Monthly Archives: April 2014

What Friendship Is All About

I’ve been reminiscing about those good old days of high school lately. Maybe it’s getting back in touch with old and dear friends, maybe it’s receiving that ten year reunion invitation, maybe it’s coming across this jackpot of memories while cleaning up photo boxes (I hope you friends don’t mind me sharing a few!), maybe it’s my first child finishing his first year of elementary school. Regardless, in all my reminiscing I have come to realize a few things. I’ve realized that so much can change in ten years! College, weddings, kids, careers, travels… It almost feels like a lifetime ago. On the other hand, it hit me this week that time goes so fast. While so much has changed, I can’t believe  a decade has gone by since those care-free days in that small town. But more than anything I’ve realized that good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

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Homecoming dinner (fine garage dining). Spaghetti at Tedrianos or something like that, right?

Last night as my husband and I were getting ready for bed I was enlightening him on my life back then. I was in the middle of telling him about how for fun my friends and I would go to Goodwill and have fashion shows with the most ridiculous, outlandish dresses and outfits we could find when my dear husband–national science olympiad champ, valedictorian, Star Wars and Lego fan–interrupted. “…Man, you guys were dorky! You think I was the geek? I would have been WAY too cool for you!” I was shocked. “Us? DORKY? Never! We were so cool!” But the more I thought about it, I realized that maybe, just maybe, he was right (isn’t there a movie about that?). We may have been nerds, but we sure had fun! And honestly, looking back, what does it matter if we were dorky or cool?

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Ten years have passed since we posed in our fashionable Goodwill attire for the camera, had a sleepover on the trampoline, passed notes in Spanish class, or serenaded our coaches with our goofy songs on long rides home from soccer games. Ten years since we ate lunch under that tree in the commons area, laughed at our inside jokes, sang karaoke together, went on bike rides, saved seats for each other at an assembly, did each other’s hair before prom, or exercised to “Sweating to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons (which is, of course, how all of the cool kids spend their Friday nights, right??). But ten years have not made us forget. I’m sure not one of us have forgotten how we stood up for each other. How we supported each other in our various activities. How we all had different beliefs, different hopes and dreams, different talents and abilities, came from different backgrounds, had different values. But that didn’t matter. We respected each other. If it mattered to one of us, it mattered to all of us, because that’s what friends do. They care. They never made me feel silly or left out for things I chose to or not to do. They respected my decisions and never pressured me to compromise my standards. We lifted each other up, helped each other realize and reach our goals. We haven’t forgotten how how we celebrated each other’s achievements and comforted each other in our failures, disasters, and disappointments.

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Soccer! Such great memories on that field!

It really doesn’t matter if we were the coolest or dorkiest high schoolers ever. What matters is that we were friends. And that friendship helped shape all of us into the people we are today. Teachers, mothers, fathers, scientists, physical therapists, entertainers, hospital staff, engineers, independent thinkers, leaders, service men and women, secret agents, missionaries, nannies, spouses, believers, friends. I owe so much to that group of girls (and guys). We don’t see each other often. We don’t talk on the phone or exchange letters like maybe we should. But the memories we share are worth gold. And when I need them, no matter how many years pass, I know they will always be there to help, no matter what.

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Waiting for our dear friend to walk down the isle in her beautiful, white dress. Remember how she was over an HOUR late?? 🙂

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These girls came to my rescue the morning of my wedding when I realized I hadn’t thought about how to do my hair. Thank goodness for amazing friends with that kind of talent!

I hope my little boys will have the opportunity to make friends like the ones I was fortunate to know through those good old days of elementary on up to high school. Friends that can lift them up, help them realize what amazing people they truly are, and support them in their goals and beliefs. I hope they realize that it really doesn’t matter if they follow the cool crowd or if they and all their friends are four-eyed, metal-mouthed, freckle-faced geeks. I hope that they can seek out those that encourage them to be better people, and be that friend in return. Because I know now from experience that when they look back, they will discover that they owe a great deal of who they are to the friends they had then. I hope they hang on to those friendships. No matter how far the distance, no matter what path life takes them down, no matter how many years pass.

Because good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

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…the great thing about growing up in a small town is that some dear friends have been there for as long as I can remember!

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Karaoke night. I wonder if we could find whatever Col is filming…that would be fun!

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Back in the day when we could handle those crazy amusement park rides. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I do believe my days of roller coasters are over.

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That Sweet Smell of Septic Stench

I’ll be honest. Being a septic tank specialist was never an occupation I had aspirations of becoming growing up. In fact, it takes every ounce of energy to will myself to clean the bathrooms once a week. After the past few days, however, my kids have me pretty well convinced that doing such things would be the grandest of adventures.

We have now lived in the country for one year. ONE YEAR! Coming up on our year mark we decided it might be good to evaluate how everything was functioning, the septic tank being one of them. Upon opening the hatch it was clear that something wasn’t right. We gave the septic tank guy a call, and he came in his great big truck the very next morning. Our boys were watching out the window as he backed up the driveway. “Oh man, Mom! You HAVE to seeee this!!! That truck is HUGE! And Mom, it’s in our DRIVEWAY!” Even N couldn’t hide his enthusiasm. If simply seeing the truck parked 10 feet away wasn’t cool enough, my husband even let them go out and watch Mr. Septic Tank Man open the hatch and *ahem* suck up the contents (I’m embarrassed to even write that!). The boys were on top of the world. Life really doesn’t get much better than that from a 3 foot perspective, does it? The septic guy was great. Told them all about his job, joked around with them, told them how the tank worked, even let them play with his dog he brought along. By the time he’d finished they were totally ready to hand him their resumes,  jump on the truck and join his crew.

To our dismay, we found out that something was indeed wrong, and probably had been for several years (why in the world did we trust the previous owners when they said they’d take care of whatever needed to be done with the septic system?? And why did they do nothing to keep the property up for all those years?? Ugh, it still gets me all worked up thinking about it). We were talking an excavator, tearing apart our entire front yard, possibly loosing trees. Not to mention boku bucks to get it all done. We were not thrilled. The more we discussed the situation, the more bleak things looked. After a few minutes of silence, my husband broke in. “Oh jeez. I’ll do it. I’ll dig the 8 feet down, I’ll get in there. We don’t have to get an excavator, destroy our lawn, sell our souls to pay the Plummer. I’ll just do it myself.”

And he did. The next night he went to town, shovel in hand. He, R, and M worked long after the sun had gone down until they reached the tank. Getting the boys to bed that night was a chore (it ALWAYS is! Read here: Bedtime Battle). I heard the entire day summed up in two five-year-old breaths and a three-year-old trying to interject his two cents. “…And then, Mom, we hit a rock! It was huuuuge. But Dad did this with is shovel (imagine some crazy manuver), and it broke. And the dirt pile is so high. And guess what? You can’t even see us when we’re inside the hole. Could you see us, Mom? And tomorrow we’re gonna open the hatch. It will be AWESOME! It could be stinky, but that’s ok. We can just plug our noses. Will you plug your nose, too Mom?…” Disneyland wouldn’t hold a candle to the pure joy these boys were getting out of our nightmare project.

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The next night Grandpa came. They worked for hours trying to pry open the darn cement hatch. As I made dinner, I had little feet pitter-pattering in and out the door to give me the play-by-play. Then just before I called them in for bed, I heard cheering from the front lawn. “They got it, Mom! They smashed it open! …Boy is it stinky!” Honestly, I think the smell was half the excitement for those wacky boys. With a ton of hard work, a little septic specialist assistance, and the help of my father-in-law, my handy husband fixed the septic tank for a fraction of the cost and way less mess. What a stinky, disgusting relief!

The saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” took on a whole new meaning for me this week (or maybe it should go “one dad’s stinky septic tank failure is another boy’s muddy castle of bliss and excitement”).While my husband and I were cursing our lousy situation with our broken septic tank, our boys couldn’t get enough. Every pile of dirt added to their ecstasy. It was the highlight of the month, maybe even possibly the year. All my husband and I could see was a gaping, muddy, smelly hole and a cement slab that wouldn’t budge. Not to mention lots and lots of dollar signs going to one lucky plumber.

Kids have a way of seeing sunlight in the dark moments. I hope my boys don’t loose that enthusiasm for life. I hope they can find joy in every day and maintain that sweet innocence. Childhood is far too short to take anything for granted, even a smelly, gross hole. I hope we can all see life occasionally through the eyes of a child and experience the wonder and awe in our every-day (sometimes infuriating) situations. Let’s all try to be more childlike. Let’s try to see the fun in the mundane, the good in the awful, the sweet in the bitter. I know I could use some more of that rosy perspective in my life. Whether we be 2 or 102, I truly hope we can all find joy in the journey.

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Categories: country life, House projects, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails…

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Back in college my roommate and I were asked to go on a double date. The guys asking happened to be cousins and spent the entire night laughing about the most crazy and ridiculous things they’d done growing up. One story I remember from that night combined a parachute, a long rope, an old truck and a bunch of teenage boys…

The boys had found a parachute in pretty good condition at the local thrift store and thought “What the heck. We could have some fun with this!” They drove out to a long, straight, dirt road and tied the parachute to a 30 foot rope. My roommate’s date was the lucky guinea pig. They hooked him up using their trusty Boy Scout knots and revved the engine. Soon flying 20 feet above the ground, truck kicking up dirt, the teenage boys suddenly realized they hadn’t thought about how to get him down, and large trees and a curve in the road were looming ahead, and rather quickly.

This is just terrible. I’m so sorry to leave you hanging at the climax of the story, but I honestly can’t remember how it ended. My imagination and vague memory tells me it probably involved a broken arm, lots of scrapes, bruises and blood. Possibly a trip to the ER. What I do remember that night was how my roommate and I were dumbfounded that they were still around to tell their crazy tales. I clearly recall their response when we questioned, “Your poor mothers! Were they constantly a nervous wreck??” It was like the thought hadn’t even crossed their minds. Both had no sisters, only brothers, and it was clear that their reckless behavior landed them in the ER probably more times than their moms could count. They had become desensitized by their sons’ years of disregard for gravity, common sense, and safety. It didn’t even phase them!

After that date my roommate and I would tease that one of us would be the mom of all boys, dropping kids off at the hospital like it were weekly soccer practice. Eh, no big deal. Somehow I’d expected it to be her. I never had brothers. what on earth would I do with boys??

Well, eight years later, sure enough she has the darling girl in bows and frilly dresses and I have a house full of guys. Each time my husband and I have found out we’d be bringing home another baby boy, my mind immediately conjures up images of a 16-year-old tied to a parachute flying 20 feet above an old pickup speeding down some unknown dirt road.

Not too long ago I asked a friend, “Why is it that everywhere we go it seems like my boys are more reckless than any other kids??” In the most tactful way she could think of, she smiled and said, “Well my friend, maybe it could be because they are!” I suppose she makes a good point. Butterfly bandages are used as often as tissues at our house. Pulling splinters out of fingers has almost become part of our nightly ritual along with brushing teeth and reading stories. A goose egg is the look at least one of my boys is sporting most days.

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Never in my dreams did I think that I would carry the stigma of being the “all boy mom.” So often life doesn’t go exactly as we have pictured. God seems to frequently send us down an entirely different path to explore than we’d ever even considered. I’m ashamed to admit that when we sat in the ultrasound room for our third little one and the doctor exclaimed, “Looks like another boy for you!” I cried, and they weren’t exactly tears of joy. But two years later I can’t imagine my life without that audacious little bundle of wildness. Nor without the other two. God sent me three boys. Not what I expected (I have no faith in my motherly intuition any more!), but just what God knew I needed. As the years have passed the reality that frilly dresses and bows might not be where life takes me has begun to sink in. I absolutely LOVE being a mom to all boys, but sometimes I still wonder about that little girl and hope that opportunity will be mine. And maybe that will mean years down the road as a grandma when I can spoil her and afford all the girly accessories. In the meantime I’ll keep trying to adjust to the constant bumps and bruises. The endless tussling, the never-ending dinosaur battles, the tripping over Lego towers. I’ll work on perfecting my construction vehicle knowledge, my pirate lingo, and being the most vile villain so my superheroes can save the day again and again. In the meantime I’ll do my best to raise three impetuous, crazy, wonderful, chivalrous boys so that they can be worthy of a sweet girl who, like their mother, loves them in spite of their quarky boyishness. Sometimes even because of it.

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And maybe, just maybe, when they’re teenagers I won’t be phased by the ridiculous things they do (but don’t be betting money on that!).

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Categories: Motherhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Maiden Spring Voyage

We usually don’t make a huge deal of birthdays. A cake, family, maybe a couple presents, nothing big. So when my birthday came on one particular year, I hadn’t expected much. I certainly hadn’t expected to celebrate at my husband’s bedside in the ER.

The real story actually begins years before, right after we got married. My husband had taken a sailing class in college and had fallen in love with it all. Getting a sail boat was constantly on his mind, like a thorn in his side that wouldn’t go away until he felt that water spraying his face. The problem was that we were poor college students and had no time. When we graduated, moved, and started making some money, the problem was no place to keep a sail boat. When we bought our first home, I insisted that before he took the plunge, I needed a car to drive (we had one car that he took to work, meaning I walked EVERYWHERE). Finally I ran out of excuses and he was able to fill his dream. He searched and searched and in early November ( well past sailing season) he found his “second love.” It was small, yellow, and old. Perfect in every way for his sailor’s heart.

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We soon found that November was an awful time to buy a boat. Besides one daring sail in early December, it sat in our driveway teasing and taunting him every time he left for work. It called to him as he pulled in at night. He was in torment waiting those long, winter months for his chance at that maiden spring voyage.

Mid-march can hardly be considered dead of winter, but it’s not exactly spring, let alone summer, either. Despite my worry, he decided it was finally time. Anything I said couldn’t dissuade this anxious sailor. The water was beckoning him. My family was in town visiting for my birthday. We’d planned to have a little picnic at the lake (despite the chilly spring breeze) where my husband and brother-in-law would take our little yellow boat out. They left early that morning, long before the rest of us were up and about. My husband was like a little boy, giddy with anticipation even while scraping frost from the hull before they launched. My awesome brother-in-law was a good sport to go along with his antics. We followed a couple hours behind with food and kids in tow. I have to admit it was exciting to see the white sails and the little boat skimming across the water at the end of the lake as we pulled up. The breeze was just right, and the day, though a bit chilly, was proving to be a beautiful one.

We stood and watched, admiring the smooth jibes and tacks for maybe fifteen minutes, then out of nowhere came a giant gust of wind. We stood frozen, horrified as the little boat toppled to one side, the sails dipping into the water. “Oh no. They’re going in!” Grandpa shouted. It seemed like slow motion as we watched the contents of the boat dump into the lake and the mast disappear. Climbing up on the hull and rocking on the keel, they were able to flip the boat back over. It wasn’t more than a minute later that another gust came. Soaked and exhausted, we watched as they manoeuvred the boat back up for a second time. The third followed just seconds later. At this point all of us on shore were feeling a little panicked. No other boats appeared to be out (who in their right mind goes sailing on a cold, gusty, march morning?), and the rangers were nowhere to be found. My husband and brother-in-law, far from the dock, were hanging onto the centreboard and clinging to the mast. Half of their bodies were dangling in the freezing water, obviously well out of much-needed energy to right the boat for a third time. We were clueless as to what we should do, but something needed to be done, and fast.

Right at that pivotal moment a fishing boat came out of nowhere. It must have been hiding at the other end of the lake, because as far as we could tell my husband and brother-in-law had been the lone sailors that morning. Pulling up next to them, the fishermen grabbed hold to their numb arms and dragged them aboard their little boat. The men carefully tied a rope onto the forward pulpit under the water and slowly motored to the dock. Relief would be an understatement as to how we all felt. My sister and I rushed home to get blankets. We knew they would desperately need something, and we had nothing. We collected as many as we could find and were rushing back toward the lake when my phone rang. It was my mom. “They’re headed to the hospital. They couldn’t walk or even feel their legs. When we tried to talk to them they were acting, I don’t know, delusional. Grandpa is driving them to the emergency room right now.” I almost felt sick. “I TOLD him I’d thought it was a bad idea! I knew something like this would happen. Couldn’t he just listen ONCE?!” I admit, I was a little mad, and so was my sister. Then R, only 2 at the time, came on the phone. “Mommy?” His little voice was shaky and scared. “Daddy and Uncle A fell in the water! They go to the hos-tibal. Daddy at the hos-tibal, mommy! Daddy gonna be ok?” A chunk welled up in my throat. “Yes, he’s going to be ok. We’re almost there, R. We’ll get you and we’ll go check on Daddy.”

The ER is not the most exciting place to spend your birthday. It was cold, sterile, and depressing as we walked through the halls to where our sailors lay being treated for hypothermia. I couldn’t decide whether to be angry or sympathetic when the nurse showed me into his room. Whether to slug his arm or give him a hug. At the last minute my sympathetic side won over. He looked so pathetic wrapped in all those blankets and IVs running through his arms. For 3 hours we waited for their temperatures to rise, and finally we were able to go home.

All of us have recounted that spring maiden voyage time and time again, recalling the life lessons that birthday “celebration” taught us. Be prepared. Listen to your wife (one of my favorites 🙂 ). Be patient. Be wise. Forgive always. Don’t take out a new sail boat as a novice sailor without wet suits on a cold day in March. With your brother-in-law. On your wife’s birthday. Ever again.

Out of all the lessons we learned, probably one of the biggest was taught by the fishermen. Out of nowhere they crossed the entire lake to save two goofy guys. They had no idea what the situation was, how bad the sailors were in need, or if anyone else would come along. They stopped their fishing, were perceptive enough to see that my family was in danger, and didn’t wait for another person to step in. What if they’d hesitated? What if they’d decided it was the ranger’s job to save that boat? What if…? That day they were heroes. That day they saved two lives. That day they taught all of us the importance of helping others. Not when it’s easy, not when it’s convenient, even when it’s someone else’s responsibility.

We may not need to rush to the aid of a sinking boat, but we often need to give someone a hand. We often need to open a door, offer a smile, make a call, do an extra job, or send a note. And often it isn’t our responsibility. But ours or not, it needs to be done, and what better person than you? If you don’t, then it’s possible no one else will. Two lives could have been lost that day in that cold, spring water. But because of two fishermen who took the time to notice and to act, my two-year-old boy was comforted by his daddy’s warm arms in the “hos-tibal.” One of the best birthday presents a mother could ask for.

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Categories: Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, Sailing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Green-Eyed Monster

In December I was asked to play the role of “miss every-day mom” for a little pretend pageant at church. Apparently I was a pretty good fit for the part. About a week before performance night we were sent our script to memorize. I won’t go into detail, but the gist was this: A group of talented women are in a pageant, and then there is miss every-day mom, a total train wreck. At the end of the play it’s decided that all the women, including little ole me, are talented and capable in their own way.

Here was my part:

In hustles miss everyday mom in yoga pants or jeans and t-shirt with a messy bun, looking a bit frazzled. Miss everyday- I’m so sorry I’m late! I had to take my kids to soccer and gymnastics, and then the hamster got out of its cage and I had to find it before the dog did! Then right as I was getting ready to leave, the baby threw up on my dress, while I was changing I burned the casserole, and then the sitter called and cancelled!! Also, I tried all day to come up with something special about myself, or a talent to share and I just couldn’t find anything!

Now let me tell you how everything had REALLY gone that day for this “every-day mom.”

I had to take R to school. As we walked to the car the dog got a hold of one of M’s gloves, so I chased him around the yard. As we drove to school I realized I hadn’t helped R study any of his spelling words that week, so I spent the next five minutes drilling him on words he hadn’t a clue how to spell. He walked in just in time for the late bell to ring. I chased the chickens around the yard to herd them back into their coop before the dog had one for a snack. Dinner was totally lousy because I hadn’t been to the grocery store in two weeks, and my husband was running late from work. I hadn’t done laundry in a while either, so when it was time to leave I was relieved that my part required me to wear yoga pants and a t-shirt because, well, that’s all that I had to wear that was clean!

By the time I walked up on that stage, I didn’t even have to pretend my role. It was painfully clear that I WAS miss every-day mom. The play was meant to uplift and help us to see that we all have talents and abilities, but I have to admit I went home feeling like nothing more than an every-day mom, capable of nothing but herding chickens and washing dishes. Talents? Nope. My kid couldn’t even spell GRAY. Other kids in his class were probably spelling words like onomatopoeia. And who’s fault is that, really? You can’t exactly blame him! I knew plenty of “every-day moms” that could also pass off as “miss bakes-a-lot. I had a few friends who weren’t only amazing moms, but they packed their kids up in strollers and ran for miles every day. Some that were the darlings of the PTO, room mothers, artists, musicians, dancers… Not me. I chased chickens. I have to admit, on the drive home I started feeling those pangs of jealousy. When I walked in the door my always-reassuring, sensible husband reminded me of an important life lesson I so often tend to forget. “So?” He asked. “What do you mean, SO??” I whined. “Sally can bake the most amazing cookies you’ve ever tasted. Bobby Jo is training for a marathon. Me? I chase chickens.” His response hit me hard. “So? It’s not a competition.”

All I wanted him to say was, “Oh, Honey. You are so good at so many things!” You know, gush over me a little. But he didn’t. And you know what? He was right. Life isn’t a competition. My husband had reminded me in those few short words that jealousy is a very unattractive trait, and I was oozing with it.

So often we compare ourselves to others. How many times have we thought, “Oh sure, she makes the best cookies, but I bet her kids watch a ton of tv!” Or, “She can sing all right. But you should see her without any make-up.”  How often do we try to make ourselves better by putting someone else down? So she’s better at baking cookies. Can’t we just be happy that we have an opportunity to know her and enjoy her creations? Finding fault in others to bring ourselves up is such an easy thing to do. We all have our shortcomings, don’t we? When we are filled with those feelings of jealousy, when we are secretly searching for any reason we are better than someone else, we loose our ability to truly love that person. A person that we could learn so much from and maybe even help in our own way too. What a sad existence, to feel that we have to be better than others. Not to mention exhausting!

when I feel those jealous feelings, that someone else’s talents are superior to my own, when I start to search for ways that they fail to justify why I can’t do the amazing things they do, I try to remember the wise words of my husband. “So? It’s not a competition.” I hope I can find joy in others’ successes. It is a wonderful feeling to truly love someone, to not look for fault and simply decide to be happy they, in all their amazingness, are in my life. I have faults. That’s a painfully obvious fact. You have faults. And that’s ok. So now can we just find the good in each other? The green-eyed monster is very real. I hate to admit I am acquainted with him. Probably far better than I should be. But I know I feel so much better when he isn’t around.

I’m Miss Every-day mom. You might be Miss Smart-as-a-whip, Miss Spiritually-Inclined, Miss Spelling-champ, or Miss Pinterest-extraordinaire. And that’s just great. Let’s be glad for each other, let’s teach each other. I want to find the good in who you are. In what you do. I’m glad we can be friends!

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He is always full of truthful, honest words of advice when I’m being ridiculous. SO glad I married him!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Looking Back

 

Every year when Shutterfly sends out that long-awaited email (you know the one, “Free Photo Book Offer! Expires Wednesday” And it’s Tuesday. Less than 24 hours!) I become a basket case. I have to compile all of our best photos from the last year into a comprehensible chronology and think of clever things to say about each month. AND I have to do it all between 8pm and midnight in order to redeem that offer. Talk about stressful! Good thing those offers are few and far between because I (and my poor neglected husband) would go nuts if it were more often. Well, last night was one of those “Spend the next three hours frantically trying to organize pictures to save $10 and loose your sanity” kinda nights. I scoured our pictures and hoped spell check was catching my millions of spelling errors. At 11:58 I clicked the “place order” button and sat back to admire my hard, all-be-it very rushed, work. I felt like a zombie, but it was done! And really, I imagine when the result comes in the mail here in a few days even my husband will agree it was worth the 8 bucks for shipping and all the hassle.

The great part about making those books is I get to think back on the previous year. I see pictures that I’d completely forgot about and remember wonderful memories I might have otherwise forgot. This year has been full of amazing memories. We sold our first home, bought a new house that we really love, sailed a TON (which is now so easy because we live a matter of minutes away from the lake), played with family and friends, got a dog and chickens, shared in the joy of weddings and engagements, read some good books, sent our son off to his first day of kindergarten, and saw our baby take his first steps. We’ve seen (no doubt in my mind) miracles. The task of filling the book in only 20 pages was rather difficult this year because it was such an eventful, unique one!

As I looked through the pictures, I was also reminded of some of the difficult memories that we’ve experienced. While one of the best, it has also been one of the saddest years for our family. We’ve watched as health and vitality has slipped away from family and loved ones. My heart has been broken in ways I didn’t know were possible as I’ve witnessed dear friends struggle with the unbearable, tragic loss of family members far too young to go. Old, dear neighbors have been evacuated from their homes, unsure of what they would find when they returned. My husband has waded through houses up to the ceiling in cement-consistency mud from local floods, puzzled of where to begin, secretly doubtful that anything there was even salvageable. We’ve experienced the numbing fear that comes with waiting for a diagnosis…hoping for the best, trying not to fear the worst. I’ve struggled for words when friends have lost an unborn child. A child they had been hoping and dreaming to bring to their home.

I’ve never doubted there is a God. I’ve never doubted that He loves us. But this year, more than ever before, experiences have tested my faith and shaken the very core of my beliefs. I’ve asked myself countless times, why would God allow such sadness and pain? My trials hardly hold a candle to so many others. I can only imagine the grief others have passed through and continue to face daily. My heart breaks for them. I pray that they find the answers and comfort they are seeking.

Whenever doubts arise, A song runs through my mind. A simple song my sons are learning at church. It goes like this:

How could the Father tell the world, of love and tenderness?

He sent his Son, a new born babe, with peace and holiness.

How could the Father show the world, the pathway they should go?

He sent his Son to walk with men, on Earth, that they might know.

How could the Father tell the world, of sacrifice, of death?

He sent his Son to die for us, and rise with living breath.

What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?

Have faith, have hope. Live like his Son. Help others on the way.

What does he ask? Live like his Son.

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Sending balloons to a sweet, little angel friend

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Local floods turned our little stream into a raging river

I love this song. It’s so simple, but says so much. It helps to remind me in those moments of doubt that God really is there. He sent his Son to be our Savior. To take our burdens and carry us through our hard times. He died so that we might live again. He knows our most intimate thoughts, our deepest despair, and our happiest joys. He wants to share in those moments. Life isn’t easy, but with faith and hope we can tackle our hardest challenges. And by so doing we can help others through their darkest moments.

I’ve come to understand this year that life is full of happiness and sorrow. No one is exempt from sadness in this life. But God has provided us with a Savior to help us through. He loves us, wants us to find joy, and has given us someone who understands. I know of so many who carry unbearable burdens, but, with the help of the Savior do it with incredible poise and strength. They truly do have faith and hope. They truly live like our Father’s Son. And every day I hope when I face the trials that will come, I can be like those brave, wise people. That I can turn to my Savior to help me through. That I can be more like Him.

Other songs that comfort me when I need that strength:

A Child’s Prayer

I Feel My Savior’s Love

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Be Still, My Soul

I Know The My Redeemer Lives

 

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The Truth about Motherhood (according to me)

It was a beautiful summer afternoon as we pulled into the park and were greeted by my husband’s new co-workers. Little did I know that this work picnic, the first of many, would be one that would go down in infamy for our family for years to come.

We had recently graduated from college. Just weeks before we’d unloaded a moving truck into a little apartment in a new town. My husband had started his first real job right out of college, we were poor, and I was VERY pregnant. We were expecting our first son in just a matter of weeks. Life was changing in every way for us, and we were thrilled about our new adventures.

We mingled with our new friends, watched the kids run around on the inflatable jump houses, and gobbled up some delicious burgers provided by the company. Then came the kickball game. I LOVE kickball. Really, I love being involved in any organized sport. Capture the flag, volleyball, basketball, ultimate frisbee, badminton…I might not be the best, but you can certainly count me in! Well, except in this case. I was pregnant. “That’s ok,” I said to myself. “There will be plenty more kickball games.” So I sat on the side ready to cheer on my husband and his team. Halfway through the game it hit me like a load of bricks. “No, there WON’T be many more kickball games. From now on I will always be the cheerleader. No more kickball, no more baseball. No more badminton. I can kiss volleyball goodbye. I’ll be playing peek-a-boo with a baby until HE’S big enough to run those bases. I’ll be rooting for his teams from the stands for the next 18 years. Then other children we have. Then grandchildren. From now on I’ll always be a cheerleader, never a player.”

What happened next I totally blame on pregnancy and hormones. I cried. I more than cried, I bawled. I hid in a corner of the park and fell into a pitiful, pregnant puddle of self pitty. We were excited for this baby! We’d seen him on the ultrasound screen and our hearts had melted. I wouldn’t trade that great big belly for anything in the world. Not even a stupid kickball game. But at that moment I realized that my life was changing in ways I’d never experienced. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up everything I knew. I was scared. Terrified. Could I even do this? I was so young! I was going to have to give up so much! Yep, totally hormones.

Then the kickball game was over. My dear husband found me and was so concerned. “Did someone die? Did you get hurt? Oh my gosh, is it, you know, TIME??” That’s when it hit me how silly my little charade had been. I was horrified to admit what had just taken place in my mind. Finally on the way home he coerced it out of me. Then he laughed! No sympathy at all. To this day he reminds me of that kickball game at the park and what pregnancy can do to my emotions.

Sometimes thinking about that day I laugh too. What a silly, selfish girl I was. But really, my emotions weren’t totally unfounded. So, I have played kickball a time or two since that day. I’ve even played baseball (8 months pregnant, I might add), volleyball and soccer. I was not sent to solitary confinement of cheerleading forever more like I’d pictured. I still have opportunities to do the things I love. But my life DID change. More than I ever could have imagined even at that brief hormonal moment at the park. The day we brought that sweet bundle home I gave up myself. My life became totally enveloped in the well-being and happiness of that little boy. Just like countless mothers before me and countless after. My little, selfish kickball-loving bubble had burst. It was replaced with something so much greater. More than I knew I was capable of.

To all those contemplating motherhood or to those that may find themselves in a situation they weren’t sure they were ready for, I would tell you that becoming a mother will challenge you, change you, and turn your life upside-down. A ten-minute shower will become a luxury. A full night’s sleep might be something you only dream of (when you get a chance to dream). A simple trip to the grocery store might become a nightmare. Your every thought will change, your future will no longer be centered around you. You might even have to sit out on a few kickball games (gasp!). But life is not over. And what it becomes is totally worth it. No, it’s MORE than worth it. What you gain from bringing a tiny baby to your home is indescribable. You will learn to love a little human being in ways you never knew possible. And they will love you back! You will learn to live for more than yourself. You will put their needs above your own countless times a day, and you’ll be thankful you have the chance to. You’ll learn a level of service that you couldn’t experience otherwise. Those little hands will reach out for yours and you won’t be sure your heart can hold all the emotions you have. You’ll learn about unconditional love.

I read a quote the other day by Donna Ball that said, “Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” Motherhood is HARD. It’s exhausting, emotionally and physically. But it is wonderful, amazing, and miraculous. I will never regret sitting out a silly kickball game that day in the park, or many times since. A part of me changed that day, never to return. But what it was replaced with I wouldn’t trade for the world.

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Totally worth it.

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These crazy kids keep me on my toes, but melt my heart every day

Don’t worry–I was really careful!

 

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