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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Habit of Desperation

There is nothing so relaxed and carefree as a sleeping baby.

The youngest one of our clan had a birthday this week.  The season on his birth will forever be marked with mixed emotions because of the events surrounding that time in my own life.  Shortly after he arrived, I discovered things weren't what I thought in my marriage.  My then-husband moved a thousand miles away and I wasn't sure when/if he would return.  Everything about my then-life had changed and the future was so uncertain.

With a breastfeeding newborn, older children adjusting to new caregivers and me learning to be a full-time working family woman, I look back and wonder how I functioned during that season.  I can only credit God for somehow getting me through.  That little wonder above gave me reasons to smile and laugh during the darkest days, as did my firstborn and daughter.  They gave me purpose beyond survival.

When I think of being tired, it is this season that comes to mind.  The absolute exhaustion was overwhelming!  The baby didn't sleep through the night for more then six months.  I had to be up and out of the house with myself and three littles (plus their gear!) in order to get each to childcare/preschool and myself to work.  The afternoons and evenings comprised of important childhood play, home responsibilities, meals, baths, bedtime and the routine was never-ending.  At the time, my parents lived nearby and my father would come to the house late and sit with the sleeping children so I could go to the grocery store alone.  Each day took every ounce of energy I possessed.  Most days, I began wondering how I would make it to the end of that day?

During that season of exhaustion, I began the habit of praying, sincerely and out of necessity, that God would walk me through that day, give me strength to face the demands.  The moment I turned off my alarm in the morning (and rolled back over in denial that I had to face another day), I told the Lord I didn't have it in me to do it.  I calmly thought about each task that had to be accomplished and instead of wondering how it would get done, just said I needed Him to help me do it.  And each day, He did.  He really did!  My most tired days seem to be the ones where I’m most aware I need to access God’s strength, comfort and trust Him to lead my path because I’m just too weary. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed some it, I can only think God somehow carried me. I know He did.

Look at him now!
These days are more restful, but I still pray each morning for strength to rise and face the tasks of the day. It’s a habit of desperation that has inspired me to never give up.  I know my the weakness of my flesh, my real need for rest and the ways I can fall apart, wound those closest to me and let important matters slide when I'm overly tired.  When I trust God to take care of me, I'm best able to care for my family, my home and my work outside the home.  I've learned that when I'm exhausted, that's my greatest opportunity to let God work in me.

Do you feel weary? Exhausted physically or emotionally?  Are you depleted of your own strength? What is draining you?  Try these steps to make it through.  And may I encourage you?  This season won't last forever.  My little man is now a fabulous sleeper.  I still rise early to get three children and myself out the door to school and work, but now they are all at the same location and they can even dress themselves.  I still get weary, but it's not a season of exhaustion like in times past.  I survived.  Looking back, we all did and it is a display of God's goodness that we did!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

There Aren't Words

Hailey Owens - age 10, kidnapped, killed, loved and missed.
source unknown from family Facebook page.
Evil is real and around us everyday.  And yet we bravely drive down steep hills, drop our children at public school, eat food prepared by strangers, engage in life.  Somehow, the evil doesn't seem quite capable of invading our safety zones.

This week, shocking evil moved in close to a family within the circle of my own family.  I can't help but imagine the same happening to one of my own children.  I can go down the road of their confusion, fear,'s overwhelming.  I can imagine my own panic, anger, desperation, confusion.  There are no words for circumstances like this.  I think we can only sit with the family in their grief.

This I do know: Hailey's life is not defined by that last night.  The years of innocence, childhood wonder, emerging tween, giggling girlhood and the smile that was adored by her family is what defines her life.  She is precious to God and to her family.  I don't know and cannot explain why horrific things happen to people everyday.  The horror close to home reminds me that there are people, children suffering throughout the world.  I believe God is with each one.  I believe there is supernatural peace and strength to cope in final moments.  I believe the comfort of Christ immediately erased the pain for this little girl as she entered heaven.  I do not believe this was God's plan for Hailey's life - but I know He did not leave her alone in her most desperate moment.

It is for we who remain that must grieve, work out the non-understanding and somehow step into a faith that believes.  Yes, righteousness ultimately defeats evil.  But until then we must live with the hope that when evil enters our personal world, we are not alone.  We must choose to believe He is good, even when our reality isn't.  We must let go of our demand for an explanation and choose to trust.

My initial reaction is to lock my children in our seemingly safe home, warn them off any contact with others and attempt to keep them in isolation and protected.  It is terrifying for me to consider that in truth, I cannot protect them.  Even when they seem old enough for discernment, even in my own neighborhood, even when trusted adults are watching.

As I talked with Mr. Wonderful about the horrible events, I lamented the fact if someone wanted them, there is really little I could do.  I feel powerless.  "But we can help them be less desirable, less targeted."  He is so right.  Let us not instill our children with fear, but with confidence and knowledge about how to remain safe.

To the family of Hailey.  I'm just so, so sorry for your loss.  You have lost so very much.  In the middle of this horrible grief, remember the ones still with you and treasure each moment.  We all want to help, but we don't really even know how, so if we are foolish, forgive us when you can.  You are the strong ones.  We will hold you up.

To anyone else who happens to read, how do you balance caution with confidence when preparing our children for this big, bad world?  I'd love to hear from you.

Quick Synopsis Here: Fox News

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jumping In!


I've found it challenging to write, to feel I have much to say that isn't already being said well elsewhere.  So I'm just jumping in to say hello.


I turned forty years old last week.  We had a snow day and I sled with I'm covered in bruises.  We had such a fun day spending time together as a family.  I'm thankful for the slower pace of last week, although sometimes I stressed about what I was NOT getting accomplished.  I'm really, really happy with my life at forty years old.  That's a blessing.

Still, being forty reminds me of how time passes.  Time for myself, my children, to grow with the Lord and connect with my spouse - to travel!  I long to have more time for all these things and yet the daily demands just keep demanding. 

My birthday tends to mark the beginning of my real New Year.  In looking at my goals, I see that I'm really good at financial goals, but not so much at health goals.  I need to value my health more, especially in the next season on my life.  I do well with goals, but it's easy for me to ignore them if I don't keep them before me and make them a priority.

So, forty:  Feels good.  Feels a permanent.  Feels secure.  Feels urgent.  I guess that's where I for today. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

How He Loves and a Gifted Giveaway!

Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. Romans  8:39

*Be sure to comment to share some love with anyone you know that may need a reminder!

Since I have three elementary school-aged children, we are busy this week filling out Valentine cards.  We think it's important to share Christ at every opportunity and so my children will each hand out card with the "Valentine" message that no one is separated from the love of God.  No one. Nothing can except our own rejection and even that He is able to overcome.

I assume that most who read here are women and as a woman I know the deep, intrinsic and very real need to be loved.  To be cared for and considered precious.  Life doesn't always deliver and sometimes when we think we've achieved the kind of love for which we long, it turns out to be something entirely different and disappointing. 

God loves you.  He seeks you and is for you.  In life there will be seasons where His love is the only thing you may count on and that's okay.  Let it be enough. 

God whispers to me and to you everyday.  It's only when I get bogged down by the mundane, the disappointment or the crisis of the moment that I miss His presence.  Today, receive His love.
  • Your children love you as if you are God. To a child, mom is the whole world.
  • No matter the weather, it speaks of His greatness and control - do you see it?
  • Gather strength from the warmth of your home or workplace and know He provides.
  • Take even just one moment to read His words.  I find Romans 8 to be a glorious reminder not only of His love but the power it has for me.
  • Demonstrate His love to someone else.  Nothing will remind you so well as letting His love flow through you to another.
He loves you.  I would guess there are others who love you, too, but don't forget how mightily you are loved by the One who knows you best.  Are you celebrating love this week? 

Do you know someone who needs a special reminder?  I would love to send the Valentine CD I received to someone that you use a pick-me-up.  Share in the comments who you think needs a little love in their life and I'll choose randomly tomorrow night then ship it out to arrive by Valentine's Day.  I can't wait to hear from you!

Valentine's Day - Skip the Dread & Drama

I'm a true romantic.  Valentine's Day has always been a favorite of mine, because it was an excuse to hope, to dream and just to laugh with friends and now my children.  My birthday is nearby, so I think  just always connected the days as fun times to celebrate...not in the purely commercial form, but to genuine be grateful for the love we have in all different ways.

I like to find a friend to whom I can anonymously send a gift.

My children and I enjoy heart-shaped pizza and chocolates. Or dress up regular turkey sandwiches with a heart-shaped cookie-cutter.

Buy some fresh flowers and enjoy them all week long.

We talk about how rich we are in love of family, friends and how completely God loves us.

I like to send crafts/Valentines to our far-away family...but just a heads up, that isn't happening this year. Sorry.

Maybe I'm a fool for Hallmark, but I think I just enjoy looking for little things to celebrate.  It keeps life fun and intentional, in my opinion. 

To my fellow single moms, I say to make the best of this day.  Get together with a girlfriend or treat yourself to a haircut.

I'm not sure that Mr. Wonderful fully understands my genuine appreciation of Valentine's Day.  It's been just over two years since I felt crushed by his concerns about the possibility of our future. That year, I felt like I really put myself out there by making his favorite cookies and delivering them in person on Valentine's Day.  Soon after I received my favorite gift ever from him.  To say I was surprised is an understatement.

This year, be intentional about showing love to someone else: your children, family, a friend and even those you cross paths with each day.  In marriage or singleness we can be disappointed when our holiday expectations or hopes are met.  Take the initiative to make Valentine's Day meaningful this year.  Valentine didn't celebrate romantic, erotic love, he championed true God-love that was sacrificial and demonstrative.  How can you add to that legacy this year?

My own Valentine Tradition

Surviving Valentines Day

Hope for the Hurting, Separated or Divorced Woman on Valentine's Day

Friday, February 7, 2014

David Ian - Valentine's Day

View photo.JPG in slide show

The description of David Ian's Valentine's Day album is spot on with easy but interesting melodies. Ian is true to the jazz roots yet doesn't let that allow the album to become predictable.  You will be able to relax, read, dine and more while Ian provides the soundtrack for a lovely evening.

You can hear clips on iTunes.  He previous album was recently reviewed on NPR.

Don't let the album title fool you, this one is great for any time of year, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this gesture of thoughtfulness as Valentine's Day approaches. It's not mushy, it's not overly romantic.  This album is soulful, contemplative and subtle.

Thank you to Grace Ian (David's wife) for sending me a copy to review.  I wish you both much success in your ventures!

Do you have any music that instantly speaks of Valentine's?

Playlist for this album:
Autumn Leaves
My Funny Valentine
Stella by Starleight
Someday my Prince will Come
Young and Foolish
Night and Day
There Will Never Be Another You
Sweet By and By

Monday, February 3, 2014

While At Home & Online

I was at home for an unusually amount of time this week because of a sick child followed by three and half snow days!  I just loved being there with my people.  I was able to appreciate the safety net that my husband provides when compared to our snow days in times past.  When I don't work, I don't earn income, but these days I'm not on my own and that peace of mind is so invaluable.

It was fun to make snow cream, tromp through our woods, gather icicles and snuggle in front of movies.  Oh, and we made LOTS of hot chocolate - depleted our supply - along with soup.  It was a really snuggly week and I felt very connected to my tribe.  I would have enjoyed being a housewife/stay at home mother and this week confirmed it.  I'm thankful for that week and that my laundry is all caught up (for today anyhow!). 

I had some extra time to read, browse, shop and relax.  Here are some things that I enjoyed -

This is a brutally tragic story, but so very worth the read: The Book Thief

I fell in love with the idea of these Literary Couples.  Seriously, someone write fan fiction, please.

Boys are so different than girls and I just learned how they can act like Roosters.

This school Ditched the Rules and had better behaved children!

When I became I single mother, I learned that I could someone be 'enough' for all that my children would need.  This fellow single mom articulates it so well in Raising Kings.