Posted in Celebration, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

A Recycled Candle Jar

A recycled candle jar.

But not just any recycled candle jar.
 
One turned into a gift for a mom.
 
100 little notes (“+ a few bonuses”) nestled inside the glass.
 
With butterfly stickers to boot.
 
From her littlest big kid.
 
A mom who fought fiercely to love this kid.
 
All of her kids, in fact.
 
Not perfectly by any means.
 
Kind of messy.
 
Kind of mixed-up.
 
Kind of all-over-the-place.
 
But with her whole heart for sure.
 
A mom who made up family traditions as she went along.
 
Valentine’s Day indoor picnics on the floor.
 
Ice cream every night on summer vacation.
 
Money egg hunts on Easter from middle school on.
 
Traditions that were just what the mom needed maybe even more than the kids.
 
A mom who created memories from moments big and small.
 
Ones that never seem to fade a teensy iota.
 
Others that echo all the mom’s unending and tireless (and tiring) effort.
 
Even more that call timeless past treasures right into the present.
 
Memories that speak to the truth that the love of a mom does not change.
 
EVER.
 
A recycled candle jar.
 
But not just any recycled candle jar.
 
One turned into a gift for a mom.
 
All those memories…
 
All those traditions…
 
All those gifts of love…
 
Have now just returned to her ten, twenty, even hundred-fold.
 
She can assure you of this: it was all worth it and then some.
 
And then some more. And more. And more.
Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Friendship, Grandparenthood, Marriage, Motherhood, Thanks

14 Straight Days

After 14 straight days, the Holiday Hoopla has come to an end. The annual “Goetz Games” have had their closing ceremony.
It’s been…
14 straight days of guests in the form of adult kids, significant others, a super busy toddler, cousins, uncles, and friends.
14 straight days of mayhem in the form of playing games, opening presents, chopping wood, dirty dishes, scattered toys, endless grocery store runs, sleepless nights (with said toddler), and trying to keep the puppy from escaping with all the doors opening and closing.
14 straight days of meals in the form of take-out, home-cooked, half-baked, childhood favorites, too many carbs, cookies for breakfast, and New Jersey Taylor ham, egg and cheese on everything bagels no matter what time of day.
14 straight days of skirmishes in the form of toddlers kicking puppies and puppies nipping at toddlers, couples struggling to find time to connect and getting a little annoyed with each other, family feuds about past Christmas traditions (“did we always go to the movies on Christmas Eve?”), and fun-loving, game-playing conflict about rules and all the lovely that comes along with playing Code Names.
ALL THIS TO SAY, I’M EXHAUSTED.
BUT, it’s ALSO been…
14 straight days of hugs.
14 straight days of “I love you’s.”
14 straight days of laughter.
14 straight days of “thank you’s.”
14 straight days of connection.
14 straight days of memories.
ALL THIS TO SAY, I’M BEYOND GRATEFUL.
#bothand #exhaustedandgrateful #holidayhoopla #ineedanap
Posted in Childhood, Family, Motherhood

Mom Things I Wish I Knew (When It All Started)

I’m going to be okay no matter what happens. (Amy)

No parent has it all together. Not even the person that just came to my mind.  (Karen Gavreau)

Escaping to the grocery store at 9:00 pm BY MYSELF after every kid of mine had gone to bed was better than sex! (Anonymous, mom of five).

I am the guardrail, not the driver.  (Andi Fulton Singh)

I don’t have to discipline my child so that they don’t embarrass me (in public) – especially the child that has a real knack for that!  (Jennifer Holmes)

My popcorn-eating, ice-chewing, overall-wearing, quirky teen actually grew up to be a popcorn-eating, ice-chewing quirky adult (she stopped wearing overalls thank goodness)! (moms of one-of-a-kinders)

Being stuck in a certain stage for the rest of my life is a total lie! (Martha Grimm Brady)  No stage lasts forever. (Kelly) Being up at 4 am with my newborn sixteen nights in a row doesn’t mean it will be seventeen nights in a row.  (Melony)

Always err on the side of grace. (Kim)

A plus B does not equal C.  (Ella King Herlihy) There is no formula to parenting.  Every child has their own journey.  (Lea Turner)

Sleep is one of my very best friends.  Make it my personal mission like my whole life depends on it.  (Esther)

Parenting is a roller coaster, best to not ride it alone.  (Kerry Campbell)

“Different” does not equal “less than.”   I am not doing anything wrong just because I have unique kiddos.  (Sue)

Being a mom exposes my vulnerability like nothing else.  Brave into it every time. When I feel overwhelmed, lost, and emotionally spent, I might be surprised to find the deep peace of God.  (Brenda Seefeldt Amodea)

I do not have to take everything SO seriously!!  Have FUN and relax.  (Karen)

I’m glad that I was, in the words of my daughter, committed to leisure 😊❤️ (Marilyn Gardner)

The everyday moments are the glue and foundation of my future relationship with my adult children. What seems ordinary at the time becomes precious.  (Debbie)

Let them see me sweat, cry, try and fail and say I’m sorry! (Brooke McGillivray) . Just because they are little people doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a big apology.  (Carrie)

A mother’s gut instinct about her child is just about always right. I don’t have to second guess myself.  (Val)

How important it is to surround myself with other moms, especially those who are a season ahead of me.  It takes a village to care for the village.  I am not alone in how I feel.  (Shelby Spear)

99% of the time what I worried about NEVER happened!  (Susan)

Parent my kids according to their unique needs.  Study them to figure that out.  (Debbie Jones Warren)

Beautiful, firm boobs are highly overrated.  (Every mom everywhere)

What my kids did wasn’t personal even if it felt like it.  It was all part of them trying out things appropriate to their stages of growth: like my busy little guy doing toothpaste art on the bathroom mirror or my teen keeping secrets.  (Julie Miller Elder)

Make them get a job and pay for their own cell phones.  (Pam)

It’s healthy for my kids to ask questions about their faith.  I didn’t need to have all the answers and it would take bravery in working it out alongside of them.  (Therese)

The impact of sugar and carbs on the body and mind.  I might have cooked a little less pasta.  That’s tough to say coming from a big Italian family.  (Shirley)

Having a half-naked two-year old running around my house peeing on the carpet (and once every so often making it to the toilet) is completely normal.  (Desperate potty-training moms)

Get into my kids’ world and discover what makes them “them” AND also invite them into my world and what makes me “me.” (Aimee Welch)

It’s NOT all up to me.  I can’t take all the credit, but more importantly, I can’t take all the blame.  (JoAnn)

This mom thing is not for sissies.  It is  a wonderful gift AND the most challenging thing I will ever do. There is nothing that could have prepared me for my heart to be walking around outside of myself with no way to control what happens. But the joy, oh the joy that comes from driving out to the boondocks at 3:00 in the morning to pick up a bunch of tipsy high school seniors. That joy comes from years of building trust, it is worth every minute of dusty floors and unfolded laundry, every book and every lego you step on in the middle of the night. (Katie Spiller Kibbe)

It’s so important to ask for help.  Don’t wait to throw up the white flag.  (Sue)

My five-year old wearing a full-Batman suit or Disney Princess costume with high heels makes every other mom in the grocery store give me the “I get you” mom side-eye.  (subculture of moms of costume wearers)

In the very painful moments of parenting when God seems to say nothing, when my children are suffering,  He is not resting, but active.  (Roey)

Provide time for myself.   Purposeful self-care might have helped me enjoy the kids more.  (Sandy Sheridan)  Put your own oxygen mask on before you assist others. (flight attendant moms)

It’s not about being the perfect mom.  It’s about having the perfect God.  (Bethany)

They WILL sleep through the night.  (Recovering sleep-deprived moms)

It’s just as important to accept, value, nurture, love, honor and delight in myself as well as my kids!  (Annie)

I am going to be okay no matter what!  (Esther)

********************************

WE ARE IN THIS GIANT MOM LIFE BOAT TOGETHER!  LET’S KEEP PUTTING PRESERVERS ON EACH OTHER AS WE NAVIGATE THIS SOMETIMES PEACEFUL AND OTHER TIMES STORMY SEA!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Friendship, Grief

Grief – One Friend’s Journal Entry (For Steven)

“True love between two human beings puts you more in touch with your deepest self.  The pain you experience from the death of the person you love calls you to a deeper knowledge of God’s love.  The God who lives in you can speak to the God in the other.  This is deep speaking to deep, a mutuality in the heart of God, who embraces both of you.”  (Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love)

Grief.  Most of us try our very hardest to shy away, or even run away from it.  We question what to say when someone is grieving.  We are unsure how often or even if to “bring it up” once life supposedly goes “back to normal.”  We don’t know what to expect from ourselves or what the other might need from us.  Should we come close or give the other space?  It can be a very confusing time for everyone.  And truthfully, if I can speak candidly about myself,  I don’t like to be in pain or be with others in pain.  It’s just downright uncomfortable.

The past couple of years have been filled with family and friends who are grieving.   And like most things in my life, I am not an avoider.  I want to throw myself headlong into the process, engage in it, learn from it, deal with it.  After all, it’s fairly new to me and I’ve heard that it’s horrible, sacred, beautiful intimate, and gut-wrenching all at the same time.

I lost my own sister-in-law, Denise Maret, just under a year ago, after a year-and-a-half long battle with colon cancer.  My brother and 19-year-old niece are left to raise my nine- and ten-year-old nephew and niece, along with the help of their grandparents.

My friend lost her precious brother to suicide.  He has left behind a wife, three children and two grandchildren and her heart is broken.

Our friend and former babysitter lost both her dad and her husband to cancer during her two pregnancies and she is left to raise two young children alone.

I reconnected with someone on Facebook who lost her only son to teen suicide.  This was the second time she lost a child, the other, a daughter, in early infancy.

A friend from church battled kidney cancer for many years.  His wife faithfully cared for him, only to lose him.  He missed his step-daughter’s wedding by only three short months.

One of my best friends from high school lost both of her daughters, her only children, in a tragic car accident on Good Friday.  They were only 19 and 20 years old, absolutely stunning girls, one only 10 days away from her college graduation.

You have your own stories.  So much horror.  So much sadness.  Grief multiplied.

This is probably where you want to click off, log out, go find puppy videos on the internet.  Me too.  At times.  But not today.  Come with me.  Lean in.  Learn along side of me.  Today, we will catch just a glimpse inside the world of my friend, Annie, who lost her baby brother to suicide at just 51 years old.  I promise you that it’s not all horrible.

When she first shared this journal entry with me, my heart was filled with horror, joy, sorrow, connection, injustice and comfort.  Yes.  All of those things.   Loss feels raw and sad and terrible and wrong, but also sacred and beautiful and precious.  Entering in to the pain allows our hearts to be touched with a deeper knowing and beauty that we will miss if we click away.  I ask that you would read on.

Annie’s Journal Entry on 6/17/2017.  Four months later.

Steven is gone.  He is gone.  He is gone from me.  How can this be?  How can he be gone, just gone?  I don’t feel disconnected from him . . . but definitely disengaged.  He is not here to hope, or dream, or plan for a future together.  All those things are gone.

My connection to a future here that includes him is gone, and nothing will take its place.  It is an empty space…and it will stay empty.  It is a space that holds his absence and my missing him.  My own future will always hold this empty space.  I am suffering.  I will suffer, but I will not be destroyed or left desolate by an empty space.

This empty space where Steven is missing is a sacred place.  I would rather have this sacred, empty space than no space at all.  Our love and connection to each other created a space for our future together.  If there had been no love and connection, there would be no space – – and I am thankful for it, for our empty space . . . for my empty space.

I am thankful for all the other spaces, the other spaces that are full – – beautiful, cherished spaces filled to bursting with love and life and memories.  Memories of the two of us.  All the precious moments we had together and apart-but-connected.  All the treasured memories we had together with others.  Those spaces are filled up and will stay full . . .
nothing will change that.

I don’t have you with me now my Steve, my beloved Steven, but I am forever grateful for you – my one time little brother, my forever friend.