April 24, 2013

  • You don’t know what you don’t know…

    Last week I read the following story that someone had posted on Facebook.  Maybe you saw it too. Maybe you had a completely different reaction than I did.  But the idea for writing this post has been swirling around in my head ever since.

    Here is the article I read –

    Dear Mom On the iPhone,

    I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach the
    m manners, have them do their chores.

    But Mom, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

    Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

    You aren’t.

    Photo: Dear Mom On the iPhone,</p>
<p>I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone. It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it? You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.</p>
<p>But Mom, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..</p>
<p>Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl. She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her long hair. She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.</p>
<p>You aren’t.</p>
<p>Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.</p>
<p>He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.</p>
<p>Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.</p>
<p>Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.</p>
<p>Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.</p>
<p>Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!</p>
<p>Play time at the park will be over before you know it.</p>
<p>The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.</p>
<p>They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”</p>
<p>There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.</p>
<p>Because they know…</p>
<p>You’ve shown them, during all of these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..</p>
<p>I know that’s not true, Mommy.</p>
<p>I know your heart says differently.</p>
<p>But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.</p>
<p>May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all. ♥

    Your little boy keeps shouting, “Mom, MOM watch this!” I see you acknowledge him, barely glancing his way.

    He sees that too. His shoulders slump, but only for a moment, as he finds the next cool thing to do.

    Now you are pushing your baby in the swing. She loves it! Cooing and smiling with every push. You don’t see her though, do you? Your head is bent, your eyes on your phone as you absently push her swing.

    Talk to her. Tell her about the clouds, Mommy. The Creator who made them. Tickle her tummy when she comes near you and enjoy that baby belly laugh that leaves far too quickly.

    Put your eyes back on your prize…Your kids.

    Show them that they are the priority. Wherever you are, be ALL there. I am not saying it’s not ok to check in on your phone, but it’s a time-sucker: User Beware!

    Play time at the park will be over before you know it.

    The childhood of your children will be gone before you know it.

    They won’t always want to come to the park with you, Mommy. They won’t always spin and twirl to make their new dress swish, they won’t always call out, “WATCH ME!”

    There will come a point when they stop trying, stop calling your name, stop bothering to interrupt your phone time.

    Because they know…

    You’ve shown them, during all of these moments, that the phone is more important than they are. They see you looking at it at while waiting to pick up brother from school, during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime…..

    I know that’s not true, Mommy.

    I know your heart says differently.

    But your kids can’t hear your words, Mommy. Your actions are screaming way too loudly.

    May our eyes rest upon those we love, first and foremost, and may everything else fall away in the wonderful, noisy, sticky-fingered glory of it all.

     

    (End of article)

     

    I read this and my reaction was anger and frustration.  And some other emotions that I couldn’t initially identify.  (Just to be clear…nothing at all against the friend who posted this on her Facebook, this has nothing to do with her.)

    Here’s the thing:  You don’t know what you don’t know.

    Maybe this Mom just spent the morning baking cookies with her kids and her phone was not even turned on.

    Maybe she’s going through a really rough time in her life and she is busy texting a friend, who is her lifeline right now.

    Maybe just this morning she contemplated getting in her car, dropping her kids off with her Mother, and just driving.  Not knowing where she is going or when she will be back.  Just leaving.  And inside, she pulled herself together, grabbed her three kids and her phone, and took them to the park.  She said to herself “If I can just make it through today…”

    Maybe, just maybe, she knows what I know.  That kids will NEVER get tired of your attention even if you give it to them all of the time.  They will want more.  And more. And they will suck you dry.  Maybe she believes that it is OK for kids to have to entertain themselves sometimes.  Honestly, I think its cool that she even TOOK them to the park.  She could have sat inside and watched TV all day.

    Maybe she’s struggling as a Mom and God only knows that if she HAD to be present with her kids every moment of every day, she wouldn’t be able to do it.  She would literally have to run away.  That she feels this pressure on her chest all the time…and elephant of guilt and “should have’s” and “I’m not enoughs.”

    Yes, our children are growing up.  No, they won’t always want us to take them to the park.  But that’s how life is.  Things change.  Children grow up.  And its a good thing.  You can’t keep them in a time warp.

    I get the idea of enjoying moments with your children.  I think it is important!  I know that I will one day look back and say “Wow! Weren’t those the days?”  But I think that right now a lot of times.  But that doesn’t mean that I am always fully present to watch every little stunt my boys do or see every twirly-dance my daughter does.

    They need me, yes.  They need my love and attention and acceptance.  I am important in their lives. 

    But I am not their whole world. And they aren’t mine.   I have a life of my own too.  And its OK if I want to live it. 

    And if that includes taking them to a park and then sitting there and reading a book or chatting with a girlfriend or being on my phone while they play, then don’t try to make me feel guilty about it.  They’re fine.  They’re totally fine. 

    Maybe this feeling of anger and frustration and “I don’t know if I can breathe” comes from a place in my life right now where I feel suffocated by the needs of those around me.  I feel like I’ve hit a wall and I need to do some things for me.  I don’t want to resent my children.  I am so happy they are in my life and I was the one who chose to be a Mother.  I know that! 

    But I need some space.  I need some breathing room.  I need to stop worrying about how every decision might impact their fragile physche.  I need to be able to frickin’ be on my phone while they play at the park. 

    Because without that balance and without feeding my own soul and without setting boundaries, I can’t even be a Mom.

    I think I am just sick and tired of the pressure.  All the time.  I just want to live.  I want to enjoy the moments that I get and the ones that slip by…well, so what? 

    I realize that this might seem controversial.  I know this article that I copied here was meant to be written in a sweet and caring and non-judgmental way.  But am I the only one who still feels the judgment?  Subtle as it may be.  We are assuming a lot of negative things about this Mom. And we don’t even know her!! 

    I feel naked and vulnerable in writing this post.  But it has been in my head ever since last Friday and I can’t get it out.  So here is my bumbling attempt to express myself. 

March 28, 2013

  • Jesus in the Muck

    The weekend before last I attended a women’s conference with a few friends.

    I had signed up months ago and the time came, so I went.

    I honestly was not in a very good place in my heart.  I felt cold towards God, discouraged and cynical.

    In fact, all of those sweet Christian ladies in one place was almost too much for me.  The hugging and the smiles and the kind words were just a bit much for this girl who was more in a place of saying “Screw it all” than singing Halelujah.

    I made fun of the main speaker and sat when we were supposed to stand during praise and worship. I refused to wear my name tag because I hate them.

    But God knew what He was doing when He put it in my mind to commit to attending this conference so many months ago.  He has such a heart of persistant love for me.  For you too.

    My heart started to soften by noon on Friday and God started speaking to me through what I was hearing in the workshops.

    The class on Friday afternoon is what really hit me.  It was actually titled “4 Messages Children of Any Age Need to Hear” and I almost didn’t sign up for it but something drew me to it.

    What it was really all about is our identity in Christ and how God’s love for us is not affected by our performance.  They talked about how, when we read the Bible, we should be asking more about “What should I be learning about WHO I AM” than thinking “What should I do?” 

    This was such a balm to my soul because I struggle so much with feeling like God’s love for me is based on my performance. And then I get very discouraged cuz I mess up SO much. And then I feel like God is disappointed with me.  It follows that then I withdraw from Him because I feel like He is displeased. Next thing I know, I am feeling discouraged and cynical.

    The workshop leader also shared a story that impacted me in a huge way.  She said that in one of her really discouraging times, she was talking to a friend about how she felt.  She told her friend that she felt like she was sitting in the thick muck in the bottom of a pond, and she could barely see, through the murky water, the light shining from up above.  She thought to herself “If I would just have the spiritual energy and faith to swim to the surface, then maybe I could get close enough to the light to see it clearly.”  And her friend, with so much grace and wisdom, said to her “What if Jesus was IN the muck WITH you??”  This so described how I often feel.  I have this notion in my head that I need to somehow get to a certain place before Jesus will reach out to meet me. 

    He’s in the muck WITH me??  How can that be?  How can He, the God of all creation and the Savior of the world, stand to be that close to the ugliness that is my soul?  It brings tears to my eyes even now to think of that truth. 

    I sat there in the second to top row of the auditorium by myself.  I was just trying to hold back the tears. And I felt God whisper to me that I should go and talk to the lady who led the session and share with her my story.  I didn’t want to, because I felt very emotional and I knew I would cry and I hate to cry in front of others.  Tears are cleansing. I know that.  But I am so used to holding my emotions in and keeping everything under control and I feel very vulnerable when I cry.

    But I said “Ok, God.  I’ll talk with her.”  I sat there and waited until she was finished talking to someone else.  I felt kind of foolish, just hanging around.  But I waited anyway.

    I walked up to her and I just said “Can you tell me more about how you got from that place of discouragement to where you are now?”  And then I started to cry.  Ugly, red faced crying.  And I couldn’t stop.  She was so kind to me. So gentle.  So full of love and wisdom and grace. 

    She told me that I have to remember that it is a journey.  I need to know that even sometimes when I can’t see any progress being made, every time I make the choice to continue to persue my relationship with Jesus, there IS progress.  She asked me if I knew what faith it took just to continue to pursue God even when He seems far away?  No.  I didn’t know that.  I didn’t see that.  All I could see was where I was in relation to where I wished I would be.

    And then she asked me if I knew of anything that was blocking me from going deeper in my understanding of God’s love for me.  I said I couldn’t think of anything, but that I would pray about it.

    We finished talking and I went into the next session but this was the prayer that was on my heart and my lips.

    “God.  Just show me if there is anything at all that is blocking me from understanding more of Your perfect love for me.  Help me to be willing to accept whatever you might show me.”

    I just prayed that prayer over and over during the course of the next day.  I felt desperate for an answer. But I had no idea when/if it would come.  I just wanted to trust Him that He knew what I could handle and when.

    I spent the next day at the conference and then drove home part way with a friend.  We had a great time talking about what we had learned and about life and struggles.

    The last hour I had to drive alone and instead of turning on music, as I would normally do, I just started talking to God.  Just a raw and honest and real conversation with Him about everything I was feeling and thinking.

    I know this might sound weird, but it was almost like God just took over my words and they just poured out of me with such honesty and clarity and emotion that I knew it wasn’t just me.  I just talked and cried and prayed and listened.

    And God answered my prayer.  In the midst of that pouring out of my heart before God, He showed me something that was blocking His flow of love through me.  I had been unaware of it.

    You know how sometimes you have something so painful and hard in your life and you ask God to heal it or take it away?  And you wait and you wait and you beg God and you pray and you might even fast. But nothing changes.  The struggle is still there. The temptation is still strong.

    And you beat your head against the wall and you say “Why, God??  Why?  Why won’t you take this away from me? I’m not asking for anything that is wrong. In fact, it seems to be a good thing.  Don’t you love me?”

    God showed me so clearly that I had allowed resentment and anger towards Him to creep into my heart because of an unanswered prayer that I had prayed for years.  He showed me that I had shut down my heart to trusting in His goodness because how could He, being a good God, not answer a good prayer that came from the depths of my soul?

    Then He, so lovingly and kindly, showed me something else.  He showed me that the reason He could never answer that prayer completely is because I would never completely let go.  Its like He is just there waiting for me to completely release the struggle to Him and say “Whatever you want, God.” Without expectation.  Just Let Go. 

    I cried some more and I repented of the bitterness and distrust in God’s goodness that I had let come into my heart.  I thanked Him for answering my prayer and for giving me a heart that could see the answer.  I thanked Him for knowing me so well and knowing what would speak to my heart in such a powerful way. 

    And I knew that this was just another brick in the wall of trust in God.  It was also a reminder to me of how many, many times my own self  is what gets in the way of God doing His work in me.  Yet I continue to try to struggle and kick and fight for what I want and what I believe should happen, sometimes even under the guise of thinking I know what God wants for me.

    He just wants me to surrender and trust Him.  That’s what He wants.  So simple yet so very hard.

March 21, 2013

  • {Grace}

    I am broken and flawed.

    Trying to decide how much of that to show to people at times feels like a dance of terror.

    I want to be perfect.  I want to get it all right.

    Yet I am so far from that.  Discouragement is one of the enemy’s most effective tools to use against me.  Feeling isolated and alone in my struggles is another.

    My counsellor told me recently that we are all “terminally unique” until we start sharing our story with others. Let me tell you, being vulnerable and sharing your struggles takes courage. Maybe it comes naturally to some people, but I hit a certain point of openness and then I just want to shut down.

    I want to keep my own secrets just that — secrets.

    The antidote is simple but so profound.

    GRACE.


    I can tell you that the relationships in my life that are most meaningful and sacred to me are the ones that are full of grace.  Its the things that seem little, really.  Facial expressions that show love and understanding instead of not-so-carefully-masked-as-you-think horror when I admit that thing that I did or thought the other day.  It is a spirit within the conversation in general…when the conversation is full of judgment towards others, you can bet those judgments towards me aren’t going to be the exception.  Its a willingness to ask me about it later.  To not be afraid of my issues or give the impression that my “disease” might somehow rub off on you.

    What is one of the best ways to allow someone else to be vulnerable with you?  It is to first be vulnerable with them.  But when you try that and you get the cold shoulder or the look of horror or something in your relationship shifts slightly after you are a bit too honest, does it really make you want to go back for more of that?  Not me.

    These are things I am working through.  I know that my identity isn’t in what “so and so” thinks of me.  But it still hurts when you feel like you are being punished for being honest and vulnerable.

    I am struggling to learn how to be more vulnerable. I have been hurt recently and I am realizing that it did more damage than I orignally thought.  Healing from that has been an on-going process.

    I spent some time with a friend this past weekend and she just glows with grace.  She makes me feel like I can be me…ugliness and all.  And it is a gift.  Such a gift.

    I asked her how she learned to be so vulnerable with others and to show such grace. 

    She looked me in the eye and said “Its really very simple.  When you’ve gotten to a place where you have messed up so much that you really don’t have any image to keep up, you’ll find yourself being more honest and open.  When you don’t care what people think so much, you will allow them to take or leave you.  If someone is not ok with your honesty and vulnerability, then you don’t invest a lot of time there.”

    Life just seems to me to be full of one paradox after another and this is another one of them.

    We need to be soft hearted and not become calloused or jaded, but yet we need to be strong enough that it doesn’t define us when others reject us. 

    I feel like I have so much more to say about this, but like many other times, I struggle to find the words to write it down.

    This is just a part of what is swirling around in my never-stops-thinking brain!

March 20, 2013

  • {Pain}

    I wrote this poem out a very dark place in early December.  I have had it sitting here in my unpublished posts for over 3 months, afraid to let it see the light of day. 

    But I feel like God is saying now is the day to share it.  Maybe it can help someone else who is struggling, even if it just lets you know that you are not alone in the struggle. 

    I thank God I am not in this place anymore.  There is hope!  But I can’t say I’ll never be there again.  Life is hard.  Pain is real.  But God is greater!

     

    {Pain}

    Running scared,

    Chased by fears.

    Hiding my pain

    without any tears.


     

    Many thoughts,

    all a mess.

    Wanting more,

    but getting less.


     

    Someone to say,

    you’re safe with me.

    I’m not afraid

    of what you might be.


     

    The Voices keep

    chanting in my head.

    Years of decisions,

    where have they led?


     

    Looking for shelter

    from the storm.

    Some place where

    I am safe and warm.


     

    I feel lost in a

    city with no roads.

    Pushing buttons but

    still can’t find the code.

     

    Wanting answers,

    looking for clues.

    All is at stake,

    yet nothing to lose.

     

    Feeling so broken

    and empty inside.

    Wishing my scars

    weren’t so easy to hide.

     

    Am I more fucked up

    than all the rest?

    Or are they just

    putting forth their best?

     

    My cry echoes

    up towards the sky,

    silence meets my

    questions.  Why?

March 15, 2013

  • How I spend my time…

     

    I have been thinking about time management lately and wondering what exactly I spend my time on?

    It feels like the days fly by and I am SO busy and yet all I seem to be doing is surviving and getting the things done that HAVE to be done.

    This little experiment I did was sparked by a discussion that I had with someone where they were talking about how important is to find things to do that we are passionate about. Otherwise, life can become very mundane and boring and then we tend to look for ways of escape from our reality. And that is usually not healthy.

    I wondered aloud when I would ever have time for those things?  It seems like everything takes time and costs money.  Both of which are in short supply.

    You know how no matter what you want to do, “there’s an app for that”?

    Well, I found an app for tracking time and I decided I was going to see just exactly where my time went.

    The app is called ATracker Lite and it was free on my I-phone.

    It only took a little bit of time to set up all of my categories and then you just put the button by the category when you start sometime and push the button for the next category when you switch to that.  It was very simple and effective. And if you mess up or forget to stop when you should or whatever, you can edit it or correct it afterwards.

    I figured it would also keep me on task because if I am in the “bookwork” category, then I don’t have time to be surfing Facebook in between. I had been reading anyway how multi-tasking is not productive, so I thought that this would also keep me focused on one thing at a time and maybe that would be good for me.

    Honestly, that thing about multi-tasking is still up for debate in my brain.  I DO feel like I accomplish more because I multi-task.  But, hey, who am I to argue with experts?

    So, last week from Monday morning to Thursday night I kept diligent track of my time.  This was a very normal/average week for me, so it gives a good snapshot of my life.  Mundane as it is.

    If inquiring minds want to know, here is how I spent my time for 4 days.

     

    Sleeping — 25 hours  (This was kind of frustrating to me that I spent a THIRD of my time sleeping, although I guess I should be thankful that I get a solid 8 hours of sleep pretty much every night.)

    Bookwork — 20.5 hours (This included bookwork that I did away from home and at home.)

    Driving — 2.5 hours

    Errands — 2 hours and 45 minutes (Those dang errands!!  And this didn’t even include grocery shopping, because I didn’t go in those 4 days.)

    Exercising — 1 hour

    Food prep and eating — 3.5 hours (I guess we had a lot of quick suppers that week. I know we had leftovers at one meal.  But I don’t usually spend a lot of time cooking as a general rule. I do quick and easy.)

    Fun for me — 45 minutes (I think that this was trying on new clothing/outfits that I had bought.)

    Housework — 2 hours and 11 minutes (Laundry, dishwasher, random cleaning, packing lunches, etc.)

    Reading — 1 hour and 12 minutes

    Rest/Time with God — 1 hour and 9 minutes (this was devotional time and meditation time)

    Showering and getting ready — 2.5 hours (This was one that seemed high to me.  But I honestly think that I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to getting ready, etc.  I have to leave the house appropriately dressed pretty much every day, but still, I am curious how this would compare to other women.)

    Shopping — 41 minutes (This could probably also go in the “Fun for me” category. This was a little clothing shopping outing to brighten my Monday!)

    Talking on the phone — 26 minutes.  (I talked on the phone more than this, but I was either doing housework or bookwork while I talked, so I put that into those categories.  This was time where I was just sitting and talking on the phone. Which rarely happens with me.)

    Time with friends — 7 hours (This seemed really high to me.  But it included our weekly Community Group/Bible Study, my weekly coffee with my parents, and my weekly “Wednesday Girls” get together. So this would be pretty normal. Plus, I often have another social thing or two in my week, like book club or going out for dinner with a friend.)

    Time with Jeremy — 2 hours and 24 minutes (This was time with Jeremy that was not also “Time with Kids” or “Time with friends” where he was along. I should have maybe called it “alone time with Jeremy”.  Not much in four days, though, is it?)

    Time with kids — 4 hours and 37 minutes (Basically, what I found is that whenever I had “spare time” I would pretty much hang out with the kids.  This didn’t include meal times or times in the morning when I was working on housework as they were getting ready for school or whatever.  They are gone to school so much of the time, that during the week I try to be with them when I can.)

    Watching TV — 20 minutes (1 episode of “Community” — One thing you cannot put on me is that I spend too much time watching TV.  I rarely watch it.  I don’t have time!)

    Web surfing/blog reading/Facebook — 2 hours (I thought that this category might be a lot higher, which was one of the reasons that I wanted to track my time.  And some of this time was even productive type of web surfing, where I was looking up something specific, etc.  So not much to cut out there!)

     

    And that was it.  My whole 4 days. And then I left for 2 days for a Women’s Conference, so that is where it stopped.

    I honestly felt kind of discouraged by this. Because I didn’t see a lot of places to cut things and make more time for something I am passionate about.

    I guess sleeping less would be one of the most obvious, but I feel like that would affect me negatively anyway.

    Comments or thoughts?  Comparisons with your life?

     

    Pinned Image

February 26, 2013

  • {Questioning the Means to the End}

    Looking at this picture, I have no clue why we were hesitant to buy Kendall a gun.

    Do you?  (ha, ha)

     

    You know how sometimes you try the same things over and over with your strong willed child and it seems to be to no avail?

    Things like patience and kindness and love.

    And, then, one day your son comes home from school with homework.

    Immediately, he starts in to the same old pattern.  Whining. Fussing. Crying.

    He’s 8. Ok. Let’s not forget that small fact.  He’s not 2 any more.

    There are other ways to communicate.

    So I said to him, calmly but firmly.  ”Listen. You need to stop crying and whining. I will help you. But you need to talk in a regular voice.”

    His teacher had recently confirmed that he NEVER cries about his work at school.  So I know he is capable of doing homework without tears.

    After a few exchanges back and forth, I said “You need to stop using that voice” and then he said “Well, then you need to stop using that voice.” 

    He says its my yelling voice.  Really, it is just me being stern and talking in a moderate but firm voice.

    I said “Ok, you stop whining and crying and talk in your regular voice and I’ll do the same.”

    We attempted to proceed.

    But there was just more crying and fussing.

    So I yelled loudly (actually yelled) at him “GET YOUR WORK DONE!” 

    He looked at me with surprise and the corner of his mouth turned up in a twitchy smile.

    He knew what was going on.  He was whining so I was really and truly yelling.

    But, he couldn’t quite decide to find it funny.

    After all. Mom had yelled.  How dare she???

    He said something else whiny and I yelled (yes, really yelled) again. 

    “I DON’T CARE. JUST DO YOUR HOMEWORK!”

    This time, his face turned into a pout and he stormed off to his room and slammed the door.

    Repeatedly.

    I wondered if I had just made a parenting error.  Maybe had a lapse in judgement.

    Because I know that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.  Usually, at least.

    But…we have had this homework (crying, whining) issue for quite some time and frankly, I was just pretty fed up with it.

    I was ready to try something different.

    Guess what?  After about 10 minutes he came out of his room.

    His math homework was done.

    He was part way finished with his other homework sheet and this time, when he asked for help from me, he used a reasonable and normal tone of voice.

    And so did I.

    The homework was finished within 10 minutes after his re-appearance and the rest of the day continued on without any further ado.

    If you were appalled while reading this, then I would be interested in hearing a better solution.

    Did I cross the line?  Does the fact that I got my message across justify the means by which I did it?

    I’m not sure.

    But the homework did get done. The attitude did change.

    I’m just left wondering if it was all OK.

February 19, 2013

  • Another Kid Birthday Party

    It is one of those days where I am not feeling much inspiration.

    But…I have these pictures already uploaded so I figured I may as well do a little blog post about Kendall’s 8th birthday party, which was about 2 weeks ago.

    Does anyone else get stressed out by birthday parties?

    Even when I think back on them, usually I remembered feel flushed and frenzied. 

    It often seems as if it doesn’t work out for Jeremy to be around to help with the party, so that leaves me to chaperone and feed and deal with 8 – 10 kids. On my own.  (Thankfully, for this one, my friend Morgan agreed to come and watch the kids at the pool for a bit while I got the room where the party was to be held all ready.  If you’re reading this, Morgan, thanks SO much. You were a life saver!!)

    I grew up without much birthday celebration.  I don’t recall being sad about that, but I wanted at least a little something more for my kids.

    Truth be told, I actually really enjoy the “pre-party” portion of the planning.  I like deciding on a theme and ordering the supplies and scouring Pinterest for the ideas and making the cake.

    Its just the couple hours of the actual party that always seem kind of crazy.

    Granted, it has gotten a bit easier as my kids (and their friends) get older, but it still feels like a lot to manage.

    I think the reasons I keep repeating the craziness are these:

    1.  My kids LOVE their birthday parties and look forward to them so much!

    2.  I only have three kids.  So that means this only occurs three times a year. I can deal with that.


    So, without further ado –

    Pictures!!

    The whole crew.


    The cake.  The theme of his party was “Gold” because it was his golden birthday!


    A “rainbow” with a pot of gold at the end of it!  (This is when Derrick made his comment about “kids these days not eating fruit anymore.”)


    Gold drawstring goody bags for the kids.



    In the pool!


    Opening gifts!


    A blurry picture of my 8 year old blowing out the candles.

February 15, 2013

  • 5 Minute Friday {Beloved}

    I am linking up today with The Gypsy Mama’s 5 minute Friday.

    The word is “Beloved” and here are the rules that she has posted on her blog.

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

    2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.

    3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

     

    GO

    When I think of the word “beloved” my mind just continues to gravitate towards God.  We are His Beloved.  He created us to be the objects of His love and for us to return that love to Him.

    Growing up, I didn’t hear much about the love of God or His grace. Maybe it was just my filter or my personality, or maybe there really wasn’t much of that teaching TO hear, but either way, the reason is not the point.

    I grew up scared of God and feeling like He was always disappointed with me and frustrated with me. I struggle with feeling this way to this very day.

    I feel like I am on a life long mission to learn what it means to really understand that I AM God’s beloved.

    I have been listening to this youtube video by Graham Cooke and it is SO good for me to hear.  I so desperately want this truth of how God feels about me to totally sink into my heart and not just be a head knowledge.  I would totally encourage you to take the time to listen to this video. It is about 8 minutes long.

    Close your eyes.  Meditate on the words that he is saying. And the words that He is saying.  Let it soak in.

    I believe that understanding our role as the Beloved of God’s will revolutionize our lives, if we can just really “get” it.  It will change the way we view ourselves.  It will change the way we view our relationships with others. And most importantly, it will change our view of God.

    I had an experience about a month ago that almost feels too sacred to write about, but God really, really made His love real to me in a euphoric, uplifting, sacred, amazing way.  The feeling that I had when I had even just a glimpse of His radical love for me gave me a small taste of what I might be missing by not really grasping or understanding the way that He loves me.

    STOP

February 14, 2013

  • {What We Wore}

    I had started a category on my blog called “What We Wore” but I haven’t been posting much to that category lately.

    When I was working on my blog the other day, I was reminded and inspired to post in that vein a little more often.

    The “we” in “What We Wore” is Nikki and I.  At least generally.

    My boys dress very boring.  Wind pants (or whatever the proper term is for those kind of pants) and a long sleeved t-shirt.  Every.single.day. I do not have any preppy boys in my family!

    So, yesterday Nikki and I took a couple of pictures in front of the library.

    She was really crabby but when I asked her if I could take her picture, after an initial grumpy “NO!” she brightened up and got all happy.  That girls loves clothes just like I do!


    See…she ever smiled for the picture


    These grey boots of her are so dang cute. I wish I had a pair for myself.

    This outfit she wouldn’t wear for most of the school year, and then all of a sudden it became a favorite for some unknown reason. Now, it is in her weekly rotation and I think it is adorable!

    Also, one of Nikki’s most recent drawings…

    This is a chalk drawing she did at school.  I ♥ it!

    This is a snowman, according to Nikki. With pink wings.

    I don’t ask questions, I just listen to the explanation and say encouraging words.

     

    And then there is my outfit from yesterday.

    You want to hear a confession?  I am also wearing this outfit today.  I didn’t wear it ALL day yesterday (Ok, I wore it from about 9 to 7, but is that really ALL day??)  and the same people won’t see me today. Plus, I felt really good in this, so I thought “Why not?” 

    Is that super weird or un-hygenic?

    I know it looks like I am leaning really weird on this picture, but I am pretty sure it is the angle from which the pint-size photographer took the picture.

    I bought this little tunic/dress at my friend Morgan’s store (The Scarlet Poppe) a week or so ago.

    I just paired it with some basics.  Black leggings.  Black boots. Black belt.  Black long sleeved shirt.

    And my grey socks. I like those!

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

    I have noticed lately that my default facial expression is a wrinkled brow and a sort of straight lipped look. As if I am trying to figure out all of the questions and complexities of life right.at.this.moment.  Which is exactly what I AM trying to do.

    It is exhausting!


    I spent some time yesterday texting with a friend and talking to God about why I cannot seem to learn to rest and feel peace. Why I have so much trouble shutting my mind off?

    I don’t have a lot of answers, but I did feel like God gave me some guidance.  And a measure of peace.

    You see, what “we wore” can be more than our clothing, for sure.  It can be the expression on our face, which probably makes more of an impact than our clothing anyway.  So I want to be aware of my expression and what it is portraying!

February 12, 2013

  • Let’s Talk Earrings

    Some days, as a blogger, you tackle serious subjects.

    And then other days, you write about earrings! 

    Not that I am not passionate about earrings.  Don’t get me wrong. 

    I have quite a collection!

    Especially since I only got my ears pierced less than 5 years ago, at the ripe old age of 29 or 30.

    Earrings are definitely my favorite type of jewelry.

    Above necklaces or bracelets or rings.

    I have this earrings holder (which I think I have shown on my blog before) that holds about 96 pairs of earrings.

    By process of counting how many empty holes there are on the whole things, I have calculated that I own right about 75 pairs of earrings.

    That number was even a bit shocking to me!

    Rather than try to show you my whole collection (other than this picture), I thought I would just show you the last 5 pairs of earrings I have bought.  Probably all within the last 3 weeks or so.

    I bought these at Maurice’s for a couple of dollars.  $2.99 I think.  The bottom part is actually clear, but it looks red because the background is red.

    I found these at Old Navy over the weekend.  Again, $2.99.  That is one thing that I love about earrings. How cheap you can get them.  These are nice and thick/heavy too. They seem to be made pretty well.

    I like these so well that I planned my whole outfit around them today.  Yes, sometimes I do that. Plan my outfit around my earrings.  Hey, its a place to start and this girl needs all the help she can get!

    My only wish was that it was summer so that I could wear my red peep-toe high heels with this outfit.  That would have made me happy.

    These were a splurge.  I had a $10 coupon for Maurice’s but you can only use it on a single item.  Since I generally buy things ON SALE there and they cost maybe $6 or $7 a piece, I decided to just pick out some jewelry that was $10 or more and get it free with my coupon.  I found these, which I love!  All of the little bars hang individually so they swing back and forth.

    It really IS the small things in life, right?

     

    These I bought at Spencer’s over the weekend.  They were having a deal where you buy one piece of jewelry and you get another one for a dollar!!  I bought Jeremy and cross necklace and then I had to pick something out for myself!  I really like these earrings, so it was totally worth the trip into that store!  (PS — Don’t think I don’t think you were all like “What was she doing in Spencer’s?” — Let me just say this…going into that store will bring out the prude in you.  There are too many things to try to avert your eyes from, all the while trying not to notice what OTHER people are looking at.) 

    These I found at Goodwill when Derrick and I went away for the day.  Again, I think they were $2.99.

    Does anyone notice a theme in the last 5 pairs of earrings I bought??

    Bonus points for you if you notice it!

    So there you have it…the update you have all been waiting for.  Ha, ha.