Feb 102016
 

Kids teach us things EVERY SINGLE DAY! Low on energy? Needing a powerful boost? Check this smart idea from my son and never look back! It makes such a difference in our day-to-day, I can't believe it! Proof we should listen to those kiddos more ;)We pray with our kids. A few times a day for sure, more if the Spirit moves us or if we’re in the midst of a tantrum so epic, Mommy sees no other recourse but to wail to God, “Please give me patience to handle this horror–or a full lobotomy so I can remember none of it! Thank you; handle as you see fit…”

As our children age, my husband and I encourage them to take the lead on our daily meal, bedtime, and on-the-way-to-school prayers. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we’d heard it all: the whiny pleas that they are too tired to pray, the mumbly words that no one can understand, and the prayers that don’t ever end…ever–the kind when you doze off in the middle of it only to be woken with a sharp “Amen!” And there was the eight month globally-aware stretch last year where my son prayed every dinnertime for “England to have a good sleep and China to have a good breakfast.” Time zone differences are fascinating things.

However the prayers roll out, sincerity is the name of the game. As long as our kids are genuine when they’re talking to God, we’ll take it. It’s important to note, however, genuine with a six year old and a four year old might sound a bit different than it does with us older folks…

As proven the other day on our way to school: my son was praying, and after he sorted through his usual requests to have a good day, move his clip up, listen to his teacher, etc., he ended on a surprise emphatic note, “Go! POW!”

Huh. Wow. That was a new version of “Amen” I’d yet to hear.

As I got ready to chide him for not taking his prayer time seriously, the words caught in my throat. Wait a minute…maybe the child wasn’t not taking his prayer seriously, maybe he was taking it exactly serious enough. Or maybe he was just being six and channeling a little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Either way, his closure was infused with an energy that shouldn’t be faulted, but celebrated. While we shoot for sincere prayers from our children, how many of my own prayers have become humdrum, regular rinse and repeat affairs? Lackluster would be a kind descriptor.

Kids teach us things EVERY SINGLE DAY! Low on energy? Needing a powerful boost? Check this smart idea from my son and never look back! It makes such a difference in our day-to-day, I can't believe it! Proof we should listen to those kiddos more ;)

 

A little “Go! POW!” might just be the ticket.

Truth be told, I need ferocity infused in more than my prayer life. What if I woke up every morning with more of a “Go! POW!” attitude versus a “how long can I hide under my covers?” groaning? If I truly believe what I claim, that every day is a gift, it deserves my first fruits of energy, not just the the sloppy leftovers that remain after I’m done whining about the length of my to-do list.

Those things that really matter to me? Time with my kids, making some work changes that will benefit the long-term, pursuing healthy living goals? Why not throw a little “Go! POW!” at them too?

Kicking off our days with or pausing in the midst of crazy moments to channel powerful inspiration seems like a pretty boss idea.  Garner up and then go forth to do what we can with what we’re given.

Kids teach us things EVERY SINGLE DAY! Low on energy? Needing a powerful boost? Check this smart idea from my son and never look back! It makes such a difference in our day-to-day, I can't believe it! Proof we should listen to those kiddos more ;)

So I think my little dude had his sign-off exactly right. I’m not sure if this will be considered an appropriate prayer closure for the post-first grade set, but I do know that in this house, we’re striving for a whole lot more “Go! POW!”. Across the board. In the things that matter the most. In our daily walk through the days and hours of this life.

With all this said, I leave you, friends, I leave you with a most powerful, “Go! POW!” Go fight the very good “Go! POW!” fight for all of us. xo

 

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Feb 012016
 

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!My son is a wee little guy. Aside from being a cute ball of love, he saves us a ton of cash by rocking the same sizes for years at a time. Needless to say, his physical development proceeds not at a soaring pace. So when all of his cohorts began losing their teeth, we spent a fair bit of time prepping our little dude to wait it out for the long haul; the Tooth Fairy might be more of a future visitor than a present.

But lo and behold, a couple months ago we met up with our first wiggle. EXCITEMENT!!! All hands on deck. Tug the Tooth was secured and placed at the ready. Nightly checks for wiggle progress commenced. Christmas festivities be darned; in our house, potential tooth loss was The Occasion.

We were ready for this tooth.

And then it happened.

My son, in his bumbling, fumbling bus-exiting explosion greeted me one day post-school with the words, “I lost my tooth at school today.” Yay! “Wa-hoo, buddy! Let’s see it!”

“No, mom, I lost it. Everyone looked for it really hard, but we couldn’t find it.”

Screech!

Okay, so by lost he meant lost.

“But it’s okay, mom. I have a note we can give to the Tooth Fairy so she’ll understand.”

Oh be still my mama’s heart…what?!?

Yes, yes. My child actually had a verified note from his teacher addressed directly to the Tooth Fairy. Have I mentioned I love his teacher? I do. So very much. Check her perfection below:

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!

Right, I know. She rocks.

I heard from another class mom that the kids indeed searched for my love’s missing tooth extensively. To no avail.

What is a mama of a first-time tooth-looser to do? ACCEPT.

Yup, you heard me. Zen it out, friends, and channel that acceptance. First child, first tooth, baby book and fancy cute lost tooth holder at the ready?

Screw it. Screw it all.

You see, this life is abundantly full of things to teach us. At every turn, at every pass, if we only dare to look. And my son’s lost lost tooth scenario was only too clear evidence of this.

I might have easily thrown a fit and protested the tragedy of no first first lost tooth to keepsake. Instead, I raised my glass to the irony and thanked God for fitting my son with a teacher who had a heart big enough to write a personalized note to the Tooth Fairy in the midst of her incredibly over-filled day.

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!

What really mattered at this moment in time? That my son was in the care of a teacher who cared about him. That he was loved enough by his classmates for them to be willing to crawl around on the floor in search of a tiny tooth. That he was six years old and lost a tooth! The events of this life merit celebration in and of themselves, you know.

We might mourn all that is lost in this life; God knows I’ve done that enough. But we might also take a minute to see what we have and be grateful, most simply, for what is in front of us.

What is in front of me? A very empty first tooth treasure box and a heart very full of gratitude. I’ll take them both, in their imperfect perfection.

Go get your own imperfect perfection, however it rolls out, friends. It’s such a beautiful thing!

 

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Jan 272016
 

Have a boy and a girl and want them to be friends? I believe mixed gender close sibling relationships ARE possible and here are the ideas and tricks I'm using to make it happen--I can guarantee the first one will shock you! But it WORKS!!I’ve not yet shared the truth of when I first learned I was having a girl for my second baby: I sobbed some very agonized sobs. You see, it’s not that I was opposed to girls. I, in fact, am a girl and generally like girl-related stuff. The problem came into play in that I was beyond convinced I was having a boy. I was, more accurately stated, certain I was having a boy.

My husband was one of four boys, and my sister and I rolled female herd as the only children in our family. To me, that was simply what siblings were–boys or girls; not boys and girls. With this skewed understanding, I set forth and made my plans. As a dedicated planner, I took these plans very seriously. When my first child entered this world as a boy, it was set: I would have a family of all boys. Our dog is even male. I resolved myself to a lone journey in our household as the sole bearer of two X chromosomes, the only family member who could ever properly appreciate Gilmore Girls.

And then the ultrasound tech uttered the unfathomable: there were two teeny lines on the screen. Screech! Halting screech on all life plans. “But what will we name her?” I wailed to my husband and then bawled for a successive two hours. Pregnant women are very boss at the whole drama thing. Also, I simply didn’t think Luke would suit well for a girl.

Let’s fast-forward a bit on this tale of ridiculous woe and transform it into what it really is: sheer, utter delight that I have a precious little girl and we can share this female gig together on this earth. Praise God.

But what really was the cause of my anxiety? Aside from the fact that I couldn’t reuse my perfectly packed away and labeled by three month size increments clothing for my next child. It was the friendship factor.

Ultrasound results not what your were expecting or hoping for? It's a hard shock, I know. Really, I've been there. Here's how we coped and found significant joy. Get the real, honest scoop and know that you aren't alone--the truth is brutal, I know!

Because my sister is my best friend. My go-to, my love, my heart and soul. We have the most fun together and “being together” is plan enough for any evening or day of the week. Through all the storms life has thrown at us, she is my anchor, my person…and my heart worried hard that a brother and sister could not share this connection.

So I soothed my soul by soaking up any example of brother-sister friendships I could find, anywhere I could find them. And now, five years later after all this extensive searching for examples, I’m most stoked to report the coolest find of all–the peace that has come with choosing not to care what paths others have taken. It’s up to me and my family to write our own story.

While I most sincerely hope and pray that my children find the joy of a tight sibling friendship, as it’s been one of the very greatest blessings in my own life, I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if they will be close or not in years to come. I don’t know if any distance will be due to a mixed gender relationship or rather attributed to one of the myriad of other reasons that might tug at a sibling relationship throughout a lifetime. I do know that I can do my best to facilitate their connection with each other now, and you can be darn sure that I’m doing just this.

How do I do this? True story: mostly it’s an instinctively graceful situation in which, upon becoming exasperated with their “energy”, I scream, “Go play with each other! That’s why I had two of you!”, thus forcing them to spend time together.

Have a boy and a girl and want them to be friends? I believe mixed gender close sibling relationships ARE possible and here are the ideas and tricks I'm using to make it happen--I can guarantee the first one will shock you! But it WORKS!!

But “encouraging togetherness” is only the half of the battle. Here are a few other tricks for building mixed gender sibling closeness I have up my sleeve…

  1. We embrace natural inclinations to gender roles. I know, I know. Scowl at me all you want. Also please trust that my family has delved further into the exploration of gender role formation in our lifetime more than most could imagine. True story, with potential blog post to follow someday. Regardless of details, with this perspective poignant, we allow our daughter to delight ad nauseum in her beloved princesses and gird my son up with his swords and action figures, per their request. Allowing children to pursue their individual interests and differences is a very important component of facilitating their friendship.
  2. Concurrently, we fully anticipate they will both play with each other and each other’s preferred toys. For example, my children play together every morning before school. Many days my son says, “Let’s play dolls!” while my daughter often requests a lively game of Angry Birds tag (don’t ask me what the rules for this are, I couldn’t even begin to guess) or picks up a paper towel roll to start a sword fighting match. We all play with each other’s toys in this house–and it’s fun :)
  3. I encourage their reliance on and responsibility for each other. When my daughter can’t zip up her doll’s life jacket and requires assistance, I send her to her brother. This isn’t entirely self-serving because I am desperate to finish a blog post and can’t be bothered. Rather, this maneuver is born more of the intense first-hand knowledge that siblings are meant to live together on this earth long after their parents have exited. I put one of them in charge of getting us out the door in the morning–they are responsible not only for getting their own coat on, but making sure the other has their coat and mittens on too. This is very intentional care-taking consciousness-building. I know that someday I will be gone and my children will have only each other. This can be such a beautiful thing.
  4. We teach them to know each other. It may sound small, but I take pride in the fact that my daughter knows my son’s favorite color is green and always reminds me to save the green bowl for him. Even at ages 4 and 6, we help them budget for and select birthday and Christmas gifts for each other that will genuinely be appreciated. When one of them is having a hard day, we say the words, “Give him/her a hug, say you love them and then give them space.” An essential part of being a good friend is knowing and respecting your friend for who he/she is.
  5. Time together is something to be celebrated. Sleepovers are a big deal in this household–saved for weekends and special occasions. We make it fun and hype it up. Similarly, early dismissal dates, days off school and family trips are planned and anticipated well in advance and regarded as a treat. Regard time together as a blessing if you want it to be a blessing.

Listen, I very likely am screwing this all up. I really have no clue what I’m doing. The only thing I do know for certain is my goal: to have my kids cherish and love each other, gender identification disregarded. So I make active day-to-day choices that feel conducive to facilitation of this goal. And I hope a lot. And I pray a lot. As parents that’s all we can really do, afterall.

To sibling friendships however they roll out and go down. They are worth the good fight!

 

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Jan 192016
 

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!A friend who helps you grow is a boss blessing on this earth. Someone who helps you be a little kinder or laugh a little more, feel calmer in the scary storms of this life, or learn something smart and new? A true gift.

I have a friend who does these things in spades, and she wows me. Julie Bel Conner inspires me so much with her sweet friendship and talented life coaching skills. I have shared before about the incredible experience I’ve had as one of her clients, and her savvy perspective was also featured here in this post about a cool life-changing trick that will benefit all of us.

What I haven’t shared is all of the behind-the-scenes support Julie pours into my life. I will call her when things feel too scattered and panicky and she immediately offers clear, solid direction to help dose sanity into my days. She knows and understands what my ultimate goals in this life are and always helps me progress in the direction of achieving them. One of my favorite things about Julie is that she has been through the fires of life, and she gets it. She gets how hard it is to put one foot in front of the other sometimes.

This smart woman, who will be the first to admit her yoga pants are smeared with peanut butter and her house is pocketed with elements of chaos, has her crap together. Yup, she has her crap together in a powerful way that so many of us do not: she knows what is important in this life and that is what she focuses on as she lives her daily life. The superficial things are let go so she can tend to what matters. Julie genuinely commits to finding, knowing and celebrating joy in her home and in her life with her children.

While I aspire to the ideals of peace, serenity, and happiness, Julie actively lives her life in pursuit of making the goals part of her day-to-day. And she does it well. That’s why she’s a talented life coach, and that’s why she’s got a ton to teach us.

I am thrilled to announce that she is now offering a…(wait for the fantastic title, because it rocks)…Happy Mommy Course. I can’t say how much I love the name of this course, because it says it all. Because when you get down to it, that’s the basis of what we moms really want: to be happy with our kids. Julie gets this, and that is why she has designed an entire course to help you get there.

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!

Even cooler than the title is the design of the course. First of all, it’s all digital (yay for being able to learn in our jammies!). Secondly, it’s broken up into four videos that can be viewed at a pace that works for you. While they work well when done on a weekly basis, this is not necessary. There are slides in the video that well accompany Julie’s instruction, but they don’t progress quickly, so it is very possible to take in the course while attending to one of your mundane mothering tasks (e.g., I listened to one class while washing dishes and cooking dinner).

The four classes topics are Control and Perfection, Focus on Gratitude, Communication Key, and Finding Space in Your Life. Very prevalent topics and very needed instruction to us mommies in search of greater balance and happiness!

At the end of each class, there is a (very manageable and genuinely helpful, trust me) homework assignment to help you process the material presented. Again, this can be completed at your own pace, and Julie well reinforces this in her videos. She gets what it’s like to be a crazy busy mom, really.

To cap it off, Julie offers a free 30 minute life coaching session to each participant. YOU WANT THIS. Again, trust me.

Is this course worth it? Yes. A hundred times over, yes. I say this with a sincerity and an assertiveness I reserve for those dearest to me. In fact, as I write this post, a friend just called from the midst of a very tricky, exhausting life situation. She has no bonus time to think or indulge fanciful things, yet still, I said, “I am here, I am thrilled to listen always and pray for you; also, there is a course I need you to take. I promise it will help.”

I believe the course is so wholly effective because I myself approached it with an admitted skepticism: do I really need this? I grumbled in my head about not having the time or the money, and then I took it. True story: those few hours I spent listening to Julie were some of the most peaceful I’ve had in memory.

What is the course about? Exactly what it says; Julie teaches the value of happiness in our lives as mommies, and offers practical, hands-on, well broken-down steps we can take to achieve it in the course of our busy days. As I listened, I felt myself calming as she taught the very powerful truth of sanity-saving grace. Moreover, I found her words echoing back to me days well after I’d completed the course. Her wisdom is real and it sticks.

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!

I think the best personal testimony I could offer is a simple event that happened after I finished the first class. Feeling freshly empowered to care for myself, I ignored the looming laundry pile and I took a nap. That I desperately needed. And I didn’t feel guilty about it.

And I knew Julie was there, cheering me on.

Go take the Happy Mommy Course, friends, and I say this because I love you. The laundry will wait.

******If it’s not clear, my high opinion of this course is 100% genuine. Thank you to Julie Bel Connor for allowing me to sample the material so I could share the Happy Mommy Course with you******

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Jan 112016
 

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.It was December 18th, we were on our way to an IEP meeting, and I was grouchy. Christmas-grouchy, to be specific. You know, the kind of grouchy where you are so overwhelmed with holiday tasks, having to participate with the world at large seems irksomely superfluous.

I wasn’t in the mood to have a whole table of professionals delineate all the many challenges my son faces. I wasn’t in the mood, better said, to be defeated. I already felt defeated. I felt tired from life and trying to keep up with it and I had just spilled coffee on my new shirt, so it might be fair to say that my grouchiness level was full-on cranky.

But I pasted my smile on, kicked my husband under the table, reminding him to be nice, and all seven of the professionals required to facilitate my son’s participation in the school system filed into the room. And the meeting began, and the smart experts started talking, and my preciously coddled bad mood went exactly where it should go–flying out the window.

Because as these ladies spoke of working with my son, one very true truth was quickly revealed: they cared about him. They spoke of his strengths and struggles and they did it not only with kindness, but with a genuine affection for who our sweet little dude is. They giggled over the silly things he says, they told stories of comforting him when he was scared, and delighted in the growth that he’s made.

My son is a sweet, sweet boy. He has many faults, for sure, but above all, he is a kind, endearing ball of love. And while this has been mentioned at earlier meetings, at this meeting I could hear how continued time with my son had more wholly warmed their hearts to him. And what did this do for my own heart? It made me feel blessedly peaceful.

You see, I know our job as moms is not to care for our kids all the time; it is to make sure they are being cared for all the time. And up until this big bad thing of a school bus rolled into our lives and snatched my baby away, I’d had a lot more control over how this caring went down.

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.

Crazy things like professionals and people who were way smarter about a lot of things in his world than I will ever be started weighing in with very valid ideas and opinions. I knew my mama’s voice still mattered, and that I was still ultimately in control, but there was a lot happening for my little guy that I wasn’t ready to trust as being good or bad for him. And that is a scary place to be as mom.

I couldn’t name it as I was walking through it, but I think perhaps the root of this past year’s pain and struggles with my son’s schooling has been fear. We were in uncharted territory without our own map and I didn’t know if it was safe for us to rely on our guides. Scary. My job was to make sure he was well cared for, and I honestly didn’t know if he was. I was sending him down the street to let a whole bunch of people work their magic on him, but I wasn’t yet sure the magic was a good thing.

Until this meeting. It was as if something gave way in my heart as I saw the heart they had developed for my son. Before the meeting, I knew the people in the room were savvy and talented. After the meeting, I knew they were also kind, caring people who loved on my little boy. 

Wow.

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.

Now I could rest easy knowing I was doing my job, my mama’s job of making sure my son was being cared for all the time. Yes, even when he was in that daunting elementary building (the happy rainbow paintings on the walls, the flower-topped pens in the office, and the giddy giggles of children on the playground can seem down-right menacing, no?), he was not only safe, he was exactly where he needed to be.

Yup, I realized that day that it was probably going to be okay, I was freed to go back to my Christmas-grouchy. Except I didn’t feel grouchy any more, I just felt free.

Check one off this mama’s current task list–my son is in good hands.

 

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Jan 062016
 

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!It happened yesterday. I was having a Tuesday. A Tuesday still shadowed by post-holiday slumpiness and house mess. A Tuesday in January, no less. Why on earth God found fit to throw this horrid month into the year, I’ll never understand.

I was stomping fabulously around the house, trying to watch a 4 yr. old, unpack a massive grocery run, tackle the dirty breakfast dishes still on the table and take a business call all at the same time. A day of a tight schedule, I was also eyeing the clock heavily, knowing I had to finish up by 11am if I was to have any hope of getting my workout in before the next school run.

I could do this, really.

I could not do this. Because I’m human. It didn’t happen.

Cognitively, I’m down with this whole being human business and the implied limitations. I requested my superhero cape years ago, but it has yet to materialize.

What I’m not so cool with is those paralyzing moments when you just don’t feel so okay about those limitations. When it feels scary and uncertain if you’ll make it through whatever it is you need to make it through.

It might be something like the surface of a Tuesday: will I ever be able to get this pit of a household in order and still make it to our next appointment?

It might be a Tuesday that resonates a little deeper: will there ever be a point in my life when I can shower like a normal person and not feel like a walking circus show? I am so, so tired of being a circus show…

It might be the stress and strain of having a child you don’t know how to best care for, despite all your good intentions and powerful love.

It might be the hurt and logistical chaos of having an ill or dying loved one.

It might be the endless confusion of planning a Disney vacation for the first time. Go ahead and laugh: I used to, now I’m actually doing it myself and end up quaking in fear with my planning books more nights than not.

It might be having a sick kid–for the umpteenth millionth day in row.

It might be other stymieing first-time events: potty-training, PTA meetings, attending a Bikram yoga class, going back to school, an aggressive plan to address the weight situation you’ve been ignoring for too long, or dating when you haven’t done it since you were a hot little young thing.

It might be a complicated battle with the cable company. Or panic over news that a new water heater is needed. Or the unfortunate realization that your neighborhood’s desperate electric service will not permit getting through winter’s worst sans the purchase of a powerfully terrific generator.

In my most neurotic of days, it might be adjusting to the use of a new, simpler paper planner system. Yes, I’m serious.

In my darker of days, it might be that impenetrable feeling of loneliness or missing someone who’s gone known only to those who’ve been in such shoes.

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!

As I look at this list of what might rock and shake our worlds, I didn’t plan to link to so many previous posts about personal fires. Yet that’s a pretty cool testament to my mantra. You see, surviving storms has nothing to do with strength, but it has everything to do with the mantra that began continuously streaming through my mind since my first child was born, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

I repeat it when I battle to find time for that work-out or a shower. I repeat it when my daughter screams through her 16th temper tantrum of the day. I repeat it when I’m scared, when I’m confused, or so tired it takes me a long minute to remember where the washing machine is in my own house. True story.

I repeat it, and repeat it often. And it is always, never not, pervasively, wholly true. And it is my strength, and it carries me.

Yet on my most recent Tuesday, truth told, what I most wanted was someone to say to me was, “You’ve got this.”

I needed to hear those words. Those exact words.

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!

And so, in turn, I’m saying them to you, my dear readers. In case you need to hear them. In case you need strength for your journey, whatever that journey is.

I don’t know what you are facing, what it is that you must go through, but I do know, in my heart of hearts, that you are sold-out trying and this life has a crazy ability to resolve itself, for good or for bad. And so I know that you’ve got this. You’ve so, so got this.

When this life feels scary or uncertain or insurmountable, you’ve got this. I say this as a fellow mom in the trenches, and I say it with all the love I could ever hope to pass on. In these moments, above all else running through your mind, know that YOU’VE GOT THIS.

Really. xo

 

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:23130764, copyright:DenysKuvaiev

Dec 282015
 

This was by far my most visited post of the year. It was written in the corners of a desperate, tired afternoon as I fought with my son over reading homework and burned dinner on the stove…I think this is why is resonated so much. I love you, friends. Truly, I love you…

If your kids ever seem weird or different, YOU AREN'T ALONE. I promise! Navigating challenging behaviors and raising positive children is the hardest parenting task we face, but we can do this, really! Grab this perspective and ride it out. I promise this honesty will feel refreshing!Last week was a tad on the brutal side for me.

You see, I had dedicatedly laid the ground work to rock my Mom of the Year title by volunteering to help with not one but BOTH of my kids’ class parties. Yup, silly things like work assignments, laundry piles, and Mommy’s sanity be darned! I was going to be there, it was going to be shiny perfect and we were going to celebrate Halloween like nobody’s business.

The sad news is my happy plans fell to crap. Crap in the form that both of the aforementioned parties ended horribly. In tears. My children’s tears to be exact. My daughter’s meltdown centered around some passionate 4 year old personal space issues, while my son’s delicate tether to appropriate behavior was lost to overstimulation and defeat in a BINGO game. Brutal scenes, like I said.

So how did I, in my infinite lack of wisdom, handle it? Endless calls to husband at work, panicked development of Pinterest-sanctioned reward/consequence behavioral systems, and of course, a friendly glass or two of wine. Oh, and prayers, lots of them, because the defeat I felt was poignant, and ultimately turning elsewhere felt horridly empty.

The thing was, I was sad. My heart was hurting. Badly.

I looked at, I watched, I saw the other children in the classrooms. The ones who were happy to just be there. The ones who giggled and laughed sans shedding a single tear. The ones who were too consumed with glee over Halloween treats and games to throw a scene. The ones who were normal.

Ouch.

Ouch.

Where did I go wrong? I am so far from ideal, but my children have a relatively good home environment. They are fed, clean, cared for, played with, read endless Berenstein Bears stories to, held when they get boo-boos, socialized, and forced to slug through homework nightly with two decently-educated parents. Most importantly, through a hodge-podge mess of our day-to-days, my husband and I have managed to pass on our faith to our children, in a very sincere way.

We aren’t doing that badly.

Are we??

I distinctly remember a chat with a mom a few months ago when I was describing the epic force of my daughter’s tantrums. She said, most clearly, “Oh, I would never allow my children to behave that way.”

Ouch.

Because I suggest my daughter roll on the floor, wailing. Because I control the volume of her cries and her stubborn, stubborn spirit.

I was talking to another mom and mentioned my son’s (very intricate) IEP. She asked, “What’s an IEP?” I worked hard to describe the general concept of putting additional measures in place to promote a child’s success in the school system. Her confusion didn’t abate, “But why can’t he just do what the rest of the class does?”

Ouch.

If your kids ever seem weird or different, YOU AREN'T ALONE. I promise! Navigating challenging behaviors and raising positive children is the hardest parenting task we face, but we can do this, really! Grab this perspective and ride it out. I promise this honesty will feel refreshing!

After my splendid afternoon with my son’s class, I was lost. Simply, lost. I put my fab hip dark grey minivan in gear and landed myself at a friend’s house. I sat at her kitchen table and wailed, “Why are my kids the weird ones?”

She said, “You aren’t in those other families’ homes. You don’t know what happens there.”

Gah. She was right.

I glared at her insight. I didn’t care. My kids were weird. I was embarassed. And I had surely failed as a mother. In fact, surely, there was some sort of Adequete Parenting Board who would be knocking down my door soon, demanding return of my membership badge.

The truth is, I was sad, I was hurting. I am sad, I am hurting.

I don’t know if God will have my children abandon their ill socially-acceptable behaviors.

I don’t know how I will to cope with their differences.

I don’t know why they are different.

I don’t know what to say to people who have perfect children.

I don’t know how to reflect their judgey glances and not feel an acute pain.

I don’t know if their glances are actually judgey or I have ventured into paranoid psychois.

I don’t know how to be perfect.

I do know, that if you understand any of my words, you aren’t alone.

I do know that I get you, that I’m here.

I know that I won’t judge you.

And I know that I’ll keep praying endlessly, to the end of my days, that we might feel a peace in our hearts.

Because, did you know, that our children are gorgeous? Exactly as they are. I know this in some core of my being.

Weird, stupid temper tantrums, awkward, awful post-Halloween party visits in the guidance counselor office, and neurotic needs to not lose BINGO included.

I don’t know the future, but I do know the present. And for those of us who hurt, it may not be pretty. But it’s gorgeous in the realness that we will continue to love our children–to the best of our ability, just as they are, just as we are.

You can do this, friends. And you aren’t alone.

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2097589, copyright:Goldfinch4ever

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:7113524, copyright:ilona75

 

Dec 252015
 

With love and reverence for the true reason behind all the magic of today, I share this repost from last year. Merry Christmas, my dear friends…

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”, Isaiah 9:6, NIV

One Holy Night long ago, the miracle of Jesus appeared on this earth. God's greatest gift to the world; the first Christmas, perfect and glorious.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” Luke 2:10-14, NIV

This Christmas season, I remain stymied and blessed by the gift God lavished on the world by sending us His one and only son to save us from a life that was far, far less than perfect. God loves us so; I see it in the wonder in my children’s eyes and in the love that passes between friends and family as we celebrate this precious season.

This year, I most see it in the sweetness of my baby niece who was born four days ago to my sister, the most gorgeous soul I know on this earth.

Welcome, Peyton Ann! We love you so!

Could not be more excited to welcome my baby niece this Christmas season! To the miracle of babies!

And as a very, very special treat, my dear friend, the incredibly talented and acclaimed Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku, has written a tribute haiku to the Peytons of this world–my new favorite name as it now belongs to two very fabulous ladies.

An original haiku from the talented Peyton Price of Suburban Haiku about the greatest gift of all!

Thank you, Peyton Price, and xoxoxo (hint to readers: go buy her book–it’s fantastic)!

As for you, readers, wherever and however you find your joy this Christmas, know that you are loved and cherished–so very, very much.

First image credit: image ID:15824287, copyright:ginosphotos1

Dec 232015
 

Overwhelmed by trying to make sense of this season? No stress. Here's the one true way to find the heart of Christmas. We've got the scoop on the holiday secret here!For days, it’s been laid on my heart to share this truth about the holidays. The only sticky wicket? I’m not sure what the truth is.

The part I do know? I know clearly that the heart of our holidays do not center around the where, or who with, or how we celebrate the glory of our Savior’s birth. That said, a very real part of me wish it did…

You see, growing up and well into my grown-up years, I most solidly understood the holidays to be a thing of tradition. About taking a minute to pause in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, in the same way each year.

Oh how I now wish the holidays were so easily defined. Because this clear depiction would be so much…clearer. Easier. Sans drama. Sans the confusion. Sans the heart hurting to sort out family situations you never bargained on.

When my mom took her exit a few years past, our world shook, and truth told, our holidays never had a shot at looking “normal” ever since. But we tried, as the hope of balancing out is an alluring call. Yet just when we thought we’d zeroed on a (temporary) stability, go figure–our world shook again. Why? Because we are human and rocking and rolling is our solid lot in this life. We are not better nor less for this being true–we are, rather, very real.

So what is the conclusion? I am so sorry, friends, but I don’t have one.

All I have is my current truth, my current reality that this life is a hot mess. A hot mess full of heart and love and pain and gorgeous laughs.

We might not be able to call the who, what, and where of our holidays in advance, but we can call one eensy part of them–the heart.

The heart.

The heart that we can inevitably, always know to be true. The heart that remains. The heart that we can cling to when all else fades. The heart that matters.

The truth is, friends, this life will never stop changing. It won’t stop adding and subtracting and knowing and growing, as this life is never going to be a stagnant force.

So what is this life? A thriving, throbbing being that takes no prisoners. None. Ever. 

Overwhelmed by trying to make sense of this season? No stress. Here's the one true way to find the heart of Christmas. We've got the scoop on the holiday secret here!

So we do the best with that we can. And we can ignore it’s incessant, needy parts and focus on the more beautiful, true parts–the parts that remain despite life circumstances and pain. And we choose to celebrate it’s beauty and glory and honor it with joy. We choose to acknowledge it’s happiness–that’s the trick of this life, after all.

And in the midst of living our lives in pursuit of this heart of happiness, the holidays chance by. So we celebrate them too.

We celebrate them with all the passion due the fun things of this life and the exquisite pleasure due the unique pleasures hidden within our day-to-days. We celebrate the special smiles owned by the magic of Christmas and all its glory.

This is what we celebrate. Not the people, the place, the pace, nor the itinerary. We celebrate the true, inner heart.

And it doesn’t always work out (curses on our beloved Hallmark myth!), but it is always real and true. It is heart, and mess, and tragic imperfection.

So I formally invite you to celebrate the imperfection with me. I can’t tell you who will be at your holiday table. I can’t tell you how it will look nor where it will be, but I can tell you if you hold the hert of Christmas close, it will find a way to your heart.

Hang onto this truth, friends–it matters. xoxo

And here’s a little more heart, perfectly said, courtesy of my dear friend…

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:53134065, copyright:Syda_Productions

Second image credit, depositphotos.com, image ID:58378861, copyright:Syda_Productions

Dec 182015
 

In our neck of the woods, there is a gorgeous, teeny house that shines brightly with the holiday spirit above all others. It is sweet, simple, and perfect. Embrace the elegant perfection for your own holiday spirit now!In our neck of the woods, there is a sweet little house. A sweet little house that blows the roof off exterior holiday illumination.

This house fills its lawn with all shapes and sorts of light-up characters to appeal to every interest and current pop culture-infused trend.

The thing is, this house is, by all relative standards, understated. This house stands alone. There are no neighborhood decorating contests. There is no keeping up with the Joneses.

Amidst all the festive lights, there is a simple sign that dedicates the display to a woman who has passed. The sign asks passersby to “Enjoy the lights. She is.” The owner of the house knows that she is enjoying them from above, and wants to share the glowing light with others.

In doing this, the house gives a gift without any expectation of getting. It gives to make people smile, to make children gasp with glee when they spot their favorite character on the lawn, to give brief pause to all within the holiday crazy.

To share light in the world.

My heart melted when I read about the nearby neighborhood collecting funds to help fund the house’s seasonal electric bill, as a way of saying thanks for creating something special for all of us. It melted again when a friend shared that every year she too mails an anonymous card of thanks to the home’s owners.

It melts even more when I realize what this simple house, in it’s simple way, does. During this season of so much heart, hope, and family, it bears testament to the importance of glorifying what is beautiful. Of making pretty things shine.

And it does it a most real, earthly way. Mechanical tacky Santas and life-size Yoda figures included.

In our neck of the woods, there is a gorgeous, teeny house that shines brightly with the holiday spirit above all others. It is sweet, simple, and perfect. Embrace the elegant perfection for your own holiday spirit now!

Because it’s not about perfection or class or decorating standards. It’s about celebrating what makes us happy. About sharing a shiny glow with those around you and being a light wherever you’re planted on this earth.

And for this light, I share the House on Hopewell.

First image credit: image ID:13775567, copyright:VolodymyrBu

Second image credit: image ID:11106172, Copyright:Hannamariah

 

 

 

 

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