Family 2015

Family 2015

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Journey

It is such a cliche thing to say that "life is a journey," but it's true. 

I have long ago conceded the fact that I need to enjoy the moment and not rush past my days trying to arrive at the elusive "there."

I understand that for myself.  What is blowing my mind right now, though, is that this is also true for my kids.

Our kids come into our lives so needy, so utterly dependent, that it is easy to forget in those early years that they are their own person.  When they are very young, we do indeed have all the answers.  I can look at a wailing newborn and know for certain that what they need is to be fed, have a clean diaper and then go to sleep.  I can watch a feverish baby tug at his ear and know that I need to go and have him checked for an ear infection.  I can be sure that it is not a good thing for a toddler to run with a pencil, or play with a light socket or eat copious amounts of sugar.  This part of life has very little guesswork.

This changes rapidly once they hit the middle years though, and the art of holding on, while letting go, can be very tricky indeed.

When my oldest approached these years, I wasn't very good at it.  I was still holding onto her life like it was my own.  I was still sure that I had all the answers.  It still made me nervous when she questioned anything that I held as the gospel truth.  And for that, I owe her many apologies.

I have gotten (a little) wiser with each child, and now I am more able to hold on loosely.  They have to walk this journey of life on their own too.  Yes, a thousand times yes, I can be a guide; but ultimately it is their life.

This doesn't make me as nervous as it used to because I now get it.  They are not mine, really.  They are God's.  His love for them makes mine look like puppy love.  His hand is on them.  He is sharing them with me for a season, but ultimately; they are His.

They will have bumps in the road and they will struggle.  They will have crisis' of their faith.  They will wonder and question and cry and rage.  But, they will make it.  And they will stand.  Because He is able to make them stand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Have Almost Arrived... Thanksgiving Break!!!!!!

I am soooooo looking forward to the next 5 days.  I love Christmas, but Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart as far as holidays go.  It probably has a lot to do with it's uncomplicated nature.  I mean, sure I have to cook, but I do that everyday.  :)

I just can't wait for tomorrow!  We will sleep in (hallelujah) and then spend the day cooking the stuff that has to be made the day before.  There will be Christmas music and we will drink coffee and eat goodies while we work.  My kids will stay in their pj's and they will run and laugh.  They will build with legos and watch some holiday shows.  They will chase the dog.  They will play games.  They will enjoy being together, and without even realizing it, they will create memories.

Then, on Thursday, I will get up early and put that turkey in the oven.  My family will wake up to that wonderful smell and come downstairs, all smiles, knowing that they still have several days before they are back to the school grind.  They will watch the parade and ask me 1,287 times if the turkey is done yet.  After we eat, we will load up in the van and head to Lansing to visit Grandma Dori and then later in the day, we will visit Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Bruce. 

The rest of the weekend will be filled with more of the same.  We do not rush past Thanksgiving to get to black friday - no way.  This is the weekend that is just about us celebrating family.  Presents have their place, but it's not now.  Now, it is just time to sit back and be grateful for all of the ways that we are blessed.  To pause for a moment and reflect on where the journey of life has brought us so far and to dream about the future.

And to eat.  A lot.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So, yesterday I gave Pierce some money to give to the Salvation Army bell ringer outside of Wal-Mart.  He ran over to drop it in all excited and then ran back to me, with his glasses sliding down his face and wiping his nose with his sleeve, he said with impish innocence, "What did we do that for again?"

It kind of broke my heart to explain it to him.  It is sad to think that at the age of 5 he already is pondering the plight of those less fortunate.  Already wondering what it would be like to be a kid who doesn't have all that he is blessed to have.

Don't get me wrong, we have had our fair share of financial struggles and we've had a few Christmases that were a bit slim, but that's not what I'm talking about so much.  I mean, he (and all of my kids) have been able to grow up knowing the warmth and security of family and his carefree spirit shows someone who has been free, so far, of the trials of life.  It felt a little devastating to me to pull the curtain back a bit and let him peer into a life that is not so kind.

But, at the same time, there is nothing I want more than children who have a developed sense of empathy and caring...whose only thought when they see those in need is to help, not to judge.  I have been blessed to be on both ends of giving and receiving, and no you didn't read that wrong.  I'm not saying I have ever liked to struggle, but what an amazing thing it has been to be blessed by others who at some point in their lives were taught this lesson.  And, on the flip side, how great it feels to be able to give to others when you have the ability to understand what a burden it lifts from them.

So, yes, little man, there are some kids who need some extra help so that they will be able to have a great Christmas this year too.  Aren't we blessed that we can help a little?  "Yes, we are, but Mom, I'm sure Santa wouldn't forget them."  That's right.  Because right now, you and a bunch of other kids like you are learning to be Santa without even realizing it.

Thank you God.  What a wonder you are...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I like make-up...

...not that you would ever know it.

I used to be a religious make-up wearer.  All through my first 3 pregnancies and even all through the times that I had 3 small girls, I was rarely caught without make-up.  I'm not sure what happened after I had Carter, but I just stopped wearing it for some reason.

It's funny because I will sometimes catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, "wow, you could really use some eye-liner."  But, it is almost never enough motivation to get me to put any on.  You would think that as I am getting older, I would be more apt to wear it, but no.  Not so much.

Honestly, I blame it on my husband.  He is the one who is always telling me how beautiful I am, and how much he likes the "natural" look.  Also, I am definitely more comfortable with myself now, much more so than 15 years ago, which is funny when you compare the pictures from then to now.  ;)

So, I guess I have settled into being a "make-up wearer on special occasions only."   Weird.  But definitely easier.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking Away.

Yep, it's Sunday.  But, when I have something to say, I just have to get it out.  So, nevermind about blogging every weekday, I'm just gonna do it when I do it.  :)

Have you ever had a relationship in your life that you just couldn't fix?  You just couldn't make someone see things your way?  You just couldn't get everyone on the same page?  I'm laughing, because, of course you have.  The better question would probably be how many times have you been in that situation.

I think those situations must face us all of our lives, and probably the only thing that changes is how we react to them.  When I was younger, I just couldn't deal with it.  I needed to make everyone in my life ok with me and my choices.  If someone I loved or respected disagreed with me, I reasoned, I must somehow be in the wrong.  Since that was usually not an acceptable option, I would assume they just didn't understand.  Then, I would start down the long and (usually) unfruitful road of trying to make them see it my way.

But, now that I'm (a little) older, I feel differently about it.  I have made peace with the fact that sometimes people are going to disagree with me and it doesn't mean they're wrong.  It also doesn't mean that I'm wrong.  It just means that we're different.  It means that we have different personalities, different backgrounds, and different things that have shaped who we are as people.  There are very few absolutes in life, which would have sounded absolutely heretical to me 10 short years ago.  But, no matter, I've grown up a little and it's true.

So, for me, the best thing to do when I come up against an impasse like this with someone is just to walk away.  Now, that sounds pretty harsh, but I don't mean like walk away and never talk to them again.  I just mean, leave it alone.  Stop having that conversation with them.  Stop allowing myself to be made to feel like I'm wrong or incorrect.  And, yes, I suppose if the only way to do that is to cut ties for a season, then so be it.

I don't always have all the answers - in fact I probably never do - but, I am comfortable with who I am.  I know that the work God has begun in me, He is completing.  And that is enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Brain and Mouth are Tired.

I sometimes get frustrated at myself for being so tired at the end of the day.  I think it's because so little of what I do all day is actually measurable.  There aren't many things in my day that I can look back on with satisfaction and think, "Ah, that's finished!"  

So, today I thought I would just sit down for a minute and think of all I had done - and though I can't cross it all off neatly on a "to-do" list,  I have to admit, it made me feel pretty accomplished.  It also explained the mysterious lack of an attention span that I have since I became a mother.  This is what I figured out, although much of what I do is mundane, what makes me so tired is that my mouth and brain work overtime all. day. long.

Here's a sample of my conversations today:

"I don't know if you will have a sub today, but don't waste your time worrying about something that might not even happen."  (she didn't have a sub)

"Yes, either a lion or a lego man would be a good choice to take to the sound muncher on Friday.  No, a lamp would not be a good choice.  Yes, it does start with l, but it's too big, and it could break, and it's mine."

"We're having garlic chicken for dinner."

 "The reason that a compass always points north is because the north pole has magnetic properties."

"No, you can not power your house with static electricity."

"We're having garlic chicken for dinner."

"No, you cannot open the door on that tower and climb to the top.  I don't know what it is, I just know you can't.  Because I know, that's why."

"I realize you have been waiting a very long time for Brandon to come and have a playdate, but I'm waiting on his Mom to call me."

"We're having garlic chicken for dinner."

"Yes, I will be back at 6:00 for the meeting.  No, I won't forget."

"When you multiply a negative and a positive, you get a negative.  Yes, I'm sure.  No, I can't explain why."

"We're having garlic chicken for dinner."

"It doesn't matter which side of the equation it is, if the "big mouth" side of that symbol is pointing towards it, it means 'greater than'."

I will spare you the rest, partly because I'm sure you get it and partly because well... my brain is tired.

Anyway, thinking about all this jogged my memory about a really awesome quote I read once and in closing, I would like to share it with you:

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."~ G.K. Chesterton.

Thank you, Mr. Chesteron.  I will never feel guilty for being tired again.

Oh, and we're having garlic chicken for dinner.  :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Of Dioramas and Early Bedtimes...

So, my 7 year old is a boy - my first boy - although he is my fourth child.  And sometimes that kid shocks the heck out of me.  I mean I've heard my whole life that boys are soooo different, but I never really appreciated what that meant until I had one.

The good - great - thing about boys is how much they love their mommies!!  I now know why there are so many awful mother-in-law tales.  It's because there will never be a girl good enough to take my boys' hearts away from me - never.  It's a good thing I have some years to make peace with that whole thing because I'm definitely not ready for it now.  But, that is not what this particular blog is about.

Anyway....the not so good thing about boys is -  just about everything else.  I joke.  There are a lot of great things about boys, it's just that sometimes they are hard to remember when they do things like what I'm about to tell you.

So, Carter loves to smash things - I don't why.  My husband swears it is a "boy thing" and perfectly normal, but to me it seems a little strange.  Yah, I know - boys are different.  So, the other day, he and Pierce were merrily smashing up some boxes and yelling and laughing with delight.  I thought it was great because who cares about some boxes?   Well, no one, unless one of the boxes is your sister's diorama that she worked on very hard and was planning to save.

So, after the meltdown, yelling and tears, we finally figured out that Carter had asked McKinley for permission to use her diorama.  Now, she is a girl.  So, as a girl, she logically assumed he was going to use it as a house for his Lego guys or something.  But, he is not a girl, which we have already covered.  To him, the use of the diorama for smashing made much more sense.

Yes, I do sometimes make allowances for things under the excuse of "boys will be boys."  But, this was not one of those times, because even boys need to have manners and understand how to respect other people and their property.  So, Carter apologized and then he had to go to bed early.  On a family movie night.  You would have thought his world was coming to an end, and I suppose in his 7 year old eyes it probably was.

But, we stayed strong and sent him anyway.  I'd rather have him sentenced to early bedtime at 7 than prison at 17.  Just sayin...

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wounds of a Friend.

I recently had a friend approach me about a situation in my life.  She came to me and asked permission to share.  I granted it.  She was candid with what she said and didn't pull any punches.  I listened.  I really considered what she said.  Ultimately, I disagreed with her overall assessment of the situation.  HOWEVER, I appreciated the heck out of the fact that she took the risk to share it.

The whole thing got me to thinking about friendship and how valuable it is.  I am blessed to have a few friends that I have pretty open and honest relationships with.  They challenge me and cause me to grow.  They don't just tell me what I want to hear, and that is something that you can't put a price tag on.

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "The wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."  It's true.  So true.  It's so easy to smile and say something you don't mean to avoid hurting someone's feelings.  But, really who are you protecting?  Not them...yourself.  Being honest with another person is to risk being misunderstood and to risk the possibility that they might be angry at you.  It is to be vulnerable.  It is to say, "I love you....enough to tell you that I think you're wrong right now....and take the chance that you might not be too happy about it."  It's hard, it's scary.  But, it's worth it.

I'm trying to teach this quality to my kids.  I encourage them not to engage in the relationship games kids play, but to have the courage to simply ask the questions they want answered or make the statements they want to make.  Other kids their age don't always appreciate it (or know how to deal with it), but sometimes they are pleasantly surprised.  Also, sometimes my kids play the games - they are kids after all.  But, I'm sure that each one of them would tell you that the honest way is better.

Another epiphany that I had after the conversation is that I listened because I know she cares about me.  You better believe that if someone who didn't have the standing in my life that she does had tried to address the topic we were discussing, I would have handily sized them down.  I'm not saying that it would have been right for me to do so, I'm just saying I know myself, and I would have. ;)  It reminds of something my husband always says,

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

2 great lessons for me in the past few days - I am one lucky lady.  :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One Day at a Time

Do you ever get overwhelmed thinking about all of the things you have coming up?  All of the obligations?  All of the driving here and there?  All of the appointments?  All of the laundry?  All of the dishes?  Holiday shopping?  School volunteering?

I do.  Sometimes it feels like it's about to mow me down like a freight train.

That is when I try to stop and take a deep breath and remember - all I have to do today  In fact, that's all I can do.  It doesn't matter how much brain power or energy I expend, I can never get ahead in time.  Life can only be lived in the present.

Of course, there are certain preparations that can be made, reminders written, schedules planned out and that is all very helpful.  But, once I've done all of that, I just need to do what is right in front of me.  There have been times when one of my kids has wanted me to stop and play a game with them or take a few minutes extra at bedtime to read a story or snuggle with them and because of all that is waiting for me to accomplish the next day and the sense of being overwhelmed that I sometimes get, I say no.  Those are not proud moments for me as a Mom.  Not only do I miss out on some extra moments with them, I also show them the wrong way to handle life by my example.

My worries and thoughts about tomorrow should not affect my today.  Things that I really have no control over should not cause me to forfeit the things I can control.

I may have a lot of stress about how I'm going to accomplish everything on Wednesday, but that shouldn't mean I can't read an extra Thomas book on Tuesday.  I may get overwhelmed thinking about how many times in the next few years I will have to make that drive back and forth to school or dance or gymnastics; but that shouldn't keep me from enjoying the drive time I have today and making the most of my time with my kids in the car.

I think I did a pretty good job today.  Now I'm going to enjoy my evening with my husband, get some rest and then get up and live just tomorrow...