Sunday, July 27, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Finish

Five Minute Friday

It's where bloggers write for 5 minutes flat . . no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Click on the button above to read more thoughts on finish.

I thought I was finished. When three kids said "I do" in the space of just seven months, I thought they'd been launched and now I'd stand by quietly loving and cheering. But those days of gut wrenching, snot sobbing, heart pounding, prayer blasting parenting . . I naively thought those days were done.

I was crossing the finish line as they each heard the shot of the starting gun, clasped hands with their new love, and  began the race.

Daniel & Hilary 6/1/13 

Emily & Ethan 7/6/13 

Josh & Kim 12/22/13

I was wrong. Kind of. They were being launched, but so was I. More like catapulted into an unexpected foreign world as a parent of adults.

What was I thinking?! That the heart that beat, bled, and would have died for my newborn would suddenly quit beating with all the passion and fight that had always determined its rhythm?

So I've been caught a bit off guard. I'm stumbling through this dance and its complicated new steps. 

How to passionately love as I always have and then to step back when I'm so accustomed to rushing in?

How to be silent when I desperately want to solve all their problems with my oh-so-wise and experienced advice?

How to speak in faith when I have nothing to say? 

How to pray and release and trust that our Father, the perfect parent, will still be there when I cannot?

Finished? Never. 

Gut wrenching, snot sobbing, heart pounding, prayer blasting, wildly cheering, passionately in love? 


I humbly dedicate this post to Lisa-Jo Baker, the founder of Five Minute Friday. While Lisa and I are in different seasons of mothering, her passion and encouragement for mothers has inspired me to look back in thanks and forward in hope as I continue to embrace this high, holy, and humbling calling of mom. Lisa is passing the torch of this beautiful community on to Kate Motaung. Lisa, thank you for your heart, humor, and words! You bring a levity to mothering that engenders deep sighs, laughter, and joy, and I'm so grateful.

You will laugh, learn and fall in love with your kids all over again as you read Lisa's newly released book Surprised By Motherhood.

I'm giving away a copy of Lisa's book! Enter below (entries will be open through Friday, 8/1).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Soul Care

I took care of my soul today.

It doesn't always get a lot of attention, leftovers mainly. There are just too many "important" things to tend to day after day. But today I gave it an inch, and it took a mile.

It started with coffee with my favorite girl-woman. 

Em and I were way overdue for some one on one time, so we met at the local coffee shop. But even as I was trying to get out the door, my tasks were calling, nagging, insisting that they really couldn't wait and wouldn't I be happier crossing some things of my to-do list? It's a good thing I'd already committed. Sadly, I know what I'd have done otherwise.

The day was gorgeous and so was Emy. She's seven months pregnant and sporting the traditional glow. Besides that, she is everything and more I ever dreamed a daughter could be. She's also one of the people I most admire. Listening to her talk and share her heart breathed life into mine, life I didn't know I was missing. Like the scent of fall when it first arrives, I'd forgotten how much I love to spend time with my daughter.

A couple hours later, I hugged Em goodbye, started back to my car, stopped, and turned around the other way toward the gorgeous day and the Old Town shops I so enjoy browsing. 

It was a tough turn. My "responsible" self about had a fit, but my soul had tasted refreshment and wasn't ready to push back from the table yet.

Half a dozen shops later, my soul and I were ready to take a leisurely stroll back to the car.

But we didn't rush home. There were two stops to peruse some landscaping pavers I've been thinking about. My soul is pretty excited about the meandering path through the "garden" I've been dreaming about. 

Pavers perused, we headed home and back to work, or so I thought. My soul was planning the second course.

Dirty kitchen, laundry waiting, and to-do list notwithstanding, Soul and I were still hungry. We read some articles, wrote some notes, and more or less just dillied and dallied around the house enjoying the unseasonably cool July breeze through the open windows and taking in home. 

Taking in home. I so easily forget that home is meant to be more than managed and that managing home is a means not an end. The end is enjoyment. I even have it posted right over my pantry as a reminder.

Jeff came home, and after a quick, easy dinner, we spent the evening back in Old Town at the outdoor movie with Sam. Despicable Me 2 was the show, and we laughed and ate ice cream and candy and other stuff I regretted an hour later.

Ice cream makes me a little crazy.

The stuff I regretted.

As we drove home from the movie, my soul sated and content, I resolved to make days like this one less rare, to make caring for my soul a priority, and to remember to give thanks to "the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." ~1 Timothy 6:17

Can you relate? Does your soul often get the leftovers too? How do you take care of your soul? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Linking up with Holley & Jennifer!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beauty In the Weeds

Driving down our country roads, I'm struck by the way wild, beautiful things grow out of weeds. 

Popping up on the medians and in the gutters. "Surprise! Bet you weren't expecting to find beauty here!"

Yellow mullein, Queen Anne's lace, blue chicory.

They're like a great big "Hah! Take that!" to the messy and try-as-you-might unmanageable landscape of life.

Weeds thumbing their noses at inhospitable growing conditions . . gravel, car exhaust, mowers.

It feels like our family has been "in the weeds" lately. Lots of unexpected, ugly growing up where there seemed to be such nice green grass the day before. It's tempting to panic and pull out the Roundup. 

But I'm learning to wait. And in the waiting, I'm finding some surprises.

I may ponder, plan, and prepare how to control every detail of our life. But seeds and wind and the myriad of human choice can't be dictated. Won't be.

But there is One. 

He is in ultimate control and he ultimately loves me. 

This is my rest. This is my security. This is my strength.

And I harvest the beauty in the weeds.

God's sovereignty is one of the most absolutely reassuring and wonderful teachings of the Bible. Here are 66 Bible verses about it!

I'm linking up with Holley & Jennifer at . . . 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hands

Five Minute Friday

It's where bloggers write for 5 minutes flat . . no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. Click on the button above to read more thoughts on hands.

"Look, Mom! Look how she's holding onto my hand!" Sam exclaims as his 2 month old niece wraps her tiny fingers around one of his.

The way we fawn over little Amelia, you'd think we'd never been around a baby. But there's something brand new despite all the experience we've had. Well maybe not Sam, he's the youngest of our six. But I've birthed and raised six babies. Nevertheless, Amelia's firsts continue to fascinate me as well.

Like the day I saw a glimpse of recognition in her eyes. And when her smiles came in response to ours and not just due to gas. She coos, laughs, and squeals like all my babies did, yet somehow I notice in a way I never did before. 

I guess this is the delight I've always heard of but never understood until now. Grandparenting is devoid of the sleep deprivation, the worry of first time parenting, the sheer exhaustion of third (fourth, fifth and sixth) time parenting, and basically all the overwhelming responsibility. 

I lay my finger in her other hand, and feel her tiny, firm grasp.

It is absolute joy. 

Thanks to Amelia's momma, Hilary, who is as generous with her beautiful photos as she is with her precious little girly. XO (You can see more of Hilary's photography here!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tattoo Worthy?

I'm sitting in front of a thousand magazines.

And I can't help but wonder if there are just a few people actually living beautiful, intentional lives while the rest of us are reading about them.

Confession: I'm amongst the lemmings. My magazines are filed by month in an attempt to recycle and really use all the inspiring ideas within. But I can rarely resist the temptation to buy another when a new season comes around.

They are inspiring, but there's a part of me that becomes stymied by their perfection. I look around at my life, house, diet, and waistline in the face of all their ideas and solutions and think, "Where do I even begin?"

Perfection and 1-2-3 step plans have a way of paralyzing or at least severely deincintivizing progress.

I want to be someone who lives well not someone who reads about it.

My way of living well is defined and designed by my unique circumstances, limits, dreams, etc. 
It's my adventure and no magazine, book, television show or any other "how to" manual can substitute or even begin to compare with it, much less give me a no-fail plan to live it!

So here's my summer motto . . . 

Less pining. More living.

We'll see how it goes. If it seems like it's working, I'll stick with it. 
Maybe even turn it into a tattoo or something. 

Just kidding.

I'm linking up with Holley & Jennifer at . . . 

Monday, June 2, 2014

When Watching Cartoons is Worship

My coffee was hot, and the house was still quiet. The sunroom and my books were beckoning for a few minutes of silence in the middle of what has been a slew of really busy days.

Then I heard the shuffling, and Sam came around the corner on his sprained ankle.

He was off his crutches and showing me how he could put weight on his ankle. I congratulated him, hiding my disappointment as hopes for solitude slipped away as quickly as my coffee cooled.

When Sam wakes up, he starts talking. He's the baby of the family and at 11 years old is still used to an audience. It will be interesting to see if the teen years quiet him at all. Part of me hopes they don't.

The evening before he had made a stack of cartoon DVDs and issued strong yet unfruitful petitions trying to talk someone into watching one with him. He lives in a house of busy adults and teens, and cartoons aren't high on anyone else's priority list.

Now as I mentally strategized how to occupy Sam, assuage my mom guilt, and still steal a few minutes of solitude the thought came to me. Watch cartoons.

But I need my quiet time. There's so much going on in our lives right now. Our faith is being stretched to new heights. The Bible verses I copy, the notes I make, and the prayers I pray are my lifeline. They are the food that feed my soul and spirit.


Yes, cartoons. My spirit knew not only Sam needed me, but I needed Sam . . on his turf.

You should've seen his shock when I asked if he wanted to watch cartoons with me. His face said it all, "Who are you and what did you do with my mother?"

But his mouth issued an incredulous and enthusiastic, "Yeah!"

He snuggled close (rarer and rarer as he nears adolescence), as we laughed out loud at the antics of Tom & Jerry.

As I sipped my cold coffee, nothing could have felt or been more right. Peace, joy, even strength . . they were all right there. Sam's need and mine fit perfectly together like two puzzle pieces and brought a surprising wholeness to those moments.

I expected God to meet me in my solitude and study. But He had other plans. 

Too often I assume how, when, and where God will show up. I limit Him to my idea of "holy." But I kinda love it when He blows my expectations and narrow idea of who He is once again.

And He makes my couch holy ground and cartoons with Sam worship.

Has God surprised you by showing up in an unconventional meeting place? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!