Friday, September 23, 2016

Mama, Take Care of You

I sent these boys off to school  and have spent my day off work methodically, yet slowly catching up on life. I've switched loads of laundry and baked. Now, I'm sitting down to write and rest.

Last year, I was over-committed. With every new responsibility I precariously stacked on my plate, I lost a little of my sanity. I chased the elusive perfectionism...then reminded myself to stop...briefly did...then picked up the chase again. 

This year, I'm remembering how important it is to take care of yourself and rest. 

Recently, my husband shared this article with me. As I read about this college football coach, I saw a piece of myself in his story. My personal takeaway was: The frantic chase of perfectionism negatively affects your health. By the end of the read, I felt even more determined to include regular rest into my life this year. 

No matter what season you are in, I hope you are brave enough in this do-more culture, to rest as well. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Photography - Summer Tip

Our family is soaking in the tail end of summer. (Or more like clinging to its leg in complete denial it's almost over. We are summer people.) So thought I'd give a photography tip as we all capture the last of these warm rays. When you look at a shot, focus on what is captivating about the scene.

Here's what I mean:
1.  In the first picture, we were at an ordinary park, next to an ordinary baseball field, but then THE SKY! Gorgeous. My son was swinging, so I got below him and shot up.  (Taken on my cell phone.)

2.  I didn't want the house and messy yard in the photo. The beauty of this moment was the water and my kid's smile, so I zoomed in and that’s all you see.

3. The lovely is in the scenery.  (Heaven FOR SURE has mountains!)  But, the stand and smile at me photo (which I have) didn't do the trick. My son leaping over all the streams better captured the delight and beauty of the moment. So, I zoomed out - the scenery is the focal point and my son furniture in the shot.

Or just put down your camera and enjoy the moment before it melts away with the last popsicle of summer. That works too!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

18 Hours Later And I Felt Braver {For Moms}

I did something I never thought I could do this summer - drove 18 hours alone with my three kids on our marathon road trip.
Not straight - that’s madness. Over three days, I drove 9 hours, 5.5 hours, and then 3.5 hours.
But still. Eighteen hours.  
I feel like John Glenn. 
Voyaging beyond an hour from home with my boys is NOT MY THING. The thought gives me insomnia. But I desperately wanted my children to see people I love, especially their great-grandma. And my husband needed to fly home to work, so I took the wheel alone and pressed on.  I would never have done this before kids, but motherhood trumped fear.
Parenting does that. It can make us narcoleptic-tired, paper-thin stretched, and worried like we majored in it, but out of the hard parts comes this crazy new kind of strength.
From day one, we’re forced out of our comfort zone.  At first, we can’t even believe someone would trust us with this little human being. Then we’re astonished that in our sleep-deprived state, we’ve kept our baby fed, rested and clean. We get our kids safely through the toddler years despite the type of things they insist on doing, like licking spilt chocolate milk off of McDonald’s floor. (True story. That was also the day my first grey hair came in.) We become master researchers: illness, milestones, parenting tips, schools. Our strength becomes sub-human; when our children insist on koala-bearing us for ridiculous distances, we carry them. We throw our eight-year-old across the pool simply because please mom it’s so fun. We make hard decisions: "Should I let my teenager take my car?" or "Should I start my child in kindergarten or wait till next year?" In juggling work, family and household, we become bolder, we speak up. And somewhere in it all, we find our inner Mama Bear.
And she is empowering. She nudges us to do things like drive alone with kids into outer space…
…or 18 hours across America - whatever, same diff.
All I know is after the road trip, I feel like I can do more than I could before.
Not that I want to drive alone again. (I don’t. And I don’t recommend it to you either.) But I could do it if I had to.
 Parenting persuades us to be braver today than we were yesterday.
 And that feels good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Good Things Come From Taking A Break

Last summer I didn’t feel like gardening. So I didn’t. (My gardener friend said I was letting the garden rest. I love people who see the best in me.) While I took a break, my strawberries did not. They crept past their given space. They took over where I usually grow beans and tomatoes. And now, they cover most of my garden. But, you know what? I love the TAKE OVER! Look at this bounty! I can’t even believe it. 

I am telling you this is a sign for ALL OF US...

 Rest. Unwind. Play instead of work. Refuel. Rejuvenate. 

Good things come from taking a break!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For The Days You Feel Overwhelmingly Ordinary

Do you know what caught my eye the other morning?
The lists of genealogy in the Bible. (Odd. I know.)
I usually skip those sections because I prefer non-boring, but this time the name-after-name drew me in. And I felt something.
Let me explain.
So we love to read stories about the BIG PLAYERS in the Bible - brave people who did BIG THINGS in God’s name. We want to be like these all-stars.
But tucked in and around these big stories are lists. Names. Descendants. Aunts and uncles and cousins. Parents and sons and daughters. Families. Lineage. Heritage.
I know these lists have historical value, but they spoke differently to me.
Who were these people mentioned briefly only by name? What were their jobs? Or hobbies? How many hours did they spend washing clothes, cooking meals, or chasing little ones? Take Moses - a man who found the courage to follow God, oppose a powerful leader, and walk a nation of slaves through a parted sea to freedom. Gargantuan stuff. But I wondered about his lineage. How many people with a lifetime of ordinary played a part in his big story? Did courage run in his family? We know his mom had the strength to put baby Moses in a basket and floated him down the Nile River to save his life. His sister followed the basket and when Moses was found and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, boldly offered to find a nursemaid. (His own mom.) Did those stories build courage in Moses? Were Moses’ mom and sister brave because of their lineage? Did Moses have a great-great-grandma who prayed incessantly for a strong family? Was his great-grandpa a good man who worked hard, loved his family, and sheltered his home with stability? Was his grandma a kind, loving mother? Did her kids feel strength to be bold because they always knew they could come home to her quiet force, encouragement and comfort food? Did a lineage of everyday strength and consistency lead to a mom bold enough to hide her son, a sister strong enough to speak up, and a man who freed a nation?
Perhaps a secret to seeing God move is to look past the glory moments to the lineage of ordinary people. Generations passing down traits, learning from each other, cultivating positivity and growing from the hard stuff. In this rhythm of genealogy, the everyday feels vital. And intentional. Like God placed each person in their line with great care. He wants certain characteristics and qualities passed from one generation to the next. 
The lists make me feel God’s words: “I am.” (Exodus 3:14)
I am the creator.
I am the orchestrator of life.
I am purposeful.
I am all-knowing.
I specifically placed you right here, right now with your unique characteristics, gifts and talents. It was purposeful, so go. Spread my love. Be my image bearer here on earth. Do ordinary well. Walk today knowing who you are and what you are called to do.
Be faithful in the little things, because…
…you never know what big things I might do in your life...
...or the daily impact I am making through you…
…on the people around you…
...and on the generations who will follow.
Because, I am here everyday - moving and working in the incredibly significant ordinary.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Photography - The Beach {THAT PLACE for us.}

Everyone needs THAT PLACE. Mine can be a few minutes of sitting underneath the evening sky. (Often, simply on my front porch step.) The forever expanse of stars reminds me: God is so big. The beauty: God is good. Obstacles seem a tad bit lower, hope brighter and I feel myself exhale. I'm drawn in by creation to be in awe of the Creator. The beach does that for me too. Getting here can be so #TheStuggleIsReal, but look at us once we've made it: two playing, one trying to hold the heart overflows. 
Where's THAT PLACE for you?
Pictures taken with my phone and edited on Photoshop. (Specifically, a few swimmers out of the background. I'm telling you photo editing software is a mom's best friend. It's impossible to get the same picture twice of our moving targets so good enough works; editing can do the rest. Bless you Photoshop.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

All Roads Lead to Summer

This past Friday morning my 3rd grade son factually stated he was sick and couldn’t go to school. He took his own temperature, sighed in exasperation then crawled back into bed declaring he was done. (“My fever is 89.1 degrees, mom!”) Then my preschool age son - who slept in his swimsuit because summer is so near - had a strong aversion to putting real clothes on. Next, my fourth grade son insisted I read to him. (Which I did – he knows how to pull my heartstrings.) It was a book about volcanoes and magma and tectonic plates where the number of words grew and the pages expanded with each turn and since he CAN READ himself, I couldn’t summarize it. And that was only Stall Tactics #1-3. We were on Stall Tactic #1,000,000 by the time we actually got ourselves out the door, running late – of course. Friday morning was like herding cats. But this Tuesday after Memorial Day morning…it will be different. My kids haven’t completely forgotten school exists after the lovely, long weekend filled with friends and family. My sweet boys will pop out of bed, see the beckoning sunlight and declare, “Mom…let’s hurry and get to school! We can’t wait to be inside!” Yup. That’s how it’s going to play out. A smooth, seamless beginning to our day. I’m all full of summer-is-within-reach optimism, so let’s do this. Let’s get today started. #AllRoadsLeadToSummer  #Motherhood #NeverADullMoment #LifeIsGood