Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Thief





In hours, I am embarking, once again, on my self-imposed tradition of Facebook fasting for the month of November. (Albeit, I am not trekking the tundras of Alaska or anything.) But— it is a break from the swiping and scrolling- to be replaced by more purposeful, reflective use of my time. 


You know, this year, more than any other years before, I am hesitant. I realize how dependent I have come to be on this site. Almost shocked at my hesitation, I followed my thoughts long enough to lead me on a rabbit trail to conclude that  I have become just as reliant on Amazon, Yahoo, Zulily, and Walmart.com.   


Then, I quickly surmised it was not so much these sites as it is my phone... the thief in my world these days.


It has been a gradual process, but I can say that it has increasingly stolen time, joy, money, rest, and even relationships.  You see, I am not one who has my phone near me at all times. In fact, my husband has joked, “If I am in a car crash, you are not my first call.” Yes, true. Do not call me if you are in a fiery car wreck. I probably won’t answer right away.


But, in my still, alone moments- my phone is RIGHT there, and you bet, I am swiping, commenting, and posting. It’s when bedtime is upon me, and kids are tucked in, I browse a site for hours—- just searching, clicking, adding to a cart here, or reading a headline there. I lose myself, and more importantly, my rest. Just like when I settle in the tub for 15 minutes and I start scrolling, in essence- I have lost my bath.


We are all on limited time, here and if we aren’t careful of how we use our time, chances are, we are wasting it. 


I am the crusader of tech control in our house. Trying to be as mindful as possible about when and what our kids consume, it turns out that I am the one who needs some control.  Also adding, I am a click-happy fool at those ads on my feed. I can go from sending condolences for someone’s departed dog to finding a steal on kids sneakers in no time flat. Is this rapid, domino-effect clicking  quarantine -induced?



Now really— you all don’t need to know every detail of my day or even week, and frankly, vise-versa. I love my friends dearly, and all of their highlight reels, but even more so I love to feel rested in my body, rejuvenated in my soul, creative in my mind, and purposeful in my life. 


So tonight, I remove the power of the thief by signing off from Facebook (and maybe a few others) until December. It is trivial to some of you but it is necessary to me. 


Purposeful isn’t easy.

Purposeful isn’t convenient.

But, purposeful means I am closer to purpose-filled.


My greatest purposes on Earth are to be a loving wife, devoted mother, inspiring teacher, and encourager to others....all without my phone attached.


In November, I hope to gain more Biblical insight, a few more conversations & memories, a bit more letter-writing and rest for this leg in my journey.   


May my break spur you on in a helpful way. (Hebrews 10:24)



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

‭‭                                                        Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬



Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Weary

Of all the months of 2020, July has left me the most weary


I am one broken mom. I am waving my white flag.


As we are here in the full swing of August, I feel bummed that summer fun is coming to a close, burdened with the thought of physically returning to the classroom, and equally disturbed at the thought of online schooling again. 


Very honestly speaking here—- I have mostly good days until they turn quickly into a bad day... moments alone are rare, and my children have developed radar that when I am not in the room, the fastest way to get me back is hurling insults or toys at each other.  


Even starting out at 7 am, some mornings feel—- well, hopeless. The ruminating, cyclical thoughts begin, and I can’t seem to lift my chin enough to stay above the waves.  Then there is laundry, the dishes, meal-planning, etc...


You know it’s going to be a hard day when the volume of the sneezes of your son aggravate you. Am I alone in this? Every. Little. Thing. Bugs. Me.



Really- March, April, May, and June were occasionally peppered with mild mood swings like this...but by late July, man- I hit my limit.  It is like I am an overpowered, filled-to-overflowing fire hydrant ready to blow- many times over in a day....I usually don’t blow until evening and then, it’s all over.


When my husband sees that I am face-down on the playroom rug, he knows my mental state and tries his hardest to create a force field around me by wrangling the kids to another room.


I sit here thinking of the tears of my toddler last night as she was sobbing over her early bath and bedtime. I knew we would all be better for it if she just laid down....I should also mention that she had foregone a nap yesterday as it seemed she could handle herself rather well in the afternoon. WRONG.


It is in these times that I realize- this exhaustion, this stamina, this creating-something-to-do-because-we-have-seen-too-much-YouTube is without parallel. I love being home. I want my kids to love being home. I just didn’t realize it would cripple my moods some days.  


After I slept last night, and came downstairs early for some quiet reading time, I have clarity. 


First, I am human. My kids need to see my limits. My own mother, I still believe, is superhuman. I can count on one hand the number of times she laid on the couch in the middle of the day between the years of 1981 to 2000.  Nevertheless, I have faults, bad moods, and am at a loss for activities sometimes.


Secondly, one of my greatest desires is for my kids to see Jesus in me. Life-changing, real, and powerful as He is, I want them to see it first hand, with a mom who doesn’t allow her joy and peace to be stolen by the ebb & flow of our days.  


Let me combine these two points of clarity, 


“I am human and the spirit of Jesus lives in me.” 



This statement allows room for me to make mistakes but return to the only hope of this life. It helps me to gracefully move on from the previous rotten five minutes to the next all with the reminder that God is as present as I allow Him to be.


I have said it before——— we are elusive, He is not. 


We are over scheduled, scattered, and moody, but He is not.  


Today, I choose to practice the presence of God. Lord, help me to choose it again tomorrow, and the next day and the next.


And if I have changed anyone in this world for the better in knowing Jesus, then I hope it is my own two children... may they see Him in me today and every day of my life.


I am leaving you with a prayer that I had saved on my tablet. Not sure where it is from, but I came across it around Christmas time last year, and refer to it every now and again:



Dear God,

Help us to focus on you today, remembering that the gift of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, is our most treasured gift for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. You never leave us. Thank you for the power of your daily Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today…our Lord, our Refuge and Strength.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The “What-If’s” of 3 a.m.




It is going to be a long day ahead... as it was quite a long night last night. 

Ugh. The human mind at 3 am is something, isn’t it? 

How is it that lying in bed skews all your good judgement? It moves my mind in leaps and bounds to the worst possible story ending before hopping over to another equally awful scenario.

It is like the dark, quiet bedroom in which I typically find solace and 8 hours peaceful sleep becomes the dank dungeon of heavy thinking that cannot be escaped.  Thankfully, this happens only occasionally- but last night was one of those occasions. (And, honestly, why doesn’t this ever seem to happen to my husband?)

There I was last night, though, eyes open, thoughts racing and coming up with the scariest possible conclusions for all my darkest fears.... the same thoughts that could float right on by me at 3 pm came rushing in at 3 am bombarding me like a freight train to the point that I get up and come down to the living room for a change of scenery. Thankfully—— the change always helps, but doesn’t always guarantee a quick return to slumber. 

But there is Someone— my Sovereign God—-who always returns me to peace, and usually some sleep... not sure why I don’t resort to Him in the first place when I can’t find the rest I need.

It seems after I have myself a decent wrestling match with my tumultuous thoughts, my mind begins searching the card catalogue of my memory for verses to comfort my weary, sleepy head.  I hope you can find some comfort in the ones that brought me right back to the land of reasonable thinking last night.


  • This one is a biggie for me lately—- it seems to immediately restore a sense of control over my being because I know fear is not from the Lord.


       For God does not gives us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and 
                                self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7


  • Also, Romans 8:28 was a memory verse for me long time ago, and the word “ALL” makes the difference for me... 


      “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him,        those whom he has called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

This helps me understand that life, in all its twists and turns, is not perfect, but God is in the details, and as long as I walk with Him, he is working it all out for good.

  • And lastly, in Matthew, Jesus talks to his disciples about God providing for their needs- and here in 2020, I have to say the words are like honey to me...it is just solid advice for the person whose mind is forever fixed on tomorrow.


      “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
‭     


And so, I ask of you, what verses do you bring to mind during a late-night, eyes-wide-open session?  What promises of God feather your pillow and and anchor your soul? I would love to write them down for memorization and future reference.  Feel free to share yours on my Facebook post or right here below.


Also hoping that today brings a little revitalization and possibly, a nap🥱 May God bless you today, friends!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Ridiculousness of Quarantine




This blog entry is a look into the lighter side of this 2020 Corona virus Quarantine. There is nothing spiritual or sentimental in what I am sharing.... I must document the lighter and more laughable sides of day-to-day life. 

I am remembering that while others are in the medical trenches— for which I am so grateful, my life is on “pause”, —-like most other Americans.... please know I don’t want to make light of what others are despairing or enduring right now.

And with that—— here comes my reality...it is necessary for me to write often, like singing or running comes naturally to others....this is my chosen outlet and in 20 years’ time, this time capsule of words will shed a light on my feelings and thoughts of now. Most of which are relayed with tongue-in-cheek 😜.

  • You know how music has a way of reminding of us or a certain place and time in life? The kids and I jollied our way through the drive-thru at Wendy’s for a rare lunch “outing” recently.  While snow fell around us on this MAY day...we counted the playing of Michael Buble’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” thirteen times over. This has become our theme song of quarantine.

  • Not that the trip to Wendy’s was necessary—- for me or the dozens of cars in line...mind you, I am struggling with the rolls that have rapidly grown in my middle section over the last eight weeks.  Really and truly, this teaching-from-home thing has been a catalyst in a whopping 15 pound gain!!  😬I am so used to being on my feet all day that I took for granted the favor that habit was doing for me. Rotten scale. Do not step on yours.

  • Being at home has fried my memory, it seems. Daily I have asked for a location on a number of items——- where is my nice silver ring? What happened to the hardware for the bike carrier? Where is your sippy cup?  Why can’t I find nail clippers— ever?! Most often, where are all the chargers??

  • It has been nice to see the outpouring of porch drop offs in the form of cookies, donuts, apple dumplings, but alas- the rolls of my middle.

  • We have seen enough “Beauty and the Beast” to last us the rest of my daughter’s childhood. She has been capped. We are done with that one.

  • The thought of my day, most days, is  “do something productive.”  The definition of that word has skewed since March....it used to be cleaning windows, Swiffering floors, a few loads of laundry. Nowadays...I give a sniff to a basket of unfolded laundry to determine whether or not it has been washed....then I set it somewhere else to fold at a later date.

  • My daughter yells loudly.  My son yells loudly. My husband yells loudly. I do not yell (loudly).


  • Naps! Ooooh— these were somewhat hard to come by in recent years, but with enough cloudy and cool days in a row, I have relearned this art.


  • Can we talk about dishes? Dirty...clean... doesn’t matter— there is an abundance of dishes. And in that same vein, I have decided that granite countertops are overrated, and I set my mugs down with a bit too much gusto. I have broken 3 mugs and a bowl in the past 2 months.... having only been in this house for six months, granite is still new and way too hard to me.

  • My son loathes clothing. This, I knew before, but depending how long we are inside the house, we may not even have to buy any of his newly grown-in size.

  • In all fairness, he gets this trait honestly. I dislike wearing pants and so my latest fashion trick has been to wear my robe as far into the day as I can. Then, after I am too hot, I wrap it around my waist like a maxi skirt. Great look. 

  • I have also noted how much better I feel when my hair is done, and I have a base layer of makeup on. On the other hand, there is so. much. freedom. in not doing my makeup daily. I also enjoy seeing “real-faced” people on Facebook.

  • Everything goes better with vanilla ice cream.... our first few weeks on hunkering down consisted of several desserts a la mode- hence, again, the rolls of my middle.  We are honestly far better off spending $12 at a local ice cream joint in an evening out once weekly than getting the $4 gallon with our grocery pick- up. We simply lack self control come 7 or 8 pm....


  • Also, at 8 pm, I turn into Maleficent.

  • Teaching online school to 3rd grade has stretched me in good ways. I am proud of what our district has done and accomplished for the last quarter. It has some challenges, though....let me stop at that.


  • These two thoughts happened in succession: 

My children love each other so much, and have an extraordinary friendship.”  ❤️❤️

3 minutes later... 

Why do they have to always scream and pick at each other as soon as I walk away!!!!”😡😡

  • Some of the saviors of my pandemic have been: Jim Gaffigan (look him up!), Caribou Coffee (a lot of it), nightly walks, Lester Holt, and Disney+.


That’s all I have for now.... this has been my Ridiculousness of Quarantine.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Lull






We are in our very own time-out, America. Not the punitive kind, mind you, but the kind from the sports field sideline, where we pause to be sure our team is okay. We are being benched in a way that we have never been asked, for an unknown amount of time. 

In this lull, I know I feel all kinds of pressure to:

  1. make my kids stay on their academic game,
  2. all the while being sure they become super efficient at their chores, 
  3. as well as teaching them to love God and others....without really leaving home. 
  4. and....possibly potty train our 2 year-old.

From the looks of the self-made schedules from parents attempting homeschooling for the first time, I fall a tad below the rigor of other families.  We land somewhere between the Frozen 2 frenzy and workbooks & microscopes.   I need to mention, I am working with a six and two year-old.  

Moms, dads, caretakers, you have every right to make your child’s days enriching, fun, and entertaining, but you also have permission to have some idle time, without the apps, writing practice, and fact drilling.  Although we may not want to look at this as one LONG Saturday, it kind of is....with no end in sight.

It is a mighty difficult task to take the place of a reading teacher, math teacher, art teacher, science teacher, gym teacher, music teacher, cafeteria monitor, janitor, and principal. I have learned something new this week: I don’t have to do it all every single day....and it may only last until 11 a.m. on some days.  A few mornings ago, I was a rockstar educator with a math activity and kinetic sand.... in the next moment, I was tempering a screaming match between kids as pancake batter dripped on the floor from my spatula. 

So what if my toddler eats pickles at 10 am? So what if the two of them broke out the Halloween costumes to play “trick or treat” rather than sit on my lap to read?  We simply aren’t used to being home this much. It will take most of us time to figure out our norm. One look at social media can make you doubt your practices in this adjustment time, so just do what is right for your kiddos.

When will there be another time where we are FORCED to slow down? Isn’t it interesting that an epidemic of colossal proportions makes us reach for a board game?  Causes us to get really creative within the walls of our home? Is there any chance this home time will positively affect our futures?

Also, I realize there may never be a time again in our family where we are not pulled in a dozen directions for school, sports, and extracurricular stuff.  I *almost* relish it.  If our country wasn’t poised at the edge of panic mode, I could find something blissful in these times. Until then, I will do my best to educate from home, play at home, sing and dance and create at home, and most importantly, pray with our family about what is happening all around us. 

Just breathe.

Just be.

Once every month or two, I change the memory verse for our son, and this month’s happens to be 2 Timothy 1:7.  The verse reads, “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.”  What an anchor of a verse for these rough waters! I have toyed with the idea of writing this several times and placing it in every room in our house.... and now that I have mentioned it to you, I will.


For now, we all may be doing some things differently.  This too shall pass. But, in the lull, I hope you find your family rhythm, your faith tethered to our Maker and not the news anchor. Be safe, and stay well, friends!

(Puzzle photo courtesy of Colby ☺️)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Have You Prepared?




“Are you ready for Christmas?” 

It’s a small talk question that gets tossed around a lot this season. In light hearted fashion, it is a question of- “are your gifts bought, wrapped, and ready to give? Have you shopped til you dropped and gotten the best deal on all you purchased?”

Here is a similar but very different question to you as well...

“Have you you prepared for Christmas?” Meaning— are you excited to celebrate Jesus? Have you pondered his story— which is our story? Have you drummed up excitement with the kids for the Savior of the world? Amongst the trees, decorations, and music, are you living out the Good News of Jesus?” 

I have become much better at this in recent years.... I hope to become better at it in the years to come. I very specifically remember last December 25th around 10 pm... our living room and dining room were much too cluttered with bags and boxes, and unwrapped things from a day’s worth of journeying from gathering to gathering with our little ones. We were tired and the kids were in bed.  I shook my head in disbelief at what the day was to me. I journaled the following passage last December 27th:

In true Charlie Brown fashion, on Christmas night, I was disgusted by the amount of STUFF in our dimly lit living room. It was shameful, and I all I could think was,  “This will all be in Goodwill, a garage sale, or the garbage in a number of years.” Why the guilt? It was a lovely Christmas Day, but I could not shake the thought of this holiday is Americanism at its worst. We have big debt, big waistlines, big houses, and big vehicles. We say ‘no’ to very little and indulgence is a way of life for most. 

My own grandma’s childhood was spent during the Depression, and she and her siblings visited the local dump to get their shoes. I have heard that story recounted many times, and it makes me wonder how much the course of America’s consumerism has gradually spiraled to exponential proportions because of a majority of families struggling all those decades ago. 

Alas, I realize this will happen year after year, as gifting is what we do, what grandparents do, what aunts and uncles do.  In our home, I am trying very hard to minimize the “Santa and stuff” of the day and magnify the Savior of the day.  Although we aren’t completely minimal, we do try to be practical in the gifts we choose.  So with a little less hum-bug and guilt, I will ride the waves of gifting this year... as I will be “prepared” for what the holiday truly means.

I just finished a reading that talked about anyone who is a Christ-follower knows that Christmas doesn’t end because December 25 is done. We cannot limit the joy of God-coming-to-Earth to one day of gift giving. We hold that joy daily for the next 365 days.

Let me leave you with the author’s final thoughts, “This Christmas is different because you are different. You are a child of the Light. You are walking in the Light. Yes, you can still blast the holiday songs, binge on Hallmark movies, go crazy getting gifts, eat way too many sweets, and turn your home into Santa's Wonderland. However, this Christmas, for you, isn’t fixated on those things because you are choosing #LessChaosMoreJesus. There won't be a "so this is all?" feeling after the last gift is opened because it's not over; you are just getting started. 
God is everywhere, and He has called you to walk in the Light and shine it everywhere you go.” 

Merriest Christmas to all my friends and family. Shine on, long after the day of celebration!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Weekends

In the past few months, I have realized just how much stock I put into our weekends. Because we both work, like many other families, we try to fit in some extras in the time between 5 pm on Friday and 7pm on Sunday to round out our weeks.  Carving a little time and purposefully planning family togetherness is worth the effort.  It can be draining, though. Especially when our daughter is just two, and can’t quite hang as long as the rest of us. It can also be unnerving when any event doesn’t turn out to be life-changing like I somehow always dream it up to be.

Do you do this??? I can’t be alone, right? Those hashtags of #makingmemories and #blessed along with the idea that each of my family members is going to appreciate the event just as much as I will sets me up for failure almost every time. 

Not that we are not making memories or are not blessed, by any means.... I simply am trying to relay that many things do not live up to the preset standards I have already in mind. Somehow, I have “lived up” the event before it begins, and then nothing can really compare to what I have imagined.

 Like, going out to dinner (that is NOT Wendy’s or Subway) sounds delightful until you get there and your son chokes on some chicken and your daughter wants nothing to do with the high chair.   You leave the restaurant sweaty and still hungry.  At that point, it would have been safer to make grilled cheese at home. 😂We will get there, I know...it may take a couple more years.

We are set to go to a Jurassic World Live show tomorrow in Pittsburgh, but the truth is, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop here at home.... we had 2 bouts of stomach flu here this week, and I am so nervous that my son and hubby are going to contract it before we hit the road tomorrow. And you know what? There is not a darn thing that worrying about it will do. Yes, it has been planned for a couple months. Yes, it would be some quality time for us and just Colby (Hope is headed to grandma’s).  Yes, it was a nice chunk of change.  If, by chance, we don’t go— I need to make amends with that and move on. That one event will not make or break us. It will be okay. (By the way, my husband cannot identify with this “emotional value” I put into everything.)

For the time we do have our babies at home, I so want them to feel invested in, valued, and even occasionally pleasantly surprised by what mom and dad have planned for them.  But more importantly, I want this “mom commander” in me to let life play out without needing to plan and control it all to fit my expectations because it is a maddening and impossible task. Perhaps this goes further and deeper than weekend planning...

In the end...

my God is God of my weekends, my Tuesdays, my late nights with a sick child. 

My God is God of all celebrations, heartaches, and mishaps. 

In Him, we make it through all circumstances (Phil. 4:13). 

I say it loud and clear here, and I hope to feel it just as clearly within my self. Weekends are wonderful, and can be a time of rest and fun...but in the event they might be riddled with some illness, disappointments, or the like, my God holds us. He loves and delights in us.  Our imperfection does not put boundaries on His goodness. And chances are, as disappointed or disillusioned we may feel sometimes, life has a way of allowing us to look back and blur a bit of today’s reality. We move on, forget, and mature. Praising God for reigning in all our moments.