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.

 

Posted in Childhood, Family, Guest, Motherhood

Cognitive Dissonance and the Upcoming School Year

I was off to the races yesterday morning.
My teacher/daughter and I were chatting about the upcoming school year and ALL. THE. THINGS. surrounding it.
I had a million ideas and shared them a little too eagerly.
Here’s what you should do!
Look at this idea I found on Pinterest!
Ya-da ya-da ya-da.
“Whoa, Mom,” she gracefully, yet boldly stopped me. “I can’t do this right now. I have to take one step at a time. I need to WAIT for my district before I dive in.”
You know what I did?!?
Not my normal, “but I think you should…”
I stopped. Just like she asked me to.
Yes, often I am the teacher, the wise one, the mom giving counsel.
But motherhood is a two-way street. I am ALSO often the learner, the ignorant one, the mom receiving guidance.
We got off the phone, me feeling beyond grateful that I have a daughter who is really coming into HER OWN VOICE and here is what she wrote only an hour later.
WISDOM beyond WISDOM.
Yup. It was good for me to zip my lip and open my ears.

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Education is under fire right now. It’s the next big thing under scrutiny during this pandemic. School districts, administration, and educators are under a microscope as the world cries out, “What do we do next?”
As a teacher wrestling with this very question, here’s the truth: No one knows! There is no right answer.
At the same time, there are lots of other true things:
Kids are falling academically behind
Parents need to go back to work
COVID cases are rising in many states
There are high risk teachers, students and family members
Children’s mental and emotional health is important
All of these truths exist in exactly the same space.
The questions we must ask ourselves are:
Can we sit there with them?
Can we sit there as one truth butts up against another, rubs it the wrong way or opposes it completely?
Can we sit there with truths swirling around without letting go of others?”
That is HARD.
And when things get hard we want answers.
We want certainty.
We want someone to blame when things go wrong.
Instead, can we acknowledge that when things are hard, mistakes are most likely going to get made not because we are bad but because we are HUMAN?
Brene Brown (my famous life coach and secret BFF) speaks to this phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. In her words, cognitive dissonance is “the psychologically painful process of trying to hold two competing truths in a mind that was engineered to constantly reduce conflict and minimize dissension.”
In a nutshell, holding opposing truths is real soul work. It is hard but worth it.
In the sacred space of my classroom, I teach my students that mistakes make them HUMAN, not bad. Together we engage in the truly and completely vulnerable act of learning. I want them to extend grace to themselves and to others as we find that perfection does not exist, but love does.
As teachers, as parents and just simply as people, may we have the wisdom and willingness to get uncomfortable sitting with multiple truths at the same time. May we model for our students and our children, not how to make perfect decisions but how to make them in love.
So what are you, your family, your school, your district going to do this fall? Let’s aim for love, not perfection.
Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Family, Friendship, Motherhood

Finding PEACE when we are FRAUGHT

FRAUGHT. Adj. (of a situation or course of action) filled with or likely to result in (something undesirable).
THIS IS OUR LIFE right now. NO clear answers, much less any that we like.
Should I send my kids to school in person, online or homeschool?
How should I respond if someone puts their hand out to shake mine?
How can I safely see my aging parents? Should I quarantine? For how long? What does that even mean?
What do I do at work when someone comes in without a mask on?
When should I plan that dentist visit?
How do I respond with my friends, online, on the news, with my family when other people are not making the same choices as me?
Should I have friends over? Inside? Where will they go to the bathroom?
Is it okay to serve at the soup kitchen? How close will I have to get to the other volunteers?
FRAUGHT.
YUP. We are FRAUGHT.
Whatever decision we make is likely to result in something undesirable.
So what are we to do to have PEACE in the middle of it all?
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DISCLAIMER: I’m on the same struggle bus sitting 6 feet away from you with my mask on. We are here kind of socially-distanced together, high-fiving and cheering each other along on this bumpy, twisty ride.
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Okay. Back to our regularly-scheduled programming.
I had one of these FRAUGHT-FILLED decisions just this weekend. I was officiating a small wedding and I suddenly remembered I was going to have to talk to people. The bride. The groom. The wedding coordinator. The parents. The little cute kids wandering around. I’d always done it with ease and now it was complicated. FRAUGHT!
Will they think I am rude? Should I stand six-feet away from them? What if someone is immunocompromised and I have no clue? What if they want me close to them?
I would love to tell you that I knew exactly what to do and how to do it and that I was super confident in my decisions ahead of time. HAHAHA. NOPE!
I reverted to all those things I normally do.
I asked my husband what to do.
I wrung my hands.
I called an officiant friend for his advice.
I freaked out a little inside.
But then, I had to get out of the car. I had to make my decisions. The wedding was upon me.
I put on my big girl pants (I mean dress in this case) and I did what I knew to be my own best practices.
  • JUST DO THE VERY NEXT THING. I am not in any kind of position to plan ahead because my world is changing at break-neck speed. Don’t add anything extra to my plate right now. Add my best version of LOVE into the mixture and trust it will be really okay in the end.
  • DIG DEEPER TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON BENEATH THE SURFACE. Is it fear? Is it bad boundaries? Is it people-pleasing? Is it comparison? Maybe it’s something good. Faith? Good boundaries? Being true to myself? Take a minute to listen.
  • WATCH HOW MY BODY RESPONDS TO EACH OPTION. Do I tense up or do I sigh with at least some measure of relief? Check myself again and again until I sense which direction my body is sending me.
  • SINK DOWN INSIDE OF MYSELF WHERE GOD DWELLS. He is filled wisdom and love, goodness and life, healing and hope and SO AM I. Trust my God-filled gut.
  • GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO CHANGE MY MIND. The decisions I make do not have power over me. I have power over them. There is not one right one choice and everything will go to “hell in a hand-basket” if I make the wrong one. Change is often a good thing. It means I am learning and growing.
Yes. I am FRAUGHT. I certainly was this weekend and will be again for the foreseeable future. So are you. We all are. It’s a perfect word for the times we are living in. NO GOOD OPTIONS.
But good options are not the dictator of whether we have PEACE. Peace comes from within, not from without. Nothing has the right to steal it away from us. NO ONE. NO THING.
We need PEACE so very desperately because it’s our GUIDE, our HOPE and FRIEND.
And it’s ours for the taking because, after all, the very Source of PEACE is with us and for us and around us and IN US.
IN US.
IN US.
So struggle-bus companions, let’s keep asking for and giving ourselves the gift of peace. The unexplainable, undeniable PEACE that is rightfully ours, if I may say so myself.

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Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Family, Grief

How Did You Feel?

How did you feel, LITTLE ANT, the day your world was turned upside-down, the day I moved the huge rock that your whole little life revolved around and was protected by just so I could build a rock wall to line the fence in my yard?

How did you feel?

Maybe you felt…

CONFUSED.  You were scampering along, working hard to take care of your family, happily doing what you were supposed to do.  Suddenly, you found yourself exposed to a world you’d never known.  Maybe you asked yourself, “What the heck just happened?  Why oh why?”  I don’t blame you.  I would feel the same way.

Maybe you felt…

ANGRY.  I know you did because you bit me, at least three times.  I felt it sharply under my pants just moments later.  You know what?  I would bite me too.  Maybe it was all your little self could do to yell, “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!  SEND ME BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS!”

Maybe you felt…

OUT-OF-CONTROL.  After all, life as you knew it had just changed forever.  All those systems that you had put in place to make your little life easier and more predictable blew to bits.  Your formula for how the world works and works well was upended, to say the least.  When I ventured back to check on you, I saw a whole bunch of you just scurrying around, looking like you didn’t know what to do next.

Maybe you felt…

AFRAID.  Who wouldn’t?  I sure would.  Would some giant ant-eater come out of the woods and gobble you up?  Would your life ever look remotely the same as it had before the rock was taken away?  Would your ant family be okay with this new normal?  Would you be able to find another rock?

Maybe you felt…

SAD.  Some of your family and friends were just taken away from you, some never to be seen again and some that you don’t know when you will see again, eat with, play with and work with.  It’s just horrible, my little ant friend.  Just horrible.  It’s not really supposed to be this way and I’m so sorry what happened is putting you through this.  I would just stop right now and cry the tears that are rightfully yours.

Maybe one day, LITTLE ANT, you will have a whole new world, one where you will be working, taking care of your family, busily at peace and full of new adventures.  Yes.  I bet it will happen soon enough.

But for now, my new found friend, I get it.  I get you.

I’m with you and I AM you, more than you will ever know.

God-speed, my LITTLE ANT friend.

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Motherhood

Saved?!?!

Wait!!! What?!?!

Me? Not my kids’ savior?

But I’m a mom and I want to be. So very much.

I like saving them.

From pain.
From loss.
From danger.
From rejection.
From struggle.
From failure.
From judgment.
From conflict.
From bad choices.
From all that’s wrong with the world.

It feels really good.

For the moment.

But I know it’s not good.

For their hearts.

Because when I am their savior,

I am also “saving” them…

From growing.
From confidence.
From adventure.
From learning.
From independence.
From success.
From connection.
From responsibility.
From good choices.
From all that’s right with the world.

Doesn’t sound like much saving in the end.

Then what’s the point of this motherhood gig?
If it’s not for saving?

Hang on a minute.

Wait for it.
Wait for it.

What’s that still small voice whispering inside?
What’s that “aha moment” I can’t deny?

Has motherhood saved me?
Has it?

By…

bringing me JOY that I’ve never known before
revealing PATIENCE as I stumble along in the unknown
breathing HOPE when I need it the most
reminding me of BEAUTY in the ordinary moments
granting KINDNESS when I can’t find any in myself
allowing me to experience unconditional LOVE
opening my heart to see the tenderness of good good GOD

The question persists, but the answer comes.

PERHAPS IT HAS.
PERHAPS IT REALLY HAS.

Note to self_ Motherhood is not a religion and I am not the savior of at the center.

Posted in Faith, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

It’s 1 am (Hope for Motherhood)

It’s 1 am.
My five-month old cries out from her crib.
Not another night of this!
It’s been three weeks since I’ve had more than 3 hours of sleep in a row.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I am barely functioning anymore, bags under my eyes the size of grapes!
I don’t think I can take it anymore!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My kindergartener screams from his room.
Why does this keep happening?
The nightmares are getting worse!
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
Am I doing something wrong?
I don’t have any idea what to do!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My 10-year old shouts “MOMMY!” at the top of his lungs.
His jammy bottoms are soaked.
He’s wet the bed again.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I’ve already called the doctor five times.
Nothing is working!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
I haven’t heard from my new driver’s license holder since 7 pm.
Her curfew is 11 pm.  She knows better than this!
Is she hurt?  Is she drunk?  Is she alive?
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I never knew this mom gig would be SO hard!
Will I ever get sleep?  Will I ever stop worrying?
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My cell phone vibrates on the nightstand.  I ignore it.
It’s vibrates again and again.  I finally pick it up.  Hello?
The campus security guard is on the other end.  My daughter was found passed out on the sidewalk, having had WAY too much to drink.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
This is un(freaking)believable!  She will be the death of me!
What in the world am I supposed to do now?
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My eyes refuse to close in sleep.
My son has been furloughed from his job.
This pandemic is wrecking everything.  He was doing so well and now this!!!
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
What is going to happen?
Even if he gets his sales back, will any business have the money to buy advertising? UGH!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
I lay awake on my bed.
I can’t believe the text I got from my son this afternoon.
I burst into tears as I read it, gratitude bubbling up and leaking out!
GOD, you’ve HELPED me!  You’ve HELPED them!
It keeps happening!  Every single time!
You love him even more than I do!  You are our great and only HOPE!
I am SO UNDONE!

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Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Guest

The Top 10 Things I Learned As a Dad (from three of the best)

(I asked three of my favorite dads…including my awesome husband…what they learned from being a dad.  Here are their responses.  They are brilliant.)

  1. Not to judge other parents.  I haven’t walked in their shoes.  We all need grace.  It’s the hardest job there is.
  2. To admit my mistakes and to be the first to apologize to my kids when we conflict.
  3. To make the relationship and not the rules the priority.  To focus on their heart and not their behavior.
  4. To listen more and lecture less.
  5. That how I live counts much more than what I say.
  6. That boundaries are key and that knowing how to manage boundaries (set, maintain, relax, alter, scrap, reinforce) is ridiculously complicated and confusing.
  7. That I lack patience and am not long-suffering.
  8. That it’s really hard to keep loving your kids when they are obnoxious.
  9. The mistakes I made as a dad can be redeemed as I grow and change.
  10. What it’s like to love unconditionally.  Period.  End of story.  No matter what they did, I would love them.  It helped me understand God’s unfailing love for me.

(Credit to Glenn Murphy, Allen Goetz and Frank Ellerbusch…Happy Father’s Day to you!)

Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Family, Grief, Health, Marriage, Motherhood

Which Voice Am I Listening To?

WHICH VOICE AM I LISTENING TO?

Inner Critic:  “You cannot stay on a workout regimen save your life.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “Start with 15 minutes again tomorrow.  You’ve done it before .  You can do it again. ”

Inner Critic:  “Your friends are probably so angry with you because you are not checking in with them as much as you used to.  It’s your fault if they don’t stick around.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “You have had to narrow down how much you are pouring out into people for your own well-being.  You’ve done that so that you can be a better friend.”

Inner Critic:  “You should NOT spend so much at the grocery store.  You need to stick to a list.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “It costs just a bit more to eat healthy, which has been a goal for you and your family.  Keep up the good work!”

Inner Critic:  “I can’t believe you are so racist?”

Inner Cheerleader:  “You are learning to listen to those who are not like you.  You will grow and change.  You always have.”

Inner Critic:  “Why do you tell people you have a good marriage?  You just had another fight with your husband.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “Look how far you have come from the early days.  You’ve seen how sometimes conflict brings closeness.  You have helped so many other couples because you can admit you struggle too.”

Inner Critic:  “You will never get to those boxes in the basement that need to be organized.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “You have been sorting through many things in your life, not all of them visible to the outside world.   You will get to it when you are ready.”

Inner Critic:  “You know that cookie you ate?  You blew it again.”

Inner Cheerleader:  “You know that cookie you ate?  Good for you for showing yourself it’s not about perfection, but about grace.”

Inner Critic:  “You didn’t set good boundaries again with your kids.  When will you get this right?”

Inner Cheerleader:  “Being a mom is a hard job, no matter how old your kids are.  Boundaries are tricky and complicated and you are really doing what you think is right in each different situation.  Also, you are really good at saying you are sorry when you blow it.”

Inner Critic:  “Why do you even bother to give advice?  To share your heart?  To try to make a difference?”

Inner Cheerleader:  “You don’t do it because you have it all together.  You do it because you are broken too and it’s in this broken place that we all heal each other.”

WHICH VOICE HEAPS SHAME AND DESTROYS?
WHICH VOICE WHISPERS GRACE AND BRINGS HEALING?

WHICH VOICE AM I LISTENING TO?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Grandparenthood, Motherhood, Thanks

I Can’t Believe This is My Life

Baby showers.  Hospital rooms.  24-hour deliveries.  No sleep.  Leaky nursing bra.  Baby giggles.  Blurry mind.  Toothless smiles.  Crawling under the crib in the middle of the night for the pacifier.  Yellow poop up the back.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Tantrums in grocery stores.  Toddler tunes enough to drive a normal person crazy.  First full sentences.  Bonked heads.  Refusals to nap.  Go Dog Go.  Happy bubble baths.  Weird obsessions.  Endless hugs.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Play dates.  Obnoxious Nick Jr.  Skinned knees.  Brown play-dough.  Playgrounds.  Accidents in pants.  Too many doctor visits.  Smooshy kisses (right on the lips)!  Melt-downs.  “Parent’s, please stay with your child” birthday parties.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Homework.  The car.  The car.  The car.  Class parties.  Sidelines and fields.  Strange sounds coming from musical instruments.   Mom school projects.  Fibs.  Surprise “I love you” notes.  Whining.  Lost jackets, mittens, and hats.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Cliques.  Hormones.  School performance pressure.  Spontaneous hugs.  Rolling eyes.  Good talks in the car, facing forward.  Did I say hormones?  Budding independence.  Dinners on the run.  Concerts.  Teams.  Plays.  Try-outs.  Rejections.  First paid gigs.

I can’t believe this is my life.

First kisses (and second and third).  Team dinners.  Slammed doors.  Missed curfews.  Drivers’ licenses.  YIKES.  Long unprompted talks.  Proms.  Less and less control.  Senior nights.  Heartbreaks.  Texts not returned for what seems like hours and hours and hours.  Real Christmas presents.  Car accidents.  College apps.  Caps flying in the air.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Dorm shopping.  Saying goodbye.  Endless mom tears.  Weeks between texts.  WORRY.  Weird campus visits.  Saying hello.  Curfews???  No.  Home-cooked food.  Yes.  Summer job???  Possibly.  Up till all weird hours.  Yes.  Dirty dishes.  Yes.  Family.  Saying goodbye again.  Less mom tears.  More mom relief.  REPEAT for four years.

I can’t believe this is my life.

First jobs.  W2s.  Uhauls.  “Adulting.”  Used car lots.  Uhauls.  Sincere and heart-felt “thank you moms.”  Heated conversations about world events.  Tearful hugs goodbye.  Zoom family game nights.  Did I mention Uhauls?  Mother’s Day flowers from afar.  Wedding planning.  Real friendship.  Grandpuppies.  Precious and fleeting moments “ALL TOGETHER.”  Yup.  Uhauls.

I can’t believe this is my life.

Baby showers.  Hospital rooms.  24-hour deliveries.  Baby giggles.  Toothless smiles.  After-bath smells.  Snuggles and kisses.  Toddler tantrums.  Excitement over Mommy’s old Fisher Price school bus.  Go Dog Go.  Sad “see you soons.”  Facetime laughter.  “I love you the most, Mema.”  Happiest hugs hello.

YUP.  I can’t believe this is my life.

BUT I COULDN’T BE MORE GRATEFUL THAT IT IS.

AND THERE IS STILL MORE TO COME.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Marriage

2:30 AM

Why am I awake again?

Maybe it was that cookie.

Why did I eat that cookie at 9:30?

Sugar is not good for me that late.

It’s not the cookie.

There’s a lot to think about, and even more to worry about.

Who can sleep?

God’s got me.
I’m going to be okay.
Will I ever feel normal again?
The world is just not okay.
I can’t solve it.
I wish I could.
God can solve it.
Can He?
I can do my part.
What is my part?
I need to go back to sleep.
I’m going to be a mess in the morning.
I guess I should pray for someone else who is awake.
God, please bring peace to my friend who is super anxious and not able to sleep.
Wait a minute.
I am also super anxious.
My leg itches.
Why does my leg itch?
I hope I didn’t get poison ivy on our 400th hike.
Should I get up and check?
No. That will just make me more awake.
Try to go back to sleep.
It’s probably nothing.
I wonder why my husband doesn’t have any issue sleeping.
He’s very sweet, but it’s still really annoying.
I’ve been kind of a cranky in the house the last few months.
Well, duh. I’m not getting good sleep.
But I should try harder tomorrow.
Maybe if I turn over and face the other direction, I will be able to go back to sleep.
That light from outside is still on.
Should I get up and turn it off?
It’s just wasting electricity and we’re trying to save money every which way we can.
That reminds me. I have to call the electrician to fix our light fixture.
But maybe that should wait.
We are in the middle of a pandemic.
Stop being so ridiculous.
What are the chances of the electrician infecting me?
I can just leave the house and then Lysol spray everything he touches.
I hope Lysol wipes will finally get back in stock somewhere.
This pillow is just not comfortable.
God, can you please help me to get back to sleep.
There are a lot of people who don’t even have a bed.
I should be so thankful.
What is wrong with me?
I have everything I need.
What is wrong with me?
There I go again, heaping shame on myself. UGH.
I need to listen to that podcast on healing from shame tomorrow.
Am I ever going to be really okay?
Yes. I’m going to be okay.
I’m safe in God’s hands.
Nothing can happen to me that He won’t be with me.
That’s the truth.
I’m hanging on to that.
Maybe now I can actually go back to sleep.
Uh-oh. I have to pee.