Tuesday, December 26, 2017

You Made It!

     So you made it thru Christmas! Congratulations! You are the recipient of the Merry-Maker badge! You sent your holiday greetings, either virally or via snail-mail. You packed the bags if you traveled and wrapped the presents to be opened on Christmas morning. You kept the traditions alive with an elf on the shelf or an Obama on a llama.  Just a few more days of Christmas break. Or if, you're kids aren't in school, it's just a further continuation of the same with less sugar cookies and a
more balanced sleep schedule. 


 The last two months of holiday prep and parties have probably left you a little worse for the efforts given. Maybe those skinny jeans are tighter. Maybe the sweater is a bit more snug. Maybe you and your spouse realized you need some time away. Either on a therapist couch or to an all-inclusive resort. Maybe you discovered that you're NOT a fan of your in-laws man 'n' cheese. Or perhaps you are just DONE with not waking up in your own bed on Christmas morning. This is your time.

     This is your time to make a CHANGE! Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. We don't have to keep up doing the same old routines. That includes our holidays. They don't have to be an endless blur of glitter and traffic lights. Our holidays DO NOT have to include the metal bar of a pull-out couch in someone else's living room. But we have to weigh the cost of speaking up. You can do it. You have the authority to narrate your families holiday story.

     We each get eighteen holidays with our kids. If we are lucky. Then, they become legal adults. We might get a few more after our kids go to college. But for sure, it's only eighteen. So let's make them what we would want them to be. Maybe you standing up and saying I would like or I don't want to will give someone else a much needed break. There might be some hurt feelings, but with some tact and grace we can navigate the conversation to a place of mutual compromise.

Next year is your year. Make it what you want it to be!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

In the quiet

I've been awake since 4:50AM. I tried to go back to sleep, but the bladder wouldn't hush up.

Then, my youngest came into bed. Instead of melting like peanut butter on warm toast between the furnace of my baby and husbands two sleep warmed bodies I decide to get up. Really, that just means coming downstairs with my phone so I can scroll thru Twitter and Facebook.

Scrolling fills me with sadness. There's so much hate on all sides. I try to move quickly pasts the tweets and articles about what happened. But I can't. The ugliness is there and needs to be seen so I will do something. Some small thing that will make the world better.  I send up prayers for those that lost someone in Vegas. Prayers for those that are sitting in a hospital room in Vegas. I pray for the hardened broken hearts of those that would inflict this much violence anywhere.

I hear my husband's alarm. Ten minutes later I hear it again. As I'm finishing my digital crossword puzzle, he comes down in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Reminding me it's been about three weeks since I went to the gym. Longer than that for any type of consistent relationship between me and the gym. We're on a school break right now, so I guess it's gonna be another few days until I reconnect with an aerobic machine and weights.

The husband's early morning creativity calls out to my own. I go back upstairs and get my laptop and mouse. I make my cup of tea and a plate of toast with some Nutella.  Opening up my web browser here is like reconnecting with my self. Hello, writer-self. There's been travel and school and work. A lot of distraction drowning out this part of myself.

But here, in the quiet of the morning. Before even the Sun makes its appearance, I hear and see this beautiful part of myself. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Balance


Side One
In fact when my older two were the little ones, I often shut down their curiosity to meet new people. It wasn't that hard because they are naturally reticent kids. Preferring to sit back and observe a situation rather than jump right in. That made me feel safer for them too. Because I knew the world is big and scary. So the less we interacted with strangers the better in my opinion. Especially when I was a younger mom and less open myself. I wanted, and still do want my kids and family to be safe. That's a pretty natural feeling we all have. Even meeting new kids was something I was hesitant about. What will my kids be exposed to? How can I protect them from others? How can I maintain their purity and innocence if I don't know who they are with. It was actually pretty ridiculous and exhausting to try and micromanage all of that for my boys. I was living in my own creation of worst case scenarios that imprisoned myself and my kids. 

Of course, I still want my boys and girl to be safe, but I also know now that a lot of my hesitation came out of fear and controlling nature. I was so determined to protect my kids from every evil in the world that I was also preventing them from experiencing the joys of the world. 

So how do I change that? How do I learn to keep my kids safe but also open to the possibilities of the world? 
So here we are six years later. I've added a daughter to our family. We've moved a couple more times. We have school now (pubic school even!) My kids are gone from for hours at a time. We live in an apartment complex so our "yard" is shared by all the other kids and dogs in the neighborhood. If the kids are gonna get some exercise and play, it's gonna be with the kids that are outside. Most of those don't have any kind of parental supervision. And really? I'm ok with that. So my kids are often out their without adult supervision too. Even our daughter gets to go out and play with the other young ladies in the neighborhood. We have our boundaries set up. But for the most part, my kids are out their joining with the hubbub of a neighborhood gang. 

So how did I get there? How did I go from complete anxiety and fear necessitating complete hovering and control of my kids lives to letting them run thru the neighborhood with little supervision? 


Love has helped me let go of the need to control my kids. I saw how telling them no and let's not was causing them to fear the world like I did. I know the world is still big and scary. I also know that if that's the only message my kids here, then they will always approach the world with defensiveness instead of with open-hearts.

As I have learned to let go of my fears, I have let go of the belief that I need to control my situation. I know that control is an illusion and that really, the best protection I have for myself and my kids is God's covering hand over our lives.

Yes, we are still safe. My kids still don't go into kids houses if I don't know the parents. They aren't roaming out of ear shot. My kids are also older, so that helps a lot. We have the conversations we need to have to make sure they are safe and feel secure in standing up for themselves.

But we also practice love. When the kids want to meet someone new in the parking lot, we say yes. When they want to go to the park with a new friend from school, we make it happen as we can.

Our family has chosen love over fear. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

When I Ignore My Own Advice

This is a picture of what my kids rooms look like right now:

Which is not very surprising, because this is what my room currently looks like. 

What these pictures are, is a metaphor for our lives right now. It's like a state of chaos for our family. We had back to school, a trip over Labor Day weekend, I started subbing, my husband's job is busy. Church activities, school activities combined with a busy travel season and the normal hubbub of daily life has led to little to no time and energy to clean. Those are just the things that I have committed to. That's not counting the things I've seen that could potentially come to my plate. The opportunities that I've seen for me to be involved in are yet another serving of stress for this people pleaser/fixer.

I've been ignoring all my own wisdom and advice to slow down and say no. I've not been living intentionally. I have not been present. Instead of dealing with this chaos of clothes, toys and clutter and busyness, I've been reading books and watching the Great British Baking Challenge. That makes me want to eat cake. Which means I have to go to the gym. Because I don't want to have diabetes or other weight related health concerns that I already know I'm predisposed to. Thank you genetics. 
The cycle just goes on and on. 

I'm getting a cold and my lower back is killing me. I've been short tempered with the kids and gone more than I am home. I can barely remember my husbands name. Let alone the last time we could talk about anything instead of the daily logistics.
I'm waving my white flag.  


I'm stepping off this self-induced hamster wheel and running to my bed. Both literally and figuratively.

If you're at that same point as I am, here's your permission slip to step off the wheel.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Poured Out and Poured In

image from www.dvorak.org
Take a flight anywhere in the world and you will sit thru a safety demonstration. Something so common place to frequent flyers that many tune it out. If you cut past all the information about seats as floatation devices and where the nearest exits are, there will be a point in the demonstration that talks about oxygen masks. About how you need to put on your own mask before you attempt to help someone else put on their own. Even children need to wait while their parents put on their masks. 

There's a lot of wisdom in that phrase. 
Put on your own mask before you help someone else with their's. 

That's not what we do though, is it? Especially us who have others to care for. We tend to pour out all we have into them. Pets, kids, elderly parents, friends, co-workers, so much of our life involves giving of ourselves to others. Most of the world just takes it, don't they? As much as I like to think that the majority of humanity is not out for themselves, it's just not true. As much as we are willing to pour out and into those around us, I believe people will take that. Maybe with suspicion and wariness at first, but once someone begins to have another pour into them, speak life into them it's like a refreshing spring on tap for them. 
image from findasrping.com
 If we are that water spring for them, then how do we get filled up? Where do we go for our own drink of truth? How do I make sure that I also have life poured into me so that I can pour it into others? Because being poured into doesn't often happen on accident. It takes purposeful interactions with others.

We need mentors and teachers to help direct us towards our purpose. I believe that serving others helps me feel refreshed. Activities that are restful to me help fill up my life spring. For me that's reading fiction and spending time with friends. Others might find crafting relaxing. Or listening to music. Being alone is refreshing for still others. We all have things that can bring us life when we make the time to do them.

Don't be like this teapot, all empty and clear. 

We can help no one if we are on empty. We serve no purpose if our tank has run dry. Like this teapot, we are only useful when we have water in us. Then, we can pour into other empty cups.

What fills your life spring? 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Morning vs Afternoon

stock images
There are a number of reasons that I take our kids to school. The main one being we are out of district and my kids can not par take of the bus system. Another is that we all like our sleep and prefer to wake up to a gentle chime rather than the honk of a bus. Finally, I have trust and control issues so I want to make sure my babies are safe with me as long as possible.

With being the transport for my kids, I also get to engage with the (heavy sarcasm) delight that is the car line. If you are not aware of what this is, it's the line of cars snaking thru a neighborhood to the
entrance of your child's school. The first few weeks can be rough. But eventually everyone gets their stuff together.

Our experience with the car line has been varied. Having moved several times over the last fifteen years of marriage, I have noticed a distinct difference between these two lines.

stock images
The morning seems to go alright. It's early. We have all had our chosen form of energy boost. The kids are still half-asleep enough to be somewhat compliant. The teachers are ready for a brand new day. Things tend to go pretty smoothly. All the little cherubs are greeted with a smile and a welcome back. Everyone is cheery and happy at morning drop off. Most of them anyways. The few bumps along the gentle rolling river of exiting children don't mar the serenity of the morning.

After the little ones are dropped off, we all go our separate ways. Doing whatever we do to fill up our days.

Then we reconvene for the afternoon pick-up. 

I'm not sure why, but this car line has even more aggression simmering off the hoods of the cars. Maybe it's cause it's hotter. Most likely it's because we had to leave something to come pick up our cherubs, but there is a distinct lack of humanity in the afternoon pick up line. It's more like a charge to the watering hole for all of us than it is the gentle rolling tide of the morning pick up. 
chaos at the watering hole from stock images

All told, it brings up some anxiety for me. Stress is also a big part of the afternoon pickup as well.

When we finally make it up  to the doors where are our kids are dispensed back into our car, there is a collective sigh of relief that we have all made it, once again, thru the pick-up event.

As we all drive away from the school, there is a silent vow made by each parent that tomorrow the day will be better. That we will not be stressed or lose our minds in the car lines. But that day has not yet come for me. Maybe tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Promises Fulfilled

Japanese symbol for circle

It was four years ago to this past weekend that the hubs and I made the choice to leave the home we had built over six years. It was a hard choice. Yet, both of us knew that it was the right one to make. So we started to pack up the extraneous, we began saying goodbye. 

All thru that process I was encouraged and reminded that nothing that I or my family had been given by God would be taken away. That Jesus wasn't in the business of giving and taking gifts away after they had been offered. Even if it seemed like it, nothing the Lord had grown me up into would be removed from my life. 
       I clung to those words and promises.
photo from The Bounce Blog
Like a life line. 

So we moved. Packed up our home, our stability and all the hopes and dreams that had started to percolate in Lafayette, IN. There was a sense of wonder and anticipation in my heart. We unloaded and packed. Got the kids in their new school. Then waited. And waited. And. Waited. 

I waited for all the promises and dreams to be fulfilled. Then, when the waiting got to a place of pain, I started hustling to make the dreams happen. If God wasn't going to fulfill the promises in the way I wanted them to happen. The way my limited, linear view could see clearly, then I was going to take matters into my own hand.

A funny thing happened on the way to making my dreams come true, none of them did. Instead I met closed doors and frustration. I was silently screaming for any and all to notice what good things I was bringing to the community we had moved to.What purpose God had for me to fulfill!  It was so frustrating and hard. I got to a low place of depression. I started questioning all the things I had believed so fully just a few months prior. 

My melancholy went from depression to suicidal. It took me to a place of hopelessness. Of feeling that nothing I did mattered. That my family and the world would be better off without me in it. 

I am so thankful that when I couldn't see the plan, God could. 

That Jesus ever so tenderly saw me in my closet and used words of life from my husband and my mom. Words of love and hope from my friends to help me see that I needed some help. The chemical imbalances of my brain had been brought to low points. I needed some pharmaceutical help to get to a healthier place. So I got it. And it helped.

But the dreams and hopes still weren't happening the way I wanted them to. In fact, life got a whole lot more messy and hard for a few more months.

Then, a door opened. It opened so wide and big it was like a barn letting out a big ol' tractor. 
Our family ran thru that big ol' barn door. We ran hard and fast to a new job, a new location and a new school. We ran into a place of such hope and fulfillment that I'm still catching my breath. You see, God does bring fruition to the hopes and dreams of our hearts. He does indeed bring us to a place on the other side of the valley. We have to be willing to go thru the valley. It comes back to trust and humbleness. My lessons thru the valley brought me to that place. God used family and friends, His word and Sunday morning preaching to show me how to wait. How to be humble. 

Was it God's desire for me to be depressed and suicidal? To question His all encompassing love and grace for me? No, absolutely not. But even in that horrible, ugly state, God showed up and loved me. Not because of any grand thing I was doing. Or because I have any more worth or purpose than the next human. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit showed up because of love. Because that's what they do when their child calls out to them. For me, for you and for anyone else who calls the name of Abba Father.