Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Marriage, Motherhood

The Ta-Da List

17,000,000. The number of apps to manage to-do lists.

TOP priority. Get ‘er done.

The feeling of accomplishment.

Promised peace at the end of the day when it’s all crossed off.

I was trained from a bitty girl to spend time at the day’s end confessing my sins out loud and asking God for forgiveness. “I’m sorry I lied.” “I’m sorry I said mean things to my friend.”

No matter how much good I had given to the world, my final thoughts as I said my bedtime prayers were how I had MESSED UP and what I had NOT done well and who I had offended (in many cases, this happened to be the God of the universe…yikes). NO peace for sure.

Fast-forward to my adult years. Same. Same. Same. Just different stuff. “I’m sorry I screamed at my kids.” “I’m sorry I took a too-long lunch at work.”

One night, my little rebellious self changed it up. “What did you do right today?” I quizzed my husband as we collapsed into bed after wrangling four kids into their beds.

Crickets………………….

More crickets……………………

“I smiled at the store clerk,” he mumbled at long last.

I shook my head. I knew he had probably been kind, sought justice, served those he worked with, treated everyone with dignity and respect, along with all the daunting tasks he had crossed off his “to-do” list.

Lightbulb moment!

Realizing how much of our day (and night) was taken up with negative thinking, we decided to make this a best practice in the moments before we fell into slumber. “What did you do right today?”

We still began our days with a “to-do” list, but we ended them with a “ta-da” list.

It was STILL NOT the peace we were looking for, but at least a step in the right direction.

Help came in the form of what usually happened right before we crawled into bed, wiped out from the day.

Most nights, the last thing on my never-ending “to-do” list was to slip into each of my kids’ rooms and just watch them sleep (something I still do from time-to-time, even though they are giants at this point).

No matter what had happened during the day, both good and bad, it didn’t seem to matter any more. I would just stand there, gazing at their cute little heads barely visible above their comforters, completely and utterly in love with them, happy.

Yes. Yes. This must be how God feels about us.

While the “to-do” lists and “ta-da” lists matter to us, they don’t seem to matter much to Him.

At BOTH the beginning and end of each day (regardless of either of those lists), he gently reminds us, “I will quiet you with my love. I will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah)

TRUE, UNADULTERATED PEACE.

Posted in Celebration, Faith, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

Bigger and Better

I had one girl and two boys. I was about to have my fourth baby. I had chosen NOT to find out the sex of the baby, but desperately wanted a sister for my oldest.
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You see, I had been the only girl and had always wanted a sister myself. No matter how much begging I did with my mom, no more babies were to be had.
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When the doctor said, “It’s a girl,” my heart leapt for joy and I thought my “big” dream had come true and my most earnest prayer answered.
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Little did I know that something much “bigger” was on the horizon. The birth of this baby girl became the starting point of a now 21-year journey of healing for me.
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Her sparkly eyes drew me close, as if she could see right into my soul.
I had never before been able to open my heart without pause.
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She was unconditional love wrapped in a tiny bundle of flesh and bones.
I had never before been able to receive love without restriction.
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As she grew, her child-like wisdom shocked me in the best ways.
I had never before been able to move out of formulaic thinking.
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KNOWN.
LOVED.
WISDOM.
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Three crucial pieces to a puzzle that had long been missing in my life.
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As I write, this young lady stands on the precipice of her first “legal” glass of wine, a symbol of celebration for “big” things!!
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Yes. My “big” dream did come true that September morning, the birth of a sister for my oldest, and I will lift a glass as I remember.
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But God had a BIGGER and BETTER dream for me, an “immeasurably more” kind, one that I would have never even dared to hope for, much less even know to ask: the mending of my own precious soul.
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Posted in Childhood, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

‘Twas the end of the summer, it just wasn’t right…

Twas the end of the summer,
It just wasn’t right.
Every beach chair was packed up,
And so were the kites.

Last grains of sand,
Shaken out of the flip flops.
With dim hopes that fall shoes
could be found in mall shops.

The children were crying
all mad in their beds,
With visions of homework
crammed in their heads.

And papa in his lounge pants,
And I in my shorts,
Were ready for anything,
Definitely done making “forts.”

When checking our phones,
To see what’s on our plate,
We couldn’t believe it,
It was already past 8.

Away to the kitchen,
I made a mad dash.
To see if we had snacks.
“Oh no, forgot the trash!”

The moon was all shiny,
Its man poking fun.
“Summer is over,
caput, gone, YUP, done!”

When thoughts to my wandering
mind did come clear,
The fall is upon us,
There are things we can cheer.

Like football, Like pumpkins,
Like lattes, Like scarecrows,
Like apples, Like sweatshirts,
Like cider, Like warm clothes.

To the ice cream truck songs!
To the fireworks all night!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away! That’s right!

Make room for the soup
The outdoor fireside chats.
Make room for the leaves,
Thank God, no more gnats!

As I came to my senses,
And was settling down,
A smile snuck to my lips,
No longer a frown.

I’ll be dressed in all manner of
sweatpants and hoodies,
I’ll feel so so cozy,
All ready for some goodies.

That Halloween will bring,
Thanksgiving too.
It won’t be just eats,
It’ll be lots of hugs, true.

I spoke no more words,
But went straight to my bed,
Said a prayer filled with thanks,
For what lies ahead.

And laying my head,
And closing my eyes,
My heart felt more settled,
“My goodness! Time flies!”

I rose one last time,
To check on my crew,
“Happy Fall, my sweet ones,
I’m thankful for you!”

Posted in Faith, Family, Motherhood, Sabbath

24/1 – The Art of Taking a Sabbath

“With fear strangling me from the inside out, a soft gentle brave Voice kept wooing me to something different, something scary, yet something satiating and life-giving.”

Thank you, Becky Beresford, Author, for publishing my story.

I only have 9 more hours until my 24/1. Can’t wait.

Find out more by clicking HERE.

Posted in Family, Marriage, Thanks

Nitpicking

“Why did you pack the dishwasher like that?”
“You left the light on.”
“Go to the doctor. You’ve got to stop the snoring.”

Nitpick.
Nitpick.
Nitpick.

I am definitely the queen of nitpicking. At my husband.

It’s so easy for me to find all the ways he just doesn’t do “it” right.
Or the way I think is right. Whatever “it” is.

It’s so stinkin’ easy.

It’s also so stinkin’ harmful.

It perpetuates shame.
It silently mocks, “I’m better than you.”
It is a destroyer of connection.

I don’t want to be the queen of this.

I just DO NOT.

I want to bring grace.
I want to build up.
I want to foster deep intimate connection.

I want to be an agent of healing.

So today, I will call out my husband.
I will yell for the world, and mostly myself, to hear.

“He folded all the laundry.”
“He walked me through a very hard conversation, bringing me much wisdom and guidance.”

And guess what else?!?

Guess what else?!?

“He cut these flowers from our garden and placed them right next to my bed!!”

It is so stinkin’ easy to find all the things that are wrong.

But it’s so much better to see all the things that are right.

#grateful

 

Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Motherhood

Roots and Wings

“I miss you, Mom.” If I see this, or hear this, I am a puddle.
I know. I know. It might mean, “I miss your meals. I miss you folding my clothes.”
What I secretly hope is that it means they miss my good mom love for them. There’s nothing like a mom’s love, right?
But what does that even mean?
Protecting them? Feeding them (way too many meals a day in my opinion)? Keeping them safe?
Granting them freedom? Freaking out inside when they hop behind the wheel of a car? Letting them make mistakes?
This mom gig is hard.
It’s a very tricky tight rope to walk. It’s more nuanced than some quick A+B=C equation. Beyond COMPLICATED!
If I protect them at all costs, I might suffocate and smother them, not allowing them to become themselves. NOT GOOD.
If I grant them unlimited freedom, they might feel uncared for and unsafe, and very unloved. ALSO NOT GOOD.
So what’s a mom to do? How do I best love them?
Maybe I don’t have to choose either or. Total SAFETY or total FREEDOM.
And maybe it’s A LOT about how I make them feel inside.
Maybe it’s about them knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt they belong to me, no matter what they do. They are grounded, or rooted, in that place, whether they are 10 feet from me in their childhood bedroom or they are 1,000 miles away in their new apartment.
AND maybe, just maybe, it’s about them also knowing they’ve got what it takes to sprout internal wings, and I’ve given them complete freedom to become all that they were designed to be (as messy as that process is).
It doesn’t seem to matter if they are 2 or 22.
It takes lots of mom time and energy (and a lot of asking God) to make all these decisions with wisdom, not to smother, but to give proper roots, AND to know when and how and why to lovingly “kick them out of the nest” to soar to heights way beyond my mom imagination.
Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Thanks

Painted KINDNESS

It happened again.

Children brought hope to my discouraged heart.

Hope in the form of painted rocks.

Painted rocks outside our local elementary school.

Messages of goodness, encouragement and kindness splattered all over simple gray stones.

In “pre-crazy times,” I would have thought, “how cute” and moved on quickly.

Not now. I stopped, savoring each one, breathing a prayer of thanks.

Thanks for each child. Thanks for the purest and simplest of words, designed to breathe life into my disheartened soul.

I needed these rocks. I needed these deliberate acts of kindness from children who decided to take a moment to paint rocks.

I want to be like them when I grow up.

Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Grandparenthood, Motherhood

KINDNESS shows up in a firetruck

KINDNESS shows up in a firetruck.
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Lights flash. Roto-Ray spins.
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KINDNESS squeezes red engine into cozy firehouse space.
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Obsessed toddler waits, wonders.
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KINDNESS steps out of large hook and ladder.
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Puddle-jumping little boy watches his every move.
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“Where you been lately, my little friend?” KINDNESS asks.
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Normally chatty two-year-old falls reverently silent..
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KINDNESS speaks words that change the world. “Want to take a ride?”
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Blue eyes sparkle, pint-size feet race, Mommy scoops, seatbelts clasp.
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KINDNESS turns key and motor roars to life.
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Lights flash again. Sirens scream. Tot revels. Mema savors.
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Driven by KINDNESS, “Big Red” circles block, little tyke stunned.
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Papa waves, beholding rescue vehicle-infatuated grandson’s enraptured face.
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KINDNESS does what KINDNESS does best: makes a little someone’s world better by ONE simple act.
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Loose-lipped toddler scampers home to tell Daddy all about it.
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KINDNESS shows up in a firetruck.
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Posted in Faith, Family, Friendship, Health

I Pray Only…

Your heart, my friend, may be a little (or a lot) tender right now with all the constant change going on.

Today, I pray only kindness FOR you.

May all those you come in contact with act and speak kindly to you.

May unkind and critical mouths be shut so that discouragement has no voice.

May you see clearly all the ways you are shown kindness.

May every act of kindness satiate the empty and soothe the hurting spaces in your heart!

May all the kindness you receive overflow FROM you to others.

May you find ways to pass along this precious gift you have been given.

You won’t have to look very far.
It might even be that person who doesn’t deserve it.

Your kindness won’t be wasted.
That I know for sure.

From my heart to yours.

Posted in Health, Marriage

Manly, Girly or Me

Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 6.46.07 PMI got a leaf-blower for Christmas.

Not a girly, light leaf-blower.

A manly, heavy-duty, back-pack, professional leaf-blower.

Last fall, we moved to a house in the woods and there were lots of leaves once the trees said “goodbye for now” to their petals of yellow and orange.

Lots of leaves.  Everywhere.  Constantly.

Enough to jump in and be lost for days in a pile of them.

You get the point.

I begged my husband for said leaf-blower and when I opened my bright shiny Christmas package, I giggled with glee.  My kids nodded in amusement because they just know.

What do they know?

They know some out-of-the-box, but very cute things about me.  Okay, not so cute.  More out-of-the-box.  Or at least out-of-the-gender-culture-box.

I like those things about me.
I like them a lot.

I am who I am.

I am not super girly.  Or more true, what culture says girly is.

I like NFL football.
I like being physically strong.
I like spreading mulch.
I like feeling powerful.
I like taking care of myself. 

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I really like rescuing people.  In fact, I just did it this afternoon when my husband texted and said, “I have a flat tire.”

I like being a little manly.  Or more true, what culture says manly is.

I am who I am.

You know how parents get a lot of things wrong?

This is a BIG DEAL one that my parents GOT RIGHT!!

They never ever told me who I should be.  They let me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

If that meant being strong, so be it.
If that meant traveling alone in Europe at 21, so be it.
If that meant moving to North Dakota on a whim, so be it.
If that meant loving football, so be it.

Yesterday, we had a huge storm.  Leaves everywhere.  Branches down.  The yard was a mess.

Guess what I did?

I woke up and declared mightily, “I am going outside.  Where is the leaf-blower?”

You know how spouses get a lot of things wrong?

This is a BIG DEAL one that my spouse GETS RIGHT!!

He never tells me who I should be.  He lets me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

If that means spreading mulch, so be it.
If that means having a fantasy football team, so be it.
If that means rescuing him on the side of the road, so be it.
If that means taking a picture of me donning my leaf-blower, looking powerful, so be it.

(SIDE NOTE:  My hubs chuckled with admiration as he watched me…maybe he thought I was sexy with this giant backpack, conquering leaves and sticks and yard debris.  I sure thought he was sexy when I went back into the house and found out he made the bed.)

One last thing.

Sometimes, I am not so strong.
Sometimes, I need help.
Sometimes, I am a girly girl.  Or more true, what culture says girly is.
Sometimes, I can’t pull the throttle hard enough to turn a leaf-blower on.

Guess what my husband did?

My tall, flower-loving, bed-making, likes-to-shop-at-cute-little-shops partner still let me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

“Yes.”  He said, “I’ve got you.  I can turn that on for you.”

I am who I am.  Period.

Manly.  Girly.  Me.

P.S.  Our yard looks beautiful again.  Driveways clear.  Walkways clean.  Sticks gone.  Leaves blown.  Yup.

Manly.  Girly.  Me.