Sunday, April 29, 2012

present tense

These days are so long, especially the evenings. How can the few hours from dinner to bedtime feel like a lifetime?

The days I work are condensed and fast moving.  Everything must happen on time. The days I'm home are never-ending. There is always something to do. Both kinds of days are hard.

I do find joy through it all. I embrace the days, and the moments.  They say the days are long and the years I short.  I believe them. Even with the joy, with the embracing, the reminders--it doesn't always make the long days any easier. I raise my voice, hurry through routines.  Hurry up. Let's go. Please obey the first time.

Mothering is just hard. Hard on the body, hard on the soul. You are rarely alone, yet often lonely. You never feel like enough, yet you know you are who God made you to be.  Being a mom was a lifelong dream. And it's harder than I ever thought it would be.

Be present.  A challenge of mass proportions in our multi-tasking, comparison-driven, competitive society.  Being still, being present, are not things we are known for.

It was a leadership challenge given last week at a conference I attended, but a great mothering challenge as well.

A challenge to stop being so concerned about documenting, Instagramming, Tweeting and status updating your life.  Be present in the moment.  Those things aren't bad in and of themselves, but how and when we utilize the tools, is the issue.  I am certain I have stopped what I was doing, ignored the conversation of a child to post or share something cute or sweet.  And when I was done, I forgot was I was doing before and I missed an opportunity to connect with a daughter.

In the midst of the conference, of these challenges, I can't help but think.  What if I only had 21 yeas with one of my daughters? What if I only had 21 years to mother three daughters, before there were just two? What if I had 21 years to pour into a daughter, to help shape her character, her faith, her legacy?

This is the reality facing a family in my life. Their 21-year-old son, gone suddenly, much too soon. Leaving 16 and 19 year-old brothers. The 21-year old was was our main drummer for 2 or 3 years when I was leading worship for our students. He is the first student I've lost. It hurts.  I hurt for his family and friends.

Sitting in his funeral I was overwhelmed with the sense of loss and the grief in the room. Overwhelmed with thoughts of my own family.  What stood out to me most though, was how close the family was. The memories they shared.  Hearing these two boys talk about their brother and what he meant to them.  Hearing the words of his mom read.  Her letter closed with a request that he play the drums loudly in heaven so when she arrives, she'll be able to find him quickly.

I'll pause while you grab a tissue.

It was heart-wrenching.

Another young man who played in the worship band with us, wrote and performed a song for his buddy challenging everyone to love while it's still today because you might not have tomorrow.

I sobbed.  So much so a lady in front of me turned around to offer a tissue.

I am not guaranteed tomorrow.  So I need to be present today.

To raise my voice less and be more patient.  Because raising my voice does not usually make the kids move faster or follow directions any better.

To hold their hands more and my phone less.

To instill faith, hope and love.  To prepare my children for the unthinkable by giving them a firm foundation in family and faith.  Because in those tragic moments, that's all you have.

Last week, I cuddle more. I left my phone in the car and on the counter. I kept a soft voice and moved to their level.  I laid in bed with my three-year old and read a book before nap time instead of rushing to get to those minutes I have time to myself.  I gave in to requests for "one more song" before bedtime.

Because I don't know how long I have, we have, they have.  I don't dwell on the unthinkable, but it's there.

Today is a gift.  Live in the present tense.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm here!

Yes, it's been 19 days since I last blogged.

Yes, we are all alive and well.

Life has been full and I've traveled twice in two weeks.  Bean is taking an accounting class that requires the computer for study and by the time he's done studying, I'm about to go to bed and so blogging has taken a back burner.

What's been going on around here...

Miss Rose is a little more than half way through baseball season. She's still loving it and doing well.  In fact, her team is undefeated! She's had to work a lot on her hitting form, but when she gets it right--she has a powerful swing. It's not uncommon for baseball to consume 3+ days a week right now.

Gracie turned 5 and got a little more of an attitude with the new age. We are excited that she got in to the same school Miss Rose goes to. It's pretty standard for siblings to get in, but we were happy to get the official word. It's a public school, but in another neighborhood so we have to "CHOICE" in to the school as it's better than our nearby one.

Lily is super precocious lately. She is sweet and loving, but picks up attitude from her big sisters and thinks she's way older than 3. She recently pulled a hook rack off the wall while getting a jacket, spilled a cooler of melted ice (aka water) in the living room, and covered the toilet in water from a spray bottle among other things. She is constantly in high heels (either the plastic princess ones or mine) and singing with her toy microphone.

The week after Easter I went to a minister's conference for three days.  And last week I was at a leadership conference for three days.  Each was a two-night stay away from home.  And trying to get all my work done on top of being gone.  I enjoyed my time at the conferences, but they are tiring in their own way and I was happy to get home to my family too.

I'm getting excited about summer. Not being on school schedule, letting the kids stay up later at night and getting to sleep in a bit.  I can't believe when fall comes I'll have two kids in school!  Lily is pretty bummed she's not going to school with them. She keeps saying she's 5 and can go to kindergarten.

I'd like to say I'll blog more, but I can't make any promises. We need a second computer or an ipad, ya know?! I could blog from my phone, but it's not as easy and honestly I just haven't had the energy.

But I'll try, because I do miss this little outlet.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

remembering {5 years ago}

The birth of my children is as crystal clear in my mind as if it were yesterday. The highs and the lows, the joy and the pain.  These are some of my favorite memories and I hope in twenty years they are just as clear.

Five years ago yesterday was my due date with my second child. I stayed home from work, resting and spending time with my then 3-year old.  I just didn't feel up to going to work that day.  In the late afternoon I was feeling some contractions, but I wasn't ready to say "this is it." Although I do remember sitting on the couch chatting with my sister-in-law and having to pause conversation during contractions.

I remember not wanting to eat dinner, so I went and laid down. Bean came in to check on me, and while he was there I felt a pinch, a pop and some wetness. As quickly as a 40 week preggo can do, I stood up and Niagara Falls flowed.  My mom and sister-in-law kept Miss Rose occupied in the living room while Bean cleaned up the carpet and I cleaned myself.

I remember making a few phone calls letting people know we were on the way to the hospital. Although I couldn't call any of my siblings because two of them were in Mexico and one was in Bolivia. I called the youth pastor I worked with and planned to leave a message because it was during the youth service. He happened to be making announcements and decided to answer the phone anyways because he rightly suspected the reason I was calling.  I remember him telling the students and hearing them scream with excitement.

I remember finding out later that when my good friend picked Miss Rose up to spend the night, she clipped the bushes on our driveway and her van still has the damage to prove it! And at their house Miss Rose told their teenage son and his friends that "mommy's juices were coming out" because that's what Bean told her when he ran back in the house for extra towels as we were leaving.

I remember a long night in labor, hours of pushing and no baby.  And in the morning accepting that I was about to have my second c-section. I remember wondering if the baby could come out on it's own on my way to the OR because the pain and pressure was so intense. I remember a baby in distress and the quickest c-section ever. I remember the words "uterine rupture."

And I remember finally hearing a cry. And APGAR scores that were normal. I remember being so grateful for a healthy baby.  And being so so tired. Calling my friend to come sit with Gracie so I could sleep a little, since Bean went home to be with Miss Rose and I just couldn't relax without someone else there. And now my friend has a 6 month old baby of her own.

I remember how much I loved being a mom to two children. 

Happy Birthday Gracie girl! I am so thankful for you and your life. Every year on your birthday, I will remember how many moms who went through what I did, weren't as fortunate.

My biggest baby became my lean, long girl. Fair skinned and freckled, with ringlets galore.  Animal lover with an incredible imagination.

How I love you.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

love bears and eclipses

Next week is Spring Break which is great for the kids, but it's one of the busiest weeks I have all year as a pastor.  Which means I really can't afford to take any time off from work. I'm just glad that I will have Thursday and Friday off with them.  Thursday is Gracie's 5th birthday and we're having a small party for her on Saturday.

I have a couple conferences coming up that take me out of town later this month, which gives me anxiety, so I have to choose not to think about it this week, at least until my days off. I rarely have to be gone extra and yet I still have major mommy guilt.  Not just about being gone from the kids, but about the extra load it puts on Bean since I'm the dropper-offer and picker-upper for the kids each day.

I just need to keep breathing.  It will work out fine.

I was challenged with a couple thoughts this weekend that I want to briefly share and also process more as I write.  These are the babblings of my soul. They could be much better composed and edited, but if I waited for that, it would never get written.

You know how you know the Bible and all the "famous" passages and yet sometimes seeing a phrase or a few words out of their normal context can rock you? That's what happened when I read this blog entry a few days ago.  I thought Rachel did an incredible job of capturing what it's like in these years of little children when she said this:

Never have I carried such a burden, and never has a burden been so beautiful. It is an honor to love in a way that bears all things.

She was referring to the carrying of her infant twins and her toddling son.

But I started to think about the phrase "love bears all things."  Sometimes love is a burden.  Because it's not always reciprocated in the way you want it to be. We love because Christ first loved us and because he tells us to love one another. But that doesn't always mean we get warm fuzzies in return.

Loving can be messy.  Loving can hurt. Loving can mean brokeness.  It means bearing things we'd rather not.  Because the only perfect love is Christ's.

But it's love. It's what Christ asked. It's what feels right and what we know is right.  Yes, this applies to marriage of course. But my thoughts are beyond that, to loving the others that are placed in our path, those we are close to and those who are in our lives for a season or those who we cross paths with briefly.

The burden of love can be hard to bear. But it's helped me these past few days to be reminded that God's word tells us it's okay to feel that way, that sometimes love will feel that way.

On a completely different topic, my pastor challenged us this morning to watch out for "eclipses."

It is very easy, especially if you've been in a season of waiting and praying, to see a glimpse of God's answer and grab on to it and go forward, claiming it as your answer.  But, what if God's BEST is still out there? What if that was good, but God has something even better and what we've grabbed on to, what is GOOD, eclipses our view of God's best and we miss out.

I don't know that I'm doing the best job of explaining this, but I hope a picture is forming in your mind. It's not to say that what we grab onto is bad or wrong--it just may not be the BEST.

I will add that the best takes risk and faith and stepping into the unknown.  I think this is why I/we tend to latch onto the good and tell ourselves it's the best. Reaching out for the best is risky and scary and not necessarily safe.

But I know that I want God's best. When faced with decisions, with forks in the road, times that I doubt myself--from now on I will be asking myself if I'm taking the good or if I'm letting it eclipse the best.