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.

 

A Home and Me

House

The other day I was outside with the kids and the Mail Woman came around back and stopped to chat. We’ve only lived here for a few months and we hadn’t yet met. She smiled and said hello and then

Are you related to the woman who lived here before?

We aren’t and I said as much. She looked around at my 5 kids outside doing various things and she smiled. She looked back and said with a deeply gentle and almost sad voice,

Well, she would sure be happy that this house is full of all these kids.

We shared a few other words and she went on her way.

This is the first, and likely the last, home we will ever own. We waited 10 years to buy a home and have lived in a couple different towns and cities before landing here. It isn’t my dream location but there are so many great things, including family, here. Yet to be honest, it took me years to want to settle in and call this place “home” and when we did decide to buy this house, I wasn’t always and haven’t always been excited about it.

But the Mail Woman’s comment made me stop in my tracks. It wasn’t as much what she said as how she said it. The woman that lived here before us valued children. And family. And even her mail woman knew it.

The woman who came before us was married and had a handful of children. They moved in when her oldest child was 6 years old and now he is grown with grown children of his own. She lived here for 43 years.

It’s a beautiful historic home, very common in our town. Yet it doesn’t seem as if it was the home itself that she loved. What kept her here all those years was what filled it. The laughter, the joy, the kids.

She kept this home so well. For being over 100 years old it is in impeccable shape. It still has original wood floors, wooden pocket doors that work and original cabinets and woodwork through out. Mrs. Blanford may have loved it here, but she obviously kept this home for the people she loved most.

Her children had to sell this home because she passed away. Yet, her love for them never did. Her heart, her values, live on in her kids, and now in mine.

I’m not much of a housekeeper, I would rather play outside with the kids or spend hours dreaming about my work, but that one comment from the Mail Woman has given me a new love for this space.

As Mrs. Blanford kept this home for her family and now mine, I will keep this home for my family and the next.

As it has been said before…my favorite thing about my home is who I share it with. For my kids and the many that may come after.

*****
Small wonder

Linking up with Kelly today as we seek to see, enjoy and appreciate the #SmallWonders of life.

Thanksgiving: The Ladies…

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Ladies.

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Remember Jr. High? And girls in Jr. High? And those first awkward years of college roomies you may or may not have known?

I remember some very distinct seasons of my life when it felt like I would never be that girl to have “girlfriends”.  The ones that we read about in The Babysitters Club and the ones we watched on Friends and the ones we saw loudly leaving our dorm floor.

Yet, here I sit. Of all the things I could have shared this week I want to give a big shout out to all the ladies in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman, mom, wife or friend that I am without them. I am so thankful that they accept me for who I am my. My crazy, my flaws, my (sometimes poorly expressed) passion for things. My life would not be the same without them.

Friendships are hard. Finding good girlfriends is even harder.

The Moms Group…for a bunch of years now I have sat on Wednesday mornings, consumed more coffee than imaginable and learned with women. These women have kids of all ages, stages, personalities and ability. They have had amazing times and some of the worst. We have seen lots of new life and carried the burden of death among us. These ladies have taught me what it really means to be “the church”.  These ladies do more than talk with me too. They’ve watched my kids, helped me through big transitions, brought meals and so much more. They’ve become more than my Wednesday morning, they’ve become my dear friends. I never knew what it was like to be part of this kind of joy until I was with them.

The Late Night Girls Night…these ladies are my people. Somehow, every now and then, with lots of good cheese, we all manage to find a living room floor to sit on and just be together. We aren’t any one of us the same and not a single one of us is from this town we now call “home”. Maybe it is our shared transience or maybe it is just who we are, these are ladies who have a passion for life like I’ve never seen before. They fight hard fights, say hard things, do big things and are always asking who they were really meant to be. We all need deeply passionate friends, they are mine and really, I can’t imagine life without them.

The Working Women…I work with a lot of women. Whatever I happen to be doing for work I find myself across the table or desk from another woman. Ones who own businesses, run businesses, champion businesses and constantly recreate businesses. These women have grit. They get things done. Beyond getting things done they want to make a mark in the world, make it a better place. They create places of service and resources and joy. I admire these women and they encourage me to keep going, to do that thing I was called to do and do it well.

The PenPals and Texters…There are a handful of people that I don’t get to have coffee with or chat on the phone with or run to the park with. They are usually women who I’ve known for a long time. We have a history. We exchange texts about our kids or our prayer needs. We send gifts to celebrate birthdays and babies and houses. We share bits and pieces of the life we live apart. Yet, these women know me well. They hold a piece of my history that is definitive to who I am and who I am becoming. We may not be near enough to have coffee or available enough to make that happen but when there is a need, a joy or pain, these ladies always know.

The Coffee Talk…These ladies get me. They each individually manage to find time to meet me out and about, swing by when it works for them or make the coffee and let me come over with whomever I have in tow that day. Not everyone is spontaneous and go with the flow but these ladies, they feed that part of my soul. They don’t mind that I’m folding laundry or that they are sitting on a stained couch or that my 3 year old keeps trying to drink their coffee when they set it down. Somewhere in the midst of coffee some of the most transformative conversations of the last 4 years have happened. These individual women have helped me understand my son, have let me cry my eyes out when things were hard and have made me laugh uncontrollably. Coffee holds a special place in my heart, not because of how delicious it is, but because how all the times I’ve held it in the presence of these individuals and been changed.

And More…These few short stories can not possibly encompass all the lovely women I know or have known. My sisters and mom. My very best friend and a few new friends. The wise ladies at my church and the young church ladies just like me. These stories of community are wide and deep, simple and complicated. All bring joy and I am so grateful.

So, maybe I didn’t have a Childhood forever friend or a Jr. High best friend or a favorite College Roomie but today, today I am thankful for the women I have right now. I don’t know how I would do life without them.

Today, I am thankful for The Ladies!

Thanksgiving: Hugs and Kisses

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Hugs and Kisses

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I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to put a 20 month old in footie pajamas but let me just tell you, walking on Legos is easier!

I had my little guys legs in the pj’s and then he stood up so we could wrangle his arms in. As I reached for his right arm he leaned in real close and kissed me right on the lips. I kissed him back and reached for his other arm and he did it again, I kissed him back. I zipped him up and he did it again, this time putting his free arms around my neck and laying his sweet tiny head on my shoulder. Hugs and Kisses.

We were sitting at the dinner table going around telling about the best part of our day. Then we went around saying what the hardest part of the day was. When we arrived at my tender hearted little Kindergartner her eyes welled up and she said “The hardest part of my day was that I was crying at school because I missed you.” Right there at the dinner table I invited her to snuggle and kissed her on the top of her head. Hugs and Kisses.

It was a lot. Sitting in a therapists office hearing about what would “be best” for our son and knowing that financially it just wasn’t an option right now. Wondering if there was any way we could make it work and if we couldn’t make it work if we were letting our son down in the biggest way. I held it together on the car ride home, through dinner and bedtime. By the time we curled into bed I couldn’t hold on to it anymore. All the tears, they just came. My broken heart bearing itself to my also tired and overwhelmed husband. He just pulled me close. Said the right things. Reminded me that we are the caretaker of our son but God has big plans for him no matter what. Hugs and Kisses.

I’m not a particularly touchy feely person and I do think it odd when someone I don’t know tries to hug me. Yet, in the midst of life there is something really powerful about Hugs and Kisses. They show affection, soothe, bring comfort all in the worst and best moments.

Maybe it is a small, silly thing to be thankful for this week but in the last months of my life Hugs and Kisses have changed more than one day into something more.

Hug a child. Kiss a spouse. Snuggle a baby. Squeeze your best friend. Be thankful for Hugs and Kisses.

Thanksgiving: Motherhood

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Motherhood.

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You know those girls you grew up with. The ones that were just naturally maternal. When you planned your imaginary grown up life they had get married, have kids, be a mom on the top of their list.

Yeah, I was not that girl, ever.

It’s okay, you can laugh. For those of you that don’t know me I have 4 kids and am expecting…it is a *little* funny…

It was shocking that my sweet husband and I ever got married. We were in the car once when we were dating and he asked me about kids and I said bluntly “I don’t know if I ever want kids.” He didn’t say a word, turned up the music and gave me the silent treatment.

He married me anyway.

10 months after our wedding I stood, hot tears streaming down my face, positive pregnancy test in hand. He grinned from ear to ear, and really, he’s never stopped.

I didn’t choose motherhood, motherhood chose me. And, I haven’t always liked it.

In the beginning I wasn’t “good” at being a mom. It was so much emotional energy. I wanted to work and eat out and have a flexible schedule, it wasn’t exactly easy working and nursing and being home at a reasonable hour so everyone could rest.

As if this hard wasn’t enough BOOM, baby #2 was coming and at 7 months pregnant I lost my full time job. With my husband having just accepted a new full time job we decided I would “take some time off” and “stay home with the kids” and “enjoy the baby” for awhile.

I’ve never really gone back to my full time, live to work life, ever. And, I am so thankful I haven’t.

Somewhere after Baby #2 my heart began to change. I was the same me. I still wasn’t “good” at the emotional side of motherhood, I still dreamed about working full time, fine dining and just one weekend without a schedule but something was different.

I was still me but maybe version 2.0.

Version 2.0 of me looked the same, sounded the same, was just as driven and still full of energy. She was just a little more compassionate. A bit more emotionally brave. A lot more tired. And, a lot more of who she was meant to be.

I’m not a great cook (although my husband says I make great reservations!), I’m an okay homemaker (okay, not really, but I have friends that help me pretend to be) and I am still learning about the emotional side of motherhood (I can help my kids with robotics but can I teach them the meaning of unconditional love).

BUT, I have learned about love. And grace. And joy. And calling.

Love is so much more than a feeling and is intricately woven into our words and thoughts and actions and gifts.

Grace is so much more than forgiveness and embraces the impossible and unconditional sides of love.

Joy is more than fun but instead a gut punching side glance from a mischievous 3 year old that reminds you that she knows she’s loved.

Calling is irrevocable. The independent, strong-willed, leader, pursuer, teacher and dreamer in me were always meant to be. Motherhood has shown me that I am who I am and it is GOOD, regardless of what people see me as.

We all arrive at Motherhood differently, this is how I arrived here. The path has not been easy or gentle on my soul but now, my soul is easy and oh so gentle on others as they tread their own motherhood paths.

Today I am thankful for Motherhood.

Thanksgiving: Ransom

Ransom

It’s Thanksgiving Week.

I admire the many people who can keep up with posting 1 thankful thing a day for the entire month of November. I always want to do this but never seem to manage. This year especially with a trip to Minnesota, packing to move and just life, it hasn’t happened. But I have been thinking about it.

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Ransom.

It was Youth Sunday at church. My kids always sit with us in church through singing, prayer, communion and offering. But on Youth Sunday, they are with me the entire service. Some days this is pretty manageable, others, a bit rough.

As my son sat most of the service with his arms crossed, minus one funny interaction with our preaching youth pastor, I was feeling discouraged. Will his heart ever be soft enough to see, hear and taste real grace?

As we stood singing our invitation song he leaned over, arms still crossed, face still stoic, and said “Mom, what does ransom mean?”

I got down on his level and looked him right in the eye and whispered “It is a payment for something that was taken. In our case we have been taken by sin and Jesus dying was a ransom for our life forever, freedom forever. Make sense?”

He looked at me, looked at the words, looked back at me. With the tenderest of eyes he nodded his head and took my hand.

That was all.

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Today I am thankful for moments where words matter.

My sweet son is a reader and we talk about words a lot. We look things up in the dictionary, we compare and contrast, we think up funny words and laugh at the non-sensical ones.

Today, oh today, this one moment, this one word, mattered more than any word we’ve talked about all year.

I don’t know if or when his heart will ever be tender to grace but I sure am thankful for the glimpse of hope and the one moment we had to talk about Ransom…