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Friday, September 22, 2017

A Note to the Suddenly Separated

I am so sorry for the turmoil that brought you to this place of separation.  I have been where you are and I know it’s bad.  But you are going to live through it.  I don’t know the circumstances that lead you to separating from you husband – whether it was his choice, yours, or mutual – and I don’t need to know unless you need to share.  In that case, I will be understanding and confidential.



I remember when my husband and I separated, it was one of the most challenging times of my life.  The grief was crippling and almost overwhelmed me.  You may feel this way, too:

  • You are disoriented.  What of the past is real?  You will doubt your own judgement and view all your past shared experiences through the lens of what is happening now.  Eventually, you will readjust your perspective and be able to accept what you didn’t know or couldn’t comprehend then.
  • There is no immediate resolution.  This marriage may be healed and reconciliation may mean this is just a season in the overall story of your life.  The union may dissolve and forever change the trajectory of your path.  You just don’t know, cannot know, and the uncertainty is terrifying.  In the middle of this unknown outcome is where you will learn to truly live in the moment.
  • All of the sudden, every decision feels huge.  Every single choice feels like one that will have enormous ramifications and it is just overwhelming.  Slow down.  You don’t have to make life changing decisions while in the middle of such strong emotions.  Let yourself process truth, consider consequences and make wise decision.  Avoid reactions and focus on intention.
  • Your instinct is to isolate and harden your heart against anything that might hurt you or offer false hope.  It’s natural to become cynical, yet you must fight that tendency if you desire to be open to joy.  When you numb yourself to the hard parts of life, you are also numb to the wonder and goodness.  A frozen heart may feel safe, but it will never satisfy.  For a moment, feeling frozen is a blessing but for the long term, it will just leave you cold.  Find safe people who can be supportive during this time.
In the middle of all the turmoil and upheaval that can be hard to make sense of, I want you to remember two things:

Don’t worry about normal.  You are in a season of transition.  Embrace that.  Whatever the outcome of your current circumstance, your life will be forever changed.  This is not a bad thing, even though it can be frightening.  Change is what moves us forward.  Let go of the pressure to solve this right now and rest in the fact that you are becoming more of who you are created to be, even in this.  Trust the process.  Trust yourself.

You are not alone.  I am praying that God reminds you of all the ways He is with you and goes before you in this season.  It’s so hard, but things will get better.  Good things can come from this season only if you keep moving toward the future, even when you don’t know what that looks like.  Choose the next best thing for today and trust God to reveal when He knows that you’re ready for more.  

Dear friend who is newly separated, you're on my mind and in my heart.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Five Simple Pleasures I Enjoy Everyday (Almost)

Life is not easy or simple, but sometimes we do make pleasure too complicated.  My days are full, there are countless tasks that remain unfinished and many ways I could "improve" myself.  Yet, I've learned to find joy in focusing on simple pleasures each day that truly bring joy into my life.

With all the concerns of our world, weather, unrest, I needed to remember the little things that are still good everyday.  I have so much for which to be grateful in my privileged life.

1. Coffee - I like it mild and sweet, with cream.

2. Time outside - Nature is the antidote to so much screen time and noise in life.

3. Reading and Praying - Finding truth and identifying my true concerns grounds me in all the chaos.

4. Touch - one of the most healing parts of any day is when I take time to snuggle with my children, reach over to hold a hand or relax in the arms of Mr. Wonderful.



5. People - My mixed up, blended together
family is just more awesome than I could ever have imagined.  I love that even when we aren't together, we can call or text.  I love the memories and history that we share.  I love the connection and foundation we have as a group.  I'm thankful for my family of origin - parents who are still available and that I chat with often, a sister who is as close as can be.  I'm grateful for long term friends that enhance my life so much from daily laughs to deep spiritual wisdom.

Our world is so full of trouble.  Discouragement is real and the media shines a spotlight on the negative.  What do you have in your life today that is simple but brings true joy?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Storms of Life


Like most of the nation, I've been watching the unfolding story of the flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  It's so sad and seems unreal.  I know many of us are looking for ways to help.  

But I am also reminded of the fact that storms come.  Into every life events happen that shake up the norm and usher in a new climate.  Sometimes we see the storms on the horizon, and other times we are blindsided by the unpredictability of disaster.  When you are between storms, you can be sure the winds and water will come again.  During the storm is when our faith becomes real and active.  That's when faith has the most power.

In the storm, you have the ability to parent well and to become the stable protection that your children need.  Mothering in the storm is what will give you purpose and vision to continue during the most challenging days.  

And when the storm passes, you will be able to survey the damage and the loss.  It's real and it's necessary to grieve.  Then a new life will begin as you rebuild after the storm.  There may always be "Before" and "After."  There may always be watermarks on your soul.  There will be new beginnings and life may be forever rearranged.

I'm in a season of fair weather.  It's easy to forget the things I learned in the storms, yet lessons learned there are the life rafts that kept me floating.  I can't help but think of the little girl in the news this week who was saved when her own mother literally became her life raft.  Every mother I know would do the same for her child, and in that I find comfort.  I can look back in the storms of my own life and mark the life rafts that kept me afloat. 

Storm: Broken Engagement
Life Raft: God's timing is better.

Storm: Miscarriages and Infertility
Life Raft: God is good, no matter what.

Storm: Difficult Marriage
Life Raft: God will provide, He is enough.

Storm: Infidelity
Life Raft: Your name is Faithful and True.

Storm: Divorce
Life Raft: God accepts me with my flaws.

Storm: Financial Difficulty
Life Raft: God is providing before I even know my need.

Storm: Loneliness
Life Raft: God is enough and when I reach out, others reach back.

What storms do you face, literal or figurative?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mommy Meltdowns Still Happen in Middle School

We headed "Back to School" this week and with that begins a season of transition for our family.  One girl leaves for her first year of college, one girl starts Middle School and the rest of us are trying to keep our sanity as all the routines change.  It's draining emotionally and physically.


There is nothing that gets a mama into a tizzy faster than watching her child struggle.  And for this reason, it's easy to get into the mode of constantly striving to make a smooth path for our child.  I want to arrange life so that pain, struggle and disappointment are eliminated.  But these elements are the very catalysts for growth.  It's unfortunate and I wish it wasn't true, but I must accept the fact challenges create champions.

I can't make friends or schedules.  I can't do the homework or complete assignments. I can't eliminate bad days or complete the intimidating project.  So many times I'm reminded that growth often comes only through difficulty and it's supposed to be hard.  However, my go-to mode tends to be the fixer and when I'm not able to make the path clear, it's easy to have a meltdown...a little fit about what I cannot control.  It's a great example, right?

Middle School looms ahead and while I feel more prepared and less apt to be blindsided, there is still so much that I can't control.  I'm working with my middle schoolers (plural!) to empower and support.  We have set up some routines, but I'm also trying to allow for individuality and preferences.

I caught my meltdown before I spiraled into anxiety and that is progress for this mama.  Two years ago we took our first of five children to college.  This Friday, we will take another.  I'm reminding myself of how to deal with feelings of loss and avoid that meltdown. The past has taught me a few tools to use when I sense mom's on the verge of losing it:

1. Step back, breathe deeply, go for a walk or do whatever it takes to accept that this hurdle doesn't need to be handled immediately.  Usually, options present themselves that I don't think of in the first moments of learning about a problem.

2. Recognize anxiety and identify what is mine control and where my child needs to step up or branch out.  Goodness, we all tend to cling to our comfort zones.  Suggest alternative perspectives, commiserate with disappointment, but point toward positive solutions.

3. Support the one experiencing difficulty and give that child the gift of struggle.  This is what builds grit. Grit is what makes mothers great.  "It's going to take some work," and "You can do hard things," are phrases I repeat often along with, "It's worth it."

I've had to learn to accept the ups and down of life and learn to walk through anxiety with calming practices.  These tools didn't come naturally to me, but with therapy and practice, they make the stressful events so much more manageable.  I want to pass that along to my own children and step children while offering a permanent soft place to land with life deals them blows.  Have you had any mothering meltdowns lately?



Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Supposed to Be Hard

In the summer, I run before heading to my daily job.  This makes for a very early start to the day in order to arrive at my office by 8:00 am.  One day, running hard because I was pressed for time, I found myself thinking, "This is so hard."  But immediately, I remembered it supposed to be hard.  That's why I'm doing it, to push myself, burn calories, keep my heart working well, and all the other benefits that exercise brings.

So often, I want to avoid the hard things.  That's the natural state for most of us.  I crave comfort, I arrange my life around the ways that keep me ensconced in my normal and seek the path of least resistance most of the time.  Difficulty is rarely something we seek.


I can think of so many hard things that I have faced that were necessary to reach a goal.  Exercise, infertility treatments, moves, discipline, saving, staying the course, education, counseling and more are not passive, easy endeavors.  Yet the rewards make the effort so worth it!

Whatever you are facing today, don't shy away if it is hard.  Lean into the challenge and do the necessary work for growth.  You are worth the effort.  What hard thing are you facing today?  Hearing from readers makes writing so much more fun and I'd love to hear from you!

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope"
Romans 5:3-4


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Beauty of A Summer Bucket List for the Working Mama


Somewhere early this summer, I read about a summer bucket list and freedom.  The article gave permission to not do it all, but do what you really want and it freed me from the working mom guilt I sometimes carry.  During the school year, I don't worry too much about being in the office each day.  I'm beyond blessed to clock-out in time for school pick-up lines.  But during the summer, I long for lazy days with my crew and imagine what it would be like to not go to work each day.  Sometimes the longing isn't as much working mom guilt, but working mom jealousy.  My children seem totally fine without me...I'm the one who wishes things could be different.

But, instead of wishing for what cannot be, I've prioritized what I want to do.  Some people create elaborate lists of adventures, but I kept mine succinct and doable.  One of the things on our list was for my oldest guy and I to hike Mount LeConte.  In our area, it's a reputable hike and rite of passage. We accomplished our goal this week and it was just the best!

Hiking has long been a shared activity for us, and for the family in general. So it was natural to set out together.  This is our longest hike so far.  It was strenuous, but not terrible and I was intentional about allowing us to take our time, rest as needed and make it fun.  On previous hikes, I've been guilty of pushing too hard or pressing too quickly.  I let my guy take the lead often and set the pace.

We had wonderful conversations, the kind that just don't happen unless you have many hours together without distractions.  My bucket lists aren't about spending all the time together, that's just not possible and I'm learning it's actually great for my maturing children.  I'm seeking intentional one-on-one time and creating a general feeling of availability.  So when I'm able, I'm all-in.

I've got a few more "bucket-list" items that will provide ample one-on-one time with my children.  But most of our summer list items are just keeping things relaxed, calm, and a big break from the routine. Sleeping in.  Screen Breaks.  Swimming (learning to dive).  Snow Cones and Sparklers are part of our wishes.  So far, it's going great!

So if you, like me, aren't with your children all-day, all-summer long, then know that it's totally alright!  Pick the moments you want to share and make the best of them.  The rest of the time, be proud that you're providing for all the moments when you're not there, and giving them people and experiences that will only add to their lives.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Six Weeks of Summer



I have a love/hate relationship with summer and its relaxed schedule, which sometimes drives me to madness!  Mostly I love that a more relaxed schedule means later bedtime and more family time.  The early sun means I can exercise in the morning and have my afternoons wholly devoted to family time.  We can go to the pool or the mountains or just on a walk around the loop (our equivalent of the block).

We have a lot of coming and going in our blended family.  During the school summer break, we add in summer trips, camps and sleepovers...well, it gets a bit nuts.


One child is in D.C. doing an internship.

One is spending time with her mother.

One went to church camp for a week, and came home all independent.

One is itching to do more with friends, but is somewhat trapped in the house.

The "baby" just wants to play video games and ride a scooter all day, annoys the older siblings in the process.

We did manage a family vacation for a week at the beach.  There is a trip to visit grandparents and the Midwest, plus a girlfriend getaways still to come.  We are down to six weeks left of summer vacation - oh my!


There are some things we need to complete in order to finish the summer satisfactorily:

Hike Mount LeConte with the Teen Boy.

Make more snow cones.

Go kayaking.

Memorize a Bible chapter.

Enjoy fireworks together.

Lesiurely drive through Cades Cove.

Roadtrip to somewhere fun.

Have more friends over.

Read more. Play more. Ride more.

Visit Burger Master.

Ride Go Karts.

Summer days are long, but the weeks are truly fleeting.  I truly do treasure the days of less pressure and stress.   Keep it up, moms, your summer days are floating by and your children will remember the investment you make in their wonder.