Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Nancy Drew and other Happenings

Heart Check+ (idea courtesy of Fierce Marriage podcast):

  1. What book is in my hand?
  2. What voice is in my ear?
  3. What’s God stirring in my heart?
  4. Most exciting event of the week?

1 — “The Way the Crow Flies” by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I’ve also read Llama Llama Red Pajama and a box of “Bob” books this past week with my 6yr old. As riveting as those books are, my library choice is just starting to grip my interest. It hasn’t yet reached the point of taking it with me to bed and keeping me up late to read. Maybe a few more chapters before I hit that point? So far… Madeleine’s family has just moved into their new home and are hosting a BBQ for the neighbors. Mr. Froelich is quite seriously explaining why it is important to reach the moon first…

2 — Nancy Drew. Yes. That’s the voice in my 35 year old ear. We Carolyn Keenechecked out a 3-CD set of audio books. “Curse of the Arctic Star” was a good listen and a welcome change-up to the radio. Both kids listened intently in the car everywhere we went for the past week. No arguments. We’d pause it and discuss the exciting points or who we thought the culprit was. Tomorrow we take this one back and get the next installment!

3 — Encouragement. It’s been the message the past few weeks at church and keeps popping up on my social media and in my devotions. Encouragement for me to have courage to step out of my comfort zone. Encouragement to lend a helping hand. Encouragement to show love to all those around me and making sure the glory isn’t mine. (Hint, it’s God’s!) Encouragement to be a light to those around me. I have specific examples, but if I post them… isn’t that seeking glory for that moment? So I’ll just keep making the rounds “catching and releasing” kindness and encouragement to those around me.

4 — In other news, my 8 year old jumped and dived off the diving board at the pool for the FIRST TIME today! I’m so proud of him!!! Yes, that warrants three exclamation points. He struggled with ear problems and tubes for the first 6 years of his life. This stalled him out in terms of getting comfortable in the water. He has worked so hard the last two years to learn to float, then to swim, and finally this summer – IT CLICKED! Deep water, water slides, and the diving board are all major accomplishments!

My kids aren’t natural fish, which is super frustrating for this mother. The water feels natural for me. I married a land-lover who can’t swim. Our children seem to be an interesting mix of the two of us (in many, many ways!). We agree that either the kids know how to swim or they stay out of the water. It’s the “in-betweeners” that are in the greatest danger of drowning. Here’s to hoping that our 6 year old eventually catches on. She is also looking to be a land lover at this point…

Have you read anything worthy of losing sleep over? Any great audio book suggestions for kids?

Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Tempo

Life here is slowly returning to a more normal pace. Lentando.

grayscale piano keys
Photo by Pixabay

The kids and I fell asleep on our couch last night. We read Llama Llama Red Pajama. That Llama sounds an awful lot like my 6yr old.

We prayed together. Each of us took turns praising for something we are thankful for and praying for someone who might be sick, sad, hungry or mad. May our eyes be opened and our hands ready to humbly serve those around us.

I woke an hour later and carried my children to their beds. I’m still able to lug my 75 pounder, but I’m not sure how much longer. I’ve got him by about 60 pounds and 12 inches. He’ll outgrow me in the coming 5 years.

Two hours later my husband walked in, finally home from a work trip. Sleepily I told him how nice it was to have him home. I don’t communicate exceptionally well at midnight.

Today will bring about the hustle and bustle of shuttling between swim lessons, basketball camp, a trip to the dentist and work responsibilities. Even this isn’t consistent with our lives 6 weeks ago, but we are getting closer.

Our cadence is slowing from affrettando. Too vigorous. Too chaotic. Like that flurry in the middle of a song, we are over the peak of summer.

We are falling into a new, more comfortable rhythm.

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Value of Time

June is over. At the end of every month I think to myself “Wow, now I can take a breath.” All the while, we are living our ups and downs, celebrating and mourning, thriving and struggling thru weeks, months, days, and moments.

June was full of all of the above descriptions. Big commitments included baseball for both kids, wheat harvest, baling straw, and (as always) work. The smaller moments category encompassed watching the sunsets and stars, sighting lightning bugs, digging our first couple hills of new potatoes, and putting together puzzles. Sprinkled in between are cousin-exchange days, quick trips to the pool and lake, church activities and way more fast-food than we should have consumed in a 30 day period.

It was a whirlwind. I must say though… I don’t think I have any moments (except that one complete mommy meltdown) that I regret spending my time on.

All this twirling and whirling causes me to be introspective. What is the actual value of my time? Is it monetary? Is it emotional? Is it in physical toll?

Truly, I’ve been mulling this over for quite awhile. I have friends that will drive a hour one way (60+miles) to go to a discount grocery store and suggest that I do the same. “Oh the savings are HUGE! I bought eggs for $0.39! Then we grabbed a meal (or shopped elsewhere) and drove home.”

This frustrates me.

Upon suggesting I do the same, I let them know politely that I do not have 3 hours in my daily, weekly, or monthly schedule to dedicate to groceries. I’d rather use my coupon app at our local grocery store, shop my list and the markdowns, and get it done in the 15 minutes I have before I pick my kids up from daycare after a day of work. #shoplocal

(Honestly, I’m not sure how much you’re really saving by the time you add in 120+ miles of gas and wear on your vehicle and a meal at a restaurant. But hey, if that’s how you roll – good for you!)

The way I look at it, I’ve just banked 2hrs and 45 minutes to spend doing things like riding bikes, gardening, or hosting a playdate.

blog 7-2 little girls
Princess dresses and manicures

It’s taken effort to place a value on time. I’ve said “no” or “today is not the day” to more things than I thought I would this summer. Furthermore, I’ve cleared an entire week in July and said we are scheduling NOTHING during those 7 days.

The value isn’t just monetary. It is physical and emotional. Running in a thousand different directions to shuttle this child to this event and to make sure I’ve picked that item up from that location is exhausting. It makes my whole body weary. My mind gets foggy. Anxiety grips my heart. Emotionally I’m a bear. Instead of easily seeing the joy, I have to remind myself it’s okay to smile and laugh. Overall, it’s daunting when there is no value placed on time.

This must be fate that I am writing this today. I saw a quote from Handmade by Heroes just before I attempted to finish this entry. “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because that flow has passed and will never pass again.”

I don’t want to miss moments like this because I’ve undervalued my time.

Unplanned. Unscheduled. These moments are full of worth to me.

 

blog 7-2 KS Sunset
Harvest Sunset 2018, Kansas, USA

 

Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

What I’m Celebrating on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2018.

Many moms out there were being showered with lavish gifts. Quite a few, I imagine, received no recognition at all for the day. Others were somewhere in between.

I was an ‘in-between-er’ at the low end of the spectrum. No gifts, but they did make construction paper cards. It was another day where my kids bickered, my extremely tired 5yr old melted down and crashed for 3hrs (when is school done?!), and at one point I threatened to get out of the car and let my husband proceed with the kids to our destination without me.

So yeah, basically just another day of motherhood.

Isn’t that what the day is about though? Are we supposed to be put on a pedestal on Mother’s Day or should we move our focus to the little things that are to be appreciated?

I’m not one to worship my children. They aren’t always correct. They aren’t always even pleasant to be around. And yes, I’ve told them to leave me alone or  not talk.

However, I am thankful for these little people in my tribe. I love them unconditionally- always and everywhere. I learn new things about them and myself in abundance when we are together. At times, they swell my heart with gladness. While at others, they throw me into the pit and leave me questioning what I did to make this little monster.

At church, our pastor recognized the mothers and made that the focus of his message. He spoke of   the need to lift up and support all the moms- the young and old, married, single, widowed, biological, adoptive and foster, those who have lost, and the grandmothers raising their grandchildren.

It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It’s effective in the little things- offering childcare for any length of time, helping load or unload bags of groceries, passing her your $10 when she’s checking out at the store, welcoming a family with children instead of frowning at their noise.

The church needs to acknowledge the shift of stay-at-home to working mothers. It’s a change that has been decades in the making. The faith community needs to embrace these weary, hard working women.

He spoke about Hagar in Genesis. She didn’t willingly become a mother. Mothers who weren’t excited to become moms need to be cared for. They are treading water. Don’t let them go under.

When Abraham (man) gave her limited water and sent her away, God (the Creator) showed her a well. Think on that comparison for a moment…

He specifically recognized all of us who have locked ourselves in a room and cried- overwhelmed by life and questioning if we are making the right choices.

Motherhood has deepened my faith exponentially. All the trials, tribulations, meltdowns and months years without solid sleep have given me a glimpse of what love without strings looks like. Love that can’t be earned. Love that just IS.

That love is what I’m celebrating on Mother’s Day.

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Faith · Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Heart Check – Thursday

A podcast I listen to starts out with a few questions from one host to another. They call it a “heart check.”

What’s in your ear?

What’s pulling at your heart?

What book is in your hand?

I’ll also add for this post (because I like food)…

What’s in your mouth?

So, Jen, what’s in your ear lately?

–Yesterday, it was my Pandora thumbprint station. I was solo in the office for most of the day, thus almost a completely uninterrupted soundtrack for the day. Eclectic, as is my taste in music, songs range from the last 6 decades and a wide variety of genres. A personal favorite is Ashokan Farewell, but that might be followed up by Rump Shaker (Wreckx’n’Effect), a song from Ray LaMontagne, the Avett Brothers, Meghan Trainor, Amos Lee, Lee Brice, George Strait, or Casting Crowns (among many, many others).

What’s pulling at your heart?

–Of course my kids and family. Anxiety. Worldwide events that are completely beyond my realm of physical connection. How can I contribute to those around me? How can I be a more patient mother, wife, and friend? After a meeting last night…. when will I ever stop being socially awkward?!!!! 30 years of socializing hasn’t made me a social butterfly. Still inept at the art of surface-style conversation.

What book is in your hand?

–I truly love my 5:30am quiet reading time. I am awake to see the sun rise quietly and peacefully. The past month, I’ve reread three Anne of Green Gables books: 1, 3, & 4. Apparently somewhere in the last 25 years, book #2 disappeared. My devotions in my study Bible are out of Psalms. This morning, I finished “365 Thank You’s” by John Kralik. Focusing on gratitude, he turned his life around one thank you note at a time. Inspiring!

What’s in your mouth?

–Like all people vainly trying to shed the winter carb-fest padding,  focusing on better food choices, I’ve been packing a bountiful amount of fruits and veggies in my daily lunches at the office. Due to my MS med, I have to hit the carbs first thing in the morning to settle my stomach. Therefore, I make my lunch vegetable based instead of building it up from bread or pasta. Almost all my veggie-based meals feature the previous night’s protein choice, aka leftovers. Makes for a lot of variety! Yesterday’s masterpiece:
salad

Mixed baby greens (thank you husband for buying a super large container of these at an amazing discounted price!)
Fresh Mushrooms
Leftover BBQ Chicken
A handful of French fried onions (the ones without whey)
Balsamic Viniagrette (I only use vinaigrettes, no dairy! But if you go this route, be sure to make your own or read the labels.)
I wash and re-use this Subway salad container daily. It’s the perfect size for my lunch bag.

That sums up my Thursday morning heart check. What does your heart check look like today?

Much love — Jen

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Ordinary is Good

Today I get to wake up sleepy children. I get to go to work. I am allowed another day to do the ordinary. But that, in itself, is extraordinary!

Our adult Sunday School lesson yesterday was about perspective. It was a colorful conversation dotted with laughs and frustrations.

Perspective helped me get thru a rough, cranky day where my children fought and whined continuously- achieving a rare level above and beyond in the disagreeable department. I wasn’t able to find much to be thankful for, but I settled on the fact that they were all living, breathing creatures. Sometimes that’s all you’ve got. Just tuck it in your heart and run with it.

Perspective encouraged me as I was unclogging the pipe under the dishwasher. I am thankful for the water that flows freely. I am fortunate to have this dishwasher and the mental and physical ability to do DIY minor plumbing projects. The plumbing issues can stop at any time now…

Today I get to take on a new week. I’m going to take the ordinary and appreciate it as extraordinary.

#gratitude #perspective

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Family Hike

Today we walked away from it all. The piles of laundry, unwashed dishes, shoes scattered across the mud room floor, and the business phone- we just walked away.

It was glorious.

For 1.5 hours, we hiked a nearby pasture. Up the hills and down the draws, my husband, kids and I walked the deer paths. High up in a tree herons were nesting. The wild turkeys and owls made their presence known.

Paying special attention to avoid the honey locust trees, we found a grove of walnuts. The kids collected turkey feathers. The big prize would have been deer antler sheds, but we didn’t find any.

Crossing the creek multiple times, we either walked a natural log jam or found a fallen tree to place across the shallow water. I can firmly say that none of us will be tightrope stars.

My phone came out once to take one picture. Neither my husband or kids know I took a snapshot of this moment. It was a joyous reprieve from connectivity. No service meant no intrusions into our family time.

Be still and know. Nature has a way of cleansing the mind and opening the soul.

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