Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today. You Got This

Whatever you have going on…
Your day is normal, routine and mundane.
You day is relaxing and fun.
Your day is extra busy.
You are trying to make a difficult decision.
You are taking a brave step or a chance on something new.
Your mind is on someone or something you are deeply concerned about.
You just want to stay home with your family today. You are done with the routine.
You get to stay home with your family today. (Happy dance.)
You get the day to yourself. (Just in the nick of time...because, you desperately need it.)
You have been hurt and are struggling to heal.
You are trying to help a loved one who has been hurt and is struggling to heal.
Your day is like a mountain. You just aren't sure how you are going to get over it.
You are facing unwelcome and uninvited challenges, full of uncertainties.

Know...
You are resilient and strong.
You are discerning and wise.
You know how to organize your day so your priorities get done.
You need joy and happiness. Those don't have to be sacrifices. Pursue them!
You also need time off, so if today you get this - fully enjoy it.
Your kids aren't around forever. Enjoy them today.
You can say no, even if it disappoints someone.
You are capable of making good decision and tough choices.
You have overcome challenges before. You can do it again.
No other person knows your heart like you do; you make the best decisions for you.
You don't have to have everything figured out and life won't always turn out the way you think it should. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
Perfection will always elude you. No one is perfect. It is okay to let it go.
You are a child of God...intentionally created, exactly as you are.
You uniquely contribute your gifts and talents to this world. No one else can replace you.
God has a purpose for your life. He can use you in big ways to spread His love. (So exciting.)

You are not alone...
You are a woman. You are part of a powerful group who knows how to move mountains, conquer challenges, and get things done
There are people who have traveled the road before you who have written or spoken their encouragement. Find them. Be inspired. Feel empowered.
You have friends and family who love you deeply.
The Bible is rich in powerful truths and beautiful promises. Press God's words on your heart. Seek His guidance.
Know God goes before you, is behind you and is right beside you. Trust in Him.
"...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)
You can soar.  You will soar.  Trust in God’s promises. Know Jesus is always with you, guiding you.

Today, whatever you have going on…
 
YOU GOT THIS.


Monday, May 18, 2015

I Like Clean. I Like Messy Too.

A clean house makes me feel like a good mom.  Like if my house is under control, so is the rest of my life and motherhood…even if in reality it is not. I love the idea of maintaining a catalog perfect home where if a pillow is moved off the couch it is put back with the utmost care by the offender. Wouldn’t that be dreamy?

But there will be plenty of time to shoot for an all-the-time-tidy home when these kids are gone; because, right now…

…a messy house also makes me feel like a good mom.


The mess tells a story. The stray cheerios and tiny drops of spilled milk from my kids pouring their own bowls of cereal speaks of my children learning to be independent. The fort my boys spent hours on (especially the inside) shows they are developing their creativity. The mess from my children bouncing around the house in play is evidence that my sons are bending, jumping, and moving; their bodies are growing stronger. The toys, play dough, Legos and games remind me that my kids are building important fine motor skills and valuable thinking skills. The crumbled curtain on the ground behind me that you cannot see in this photo…well, I am actually not sure of the benefit of pulling down curtains. (I didn’t even ask how it happened. Sometimes I just…Don’t. Want. To. Know. I just smiled and asked them to please leave the curtains alone.) But the rest of the disarray reminds me that as my children create and imagine, they also learn. Play builds their comprehension and understanding. Their interaction helps shape their problem solving, reasoning, and social skills. The mess declares that our home is alive with learning and growing. It tells the story of education that happens informally in a place where kids can be kids.

So even though I like clean, I like messy too.

 
And besides, if I didn’t let them make a mess, how would I ever teach them to clean up after themselves? (Which I am trying to do. To raise these little boys to be good to their wives someday.) ;)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day


You are a mom.
 
You give every day. You put others needs before your own. You love deeply. You teach. You referee. You mentor. You are creative, resourceful and strong. You freely give grace. There is no one else in your family’s life like you. Your importance is unique. Your influence impactful. You are a safe place. Your hugs heal. Your words encourage. Your support gives confidence. Your wisdom gives guidance. The impact your love has on your family is immeasurable. You shape the next generation and little by little, help change the world.

Today…no matter what stage in motherhood you are in (small children to adult children), I hope you know how loved and cherished and important you are.

 Today…I hope you soak in the celebration of YOU.

Because, moms are a gift.

And moms make the world a better place.

Happy Mother’s Day!
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Healing Sometimes Looks Like

Recently my friend and I were sharing with each other how we get through the hard parts of life. How healing plays out in our lives. Our conversation inspired me to write this…


We have all been there. 

Disappointed. Discouraged. Facing uncertainties. Gripped by fear.


You experience a loss. A relationship is broken. Life’s monotony suffocates. Your career doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. Everyone else seems to have things figured out, but not you. Health problems refuse to go away. Timing is terrible. The challenges too big or too many. Anxiety grips. Depression settles in. You wonder when your self-confidence disappeared. Or how God could ever use your life for something good. Despair shows up differently for each one of us


Yet in the struggle, despite the pain…we feel something….   It is deep inside of us…small and pulsating. Rhythmically, its tempo is quiet, but still we can feel it. It’s persistent. It captures our attention.  


Hope.


Hope is faint. It might even leave. But it is tenacious, its rhythmic beat always comes back. Hope begins to speak to our hearts. It whispers ever-so-quietly God’s truths: we are loved; God has a plan for our lives; and He is in control, even when we feel like He is not.


We decide to stop focusing on what to do about our situation and just focus on the hope. Hope tells us that our joy is not rooted in our situation. Hope tell us we are not alone; Jesus will never leave us.


We test hope. We reflect on our lives to see if God really has always been there. In the past, has He worked things for His good? Even if He has not changed the situation, has He changed us? Given us a better perspective? Given us peace, even in the middle of the storm? Have we felt joy again, despite walking through pain? We see that God has always shown up. Consistently shown up.


Reflection helps us make sense of some of the challenges of the past and take a second look at our current state of defeat. Even though we are standing in the middle of a new challenge and might feel confused again, we choose to believe God’s words. We also choose to believe the uplifting words from the people who love us.


We start to heal. We heal just enough so that the fog in our brain from the pain begins to lift and we can think a little straighter, a little more logical. Our brain tells us to keep focusing on the healing. What to do next about our tough situation will come later…


Hope slowly grows. The pain might still be there, but God is healing it. This process can’t be rushed. It takes time.


Hope continues to expand. We feel Jesus walking with us. We let ourselves be encouraged by our family and friends. We let God’s truths feed our soul. We still might not know how things are going to work out in our life, but all of a sudden we are okay with it. We know God loves us, is in control, and will show us the next step when the timing is right.


Time passes, healing continues and then…


We can look into the eyes of despair with renewed confidence. We can say: no matter what, you can’t steal our inner joy. You can’t change that we are loved. Despite you, God still has a plan for our lives. He can still use us, because He created us exactly as He wanted us to be. You can’t hide God’s goodness. You can’t overshadow the beautiful people in our lives who so persistently love us. You might be hanging out around us, despair, but ultimately you won’t overtake us…


…because, we always have hope. And hope reminds us of its source - Jesus. Hope reminds us that the powerful and intentional God who created the whole world in all His glory, finds us important enough to walk right next to us.  


We still might not have all the answers, but things feel different. Despite the challenge, our soul begins to feel peace. Real peace. Deep peace. The kind that doesn’t depend on a perfect situation rather on God, who created us, loves us and is holding us in the storm. 


Despair begins to dissipate. Hope does that. God does that.


And then we know that no matter what - we are going to be okay.

I took this photo on a bright and sunny day, but darkened it with this free Nightmare Photoshop Action from Shutter Pulse. They will give you a sample of 20 free Photoshop Actions from their collection if you subscribe to their email. It is worth it. Their actions are super cool.

My Huffington Post Article

My second article made it on to the Huffington Post. If you haven't had a chance to read it, it would be my honor if you would check it out.

I am a mother of three boys. No daughters. Just three wonderful sons. So, I have always heard comments like:

Are you going to try for your girl?

Three boys... whoa... you must be tired.

Three boys. (Light-hearted laugh.) Man, I feel sorry for you.

Or that awful saying that goes something like this:

A son is your son until he takes him a wife. A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.

I love being a mom of boys and I know people aren't trying to be mean, so these kind of comments don't normally bother me. (Well, maybe except for the last one... who wants to ever think their child will go off and never return? What a horrible thought.) But the remarks aren't exactly encouraging or uplifting either.

Recently though, I heard a comment about my boys that I continually turned around in my head until it seeped deep into my heart. It made me feel like I could not possibly be blessed more than by being a mother of three sons. My family and I were eating breakfast at my grandmother's senior living center. It was normal family mayhem. My husband and I helped our kids through the buffet. ("No you cannot pile only donuts on your plate.") We were up and down during the meal refilling plates. We cleaned up an orange juice spill. Then our chaos was interrupted...

...to read more head over to The Huffington Post: To the Mother of All Boys

Sunday, April 19, 2015

When Mama Knows Best

This weekend, we headed out of town to visit friends.
 
Packing for a trip involves me being a perfectionist. (Meaning, I drive myself and everyone else a little crazy.) I needed this trip to be relaxing, so I decided…no stress, including packing stress. Besides, it was only for one night. If we forgot something, no big deal. So I declared that I was going to be laidback (gasp) and let everyone pack themselves. I even packed my bag in under 10 minutes.
 
Here is what we forgot to... bring: a hairbrush, a toothbrush, one kid’s pajamas, another kid’s shirts, socks, my tennis shoes, flip-flops, floaties and a swimsuit. (But my oldest son who forgot to pack even one shirt to wear brought his trophy for Best Craftsmanship from his Stockade Derby Competition. He set it on the nightstand so it would be near him while he slept. Priorities, I guess.) We made do and had a great time, but it would have been nice if we could have all combed our hair. And I missed my tennis shoes.
 
My conclusion: you know those mama-knows-best-so-I-am-going-to-be-a-perfectionist-even-if-it-drives-my-family-a-little-crazy type of moments we as moms have? I think that it’s sometimes okay. Especially when it is for the greater good. (Which it usually is.) ;)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reading, 3rd Grade and What God Reminded Me

My oldest son cried every day for 2 years about it.  Every day.  

It was horrific. I started to dread it…

…the 20 minutes every day his teacher said he must do it...

Read.

All through kindergarten reading time, he cried. By the middle of first grade, I started to cry too. Oh, we had our good moments.  Like, when we snuggled together and started a book without crying. But somewhere in the middle of Sam I Am not wanting any green eggs and ham, my son teared up and it had nothing to do with the food. He hated to read. It was painful. So painful, I began wondering if this reading thing was just a fad. Could we wait it out? Would cave man drawings come back into style? He could do stick figures.

But during parent-teacher conferences at the end of 1st grade, his teacher gave us the kind but stern talking to that our son needed to learn to read. His reading scores were low. Like, his cousin had similar reading scores before he even entered kindergarten.

Ugh. When the teacher told us it was urgent we get our son back on track, I knew it had gotten serious. School will always be incredibly hard for him if he couldn’t even do the basics – read.

Stress. Prayer. Encouraging. Talking to. Practice. And more reading. My son finally caught on. By 3rd grade, he loved it and was reading chapter books on his own.

Then we got the letter.

This time, it wasn’t the letter showing his below average reading scores, but an invitation – to be in the gifted program for reading at school.

I almost fainted. What the what???

I thought maybe it was really for the smart little neighbor girl across the street, but it said my son’s name. It had to be for him.

Look. I am not the type of parent who thinks my kid needs to be honors everything or really anything. (I teach high school and I know regular courses are rigorous enough.) It’s not about that. It’s about the fact that for two long years success in reading seemed hopeless. Painfully hopeless. I thought he would always be behind. I couldn’t see that maybe it would still click for him, just later than I hoped.

But God is gracious. He answered my prayers and gave my son a love of reading. But God didn’t stop there. Because He is good...because He likes to knock my socks off...as a result of that struggle, God showed me big love by speaking His truths to my heart.

God reminded me He is worthy of my trust. Because, He always has a plan. So often - especially in parenting – I can go from calm to panic in about 1.75 seconds. But, do I really need to? When I reflect on my life, God has always showed up. No, He hasn’t always changed my situation. Sometimes my situation stays the same, but God changes me. He gives me renewed perspective and deep peace through difficult moments. I better learn to: “Trust in Him at all times” (Psalm 62:8, NIV). 

God also reminded me that our weaknesses cannot stop Him from moving. Our weaknesses are nothing to God. So what should weaknesses be to us? How about a place to look for Jesus to show His power in our lives. Because we know on our own, we fall short.  So when we find victory in our struggle, who the victory comes from seems obvious. We can better understand: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Who said that the ordinary isn’t extraordinary? That God can’t speak to us in the middle of life’s moments? Do you ever think this?  I have, but it’s not true. Like the wind through the trees, his Holy Spirit moves among us and speaks to our hearts. Beautiful lessons are taught and re-taught through life's everyday moments and challenges. God spoke to me through turning tears over Green Eggs and Ham into an invitation for the gifted program in reading. What has God taught you lately?