Avoiding the Pictures

I haven’t slept.

I need to get up for work in an hour, and I haven’t slept. That’s my disclaimer. I am not responsible for the outpouring of words about to emerge from my weary mind. This post isn’t going to be neat and tidy. If you’re a publisher who has somehow happened upon my tiny, obscure little blog in the wee hours of a Tuesday morning, don’t judge this work as my best. If you’re a local (or a teenager) this next sentence will make more sense to you. If Mrs. Frania were grading this post, I would surely fail. Formatting and sentence structure will not be joining us this morning.

I’m avoiding the pictures.

Graduation is less than two months away. And, I am avoiding the pictures, partly because gathering 18 years worth of pictures that are not organized, but rather scattered willy nilly in random Rubbermaid containers and boxes seems too monumental to tackle at the end of a work day, or you know…when the sun’s out….and partly because I don’t know if I can look at these tender years laid before me. My heart may come undone. He has been here for all of my adult life. He has never been away from home for more than a few days. Who he is has shaped so much of who I am. What will it be like when he isn’t sleeping in his Notre Dame bedroom?

So…I avoid the pictures.

I am the mother to a grown up man. Can I be small and share something that is not-at-all of deep spiritual significance? Something completely separate from the truth that I would not trade a moment of being a mother to all of my five children? I do not know how, as a woman, to wrap my mind around being the mother to a grown up man. You know…identity wise. In reality, I am loving every minute of this season of motherhood. Soaking it all in. Treasuring every moment with my children…and especially taking time for the oldest as these moments are fleeting. I love him, love his friends, love our house full of boys. They bring me great, fulfilling joy that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I know our identity is in Christ. Our beauty should not be of outward adornment only. I have written about embracing the beauty of right now. I believe the words I’ve written.

But, I do still live on planet earth. And, in the quiet of my mind and heart, I realize there is a great shift occurring in the mom/woman cosmos for me. (Guess I’m not leaving it in the quiet of my mind and heart right now.) The truth is, I am wrestling a bit with getting older. While I’m still young to many, I’ve lived a lot of life. I was always in such a hurry to be grown up, rush to the next season. I’m just now learning the art of savoring…counting the gifts. (Thank you Ann Voskamp.) But, in truth, my soul has been old since I was 18.

I became a mom and wife, and didn’t look back. In many ways, that saved me. I don’t regret it. Not for a moment. I haven’t given it much thought at all until right now. I was busy, being a momma. Too busy to notice what it meant for me as a woman. No regrets. Our children should matter more than our identity.

But, the idea of being a mother to an adult. The idea of this time coming to an end. I know all the words you may will feel tempted to comment about how this is the way it’s supposed to be, children grow up. And remember that this earth is not all there is. Focus on the Lord. Serve Him. Be about your Father’s business. Be proud of the son you’ve raised. I am. I am to all of the above. (And, please, mommas whose little ones are still sleeping soundly in their beds, running around at your feet, holding your hand, saying the sweetest earthly name with their tiny voices, filling your arms and your days…please don’t tell me to embrace the adventure…or that you will do this so much better when you get here…or that you can’t wait for this day. We don’t know until we get here the grace we will need to actually walk this path.) And, anyway… I am embracing the adventure. These feelings are separate to all of this.

This is about being a woman.

I was the youngest mom/woman for a long time, in many circles. But the tide is turning, and in the recesses of my heart, I am reconciling what that feels like with what I know to be true. I notice that I’m not getting younger, and can never look 20 again. I believe a woman can be beautiful and attractive in every season of life. My mother was one of those women. When I was a young teenager, boys would come over to look at my mother. Check out boys at the grocery store (some of whom I dated) were always fond of her. Men that attended school with her told me as they walked through the line at her funeral visitation that they always thought she was the most beautiful girl they knew. When she was bald and wasting away with cancer, she put on a dress, donned her cane and came to church with me. Several men mentioned her great beauty to me. She radiated something from inside that made her beautiful. She was classy and her smile was warm and shone from her eyes. She was always so much more than she knew…and maybe that was part of what made her so attractive.

I’m not really sure what my point is. Warned you this wouldn’t be a tidy post with deep spiritual meaning. This may be the most of a mid-life crisis a believer in Christ is allowed to have. Waxing poetic with some thoughts of fleeting youth and beauty to wrestle with in the wee hours of the morning poured out on the internet, because that’s how we roll in 2012.

Anyway…just thought I’d share my moments of weakness and pondering…in case any other mamas are noticing gravity and the passing of the years and feeling the same shift in the mom/woman universe. I’m off to scrounge up the large quantities of caffeine it’s going to take to string together coherent thoughts today. Have a beautiful Tuesday. =)

P.S. You’ll find some deeper spiritual thoughts and scripture…and you know…words of encouragement on the subject of “finding our beautiful” in this post I shared on Seeds of Faith. You know, if you’re interested in a post with an actual point and not mere ramblings of a mad woman waxing nostalgic in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks for reading my crazy…and loving me anyway. (I hope.)

 

Eighteen

In about a week, I will be the mother of a grown up man.

The one who made me a mother, almost grown, making future plans…big plans…plans that will take him into his first steps away from here.

To say that a myriad of emotions swarm my heart and mind every day would be an understatement.

Mothers do this. That’s the goal. Training up our children, loving them, and praying as they grow into adults… hopefully lovers of Jesus and good citizens.

Mothers do it everyday. Everyday babies become men.

And…while I rejoice at the qualities in this person who was sent into my life when I was walking a dark path…a person whose first cries changed the course of my own life and the desires of my heart forever…the one God used to save me when I was just the tender age that he is about to be…the one whose life led me to the Rock that is higher than I…the one who has been here, filling our house with life for all the days we’ve been grown ups ourselves…

Qualities I admire and respect…beautiful parts of his character…answers to prayer. He is a fine young man, with a tender heart and a strong resolve to be the person he was created to be, a determination to pursue and achieve whatever he sets his mind to.

These are exciting times indeed. Time for him to soar. A time of beginnings for sure. I know that…and outwardly I embrace it. Even inwardly…for him, I embrace it. I encourage him to soar…with confidence, knowing that God is big enough for all of it.

But the letting go. I cannot even tell you what that is like. The letting go of life as it has always been. The letting go of listening to him strum his guitar, filling my house with hungry, noisy boy- men I’ve come to love as my own,  driving me crazy with his arguing, hearing  his man voice, annoyed with his brother, dealing with his teasing…because no one gets my goat quite like him. The letting go of the guarantee of holidays with a house full of my people. The knowledge that he is safe at home, and sleeping in the room next door every night. Those are the things carried in my mama heart even as I encourage him to go…to pursue…to be the amazing person he is meant to be.

I imagine this letting go is intense for every mom. And, I have to wonder if there is an extra dose of intensity, an extra bit of tearing for the mamas who hold on just a little tighter, because they’ve already had to let go of so much…because they know the fleetingness of this life, and the fragility of it…because they have stood by the grave and said impossible goodbyes. Maybe I would be this way…even if. Maybe.

I have cherished every season of motherhood. Found precious gifts in all of it. Each one holds something special….moments to soak in…lessons, joy, laughter, tears, growing pains…all of it, filled with blessings, if we’re looking. And, no doubt, there are gifts in the seasons that are coming. I look forward to them, and will embrace them with joy, even as I’m waxing nostalgic for a bit.

We aren’t perfect by any means, and God isn’t finished writing our stories. Still, on this side of motherhood, as I reflect on the seasons so far, it’s important to share, for those of you who aren’t here quite yet…

Some of what I thought mattered so much, didn’t matter at all. What mattered most are the authentic moments we shared…laughing together as a family, the consistency of knowing that home is a safe haven, where love and grace is always found, planting seeds of truth and faith with his Word, going to church, walking the walk. The most important, life-shaping lessons our children learn from us, are not the ones we tell them with our words, but the way we live when we think no one is watching. And, when I say that….I don’t mean we are required to be perfect. I don’t mean it’s about our performance as a parent or a Christian. Quite the opposite.

It’s amazing, really…the way our God is able to transform. You see, some of our biggest “mistakes” or “failures” have been the very things God has used the most to teach our children about Who He is and His ability to make something beautiful out of the biggest of messes. I couldn’t teach my sons any better about grace, redemption, salvation, and clinging to Him no matter what, than the story that has unfolded before them in our own lives. That’s the stuff they will carry with them. Just love, be with them, pray for them, enjoy them, embrace who they are, and walk humbly before your God.

He will take care of the rest…

 

More Stuff I Learned From Dinah ~ Being a Student of Husbands & Sons and Getting Out of the Way

I grew up in a household where the mother was in charge. Generations of gritty, strong women pepper the history of my family tree.  My mom wasn’t the type of girl to rely on a man to take care of her. She took care of herself, and was appalled by women that did not. I suppose it was the time she spent learning early on that she was the only person who would not disappoint her, desert her, or break her heart. She was an on again, off again single mother…but even when she was married, she was in charge. She was a tiny, beautiful, 100 pound spitfire of determination, grit, and class. Even when she wore her denim bib overalls and flannel shirt covered in glue to the factory job where she made paint rollers, she had class and the kind of beauty that draws admiration. My first memory of wondering if I would be like her someday is when I was about 7 and she was maybe 25. We were swinging on the swings, and I stretched my legs as far as I could, trying to match her pace. Her thin legs were tan and smooth, and stretched gracefully out further than my little legs. I remember thinking that she was grown up and I wanted to be like her someday. Twenty-five…that seemed to be the perfect age. That was the age of grown up. And my mother was awesome. (More thoughts on that in a later, yet-to-be-written post!)

My own initiation into adulthood brought me to a one bedroom apartment, married to an eighteen year old senior in high school, and the mother of a little boy. I didn’t feel grown up or graceful, like my mother on the swing. In fact, I felt anxiety-ridden and unsure. I was never gritty, and my tendency toward softness, girliness, and the fact that I could never hide my tears when anything grazed the surface of my heart always bewildered my mother. The only real toughness I displayed growing up was the fact that I would kill a spider without blinking to protect my baby brother. I would probably do almost anything to protect my baby brother.

It occurs to me that I’m telling a prologue. Dinah would be so annoyed if she were here. This post really isn’t about my mother. Although, I think a little background helps sometimes. Hence the prologue. Oh great…now I’m explaining the prologue!

Dinah came into my life, early on, when I didn’t have a clue how to be a wife and mother to little boys. I was instantly and instinctively a mom, but the wife thing…and the understanding of the male gender thing…notsomuch. I wanted to be in charge, in control. I wanted to resort to what I knew of watching a wife and mother. You can only really count on yourself. (Men leave, men disappoint.) When Timothy was a baby, our roles seemed pretty natural…what with all the nurturing, nursing, and caregiving a mother is naturally created to do. But, as our oldest boy grew older, it was evident that I must decrease and it was time for the learning-to-be-a-man business that only a strong male role model, like say a father, can teach. I didn’t know how to begin to get out of the way.

It made Dinah, a strong woman in her own right, crazy to watch me stumble along, oblivious to the ways of a man. She would say that I didn’t like men…that I learned that from my mother. I’m not sure if she was right about that. I have always adored and admired men…but maybe I haven’t always respected them. She would ask me how I could know so little about men when I had all those brothers. How could that be?! I’m pretty sure she thought I was a fool. And, I was…at first. But, I learned to become a good student of God’s Word, a student who listened to the wise women of the church, and most of all a student of my husband and son. Dinah taught me about learning to understand my husband, use less words, and get out of the way. But, it was has proven to be a lifelong lesson.

It has been an ongoing battle for me to get out of the way. I would think my husband should parent this way, or it would be better if he had a heart to heart with our boys in the way I thought he should, using lots of words and feelings. I didn’t understand his strong, quiet ways. I wasn’t sure how a dad should fit into a family. I read scripture to our boys, fretted over them, and prayed and guarded them like a fiend. Sometimes to the point where they didn’t hear my words.

Dinah taught me that the goal of parenting a son was to give him a vision of being a man who would protect and provide for his family. A strong man of character and integrity, a godly, courageous man. It takes some grit to survive this world. For some silly reason, I thought it was up to me to give them that vision and grit. Girly, clueless me.

I spent years trying to get out of the way, trying to peel my grip off our oldest son, even as we buried three babies, and my instinct was to hold on tighter to the one that remained…the one that first made me a mother. Even though I’ve learned to let go in many ways, I find, I’m still learning…still holding on some.

Tim took them hunting…with guns and fishing…with hooks. I remember my anxiety and Dinah talking me through it, sternly. Tim and Timothy would sit in the woods for hours, barely speaking a word, in the cold, in the freezing rain and snow… waiting for the elusive deer. Hours of waiting…days…weeks. Then my tender-hearted boy shot his gun and killed a deer, providing meat for our family. I didn’t understand the point of it then. It didn’t seem like they were building anything substantial just sitting there. I would have thought you were crazy if you suggested that they were building a relationship of respect for one another and God’s creation. They were building character, patience, perseverance, courage, integrity, endurance, and the ultimate feeling of providing for a family. No…I had no idea that’s what was going on.

Yesterday, our 10-year-old, James went hunting for the first time and shot his first deer. I noticed the twinkle in his eye when he described his father’s Tiger Woods style fist pump when he shot the deer. A satisfied fist pump from dad is worth more than all the gold in the world. I get that, now. Before he left, I prayed through my what-ifs, and thought about Dinah telling me to be a student of  my husband and sons. I have been a student of them. And, I’ve learned to appreciate their ways, once unnoticed by my foolish eyes, even if it is still hard for this mama-heart to watch her boy walk out into the harsh world with a gun slung on his back. Like Mary, I put those thoughts away to ponder them in my heart…pat my boy on the back on the way out the door, saying simply “You can do it.” And, when he returns from the man-world I don’t understand, a bloodied deer proudly in tow, I will welcome him with pride. These days, I’ll even help them process the meat!

You see, all these years, while I struggled to figure out how to train these boys to be men, in the recesses of my mind still thinking it was up to me, my husband was quietly leading by example. And, his life has spoken louder than any of my striving. It seems that the quiet way Tim chose to do the hard things, to work hard to support our family, to have integrity and courage. The quiet way he taught them through experience and example to protect and provide…without many words at all…has inspired them more than any idea I’ve tried to plant in their hearts. You see, a man with strength and goodness in his heart can inspire a boy to want to do the hard things himself…to overcome the obstacles…to fight the good fight. Just the act of Tim sitting in church on Sunday morning and folding his hands in prayer and the act of getting up everyday to do a back-breaking job without a word of complaint, rushing to the baseball game in boots still covered in mud and concrete… speaks volumes to them about what a man does…what a man looks like. A son will strive to earn the respect of a father who may not even be the greatest example….but a son with a great father, the kind that lives a good, quiet life and honors the Lord…working hard for his family. Well, there is no limit to what is inspired in the heart of a son with a father like that.

Mothers have an important role in the lives of their sons, don’t get me wrong. They need our love and nurturing as keepers of the home. They need us to be their haven from the harsh world, a cheerleader that always believes in them, and a listening ear when they have a hankering every few months or so to share what’s on their minds. Even, every once in awhile, a gentle voice of wisdom (with very few, non-preachy words, of course.) And, most of all a prayer warrior…standing in the gap for them while they go out and fight the good fight. But, I am still in awe of the beauty of the way a dad can inspire a son to be a man, simply by living. Sometimes our part is to pray, and get out of the way.

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

 

Senior Pictures…and Mama Confessions

This is my senior boy. I know you’ve been hearing a bit about our first born lately around these blog-parts, and I promise I will post about something else soon. But truthfully, I’m a bit consumed by this fleeting time.
My sweet friend Dawn Marshall took his senior pictures last month and she let us share one here. They turned out great, don’t you think?
She also emailed me a copy of a pic she snapped before the one above. When Timothy took his guitar out of his case, it was a bit dusty. So, without skipping a beat, I did what mamas do. I dusted it off with the bottom of my skirt. Dawn, being a mama herself, was amused by the gesture. (Please ignore the fact that it was not my best side!)

Speaking of not my best side, I’ve been doing some thinking on the stuff we mamas do…the schedules we juggle, the guilt we carry, the things we forget, the things we’ll never forget, the things we wish we could forget, and the things we want to remember forever, the things we mess up, and the moments when God’s grace shines through and we breathe a satisfied sigh.I’ve been pondering the passing of time…the way everyone says that it will go so fast. 
They are so right.
I returned to my job as a paraprofessional at a local elementary school last week, and Timothy is in the thick of his very last high school golf season ever. SGM is busy and growing. Tim started his own business. And, James started middle school. I can feel the pull of my heart’s desire to be the “keeper of my home” and the reality of the everyday demands of life. While I need to work, and enjoy my job working with special needs students, there are days when I would love to focus solely on the needs of my family…and bake some cookies. I’ve never felt like one of those people who could do it all. I try, but I mess it up.
I forget things, miss appointments, and constantly feel like I’m juggling and about to drop all the balls hanging in the air. A co-worker and fellow mama was sharing at lunch about  her child’s homework, and forgetting something.
I looked up and said, “I don’t know how other working mothers do it. Some seem to have it all together. I stink at it!”
And, I was thinking maybe I’m not the only mom who feels that way sometimes…whether we work outside of the home, or not. Maybe we all have moments when we feel like we are messing it all up. 
But, then, I look at my boy…almost all grown up. I remember the prayers I’ve prayed for his life…and the answers I’ve seen so far. I think about God’s faithfulness, reflecting on all He has already done. Surely He isn’t finished yet. His promises are the same for both my boys.
And, let me tell you…God hears the prayers of a mother.
I love that God is always big enough for everything that weighs on my mama-heart. I love that it’s about His faithfulness…not my inability to get it right. It’s about His strength…made perfect through my weakness. Always and without fail.
I’m so grateful…and now if you’ll excuse me…I think I’ll go bake some cookies.

My Mother’s Ring (Updated to add my new wedding ring and some better pics!)

Tim bought my first mother’s ring for me the Christmas after we said goodbye to our only daughters, Faith and Grace. I wanted a piece of jewelry that signified all my children: Timothy and our girls…a January and two Novembers.
Less than two years later, I walked into the jewelry store beside my friend, Ginny. The lady behind the counter was a girl that we went to school with. She knew we had lost our baby girls, and responded with joy that I was there to add another stone to my ring. Assuming that our house was filled with joy, not grief. Assuming that a baby had come to fill my empty arms, she smiled and said,
“Congratulations.”
I couldn’t speak. I shook my head no, and turned as the tears spilled from my eyes, running from the store. Ginny stayed and told her about our Thomas, who was born in July and lived on this earth for six hours. We would need a ruby added to my ring. The girl’s faced turned pale and she apologized profusely.
Now there were four.
I never thought there would be a fifth stone to add.
But, years later…
an unexpected miracle brought me back to the jewelry store.
It was time to add a May stone for the miracle that stayed and filled our house with his zest for life…sweet baby James.
This time, my friend no longer worked at the store and the people behind the counter said they couldn’t add a stone to my ring. It was bent a little and thin from being worn. I began to tell them the story. I didn’t expect tears that day, but the tears came when they said all they could do was offer me another ring…one that cost more than twice as much as the one I had.
So, for several years, there was no ring complete with the birthstones of my children.
Then, finally on a special occasion I can’t remember, Tim and I replaced the ring on a shopping trip. Only, I lost it a few months later before a golf event.
More years passed…and I lamented over the ring that wasn’t.
My mother went home to heaven, joining her grandbabies and leaving her mother’s ring to her only daughter.
I have been considering for the past four years putting my babies’ birthstones on my mom’s mother’s ring. But, there always seems to be another expense or more pressing need.
Recently, though, my engagement ring broke and I needed some other work done at the jeweler. So, I chose a local store called the Diamond and Gold Outlet. You can bring them your old, broken, used gold pieces you don’t want and they will count the value toward your purchase. So, I had them put the stones representing my five children: (two on earth, three in heaven) on my mother’s mother’s ring, making it my own.
Not only does the ring represent my children, but also my mother.
I feel so blessed to have this precious, perfect gift on my finger representing those most dear to me.
And, an added blessing: The total cost with all the work I was getting done, including a new wedding ring,  was going to be $273.
With my gold jewelry trade-in, it only cost me: $18 !!!
I tried to take a picture, but my camera is not great and the flash lit up the ring too much. So, it’s hard to see what it looks like. The important thing is that it’s on my finger, complete with five precious stones, representing five precious lives. I love it…and I’m so grateful.

My Wedding Ring

O.K….so a couple people have asked me about my wedding ring. I had a small diamond solitaire on  a thin gold band that Tim gave me when he was just seventeen (the current age of our son…YIKES!). It was modest, but special because he gave it to me. I tend to wear more silver jewelry (or white gold), but I didn’t give a lot of thought to ever changing the rings. They were the ones he gave me when we were married, and I don’t require a lot of fanciness. Besides, a big old ring would just get in my way!

But when my engagement ring broke recently, I gave some thought to my mother’s white gold engagement ring that she had left to me when she passed. I thought if I was going to have to invest in fixing my ring anyway, maybe I would just wear her ring, and get a white gold band to match. I’m a sentimental gal, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about wearing a wedding set that wasn’t from Tim. But, after talking to him, I felt better. It’s just stuff, after all. A ring doesn’t make a marriage…that’s for sure! And, he was happy for me to have something pretty and new. I chose a white gold wedding band, and the jeweler put a finish on it to match mom’s engagement ring.

What did I do with the diamond Tim had given me when he asked me to marry him?

Well the same jeweler who gave me such a great deal is creating a necklace using a heart pendant from one of my mother’s necklaces and putting my engagement diamond in the middle of it. That way, it will always be close to my heart. =) I’ll show a picture when it’s finished. And, I still have my little gold band that Tim placed on my finger seventeen years ago. I will wear it with my mom’s set from time to time. I’m not much for following the rules. Mixing gold and silver…that’s just how I roll! =)

Both pieces are very special to me…and they encompass all of the people on this earth (and some in heaven) that mean the most to me: Tim, my children, and my mother.
What precious, simple gifts. They are just right. Like my mother, I’d much rather have something that’s precious to me than something fancy and expensive.
Treasures in heaven are the ones that matter most, but I’m sure grateful for these sweet reminders on earth as well.

Doing Our Best with the Shot We’re Given and Other Musings from the Wee Hours of the Morning

I stood at the counter in the dentist’s office this week, attempting to schedule our next appointment. I was thinking out loud about the best time for our oldest son, Timothy, to go for his check-up in August, since he would be back in the thick of golf season by then. I fumbled for a moment and stopped.

The receptionist said, “I know…isn’t it a pain to schedule around all these things our kids are involved in?”

I replied, “It isn’t that…it’s just. This is the last time I will be scheduling a dentist appointment around his golf season. He will be a senior by then…and this will be his last golf season.”

I won’t lie. I did get a little teary in the middle of the checkout line at the dentist’s office. And, the moms who have walked through this season of parenting nodded with understanding and a knowing compassion in their eyes. They get it. They know what it’s like to walk around forever with your heart outside of your body…to pour your heart and soul into the loving and training of this person…to learn to love what they love and spend endless hours watching them do what they love, encouraging them to blossom into the person they were created to be….nurturing their gifts…praying endless prayers for them…listening to their dreams…dreaming your own dreams for their lives…and learning to let go of some of those dreams, trading them for new dreams.

Everyone says it goes by in a blink…to cherish the time and soak in every moment. Everyone says it because it is true. When our babies are tiny and filling our arms, we find it hard to believe that there will ever come a day when they will not need us. They spend their formative years under our wings, being shaped and molded, loved and protected. But, it is a fleeting season. And, the seasons that come next can be a surprise. At least they were for me. I wasn’t prepared for all the letting go and trusting God that goes on in the parenting of a child.

I was talking to a friend recently about some things her child is struggling with. And, in recent years, I have reflected on this concept with my own children and the children I work with in elementary school.  She mentioned the idea that he is “broken”. That is a hard one for us, isn’t it? As mothers, we don’t ever want something to be broken in our children. We don’t want them to struggle, or suffer, or face obstacles to overcome. Life is hard enough.

But, as we talked, and as I’ve been reflecting in the wee hours of another day that is beginning at around 2:30am….the truth is…

We’re all broken.

Everyone is broken in some way. We all face obstacles, struggle with weaknesses, have little quirks. I recently had a conversation with one of the students in our classroom making the comment, “That’s not fair” about something with which he was disgruntled. I told him gently and lovingly that in my house, my children were not allowed to say that phrase. “We are all different in our own way. All of us are living our own lives.We are all created unique in our own way, with different abilities and needs, strengths and weaknesses. Life isn’t about fair. We do the best we can with what we are given, and do not worry about what someone else is given.” (Don’t get me wrong. I am compassionate with my kids that life sometimes is a bummer and hard things happen. I just don’t want them wallowing in whether or not something is fair…or spending time comparing their own lot in life with someone else. It is a fruitless endeavor.)

My son loves to golf, and he’s pretty good at it. He often says that the best place to be mentally on the golf course is not hoping or expecting to hit the perfect shot every time. It’s being able to do the best with the shot you’re given. Instead of throwing in the towel when you get a bad lie or things don’t go your way, or a shot veers off to the left or right, you ask yourself, “O.K., what’s the best I can do right now….with this shot…from right where I am.” You cannot dwell on the regret that the previous shot didn’t work out…and you can’t try and make up for it by overcompensating on your next shot. You can only play this shot…the one you are given right now.

In life, we can only do the best with what we are given. Dwelling on the “what-ifs” and “if onlys” does nothing to change our circumstances. And, neither does worrying about the future. What we have learned in our own lives about being broken, is that there is beauty in the brokenness. Some of the most precious gifts of this life come from the broken places. It’s easier sometimes, to apply those lessons to ourselves, but not so easy when it comes to our children. We don’t want them to have any broken places. But, without some of the brokenness in this life, we would miss some of the most precious beauty.

There are many prayers I’ve prayed for my children, but there are a few things that stand out as I look into this new season of parenting, feeling all reflective and sentimental. Of course, I pray for them to be godly young men, compassionate and soft hearted as well as strong and sure, and that they would marry godly women. I pray that they will use their gifts and abilities to serve the Lord. But, these three stand out.

Number One….I pray that my boys would love Jesus…that they would know Him intimately as their Savior and Lord. That they would live their lives for Him.

Number Two…I pray that they would honor God with their lives and that they would honor their family, as well.

Number three…I pray that they would be confident in the person each was created to be…comfortable in their own skin…unwavering in their convictions.

We can’t make things perfect for our kids. We can’t protect them from every injustice and ensure that their lives flow smoothly, free from any obstacles. In fact, quite the opposite. We must prepare our children for the bumps they will inevitably face along their journey through life in this imperfect and quite broken world. We must help them build a sure foundation that will not crumble when the storms of life come rushing in.

And, one more thing that seems important to mention in the wee hours of this morning, after wrestling with my own concerns for my children and my own imperfections as their mother, once more laying it all at the feet of Jesus: Know that you are covered in grace. I’m so grateful that, in the darkness of night, when all my failures seem so glaringly evident, I can simply pray that God would cover my family with His grace. That He would cover the areas where I have fallen short, the things I’ve neglected, the opportunities I missed, times when I was less than I could have been, or didn’t know the best way to do it. He’s big enough to cover it all…and more than able.

Plus…He’s faithful…even when I’m not.

Let’s Hear it for the Boys

On this Veteran’s Day, we are thankful to all the men and women who have served, are currently serving, and will someday serve this country…and to their families. Thank you for the sacrifices you make every day to protect our freedom and our beloved country. You have our prayers and our gratitude.

That being said, I would like to dedicate the rest of this post to boys and men and all the things that make them who they are.

I’ve been reflecting on the gift of the plethora of boys in my life, and the reasons God put them there. Why would he surround me with three brothers, three step brothers, a manly-man husband, and three sons (one in heaven)? You can imagine my initiation into wife/motherhood. I had been in a home where the woman was in charge, where tea sets and flowers had the free reign of the house. And, I married this man who hunted with guns and went to the woods willingly, and rode big horses that made me sneeze, and slurped his milk when he ate his cereal, and came home dirty and smelly after a hard day’s work, and wrestled with our son to bond with him, and thought he should be in charge.

What was this foreign land…and how did I get here?

My posse of church ladies stepped in and taught me the importance of loving, honoring, and respecting my husband. I soon learned to look at having the husband as the head of the family as a gift. They also taught me the importance of shaping my son into a young man with all the characteristics he would need to lead his family one day. Courage, integrity, strength, a protector, a provider…perseverance, commitment, a standard of excellence, the heart of a warrior, a willingness to fight the good fight… to stand for truth…to place his trust in the God who created him.

I have been reflecting on the making of a warrior’s heart. A boy just doesn’t become a man over night. Seeds have to be planted in his heart along the way. He needs challenges to overcome, adventures to embark on, obstacles to conquer. He needs those things to become the strong man he was created to be. That involves the kind of love that doesn’t hold on too tightly…the kind of mother who knows when she needs to let go and get out of the way. And, the kind of father who leads by example. That didn’t always come easy for me, a woman who loves to be in control. And a woman who spent many years clinging tightly to the child that wasn’t taken home to heaven too soon, while watching the others slip from my grasp. But, I learned…sometimes with the gentle leading of my quiet, but extremely wise husband…that sometimes, I need to step back and get out of the way. Children can’t spread their wings and soar when we are holding on too tightly…and they can’t learn how to make the right choices if they never have the opportunities to make any choices of their own.

Certainly the God who made the sun stand still and parted the Red Sea is capable of keeping my children in His care, guiding them on the right path, and growing them into the young men He has created them to be…right?

For a girlie girl, I find it interesting that God has, in His infinite wisdom, chosen to surround me with boys my entire life. Perhaps He desires that I learn how to love and honor men and the gift they are to us. Perhaps He meant for me to develop the abiding appreciation that has captured my heart for all things little boy…and big alike. For, I do so adore boy-world (well, most of it!) and all of it’s rumbly, tumbly, noisy, burping, giggling, one-liner zinging, golf-swinging, dog rolling, tackling, pizza-eating, muddy, wrestling goodness.

And, it’s a good thing. Because, these days my tiny house is full of boys! After school there are James’ friends, the neighbor boy, Timothy, and sometimes several of his friends (which are all now man-sized). James played wiffle ball for hours after school yesterday with a few boys while Timothy squeezed a golf game out of one of the fleeting last days of this year’s Indian summer with a car full of boys. After bible study, we turned the corner to find several boys playing football on our cul-de-sac in the street.

I said, “What on earth?”

And, then…”Wait a minute…I think these boys belong to me! Or at least one of them!”

Sure enough…it was Timothy and a group of guys playing some “street” ball. James joined in. And, I smiled…shaking my head as I went into the house. They came in all sweaty, red faced and out of breath a few minutes later and launched into a video game, with their raucous trash talking….all crammed into my tiny living room.

My cup runneth over…

My Loves…

I was going to write this post about how much I’m lovin’ my new Lenovo laptop Sufficient Grace recently purchased from Ed at Solid Rock Computers.

I was even going to post a photo of my Lenovo. But, for some reason, I am having a terrible time downloading my pictures from my camera to my computer this evening. I guess I still need to figure out a few things before we will be at top form.

But, it sure beats contorting my body in impossible positions just so I can type my ramblings to all of blogland…

So, even though I can’t access all of my photos and documents yet…

I am still lovin’ my superfast Lenovo…

And I spent the weekend (and my life for that matter) lovin’ these beautiful people, too…



What else have I been doing on this three day weekend? Working on some big blog changes coming soon…stay tuned! (I am sooooo excited!)

Sixteen

Sixteen years ago, I was just one year out of high school…Tim still had one year to go…

Sixteen years ago on this bitterly cold January night, we bounced along in my mother’s blue minivan, on ice and snow covered roads. Mom drove frantically, as I moaned and breathed through each contraction. A nervous eighteen-year-old, Tim tried to remain strong in the backseat. He may have leaned up to talk to me every once in awhile, to whisper words of encouragement. He may have held my hand. He probably did. But, I don’t remember. I just remember the snow and ice, the anxious excitement, that look in my mother’s eyes…that fierce I-will-meet-the-challenge-brave-the-icy-roads-protect-my-daughter-determined-mother-look.

We were so young…

I had been contracting regularly for some time, and by the time we went to the hospital, the contractions were about five minutes apart. They were getting stronger. I breathed through them for hours as my labor progressed at an agonizing snail’s pace. More than twenty-four hours of contractions, (finally) an epidural, and a complicated delivery later, on January 20th, our Timothy was born. I became a mama. And, Tim became a dad.

In one, amazing, miraculous, life-changing moment…we were parents. Oh, the gift this boy has been to our lives. We thank God for all the ways his life has blessed ours. What we have learned about love, grace, life, loss, and family as we have walked through this life and grown-up together, in many ways. He is more man than boy now, as he prepares to get his driver’s license and sasses me with his man voice or rolls his eyes to exert his independence. But, when I look at him, I sometimes still see my sweet four-year-old boy, still hear his deep belly giggles, still feel his hand in mine.

Sometimes, I miss my boy…but, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, I am also thankful for the young man he is growing to be…

Sixteen years ago, I received an amazing miraculous gift…I became a mom!

Happy Sixteenth Birthday, Tim!

Timothy’s Golf Skills, Stuff That Makes Me Happy…and a Giveaway

Yes…I am a little proud of my oldest son’s mad golf skills! How cool is this video he made in the backyard? I thought you might like it!

I don’t have much to say that’s earth-shattering here…but I thought I’d keep it simple and maybe do something fun and random if you’re up for it. That’s about as deep as I can get right now.

It’s been on my heart lately to find joy in the little things. So, here’s the deal: I’m going to list five things that “make me happy”. They have to be in the simple, little things category. I’d love to hear what makes you happy, too. So, if you’d like to play along, list five things that make you happy in the comments below…and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Lynnette Kraft’s wonderful book, In Faithfulness, He Afflicted Me. For a chance at a second entry, become a follower of this blog…or let me know in the comments if you already are a follower! I love a good giveaway! Giveaways make me happy!! =)

What Makes Me Happy (this week)?

1. Fresh tomatoes…mmmm, mmmm…good.
2. The smell of my kitchen after I’ve baked cookies all day (and the satisfied tummies of my family after they sink their teeth into the goodies!).
3. Cleveland Browns football (Even more so in the rare event that we win! And triple if we beat the Steelers…sorry September! Quadruple if Brady’s playing!)
4. New school supplies (especially pink post its).
5. Laughing with friends.

O.K….your turn…What makes you happy?