Mom, Do You Feel It?

“To him that waits all things reveal themselves, provided that he has the courage not to deny, in the darkness, what he has seen in the light.” Coventry Patmore

 

I came home from a meeting with a client last week and I found these in our office/homeschool room:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made with love from scratch by my favorite art student.

When I asked her what they were to be used for, she wrinkled her little nose and said, “They are for our Thanksgiving dinner. You know, mom! They are decorations for our place settings.”

Oh, yes. I know!

This offering came from the same sweet child who asked me on a cold and rainy Tuesday in November, “Mom, do you feel it in the air?”

“No. Feel what, baby?” I inquired.

That warm spirit. Don’t you feel it, too? I just love this time of the year because of the warm spirit that is in the air,” she shared with 7-year-old wonder in her eyes and heart.

A simple conversation in the car on the way home from piano lessons that caused tears to form in the corners of my eyes. It was a very cold and rainy day. I was freezing, in a bad mood, anxious about so many things,  and had a terrible headache. And my sweet gift from the Lord could see and feel the warm spirit of the holiday season approaching.

The joyful, simply complex, and delightful eyes of a 7-year-old see much more than my 36-year-old weathered and cynical eyes can even capture.

That warm spirit. Do you feel it?

I strongly doubt that Callie is referring to Black Friday or family gatherings that feel more like the circus came to town or fretting over the stuffing or credit cards that scream at you come January.

Oh, friends! I care about each of you. I encourage you this holiday season to slow down on purpose, with intention. To take time to savor the moments that will soon drift away to years. And we will reminisce one day with wonder and amazement at how fast they disappeared. Capture the moments today. Live with the wonder and amazement now so that we won’t have to look back and think about what could have been.

The stuffing will be fine without that special ingredient that you are missing. Love those you don’t like where they are. Chances are they are doing the best they can. If not, set boundaries. You are in charge of your life. Saying no to one thing or person means saying yes to many other things or people.  Black Friday will pass. You will live without all the latest and greatest. Don’t kill your soul and trample the souls of those you love in the process. And Visa and Mastercard won’t be able to pester you in 2013!

I am looking forward to this holiday season. We have much to celebrate.

That warm spirit is back in our home. And I hope it lasts longer than January 1st 2013.

I have my precious daughter back.

Not that she was lost, but things are different now that she is home for school. And it feels really, really good.

I don’t yet have the words to describe what has happened or how it happened. They will come and I will blog about it then.

For now, there is sacredness in the ordinary details of our lives. Before it was “rush” and “go” and “hurry up” and “get it done now”.

Today, I am soaking in the warm spirit and my soul is alive with hope.

And it is not all about homeschool. It is our life.

How we live our moments define who we become. Savoring the moments today. Won’t you join me? I promise it is better than the most perfect stuffing!

Hide-and-Go-Seek

He ran on ahead of us and I called after him. But the crowd of people between us grew larger and I lost sight of his blonde head bobbing and weaving through the people 2 and 3 feet taller than him.

My heart started pounding. He couldn’t be more than 20 feet in front of us, but Whole Foods on a Friday feels like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

He had to use the bathroom and told me that he couldn’t wait anymore. As we made our way to the bathroom, he became comfortable because he was very familiar with his surroundings. Remember, my children can look at a cup of water and have to pee. We have visited the Whole Foods bathroom many times before.

He knew where he was going, but I couldn’t see him any longer. And I panicked.

I yelled his name and he was nowhere to be seen. I went into the women’s bathroom because he is too young to go by himself in the men’s bathroom and looked in all the stalls. No little boy to be found.

I yelled his name again. This time it was that mama panicked yell that made other people look. Not my son, but every other person within 50 feet of us turned to see what sort of crazy woman would be making such a panicked and loud plea.

I didn’t have time to feel embarrassed, I was wrought with fear.

Where was he?

And just as I started to scream again, I saw him. Hiding. Behind a long row of toothpaste, Burt’s Bees, and other toiletries.

I raced over to him, fell on my trembling knees beside him and said, “Sean, why are you hiding from me?”

“Because I heard you yell and I knew you would be mad at me.”

“But what made you hide in the first place? Why didn’t you go on to the bathroom?” I questioned.

I knew you would find me. You wouldn’t stop looking until you found me,” he reasoned.

He was right. I would never stop looking for him, but that didn’t make me any less afraid or angry in the moment.

I was furiously afraid and about to boil over. Sean has a habit of walking on ahead of the rest of us. He has gotten into trouble several times prior to the Whole Foods incident.

Sean apologized when he saw how upset and afraid I was. I knew that he finally realized how serious the situation could have been. He then tried to make me feel better by telling me that he loved me and that he wasn’t afraid until he heard me yell. “I thought I was in trouble so I didn’t come out when I saw you walk by.”

I pulled him close to me, peered into his crystal blue eyes and said, “I love you very much. Please don’t ever, ever run away from me like that again. I was scared. I didn’t know where you were.” I hugged him and tears rolled down my cheeks and landed softly on his t-shirt.

In an instant, our lives could have changed forever. The feeling that comes over you as a parent when you can’t find one of your children is one of the most agonizing things I have every felt.

But Sean, in his 4-year-old wisdom, changed the course of my life that day. I learned what being lost and found means.

You only truly lose something when you stop looking for it. Lost means that you are not looking for it. Found means that you kept looking until you discovered it.

Just like in Matthew 18 verse 12:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?”

The shepherd left the flock to find the 1 that was lost. Yes, 1.

God used my 4-year-old to show me that I am never lost because my Shepherd is always looking for me. He is my Father and I am His beloved. He will never stop looking for me when I wander or hide or fret or question or deny.

I can’t hide good enough or run fast enough or question too much. 

He knows His children. And I am confident that I will never win at hide and go seek with Him.

He will find me every time. 

 

What I’ve Learned in 7 Days of Homeschooling…

I always thought in the back of my mind that homeschooling might be an option for us. But, I also knew that I wanted to be patient and wait for God to move before I moved into a calling that wasn’t mine to unwrap…yet. To say that He moved would be an understatement. Like a lightening bolt would be more descriptive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After only 7 days of homeschooling and with a writing conference in PA smack dab in the middle of those 7 days, the changes in our home and family have been palpable.

Here are the top seven ways that our lives have changed or things I’ve learned so far:

1. My house is cleaner.

2. My mind is clearer.

3. My soul is quieter and I am more patient.

4. My daughter is hopeful.

5. The homeschool community is aMaZiNg!!!

6. My daughter learns a lot like her mother.

7. I have gotten more hugs and affection from my daughter than I ever have before. Completely different than before we started homeschooling. I have a feeling her love language is quality time and I was not doing a great job meeting her needs for quality time.

Here are Callie’s “three best things”:

1. Not having to dress according to the dress code.

2. Being with mama.

3. Not having to stay in her seat all day long.

To be honest, Callie misses her friends and her teacher. She would like to be able to see them. We have talked about this a lot and she knows that our community will change. We will be joining a homeschool coop very soon and she is very excited about that!

Homeschool has been a massive change for us, but the benefits are already outweighing the costs. Number 7 above means more to me than any score that my daughter may make on the Woodcock Johnson in June.

I am excited about the possibilities after only 7 days.

What change(s) in your life are you excited about?

**Disclaimer: I believe that every family knows what is best for their own children. We have many choices and many ways to educate our children and ourselves. Don’t judge. Seek, pray, and learn so that you can make the best decision for your children whether that be private, public, homeschool, or some combination of any of the above. 

What if I fail?

A year ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. I considered it, prayed about it, and decided to keep doing what we were doing. I don’t really know why, because it wasn’t working. I mean, it wasn’t really broken, but it wasn’t working either.

What do you do when you are praying about something and you don’t get clear answers? No writing in neon marker on the wall?

12 months ago, I was worried about what people would think. What would they say? Who would talk about us and whisper things about us?

I was afraid of what might happen if I stepped out in faith and followed that inkling in my spirit. What if I had it all wrong? What if I screwed up? I am fairly stubborn and determined. But I can’t guarantee a successful outcome.

Out of frustration, I starting questioning lots of things: what is success? Who is my judge? What does it matter what they say or think?

I was listening to all the other whispers and they muted out the other whisper that was not so pushy or persistent. It was always there in the back of my mind, but it didn’t try to shove its way to the front. Very patient and gracious. But also forgettable when the other whispers were using a megaphone.

But, that little whisper started to grow wings and it got more confident as I started to listen longer and deeper. I asked different questions:

What if we succeed, whatever that means?

What is most important/best for our family?

If I don’t do this, will I regret it?

Do I trust that God is big enough to catch us if we mess up? Or said differently, do I believe in His grace?

And then it hit me. I had my answer. I didn’t trust Him or His grace. I thought I had to have all the right answers and to be able to have an answer for all those whispers. But I don’t.

His whisper is the only one that will ever, ever matter. And in His grace, He gave me more than whispers to help me make a decision. But it all started with a whisper. An inkling. A curiosity about something.

I was afraid of failing. Afraid of letting go and trusting the process. I can’t know what the future holds. But I know today what He wants for me. And I don’t want to ever look back and wonder “what if?”.

And you may ask what does grace and success look like for us today?

Lying on our backs reading “Eight Keys” together. Crying and laughing because it is that good!

Listening to their laughter drift into the kitchen from the backyard “playground”.

Eating lunch together and holding hands to pray and list our gratitudes.

Working on adjectives and describing each member of our family with funny descriptors.

Using poprocks that we can’t eat to do a science experiment with.

Learning about our 5 senses and taking an investigative field trip around the Branch Ranch.

I may fail by some standards, but I won’t regret falling into the deep abyss known as grace.

“I’ve had to learn through experiences not to be afraid to fail. You don’t know what the future holds for you. You can hope your dreams come true, but you have to be fearless. I don’t want to look back and think, What if?” — Nastia Lukin, U.S. Olympic gymnast

 

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Hermann Hesse

Have you ever been so emotionally exhausted that you had to take a literal time out? Yeah, me too. That’s why I’ve been blogging less recently. And read fewer books than I had planned. But, I have not been absent. Just the opposite. I have been fully present in my cocoon with God. Praying for discernment and wisdom.

You see I have this precious, adventurous, curious, energetic, creative, fearless, sensitive, and brilliant 7-year-old. My daughter. And she means the world to me. God has given her to me to love and mother. To provide for and to protect. And I have promised her that I will do everything in my power to do just that.

Therefore, as a family, we have come to a decision that will rock our world. It will change me and my work schedule. It will force me to be more disciplined and accountable. It will also change many things in Callie’s 7-year-old world.

We have involved her in this decision-making process from the very beginning. We have been very honest with her. She knows all the pros and cons and if you ask her, she could very eloquently tell you how and why we made the decision that we did.

I am SO very proud of her.

She knows to never make a decision based on emotion. To pray before you act. To stop and consider the consequences of your choices.

And consider we have done.

To homeschool is a family decision and is different for every family.

When I think back on the past 2.5 years that Callie has been in school, I have lots of emotions. And if I could go back in time, I would do some things differently. But, God has gently reminded me that not one minute of the past 2.5 years was wasted or in vain. He had a purpose and a plan for us being in public school. And He may call us back to public school in the future, but as of next week, Branch Academy is in session.

I could not be more excited. The butterflies have left their cocoon and are fluttering around in my stomach!

I will miss one thing about Callie’s public school, the community of people that we met there and communed with for almost 3 years. She had/has two wonderful teachers that she loves dearly. To watch her leave them will be painful, but she has lots of amazing memories. She will miss her classmates and friends who have become like family. I will miss her friends’ mamas and trust that in God’s great big plan, we will stay in touch as our school paths part.

I know that God is already building a new community for Callie and me. We will continue to foster friendships with families from her public school and we will begin to build a new community in the homeschool world. Even today at the state fair, Callie introduced herself to another little girl standing in line with us. They chatted for 5 or 6 minutes and I turned to the little girl’s mother, introduced myself and asked her if they lived nearby. She said Garner, near 40/42. My next question was what grade her daughter was in. Here is her answer: “She is in second grade and we homeschool.” I almost lost my chewing gum because my jaw dropped open wide. They live less than 10 minutes from us!

I thought the humor was rather ironic. Two little girls, one homeschooled for 3 years and the other starting next week, who were complete strangers talking nonstop. And the question I have gotten about 10 times already is: “Aren’t you concerned about her socialization?”

As we move forward as a homeschooling family for as long as God wills, can I ask a favor? Will you pray for us? Not that we get it all right, but that as we live and learn together that He is glorified and we continue to trust Him for our future. I don’t know what next year holds, but I do know what He has very clearly called us to do.

I have a lot to learn from my daughter:

 “Over the years, I have noticed that the child who learns quickly is adventurous. She’s ready to run risks. She approaches life with arms outspread. She wants to take it all in. She still has the desire of the very young child to make sense out of things. She’s not concerned with concealing her ignorance or protecting herself. She’s ready to expose herself to disappointment and defeat. She has a certain confidence. She expects to make sense out of things sooner or later. She has a kind of trust.” 

John Holt

When letting go is hard…

Callie started 2nd grade last week and Sean has one more year of preschool before he starts Kindergarten next year. There are always many emotions when they start school and I wrestle them out with my keyboard. Investing today. Don’t wait for rainy days, friends. Do it while the sun is shining!!

 

“Enjoy this moment for tomorrow is yet to come.”

I hear it all the time.

I really want to believe it is true.

“And when it is time for them to go, you will be ready and so will they.”

So people tell me.

The days can be long, but the years are fast. Really fast.

And thinking about tomorrow makes for an anxious tonight.

“You  may not feel ready, but you will be ready because it will be time.

Time for them to fly.

Their turn to learn new things and meet new people.

Your turn to do the same.”

Again, people tell me. People who seem to have perfected this letting go.

Each milestone brings joy and pain.

But the pain does not linger long because it is created by love.

Love for each other.

A mother and her first-born daughter.

The one who looks like her daddy and perceives like her mama.

A mother and her baby, her son.

The one who looks like his mama and thinks like his daddy.

Bonds stronger and rarer than diamonds.

For God chose me to be their mother and them to be the fruit of my womb.

Many sleepless nights and long amens.

Worrying about every cough and little ache.

Wanting nothing but the best for both of them.

To love is to sacrifice and give of yourself.

And the ironic thing is that you get so much more when you give freely.

You can never out give Him.

He is their Father. And He understands. For He gave them to me for a season.

To love, teach, discipline, hug, tickle, feed, clothe, pray for and with, and to guide.

To prepare to leave the nest.

To fly.

With each passing year, I fall in love with them more and more.

This I know is truth. I don’t have to be told. His love is perfect.

And I am so very proud of the young lady and man they are becoming.

I want them to soar!

Linking up today with:

 

Click on the Legacy Leaver link to see how others are impacting the next generations for the Glory of God!

All I wanted was some tea…

…and all she wanted to do was clean her blender.

The parking lot was empty so I had my choice on the front row. The door chimed loud when I walked into the warm and inviting space. The smell of muffins, cookies, and of course freshly brewed coffee, aroused my senses. I couldn’t wait to place my order…

She was standing over to my right behind the counter that displayed their delicacies. There was no love at hello because she didn’t say “hello” or “hi” or “good afternoon” or “how are you”. She did say, “I’ll be with you in a minute”. Turns out her minute has more than 360 seconds in it.

I said okay and waited by myself. First in line with no one else behind me.

And I waited. I watched her meticulously cleaning the blender she had used to make a cold blended beverage earlier in the day. And I waited some more. She then wiped down the counter. While I waited. Alone. In line. By myself. Until I couldn’t wait anymore.

She never made eye contact with me until I said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to go somewhere else.” After I waited for over 6 minutes for her to take my order…a large unsweet tea with extra ice. Not too difficult. No blender needed.

She looked at me and said, “I’m almost done.”

So was I. And I left. Disappointed. I thought to myself as I got back into my car, “boy, unless they change the way they relate to their customers they won’t be in business much longer”.

This exchange happened over 3 months ago. And, I have yet to figure out why she insisted on cleaning her blender when I was the only customer in the coffee shop. She didn’t even ask me what I was having. If my drink order required a clean blender, then I would have understood what she was doing. Clean blenders are important, but I am not fond of tea smoothies.

When I left the coffee shop back in May, the door chimed again to announce my exit. And I drove about two miles down the road and ordered my large unsweet tea from a well established store. One that has excellent customer service. And they always say, “Hi! My name is ______. How may I help you?” By the way, the tea was great!

I drove by the same coffee shop today while I was running errands. Guess what was on the door? A white piece of paper that said, “Closed. Thank you for your patronage”. Wow…

This series of events has pricked my heart. I can’t let go of it. And here’s why:

How many times do I “clean the blender” when my husband or children only want to order a cup of tea? Some recognition that they are there and important and need me.

“Cleaning the blender” can always wait. The most important people in my life, the ones I live and interact with on a daily basis, are so much more important to me than any blender I can ever clean.

My husband and children need things from me that no one else can ever give them. And how many times have I put them off and I hear them say in return, “Babe, all I wanted is………..” or “mommy, all I wanted was for you to……….”.

They don’t want a large green tea frappuccino with 5 shots of raspberry syrup and extra whip cream. They just want their wife and mama’s time and attention. Two things that only I can give them.

I know what blender I am currently cleaning. And I know what I need to do about it.

What’s your “blender”? What or who needs attention in your life that the “blender” is getting?

Friends, the heart of this blog is to help you walk in deeper fellowship with God and then in healthier relationships with those nearest and dearest to you. My left foot reached over and stepped on the toes of my right foot today. I am learning right beside you. Thank you for taking time to read, explore, and dream with me. So very grateful for you.

 

 


Couldn’t resist posting about CHICKEN today…

I didn’t eat at Chick-Fil-A today. I didn’t boycott it either. But, I did experience God’s amazing grace. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

I have to share my chicken story in detail.

All she requested for her 7th birthday was a chicken cake. One that would make her feel better about losing Ruby Red.

I love to make their birthday cakes due to our avoidance of synthetic food dyes, but I have never attempted a chicken cake {or anything even close}. Princesses and Batman seem super easy compared to a chicken cake.

I asked her if she would like to go to Whole Foods and look at their cakes today after our lunch date with Anthony.

She said, “Sure mom, but remember, I want a chicken cake.”

“I know, baby, but you never know. You might see something else you like, ” I replied with absolutely no hope of seeing a chicken cake at Whole Foods.

Well, lo and behold:

 

I don’t think I have ever seen a happier Callie…

Friends, He cares. He cares about the details of your life! He cares about you!

His amazing grace is ever so sweet. And when He shows up at the Whole Foods bakery with the perfect amazing grace gift for my sweet girl, I know…I know, He sees and He cares.

What are the chances?? Seriously!? A cake with chickens on it?

Every other cake in the window had flowers for decorations. All of them nestled together with one fabulous heart-shaped cake with three glorious chickens in the center.

What a divine appointment!

It doesn’t matter that we did or did not eat at Chick-Fil-A today. He filled our hearts with much more than chicken.

 

Amazing God, I pray that my dear friends will experience YOU and YOUR amazing grace! Thank you for showing up for my baby today in ways that I could never orchestrate. I stand amazed by your compassion for my family. Your love is boundless and your concern for the details has left me in awe. May I never forget…

WIPWednesday

When old wounds come knocking…

I’ve answered more questions about heaven this week than I thought could be asked.

How do you convince an almost 6-year-old that she will see her favorite pet again one day? The easy answer is that you can’t. And the other answer is that I don’t know if she will see Ruby Red in heaven one day.

Love has a way of hurting you every time. When you cry so hard that there are no more tears.

This is the same reason that another blonde haired blue-eyed 10-year-old little girl in 1986 swore to herself and whoever else was listening in heaven that she would never get another dog. And she hasn’t.

History is woven into our lives in unexplainable ways. How it repeats itself is something that I have pondered with no period at the end of the ponder.

However, this week was an opportunity for me to turn back the hands of time. To revisit some old wounds. In all honesty, this was a difficult week for not just my daughter, but for her mother, too.

My past confronted me. I thought I slammed that door shut a long time ago. My baby girl kept knocking. I reacted in anger. I just wanted her to be okay. I wanted me to be okay. I didn’t want to go back there. I buried that over 25 years ago.

But, she wouldn’t stop crying and talking about Ruby Red. My gut, honestly, said, “just get over it already! We have 7 more chickens. I can’t help your favorite one died.”

And all the while, the little girl in me who lost her bulldog at 10 years old, was knocking, too. Just like Callie. She wanted to know the same things that Callie wanted to know.

Where is she? Is she going to be okay? How far away is heaven? Will we all be there together? Don’t die before me, I don’t want you to go there without me. Did she hurt before she died? How do you know that she didn’t?

I reacted out of anger because I had never dealt with my own pain and grief of losing my dog at 10 years old. I confess that I did not handle this situation well at all to begin with. I know that Callie had to be confused. Her eyes told the story that her heart and mouth couldn’t share.

I apologized and shared with Callie about my deep pain and inability to meet her where she was at because I had never dealt with my own stuff.

Remember, history likes to pay it forward and show up on your doorstep when you are least ready to answer the doorbell.

And you have a choice. To keep slamming the door to all the hurt and pain by choosing isolation over love or to enter into that place of pain and experience deep healing.

Callie wasn’t the only one shedding tears this week. Tears were shared and fears were shed. Decades later.

Take notice of your reactions. When I reacted in anger, I knew that something deep inside of me was erupting. I was mad because it caused me to feel uncomfortable and uneasy.

And, I almost missed an opportunity to help Callie grieve in a healthy way that will help her navigate future losses.

What are your volcanoes that are waiting to erupt? You may not even be aware that they exist. When they do erupt, give yourself the precious gift of grace. Even decades later, amazing change is possible.

I can imagine the possibility of a dog in our future…before this week, that possibility didn’t even exist.

Our first egg!!

By the way, there will not be a book review this week. All of my evening reading time was spent talking with a precious 6-year-old! Come back next Sunday for my next review!