Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook--August 31, 2010

If you blog, you can do this, too. C'mon, you can do it! Join in the fun!

Outside my window... it still looks like summer... and yet, my kids are off to school and the green of the leaves has changed to a duller, darker color... a sure sign of fall.

I am thinking... about so many details... about how Noah's broken arm actually makes me grateful... about balancing the busyness of the beginning of school and needing to find time to write and work and get organized for the speaking season ahead. Hoping a few minutes of quiet today will help me to slow my thoughts...

I am thankful for... Noah's arm not being more badly broken. I am thankful that he will heal quickly, that he can still play soccer, that he and Benjamin both made the team at school. And, I am thankful for school... I LOVE our school... the teachers, the curriculum, the enthusiasm my children bring home each day...

From the kitchen... I am working on a menu for the week... and hoping to bring in some homemade goodies, too. Tonight... perhaps the grill?

I am wearing... dark gray capri pants and a black t-shirt with flip flops... momma gear today!

I am creating... my next article for a MOPs magazine! Did you see the last one? I just did and was so glad it all worked out. I have two articles coming up for them... and cannot wait! I gotta say, the whole thing is exciting and humbling... interesting mix.

I am dreaming... about the upcoming speaking season! Things are booking nicely though oddly I still have room early in fall and a bit in the spring. Know someone looking for a speaker for their retreat, group or event? This is a great time to get in contact with me and set that up!

I am going...to take the kids to school, enjoy a cup of coffee, do some writing and then work a bit in the laundry room to see if the floor is really still under there. :)

I am reading... Crazy Love. Are you? Have you? Hmmm....

I am hoping... for a book contract. Holy cow, that feels awfully forward... but now that I have share my book with publishers, I am so excited about how this could go. Feels risky to hope... so I am preferring to think of it as trust.

I am hearing... the air conditioner running, the coffee pot dripping, and a good bunch of quiet.

Around the house... I need to work on laundry and some basic cleaning. My house stays cleaner when the kids are at school. I like that... though honestly, that makes me feel a little guilty, too. Wish I was better at embracing the mess my kids make...

One of my favorite things... driving my kids to and from school... listening to them, talking with them. It is just so good.

A few plans for the rest of the week...lots of soccer, and eye appointment or two this week, helping my kids adjust to school, lots of writing, lots of reading...

What about you? : )

Blessings on your day!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Coming Back Soon...

I am like you. Surrounded by laundry and children and days and months of things to do. It has been summer and I all that surrounds me has been my priority.

Some days that meant we went to the beach.

Some days we worked in the garden.

Some days we huffed and puffed and fussed at each other... frustrations getting the best of us. Maybe that doesn't happen to you... but it does, sometimes, happen to me.

But, every day we were together. Every day, we made beds and sandwiches, laughed out loud, read some books, spent time outside, dreamed and thought and wrote and connected to the ones we are blessed to call family.

And nothing is more important that that.

So, thank you for your patience... for checking in from time to time... for wondering when I would come back and for reading what few posts were written during these long summer months. I missed the regular writing. I missed the habit of reflection. I missed your comments, the camaraderie, this blog. And yet, letting it go even in the missing made it possible for me to end the summer knowing I did not miss what I value most. My sweet family... who will only be 13, 11, 7 and 6 once. Just this summer. And I couldn't look away.

School will come back next week and I will extend myself some grace as I ease back into blogging. I look forward to being back here and sharing some thoughts on things we did during these 80 or so days. And, I look forward to hearing about what you did, too.

For now, I am wallowing in a well of mixed emotions... excitement for my kids who will start another great year, sadness at seeing them hurrying headlong into the full schedule of school, guiltily giddy at the thought of time to myself, annual anxiety about how it will all go... Yep, it's hard to be articulate now. That time is coming though... it isn't today.

So, keep checking in and in no time at all, I will be back in the regular swing. I look forward to seeing you there...

Blessings on your day!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

27

"Momma, can I read you a prayer I wrote?" Elizabeth asked as we drove to church.

"Yep."

"Dear God," she began, "I know you made me special. Thank you for loving me. Amen. That's a short one."

I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw her smiling to herself as she looked out the window at the trees going by...

I smiled, too. Because she knows. She knows that she is loved... she knows that she is loved with a love that is bigger and more important than anything I can shower upon her. God loves my little girl and has had His eye on her since the very beginning. When she was laying in an orphanage in China, He loved her and had a plan for her. Today, it makes her smile to herself as she rides in our family van.

Twenty-seven years ago, I learned this truth for the very first time. (I wrote about my experience last year and you can read about it here.) As I reflect on it all again, I am struck by a different view. One decision, one realization of truth, does not only change one life. It is so much bigger than that.

When I was sixteen years old, I found myself at a Christian camp understanding God's love and salvation for me in a way I had never understood it before. So, I stood up and fumbled my words and cried my tears and fell head-long into God's grace for me. Yes, my young life was drastically changed and the path my feet found themselves upon was unlike any I had seen prior to that day. My motivations, my habits, my language, my desires... all changed. But, there was so much more...

Twenty-seven years ago, I could not know that I would one day sit in church while my son, Noah, stood to profess his own young faith. Twenty-seven years ago, I could not imagine that my Benjamin would think so deeply and question so thoroughly the communion table and our practices there. Long ago, when I was only 16 years old, I did not know that my Josiah would learn to sing praise songs before he could speak and would spontaneously spring into a short sermon starting at age three. Way back then, I could not dream of Elizabeth's sweet face, smiling with happiness as she read a prayer she had written to her God.

My marriage to a Godly man, my service to a Christian college, my teaching Bible to first grade students in my class, none of it... not any of it... could be found on the path I was on before August 9, 1983.

It looks like just a choice. Choose to accept God's love for me, or not. Today, I see anew that what we choose today has everything to do with where we are tomorrow. That choice, however, goes far beyond ourselves and impacts deeply the lives of those we love today and those we cannot even imagine loving years from now. Our choices take on a different hue when we step back a little bit and try to see what comes from what we take into our lives. It is bigger. It is harder. It is potentially, deeply blessed.

What strikes me now as I sit here tonight is that there was a choice that happened before mine. A choice that was made out of overwhelming love for someone who was yet to come. Because God knew me and saw me long before I had ever come to be. And way back then, He showered His love on me and chose me and wrapped his eternal arms around the-me-who-would-come-to-be and around my babies, too.

I love that those arms are big and loving and open enough to find the space for you to be enfolded, too. I hope you know this... because the path that is found when you accept that Truth is beautiful and gracious and good.

The journey is a good one... and the fact that I get to walk it with my husband and children alongside is a gift that outshines anything I even knew to desire.

And, I am grateful.

Blessings on your day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reaching Out in the Storm


It stormed last night, loud and bright, for hours on end. I was already beyond tired from an amazing weekend at She Speaks and eager for uninterrupted sleep. I headed up to bed early and settled in for what I hoped would be a long and peaceful night.

It was not.

My head was swimming with thoughts and dreams that were nurtured while in North Carolina. Relaxing enough to drift right off was harder than I had hoped. Then in the middle of the night, the thunder and lightening woke Josiah, who wandered in to sleep with us. As he is my snuggliest little one, I am normally thrilled to wake with him by my side... But last night? I was pushed to the middle of our queen-sized bed and could not get comfortable to save my life! After tossing and turning and fussing and such, I gingerly climbed over my sleeping boy and took my pillow to the guest room.

The guest room is our chilliest spot and I was grateful for good air conditioning. Our golden doodle followed me and jumped up to join in and very shortly, I was asleep again.

But, not for long.

"Momma!" I heard and opened my eyes to see 'Siah's face only inches from mine.

"Momma," he said, "I couldn't find you. I looked and couldn't see you. I was so afraid. I didn't know where you were."

I opened the comforter on the guest room bed and in climbed my sweet boy. He rubbed his face on my shoulder and draped his arms and legs over me in an effort to just get close... to know that I was there... to feel righted and safe and found again. Fears relieved, he drifted back to sleep.

Not me. I watched the storm light his face again and again and prayed a grateful prayer for the privilege of being Josiah's mom. I was overwhelmed by how important I am in the lives of my children... how needed I am... even when I feel like nothing more than "the-one-who-keeps-us-clean-and-going". As I rested there, I was reminded of a Bible story I have always loved.

Luke 8:42-48 (NIV)

"As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."

46 But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

There are so many amazing moments in this brief story but what struck me last night is that the woman knew what she needed. Because she was "subject to bleeding", she would have been considered unclean and therefore would not have been touchable by others or have the right to touch others throughout that whole long season of illness. And yet, when she saw Jesus coming, she knew she had to get close. She knew she needed to be healed. She knew she wanted to be found and freed from fear and illness. So, she broke the law of the day and reached out to touch Him, though she was unclean... though the law said, that touch would cause Him to be the same. And she was healed. Found. Freed.

Last night, as Josiah slept with me, the whole of that story became tangible. He responded out of need and found his momma. Am I brave enough to do the same? When I know what I need, can I act on that and seek it out?

Seems to me, I have found myself in an awful lot of "storms" lately. Our housing situation, financial worries and momma stresses keep me trapped in a rocking boat. Except, I am not trapped. And neither are you. If I stick out my hand in faith, the edge of His cloak is completely within my reach. I watched my 'Siah find comfort like that... and I know it can work for me.

It stormed last night and I was tired but even in the midst of it all, God was clear to me. Watching my boy, I remembered again that I do not need to struggle alone. The hope was not found in the cloth of his coat, but in the One who wore it well. No matter what becomes thunder and lightening for me, this truth will not change. The One who allowed Himself to become unclean for her, does the same for me. And in knowing that, I find myself a solid place to stand.

Blessings on your day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blog Rewind: Sleep and The Nest...

Having babies close together creates unusual situations in families. When Benjamin was born, we lived at Trinity in a two-bedroom residence director apartment. Surrounded by college students on nearly every side, sleep came hard to my sweet boys. Only 19 months apart, we had two babies in that small room and while they learned well to sleep in the chaos of college, it was the chatter and play they shared with one another that interrupted sleep the most.

Whether Noah was teaching Benjamin to talk or Benjamin was playing peek-a-boo over the side of the crib, sleep was not always timely for my boys. Mark and I intentionally made some space for this raucous-relationship-building, but the time came when bedtime was bedtime and nap time was nap time and the time for brotherly banter had passed.

Looking for a creative way to separate the boys for sleep, Mark and I decided to lure Noah out of his own room with a treat. Keep in mind, he was less than two and easily swayed. Using our bed to nap him in a location further than arm's reach from his sweet baby brother seemed the perfect solution. We put pillows in a circle in the middle of our queen sized bed, draped a blanket over the circle and told Noah he could take a nap in "the nest", if he would like.

The draw of sleeping like a baby bird in the softest of circles worked like a charm. Off he would toddle into our room and happily climb into our bed, drifting quickly to sleep surrounded on all sides. Benjamin being less likely to sleep at all waited years before "the nest" offer came his way, too.

We did not plan on renaming our bed and we did not know what a privilege it would become but somewhere along the way, the name stuck. To have a chance to sleep "in the nest" was the greatest of opportunities and one that all four kids came to understand as something nearly sacred in our home. Before long, it was not just the bed that was called "the nest", but the whole room itself.

Because language we use often is rarely listened to deeply, we really didn't know that the name had become permanent or that we had come to use it with the same regularity as "stove" or "bathtub" until we accidentally mentioned it outside of family ties. We we were asked, "What's the nest?". And then, we heard it differently and realized that something that once had a function became a word that was a part of us... a reminder to us of an earlier time that kept a foot-hold in today.

In having a bed that holds warm memories for our children, our reality is that on occasion it is shared. We were told, as young parents, to never allow a child to sleep with you in your bed. We were told, as young parents, that a child who is allowed to sleep with their parents will never, ever sleep alone. But, Mark and I long ago decided that we would not parent out of fear. Our decisions will not be based in what we are afraid might come someday. No, our decisions, our choices as parents will be based instead on what we feel is right for our children. So, when we brought our babies home, they came to bed with us. When they were very young, we gently transitioned them to their cribs over time. When they woke up frightened or lonely or sad, we welcomed them happily back. They know where we are and we know they will come our way if they feel the need.

Most nights, Mark and I have the bed to ourselves but when someone wanders in, I seek some perspective on our over-crowded bed. A few nights ago, one of the boys came to sleep with us in the middle of the night. I woke to find his head inches from my face. Laying in the dark, I could remember when the length of him reached from my shoulders to my waist. I remembered nursing him to sleep one early morning and looking at all his baby hair... seeing white blond everywhere except one or two brown hairs on the very top of his sweet head. I remembered sleeping with him on my chest, nearly upright, as he struggled with an ear infection. It was night and in the darkness, the whole of his life circled around me. Soft and warm, cozy and whole, I was cradled in a nest of memories of my boy.

These moments, even in the night, offer me a perspective that can be lost in the shuffle from day to day. These moments, yes even in the night, help me to see the big picture. And in that picture, I know that I will have years and years of uninterrupted sleep. I know that someday the bed will seem too big and the children will be all gone. I know that someday, lanky legs and humongous shoes will make the sweetness of a baby who fits himself to me an impossible memory, faded and dim. So, for tonight I will take what I can. I will embrace the minutes I have, crowded as they may be, and use them to see the whole of it. My babies are growing up.

So c'mon kiddos! The nest is open and you are welcome. Years of deep sleep lay before me. But, tonight, I will take a crowded bed and a view of you that makes me thankful for where we are--and where we've been.
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