Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Time for a Date

Nestled between my early morning devotion time and heading out the door for a run, it hit me.

My husband and I haven’t been out (or in) together without kids since March.

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I know…. that is shocking!

Almost two months ago, we flew to Key West for a handful of days. I don’t think we’ve been anywhere without the little people we created, even for groceries and a burrito, since mid-March.

Time to get back on the same page…

Today I scheduled a 36hr getaway for us. We are going to see another couple for a Friday evening and Saturday a couple of weeks from now. What? You thought we’d be able to throw together something for this weekend?! That’s just crazy talk….

Honestly though, it is incredibly important to put that extra time into your relationship. It’s been lacking here. We’ve had a rough patch lately where I truly wanted to get in the car and drive away. Solo. Where? Who knows. Maybe just to go sit in a coffee shop or restaurant and read a book while I sip a chai latte (DF of course) or eat chips and salsa? I might even treat myself to a bowl of guacamole.

But I don’t drive away. I told him I wanted to. Yet I haven’t gotten in the car, removed the car seats, and made a break for it.

Why? A couple of reasons:

  • I genuinely like my crew of people – most of the time. Experience has taught me that it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy another human 100% of the time. I’m quite sure I would not enjoy my own clone 100% of the time…
  • I’m an introvert. Quiet time is necessary to recharge. Daily running and devotions need to become a priority again instead of snoozing the alarm and then needing space from my family later.
  • I love my husband. Even when we aren’t clicking and I’m not even sure we are speaking the same vernacular, we still have almost 18 years invested in our relationship. We’ll celebrate the 13yrs married mark this summer. Sometimes I wonder though… when I say something – what is he hearing???
  • I love who I am when we are in sync. Disharmonious as we are right now, we will find our rhythm again soon. We are better together. He lightens me. I focus him.
  • I’m flat-out terrible at self-care. When I make a cry for help like “Hey honey, I think I’ll just leave. No I don’t know where I’m going to go…” that’s pretty serious stuff. It needs to be addressed together. Instead of further isolating myself, I need to pull closer to that covenant I have with my husband and family.

What it boils down to is that it is time for a date. A real, fix-your-hair, put on a nice dress, lipstick instead of chapstick type of date. No talk of the kids’ baseball schedules, end-of-school year events, or that we are COMPLETELY out of all ingredients necessary to make breakfast. It is time for actual date talk about interests and plans and that amazing song I heard on the radio last week.

It’s time to reconnect and get back in sync.

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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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Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Little Einsteins

Presto! Allegro!

The notes of Franz Schubert mixed with the smell of mixed berry muffins are how I’ve started my morning.

School is closed today for a deep disinfection. Yes, on a Tuesday, the illness numbers were just too high yesterday. The approximately 850 kids in our district will get a respite from the onslaught of influenza and stomach flu and respiratory viruses.

We received the word about 5:30pm yesterday. Pre-kids-Jen would have started mentally planning the day. Two-kids-later-Jen acknowledges that whatever I plan is likely to get wrecked, so we’ll set a couple loose goals and wing it.

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For instance, pre-kids-Jen and husband thought this would be our “adult bathroom.” We have another bathroom, so this one should be toyless, right?

Pre-kids-Jen enjoyed playing the notes of Schubert on the piano for relaxation. Two-kids-later-Jen gets her classical music via Little Einsteins on Disney Jr.

Honestly, there are some things I miss about pre-kids-Jen. She had time flexibility to go for a run and sleep when sick. Her non-work schedule consisted of weekends away for weddings, friends and spontaneous trips with her husband. She wore heels, matched purses to her outfits, and accessorized with trendy jewelry.

As I sit here smelling muffins baking and listening to cartoons, I realize how much my priorities have changed. I love these two little individuals.

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I’m not Mary Poppins. Of course, the process has been frustrating and exhausting! I have not handled all of it selflessly or with grace. If you live near me, you may have heard me loudly telling my kids (ummmm…. yelling) to get in the car. Or perhaps you’ve pulled out of the parking lot and seen me with my head resting on the steering wheel?

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It is like being in a rock tumbler. I haven’t lost my identity. Life has tumbled and changed it. I’ve rubbed off some of the sharp spots and my more positive traits are being polished. Slow and steady, one pair of footie jammies and Little Einstein episode at a time, I’m becoming more patient, compassionate, and understanding how deep love can be.

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 · Family · Love · Perspective

merry MeRrY MERRY Christmas!

I don’t think we hear it enough. Sure, I heard a few Christmas songs on the radio this morning, but are we really hearing it? The love, joy and goodwill that Christmas is really all about?

Are we just seeing the consumerism side? The “is your tree HGTV or Better Homes and Garden” quality? Do you need a “Star Shower” to project Christmas onto your home? The “is my display up to the par of my neighborhood” moment.

Are we taking the focus off of the Divine and directing it to the Dollar Store (or Macy’s or Kohls…) accompanied by a sense of obligation and dread?????

Or are you FEELING and EXPERIENCING Christmas in your home?

I believe that a few thousand years ago, God became Man briefly. He took on our own skin, but not because we deserved it. Goodness no! Read the Old Testament and parallel it to modern man today. We couldn’t be farther from deserving then or now.

God gave us His son humbly as a gift. Humankind, of course, destroyed the gift. We really do excel at ruining good things. God knew we would ruin it and thru the Easter miracle graced us with forgiveness and love if we will just humbly admit we need it. We need Him.

That is where we base Christmas in our home. Is it because my parents told me to do it this way? No. It’s because I experience my Creator’s corrections and blessings on a daily basis.

Do we do stockings and gifts? Yes. Do we have a (mostly) glowing Christmas tree? Yes. Do I have a hugging Santa and Mrs. Claus on my counter next to a reindeer? Yes.

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We celebrate in our home and out in our community because we received a gift that we didn’t deserve. We happily give out of love because God gave us the gift of Love.

Give to your family or friend. Give to the local Angel tree (kids in need). Give to CarePortal (supporting families- things like beds, carseats, sheets, clothes). Serve at the food bank. Serve at your church. Serve at the local school.

If you aren’t physically able or are financially strapped, be kind. It doesn’t cost a thing to say thank you or to hold a door. Smile.

Whatever you do, please serve, provide for, or treat others with a happy heart. We don’t have to agree on faith matters and theology to be kind to one another. If your heart is hurting, I hope you encounter kindness and compassion today. I’ve been there too.

And if I pass you on the street, Have a Merry Christmas!

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Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

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He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

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He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

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I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Faith · Love · Perspective

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your’s! It’s about being thankful for all you are, have, and don’t have.

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Big, small and all things in between, spread thankfulness, kindness and gratitude. ❤️

Although we celebrate this day once a year, share this spirit all year long.

It may be surprising how much it lifts you up to project gratitude outward to others. Celebrate your tiny mundane daily details.

If you think my life is perfect and that’s why I’m spouting such positive fluff… As for personal examples this morning: I’m not letting a root canal yesterday, child with strep throat, or this huge two week pile of laundry get me down!

I’m thankful for teeth and dentists, access to antibiotics for strep and likely an ENT visit (4 rounds of strep in 5 months), and for clean clothes for my family.

Not perfect. That’s not real or attainable. Just thankful for life and grace.

Much love– Jen