Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where I create HOME

As a stay at home mom I look to define “my job”. As words start to fill the description it quickly becomes obvious that no woman is capable of all that. I clung to the word “homemaker” for years to define who I was now. I liked that idea of creating a home. When I quit my job I felt the need to justify the loss of income by perfectly cooked meals, well planned grocery budgets, Pinterest decorated spaces, dust free corners and tidy organization strategies.

I was missing the point.

If a clean house was what my husband and I held in such high esteem we wouldn’t have needed a child to justify the loss of my income. I have always been a home maker. The home keeps changing along with the needs, but I was a home maker as a five year old helping my mom unload dishes. I was a home maker in training putting my dolls to bed each night. I was a home maker when I moved to college and when my husband and I bought our first house. Quitting my job as a producer wasn’t to take on a new job of home maker, it was to focus on a role I had already been playing!
I can be so narrow minded, so dialed in that I miss the big picture.

If our homes are beautiful, unhappy places to be we don’t really want to be there.

Creating home starts with the hearts that live in them. We as women, I believe, are to create peace and order. So many days I want that to be creating that order in a physical space because of the effort and tears it takes to create peace and order in my own heart and teach that to my children.

Guilt creeps in when the house is a mess. Those lies that whisper “What’s your excuse for having 5 baskets of unfolded laundry?” That lie that screams “Really? You couldn’t find 10 minutes to shower today?” That lie we all hear, “Are kids really a good excuse for not doing…?” The answer is “YES”.

I am telling myself over and over again; not to convince myself of a lie but because it is true!

It is better for my husband to walk into our house, stepping over toys to get to a kitchen with a sink full of dishes so he can eat peanut butter sandwiches at a table with a smiling wife and obedient children then for him to walk into a vacuumed room with toys put away but before he gets to the kitchen he hears me screaming at one kid for not obeying me while another kid is playing in the sink splashing water everywhere and the third child is crying in time out. The laundry is done though and dinner is made…a delicious one too! Yikes! Really?

There is something satisfactory about having uncluttered stairs, lined up shoes are just as beautiful to me as a Monet and I really do feel happy with a clean, empty kitchen sink. That order gives me peace and joy and makes me feel valuable. I mean, yesterday I managed to pick up my house and not have 3 kids fighting or crying or bleeding. That feels like success!!! But there are also days where I have looked around at my dirty kitchen floor, my dresser covered with piles of gadgets and trinkets and my ugly wallpaper covered rooms while cooking dinner with 3 kids helping me, or building Lego towers together, or them reading me a book and felt just as much peace.

The order that comes when our hearts are obedient, loving, joyful and focused on each other is more life giving and more valuable than my clean floors, weeded flower beds and checked off task list.
I am a mom who stays home for the purpose of raising kids and that means if you walk into my house you are going to see train tracks covering the living room floor, a pile of dirty towels waiting to be taken to the basement and water colors splattered on the dining room table. You will be greeted with kids that have messy faces and muddy boots on. It won’t be magazine ready and it won’t show that I am a great house keeper. It will show you I am a great mom because I am learning to ignore the dirt on the floors, the empty paper towel holder and the laundry baskets. I am learning to pay attention to the messy emotions of little people, the anger and impatience that flares up in me and intentionally give the overwhelming amounts of love 3 small people need. After that I rarely have energy left to clean, organize or complete a project and what energy is left is definitely not for the dishes…it is most likely for ice cream! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


The morning starts loudly in our house. The 2 year old calling for me from his bed, the older 2 kids slamming opening their doors racing to the potty.  I remember the quiet of 3:00 a.m. when I got up to use the bathroom. I take a deep breath, "here we go!" encouraging myself that this onset of noise is okay, natural, even good. This noise is life in these walls.
Breakfast begins and I find myself taking orders for 6 different things, listening to 3 different songs and getting annoyed by the games and silly stories they are telling because I'm tired, because I like quiet in the morning, because I dont have complete control over everything.

But, this is good, this is life being lived out joyously in 3 little people and me having everything just how I want it is not the goal. So I turn down the heat on the eggs, ignore my hot cup of coffee and turn away from the task of breakfast to face them and watch. To force myself to enter into their noise, because in that I can live life with them.

If I'm playing with them will I find the noise less stressful? Yes, at least most of the time! I'm pleasantly smiling as I turn back to finish cooking eggs and reheat my coffee. I answer knock knock jokes, and make up silly songs. When they throw the next punch, "Can I have the blue cup, blue straw and blue lid?!" (That question grates on me every time because I know what follows is fighting; because everyone wants that cup! Why? I have NO idea!) Deep breath! Enter in!
I fight my desire to not give it to anyone, to throw it away to avoid fighting but in that deep breath, I choose to enter in. We talk about sharing and taking turns and who had it last and in minutes there is no fighting, no tears, no angry mama. There is noise, but noise of laughter and jokes and songs.
So breakfast continues, so the day continues and as I continually make the choice to enter the noise I find myself thankful for moments to teach my kids what love looks like, to show it to them with patient words and gentle discipline. I find that those silly songs make great dance party songs and those laughs lead to tickle fights and that in all that noise we are surprised when it's bedtime because in entering into each other and all the fights, tears, laughter and noise we found enjoyed each other!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I am confident of this very thing

We need to hold sleeping babies to remember they don’t always cry. To remember and imprint on our minds and arms and chests what it feels like to hold this warm, soft, squishy gift. Babies need to be held they find it comforting, sometime they need to sleep on us. I think sometimes we need it too. Sometimes we need to snuggle with them and let it go on for longer than they would. We need to take deep inhales of their sweet smell. We need to count their fingers and toes without them wriggling down to run and play. Sleeping babies don’t need to be held, they are sleeping…but we need it. We need the reminder of grace and peace. We need the bonding of holding them in quiet after a day of screaming and crying and fighting naps and no showers.

I still feel this with my 3.5 and 5 year old. I need to lay in bed with them at night and sing songs and pray and snuggle. I need to have them hug me and I want to be hugged. I know I’m their mom and they aren’t responsible for filling my love bank. But, it feels good when they do. I need quiet and I deeply love when I can have quiet with them.

My mom sang a song over me that I find myself singing over my kids. Especially on the hard days, on the days where I am not sure if anything stuck, on the days where I lost my temper and need the reminder that God is working in my own heart too. That we are new creations and we are not finished yet!

“I am confident of this very thing, That He, who began, a good in you. He will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ”

This parenting thing is hard, being a Christian is hard, being a human being some days feels hard. We have a lot to do. We have a lot of sin to fight in our own lives and then we have to teach our children how to fight sin in their lives. Somedays it feels like a battle on every front. Like you are fighting a man in front, behind and on both sides and you just didn’t win the battle today. Somedays we don’t win the battle. Some days we fall into bed seeing our mistakes, seeing our sin, being ever so obviously aware of our need for Jesus and on those days this song reminds me of truth. IT reminds me to wake up and keep fighting. It reminds me that these little people running around my house saying “whatever” or screaming “no” are not finished. It is not my job to finish them. But it is my job to walk alongside them and to pray that we make it to the finish line. To teach them to hear God’s voice and to know the difference between lies and truth so that when the lies distract them from all fronts the truth’s whisperings are consistent and solid. So that their roots have gone down deep and strong and help them stand up.

He has begun a good work in me but He is definitely not finished yet…praise God! I believe He began a good work in them and as the Creator who is good and loving and cares for us He will not let it wither and die. He will not give up on them. So, on days when I feel like giving up. When I give up on myself I look at my sleeping baby, I curl up next to my sleeping toddlers and I sing in the quiet and praise God for a new tomorrow to try again and a new tomorrow with God working in us all!

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.