Category Archives: Family

Day 27: The Hardest Grace (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsThere is no one in the world more difficult to show grace to than myself.

I can make allowances for your weaknesses, cover your flaws, forgive your mistakes. I can believe the best in you and speak to the good God sees in you again and again and again. I can tell you to not be so hard on yourself, to give yourself space to learn and grow and fail and try again.

It’s hard to show that same grace to me. But I’m learning.

Today I took deep breaths in the hard moments. I made space for reading stories even when it was inconvenient. I left some chores undone. I adjusted the hours I could spend working and the hours I needed to spent on homeschool.

It wasn’t a perfect day. There were definitely some rough patches. But it was mostly peaceful, and I was mostly not overwhelmed. And that is progress.

Here’s to showing ourselves more grace tomorrow.

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Day 26: When Plans Change (31 Days of Simple Truths)

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was so proud of myself this morning.

Mondays can be rough, and I knew today was going to be especially full for me. I realized that come dinnertime I was going to be worn out, so I thought ahead and put a roast in the crock pot.

We got home around 6pm, but when we walked into the house, instead of being greeted with the wonderful, warm scent of dinner, there was the scent of . . . nothing. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I turned the crock pot on this morning, but somehow, by some freak incident, it turned off at some point.

I nearly burst into tears.

Of course there was no plan B. And no leftovers because it’s only Monday. The budget is pretty tight right now, so the thought of eating out was painful. I kind of just wanted to tell everyone to go to bed, they’d survive without dinner for one night, and we’d try again tomorrow.

But I quickly realized that was a horrible idea. Fortunately, I remembered a pizza coupon in the drawer—miracles!

And even though I was enormously frustrated, the evening turned around. We ended up having a good time as a family, eating pizza and watching the new Supergirl TV show. My kids never get to watch “grown up” TV at night, so it was a big kid treat for them. Not so bad after all.

It’s hard when plans change—big or small. But I’m learning to not let those moments derail me and to go a step further by making something special out of them. It was nice to treat Monday night like Friday night, even if that wasn’t the original plan. Maybe it was exactly what we needed.

Well, my roast is cooking now, so we’ll eat good tomorrow. And next time I grocery shop, maybe I’ll remember to buy an emergency back up dinner . . . just in case.

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Day 21: The Hard Days (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsSo, I read this post from Lisa-Jo Baker tonight and promptly dissolved into tears.

This has been a ROUGH parenting week. And it’s only Wednesday (Lord, have mercy on my soul!). It’s one of the those weeks where I feel like I’m screwing everything up and utterly failing at motherhood. How on earth will I ever prepare these little humans (who I so fiercely love and who are so fiercely making me want to pull my hair out right now) for life? How can I possibly do this when I feel so unprepared myself? When I mess up on the very thing I was just trying to teach them?

There are a lot of moms in my life who make me feel insecure, but really it’s my own fault for falling into the comparison trap. What I want more than anything is to be fully confident that we are doing the best we can for our kids, and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. We’re not responsible for their families, only ours.

I am the worst about admitting when I am un-fine. And I am definitely guilty of finding something to criticize about other mothers so I can feel like I’ve got some edge up on someone, somewhere. I try really hard to reserve these thoughts for strangers, not friends, as if somehow that makes it better. (Um, no. I promise to encourage the next stranger-mom I’m tempted to criticize in my head.)

Sometimes I am afraid to voice the struggles because I’ve heard single or newly married friends say that all the honest, tell-it-how-it-is mommy blogs out there have made them terrified to ever have children. I get this. I have kids and it scares me that some day I might refer to them as chaos-causing little monsters who are turning our home into a frightening, trashed-out wasteland. At what point do we lose our minds and cross that line? Please, God, don’t let it happen to me!

But no, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because my kids most certainly aren’t monsters and they are most definitely treasures. Still, it’s hard right now. Really, really hard.

But first I am reminded that I am not alone. And then I’m reminded that suffering in silence is no good for anyone, ever. And finally, I’m comforted by suddenly recalling a conversation I had at the beginning of September with a sweet couple, now retired and in their 70s. They raised a few kids and lived to tell about it. I shared with them about our upcoming move and other changes on the horizon, and the man smiled at me, eyes twinkling, as he said, “This is a season for surviving. Some seasons are just like that, when surviving doesn’t mean you’re failing and barely scraping by, but it means you’re do something right and pulling the family through a hard place. There will be time for establishing standards, raising the bar a little, but right now, you just have to survive and keep loving each other through it. And that’s ok.”

So I take a deep breath, maybe shed a few more tears, and maybe a few more tomorrow too. But it’s ok. Because we are surviving, and this too shall pass. And we’ll be a healthier family on the other side of it.

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Day 19: Kitchen Therapy (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Food Network's image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

Food Network’s image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

In spite of my best efforts to slow down and take my time, most days I feel like I end up in a hurry. It’s a race against time to squeeze in all the things that need to be done. I tend to be a more task-oriented person. I used to be feel guilty about this, but that fades more and more all the time, mainly because the world would never get anything done without people like me in it!

Still, especially when it comes to my family, I have to be very intentional about slowing down and letting the moments of connection take higher priority over the to do list. And one of the things that helps me make that happen is cooking.

If I’m in the kitchen, inevitably one or both of the kids want to come help. Or even if they don’t want to help, they tend to gravitate into the room anyway, a coloring book or toy in hand. They’ll sit on the floor and chatter away to me while I do my best to not trip on them or spill anything on them. I love it.

On top of that, cooking forces me to slow down. There are so many things in the kitchen that simply won’t turn out right if you try to rush them. Things like kneading bread or even making mayonnaise (SO easy! Who knew?) become holy moments as I take a deep breath and let go of all the other things begging for my attention to simply focus on the task in front of me.

And whatever’s happening, whoever is gathered, you can be sure there are taste testers always at the ready. So we linger, munching bread or cookies fresh from the oven, getting a spoon to dip into that sauce, sniffing the spices to see what else we should add. It is sacred and nourishing, not only to our bodies, but to our souls as well.

We made these cookies tonight (again!) and this time added 1/4 t. of ground cloves as well. Perfection!

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Cooking, Family, Foodie Fun

Day 17: Getting Away (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re camping this weekend. It was a chore getting ready for it, but I’ve been really looking forward to this time. I need to get away, even if it’s short and sweet.

While being self-employed offers a good bit of flexibility, one of the downsides is no paid time off or holidays. If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. That might be nice if I ever write a best-selling book or something, but right now, it’s hard. Any “vacation” time is preceded by piling in the work hours to make up for when I’ll be off. Not so fun.

Sometimes, I can use it as an excuse to not get as much rest as I really need. And sometimes, it’s a legitimate excuse. But just because something is tricky or complicated doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means a little creativity might be required.

Because long periods of extended rest are not really an option right now, I’ve learned to weave patterns of rest into my days, weeks, and months. But more importantly, when there’s a chance to get away, I take it.

A change of pace and scenery does wonders for the soul. So I’m fully embracing the fresh air, the hiking, the playing. (Maybe not the tent sleeping, but hey, you take what you can get!)

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Day 13: Listening to Anger (31 Days of Simple Truth)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsAnger can be a tricky emotion. None of us are immune to it, but some of us are more volatile than others. It’s an emotion I was afraid of for a long time because it’s not always easy to know what to do with it. The intensity can be . . . well, intense. Explosive. And often, justified.

Both of my children seem to have inherited my strong emotions (Lord, help me!), so dealing with anger that flares and escalates quickly is a regular occurrence. I was trying my best to help them, and I found myself saying, “There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry. We all feel angry sometimes. But it’s what you do with your anger than can get you in trouble. You have to handle it the right way.” And then a teary-eyed child said, “Well, what’s the right way?”

Long pause. Blank stare.

I didn’t know. I’ve spent my life mostly burying it and trying to not explode. When it gets to be too much, I take a shower and have a good cry. I knew how heated my anger could be, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone with it or give the wrong impression or not be a good, gentle lady. So I adopted a cycle of “bottle, sob, berate myself for feeling things so strongly, repeat.” Not particularly helpful or healthy. And now I have two children who also feel AllTheFeels. They needed help, but I didn’t have any to give them.

So I’ve been learning, right alongside them, reading and studying and listening to people who seem to know what they’re talking about. We’re making progress, all 3 of us, although some days, the progress feels painfully slow.

Perhaps the most helpful thing for me so far has been learning to listen to what my anger is trying to tell me, to take those emotions and turn them into a question: what is it I am actually reacting to? What mattered so much to me that it provoked such an intense response?

I had the chance to practice this very recently. Something happened last week that made me angrier than I have been in a very long time. I was shaking with how upset and frustrated I was. And for once, I didn’t bury it or dismiss it or try to spiritualize my way out of it. I gave my husband a heads up that I was furious and it wasn’t his fault but I was going to need to unload (another wise lesson I’ve learned – give the poor man a heads up!). When we were finally able to sit across from each other and he said, “Ok, let’s have it,” it all poured out in torrents. I let myself feel it all and say it all. But as the layers of what happened and who said what and how I felt in the moment and what I wanted to do and what I actually did peeled off, suddenly something shifted in the conversation. I was able to see something clearly about my own heart and what I am passionated about that i had never really identified before.

In the days that have followed (much calmer), as I’ve continued to process and think, the clarity has continued to come. And what could have either been damaging or another thing buried is turning into something that is going to significantly impact my life and some choices ahead of us. It’s been kind of amazing.

i’m no anger expert, that’s for sure. I’m fumbling my way through it as I learn a better way. But one thing I am certain of, our anger is rarely isolated—just anger for no reason. There is something waiting to be revealed about our hearts if we will listen to it, rather than bottling it or letting it poison us.

P.S.: If you know any good secrets for helping children process their anger, I’m all ears!

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Day 5: Trusting (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsIt was one of those mornings where you stumble over your prayers a bit until God lovingly, but firmly, puts His finger right on the tender spot you were trying to avoid and then the dam bursts.

Of the many emotions coloring our family’s recent move, this one is intense—the concern for my children to find the place where they belong. For so many years, I worried about them every single Sunday when I took them to their classes at church, not a moment’s peace as I juggled my responsibilities at our church plant. It wasn’t anything that anyone did wrong, just the nature of something that is fledgling and continually changing as it tries to establish itself.

And then the worries intensified as I realized I had unwittingly done the one thing I most never wanted to do—sacrificed my children on the altar of ministry—and I suddenly saw it takes it toll on them. The guilt was enormous. Occasionally, it still is.

My son especially struggled. And when we landed in a new church, my heart broke over his anxiety. But something happened in that place, as the children’s workers so lovingly and patiently poured their hearts out into my babies. Over the course of a year, both of my children went through a transformation. They became sure of themselves, secure in their place, hearts unfolding before God. It was amazing.

So it broke my heart to take that away from them when we moved. And the weight is heavy. Where will we go where they will feel so loved, so safe, so secure again? They ask, and I don’t have an answer right now.

Thus the very raw, very tender spot God put His finger on today. I wept. But the thing is, over a year ago, when I didn’t know exactly what to do to help my children’s hearts, God knew, and He sent exactly what they needed. And He knows what they need now. He knows what we all need now.

Change can be terrifying.  I spoke with a friend today, and he said, “Even if you know it was a good move, it is still a transition, and it feels like a death.” Hope and grief can exist side by side. Some things die, so other ones can live. But there’s not a limit to how many answered prayers we get. We don’t even have to know exactly what to ask for in order to get exactly the answer we need.

I feel more tears coming, weighted with all the uncertainty, but I trust this—God came through before. He will come through again. Meanwhile, wait and hope.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Family, Hope