Friday, October 31, 2008

Blog Rewind: Halloween 2007

It's Halloween and we have not yet carved our pumpkin. How is it that these holidays sneak up on us when the candy, costumes and pumpkin paraphernalia have been in stores since the 5th of July? It is true, our lives are too full. With four busy little ones, Mark and I find ourselves running from soccer games to band concerts to play dates, left and right. In addition to the full days of our Friesen Four, Mark and I are also busy with commitments we make months in advance. But, today is Halloween and we have not yet carved our pumpkin. Seems like a sign to me ...

In my deepest Mama heart, I want only to pull my babies close and sit on the couch and read a book. I want to linger over home-cooked meals and listen to the river of words that spill forth from the mouths of the people in this world that I love most. I often wish that I could stop the madness and slow it all down because, in my head, I know all too well that our days with these children are numbered.

Two days ago, we all grabbed rakes and headed outside. The older boys had no school and we were clinging to a day without schedule. Four kids and a mom can make short work of a yard to be raked, so before we knew it the pile was perfect. I made them wait 'til I could grab a camera and then off they ran to jump in their pile of autumn leaves. Truth be told, I missed some pictures because there they were, my four sweet babies, laughing, falling, rolling, playing with great abandon ... and suddenly, my camera seemed wildly unimportant. For just a minute, we DID slow down. For just a minute, all that is most important took center stage and I had time to see my children for who they really are. And as they ran around their backyard, lifetimes of memories streamed behind them and everything was clear. Yes, my days are numbered and they will be grown before I know it and I have to save it up and see it and slow it all down so it doesn't slip away.

Today is Halloween and we have not yet carved our pumpkin. I have no idea if it will get done because I refuse to make a pumpkin more important than Noah, Benjamin, Josiah, or Elizabeth. Today, I want nothing more than to laugh freely with their childhood chuckles, walk slowly as they wander through their day, and store it all up for them ... and for me. Today is Halloween and this momma wants to take the hand of their daddy and follow my children from house to house while autumn leaves rain around them and they giggle and run and do what they do best ... teach me to see what matters most. And that has nothing to do with pumpkins.

Blog Rewinds Begin

When I first became a blogger, it was important to me that the blog was directly connected to my website. So, we found a way to do that and tried it for a good long while. But, the bottom line was that while the website worked great, there were too many problems with the blog and it's connection to my site to keep it there. After months of writing, that blog was dismantled and I started up here at Blogger.

I have loved this site... mainly because it works! But, I wondered what would happen with the blogs I had written already? My IT department (my husband, Mark) was able to copy them all and save them for later and after some thought, I have come up with a solution that will merge my old and new blogs.

From time to time you will find a title that begins with "Blog Rewind". These are writings from my old location, now put here for you to read. I am excited to have everything in one place! The first one will be posted today... and just for the record, our pumpkin is not yet carved this year, either! : ) But, my kids are home from school today and I think we will get to it this afternoon. And, if we don't? No problem for me... my kids are home and the sun is out and we are going to have a great day. I hope you do, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Christmas Talks

Perhaps just reading that title causes a bit of stress to enter your peaceful afternoon. Christmas can do that to us, can't it? But, with Halloween coming tomorrow already, the reality of the impending holidays cannot be blinked away.

I used to get overwhelmed by it, too. But, about 5 years ago, Mark and I sat down to think about what was most important to us and to our family in regards to Christmas. Once we had out thoughts clear and communicated, we took a peek at our routines and realized that a problem had appeared. The things that we wanted to offer our family during the Christmas season had little, if anything, to do with the plans in which we regularly participated. Something had to give... and that year it did.

If you could plan your holidays, what would they look like? What do you need from the 6 scant weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas? What is unnecessary? What is missing?

Over the next couple months, I think this topic will come up again on my blog. I would love to hear your thoughts as we process it all together. And, if you are a member of a group that is planning a Christmas tea or dinner or event of any sort and would like a speaker to come and talk about reconnecting to the truth of that season, let me know. A lot of my holiday speaking is booked but some dates are still available and I am running a special on a holiday devotional talk that might be a perfect fit for your group.

The holidays are coming and the time to think about it all is now. Before the rush, before the stress, before the constant playing of Jingle Bell Rock begins. It can be what you want it to be... and it can be what you need it to be. Think of your family and dream a little Christmas dream. This is one of the most important holidays we celebrate.... and it offers great opportunity to help our children see the truth of who He is. What will it look like, for you, this year?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joy Breaks Through

Last night, I was up to my eyeballs in making dinner and loading the dishwasher when God broke through with a moment of joy. We have had a long couple of weeks. With bills in a careful balance and stress from two mortgages, it seems I am always plowing through the day in an effort to pick up missed stitches and keep us as organized as I can. I can miss a lot with my head down that way... but last night, rinsing a bowl, to add to the the dishwasher already-too-full, I happened to glance out the window.

It was amazing. It is only October and normally we still have our shorts on hand for days that run really warm. But, this year is different already. On Sunday, a storm blew in and a sunny day in the 50s turned quickly into a precursor to winter. The cold stuck. We tried to leave the heat off but by Monday morning, the coolness in the house got the best of us and we nudged our furnace back to life. And then, standing over a steamy sink, I noticed it right before my eyes.

Snow. Lots and lots of snow. It was, truth be told, a mid-December snow falling heavily in our backyard. Flakes as big as snowballs wafting down on a gentle breeze. The darkness of nightfall made the whole thing more gorgeous as the white of the flakes struck a contrast against the navy sky above. It was beautiful and called to be noticed and I stood still, in the kitchen right then, as the beauty and the bounty of it calmed my worried soul.

I know for some that seeing snow fall like that in the midst of an autumn storm would be as unwelcome a thing as weeds in your garden or hair in your soup. But not for me. I love the seasons... the natural rhythm that God sustains and maintains and brings to us in wonder... it is comforting to me and helps me feel a balance to my life that would be lost in a climate without such change. So, there was nothing in me that worried about an early snow or dreaded the shoveling that will come all too soon. My only thought was that it was so... beautiful.

Three of my kids were busy in the house, Benjamin working on a school assignment and Josiah reading a book to Elizabeth. I suddenly realized that they were missing it! I quickly called and they ran to the sliding glass door with shrieks of joy. Grabbing coats, they ran out the door to revel in the short lived snow (and I ran for my camera to catch the moment and share it with you).

Isn't it amazing what joy we can find in watching a child in the snow? The "oh-so-grown-up" thoughts about cold and frustration fall right away when your children are jumping up and down so enthusiastically that you can actually catch a picture of two of them, neither touching the ground!

Suddenly, the dishes didn't matter and I was not at all focused on bills or worries or even fatigue. All that mattered, for that five minutes, was the laughter of my children and the snow on the ground.

It only snowed for a while and none of it stuck at all. With the wind blowing and the kids soaked from the beautiful, heavy flakes, all came inside to warm up and wonder at the gift of it all. Benjamin asked if I would make hot chocolate and I let go of the worry that it might spoil their appetite for dinner. Instead, I pulled the snowman mugs from the back of the cabinet and made three cups of cocoa for my red-cheeked babies.

Tomorrow, they won't remember what we had for dinner last night. They will not be able to recall that the laundry was almost done or that the house was clean. But, they will remember running to play in an unexpected snow and they will remember the warmth of a mug in their cold hands. It didn't take all night and it cost us nothing at all.

Last night, I was up to my eyeballs in too many things, when God broke through with a moment of joy. I got to share that moment with my children and we stored up in our hearts a memory that we easily could have missed. It was just a moment of grace, a time of beauty... but what could be more important that that?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hope Found

It was 1991 and it had been a hard year. I was a young teacher and busy with 24 little first graders in my classroom. They were a good class, the kind you remember for years to come. But, the year had held such heartache for them. Our gym teacher had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of stomach cancer and though we had prayed and prayed for her, she passed away early in the year. I struggled to find words to guide these precious little ones through such real grief so early in their lives. One little girl, who's momma had been expecting a much wanted baby, experienced another wave of grief when the baby suddenly died a month before his due date. There was a weightiness to each day that I had never experienced before that time... and honestly, have not experienced since. Small losses began to hit us hard... caterpillars that went into cocoons and never came out, rained out field trips... it all piled on us as we sought to find the joy in small moments shared together.

It is easy to lose perspective. That year, we did. The loss of our school's beloved gym teacher so early in the year colored our collective experience and my young students asked hard questions about who God really is and where He was in the midst of all this sadness and loss. They asked about prayer and why it sometimes is not answered and as a young teacher, with no children yet of my own, I felt inept as I tried to explain the Yes and No that are both part of an answer.

In some ways, it seemed a bit out of control. And in the midst of such relentless, spiritual questioning, I began to lose my footing and doubt God's compassionate hand working in our lives. There was a hopelessness that took hold in some small part of me... and I will tell you, hopelessness can knock me off balance faster than anything else. Was He really in control?

I was teaching math one afternoon and a mom appeared at the door with a large cardboard box. She motioned me to come speak with her and I headed over, a bit put out about the interruption of our lesson.

Heading out into the hall, she set the box down outside the view of the door, and flipped the top open with great enthusiasm. Inside the box, there were 10 baby ducks. Yellow and fluffy and chirpy they wandered around their cardboard confines, bumping haplessly into one another, falling over and getting back up to do it all again.

She said, "I want to show the kids. Can't we just come in for a minute and show them these baby ducks?"

The ducks were cute and all but honestly, I was in the middle of math. I had a lot to do before the 3:10 bell and I really did not have time for a box of ducks.

Looking up at her, preparing to turn her away, her enthusiasm over this box of birds caused me to reluctantly agree. In she came with her squeaky little friends. The noise from the moving box immediately caught the attention of my students in a way my math lesson never would.

The mom then explained that they lived near a pond and that they had been watching these baby ducks for a long while. Their family had been helping to take care of the ducklings and they were now big enough to share with the class.

My students were barely able to stay in their seats. We began to call them up, one group at a time, to see and pet the tiny, squeaky puffballs in the box. I stood back and watched the faces of my sweet little ones light up with great joy. Chubby fingers petting fuzzy down and giggles coming forth from children who had hurt, lost and questioned far too much.

And as I stood there, fully present in that one moment, it came to me in perfect simplicity. Baby ducks are still being born.

Baby ducks are still being born.

Do you see what that means? God's hand is still working in His world. God was still, and is still, tending with great compassion to the least of these. He is pouring His love and His attention on the whole of creation.

Standing in my classroom that day, I saw with new eyes what my hopelessness had taken from me. We are not alone. If God can care for baby ducks, of course he cares for me. In the midst of that dark year, a glimmer of light broke through and I knew He had never left us at all.

I don't know where you are today. I don't know how you are feeling or what you are struggling with on this sunny Wednesday morning. But, this I DO know. In the midst of a crashing economy and much financial and family stress, God is in control. He has not looked away. We are not alone. The leaves are changing and being colored by the creative imagination of the only Creator. Geese are flying south with His omnipotent hand beneath their earthly wings. The seasons are changing in order and predictability and there is comfort in all these basic things when we see with the eyes we have been given. He is in it all.

It has been a hard season in our family but today, I will look for God's hand all around me... in food on the table and roof overhead, in the tears of my children and their bubbling laughter, in the words of friends and in the silences that heal... He is in it, my dear friends. We are not alone at all. I will set aside fear and doubt and look with the eyes that saw baby ducks so long ago. I choose this today.

So, let's take a collective breath and look outside at all He has done. If God would take the time to delicately color one red leaf, how much more so would he tend to YOU?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nativity Devotional Sets

Several of you have asked about the Christmas devotional set that I had been working on so I thought I would post an update here. The sets are complete and I am so excited about them! I have wanted to write this for many years and now have finally gotten it done. I am selling this set at Hearts at Home but wanted all of you to know about it, too.

Each Nativity Devotional Set comes with a 10 piece, family friendly, Nativity set and a devotional booklet to use with your children during the Christmas holiday. My hope in writing this was to provide a way for parents to help their children to better understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Here is how it works... There are twelve family devotions and each individual reading corresponds to one of the included Nativity pieces. Each time you read a page with your family, you will then put out the piece that you just talked about. By the time you add the Baby Jesus on Christmas morning, your children will know many details about the Christmas story and remember them by looking at each Nativity piece. It is meant to be flexible and can be done on 12 consecutive days in December or spread out throughout the month. It is totally reusable and can be the beginning of a wonderful family tradition.

I am selling the set on my site for 20.00. If you are close to me and would like to pick it up to save shipping, that works great for me! We will sell out of our sets so you may want to place an order soon! The quantity is limited!

Anyway, to those who emailed to ask about them, now you have the scoop! Pass the word! : )

Monday, October 20, 2008


Happy Monday, all!

My mom was in town this past week to attend Grandparent's Day at my boy's school. Last night, Mark and I took advantage of having a built-in babysitter and headed out to the movies. With two houses, we do not often go out so it felt like quite a treat to be off by ourselves. After reviewing the listings at our local theater, we found ourselves reminded how behind we are in cinematic choices. That said, we had heard from several people that Fireproof was worth seeing.

Mark and I both feel strongly that our money, even just "movie ticket money", sends a message to producers about what we enjoy, what we find entertaining, what we are looking for in common culture. We knew going to see this movie fit the criteria in a positive way.

Years ago, Mark's family ran a Christian film library. Back in the day, before VCRs were common to all households, seeing a Christian film took a bit of planning. Churches would order the film from a library such as the one Mark's parents owned, and it would be sent to the church and shown on a projector. Mark has seen all the Christian classics... most of which I could not name... and has his own views on Christian films. Some he loved and still remembers fondly... others less so... but his experience with them is vast.

So in we came, Mark with many thoughts and myself with low expectations but an open mind. We were both blown away. This movie is worth seeing. While it may not be an Oscar nominee come January, the performances were credible and the story hits home. At a time when 50% of all marriages are said to be headed for divorce, it was amazing to be reminded of what is most important to successful marriage. I felt encouraged, humbled, convicted.

This is a hard time for many people... Stress can wreck havoc on our lives and chip away at those things that are most important. Fireproof did not offer easy answers or cookie-cutter prescriptions for sticking together. Instead, it was realistic and gut-wrenching and moving. And it was true.

Find a minute. Trade babysitting with a friend and go see Fireproof. The traier is below. Our theater was packed and word is getting out but movies of faith do not often stay in theaters long. Go and see this movie. It is time well spent. If you have seen it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meet the Hearts at Home Book Giveaway Winner!

After spending all of last week together, I thought you might be interested in meeting the winner of our Hearts at Home giveaway. Above, is a picture of Kristie and her husband, Paul. I have asked Kristie to answer a few questions for us and I have posted her answers below. One thing that just amazes me, as I get to know Moms from all over the United States, is that while the lives of many moms may appear so different from our own, we share so many things in common. We all look at the children at our feet or in our laps or running circles around us day and night and see something that cuts to the core of who we are. There is a commonality there that goes way beyond the details. So, enjoy this brief interview with Kristie. You may have fewer children (or maybe more!) but her words rang true for me and I think they will for you, as well.

Here are the questions and Kristie's answers:

How long have you been married?
16 years

How many children do you have?

How old are your kids?
Anna is 13, Katelyn, Micah, Kyle and Daniel are 9, and Kara is 8

What has been your most surprising parenting moment?
Becoming a mother of 6!!

What is your favorite mom moment?
There are so many to pick from! :) What I love the best is being together as a family! I feel very honored that God chose me to be the mother of all these wonderful children. Trying to get one on one time with each child is very difficult, but we do make it happen. Those moments are so special too.

What mommy words of wisdom do you have to share?
Cherish the days when your children are small because they go so fast! Write down cute things the kids do and say because you won't remember all of them! Our kids ask us all the time about things they did when they were little, and I'm so glad I have places to look for that information!

What book did you choose?
I chose the book "Got Teens?" because we are there!

Congratulations, Kristie and let's all look forward to another giveaway sometime in the future!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And the Winner is...

Are you ready? Are you fired up???

I just came in from outside where I had my oldest boys share the honor of choosing a winner! I had written each name on a small slip of paper. Muliple entries were allowed since you could enter every day. Noah held the bag and Benjamin reached in and chose a name... and that name?

KRISTIE D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will contact Kristie and she will choose a book from those published under a Hearts at Home label. I am hoping to get a brief interview with her to publish here, as well.

Thanks again to all who entered and keep stopping back to read and talk together... and to watch for another giveaway!

Have an awesome Saturday!!! I am off to play outside!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Announcement Coming...

Ah... you are checking back in, aren't ya? Don't worry. I have not forgotten. With my kids in school all day, I have not yet had one here to pull a name from a hat. But, I will.

Before we get to that, I just want to thank you. I have had such fun reading your comments and coming up with posts to share. It has been a bit of an extension of the weekend for me and that is a very good thing.

Before we wrap it all up though, there are conferences still coming. If you can make it to a Hearts at Home conference, I really want to encourage you to do so. It is well worth the money and the time with be a gift to both yourself and your family. The conferences that are upcoming right now are:

North Central Regional Conference
Rochester, Minnesota
November 7-8, 2008

National Conference
Normal, Illinois
March 13-14, 2009

I am speaking next month at the Hearts at Home in Rochester and cannot wait to be there! I hope to see you, too! If you are planning on attending that one, drop me a note and let me know. How fun it would be to meet!

Okay, the big announcement is yet to come! Check back later to find who won a free book from Hearts at Home! And, who knows, maybe I will offer a giveaway again sometime soon... I sure had a lot of fun!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

And, on a lighter note....

Last weekend, in Grand Rapids, MI, Hearts at Home showcased the comedic talents of Sally Baucke. She opened with a video that hit home with a lot of the 1700 women who attended. Wanna see?

So, what about you? What happens in your car or minivan that you love? What things drive you CRAZY? : )

This is the last day to enter so be sure to leave your name and comment so that you can have a chance at winning a free Hearts at Home book! Tomorrow I will put all the entries in a hat and pick one of my kids to choose a winner. And after that? I will still be here and we will still chat so be sure to keep checking back!

Have a wonderful afternoon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Truth of the Matter

Shuffling through my registration papers, I traced a line from the title of the sectional to the room location. Acting without thought, I began to make my way from where I stood on Illinois State University's campus to where I was scheduled to go. I did not know the speaker then... but had heard already many times that if you have a chance to hear Julie Barnhill speak, you have to take it.

A knot grew in the pit of my stomach. It is one thing to hear a well-recommended speaker... It is another thing ENTIRELY if the topic makes you cringe.

I looked down on the paper again. I glanced at the map and wished I was better with directions. Time was ticking away and I knew I would not walk in late. Where was this room? What was it called? Braden... I was looking for Braden. Glancing at room names, now back in the main building, my unfamiliarity with all things ISU was obvious. I was not yet lost but certainly not found and I knew I could not ask the way. Then, they would know...

I had not expected Hearts at Home to be so... well... honest. There was so much laughter, so much joy but I was caught off guard by the fact that people talked about the struggles they had. I had anticipated a lot of sharing about our kids, our successes, our moments of pride. But, this sectional confirmed for me that this was a place about more than all that... not separate from it... but interlinked. The good AND the bad, the beautiful AND the ugly, the moments most proud AND those filled with shame.

I looked down again. The title looked back. "She's Gonna Blow!", it read. And there I stood, just outside the door.

Now, there are no perfect mommas. I know this very well. But I have always wanted to do a good job. I have always wanted to be kind, connected, compassionate. And yet, standing outside of Braden, not knowing what to expect, the reality had hit me full force. In the two years since Mark and I had left Trinity with Noah and Benjamin, our number of children had literally doubled. Our home was too small, my patience was thin and I was juggling the lives of school aged children and babies not yet in school. My frustration with many things had gotten the best of me and sometimes my tone was too strong and my anger too big as I sought to care for our fast-growing brood. I wanted to do better. I wanted to be better. And now, standing outside in the hall, I wondered what people would think if they saw me enter this room? What would my friends, my MOMs Group, my family think if they knew I was going to a sectional about anger?

I stood there for a moment feeling lonely and shameful and small. Surely, this room would hold only a handful of moms who struggled with anger from time to time. Feeling conflicted, I decided that I had come to this conference for help, for support and maybe it could be found on the other side of the door. Grabbing the handle firmly, committed now to the task at hand, I opened the door and could not believe the sight that lay before me.

Braden was not a room. Braden was an AUDITORIUM. It was, in fact, the name of the auditorium that held ALL the mass meetings at Hearts at Home, making the space easily able to hold thousands of women. And, inside, there were hundreds and hundreds of women taking their seats.

I actually, physically stopped then, amazed at what I saw. In even walking through the doors, all these women admitted to having struggled with anger in one way or another. Some had been angry for years... some for a day here and there. But, however it happened that they had come to this place, this sectional, it did not really matter. It mattered that they were here and that they were telling the truth. Sometimes, parenting is HARD. Sometimes, it gets the best of us. Sometimes, we need to admit that we get mad at our kids. For some, seated in that room that day, their anger had turned to rage. Some were just afraid it might. But, what struck me most was that there were so many of us there. And all of a sudden, it became real to me... this is NORMAL.

I love my children with all that is in me to love. I play with them, wrestle with them, read to them, care for them each and every day. I want what is best for them and want to do right by them... but sometimes.... all this closeness and all this love and all this hope and all this planning and working and trying and doing come right up against the unpredictable reality that is child-rearing at it's core. And sometimes, I get mad. Sometimes, I manage that in a way that is good and healthy and sometimes, I find myself regretting my tone, my volume level, my choice of words. And you know what I learned that day in Braden Hall? It happens to you too. And, in letting that truth sink into my soul, healing took place.

There were a lot of people there that day. And Julie spoke such grace and truth to the whole of us. She shared her story and, in doing so, gave us permission to own our stories as well. The room was full of people who are trying to do better. Our kids see that, you know. My kids see that there are more days that I pull them close than days when my voice sends us all in different directions. There are more days of laughter and game playing and working together to cook or bake than days when we fall into bed frustrated and still a little bit mad. More days of laughter, less days of tears. And it is good. Can you see it, too? We are not called to be perfect. What good will that do our children?? No, my friend, we are called to be real. REAL. And in doing so, we help our precious babies to see what life really looks like. In being real, we show our kids what it looks like to fall and get back up, to make a mistake and ask forgiveness, to be sad or angry and find a way to laugh again. That is what they need from us and that is what will impact their every day lives for years and years to come.

Seeing that group of women gathered together on that day impacted me in significant ways. I know what it is like to feel alone but on that day, at Hearts at Home, I realized that I stand in good company with thousands of mommas, just like me. We are all doing the best we can and our kids are blessed by our efforts.

Today, you may comment if you choose, otherwise, just leave your name and maybe your state and, if you would like, the names of your children. And, we will spend this day knowing that the work may be hard but the company is good.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reflections On Year One--The Blog Tour Continues

I am not sure what I thought it would be... but it might be more honest to say that I had some strong ideas about what it would NOT be. For years, I had been encouraged to attend the National Hearts at Home Conference which is held annually less than two hours from my house. For years, I had politely said no and in my head pictured a small, cute little conference attended by women who were just not me. I knew I had a lot to learn about parenting but, I must admit, I felt like I had to learn it all on my own. It was a lonely place but what choice did I have?

Then, Jill Savage was booked to come and speak at the MOMs Group I have helped to run for almost 10 years. I knew that Hearts at Home was birthed from the vision God had given her to help women professionalize motherhood, but I had no idea how simply meeting her would effect my life. Jill arrived at our group with boxes of books, contagious enthusiasm and a quick smile. We chatted a bit about Mom's Groups, speaking, adoption and parenting. Her passion for Hearts at Home was clear and I knew I would have to check this conference out for myself.

It was perfect timing in my life. I had recently gone from three kids to four and I felt like the juggling of the schedules and the needs of my children was truly consuming me. I booked a couple hotel rooms and corralled three dear friends to head to Hearts for a weekend get-away. I was still unsure so while they all booked the two day option, I booked only one. I looked forward to a dinner out with friends, coffee and facials in the hotel room, but the conference? I didn't know.

I am not sure when I realized how wrong I had been but maybe it began with the multiple phone calls from my friends, already at Hearts, to me... still at home. Maybe I began to see that Hearts at Home was something that would really matter to me when I walked into an auditorium, complete with thousands of seats and a couple of balconies PACKED with women, thousands of women. Maybe I began to realized that this was something I needed when I sat down in one of those balcony seats and Sara Groves' little boys took the stage to introduce their insanely talented momma and then found tears welling up in my eyes as she sang:

"He looks like an angel when he sleeping... There's a little bit of Heaven where he lies..."

Pictures of my boys as babies came quickly to my mind and I could see their sweet, peaceful faces while they rested in their cribs... And I felt suddenly overwhelmed with nostalgia and shocked at the tears that blurred my view of the stage. Sara continued...

He looks like an angel when he's sleeping... But he looks like Charles Bronson when he cries!"

And there I was cheeks wet with tears of remembrance and then, suddenly, laughing out loud at the sight of it... the truth of it... the common truth that I shared right then and there with THOUSANDS of other women... who all were getting it, just like me.

When I talked to Mark that night, I told him that I saw every kind of mom I had ever imagined there... moms in sweats and moms dressed to the nines... moms who were quiet and moms who laughed loudly and with abandon... moms who looked like they could do it all and moms who looked like it had all been done to them. I told my husband that night that the one thing we all had in common was a tiredness that showed around our eyes. They were not something unfamiliar to me... they were me! And from them, the speakers and the moms who came to hear, I would learn and be encouraged and face the reality that is parenting for all of us.

Sometimes I think this is lonely work. Sometimes I find that I hold back what is happening in my life because I am sure no one will understand. I am grateful for a place to be reminded, gently and with great compassion, that the road is hard, that the journey does not happen as the crow flies, and that all of us will fall along the way. Sitting there that night, I suddenly realized that when that happens, I do not have to claw my way up alone. God is using the hands of thousands of women to help me find the way.

That weekend, recharged my batteries in really important ways. My challenge has been to find smaller, regular ways to do that all throughout the year. What about you? What helps you to feel a bit more ready for whatever today will hold? What do you do? Where do you go? What do you EAT? : ) Leave your comments below (I changed the settings so all can comment) and be sure to leave your name. Your comment is your entry for today!

Next post... a glimpse into the sectional that eased my weary soul...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's a Hearts at Home Blog Tour!

Hey! You're here! Welcome to one stop on the Hearts at Home Blog Tour! Hearts at Home has just completed another conference and we had a blast in Grand Rapids, MI! Throughout this week, I will share with you some of what we saw and heard. Overall, I am just so grateful for the women who came and for God's hand in it all.

Now that I am home, I am going to do something new on the blog. As a part of the tour, I am sponsoring a giveaway and you may be the winner! All you have to do to enter is stop by and leave a comment or question and that will count as your official entry for a free Hearts at Home book! With the economy struggling, we can all get excited about something for FREE, right? You can enter once a day and I will announce the winner, from a random drawing, on Friday.

Ready? To get us started on this first day, what is your FAVORITE parenting book (or magazine) and why?
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