October 21, 2016

Girl Friday

The thing about loneliness is that it's so lonely.  It's especially lonely when you're a married working mother and you think that having a family and keeping a semi-full schedule means that loneliness should never find you.  I think regardless of how many friends we have or how many children need something from us or how loving our husbands are, loneliness comes with the territory of being a woman that is full of unspeakable longings.

For the last several months, I have to come to absolutely dread Fridays.  Life right now means that Todd either works late and then drives for Uber every Friday.  Or he takes a nap after Friday evening dinner and then heads out to Uber until I'm already in bed.  Saturdays look similar as we need the extra income right now.  All of this had added to my loneliness as my weekends are wrapped up in being alone with my boys with nothing else to do or look forward to or be with.

I've discovered that between work and mothering, I get depleted of all delightfulness.  I'm a wrung out sponge with nothing to soak in. And don't get me wrong - I love, love being a mother.  I love my boys so much it hurts.  And I'm also tired and discouraged and weary.

Last weekend, my youngest was slamming his door open and closed over and over again because he did not like the consequences I set in place after he acted out repeatedly.  At one point he was in his room screaming that he hated me and I burst into tears because he is three.  He ended up being put to bed earlier than usual and I cried as I sang him his lullabies because mothering him has felt so hard lately and I feel like I'm failing at it and failing him and I don't know what to do about his anger anymore.  

Motherhood feels disappointing right now and I don't like the mother that Jacob's anger invites me to be.  I have a passionate, emotional, strong-willed child and he takes all that I have.  I'm ashamed that my oldest has to see these parts of me.  I am aware of all that I try to shield him from seeing or knowing - wanting to spare him from the death and the wounds that I have known from my own mother and trying to be everything for him all of the time.

My Friday self feels sad and broken. She feels done with life and children and everyday stresses.  And she's so lonely.  She blames herself for that loneliness as if it's someone's fault, and thinks of those in her past that she's hurt and excluded and left behind and believes that she deserves to feel this alone and this miserable.  My Friday self usually turns to Netflix and vodka.  Time to numb out, to forget and to stop feeling.

It's Friday morning. As another weekend was approaching I knew I had to do something different this day.  I asked my boss yesterday if I could come in a little bit late today and he gave me the okay. Right now I have the house to myself.  Hot coffee beside me, window open because it's cool and gorgeous outside.  I spent some time journaling and reading and praying.  And crying too.  Being close to God and taking some time to soak up something my soul has been so desperately needing.  
I don't know if I feel any less lonely. But a couple of hours on a quiet morning, sipping coffee and doing some writing without having to referee playtime or change someone into a Batman outfit is good for the soul.  I'm reminded that I have a choice of what kind of Girl Friday I'm going to be.  I get to choose if I'll numb out, if I'll rest, if I'll feel how hard and lonely and desperate it all is instead of run from it.  I get a choice to find moments to take care of myself when I can.

October 11, 2016

When you're tired of political memes

Have you ever felt like you were different than everyone else?  Like you couldn't be lumped into one specific group or category that society wants to put us in?  Like the songs that sings, "I'm a little bit country, a little bit rock n' roll," I often feel that way.  I find myself standing in the middle of opposing sides, landing somewhere in the middle of so many places.  I feel like I'm an and-both kind of person.  With many issues, I reside in gray areas because I don't think everything is so black and white.

Being a deep feeler, I experience the world around me with a heightened sense of awareness, which is both a blessing and a curse it seems.  I hear stories about refugees washing up dead on the seashore and I literally cry out to God in despair.  I long to open up my home to just one family, one child, one person and give them peace and safety, shelter and food, because isn't that what we're supposed to do?  There are other days I can't handle more catastrophic news and look away and want to hide under a rock because the mess of my own tiny world is enough for me to deal with.  And then I'm grieved because this world is a hurting mess and I do so little to show and share the love of Jesus to it. 

When I was younger, my differences made it hard to fit in anywhere.  I longed to belong to one specific group and be known as a big someone within that group.  I tried to "find myself" or whatever it is you call that in your teens and early twenties when you're figuring out who you are.  But, nothing ever seemed to fit and I've continued to discover that I'm not easily categorized as one thing or another. I like ruffles and tattoos.  I'm compliant and a rule-breaker.  I make friends easily and talk to everyone, but I can also be awkward and shy.

Like so many around me, I am grieved by our times.  It feels hard not to fear about the fate of our country, about who will be next to lead our nation, and what that will look like as their presidency unfolds.  I think more so, the venomous words, the ridiculous political memes and people I know who are followers of Jesus joining in on whatever side they've chosen and are using their voices to be loud and sometimes ugly.  We now live in a culture where everyone wants their opinions to be known.  Everyone wants to be right.  Everyone wants to be heard.

Also, can we just take a moment to remember the good 'ol days before there was such a thing as political memes?  ***happy sigh***  Those were truly glorious days.

Social media especially has reminded me of how different I am than so many I know, even within my own family.  When it comes to politics, I'm a little bit conservative, a little bit liberal.  I keep my opinions and thoughts to myself, especially in regards to political issues.  I don't want to be another voice that contributes to the loudness, especially when that loudness feels chaotic and slimy.  Other than my husband, I have two real-life friends that I will talk politics with that feel safe and uncondemning.  One republican and one democrat, I have come to appreciate their understanding of government and worldview even if we differ in certain places.  Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that no one, not even our elected officials, can seem to work together in the same way and both sides are to blame. 

If I have any ongoing, long-term goal, it's that my heart would look like the heart of Jesus.  I would care about the things He cares about.  I would speak the things He would speak.  I would be grieved for the things that grieve Him.  I would love the people He would love.  I don't always do a good job of that, but it is at the root of how I hope to live my life and how I love on and minister to others.

I keep going back to what I know about Jesus - who He was, how He lived, and the things He taught when He was here on earth.  Jesus disrupted the religious leaders of His time and stepped on so many spiritual toes as He did scandalous things like heal on the Sabbath and share meals with the low-life scoundrels of His day.  His teachings were radical and they still are:  If someone slaps your cheek, turn the other for them to hit also.  If someone needs your coat, give them the shirt off of your back too.  If you have hatred in your heart towards another, you've already committed murder.  He cared more about the welfare of the widow and the orphan than about our comfort or happiness. When you look at all of the things He taught and spoke and how we ought to conduct ourselves as His disciples, so much of it was about humility, grace, selflessness, love and kindness.  I have yet to see any of those things in a single political meme.

I have to wonder what Jesus' voice might sound like today.  What political party would He side with?  If He were in America right now and had His own Instagram and Facebook and Twitter - what would He be posting?  What would He say?  What would His voice sound like amidst all of the loudness of our world right now?  Would He be yelling at us to wake up?  Or would He be whispering something that He doesn't want us to miss in all of this political turmoil?  I'm curious, does my voice sound like His?  Does yours?

Whatever box you fit in, party you camp out with, group you belong to, or if you feel a little and-both like me, might we all consider our voices?  Maybe if we stop and at least consider what we sound like when we vocalize our opinions, political or otherwise, we might start filling social media and the world with the humility, grace, selflessness, love and kindness that Jesus is all about.  And that could actually change the world.

October 9, 2016

Sunday Gratitude

Windows open kind of weather.

My favorite tree, heart-shaped leaves, dancing in October breezes.

Tommy's toothless smile and Jacob's expressive faces.

The anonymous cash gift we found in our garage yesterday on a day we really needed it, reminding me of God's faithful provision in times of need.

Pumpkin scented candles.

Warm mugs of coffee on a quiet morning.

Autumn sunlight streaming through windows.

Boys dressed like super-heroes.

Watching my son make healthy choices on his own.

Phone conversations with my Grammy.

Wearing cowgirl boots.

Kindness found in smiles of neighbors and new friends.

A body that feels healthy and active, pain-free and energized.

Ellen's face, her tears, her kindness, her words for me.

Second chances and starting over.

God's grace that never runs out, that multiplies and is always given in abundance.
Family dinners around our table full of conversation and laughter.

October 2, 2016

Autumn Decorating

It's always about more than decorating.  It's not simply changing out throw pillows and putting out pumpkins.  I'm creating a feeling, welcoming in change and a new season.  Adding warmth to my home and inviting reflections of harvest, thanksgiving and gratitude.
With autumn decor, I think less is more.  I prefer fall foliage, a few well placed pumpkins and one or two larger pieces that change from my every day decor.  My focal shelf that sits in our living room is always my most favorite thing to do up for any season and the deer art felt like a perfect choice.

My favorite pumpkin painted by my amazing mother-in-law almost always sits in the same place every year.
I like a change in the throw pillows on my couch. Sadly, they spend more time under my end tables as to not be ruined by the small humans who live here with me.  But they take lovely pictures until they are put away.

 A few pumpkins and knick-knacks get changed out on my bookshelves.
And I always have my favorite picture out of me and my mom in my kitchen in the fall.  It's the season she feels closest to me, and I love this picture as a reminder of the parts of her that forever live on in me.

I set the table like I'm about to have company, when in real life my placemats and cloth napkins are put away as the table is perpetually covered with syrup, crayons, Lego heads and spilled apple juice.
But it feels cozy if you overlook the chaos and mess that comes with having two small children and loving to decorate for the season.
Earlier this week we arrived home in the evening.  Tommy turned on a lamp in the living room and flopped down on our soft leather recliner.  He sighed a happy sigh and said, "Mom, I love how the house looks in the fall.  When you decorate it like this - it's my favorite way the house feels!"

And then my heart bubbled over with joy.  Because he can feel it too.  Because I love creating beauty in my home.  And because it's fall again.

September 22, 2016

Letting Go

I'm infatuated with sunlight.  There is something about sunshine that makes me feel a certain special kind of alive.

I find beauty in it throughout the year.  It's rising and setting, it's shining brightly at the heat of the day, or when it peeks through after a storm to remind us it's still there.  And when the sun hides behind evening clouds and it creates amber and fuchsia and periwinkle colored skies, I have been known to pull over on the side of the road just to look at it.  I've chased down sunsets, awoken early to watch it rise, and I've put blankets down in my backyard in January to bathe in it's light, feeling it soak into the pieces of my soul that starve in the winter time.

And then there's the way it lights up my house.  The way it comes in through my favorite living room window makes me swoon every year, especially in the fall. As soon as the first of September hits, I wait for this magical day that happens when the sun shows off in all of it's September splendor.
It signifies a changing of seasons, of good things to come and the months ahead that my heart treasures the most.  I usually feel my heart shift with the seasons.  My quiet solitude in the winter, an awakening and renewing in the spring, and an enthusiastic energy in the summertime.  But the arrival of autumn, is different.  Autumn brings with it sweet memories of my mother, reminders of the beginning of my love story with Todd, and invitations to create some of my favorite memories with my children in pumpkin patches, costumes, parties, feasts and a time to focus on gratitude and giving of thanks. Somehow, it all begins with autumn's sunlight streaming through my window.

"The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go."

This has been a year of loss for me, for our family, for our lives.  Loss of health, loss of time, loss of memories made.  Loss of relationships, friendships and community.  Of reputation, of dignity and character.  Loss of money.  Of certain hopes, dreams and plans.  Loss of weight that I've carried on my body for years.  I have been full of deep sorrow and sadness.  How life unraveled this year and spilled out into places, ended up leaving us wounded and wounding others in the process.

As another season invites me to something new, I'm aware of all that I've had to let go of this year, all that has let go of me, and all that I'm still holding on to that I need not to.  I've been coping and medicating and numbing out with all of the loss, trying to grasp on to something.  I'm discovering that loss is something we must feel, and the only way to do that is to empty our hands and stop reaching out for something to fill them with.  If my hands are empty, than they're finally open to receive.  And it's been a while since I've come before God in any measure of humility asking Him to fill them again.

Autumn's light through my window invited me to remember His goodness.  To remember that it's okay to let things go.  And to give my heart the rest, grace and kindness it needs in this season.
There's talk of our first "cold" front making it's way in soon.  I have my fall decorations ready and waiting to decorate.  My favorite white chicken chili recipe is on the menu, and a pumpkin pie to be made celebrating it's arrival.

Autumn is coming, with wind and gold.

And letting go.

August 31, 2016

Life Lately

Keeping a blog as I've had now for many years, my intention was always to write a few times a week.  This space has always been a public journal of sorts:  Family happenings.  Musings on motherhood.  Stories shared.  Memories remembered. 

With the way my life looks now, I'm lucky if I post once or twice a month anymore and I find myself having to back track and remember things I wanted to post rather than write as they've happened.  I'm always so ever aware, that life happens in seasons. The one I'm in doesn't allow much space for writing, though if I'm honest, the free time I've had has been spent numbing out to various series on Netflix and spending adequate time checking out.  I've been tired, weary, sad and struggling.  Thankfully, I reached out to a friend and I've been sorting through some of those things, but for now, my creative writing juices and writing out what is in my heart seems to be a sporadic happening. 

Right now, I seem to be aware that another summer has ended, even though it's still 95 degrees.  Life continues to feel like it's happening in fast-forward motion as so much of my year feels missing and unaccounted for as I was sick or slept my way through months of it.

A few little nuggets of life that I don't want to forget.....

 Tommy started the 2nd grade.  I don't even know how it's possible to have a second grader.

 My Batman.
  It was as dramatic as loosing teeth might be for this one, but we finally have a front tooth-less smile from my big boy.
Silly Hulk feet.
 Grand opening of a fun store in San Antonio that I was way too excited about. The nerdiness has been strong with me.  Never to miss an opportunity for a photo with a superhero.
 Celebrating my dear friend Shelly's birthday.
 And Tiffany's wedding doing the bridesmaid thing.
 Tommy and Tippy on her special day.

Taking my train-loving boy for a train ride at the park. 
Thankfully, the seasons are changing as they are so faithful to do.  I look forward to the fullness the next few months will bring with it and the gratitude that remains in my heart for being fully alive to live it.

August 14, 2016

Mr. Personality

Jacob.  Jacob is....

Jacob is something.

If there was ever a picture that captures his personality and who he is, it would be this one.  Eyes full of silly, wonder, and mischief.  The cutest grin on the face of the planet.  He's up to something, wheels turning, mind racing, pondering what kind of trouble or havoc he can create in his little world. 

Jacob experiences his world with his entire being.  He runs the fastest.  Screams the loudest.  Smiles the biggest.  Cries the hardest.  Laughs the longest.  I have always seen this light in him, something bright and big that gives me a glimpse into the man he is going to be someday.

I've been vocal with my friends about what a challenge he has been to raise and mother.  He has a fiery, emotional personality.  He is passionate, stubborn, and strong-willed.  He can be explosive and raging angry.  And he is precious, affectionate and adoring.  He knows how to work his big blue eyes and convince me to give him anything, which is why he may be accustomed to having a popsicle for breakfast from time to time. 

And we have had to grow together.  I have had to learn how to help him calm down and teach him how to do it himself.  How to deal with him in a quiet and persistent kind of patience.  I've learned that sometimes we have to get to a quiet space away from a situation so he can hear me, hear himself and find some peace again.  I've learned that he has to get out and have plenty of physical activity if I want him to be able to listen and still when needed.  Some days are better than others, and some days I completely fail him and I lose it.  Jacob has the ability to bring out the very worst parts of me and I hate that.  I hate that he has to know me in these places.  I hate that he is like me in these places.  That his rage, his anger, his explosiveness comes from me.  That some days, I discipline him for the very things he has seen me do.

He is a challenge and he is hard.  It has made motherhood feel hard and I have envied my friends whose children have more even temperaments and better manners.  I have the child that may punch yours in the stomach if they take his toy.  I have the child that might say shit because he heard it in a movie and yes, we let him watch a movie that had the word shit in it and now you know that because he's three and he's cussing.  I have the child that doesn't like to share.  I have the child that squirts an entire tube of toothpaste all over the bathroom sink.

And I have the child that is the source of deep, from-the-belly laughter in our house.  Who reminds me that discipline is always followed by hugs and kisses.  I have the child that invites me to embrace the world and to live life more fully than I would if he weren't in it.

Jacob.  Jacob is.....

Jacob is something.  And I'm glad he's mine.