What Is There to Love About Today?

What is there to love about today? Well, on first glance, not much.

Our 4yr old woke up at 3:30am ready to be up for the day. (Daylight savings time anyone?) Someone backed into our van yesterday so I’m dealing with all that. My husband is out for work this week. And now, I’m tired. What IS there to love about today?

There’s always something. I’ve been listening to Kate Bowler’s podcast “Everything Happens” while I clean up after the kids go to bed.  She and her guests are heartfelt and funny and living grief in all kinds of different ways.

But tonight, while picking up and exhausted and listening I was thinking about my own perspective. About what I hold dear and what I do with my time and what love is and why it matters. (You know, all light things to think about.)

I am reminded that there is no place like the present to begin.

So what is there to love about today…here’s a short list…

…My son is anxious about his standardized testing and he chose to talk to me about it.

…My daughter has already finished 2 books we got from the library just yesterday and was excited to share with me that they are based on the authors real life and that maybe one day she can creatively share about her life.

…My (more than exhausted) 4 year old managed to follow through on a few tasks. It seems small but late toddlerhood is not for the faint of heart and any obedience is delightful.

…My daughter made us all laugh when I went to tuck her in and said their room smelled weird.  She started belly laughing and said “MOM!  It’s because we FART when we go to sleep!” Well, okay then. (And also, can you please make sure you aren’t hiding dirty clothes anywhere all the same.)

…Our baby girl has so many words, but today she asked to sit and when I went to sit her next to me she chose my lap instead. I know these days are numbered and I was grateful to hold her there.

So, even when we are tired, and spent and crabby and too self focused, we can always stop and choose something else. Something lovely.

I love this quote from Mary Oliver…

It is what I was born for –
to look, to listen
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over…

And so…I begin again…seeking that which is love and lovely.

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Movies, Memories and Movement…

It is how it makes you feel. When you sit in the movie theatre and cry when the daughter and father embrace. When you lay in bed later in the evening and wonder what would happen if countries shared what they had and it was received as gift. When you read and re-read that one italicized paragraph because it perfectly declares what you’ve been thinking for a long time.

mumbling midnight mom movies

Between Blank Panther, How to Stop Time and A Wrinkle In Time my head and heart are spinning. It is a reminder, art speaks to us.

My husband and I were talking in the car today and I was recalling how growing up music wasn’t a big part of our home. So much so that I never really CHOSE what I liked until college and by that time several decades of music had come and gone.

Whether reading or film or music, putting words, thoughts and emotions into contexts not our own changes something in us.

Perhaps questions arise, or memories are recalled or something new is unwrapped.

For a very long time art in any form (except maybe food) has been at the far bottom of my to-do list. Between kids and work and marriage and life, it hasn’t seemed important, even trivial.

Maybe it it just the season I find myself in but currently, art is where I am meeting God, looking at His world and pondering my own purpose through movies and books and the music of my children.

It is often hard to discern what is frivolous and what is necessary. I often think we put way more into the “necessary” column than is truly necessary.

Yet, there is a place for beauty. I think of all the ways God shows us that He is WITH us. There is sunrise and sunset, colors across a canvas. There are ancient scriptures, words to be read and pondered. There are communities, people where that God image is revealed back to each other and shown redeemed.

Thankfully, God is not a single note played over and over. Instead, He is a complicated and beautiful symphony, heard best when each part is experienced.

And so, I sit, and listen…ready to hear the symphony of grace.

 

What’s Underneath? A Review and Reflection

Brave Moms Brave Kids Review

I am not a scaredy cat mom. Part of that is my personality and part of it is life experience. I’ve seen again and again that fear does not grow hope so I’ve run toward hope boldly more often than not.

So, as I sat down to read Lee Nienhuis’ debut book “Brave Moms, Brave Kids” I was on the fence about this being a book for me but also longing for some encouragement as I strive to be the best mom to my 5 kiddos that I can be. In a world of normalized violence, easy being idolized and the pursuit of more being embraced, we all need words of affirmation to keep running boldly toward hope.

Encouragement was found here. There are two kinds of “mom books” those that tell you how to mom in a three step process and those that give you foundations and principles. This book has a little bit of both.

For the mom who desires more of a directive, Part Three “The Noble Work” is exactly what you are looking for. Here Lee gives great ideas on everything from growing your child’s knowledge about God to giving them the framework to have good relationships. This is a good jumping off point to go from foundational framework to simple, practical implementation such as

“I challenge you to ready the book of Daniel with you kids, asking the question with every paragraph: What did Daniel know about God?”

But for the mom, like me, who is looking for something more, I would challenge you to consider the state of your own heart. Perhaps it isn’t fear that makes motherhood discouraging and exhausting? For me I’ve discovered that my desire for control and my own pride and impatience hold me back from leading my kids well.

In the opening of the book I reflected on this idea…

“Unresolved tension leads us to feel in our very marrow how far we’ve traveled from where we are supposed to be.”

Whether your tension be fear, insecurity, pride or control Brave Moms, Brave Kids may be the vivid reminder many of us moms need to begin again. To quietly and reflectively call us back to the ‘Rock that is Higher than I’ so that we may send the children we love out into the world knowing who they love and who they are loved by.

*****

Want to hear more? Lee made a book intro video!

 

*This book was received from the publisher as an Advanced Reader Copy. All opinions are my own.

Advent 2017: Who We Become

For the Second Week of Advent on Love…

love week 2 advent

Do you ever sit at the end of a day and feel complete? Whole? Knowing you counted the moments and you made the moments count?

In my own life I can not always say that this has been true. I often spend too much time worrying about the little things and not enough time seeing the big things.

But today, today I ended whole. As I reflected on the day I kept wondering “how do I stay here?”

LOVE.

It seems too simple.

Yet, during this second Advent week when we focus on love, I am reminded that love is enough.

Love was enough to rescue me. Love is enough to carry me into eternity.

My small, imperfect but well meaning love, it too matters.

Your love, it is shaping who you are becoming. Love well.

 

From Bernard of Clairvaux 

“What we love we shall grow to resemble.” 

Advent 2017: Wrong Oft So Strong

For the Advent Week of Hope…

advent 2017 hopeful sunset

I sat and listened to their stories. The ones where relationships were broken and families hurt and bodies just struggled to heal.

It just seems hard and unfair.

I opened up the news and it was overwhelming. People being crushed by words and war, whole stories not being told and those in influential positions unwilling to listen.

When the world is hurting, we begin to hurt.

Every generation has faced its own dark night. War, politics, nature, economy…they are often broken systems run by broken people and when both the people and systems are struggling, hope is not what we feel.

And then I sit, with my toddlers, exploring crayons and paper and trying to keep the two together and not all over the table and wall.

I see it, in the midst of a hurting world there is always hope. There is joy in small things undiscovered, experiences not yet had, personalities not yet known.

And these words float through the air and HOPE seems accessible all over again…

Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

 

This Is My Father’s World

  1. This is my Father’s world,
    And to my list’ning ears
    All nature sings, and round me rings
    The music of the spheres.
    This is my Father’s world:
    I rest me in the thought
    Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
    His hand the wonders wrought.
  2. This is my Father’s world:
    The birds their carols raise,
    The morning light, the lily white,
    Declare their Maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world:
    He shines in all that’s fair;
    In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
    He speaks to me everywhere.
  3. This is my Father’s world:
    Oh, let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world,
    The battle is not done:
    Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
    And earth and Heav’n be one.

 

Advent 2017: With Patience

For the Advent week of Hope…

Patience

I was sitting outside my office waiting for a few people to come for a meeting. It was quiet as all the other businesses in our building had left for the day.

There I was, me, my office and my thoughts.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read any writers like James Joyce who adhere to a stream of consciousness style but that is a little what that moment felt like.

Kids…big kids…kids with struggles…my kids…friends kids… friends…friendships…my dear friends who are not close this holiday season…immediate work…job…business…community…struggling community…changing community…needs…how the world needs…human limitations…holy beings unlimited.

Walking with my son to pick up some quick dinner in between meetings he said “Mom, how does God show himself? What kind of form does He take?”

Hope has such a grand breadth and depth of meaning but this point of it is sure, hope holds on to that which is more than ones self.

Sitting in the quiet hallway I’m brought back. In this season of preparation hope begs of us to sit in patience. Not in want. Not in fear. Not busyness. In patience.

As I long to be WITH this season, I find this practice of sitting in hope with my own humanity may be the hardest belonging practice of them all.

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Advent 2017: Unspoken

For the evening before Advent…

Have you ever been with a friend and seen a need but didn’t act? You know, she’s changing her kids and only has a few dishes left in the sink. Or she puts kids in the car and still has to put the stroller in the trunk.

Unspoken.

All of us have unspoken needs. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we feel shame or guilt in asking someone else to step in. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we don’t know how to ask. Sometimes we don’t speak them because we want the control that comes with doing it ourselves.

Unspoken.

Yet, when an unspoken need is met, how do you feel? For me, most often, I feel relieved. One less small thing to do in a day of thousands of small things. I also feel grateful. When my unspoken needs are seen and acknowledged I feel seen and acknowledged.

In this season of preparation, this season of being WITH, listen and watch for the unspoken need and then wait to see how your soul responds.

Perhaps you will find that being with that person, in that place, in that moment, is exactly where you were meant to be.

St. Francis of Sales

O GOD, how admirable is that which we see;
but O GOD,
how much more so is that which we cannot see.