Monday, February 29, 2016

Winter Break Is For.....

Winter Break is for traveling, exotic vacations and fun, exciting times.....or it seems like that's what would be nice. I picked up a bit of wisdom from a friend last week in the midst of our very low key winter break that I thought was excellent insight:
We spent our week at home, with each other, and this is what we discovered Winter Break is for....

It's for town day and driving an hour to a Goodwill where you find nothing, then finding treasures at the Goodwill close to home.
It's for trying on high heels and eating at Wendy's at the shiny red bar by the window

It's for putting together 50 cent puzzles from our Goodwill excursion...

It's for letting the house look like this:

It's for playing games together ...
 Clue, Memory, Yatzee, For Sale, Rumicube, more Clue...more Clue...

It's for reading books and finding Goldbug and saying "What shall we do now??"

It's for girls helping each other make cinnamon rolls with the only assistance from mom being to say when they're done - and to confirm they are delicious!
It is also for fusses and hurt feelings
(And no, she wasn't writing sentences for a punishment...keeping it real!)

 It's for play-doh messes (and messy hair) and all things unscheduled and laid back...which sometimes translates into boring, but not always.

It's for teary eyed moms who's last straw for the day was dropping the bowl full of refried beans when
supper was *finally*
almost ready....
A favorite bowl, I might add.

All in all, it's for spending time
T O G E T H E R.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Virtual Pan of Brownies

For the past 4-5 weeks I have been slogging along. Somewhere back there I entered a long, black tunnel and I've spent all my energy trying to claw my way to the light. Some days there doesn't even seem to be enough energy to claw; the tears come easily and curling up under a pile of warm blankets seems like an almost irresistible idea.

If any of you are like me, it often helps my blue mood to at least be able to pinpoint the problem. I've tried. And while there's lots of little things I could point to, whether real or imagined, and convince myself that they are the culprit, none of them seem to quite be responsible. One day I read an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder, which made me remember this blog post and reading them gave me more hope than probably anything else has.

I've found myself avoiding any kind of depth, both here and in real life. We all want to share things when they're over with, you know? When the crisis is past, when I've made it through the tunnel into the light, when I've discovered answers....then is the time for sharing!

The fact of the matter is, I probably already know the answers. I know at least one key to this blackness lies in reaching outside of myself - baking the pan of brownies and taking them to a neighbor, writing the note and sending it to some unsuspecting friend... I know this stuff and how it works, I've even written about it before. But what do you do when the selfish truth you can't seem to get past is this: What I really want is all the brownies for myself!!

Maybe I do need to check into some remedies for S.A.D. Maybe the light will return along with sunshine and warmth and the end of grey skies, turtlenecks and fuzzy house slippers. Until then, sometimes it helps the most to know we are not alone. Care to share your darkness...and the comments? Do you have a prayer request or a burden or a praise? Share it with us! I'll bake you a virtual pan of brownies if you bake one for me.......

Monday, February 22, 2016

When You're Losing Your Mind

I'm not sure whether to show my blushing face or pretend to be oblivious. I just realized I accidentally sent my weekly family email to, not only  my family, but also my blog! I deleted the post but that does nothing for those of you who receive my posts via email.... I guess, like Pollyanna, we can be glad that I am now forced to write a blog post.

Sometimes I fear for my future.

Last Thursday I got a phone call saying I could pick up our monthly treat of three loaves of homemade bread that Chris bought at the school auction. "If you can just stop by after picking up your school children it will be ready for you." Sure, no problem.

At 3:20 my phone chimed and my jaw sagged. I was back home with my children and picking up bread had never once crossed my mind!

Friday and Saturday I went along to the Bible Quiz Retreat. Last year I also went with the Antrim crew and arrived there to discover I had left my pan of dessert at home in our fridge. They didn't give up on me - this year I needed to bring two pans. As I lay in bed Thursday night going over Things To Be Done In The Morning I told Chris, do NOT let me forget that dessert!!

We rushed out the door several minutes late Friday morning with me saying, "I feel like I'm forgetting something" and my children telling me, "You always say that, mom!" We were several minutes down the road when it suddenly clicked in my brain, "We forgot the dessert!!!" At least this time we could go back and get it.

If I'm this bad at 37, what will I be like at 50?! This is why I have an alarm set on my phone to go off every morning reminding me to give Chris his pills. It is also the reason I tell my youngest daughter to remind me about the bag of dresses that has been waiting for a month to be taken along to church. Now, it is also the reason I will be double checking who all my next email is being sent to....

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On Love And Grace For My Fellowman

I sat in my living room with ducked head, while the tears welled uncontrollably in my eyes. My two friends sat opposite me with encouraging smiles, sympathy written all over their faces. I felt completely silly. When you're asked for prayer requests, and this is the response you give, you should at least be able to explain why! But I couldn't. 

We prayed together and my friends retrieved coats and boots, preparing to go their way. Then one of them spoke up, "You know, it's kind of encouraging to hear that you feel this way sometimes - not that I'm glad you're discouraged!" she hurried to assure me, "But it seems like you're usually encouraging and upbeat and have things together..."

I've chewed on this ever since.     

We hear it often, that one of the pitfalls of social media is this very thing - the ability to paint one's life as perfect with pictures and words and no real life context to weigh it by. Of course, we do it often in real life too, responding to "How are you?" with a smile and "Fine!" when inside we are falling apart and further from 'fine' than anyone can imagine.

We talk about this often too - how easy it is to look at another person's life and make judgements by what we see. We know in our heads that doing so is dangerous and often faulty but somehow it's really hard to stop. After all, if I would be doing what they are doing I know what it would mean!    

It's very easy for me to post pictures of carefully laid tables featuring flowers made by mom and daughters, shiny plates and sparkling goblets, yummy food                               
with hot dishes made by the best husband ever and handmade hearts with a note on the back, with love from mom.

With pictures it's awfully easy to make life look perfect and Valentine's Day a flawless day of love and warm feelings with happy children and loving parents and the family we all dream of having.

And we are....

But the reality is that most of the time we're all normal, flawed people, just
like everyone else around us. People with hurts and problems and heartaches. People with struggles and disappointments and temptations. People in need of love and grace, not only from a Heavenly Father who redeems the brokenness but also from our fellowmen who can lift us up and encourage us on in so many ways.

            I want to be that kind of person.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Week In My Father's Business

My phone takes terrible pictures, especially in the early morning light, but the snow Tuesday morning
was absolutely beautiful.

The inches added throughout the week, while met with less and less enthusiasm, were just as pretty.

When mom is sick, you get cozy on the couch with her and learn lessons from the Berenstain Bears.

You might also ransack the place to make your house under the table.

Who am I kidding? Mom doesn't have to be sick for that to happen!

How do you know when there's a little boy in the house?

And then there was School Open House and all the excitement and thrill 
of planning and preparing
and the fun of showing our skills...
and more terrible phone pictures...

MATH with Isaac

ART with Jasmine

READING with Jennifer & Lillian

It's the little things
That make life BIG.

Happy weekend to you!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Birthday Jasmine!

Twelve years ago today, my oldest daughter lay in my arms, a helpless newborn. She didn't stay that way long! From walking at 10 months, to being potty trained at 18 months, Jasmine has always been eager to learn the next thing.  Her father's daughter, with her love of discussions and needing to know the why behind everything in life, Jasmine is a determined young lady, and whatever she sets out to do, 
she does well.

From making pie crusts and
 cinnamon rolls... drawing and playing piano.
From working diligently on large amounts of memory work and being on one of the school's Bible Quiz teams... putting up with a tiny bedroom shared with two little sisters...
She gives it her all.

Sometimes we knock heads with our different approaches to life ("Why are you scrubbing the drainer when you're washing dishes at 8 pm??") and our predictable differences in opinion (If she thinks two colors look good together, I'm sure to think they don't!) but when she's gone for a sleepover, like she was last week, it doesn't take me long to realize how much I rely on this child, not only for her help around the house but as my friend.

These days she's taller than me and has outgrown my shoes but I thank God for my twelve year old 'little' girl
with the big heart and the gifted hands.
Her sensitive spirit and never-give-up attitude are a challenge 
and I'm proud to be her mother!

Happy 12th, Jasmine...
and here's to many more!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Lady Writes About Women for a Month, You'll Never Believe What Kind of Mother She Really Is!

LRM commented on my last post, "...perhaps there will be some "sequel" posts?? I hope so." Here you go.
The last three mornings I've won the "Worst Getting the Children to School Routine" award - without even trying; it came naturally. It involved lots of ugly things you don't really want to hear about: threats, whining, loud voices, frustrated people, repeated threats, tears.... lots and lots of tears.
God is faithful; sometimes painfully so, as a friend of mine pointed out recently. Less than an hour after posting the  report of my 'take away from this month of blogging', God pointed out some very specific ideas about delighting in my top assignment.

"Is whining about what you should fix for supper every night delighting in your top assignment?"

"What about sighing about getting everyone settled in bed every night before you can lay down your weary head?"

Wellll.... you see, Lord, I'd kinda rather deal in theories here. Do we have to be so specific? I think you know how that conversation went down.
If there's one thing I hate about writing a series, it's worrying that I sound like I know it all. I know I made some single people feel that way, and that only underlines the high possibility that I made a lot of other people feel that way too, in who knows how many ways.

God and Satan have been busily at work in my mind the past couple of days. I find it hard to discern between the two of them some days, ever had that problem? "Now, is that just Satan trying to discourage me and make me believe lies? Or is that God reminding me that I asked to be kept humble, so He's taking me at my word?" Let's just say it's been really easy to live out of my feminine bent towards feelings, rather than facts.

I think maybe it's time to lay all of that aside and ask myself this: "Were you really serious about delighting in your top job assignment? Because if you are, you've got some serious work to do!!" 
I'm searching for someone who is writing a series on, "How to make the rubber meet the road", any leads for me? Extra points if you share personal experiences.......