Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Minute Friday- Broken

Lisa Jo's FMF link up is on facebook this week because her amazing post she wrote on love this week apparently crashed some servers or something!!  Check it out.  It's awesome.

So, the word this week is Broken!  A familiar one.  When you have a house full of boys, the fact of the matter is- things break.  Lots of things.  On a regular basis.  That leaves the lady of the house with a few choices. . .lose it or deal with it.  It took me a while to come to the conclusion that #2 was the best way to handle this aspect of my pretty much daily life, and this is when it happened. . .


I am in the kitchen, putting together some dinosaur shaped sandwiches for my little ones.  Daniel is 3, Philip is 4, and Josh is 1.  This is pretty easy peasy because at this tiny age, the sandwich cutter makes three sandwiches!  2 dinosaurs for the big boys and the crust leftover for the non-discriminating toddler.  Have  I mentioned what an awesome mom I am lately?  Crust for lunch!?? The counter is cluttered as it always is when I am trying to "cook" (and I am going to use that term loosely because really I am just making a turkey sandwich for pete's sake) and the sun is pouring in my window and puddling on the crumb speckled floor.  I am pretty sure I got distracted by the sun or the crumbs and my thoughts or nodded off at the sink or something because before I knew it Word World or Super Why or whatever was over and three tiny friends were bounding into the kitchen looking for lunch.  As I snapped to it and started to scramble to get food on their little plates for them to get into their little bellies, Daniel picks up the sandwich cutter off the counter, turns around, holds it up in the air and just. . .lets. . .go.


And the dino sandwich cutter is extinct just like that.  Remember I said I had two choices?  Well, this time I made the lesser choice.  I just lost it on poor, sweet, unsuspecting Daniel over a broken sandwich cutter.  Get down in your face pointing and scolding and angry "lost it".  Seriously?  Now, on one hand I felt pretty justified because Daniel does impulsive things on a regular basis and sometimes it gets a little old.  But on the other hand his heart is gold and his intent is good and sometimes it just gets a little mixed up.  Did I really need to YELL about a broken sandwich cutter?  Did he need to be shamed over that?  If seeing if something can bounce (yeah, that was his reason) is shameful we might need to look again at our definition of shame.  By the time the boys sat down at the table and I walked away for a moment and had all of these thoughts, I came back to find my little friends at the table, eating quietly.  I looked at Daniel with a humble heart and I said, "Sweetie, I am really sorry for yelling at you about that.  I forgive you for breaking my sandwich cutter."

And my little blonde angel of a three year old looks at me with his big blue eyes and says, "Mommy, it's OK.  I forgive you for breaking my heart."  Aaaaaaaaaand then my heart broke.  In a million little pieces.  And I grabbed his little shoulders and I hugged him like I never wanted to let go.

I come back to that moment often.  We have four kids.  And I am really clumsy myself.  Life is messy. Things break, but I never want to break their little hearts, or their little spirits, or my fellowship with them over something like a $5 piece of plastic or a cup of spilled milk or a broken toy or a dish or whatever it is that day.  I'm not saying I don't still lose it every once in a while, because, hey, we're all human here, but if I do I sure do want to ask forgiveness.  Grateful to kids who freely give it to broken me!

(Now, if you want a REALLY good one on brokenness, read my sister's post from last year where she guest posted on Story Fork (a community engaging global disability)

She's pretty awesome.  :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday- Belong

So, Lisa Jo's 5 minute Friday is BELONG.  I love it!!  What a powerful word!!  So many emotions!  So beautiful!  I am sure I have so many profound things to say!!  

Or, the only thing that popped into my head is this. . .

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. 

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. 

Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 

Where everybody knows your name, 
and they're always glad you came. 
You wanna be where you can see, 
our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows 
Your name. 

You wanna go where people know, 
people are all the same, 
You wanna go where everybody knows 
your name.

Yeah.  The theme song from Cheers.  But isn't that what we all want?  Doesn't everybody just need one place to go. . .a living room, a dorm room, a church, a bar, a person's arms. . .where they feel that deep down inside, people are all the same?  Because that's what belonging is, after all.  It's you with me and me with you and we have more in common on the inside than is different about us on the outside.  I need you and you need me and together "WE" are more than one of us alone.  I am me because you are you.  So, let's be together.  And lift each other up.  Laugh and cry together.  Heck, I'll even yell your name when you walk in the door!!  Wow, the more I think about it. . .the Body of Christ sure is a lot like Cheers!!  Let's be Cheers to one another folks.  Make yourself a Cheers for the world!!!  Greet people with love, be their safe place, offer them a manhattan (or just a listening ear I am sure would do) when they feel like a crappy mom, like Sam does for Lilith in the awesome clip below.   I am pretty sure Christ told us. . .people ARE all the same.  And that recognition is how real belonging begins.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Neighborly Widsom- Cope.

As I was looking for a devotional to share with our MOMS group at church this week, I was flipping through one of my favorite books on parenting by one of my favorite people EV-AH to walk the face of the earth, Fred Rogers.  I came across this page and it struck a chord with me, and maybe it will for you, too!

"Society is asking so much of parents and caregivers in today's world: "Make sure your child is safe and healthy"; "Develop routines"; "Set Limits"; "Read to your child each night at bedtime"; "Help your child feel secure and loved." And all that is added to the other things we are already doing in our lives.  Many adults feel that they are falling short in one, if not all, of the "assignments" of their lives.  They often feel they are failures.
Well, people are not failures if they are doing the best they can.  If parents are managing to cover most of the important bases most of the time, they have every reason to feel good about who they are and what they're doing.  Our performance doesn't have to be measured against anyone else's- just against our own abilities to cope."

 - Fred Rogers (from the book Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers)

Do you hear that, friends?  MOST of the bases MOST of the time.  Not all of the bases all of the time, or some of the bases all of the time, or all of the bases most of the time. . .just, you know, your personal best.  Most of it.  Most of the time.  No absolutes.  With some extra grace to fill in the gaps.  If it comes from the man in the zipper sweater, I consider it to be absolute truth, so I need to take these words and put them in my heart.

You see, I have a disease.  Maybe you have it, too.  That disease is perfectionism.  I used to think that perfectionism was a good trait. . .I like to do things right!  ALL THE TIME!!  What's wrong with that?  Until I realized that there is a whole lot wrong with that.  It's one thing to have high standards for yourself, and it is another to beat yourself up when you don't meet those high standards.  It is one thing to like to do things right, it is completely another to not be able to enjoy or appreciate the things in your life because you feel like you failed to get them "just right".

Along with parenthood comes a complete relinquishing of control of many areas of your life, because you now have unique human beings in your home who are yours to love and teach and guide but have thoughts and wishes and desires all their own.  They are going to be messy and imperfect, they are going to make your house messy and imperfect, and they are going to make it harder for you to live up to your own standards.  They will cry all the way through the grocery store, pee on the floor, spill their milk, leave toys all over the yard, throw up the dinner you made, stay up past their bedtime, track sand and dirt and mud and bugs in your house in a constant stream, and cheerios and legos will make it into places in your home you didn't even think cheerios and legos could go.  My first few years of parenting I spent in a constant battle with the mess and trying to clean it up, and a constant checklist of things to accomplish during the day, and I felt if I didn't accomplish them I had somehow failed my family.  At the end of the day, I would try to scramble around and clean the entire house while my two year old and one year old were corralled in their room, and whip up a perfect dinner and make everything "just so" before my husband got home from work.  And yeah, sometimes I pulled it off.  But it didn't make me feel better, just tired.  And guilty for ignoring my kids while I did it.  And if my husband didn't notice my efforts, even worse.  Because no matter how hard I worked, there would still be more laundry piles, more crumbs, more missing socks, more stray sippy cups under the furniture with rotting milk inside.  I was not coping exceedingly well during my quest for perfection.

But slowly, over the past few years, I have started to learn to give myself more grace.   For some reason, more kids did that, but I have no idea how.  Also thanks to the man in the blue sneakers, who visits my kids ever day via the Roku, but really I think he might be talking to me.  You are enough.  You are special. People can like you just the way you are.  I have learned that the voice in my head that tells me I have to be perfect or that I am falling short is not a loving voice, it is not the voice of God. . .and in the words of one of my other faves, the Church Lady from 90's SNL. . ."could it be SATAAAANNNN???" So, I have just been breathing deep and telling that voice that I am not going to listen to it. . .unless it is telling me something loving about my parenting, it's out.  My kids don't need perfectly clean, they just need clean enough.  One sock on the baby just might be OK.  The Capri Sun instead of milk might just have to do.  Maybe they wore that same Thomas the Tank engine underwear yesterday, and that's OK, too.  Maybe we didn't quite get sunscreen on, so we just play in the shade.  We want more time to visit with guests, so we eat off paper plates.  We use the steam mop instead of scrubbing on our hands and knees, and wipe down the sink instead of scrubbing with a sponge.  My biscuits come from a can and my meatballs from the freezer section at Meijer.  Some days we might just watch the entire PBS kids morning lineup or go to bed without every single toy getting put in its place.  Yeah, it happens.

I can only do the best I can, within my limits, and the rest will just have to be covered with grace.  Because if I really want to love my kids, and have them believe that THEY are loved unconditionally, that starts with me loving ME and giving myself grace.  And you know what, when I do this, I simply enjoy life more and have more to give to others!!  It feels great to let the perfect go.  I hope that if you are struggling with this, too, that I can offer some grace to you today!  We're all in this together!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday-Present

Once again, my 5 minute Friday is more like a 5 minute Saturday. . .but I promised myself I would do this and I don't want to let myself down!!  I need to show up. . .for myself.   Which is the perfect tie-in to Lisa Jo's word this week- Present


Last month, my Dad turned the big 6-0, and my sister's ministry turned three years old.  Since she was back stateside visiting, the fam decided to throw a huge part-ay to celebrate.  It was so wonderful.  There we were, in my parent's backyard, in our childhood home, with live music, home cooked food, home brewed beer and decades and decades of people who showed up to celebrate.  So many friends and family, from so many phases of all of our lives were present to celebrate my dad's big day and honor my sister's amazing work.  At the end of the night, our heads were all spinning from the number of people who were there. . .the hugs, the laughs, the conversations. . .we'll be reliving it for years.  At one point I thought to myself, I feel so bad!  So many people came and I didn't have the time to talk to each one.  But in reality, that wasn't the point, and it wasn't why they came at all.  They came to be present, so show their faces and their smiles and share the meal and support the ministry and their mere presence alone was their symbol of love.  Presence.  It is the greatest gift we give our friends and family.  We keep showing up, year after year, at the birthday parties, baby showers, housewarmings, hospitals, funerals, on the doorstep with casseroles, on the phone with a listening ear, on the couch for a cry or a good laugh.  It takes love to show up for people, and it is the best way you can express to them your own caring.  I'm here for you.  Physically present, emotionally present, spiritually present. . .and that's the greatest present.  Thanks for the present, friends. It was the best kind!!
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

5 minute Friday- Beautiful

So, another five minute friday. . .and by Friday, I really mean Saturday. . .is upon us and I am ready to give it another go!  Lisa Jo's word this week is beautiful. . .easy peasy lemon squeezy as my 5 year old would say!  I will just write about my mom, the most beautiful lady in the whole world!!  This 5 minute friday took me a little closer to 10 minutes because I was interrupted approximately 10 times by my kids, but close enough!!  :)


"Is that the house you always wanted?  Is that how you always thought your house would look??  Are you sad you don't have that house?

Every time we sit down for a family dinner at my parents' house, my little Philip starts peppering his Nana with questions about the Thomas Kincade painting that is over their dining room table.  It's a beautiful Victorian house with light streaming from the windows, with snow all around and carriages pulling up for a Christmas party.  One time she told Philip that was her dream house, and ever since he has been fascinated with WHY she doesn't actually live there.  So, my mom said, "Philip, in my mind that's exactly how my house looks."  and told Phil this story of a movie she saw as a young girl.  It has stayed with her all these years, and it's called the Enchanted Cottage. Basically, just try to read the IMDB reviews and description of the movie and not cry.  (I started crying at the dinner table when my mom was just TALKING about the movie, so I probably shouldn't see it!)  But the point is, love transforms us.  Love makes things beautiful.  My parent's home is MORE beautiful than that Thomas Kincade painting, because of all of the love that is in it.  This is the message that my mom passed on to me over and over again as a child, that love makes you real, beauty is on the inside, the essential invisible inside us.  My mom sees that beauty everywhere, in everyone and everything.  I am so lucky to be her daughter, and to have grown up in her beautiful home.