Small but Significant

WOW! COVID-19 is the gift that keeps giving. So many people have suffered the terrible effects of this illness, and the newest strand out appears to put the bullseye on our small children. Honestly, if you haven’t been overwhelmed in the past 18 months at one point or another, I’m not sure you’re anything but super human! Aside from the trauma or losing someone or several we know and love, we have seen the debilitating residual effects that just continue to linger. And that is just the physical. Let’s talk mental health of those of us who appear to be doing well, and are trying to resume life as normally as possible. The BIGGEST part of the equation is not in our current health or job stability, but in our ability to trust our Creator. He is the one who knows our heart, how many more days we have, and what the end is going to be. TRUST in that. He can do amazing and exceedingly abundant things in our lives. He knows we ultimately need rest and the fulfillment of hope no matter what.

We have had an amazing opportunity recently to travel to Montana. The travel itself and a couple of events once we were at a destination really struck me. People are tired. People have lost hope. People need others and need HOPE more than any other time in my adult life. Faith in humanity is hanging on in some instances by a thread. BUT, I also saw God’s amazing creation, his power, majesty and glory. I saw how small I was but remembered how significant I am. So, for all those watching us, whether close (i.e. our families or coworkers, etc) or distant, let us make sure to shine His light. LIGHT can dim the darkest fear, the deepest ache and can even melt a centuries old glacier.

Holidays and Fish Heads

Holidays, holidays, covid filled holidays… reminds me of a little song fish heads fish heads, roly poly fish heads….eat them up YUM.

Here’s a true story for you. You’ll either think we are the next generation of the Addam’s family, and/or you’ll get your smiles for the day. Once upon a time, there was a Mom. A mom, who like other very good moms, didn’t realize she had an Amazon ‘problem’. The smallest in the family has never remembered life before Amazon, of times before various packages magically appear at your front door. Lots of packages started arriving. Lots. I mean, it’s November, I’m starting a job the Monday after Thanksgiving, and life around the holidays becomes super busy. I’m getting ready to rival Wonder Woman come Christmas. BRING IT! Except… this. The good Amazon momma has a short term memory lapse and forgets that absolutely NOTHING in life will be super busy this holiday season, except for the refrigerator door. (I promise you, if ours doesn’t break off soon, it will be a Christmas miracle. I mean, how many snacks can a person consume? It might utterly shock you to see the end of the day remnants at our house.) So, I digressed for a moment. Back to Amazon. Boxes begin to arrive and it’s a week before Thanksgiving. Then, the doorbell rings and a turkey appears. It’s fully smoked and smells wonderful, and I know we had our smoked beast. The little one witnesses this and then a few days later tastes the most wonderful turkey on Thanksgiving. When Monday comes around, little one gets picked up by our carpool. The happily ever after is coming. She announces to the kids and the mom how wonderful our turkey was, and no you can’t ask my mom for the recipe. Why? Because she didn’t make it. pfft. She ordered it, I don’t know where it’ from but, probably …Amazon! Haha. So the family with the Amazon turkey (aka the school band fundraiser smoked turkeys) ate the best turkey ever and lived happily ever after.

You all should really look up the lyrics. It is weirdly hilarious, or maybe I just have a really warped sense of humor. This time of pandemic is weird, dark humor abounds and pretty much it’s hard to make heads (ha) or tails out of anything, just like the lyrics of this song. I find it extremely odd that we saw ‘Santa’ through a plexiglass screen and our MES firmly pressed her list onto the plexi screen so he could read it. It’s weird that we are talking about visiting with our family but only if weather permits us to be outside, and only if none of us has so much as a sniffle.

For Thanksgiving, we cracked. Yes, we chose NOT to do the normal thing here in Alabama, and instead of being with extended family it was the four of us at the beach. We had a serene time. Well…. maybe that’s a stretch with a brother/sister dynamic with a 6 year age gap and the beginning of puberty. But it was a memorable time, ‘Amazon’ turkey and all!

Knucklehead

No, I am not talking about Democrats or Republicans. Or my husband. Ha!l Parenting- yeah that’s what all this is about. It’s sometimes difficult to be in the driver’s seat of Crazy 1 and Crazy 2, especially when they inherited it from you. So here goes the second verse, same as the first perhaps. Enjoy. Sorry, NOT sorry! You’re my favorite person except when you’re here. Observing siblings and distinguishing when or how to intervene is quite an art, but a precise one. They say those words, followed by a quiet smirk or pat of goodwill, a dash out the door to play, or by a complete knock down/drag your sister by the hair fight. I sit with baited breath as an onlooker, and realize they and they alone have this ‘secret’ language between them. Most times, kindness prevails, but there are plenty of times where the tears flow and removal of privileges occurs. There is just some kind of understanding between the two of ours (and hopefully yours) that they are in this together. They have to grow up with the two whack jobs that God provided for them, and we have to ‘put up’ with these sometimes knuckleheaded blessings. Regardless, I am reminded of God’s awesome sense of humor and wisdom. Behind all the ‘tough’ mama talk, I am actually a softie at times, laughing out loud at bad jokes and the drama that comes so naturally. How about you? Softie or disciplinarian? Life is just too short to not take a deep breath, lay on the floor and belly laugh.

Traffic Calming

The first time I saw this sign I thought WOW! This is BRILLIANT! Instead of speed bump SLOW DOWN, the point was made nicely and thoughtfully. I WANTED to slow down instead of rolling my eyes and getting aggravated. Sounds crazy, right? But it led me to contemplate why I am so often in a rush, and more likely than not to hit the accelerator. Why am I spinning my wheels like a gerbil in a cage, and having the kids chase after me hurriedly? NOBODY likes that! What IF we just slowed down enough to be CALM? What IF we took the control of how we spent our time and let the traffic slow to a crawl. Would we appreciate the time together, begin to prioritize or become lazy? Believe me, there is the temptation to just veg out and not do the quality time when we’re all together. Because… we. are. tired. So, my wish is that we all are able slow the traffic in our households; not just the external busyness but also the at home distractions. That we will soak up the limited time we have together with lighthearted laughter & memory making moments. Happy happy Holidays! And I hope you find the calmness in the fast lane of life this entire season.

DRIVE Like a 6 year old

A story of Drive, thankfulness and trust

My 6 year old ran into our room recently squealing “Look! The Tooth Fairy brought me $1! Do you know what I’m going to do with it?” ( I will tell you the ending in a minute.) She was so excited, and had left the priceless gift of a meticulously drawn Rainbow and hearts, along with her tooth, for her fairy. Her DRIVE is a force to be reckoned with, and although exhausting at times it is fantastic to watch. She is one of those people who will persevere through the ‘hard’ to achieve what she sets her mind to! Do you know anyone like that? Call it a stubborn streak, assertiveness, or pure determination, but we’ve all witnessed it and can’t help but smile when we see the triumphant outcome of such persistence.

The 6 year old package is also filled with wonder and innocence and TRUST. It is the unhindered GRATITUDE over the smallest wonders, like a perfect pinecone, a red or golden oak leaf, a hickory nut to split open, a ladybug or rolypoly, or a full moon. It’s the thank you for a cup of water at bedtime because ‘Mom, you’re the Best! because you always take care of me’. It’s the wonderful thankfulness that pours out of this little girl over gettting an ice pop, letting her choose what’s for dinner, allowing her to crack the egg and make a mess of the kitchen when baking.

Then wrapped up in all that thankfulness is pure, innocent TRUST. The kind that fairytales try to capture. But you know what? More than any fairytale, my kids have shown me pure TRUST. Over and over. I disappoint them at times but they never fail to trust. Ya know, the tooth fairy forgets or has a hard night and just doesn’t make it for a couple of nights. But when she comes, it is like we’ve announced we are going to Disney! And here’s the lesson: Trust like a 6 year old, be thankful like a 6 year old, and drive like a 6 year old.

You remember the $1 from the first sentence? We have been talking about how to help others and what’s most important for us to focus on as a family before dinner and bedtime. Her sweet, innocent self took that $1, added some coins from her piggybank, and donated it to church. She said ‘Mommy, I want to always help God help people. I’m thankful for God. I want him to have it ALL.’ She then skipped out the door to play, while I melted like a stick of butter and maybe had a tear or two. I knew better in that moment than to deny her this choice because that beautiful DRIVE she has brilliantly burst from her and the force of it could not be reckoned with by this mere mama. I hope to always remember and attempt to DRIVE and thank and trust just like my 6 year old!

Here’s a Side Note: As a parent, my (hopefully successful) job is to channel that drive in a positive direction as much as I can. I recently read a book by Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes. It has practical advice about choosing carefully what to say Yes to. It is encouraging and caused me to really think about and choose my priorities.

AWKWARD

Middle school. Angst, apprehension, attitude, allowance, adoration. How many adjectives beginning with the letter’A’ adequately capture the essence of this period of life? Just put the word AWKWARD in front of the short list above, and guess what, the list is pretty much complete. AWKWARD. Thinking of middle school, this is the first word that comes to my mind. But how many other times in life has it been awkward? That time when you gave yourself bangs, the realization that yes you do have on two different shoes in public, and yes those are body fluids on your scrubs that you didn’t have time to change as you’d planned before meeting the ‘possible Mr./Mrs. Right after a 10-11 hour workday. AWKWARD happens to all of us. I mean, if I could write down all of my ‘THINGS’ we would be here all day. Just remember, you are not in middle school anymore, and as awkward as it gets, the middle school awkward of pimples that just popped up overnight, the sudden awareness that your body is acting really weird, the surprising outburst of tears, the love/hate relationship you now have with your parents and, well, every single person of the opposite sex, you will NEVER have to repeat middle school. Except now… if you’re me. HA! I can only think of one friend MORE awkward than me and BTW she has the coolest blog. Anyway back on track. If, and that’s a big IF, i don’t always continue with my quirky awkwardness, I get to relive parts of it with a child who somehow inherited every single awkward and self irritating trait I have ever had, the child I love with my whole heart, & whom my heart hurts for. AND the child who I LAUGH out loud at with the most intense obnoxious laugh possible just in case his friends CAN hear or see me, even though we are usually MILES away from them. I also thrust that dreaded HUG on the awkard almost 13 year old and whisper ‘I love you’ at least once a day. One day, he will always remember AWKWARD Middle School, and the AWKWARD Mom he had to put up with through this chapter of torment of well…. AWKWARD EVERYTHING…. but most of all his awkwardly affectionate ancestral parents!

Invisible or Inviting?

Invisible? As a child, many of us had ‘imaginary friends’. It was our own secret world of pretend play that was magical, and could be anything we wanted it to be. Its existence and details were ‘invisible’ unless you invited others in to take a peek. Throughout the past 16 months for me (& the last 8 months for many others), the invisible has been greater than the inviting. The primary catalyst for many has been COVID19. While there are factors that we cannot control, each of us goes through periods of grief, change, fear and illness. Sometimes they are simultaneous. How do we handle it? In the Bible book, Luke 12 has been a source of encouragement to me. It reminds me that I matter to God, what I say matters, and that He will take care of me because He loves me. So, if you are wrapping yourself in the cocoon of invisibility, remember first that God loves you! He made you in His image and He wants you to trust Him. Luke 12:24-25 sums that up perfectly and says, ‘Consider the ravens; they don’t sow or reap, they don’t have storehouses or barns, but God feeds them. How much more valuable are you? Being anxious cannot add anything to your life.’ Friends, most of the time that is the EASY part for me. I know God cares for me. I think the harder part is to be VISIBLE to others, to INVITE them in, and allow them to see you walk through the good and the bad. To sprinkle your magic, the secret of who you are, and then allow them to take a look at one of God’s creations. He created us to enjoy the frienships of others, to walk through experiences together, to lighten each other’s load, and to walk closer towards Him in our journey here. Let’s sprinkle our magic, invite others in to our ‘secret’ world, and allow each other to sneak a peek into what has in some ways become an ‘invisible’ existence for many. Please share how YOU accomplish this!

Royalty and Service

“Stop Mommy! My driver is here!” exclaims my kindergartner with the air and authority of royalty as our morning carpool begins. Through a suppressed chuckle I managed to say “Have a great day! I love you!”, and her response was a quick kiss and hug, and I love you too. After chuckling randomly throughout the day, I began to reflect on these actions. There is certainly a fun innocence to this age, as well as a sense of the world revolving at least partly around self. There is no concern about what the next moment, day or year will bring; there is just the living in the now. It’s a lovely reminder for me to live in the present, soak in all the goodness of each day God gives me, and to reflect on how to use the time to be other centered versus self centered. If you’re in the thick of it and getting lost in the weeds of life, it can be difficult to chop through them to get to the ‘living in the now with joy’. Know you are not alone! If you are focused on yourself, maybe you need a little time to be still, to pray, and to read and recalibrate. I have had to do this multiple times and learned to set a time frame to make the adjustment. Once it is made get back to serving not just your family, but to serving others too! My ‘royal’ child gets excited to help serve others and joyfully joins in by making a card or calling someone to check in on them.

Belonging versus ‘Fitting In’…”Belonging is knowing, beyond whatever anyone else believes or thinks about you, who you are.”

This article is one I have mulled through in my mind for quite a while, because quite frankly, it’s heavy.  As school starts, many turn over a new leaf of sorts.  I can remember doing that with intentionality halfway through my 7th grade and again when I went to college.  I was tired of ‘fitting in’ and wanted to ‘belong’.  I had to choose, in junior high, to either be made fun of or join with the others who made fun.  It seemed so black and white at the time, but looking back, it wasn’t.  Then in college, I wanted to be a part of the fun but smart crowd.  And you know what?  I found out, once I started seeking HIM first, that my fun was different than most of my ‘friends’ fun, but also I found true relationships that were fun, and that smart was cool.  So what’s the difference?  Fitting in was always such a struggle, at least in my mind.  In the beginning of life, it was being friends with whom my parents wanted me to be, whether they were truly who I connected with or not.  In college and beyond, it was trying to befriend those that I thought I could help or who could help me with whatever social, career or other goal I had.  Then as a parent, it became that struggle of being friends with the other parents who had influence at the school or whose kids were well liked and well behaved, etc.  All of those things in and of themselves are not bad, unless you forget to whom and where you belong.   And that was just it.  Many of us get caught up in the fitting in and don’t spend the time to develop and nurture ‘belonging’.  So what’s the difference?  Belonging is knowing, beyond whatever anyone else believes and thinks about you, who you are.  Belonging is elusive to many, but it can be quite simple.  Who formed us?  Who knew us before we were created?  Who  loves us with a greater love beyond anything we can experience with another human being?  If you can ‘belong’ to something of someone who defines you, THAT is it.  That relationship supersedes everything in life, including the husband/wife relationship, the parent/child relationships, the friend relationships, and the school/work/family relationships.  Those other relationships are often places where we end up finding our niche, and ‘belong’ on this earth, but they very often change and disappoint (i.e. there are times in most of our lives where we don’t have a sense that we ‘fit in’ with our church or family).  So as parents, as students returning to school and starting a new year fresh, let’s be comfortable and confident, knowing that whoever or whatever crosses our paths, we BELONG to HIM who never fails or changes or disappoints.

Space for Grace- a Long time coming

Do you ever dream of something different, something bigger, something that will improve you? Do you think of life as something to discover, learn from, and love? WOW those are some loaded questions!!! Ha! I’m not sure I was thinking any of those things when I started this blog a few years ago. I went on a pretty BIG hiatus from writing, and alot of those reasons are irrelevant to you and your life. Just want all of you to know that as CRAZY as this world has gotten, I’ve created space….space for grace! For a long time, grace wasn’t something I was comfortable offering to myself or those closest to me. Now with JOY I am finally able to extend that grace to myself and to my family, and also to friends and those I have met but don’t know well… yet! So, enjoy getting comfortable and getting to know yourself with acceptance and without apology. Let’s continue on this journey together as women after God’s heart, who are encouragers to our families, friends and even strangers. I’ve got a few fun stories to share with all of you soon! Until then…