Happy Birthday

Selfies are a common action and vocabulary word for this generation of teens. Many have already had smart phones for years. Their photos are filled with random selfies of themselves and friends. Social media feeds like snapchat are filled with selfies made even more fun with filters, overlays, and lenses. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Get close to a teen and ask if they’ve done the puppy dog face or puked rainbows. It’s a thing. Really.

I’m guilty too. I take selfies. I take them with my daughter. Often I find a burst of selfies she has taken. On my phone. Side note to self—change your password! And yes, we’ve played with tons of filters. “Mom, put your face right here and open your mouth!” Eek!
Sometimes though, I remind myself to put the phone down and experience the moment. I’ve always done this, sort of taking a snapshot in my mind. I wanted to take in every detail of the moment, the feeling, the people, the joy.

One such moment was when my daughter was about four months old. It was a full season of life, starting a business, traveling, raising three kids. In the middle of the busy I held her on my lap. She had just finished eating and had chubby cheeks, glistening lips, and kicking little feet. I traced the line of her little lips with the perfect points on her upper lip. I smoothed back her blonde hair. I held her tiny fingers, feeling her teeny nails. I felt the embroidery on her little leggings. I smiled as she babbled to me. I knew she was my last baby, my only girl, and I wanted to take in every piece of that moment with her.

There have been many more moments like this. This past weekend was no exception. Oh, there were lots of selfies with her. But I also just set my phone down and experienced the days with her. Sweet Sixteen. Sixteen years of holding this sweet baby, watching her grow, laughing like crazy, arguing in tense moments, holding each other in tears, listening to her hopes and dreams.

Sweet Sarah, I love who you are. Completely. I love that you crashed in on my bed Thursday when I was feeling horrible. You made me laugh and we took ridiculous pictures. Then you cheered me on when I had to gulp that nasty stuff. I love it when you play DJ in the car and we car dance all the way to our destination. I don’t care that others look at us because the music is too loud. They should take car-dancing lessons from us. Wait…other times you give me ridiculous looks and tell me, “No, mom. Just no.” Okay.

I also love that you hop up on the counters for dance parties in the kitchen. And you laugh so freely. I love that you’re growing into your own version of sassy. I love that you’re trying new things: learning Japanese; managing the football team; taking college classes next year; driving us almost everywhere. DRIVING! You’re a good driver.

I’m so proud of you for not being afraid of life or of people. And I’m proud that you care for little ones and the outcast. When you spent time with a person at your DECA gala, because they needed a friend…what compassion. I love how you always ask how you can help on Sundays, willing to step in where you’re needed. There are days when your room and piles of junk in the house drive me nuts. But I know one day I’ll miss all of that too. So I try not to be too particular.

I am blessed. I am blessed to be your mama. I’m blessed to watch you grow into the daughter God desires you to be. I’m blessed that He uses me in the process. I’m blessed to laugh and dance and take selfies and do manicures while we’re all piled on my bed. I love you like crazy. I trust that you’ll take lots of selfies to mark this year and I can’t wait to see them and share in them with you! Happy Sweet Sixteen!

 

 

 

 

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Busy Is Not An Honor Badge

My week has been busy. This year has been busy. My family has been busy. Ministry has been busy.

Life is just busy.

Do you feel it too?

When asked, “how are you?” do you say “Busy!”?

I can match your busy. Any day.

Do you ever find yourself listing out the to-do list for people to justify how busy you are. Or to one-up their busy? And do they reply with how busy they are too?

Are our kids seeing and feeling the hurried busy schedule at home? On the go? At school? At church? What are we telling them is important? To work harder, do more, be more, achieve more? Is that what we want for them?

In a conversation a few months back someone said, “I try not to use the words busy or tired”. Hmmm. She indicated that using those words gave the idea that she didn’t have time to be present in the moment with whomever she was with. She was too busy. Or too tired.

How many times have I said this?

How many times has that caused me to miss out on what’s around me?

How many times has that caused me to not show up mentally and be fully present in the moment?

With my own kids.

With the families I am a pastor for.

With the volunteers I lead.

How can I be fully present and fully engaged with any of them if I am too busy thinking of the to-do list or too tired from being too busy?

That’s a bad, vicious cycle.

Don’t get me wrong. It is good to work hard. It is good to plan, be intentional, follow through. He will equip us for every good work under the sun. But I find a caution with this:

It’s not about us doing more for God,

it’s about us being more with God.

If we are so busy running from activity to activity, trying to fit all of the busy into the finite hours we have, and dragging our children along the whole time, what are we really pointing them towards? What are we telling them is the most important? What are we modeling for them? That it’s good to be busy and fill our days to the point of exhaustion, leaving little or no time to just rest in God. To notice Him around us? To notice the blessings He is showering on us. Are we missing them simply because we’ve kept our head down in the busy?

Sometimes it’s even our old ideas or thought patterns that can still keep us in the busy. Or they can wear us down, leaving us feeling tired and worn out. We can do no more for God and don’t have the focus to actually spend time with God.

In another recent conversation I was asked to list out my busy, so they could know what I was doing and make sure I was taking time for myself. After hearing the long list they said, “Well, maybe you can rest on 4th of July”.

No.

I don’t want to just survive these days. I don’t want to stay so busy, head down, completely task driven that I miss the moments. The moments of laughter with my children. The moments of wonder with the littles I get to teach. The moments of joy with friends. I want to show up and be so incredibly present with them. I want to invest in people. I want to be intentional. I want to bring joy.

For me, it’s time to clean out some old thought patterns again. Things that don’t serve me. That are consuming too much of my time. It’s time to lighten the calendar.

It’s time to pause and create more space in my life to just be.

At the end of the day, the end of the year, or the end of a life, busy is not an honor badge I want. I want the moments. I want the laughter ringing in my ears. I want the joy of life. I want the blessings He brings. And I want to be with Him more.

Are you wearing the busy honor badge? Are you ready to set it down? Are you ready to pause?

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The Hard Days of Being a Mama

Some days are just hard.

Some days being a mom are just really hard.

Some days being a single mom are just really really hard.

The Hard Days

I’ve had some long, full days this week. I’ve had long days at work with difficult conversations and difficult decisions, including some 10+ hour days. Tuesday alone was 4 hours of work that lead into three back to back to back meetings that went five hours straight. The 1.5 hour break had me racing home, grabbing the grocery bags, buying groceries, backing in the drive to let my son unload them, then driving back to work for another 1.5 hour meeting. I love what I do. Sometimes it’s hard.

This week has felt like hurt all around me. A friend’s three year old son was diagnosed with leukemia, and that just breaks my heart in the worst possible way. I’ve had to step back from another friend going through a really difficult time. I want to be supportive and encouraging, but that’s not wanted now. I’ve had deep conversations with other mamas about serious allergies and health issues, about the hard days of their kids hurt feelings and hard friendships, and the hard moments of being a mom. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Being a Mom

I’m up early to help with lunches and make sure they’ve brushed their teeth. Sorry moms with littles, even though my two at home are teens, they still need to be reminded to brush their teeth. I drive them to school four days a week. We leave before 7 am. I’m not a morning person. It’s not pretty.

We’re finishing up the end of year stuff and making sure grades are up. We’re planning out some college classes for both of them next year. We’re dreaming of what post high school looks like for my son with disabilities. We’re making plans for his graduation and party. We’re fitting in driver’s ed with my almost 16 year old and taking long drives. We’re making time for friends. We’re planning her 16th birthday fun.

At home this week a glass light fixture fell from the ceiling and shattered all over the place. The cat decided to puke on the landing of the stairs early one morning. Kids have chosen not to help with the basics this week, so the garbage and dishes are overflowing. I realized I missed a couple steps in preparing Jacob for graduation. My oldest son needs more forms filled out for his university.

The list could go on.

Doing it all alone

Even though some days it looks like I have it all together, I don’t. I still need help. I still need encouragement. I still need community. I still need people to surround my kids with love. And sometimes that’s hard to open up my heart, my home, and offer the opportunity for others to step into their lives. Our lives.

They’ve endured loss. Hard loss. And it’s hard to think about others walking away. I know it’s part of life. People come in and out of our lives. Sometimes they’re in our life to teach a lesson, sometimes for a season, and sometimes for more. But as a mama I just want to protect their hearts.

Choosing to Invest

I could hide my head and bury my feelings and just survive these days. Instead I’m choosing to invest in the hard work of being a mom. I’m choosing to experience the complete joy of being the mom to the three greatest blessings ever in my life. I’m choosing to show up and be vulnerable and get messy with the hard stuff of life with them. Some days there are tears. Some days there are hurt feelings. Some days there are full on meltdowns.

And all of the days are filled with laughter and hugs, smiles and I love you’s.

I love that when I get home after a long day my daughter still wants to snuggle on the couch and watch her favorite show with me. And she wants to try on fun dresses and laugh with me. And she senses when I need a hug and is quick to pull me in. And my Jacob can’t wait for me to get home so he can tell me all of his random thoughts that make perfect sense to him. And make bad “yo mama” jokes. And catch me up on the design complications of his latest welding project. And I love that my oldest son texts me during the week to see if I need anything from the sale at the Duck Store. We love our Ducks. I love them all.

Even though some moments are hard, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything.

So to all the hard working, soul touching, hug giving, dancing in the kitchen, eating tacos off the floor, laughing like there’s no tomorrow, natural, adoptive, foster, step, bonus mothers that are out in this big world, THANK YOU. Thank you for showing up and investing in the lives of the littles and not so littles. Thank you for making this world a better place just by being you. You are amazing and I love you for all you do and all you are and all you give. Happy Mama’s Day!

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