Faith · Fitness · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

2 Steps Back and 5 Forward

5F2B2 Steps Back and 5 Forward: An effort to get to know yourself and who you are made to be, deeper than the outward reflection shown in the mirror.

A local women’s group did a short exercise with the ladies who were present. It is a Christian non-denominational group for new, seasoned, young, and older. A lovely mix of women.

*I follow online because although it is God-centered, it still isn’t a Best Yes for my time when I add in the driving to town and back and how it disrupts my family’s schedule.*

The exercise asked the women to say or describe two things about themselves that are negative.

  1. I overshare details and stories… then spend anxiety-ridden time mentally re-hashing all the oversharing moments that just spewed forth from my lips. Ugh. Thank goodness I don’t publish on here every thought I actually say out loud. Awkward!
  2. I get extremely frustrated during transition times with my kids. Daycare pickup is the absolute WORST. I’m overwhelmed. They’re talking and arguing over each other for my attention. We all end up with our feelings hurt when I have to SHUT IT DOWN.

^^^ It honestly didn’t take much to come up with those. ^^^

The exercise then asked the women to say or describe five positives. I’ll take this one step further, in honor of the book I’m currently reading – Walking with Purpose, and say it can’t be about my job or my duties as a mother or wife.

giphy4Ummmm…. Hmmmm… Maybe…. ?

  1. I am compassionate for ALL things. I catch spiders and release them outside. I don’t want anyone to suffer. If it has to be the end for a living creature, I want it to be quick and painless. Hungry? I want to feed you. Confused? Let’s figure this out.
  2. I very rarely rush to judgement. I like to gather my own research before forming an opinion. I have friends from all sides of the political, geographical, and faith spectrum. Discussions, when respectful, are thought-provoking and enlightening, even if I disagree with the other parties.
    giphy5
  3. I am determined. Four years and two babies ago, I decided if I ever wanted to get in shape and feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally, I had to make it happen. No one else could do that for me. It was MY job to exercise; MY job to make devotion time; MY job to figure out where my life was going. Yes, I have a husband, two littles, a job, a pet, family, friends, etc… but what was my path? my goal? Was I just supposed to feed small people and handle advertising from my computer? No.

    I have a bigger purpose. It is one that is constantly evolving and coming into focus as I make another trip around the sun.

  4. Honesty. I told my children that if they ever ask me a question (which they do 3:1 for every statement – truly, I counted), I will ALWAYS tell them the truth. Don’t want to know about Santa? Don’t ask unless you want the truth and history behind Ol’ Saint Nicholas. What happened to Nana & Papa’s old dog? It died because a body gets old and unable to heal. NOT that it went to live on another farm with other old dogs…. Right Mom and Dad?

    I really think honesty is key here. We sugar coat too much to the point where the next generation won’t understand reality.
    giphy6

  5. Love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for people I don’t even know. I am unconditionally loved by God and want to share that love with those around me.

    I separate love from “like” and “enjoy” and “happiness.” Sure, those are comfortable feelings, but in the uncomfortable is where we grow, support, and care for one another. It’s easy to give a high-five or a smile at the end of a game. It isn’t as easy to sit with a bestie after her engagement ends or know what to say when a friend miscarries, but those are the places that love illustrates beauty. Spending time volunteering to give a hand up to the less physically fortunate or going to an elder care facility and touching a frail, lonely hand, that’s love. Parenting with grace (so hard sometimes!) is another form of love.

    We don’t all “do” love the same way, but think of the world if we all “did” real uncomfortable love in SOME way for somebody.

So there it is. My five positives and my two negatives are out there. Time well spent looking a little deeper into myself.

Much love — Jen

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Mother’s Day – What is the perfect day?

Cheers to the Mothers out there! We are coming up on a Hallmark-induced holiday. Research shows that it was started with a noble meaning, and I guess, it still sort ANNA JARVISof rings – or maybe at least twinkles – with that sentiment.

I don’t mean to come off as bitter or brisk, but seriously… Let’s get real here people! Let’s look at the realities of what a Mother’s Day when you are ‘in the weeds’ is actually like with small children. Then, we’ll talk.

(This does not relate to how I shower my own mother with love on Mother’s Day. She’s already survived these years. Bless her.)

The advertisers say:

**”Treat your mother to a spa day!” — ummm….. does that come child-free? Does wanting a Mother’s Day gift that doesn’t involve the child that made me a mother make me a selfish monster? Hmmm…

**”Surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers!” — Flowers are a nice sentiment. They look bright and zingy while my children are screeching at each other about a ball or iPad time.

**”Chocolate.” — While I am always 100% game for chocolate (non-dairy, so fake chocolate), this does not a smooth day make. If my child gives it to me as a special item, I’ll treasure the thoughtfulness behind it for a few moments. But me secretly eating mini-chips by the handful out of the bag in my freezer, not quite so meaningful.

giphy5

**Lunch or dinner out – so my young kids can groan about food in public instead of at home. It is a joy of the highest order to ask the waiter for something hot-dog based at a nice restaurant because the nicer, garnished, plated version of the similar foods we eat family-style at home are now unpalatable. This too shall pass…

You know, I’m just not good at gifts. This all sounds snarky and unappreciative. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate gifts or love being with my crew, it is just that I feel so ‘in the weeds’ ‘UNDER the weeds’ tunneling through life that if I was able to choose, I’d never CHOOSE any of these things!

As I sit here listening to a podcast about how to be a good parent, typing about Mother’s Day, and frankly, taking a break from the accounting project on my desk, I think my ideal Mother’s Day would look like this:

T jammies
Jammies.

Normal morning – 6ish wake time. Quick couple of miles on the run. When I get home, my sleepy people either aren’t awake or are just waking up. I LOVE to stroke their hair and face and wake them up slowly. I LOVE to see them run the house in their jammies. I LOVE to be greeted by their morning hugs. Breakfast is low-key. I could either make waffles or we go with the solid stand-by of cereal or granola bars. No fights, whines, or on the floor tantrums about anything up to this point.

 

Church is on Sunday – Mother’s Day. Everybody gets dressed without tears about clothing or shoes. I swear the shoe situation is just all-around cursed. Why? Whyyyyyyy?  Just put two shoes on without contemplating which dinosaur had the longest toes or which baby we should name “Vivian Laila S” for ten minutes! We get through the whole service without any dirty looks (from my son to me- when did 7 become the new 13?) or fights about who is sitting on Grandpa’s lap.

Lunch – We could eat out somewhere simple, where the hot dog that will inevitably get ordered is standard fare. Or we could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grapes, and chips at home. I’m good with that.

Afternoon – everybody rests or reads books quietly in their rooms. After rest time, we do something as a family preferably outdoors. If the weather doesn’t permit it, everybody

mothers day
A portrait by my 7yr old of himself and mom. He’s not really an alien and I do actually have feet…

plays a game or a puzzle. Then as the day goes on, people chime in to be helpful with anything that catches their eye. I honestly mean ANYTHING. That towel that he/she picks up off the bathroom floor is better than a 1,000,000 fragrant bouquets.

Evening – we like to grill. I’d be happy to throw something on. The hubs and T will have baseball practice. Maybe I don’t go because M and I are doing something special, just us girls.

Any way around it, there has been no tattling to this point. No throw downs or intentionally, slyly sticking his foot out. No hair pulling just to get her attention. She hasn’t screamed at him. Family time without the feuding.

Night- bedtime. Baths. Snuggles. Sleep.

m sleeping
One of my reasons for Mother’s Day

That would be my perfect day to celebrate being a mother. I don’t want a gift or some token. Upon reflection, it seems that I don’t want to spend my day away from my loves to relax. I want to be with them the entire time. I want to smile and laugh with them. I just want a break from the work as referee.

To the other moms who are tunneling through the weeds with your littles, my heart goes out to you. Don’t let Hallmark’s projected view of the foofy, lalalala, rainbow riding unicorn, glitter and confetti, relaxing Mother’s Day get you down. We know that stuff isn’t always real. The LOVE is what’s real.

As cliche as it sounds, I think we have to soak in these moments. Here in the weeds these small people think the world revolves around us. That’s pretty amazing. They want to walk, talk, and BE just like us when they get older. They only focus on our shiny side.

weeds
Throwback a few years. 

Good and bad alike, this too shall pass. Someday we’ll be sitting at home hoping for that text, phone call or Hallmark card that acknowledges that we are still important to them. We will hope that they still see only our shiny side.

Right now, we are their whole world. Moms, we have to try not to wish it away.

giphy6

 

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.

Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

The Scientist – Dating my Husband

One of my favorite songs the past few weeks is “The Scientist” by Coldplay. It came out over a decade ago, but recently it caught my ear. It’s easy to sing. I enjoy the minor tones. And I love the message that I take from it:

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start

I’m not sure if I’m taking the written message the right way, but to me it’s all about making that connection. Making the EFFORT to make that connection

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

We’ve been together since 2000. My oh my. That does seem like ages ago.

I was starting my senior year of high school. He was starting his sophomore year of college. Our dates consisted of Messenger chats and him coming back to my high school for my sporting events and a few hours of time together after they were done.

I did go on a date with someone else in college. I wanted to test the waters. See if I wanted to keep doing the long-term thing or date other people. It was a resounding “I don’t want to date anyone else” moment by the end of that night. I knew how good I had it. My husband was and is a keeper.

Fast forward almost 17 years. We’ve been married for 11.5 years. We’ve grown up and learned strengths, weaknesses, and held each other when it hurt. There’ve been fights and  frustration. Moments where a drive alone was necessary.

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start

And we keep coming back together to figure it all out.

Dating each other is important. Me giggling on the couch. The way he laughs when something funny catches him off-guard. Real time together. Snippets of time in the kitchen alone without the kids. Flirting. That arm slipping around me while I’m washing the dishes after dinner.

Asking those questions that neither of us really want to, but know we need to. Then working through the answer.

Raising our children together.

Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

I don’t want this to sound like we are struggling. We are deeply happy. But to stay that way, we have to keep going back to how we connected. To keep that passion and interest in each other- Ask what he’s reading. Give a little pat as I pass by. Keep dating each other.

Keep going back to the start.

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Family · Perspective

Socks on the Floor Pt 2

Yet again today, my news feed is blowing up… Why? Another blogger responded, rather angrily, with a post titled:

Nope. Don’t you dare call my wife a “butthole”

Again with the passive-aggressive distractions. Again with the divisiveness of people who declare they love Jesus, then get sidetracked into defending their honor or the honor of someone they know/love in a war of words over petty stuff.

This is like the mommy wars. Do you breastfeed? Do you bottle feed? Do you pump? Do you use oils? Do you do use coconut oil instead of vegetable oils? Does your child eat only organic? Does your child eat Cheetos off the floor of the car? Did you make your treats for school from scratch and decorate them in the appropriate holiday decor? Did you forget and send a bag of powdered sugar donuts that you picked up that morning? Use daycare? Work from home? Eat frosting from the can? *GASP*  Eat raw cookie dough???

Oh. My. Word.

Is this really what we are discussing? Why yes. I am. It is not to defend either side. Everybody get your panties or boxers or briefs or whatever covers you up out of a bind and look at the bigger picture.

Do you honor your spouse with your words? Do you honor your spouse with your actions? Do you try to honor God with the way you are interacting with those around you – including family? Think long and hard about those questions. It’s the knee-jerk reactions that are causing this to build up into a dividing wall of pride.

I believe that each and every being on this earth has individual talents and strengths.  I haven’t read anything that says a woman is “less than or more than” for her choice of occupation: at home- in the workplace – or anywhere in between. Reflectively, I don’t read it that way for a man either.

You do you in a manner that honors yourself, your family, and God.

I also believe that while we all seek love and attachment, we accept it in different ways. Working to support a family in any capacity is a labor of love, be it in or out of the home. I’d rather have a husband who helps support the family than one who buys me gifts- any odd day of the week. He’d rather have a wife who wants to sit and talk with him than one who feels the need to have a spotless house- any odd day of the week.

That’s simply us. Other couples are different and that is great. They fill their bucket with love in other ways that suit their strengths and talents.

So let’s all calm down just a bit… maybe remove the word “butthole” from the conversation if it seems offensive and put this in perspective? My overall point goes back to what I said yesterday. These slight mundane things, these words other people are writing and we are reading, they don’t matter in the big picture. My life is different than your life which is different than the next person’s life.

What is important is how YOU are living these moments. 

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Uncategorized

Like – In Love – Love

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. After being bombarded online by “Turn Casual into Couple” articles, I think maybe a little re-evaluation is in order.

**I should preface the following read with saying that I fully understand everyone comes from different circumstances. Understandable. This is from my perspective and experiences. I made mistakes in date choices. That one date in college my best friend and roommate-at-the-time will never let me live down? Yes. Did it. What I’m bumbling through is a moment of acceptance. Love yourself first so you can wholly love another. (Not in a narcissistic way.)

WHERE DATING STARTS

My first “boyfriend” was a little boy a year older than me – 2nd grade. We exchanged notes during recess. I broke up with  him. He told me when I played soccer he could see under my skirt when I kicked the ball. Yep – that relationship was over. Gross. Even when I think back on that, it really is creepy.

The next “boyfriend” had the audacity to mail me a letter over the summer like a pen pal. Remember pen pals and how fun it was to receive a letter in the mail? Awesome. That relationship was over when he actually CALLED me on the phone. Seriously, in 4th grade (circa 1990ish), who calls someone? O-V-E-R.

By late middle school, I liked this boy and he liked me. I sat at a high school basketball game next to him with my friend pasted to one side of us and his friend pasted to the other. He gave me a candy bar and tried to hold my hand. That relationship was over too.

LIKE – IN LOVE – LOVE

Still without a First Kiss AND feeling perfectly fine with that.

Are you sensing a level of innocence here? I was raised by two loving parents who emphasized a few important things without ever saying a pointed word about it to me. My body was private. Signs of affection were reserved for someone you REALLY care about. And the big one – LIKE, IN LOVE, and LOVE are 3 different things.

Why is this such a difficult concept? It was for me too! Like many other things, I want to place at least part of the blame on celebrities. Whether they are truly party to it or not, the media flashes their revolving trysts all over like it is how a successful relationship should work. They meet, are in love, making babies, and then hate each other all in a matter of months.

I like to call this the celebrity “playing house” problem. I like you therefore I want you around. I want you around and enjoy all the fun we have. I must be in love with you. Let’s move in together! A few days, weeks, months, or even years of life like this — OOPS! My “in-love” status must be wearing off. You annoy me. Must not have really been love. And as a celebrity, it is splashed all over the news. Things are quiet until KAZAM! New relationship. Same pattern.

Love is so much more than playing house and enjoying dinner together. Taking a cue from the Bible, Love is Patient, Kind, Not Proud, Not Boastful. It is about the other person. Everything about the other person. Loving yourself enough to love another is not easy. Love is inspired and inspirational. It is also a give and take. You both must be love as a verb and a noun. It is physical, emotional, and spiritual. Love is hard to define.

OBSERVE & EXPERIENCE – 15 YRS

To keep it simple and sum it up, 15yrs of experiencing and observing as a teen, twenty-something, and teacher in 10 thoughts:

1) The fun of liking or dating a boy is absolutely nowhere as romantic in reality as it is in the movies or books. My spouse is my best friend and I can still say this statement is true. We laugh, argue, make up, and live. There still aren’t the number of flowers or jewelry as the movies suggest.

2) Some boys are like bad peanut M&M’s. Sweet on the outside, but when you get a little deeper, they cause that awful look on your face, in your heart, and sometimes all the way to your soul. Get rid of them. Quickly.

3) Be the stronger person. Be your own advocate.  Your significant other should raise you up and enjoy you for you.

4) If your sister or best friend wants to smack him, think twice, three, or four times about that date!

5) Laugh. Then laugh some more. If you aren’t at least giggling, think twice about your choices. Trust me on this one. Dated one that made me cry – a lot. Dated and married one that makes me laugh daily, even after disagreeing.

6) Don’t be in such a hurry to mature. At 31, what I wouldn’t give to go back to silly girl talks and dancing in my friend’s living room to Gwen Stefani.

7) You don’t need to play house to keep the right guy. Respect yourself. Either he will respect you or he won’t. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t the “right guy.” A long-term relationship needs some sort of commitment.

8) Parents. Are you crazy? What are you thinking letting your child watch a movie with a date with the door closed? Guarantee their hands are NOT being kept to themselves.

9) Parents, pt2: Meet the love-interest. Keep an open line of communication with your child. If he/she won’t talk to you about at least some of the relationship  *warning sirens.*

10) Put yourself out there. For the first time in my life, I offered a guy my phone number after meeting through mutual friends. I remember thinking, I’ve never done this before. Should I? I ended up marrying him 5 years later.

I’m no expert on love, but I have seen both the highs and lows. I’ve made bad choices. We all have. We must keep on liking, blooming in love, and loving.

first dance sepia (2)