Instagram. I hope your summer includes sweet, simple times and togetherness. We have some travel, but more time at home together.
I'm praying for deepened family relationships and connections this summer. Middle School isn't easy and with two there next year, I know that a strong sense of family identity is so important. As adolescence looms, our children will be more and more independent. I don't want to fight that, but do want to support it with a solid foundation.
Another one will head to college, too, so there are more reasons than ever to foster the connections
we have today.
I will spend time enjoying each moment, knowing changes are ahead. We have so much for which to be thankful.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
We have a high school graduation in our family this year and it always marks such a big season of transition. Next year another room will be empty in our home and time just keeps marching onward. We are grateful and proud of Lindsey for her work and perseverance to complete a challenging high school curriculum. She has made wonderful choices and we are wide-eyed to see how her future unfolds. Way to go!
It was special to be together with family and celebrate another milestone together. We keep building our little blended family experience by experience, one memory at a time. I love it.
Through many years of witnessing graduations I see that being intelligent is nice, but having integrity is so much better. Yes, it's nice to know much about many things, but being wise will have a greater reward. I wish this for our own graduate as she steps out into new adventures.
It is an honor to love, support and guide each of our children. I feel no greater responsibility than to parent well.
Here's to more life and adventures!
Monday, May 15, 2017
Mother's Day has become a day that I absolutely love. I remember what it was like to be sad on this day as I longed to be a mother, but worked to focus on the wonderful mother who raised me. Now, I just adore the celebration of all that mom's do in our lives - Mothers really do rule the world, even when things aren't ideal.
|I will save these handmade cards forever!|
The children gave me thoughtful notes, love coupons and pampering items. I am thankful their dad supported them in acknowledging their mom. These original thoughts from my children are treasures to keep for all time.
I was able to see my stepdaughters, too. I strive to honor their bond with their own Mother, but I really appreciate that they include me in their motherhood circle. I love the bright, thoughtful flowers that I was given!
|I have a Sunday tradition of coffee with my kiddos. |
I like to imagine us meeting for coffee when he is all grown.
"Mother's Day" has passed for a year, but these ladies are a part of my daily life and it reminds me of the influence I will have for generations to come.
Mother's Day comes and goes, and the investments of today often don't return to us for many years to come. Count the cost and enjoy the privilege that you possess as an influencer in the generations to come.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
|This is the most recent photo I have with my three.|
I knew that I would adore my children and that they would also require me to be selfless and sacrificial. I underestimated the intense connection that I would feel, especially in those early years when they were so very dependent. I knew there would be fun times as well as stressful ones. So much was predictable, but there were some things that surprised me about motherhood.
|Last year, I got to be with my whole crew on Mother's Day!|
What I Didn't Know
1. I didn't know how I would learn to value myself through their eyes. That I was important to my children was obvious from day one - they needed comfort, care and protection. But each time they run to me for assurance or glance to make sure I'm noticing, I am reminded that my presence in their lives in huge. The size of my thighs or the brand of purse doesn't matter one bit to my kiddos, but showing up at school or seizing one-on-one time makes their day. I didn't know that having children would bring razor sharp focus for the purpose in this season of life.
|First Mother's Day with Faith|
3. I didn't guess that I would find reasons to laugh and smile, even on my very worst days. I was unaware of how my attitude would set the tone for the whole household. I had no idea how to live "in the moment" before children entered my life. I was planner and performer, always striving to please or working to be productive. I was often thinking in the future, or checking off lists. Becoming a mother let me savor rocking a baby, long after he had fallen asleep. It taught me joy in folding tiny pajamas and to let go of imperfect garden beds. I learned to quit trying to be perfect and be satisfied with enough.
4. I wasn't prepared for how much I would have to take the long-term perspective. I thought most things could be conquered and tied up neatly, but motherhood taught me the value of daily investing for future payoffs. Mothering well truly is a marathon that is won by daily consistencies in correction, compliments, time and affection. Investing today may not have its reward for many years, but they are so worth the efforts.
5. I didn't know the instant connection that would happen among mothers and how it would bond me to a tribe of people who "get it." In my neighborhood and in the headlines, my first response is from the heart of a mother. I am grateful for the common bond even though we express our motherhood so differently at times.
I'm still growing as a mother, and I still have so much to learn I'm so very grateful for the little hearts that teach me, stretch me, motivate and move me. Motherhood has surprised me with lessons of life that I could have learned no other way. Mothers aren't born the day a baby arrives. The heart of a mother grows as a woman nurtures, cares sacrifices for those in her life: whether it is a child born to her or the child up the street who needs encouragement. The heart of a Mother grows when we give away our very selves.
Other Thoughts on Mothering:
Rules of Motherhood
Essential Stepmom Skills
The Truth About Mothering
My Greatest Accomplishment
Stepping Through Mother's Day (As A Stepmom)
|Mother's Day, 2015|
Friday, April 28, 2017
Add to that, we live right near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the space for (inexpensive) adventures is just so available. My son was only two months old on his first trip to the mountains. He has grown up being confident about tromping through streams, forging through trails and absorbing the sounds of nature.
During my single mom years, heading to the mountains was a saving grace for me with three children. There is no cell service or wifi, no goofy cartoon noises and no one to be bothered with the rambunctious noises of three young children. They could throw rocks in the river for hours and "hike" the walking trails on their own. They gained a sense of accomplishment and freedom that we couldn't have found in the neighborhood. I believe it was during these preschool and early elementary years where we adopted the general mentality that this is where we go to be together, to connect and to make memories. It's where I established my free range parenting philosophy.
This is also the period in life when I went on my first road trip with three young children - that is an adventure unto itself! But what really happened is that I adopted a "Can-do" attitude toward challenges and my children picked up the same attitude along the way. Now, they just assume I'm up for just about any adventure.
|My first trip to the mountains with my children |
and Mr. Wonderful. Look at the fairy wings!
We continue hiking as a family, even more exciting as we became blended because it is something we can all do together. It's not easy finding an activity that kids ranging from first to twelfth grade like, but hiking worked for us. We do it on weekends, holidays and vacations. Whenever we can escape, we try to do so. All of us go together, or we just take whoever is available. We like to bring friends, too. Some of my best bonding with my step daughters has been side-by-side, hiking in nature.
|Hiking provides lots of one on time |
for talking or just being together.
Clearly, my son didn't have any concern that I was capable of completing his dream. In his mind, I'm already the "Adventure Mom" so it was natural to assume I would help him accomplish his goal And so, I will.
How to do it? Just embrace the role and look for it: Adventure is Out There!
|The little guy was only five years old when he completed this five mile hike.|
|The waterfall was worth the whole 8+ mile hike, and we saw two bears.|
Thursday, April 13, 2017
There is hope found in the most dire of places - a cruel betrayal, torture, humiliation, agony, isolation and death. The process of sacrifice marks our example for obedience, sacrifice, love, honor, forgiveness and new life. Yes, new life: Life that is different, marked, etched and set apart from what if once was. Death leaves its scars on all of us, but it doesn't mean we are forever bound in its grip.
New life. This is what I claim on Easter Sunday - Resurrection Day. My worst moments have birthed my best. What I once was, I am no longer. Hope for my future dark days (I know there will be some). Trust in the One who overcomes.
I do not speak profoundly, or with anything new to say. I simply know today more than ever that while it was kindness that brought me first to Christ, it was pain that saw my heart transformed. As a child, I couldn't fathom the reality of the cross and it's trauma. I had not reference for the hate and brutality. Today, from new across the world I can see the climate of hate that permitted such mob mentality. I hate the pain for Him all those years ago. I hate the pain in our world today. I hated the pain in my own life and dread the pain I will witness in the lives of those I love. Yet the very pain that I avoid is what allowed new life to emerge in me. It is the miraculous way that God works to bring something good from even what is the worst in our world. The horrific pain of the cross was the road new life in Christ. I wish there was another way, but I am not God.
This is why we have Easter traditions in our home. We color eggs to remember God always brings new life. We talk about the last days of Christ and what it must have felt like to be betrayed. We gather with our church to remember and honor His sacrifice. We celebrate the Victory on Sunday, knowing it is only a shadow of the celebration to come.
Easter is all about pain. God didn't choose to eliminate the pain from our world. He used it then and uses it today. No matter what has happened to you or what you have done to yourself, the pain doesn't have to be the end of the story. We are a people of second chances who choose to believe the best is yet to be, whether here on earth or in the hereafter. Easter is the heart of faith for Christians, but it doesn't eliminate the struggle. It takes that struggle and makes it worth something, and that is where second chances (or third, and more) take root and bloom.
What is Your Response to Easter?
Some Easter Traditions in Our Family
The Old Can Be New Again
Friday, April 7, 2017
"Safety is the state of being "safe" (from French sauf), the condition of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Safety can also refer to the control of recognized hazards in order to achieve an acceptable level of risk."
It's easy to develop a tunnel-vision in the way we view the world and see what we recognize. My desire is to widen my world view and I do this by intentionally informing myself of the ways others live, their struggles, their joys. To accept that my lifestyle is a minority in the world isn't condemning myself. It spurs me to steward the privilege well. Where I have been gifted, I am looking to give. Surely I have not been given so much only to serve myself.
So these are some places where I choose to invest:
My Church. It's the first place that I give and am committed to doing so for life. To make a lasting, personal impact, your church is the place to invest.
Mercy House Global. As a former single mama, these overcomers inspire me! I feel so glad to purchase their products for gifts and love the t-shirts.
Preemptive Love. I can't imagine living well in a war zone, but I will help where I can.
Compassion International. One way that I involve my children is to let them choose a gift each Christmas.
Locally as needs arise. There are immigrants who need basic living goods and jobs. There are foster families who need last minute supplies. There are students in our classrooms who need lunches and clothing. There are some who need a drink or food. There are laborers all around who need dignity, a smile, recognition. When I see the need, I am prompted to give. The key is to continue noticing the need.
When I am overwhelmed by the evil in our world, it is easy to feel paralyzed with insignificance. What can I do? How can I help? Where can I make an impact? But small actions truly can make an impact. Sometimes I have to filter what I see in order balance the difficulties with hope. But I don't want to be so consumed with my own comfortable life that I miss the benefits of joining to help others. I want to be part of the solution...even if my contributions are small, they are significant.