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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Faith · Family · Health · Parenting

Friday Tidbits

Four short tidbits for Friday

  1. Pink cowboy boots. It’s not a PE day, so little miss is excited to wear her boots to school today. Physical Edu stifles fashion in Kindergarten.
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  2. What is up with stomach flu and Friday’s lately?! Pitter patter of feet to the bedroom at 2:18am. “Mom- my stomach hurts really bad!” Little man down…
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  3. Usborne books- This is one of my daughter’s favorite Christmas presents. Washable ink. You stamp your finger or thumbprints then let it dry. Each page has a different theme. We spent an hour drawing faces on the prints we made previously.
  4. Morning reading: Jeremiah 27-29 and Sacred Marriage. Two interesting reads! The repeating theme in Jeremiah: warning after warning- second chance after third chance after infinite chances to turn back to God. Whew! What patience! More on Sacred Marriage in another post.

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Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Lost but Looking

I’m struggling today. Lost. Not sure what my big goal is. Floundering. Day after day…

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This appears to be the downside of re-reading and studying “The Best Yes.” I’m so unsure of my life goals that I can’t even answer some of the questions. Basic goals, in no particular order, at this point:

  1. Trust God.
  2. Love my family.
  3. Love my husband.
  4. Keep kids alive.
  5. Do my job.

Seriously. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

I’m not in danger or live in a war zone. It seems like I should have more plans than this.

No bucket list. No travel the world. No write a book. Ne. Non. Nada. Nothing.

It occurred to me that I’m not even in control of Item #4. I can do my best at this and still not guarantee it. Sounds pretty low, huh… Talk about your biggest fear?! My sister faced this when my nephew fought anaplastic ependymoma aka brain cancer at 18months. He’s now a healthy 10yr old, but honesty time —bad stuff happens and we aren’t in control.

Fear has me reeling this week. I’m questioning how deep is my faith if something like this happens? And dear Lord, please don’t let this happen! If I type these words or utter them out loud, does this make it more likely I will be tested and refined in this way?

As far as God is concerned, I’m already an open book. So, I guess that is reassuring. Typing the words doesn’t make that more real or more likely.

As our previous pastor told me once when I visited with him about my anxiety – “God is God. God is Good. All the Time.” He is my Rock and my Salvation. I don’t have to be enough. Take that off my shoulders! It isn’t my job description.

I’ve spent the last month of quiet early mornings reading Isaiah and then dove right into Jeremiah. While this does encourage some deep soul searching to see if my actions and heart match my words, it might be time to read something a bit more uplifting like Psalms or a book in the New Testament.

As I type, this song came on. “Eye of the Storm” — Thank you. Just when I needed it! Took the words right out of my mouth.

After I get in a run – think endorphins – I might try to make sense of this calendar and sketch out a few plans for life. Until then, I’ll enjoy the people and moments that make me happy.

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Faith · Fitness · Parenting · Perspective

Kindness in the form of the Berenstain Bears

Nice story from yesterday, written originally in a text to my family:
My kids could not leave me alone this morning or behave while I tried to get in 2 miles on the treadmill before T’s basketball practice. (They were allowed to run around on the track and had a ball, books, etc to play with)

After 20 minutes (of random stops) they proceeded to try to stop me twice in the last two minutes of my run. I told them to go sit down. Twice.

They did and a super nice older lady picked up a Bernstein (Berenstain) bear book and started reading to them.

 

When I told her thank you after my last two minutes on the treadmill, she was so gracious. ❤️

She said “I was a young mother once too. It looked like you could use a little help.”
I told her thank you and that was the nicest thing anyone had done for me all week!

Almost made me cry. It was so non-judgemental and genuine.

Good and kindness exist. When you come across it today, please respond with gratitude and pay it forward!