Family · Creativity · Perspective · Parenting

Thursday Thoughts

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.

John Barrymore

This is what writing is to me. It’s happiness. I love to write with paper and pencil. The feel of the pencil gliding over the paper soothes my busy mind. Every two weeks, I try to utilize 30 minutes of early morning devotional time to write. Words flow freely from my mind through my hand. Pieces of my soul marked in my handwriting. My middle of the night insomnia sessions are where my best thoughts flow. Will I ever write that book I’ve been dreaming of authoring since elementary school?

The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.

Antonio Brown

Marriage – When I took my wedding vows, full of excitement and passion, I vowed to love him until death do us part in good and bad. I still do. I’m still promising that. It’s deeper and stronger than I could have ever imagined. What I don’t think either of us realized at that point is that we vowed to love – deeply, strongly, confidently, and with covenant – is that we might not always like each other. It is completely unreasonable to vow to like someone all the time. Sometimes, we don’t even like ourselves. The majority of the time, the real issue is with yourself. Your partner’s job, promise, and covenant is to love you thru that. Those valleys are where you grow. Look up. Valleys only happen between mountains. Start climbing.

Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. 

Nadia Boulanger

Parenting – “My child is having a hard time. She is not giving me a hard time.” These words were on repeat this morning in my head starting at 4:32am. Our 6yr old woke up and needed to use the bathroom. Sleep did not find her again… and after two hours of cuddling, it was time to get dressed for school. Cue the sobs. Cue the stomps, whines, pointing, and tantrum. Deep breaths. She is not non-verbal. Her biggest character downfall is her inability to use her words to ask for help or admit when she is incorrect. It’s easier to stomp and sob. Going the tough route with her doesn’t help. She is stubborn and has to make the decision herself. When she threw her twisted sweatshirt at my feet, I refused to help her pull the sleeves out until she verbally asked for help. Her father did the same thing when she furiously swung her brush at him instead of just asking him to help her brush her hair. It was a doozy of a morning. 90% of them are nothing like this. I set a timer and told her she needed to have her fit turned off by the time it went off or she was destined for bed immediately when she arrived home with me this evening. Miraculously (tongue-in-cheek) her tantrum was over about 10 seconds before the timer dinged. Hugs all around before she ran out the door to the bus. Then her father and I considered Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s for breakfast… not really, but we both had to take our own frazzled nerves and anxiety down a couple notches before we came to work. Parenting is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart.

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” 

Jesse Owens

I’m signed up for a spring 2019 half marathon. I didn’t run one in 2018, although I did take on a hill-filled 10K (actually 6.7miles). Half Marathon Number Five. I ran my first 13.1mi organized race a couple of months before my MS diagnosis. Now I need a goal to get my consistency back. After swearing I wouldn’t run another unless I was trained well enough to knock 10 minutes off my previous finish time, my focus has shifted. Many months of just drifting along… I’m ready to get back in the current and head for something. What it is, I’m not sure. The steady beat of my feet and breathing in and out assist my brain in sorting thoughts. We shall see… we shall see.

As you attempt to make big differences, remember to appreciate the small differences.  And remember that you don’t always have to reach the goal you set in order to make a difference.

Win Borden

Be kind today friends. Find a way to lift someone else up. Even if you are dwelling in the valley right now, reach up and out. Be gracious.

Wear the fancy dress. Tell the joke and laugh at it. Do that cannon ball into the pool. Dance in your kitchen. 


Much love — Jen

Parenting · Perspective

Seat 21A Key West to Atlanta

Delta Seat 21A Key West to Atlanta- you. Yes you. This morning we all boarded a flight from Key West to Atlanta at approximately 11:30am.

I know leaving somewhere that the air is warm and soft, drinks and merriment flow freely, and the potpourri of languages is like music- it’s difficult.

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But not so difficult you had to be passive aggressively rude to the young mom traveling with her 3 & 2 yr old girls. I heard you two rows back when the obviously tired 2yr old fussed.

“I can’t believe we have to listen to this shit on our way home.” That’s exactly what you said to the woman on your right, never looking back at your intended target. That woman must be used to your selfish choices. She calmly put a pink and white earbud in your ear.

I saw the young mom glance up at you as she tried to calm her little. She stayed calm and remained full of grace.

That young mom worked her tail off all the way to Atlanta keeping those girls quiet and happy. My husband and I peeked and smiled at them. I handed her phone back up when it hit the floor. Another passenger talked calmly and reassuringly to the 3yr old when the mom had to take the toddler to the bathroom.

It seems that everyone in the two rows around the young mom was happy to help. Everyone but you.

As we landed in Atlanta, we talked with her and the 3yr old. My daughter likes Barbies just like she does. She’s always losing the shoes too.

My husband offered to carry her carry-on bag. The tired 2 year old had finally cashed it in as we taxied to our gate. She now had to maneuver a sleeping toddler, her three year old, bag and a double stroller to make her connection to Michigan- which was currently boarding in another terminal.

Seat 21A. Would it have been so difficult to be supportive? Or at the very least ignore the noise?

I believe most people are good and kind. I hope that the patience and smiles of the rest of us outweighed you, Seat 21A. I pity you for your sour outlook. I pray for you that you are so smothered in other people’s graciousness that your selfish heart is cracked. Hopefully, the next time you have a chance to show grace and patience, you will.

This one is for you Delta Seat 21A.

 

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!

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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Faith · Family · Perspective

I will Love

In all the chaos that is the world today, this small symbol lightened my heart. Tucked into my dual purpose yearly planner/ Bible carrier is this picture on a yellow sticky-note. My daughter drew it during the church service Sunday.

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Don’t overthink it. Love.

God is LOVE. Even thru the agony of the fires, hurricanes, and threats of war, God is still LOVE. He doesn’t want these pains for us. That tricky double edged sword of free will…

I feel helpless when stacked against the content of today’s news report. But I will still LOVE those around me with service, kindness, forgiveness and mercy. I will LOVE people thru the Gospel’s truth.

I will LOVE.

Faith · Love · Perspective

She Lives On.

On Monday, we attended a beautiful funeral. Funeral and beautiful in the same sentence. That’s hard to write. It was throat-tightening hard to attend too.

The phone call 14 months ago that told us Mary Ann had pancreatic cancer took our breath away. She was young in years and spirit, vibrant, with her first grandbaby just having arrived a few months earlier.

She fought like a warrior. Full of grace. Determination. And yet always with a smile on her face. An easy, smooth laugh. All characteristics her three children have.

I’d only met and spent time with her here and there when events with her daughter -my husband’s college friend, wife to his best friend and now my close friend- brought us to the same location. I knew Mary Ann on a surface level. After hearing her eulogy written and read by her daughter, I know the joyful and loving soul I experienced was just the tip of the iceberg. Her love, faith, and kindness was deep and all-encompassing. She was beautiful.

She IS beautiful.

She lives on in the example she gave in her marriage. She lives on in the way her children love and forgive. She lives on in all the lives she touched through her service in the church and community.

She LIVES. Her body was tired. Her soul no longer needed it. She IS smiling with God, greeted by Jesus with a joyful embrace.

I sit at my desk – Friday evening – work is done and over, typing this as tears stream down my face. Her physical life was beautiful but her soul IS beautiful.

I am completely inept at funerals. I don’t know how to console anyone. I never ask if someone is ok, because honestly, no one is. But Linds, I hope these words bring comfort to Ash, Chris, Gary, you and your family. I faithfully believe them.

We love you all.