Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Patience produces friendship

I am finding that I am in a new season of cultivating relationships. Continuing to foster life-long friendships, repair some, let go of others and create new ones. I had expectations of living next door to my best friends as we raised kids together. Cooking out on weekends as family, girl weekends to the beach and our kids becoming best friends as well. As I find this to not be my reality I’m finding it hard to picture what place friendships hold in this season of life. I am surrounded by 3 little people all day who need and want my undivided attention making play dates difficult for me and more of a parenting exercise in kid socialization than coffee with a friend for me. I moved away from 30 year friendships and there is no replacement from that. I was pregnant or nursing for the past 5 years and that put challenges on friendships. Life happened and friends moved away or choices drew us apart.
But what I was so lovingly reminded of by my husband is that as great as having girlfriends is that is not the only definition of a friend. Having a sister, a mother and a husband who know me well are friendships that are life-long, share deep memories and will not change with distance!
As I watch my three children grow I have a deep desire to help them become friends. Not just siblings who share memories and gather on holidays but friends who share in daily life, speak truth to each other and learn to love each other well.
In our family afternoon rest time is serious, it happens every day, on vacation or at home and life is scheduled around it. The last month though I have found my oldest two asking to play together more during rest time. My answer was no for a long time. But slowly it has grown into having solitary rest time for the first hour and then allowing them to play together for the second hour. They are still in one of their bedrooms with the door closed and are aware that rules still apply. But, I have seen them grow in their desire to play together and their ability to interact well, work through problems and share ideas!
It has helped me grow patient in my own friendships realizing that time will produce long lasting friendships in this new place. It has encouraged me for how our family will continue to grow together. It is true in all things that through hardships growth does occur but things have to be broken away first and that hurts. IT is painful to die to our sin, change our expectations or talk about disagreements. But as we continue to choose each other, to learn and talk we will grow! I tend to want to force it, to find the formula to make it all happen but it happens naturally over time, I just have to be patient…and that is what is hard!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Finding Beauty in Beige

These walls need painting, they need new plaster and pictures hung. But, inside these walls hold echoing laughter, squeals of delight from 3 small kids. These walls have seen games of hide and seek, kids jumping out to surprise daddy’s homecoming, new siblings brought home, a family being formed. They have held secrets of tears, hurt feelings, loneliness and heartbreak. These walls are ours. They form our home. Our home to raise children, to love children, to fight for reconciliation with each other regularly. This home is not perfect. It is old, crumbling and in need of life. But, I am too. I need life and I am called to give life to others. To invite them into these walls. To sit around the table in the room with orange walls. To make pancakes and sing birthday songs in the room with beige walls. To bathe squishy new babies in the room with pink rose tile. It is not the color of the walls that makes the home.

 As my husband holds our almost 2 year old “eating his belly button” squeals of laughter bounce around the room. I hold my daughter tightly nuzzled against her face watching and laughing and I realize what has faded. The beige walls aren’t as depressing, the mismatched cabinets that need painting aren’t as urgent. The urgency is being present. Present not in how to renovate, present not in the latest decorating idea and present not in the color chart that regularly swarms in my head. But, present in the moments these walls hold. Present in the home these walls protect. To be present is to be undistracted. In a 100 year old home that we have a 30 year plan to renovate being distracted is easy. To play the “what if” game and the “then/when” game takes little effort. I easily dream, plan and design, forgetting what is in front of me now! I’m the only one in my family who cares what color covers the walls and by caring so much about that I miss out. There are kids making Lego movies that just want me to sit and listen. There is a baby laying in his bed waiting for me and asking me to climb in his crib and snuggle. There are stacks upon stacks of books to be read. There are quiet early mornings to celebrate the view from the windows. There are yards to be played in instead of gardens to be planned or plants to be pruned. My heart needs pruning. My priorities need weeding and my little girl’s fingernails are what I should be painting.

Decorating is just dressing something up but it doesn’t dress me up. It doesn’t make me a more intentional friend, a more serving wife, or a more present mom. I want to show people I have it all and I can do it all. Look at my style, my walls perfectly balanced between calming neutrals and happy colors. I can be organized and styled and modern. I am a good housekeeper; a good homemaker because this is a home anyone would want to be in. But, is the state of my heart reflected in my home? The few rooms with my perfect paint color remind me of a crazy nesting stage in pregnancy where my parents  spent way too much money to have our walls painted or the curtains which coordinate perfectly that I spent hours upon hours at night making just to be exhausted the next morning and never found the time to hem. They are meant for enjoyment but a lack of those aesthetics shouldn’t change the wonder that breathes life in these walls. Is the dust in corners because I am engaged with my kids or is it in the corners because I am doing too much and not focused? My heart can be a mess and when it is a mess there is order that needs to be arranged. How many texts have I sent that day? How many Instagrams have I posted? How many books still sit unread in a stack? The list of daily tasks, the piles of laundry, the toys not played with and the unopened playdough asks “How many shows have the kids watched? How many phone calls have you answered? How many times have you been task oriented?”

These walls hold what is of high priority. They hold creativity bursting to be let out, curiosity waiting to be ignited, and rooms that have been colored with life. So if the walls stay beige for 10 more years and the curtains get hemmed slowly over a year does it matter?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Simple Joys

It's not.most days we get to be one vacation, have an afternoon free of commitments, buy a really expensive new pair of shoes or get weekly date night. Joy isn't always something big but I've been looking at regular, ever day moments and noticing so many joy jewels tucked away in 30 seconds here or 5 minutes there. It's easy for me to fill my schedule so full of people, errands, and tasks that there aren't free moments to watch my kids interact or time to let our imaginations run wild. This summer as we wrap up school I am looking forward to intentionally planning for joy in our days!

Here are the glimpses of joy I have noticed lately... what are the moments you have noticed in your life?

My 4 year old drawing her brother and his curly hair!!!

Sunshine and outside play in February, rare for Ohio and soooo amazing!

My 2 year old holding this worm and making a "ssss" sound to what it is.

Drinking out of mason jars

Pink tulips on my table

My daughter belting songs with her eyes closed

The sun shining in my window...Sun, seriously!

A best friend driving 4 hrs roundtrip for 8 chaotic, normal life hours of time spent

Fact: My kids LOVE going to the doctor (oh, and they love the suckers.they get there)!

My daughter getting herself dressed

My 5 year old calling himself the trash man and developing his own system to emptying all our trash ( I don't get credit, He's just that cool!)

Building Lego

Vacations where we ride bikes or walk everywhere!!!

Family dance parties

Sometimes it is just one thing a day and other days there are many joyful moments crammed into one hour. Hope you find a few smiles naturally beaming in your house today!!!



Monday, February 29, 2016

Growing up

(1980s with my mom)

As women we still find it hard to grow up. We want our moms to be the moms of our childhood. To forgive, not show their hurt feelings, hold us and love us. But do we let our moms be human? Do we let them be women? This is such a challenging relationship for most, a struggle and a joy tangled together. We want our moms to not have feelings, to not ask anything of us and to think we are the best. I promise your mom does think all those things. But, she is human, she is also a women and she has emotions; they range every spectrum just as yours do. She has expectations, she gets her feelings hurt and she can't turn off her desire and need to protect you. As we grow from girls to women and we ask our moms to allow us this freedom we have to give them the freedom to grow from a mom into a woman.

As I got married I pushed away to form a new family with my husband. But, I hurt my mom in many ways and I didn't communicate well. She gracefully walked in hurt for many years. Consistently praying over our relationship, pursuing me, listening to me and waiting. Waiting for me to hear her hurt, waiting for me to see her deep love and waiting for me to know the strength of a woman that comes from a little girl who was well loved, loudly cheered for and boldly released to God.

As I became a mother I saw so many ways my mom celebrated me and sacrificed for me. I realized with embarrassment how I will never fully grow up in my mom's eyes. My mom will be one of the few that knows fully how amazing I was created and how sinful I am all at once. Despite that combination she will always be the one cheering the loudest or crying the hardest over my accomplishments and hurt.

Growth hurts. Staying the same does too. Giving up on relationship feels easy when they are difficult. When there is hurt or loss of expectation or misunderstanding. Sometimes relationships need to be finished and sometimes they need to stand still. I stood still with my mom for awhile, both of us  waiting on each other in silence. When the dialogue began there were hurt feelings to wash off and tears to wade through. What came after was a clearer understanding that the relationship was not what defined us but, the women God created us to be and how we effect each other.

That truth survives far past our mother's lives or the hurt we have encountered from other women. God created His daughters to love well, fight for reconciliation and to hold up the truth that we were created as His image bearers. I'm grateful for my mother's continuing to pursue me, I am thankful for her slowly showing me that if  I let her be more than my mom in my eyes, there is a wealth of knowledge and truth I can learn from.

So, on the day my only daughter turns four; during a week when I have been screamed at and pushed away. I am celebrating the relationship I had with my mother and praying for the relationship with my daughter. I am praying that it is one of deep vulnerability and value in her life. That is has truth and love at it's root and that God gives me grace to forgive the screaming and patience to love her well, to teach her and  to boldly release her to God as my mom did for me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sing your song

“I will sing with the voice that He’s placed in my soul

So the world will hear what He was done

We must sing if our hearts have been changed by our God

Let the whole world know that he has come

Come and sing with the angels to the king

Come and bring Him your song”

-Jeremy Quillo

This song has been bouncing around in my head for a while. The idea of bringing Him my song has made me question: What is my song? I spend time thinking about what I am not, how I do not measure up or what I should be. God has given us each a purpose, we each reflect His beauty and glory to the world and we should build on the areas where we do this well. We should use them with a kingdom focus for a purpose: to “let the whole world know He has come”. We have different roles but I think the song we should sing, the gifts we should use are strengths that carry over throughout all those roles.

My biggest role right now is being a mother and it is very hard for me. I am much more aware of my own sin than I once was  and believe God is using my kids as refining tools in my life. But, I have to walk in the truth and rest in the beauty that I am someone He is refining. I am someone who He has given joy to show, love to give and a song to sing!

So, I will sing loudly to my kids proclaiming the truth:
I will snuggle and read books for hours, I will paint your fingers and toes all different colors in your version of a “rainbow”. I will let you dig up my yard and cover yourselves in mud and write on me in sidewalk chalk. I will  forgetfully lick Orajel off my fingers and suffer the numb mouth with you. I will rock you and sing to you and sleep sitting up. I will not sleep in your bed all night long but you can cuddle in mine all morning. I do not buy everything organic but I care deeply about how much sugar you eat, or what color vegetables you are eating, or how many crackers you consume in a day. I may not bake bread from scratch, or have chickens running around our backyard but we can plant an herb garden and watch it grow! I am not a runner, I will not run a half marathon, I will not run 3 miles a day, I will not replace my running shoes every six months but I will race you down the side walk, I will chase you around the back yard until we can’t stop laughing and we can’t breath.

And I will sing loudly to all you moms out there who need to hear it too:
I am the mom who rolls around on the floor while my kids tackle me, I am the mom who says "I love you" a million times a day, I am the mom who takes the slobbery, snotty kisses because after all they are still kisses. I am not the mom who wears heels to the grocery but I am the mom who takes 2 walks a day and plays chase in the back yard. I am not the mom who showers every day but I am the mom who runs through the hose. There are so many things I am not. There are so many things you aren’t. There are reasons why I need you in my life, to encourage me, motivate me and remind me pajama days are great.
We will never nurse as long as other moms we know, read as many books, sing as many songs. We will never cook the same definition of healthy meals. We will always define sleeping through the night differently or have different amounts of date nights. Our friends will come and go with seasons of fussy kids, sick kids or busy calendars. But you are the mother God gave your children. You are the wife God gave your husband. You aren’t meant to be like your neighbor, your best friend, your sister or your mother. You bring life and joy and rest and strength to your household.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Just Be.

I spend so much time trying to change things, trying to not feel something that really hurts or forgetting to settle into what is truly satisfying. I get distracted or I choose distraction. I don't allow myself the space to reconcile the emotion, to understand the emotion and to communicate the emotion clearly to myself or to others. I think I am not alone. Am I?

I am being challenged in this in many areas of life. Challenged by defining myself as "someone who is not sensitive"...but I am. Challenged in my desire to push away from conflict, to ignore feelings until they disappear, but they don't disappear. They alienate, they lie, they disguise themselves as other feelings and cloud my thinking, my reactions and my beliefs.

So I am asking myself "what if I settle in?". What if I settled into the hard season or the hurt feelings and explored them? What if I finally admitted  what reality was like? It would be ugly, it would be vulnerable. It would reveal some of the silly things I do not choose to get over and it would reveal some of the deep hurt I pretend I don't feel. It would reveal what my fears our, what stresses me out and what motivates me. It would show me more deeply who God created me to be and how sin twists truth in my heart and mind.

I don't want to settle into bitterness or self-protection. I think that is what happens if there is no exploration of our emotions. I want to settle into God and the life of today and what truth says to us. I want to let that truth change my future reactions and emotions.

This seems logical, the idea of understanding ones emotions. In reality, though, it is messy and painful and requires vulnerability. It requires a settling into God, into the mess as opposed to a pushing away from awkwardness and discomfort.

But, rest is found in truth. rest is found in authentic friendships, humility and honest interactions. To just be takes effort and work but it is work that brings with it great rest and great community and great knowledge of who I am in relation to God.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Are you ever paralyzed by fear, anxiety, indecision? I am often. Typically about silly things, but they never feel silly. EVERYTHING feels significant. These boots for instance...I needed a pair of functional boots: run errands in wet weather, play in the snow, keep my feet warm so I can keep up with life boots. However, the decision on what boots left me frozen. I couldn't make a decision. I wanted to be wise, I wanted them to solve multiple problems and I also wanted to like how they looked. Last night I found 3 pairs of boots and 1 pair of fleece boot socks sitting on the floor of my bedroom. Some had been there for 2 weeks! My daughter voted, my mom voted, my sister voted and my husband voted...enter silliness here! This morning I picked, I put them on and I walked outside in the snow to take out the trash. THERE, can't go back now! 

I realized as I stood in the snow in my new boots that fear and anxiety held me back for weeks from enjoying this new gift of boots. This fear of making the wrong choice creeps in often in my life. Should I fold laundry and put it away or work out? Should I cook dinner during nap times and re heat or later in the afternoon? Should I go to the library the day our books are due or a few days before? Should I have play dates every day this week or just two? How many times a week should we have people over for dinner? How many times is too much stress on kids to travel to see my family? Is the sugar in yogurt healthy for kids or should we avoid it? 

As I write this list I see the unimportant details of life that wage war on my heart and mind. I see the answers a little more clearly. I want things to be black and white. I want them to be wrong or right. I want a schedule, a routine and a task list that works every day or every week the same! It feels safe and I can be protected by routine. But, it imprisons me from experiencing much spontaneous joy in my kids idea to play freeze tag in the snow before breakfast! It holds me back from loving a friend who has had a hard day and needs to use my kids nap time to sit on my couch and cry and find community.

The truth I loose in these moments of indecision is that in Christ there is freedom to not be perfect. There is grace for mistakes and the ability to try again. There is a community of people to help me. But, if I don't ask for help, if I maintain the routine that protects me from mistakes and others than I am missing out on the joy God gives us in community, creation and life. If I refuse God's free gift of grace then I am missing out on Jesus and refusing to live a life changed by Him. Changed by truth!