the other people in my world woke up; before my own stumbles;  before the sin of the world got me down. 

He is always the same and can be relied upon no matter what I'm facing.  Even during the deepest disappointments or hurt, this verse from Hebrews is the TRUTH.  Jesus doesn't ever change based on my circumstances. Therefore, I can stop stressing, stop hurting, stop worrying.  

And so.

I will just do the next right thing. 

Which looks a little bit like laundry. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Belief

These days, I live my life mostly for my kids.  I serve them, I help them, I motivate them, I instruct them.  Primarily, I love them!  Fundamentally, I believe in them. 

I think that until about the age of 12, kids reciprocate that belief.  There is a small window of time when my kids have thought that I could move mountains.  The truth of my humanity and fallibility as a mom is kept hidden from them for a time, and they mirror my faith in them.  But then,  one day, the curtain is pulled back revealing the truth: That I am imperfect, human, sometimes wrong, other times right.  With this reveal comes the realization that I might not know exactly what I am doing.  

To be fair, none of my kids came with a manual.  There wasn't ever a how-to guide to refer to when I was in certain situations, facing certain challenges.  And so, I  sometimes wing it.  I look to Scripture and books for guidance.  I ask advice of others and pray to the Lord to show me the right decisions to make. 

I hate feeling like I don't know what I'm doing.  I strive to educate myself, to prepare myself.  I observe my kiddos and learn from them.   Often I get it right, but there are also times when I get it wrong; when the situation I'm in is too confusing and too difficult or  the result I want isn't within my reach. 

Tonight, my 10 year old gave me a point in the win column on my Mom score card.   Not only did she believe in me with this note, she trusted that I had the capability of fulfilling what she wanted.    

 
Her note was sincere, and laced with confidence that I could complete this task.  There was no doubt in her mind that I would come through for her.  To know that she believes in me, that I could actually do what she wanted me to, gave me all the motivation that I needed to start working on her necklaces.  (Even though I got the note at 10:30 pm.)
 
It was my joy and my delight to make Meredith's necklaces for her.   
 
 
It truly lifts the spirit when someone believes in you.  It bolsters your self-esteem,  re-energizes your spirit.  It makes you want to take those super hero boots and fill them with your very own feet. 
 
 
  

Monday, March 16, 2015

To live or not to live

I've decided that the opposite of living isn't dying.  Rather, the opposite of living is...  not living.  Simple as that.  And truthfully, there are days when I "don't live".  Days when I choose to sink deeper into a pit of frustration or disappointment.  There are moments that I could choose to see the good and I don't; times when I focus on what's wrong instead of what's right.  After a few days of not living, I'm so sick of myself that I wouldn't want to be around myself if I wasn't me!  HA!  And so, I do an about face and head in the opposite direction of not living, and I head right for living.

Did you know its a choice?  Every. Single. Time.  I choose it, it never chooses me.  Nobody clears the schedule of turmoil and frustration and presents me with a perfect day for living.  Nope.  I have to get knee deep in the training and instruction of my children, the disappointments in myself and others, the limitations of time, money. and energy.  And I have to choose.  Some days, choosing to live has to be faked at first.  Because, let's be honest.  It's not always easy to make this choice. So I ACT like I want to LIVE and do you know what eventually happens? After about 10 minutes, the role I'm playing loses it's fake-ness , and instead turns into a part that feels familiar and good.

It's peculiar to me. all of this pretending.  And what do I ever gain from it?  The answer is nothing. Nothing but more not living.  That's not beneficial for any of us.   I just want to have real conversations with real people about real things.  I want to cry when life hurts and laugh when it doesn't.   I want to try to face hard things even when I feel like faking it.  I want to share rather than keep quiet.  I want to to ask for help and support when I'm in need.

When you choose to live, you choose to feel pain, you risk bruising and bleeding.  But that's what bandages are for.  The bandages of good friends, making memories, laughter, sharing great food, joining together in joy-filled family activities.  All of these things will help to bind up any wounds that living causes.  And I would exchange all of these for one moment spent not living.  Wouldn't you?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy Saturday!

The sun is shining through the windows, and my house is QUIET... This is NEVER the case, especially on a Saturday!!  All 4 kiddies were asked to spend the night at a friend's house last night.  The funny thing is that the 2 youngest kids are together at one house, and the 2 older girls are together at one house.  Patrick and I had a wonderful, needed Friday night all to ourselves!!  It was a spectacular gift of ABUNDANCE!!!



What are YOU doing with this weekend?  It's DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!!  I love it when we spring forward with the clocks.  The days are lighter longer which is such a delight.

Last week brought so many great times to our family.  Maddie got the news that she got a spot in the middle school honor choir for the school district, Meredith sang at her honor choir concert, Marky got offered a regular babysitting job for the summer, Michael had a soccer game which they won 11-1.  It was a week of blessing for all of the kiddos!!  Most of them spent the week doing some standardized testing at school. This isn't their favorite thing, but at least they didn't have regular homework during the week.

It was a good family week.  Good doesn't mean perfect.  We had plenty of times where some necks needed to be wrung!!  But, here's the thing.  Around here we forgive, we love, we keep forgiving, we keep loving.  Even when there are rocky days and hard moments, we stay and we fight for each other.  Nobody runs away.  Nobody gets cut loose. We are family and we're all in this together. And whenever I feel lost and wonder what God's will for our family is I go to this verse...  

"Be joyful always; Pray continually; Give thanks in all circumstances for THIS is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Hangover

It's like that time when I partied with Jose.  Or that other time when the Absolut and I went around the dance floor one too many times.

Hung Over.

Except this was different.

This involved my heart.  And her heart.  And just like the times when I've indulged too much on the spirits, I have felt the ache in my head and the pit  in my stomach for more than a day now.

I never wanted to be a mom who yelled or screamed.  And I haven't been.  I am happy to report that I usually maintain control when dealing with my kids.   I can be firm,  I can be stern, but I've never crossed the line to being mean.

My teenager told me I was being mean.  Yelled it at me.  She was probably right.  But...

How can she not know how tired I am of this issue?  How can she not see the white flag that hangs out of my pocket, asking to be raised at any moment?  When do I get to lay my head down at night with peace, knowing that she is responding to my parenting, to my role in her life?

I let the words fly.  I didn't edit or revise.  Days, months, years in the past, when this issue has previously come up I somehow had the grace in my heart to hold back.  Not now.  It needed to be louder... this time.  It needed to be forceful.  I needed to scream it so she heard it... this time.  It was ugly, and it was awful.  I hated every second, and I couldn't stop.  I felt an urgency to make her understand my exhaustion from this cyclical behavior.  There was an intensity pushing my forward into a world of thoughts and words that had never been expressed.  I had been pushed too far, too many times and this time...  I exploded.    
 
I've loathed myself.  I've confessed to both she and the Lord.  I've cried and prayed.  My heart is still hurting over the things she said to me, retorts I hurled back at her.  But why am I the only one apologizing?  Who cares about the bruises on my mother-ego?

Days later, I'm hungover.  With doubt and with regret; experiencing the unpleasant, symptoms of the
S-word.  Shame.

Shame that I could fail so badly.  Shame that I could feel so un-loving towards my child.  Shame that I feel hatred and sadness and failure.  Shame that I didn't handle things better. Shame that I'm not a more equipped mom, more spiritual in my expressions, more self-controlled when tempted to lose it.

 I expect so much of myself.  I expect that I won't ever get out of control and say things I will regret.  I expect that I will continue to put on a happy face even when I'm angry and disappointed and frustrated.  Everyone has a breaking point. Everyone can only be pushed so far before they crack wide open.  My high expectations of myself are the strength of my mothering - I don't crack very often.  I always tell myself "You've been through much harder things than a kid's disobedience".  So I pull myself up by my bootstraps and handle things "gracefully".  "Perfectly".  Well, that's a facade as flimsy as a snowflake, revealing the greatest weakness of my mothering - I want to be the perfect mom.  I want to hit home-runs in every conflict, win blue-ribbons in every battle.  I know the foolishness of my lofty goals.  I understand the ridiculous efforts behind my desire.  Yet I still try. Failure isn't an option.  Or at least it wasn't until now.  Today, I realize that actually, I can fail.  I can fall.  I can blow it.  I can reach the end of my rope because God's Word promises that my end was always the place that He wanted me at.  He wants me at my weakest, so that He can show up with His strength.  Because THIS is where the grace resides.  Not in MY perfection, but in HIS.  In fact, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that "His power is made perfect in weakness."  It doesn't say that His power is made in MY perfection.  That perfection is a phantom place of lies and pride and sin,  where I feel FAKE power and FAKE strength.  That isn't what I want.  What I want is God's REAL power and strength coming to me in my weakest, most honest place of need.

By God's grace, my hangover is gradually subsiding.  I am finding comfort in the wisdom of others, the healing of love, and the benefit of time passing. My girl and I are going to be okay.   I hope to take this awful experience and learn some new things about conflict, about myself, about my kids.   I hope to take what happened between my daughter and I and use it to revamp my skewed expectations of myself as well as handle things more calmly next time.  Because I know that I will be here again.   I also know that God's love and power will be here again and again.  It won't run out.  "That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Storms

The snow started pouring down.  Heavy, wet flakes that I didn't know were coming.   My 16 year old  was supposed to be somewhere about an hour later, and I was concerned that the visibility, that kept getting worse, would be too much for her inexperienced driving self.  I called my husband and let him know of my concerns, asking if I should drive her instead.  "Nah" he said.  "This will pass". 
 
And... he was right.
 
In less than 15 minutes, the snow had stopped, visibility was restored, and my worries about her being out driving subsided. 
 
It didn't take me long to apply this scenario to life. 

 
The truth about me is that I tend to see the heavy flakes coming down in front of me and that is all I can see.  I get  anxious and fearful about the lack of visibility. I worry about the treacherous path in front of me.  I react to the immediate rather than waiting.  I usually don't even think about the possibility (probability!) of the storm passing. 
 
My smart hubby knows something about waiting for a minute to watch what the weather does.  He trusts in the passing of time.  He recognizes that most weather patterns shift pretty quickly. I tend to think that I'm going to be in this storm "FOREVER"! That this is the "WORST STORM EVER"!! I get caught up in immediate solutions - "What are we going to do about this NOW??" rather than "Let's pause and wait and see what happens."  
 
The truth is, I never really see the benefits of the storms.  I would prefer that the weather be calm and peaceful and never-changing.  I would like there to be nice weather now, AND nice weather predicted.  I found a great verse in Nahum 1:3 that is encouraging to me.  The whole chapter talks about the Lord's feelings towards a city that was misbehaving in a big way.  The verses describe the Lord as powerful, one who will demand obedience, but also a God who is full of love and patience.  Tucked into the passage in verse 3 it says that "the Lord displays his POWER in the whirlwind and the storm".  Well.  WOW.  This is saying to me that the storm has value.  It has purpose.  It is where God's POWER is displayed. 
 
Verse 7 says "The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble(STORMS) comes. 
He is close to those who trust in Him". 
 
 God is POWERFUL in the storm and  He is PRESENT in the storm.  How much I will miss if I avoid the storms.  If I run in the opposite direction of the storm.  If I whine and complain throughout the storm.  When I trust Him in the storm, He will get me to the other side of the storm with His power and His presence. 
 
 
"The storm will pass". 
 
"Just wait".
 
  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Me too

We sit across from each other
 Years of elbows on tables behind us

Tears, shed and unshed
Words, said and unsaid

Tonight...

All that mattered was

"Me too."
"You too?"

"Yes, Me too."

"Ahhhh... You too...".

We sit across from each other
Years of elbows on tables ahead of us.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Thoughts on the Spark Retreat


Winter in Colorado isn't my favorite time of the year. The brown and the brown and well... more brown is all around.  I miss flowers!  I miss color.  So, I try to keep myself immersed in color... color in the house, color in my wardrobe, wherever I can put color... I do.  I actually found these workout pants that have color AND flowers!!  Two of my favorite things!!
 
I was blessed to get to go on a short trip last week.  I went to Ojai, California for a writing retreat . Ojai was a beautiful place with gorgeous flowers and fruit trees!!! I so enjoyed getting to see such wonderful landscape.  

Early one morning, I went on a walk by myself.  My walk was filled with moments of reflection and prayer.  I spent time thinking about what I had been learning so far during the writing retreat I was attending.  I walked by houses with turquoise doors and cobblestone driveways, contemplating concepts and thoughts I was going to take home with me.  

http://www.kellehampton.com/2015/02/spark.html
At the beginning of the retreat we were asked, "Why did you sign up for the retreat?".  My first thought was surprising to me, but I went with  it... "I came for my kids", I said.  And that is true. 
 I left home to attend a retreat with an unknown agenda, to stay with complete strangers, to participate in new activities.  Why?  To encourage myself to be brave.  To do something out-of-the ordinary.  To take a solo trip to California to see Ojai.  To discover something new about the art of writing.  All for the sole purpose of taking what I learned about myself back home.  To show my kids that you're never too old to do new things.  To demonstrate by my actions (not just by my instructions to them)  that courage is a valuable character trait.  To impart to them that they can manage without me being at home with them.  I tell my kids all the time that I want them to have courage, to be strong, to try new things.  However, I rarely do these things myself.  So that is why I traveled to Ojai for the "Spark" retreat.  
 On a couple of occasions, I sat by this pool with my journal, filling in blank pages with the specific writing activity given to us by our writing hosts (Kelle, Claire, and Annie).  It felt good to get different thoughts down on paper.  I enjoyed some new "how-tos" and "you should try this" methods.   I heard stories of challenges and difficulties from the other attendees.  Some stories were downright sad. Some stories were full of encouragement.  These women who started out as strangers became friends.
 We were nourished by delicious food and drink.  The chef that cooked for us had a soothing way about him that caused all of us to take part in our meals in a reverent manner. However, even more than the food that nourished, the Lord nourished me while I was there.  He spoke His love into my soul and comfort to my home-sick heart.   He reminded me that He was with me and that He was with my family back at home. Through every workshop and every encounter, I was grateful for the hope of Jesus in my life.  He alone is my friend, my Savior, my deliverer .  Hard things come into all of our lives and the truth is that He is right there with us, if we will let Him be.  I don't have to save myself or solve my own problems.  I must daily seek Him and rely on His strength. Then I must LIVE - Live   with God's power and truth, truth that propels me into greater adventures and more loving influence on others.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Power of the Mama

We occupied seats 3C and 3D on the tiny jet headed back to Denver.  Me, with my head already in the clouds, and she, holding her baby and wanting to be chatty. We both sat down and stowed our carryon bags.  She had brought a lot more onto the plane with her, and was carrying her loot along with her child.  Hubby and another child followed her and sat down across the aisle.  I thought that it would appear rude if I put my headphones on right away after sitting down, so I waited.  During my wait, she turned to me and apologized for any noise that her cute little boy would make on the 2 1/2 hour flight.  I explained that I wouldn't be bothered.  She then began the friendly questioning.  "Where have you been?" "Where are you headed?" "What did you do while you were here?"  I volunteered my Mama status, explained that I had 4 kids, which settled her anxiety about her little boy getting on my nerves.  She glanced away and I took the opportunity to settle in to my own seat, trying to still be friendly, while making it clear that I welcomed some distance from her. 

As she unstrapped her baby from the carrier he was in, I had a flashback to flights that I had taken years earlier.  Babies too young to sit in their own seats, sat with me.  I could recall 2 different trips that I had my littlest ones attached to my body for most of the duration of the flight.  If felt good to have them close to me, to think that I was their "flight" that transported them across the country to our final destinations.  As I stole a peak at her little boy, I remembered with fondness when I was everything to my babies. Or so I wanted to think that I was.  This mama sitting next to me had the matters of flying with a baby down pat.  She was an expert.  She looked like she could have written her own version of "What to Expect when You are Flying on an Airplane with a baby".  There were snacks, and pacifiers and blankets.  She sang songs and played games that she came on board with, prepared to use at a moments notice. 

But the baby's favorite thing wasn't the toys that she brought, it wasn't the pacifier or the snacks.  It was her.  She was the activity that he wanted to play.  She was the comfort he needed.  Her's were the eyes that he wanted to look into, the nose that he wanted snuggled into his cheek.  This mama was his everything.  At one point during the flight, she passed the baby over the aisle to the dad.  The cries and fussing reached a higher decibel during this exchange, and then quieted back down as the mom and baby were reunited.  I heard her whisper to him.  "We're back together again. Its ok." 

She didn't know that I had been away from my kiddos for 4 days.  She didn't know that my heart was longing to get back together with MY babies as well.  I had talked to the kids while I was gone, and I knew that they were doing just fine.  Daddy was on the case which meant there was plenty of care, plenty of love and plenty of yummy food.  BUT... they didn't have ME.  And they missed ME.  They missed  my presence in their lives, my hugs goodnight, my scratches on my back, even the silly things that I always say.  Littles and Bigs alike, they missed me.  I am their constant,  something to be certain and assured of.  There are times that can be exhausting, but for the most part, this is a role that I love.  I know that for sure.

I came home from California with a greater determination to be PRESENT.  To not be so distracted.  To enjoy the ordinary and the normal.  To participate more fully and engage myself more honestly with my kids and husband.  I am energized in my spirit that I am, as KelleClaire,  and Annie taught me this weekend, "the keeper of the details of our life." That is my purpose, that is where my power lies.  This HOLY HABIT of giving my kids what they need to be comforted, showing them how to live, speaking wisdom and hope to them, celebrating the wonderful things, guiding them through the painful things.  Just like that mama on the plane, I have the power to entertain, shoosh, rock, comfort and play our way to a safe and happy landing.