I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

26 Years Ago

On this day – August 15 – 26 years ago, my life was irrevocably altered.  Forever.

On that day I became a mother.  My body was cut open, a completely independent, unique individual was delivered through that most welcome scar, and my husband said, “It’s a girl.”

And EVERYTHING changed.

I discovered that I possessed a larger capacity for love than I had ever imagined.  I could stare at her sleeping face for hours and not get bored.

I discovered that I was willing to do anything to protect her.  The first time another child pushed her down to take a toy away, I was willing, just for a second, to cause that child severe pain in defense of my duckling.

I discovered that I could hear the change in her breathing when sound asleep and once it woke me, I wouldn’t sleep for hours out of fear that something was wrong.

Her laughter could make my breath catch in my throat and her sticky-faced kisses were the best part of my day.  And the first time she smiled at me?!  Tears were shed.

She got older and the teen years proved to be a challenge.  She was trying to find her own way, spread her wings a bit, explore a bigger portion of the world.  And I was still trying to keep her safe.  Maybe trying a little too hard.

Adulthood.  This is where parenting gets hard.  Elizabeth Stone said it best –

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Moving away from home, having her own daughter . . . that little bundle of joy-beyond-understanding has done both of those things.  She’s well-respected at her work, has regular clients that prefer to work with her over others, knows what she believes and lives by it and has recently become a mother.  Watching her love on that precious little girl who made me a grandma?!  There are no words.

Most days I breathe a huge sigh of relief and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t screw up too terribly.  And I will forever be humbly grateful that I was the one lucky enough to get to be “mom” to such a stellar human being.

 

The Power of a Compliment

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I love this quote.  Mostly because I’ve seen time and time again that it’s true.

I did something on a whim recently.  There are a number of people using an app that allows people to anonymously tell you what they think of you.  I haven’t been brave enough to try it myself.  In the midst of all the friends that were posting their links for this app, I saw another post that intrigued me.  It was a picture that simply said, “Comment your name & I’ll tell you one thing I like about you.”  Now, I didn’t limit it to one thing in some cases.  And I intentionally avoided things like “you’re pretty” or “you have a good fashion sense”.  I tried to focus on character qualities I admired.

I posted it and the names slowly but surely started showing up.  It was actually quite fun to respond to each person!  Some of them I’ve known for years, some were family, some were students from my Michigan years, some were current FDSH students, . . . you get the idea.

What really struck me was some of the responses I got in return.  Some told me that they needed the boost, others said they had been having a bad day and my comment made it better.

But let’s be clear – there is nothing unique about what I did.  The compliments I gave were honest assessments of the best in those who I was speaking to. If others had given them, their power would not have been diminished a bit.  Anyone can see the best in another and call it out.

I didn’t expect the impact it’s had on me.  As I said before, some of those I was complimenting, I’ve known for years.  Others?  Not long at all.  In some cases, just over a year.  For those, it took a bit more careful thinking.  All in all, I responded to 57 people.  I had to spend time looking for the best in 57 individuals.  Not a huge number, I’ll grant you, but it took time.  And during that time, it kept my mind focused on finding the best in others.

So I cannot help but wonder – what would happen if we started giving just one sincere compliment to one person every day? What would it do for those around us?  What would it do for our own attitudes and perspective?  I would certainly love to find out!

Who Are We?

One of the things I love about the Bible App I use on my phone and iPad is the Devotional feature.  I can choose a devotional AND have the app remind me each day.  And this latest devotional is hitting me HARD. I just have to share yesterday’s devotional reading and the scripture it referenced.  What you are about to read is not my creation.  It’s from “When Faith Catches Fire” by Samuel Rodriguez and Dr. Robert Crosby.

Rev. 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

There is a new song arising! Can you hear it? It is deep within and longing to rise from a sacred place of silent hope to be a sound that will pierce the darkness. There is a new song arising!

This new song will not be sung exclusively by a black chorus, a white ensemble, a Latino band, or an Asian soloist. No! This new song will be sung by a multiethnic, multi-generational, kingdom-culture choir washed in the blood of the Lamb. A church united.

But rest assured, this song rises not out of programmed promptings or emotional exuberance, but rather out of the depths, out of the leading of God’s spirit at work in the hearts of surrendered men and women. It is not born out of hype but rather of hope.

It is time to sing a new song! The new song reminds us of our identity. So who are we? We must respond with clarity, conviction, and courage and affirm the following:

  • We are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
  • We are a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)
  • We are a people of the Word (Matthew 4:4)
  • We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
  • We are prophetic and not pathetic
  • We are disciples, witnesses, and Christ followers (Matthew 28:16-20)
  • We are children of the cross (Romans 8:17), fruit of the empty tomb (John 12:24), and products of the upper room (Acts 2)
  • We are the redeemed of the Lord (Psalm 107:2)
  • We are forgiven, free, and favored (Galatians 5:1)
  • We are called and chosen (1 Peter 2:9)
  • We are warriors and worshippers (Psalm 144:1)

We are not first and foremost brown, black, white, or yellow, Hispanic, Charismatic, Pentecostal, or reformed.

We are above all the born-again, blood-washed, Spirit-empowered children of the Living God.

For the Ladies

What I’m going to say here isn’t new.  It’s all been said before.  Many times before, actually.  By many voices.

But so many people still don’t get it.  So I’m going to say it again.

Ladies – until we learn to support one another even when the decisions we make differ, we cannot expect men to have our backs.  Period.  When they see us picking at each other, going after the weakest in the herd, belittling, bashing, taking cheap shots . . . why should men hold themselves to a higher standard?!

My oldest duckling gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in early May.  It is such an amazing experience, watching her navigate the waters of motherhood.  And little Henry – yes, my granddaughter’s name is Henry – is an absolute gem.  Being a grandmother is a pretty sweet gig!

All throughout her pregnancy and these first few months of motherhood, my oldest has often lamented how vicious other mothers can be.  No matter the choice, someone will tell you it’s wrong.  This. Has. To. Stop.

If you breastfed, great.  But you better have the back of every mom who uses a bottle.  And you bottle mamas?  You need to stand with our breastfeeding sisters who are STILL fighting for the right to nourish their precious little ones without having to hide in a bathroom.

If you gave birth naturally, I have MAD amounts of respect for you!  But I’m asking you to cheer on others who used pain medication to get through the process.  And PLEASE understand that for some of us – myself included – the only way to safely deliver our little ones was to undergo surgery.  How the baby got here matters less than getting that little one here safely.  So let’s just end the argument over what type of delivery is best and agree that any time a baby arrives healthy and loved, how he or she arrived really doesn’t matter much.

Home school, public school, or private school?  Or maybe even “unschooling” (at least I think that’s what it’s called!)?  I have to be honest, that decision wasn’t easy years ago when my kiddos were little and it doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier today.  What matters most is parents who care and are willing to do their part to help their children get the most out of their education regardless of where they are getting the education.

The list could on for quite some time –

Do you supervise your children during their play or do you adopt a more “free-range” philosophy?

Organic food or boxed mix mac and cheese?

Homemade baby food or store bought?

Do you let children explore all sorts of activities – sports, dance, martial arts, etc. – or do you make them select just one thing and focus on that?

Have you chosen not to have children at all?  Awesome.  But could you please love on a kid or two as an aunt/friend/surrogate mom?  The more positive influences kiddos encounter, the better the odds that they will be fantastic adults!

You get the idea.

And my request is simple – have each other’s backs!  If another mom asks you for advice, let her know what worked for you and then cheer her on REGARDLESS of whether she does it exactly like you or not.  Just as each of us is unique in our personalities and preferences, the ways we approach mothering will vary from one woman to the next.

I’m so very tired of watching women shred each other for the choices we make.  We can do better.  And I’m hoping we will choose to do just that.

 

 

My Baby and Her Baby

“I looked at the pictures from the hospital.  She’s changed so much!”

That was my 25-year-old daughter talking about her two-month-old baby girl.  Let that soak in for a moment.  I smiled and told her, “I can imagine.  I was looking through your baby photos recently and you’ve changed a bit as well.”  She will be 26 this August.  What?!  Wasn’t she just a toddler yesterday?!

It still feels weird to talk about my “granddaughter”.  I started the motherhood gig in August of 1991.  After an unexpected c-section, the doctor handed my husband a beautiful baby girl.  On May 5, 2017, that “baby girl” handed me another beautiful baby girl – named Henry Onalee – and I gained the title of Grandmother.  Nana?  Oma?  Grandma?  Who knows what the little one will call me.  For now, I’ve adopted the nickname “peachie pie” for her.  Not sure why but it seems to be my “go-to”.

Having kids changed my perspective on . . . well, . . . EVERYTHING.  Love meant something different.  I was surprised at how fiercely protective I could be.  And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would lay down my life to protect my children.  I thought nothing would ever be as intense.

Then Henry was born.

I have adored that little girl from the moment I held her.  She was just minutes old.  Once again, my perspective on the world shifted.  I fell in love with her instantly.  And I added one more name to the list of children I would give my life to keep safe.

But cuddling her, feeding her, singing to her . . . those aren’t the only moments that make my heart feel so full it might burst.

My baby is now a mama.  As strange as that reality is, watching her love on her little girl takes my breath away.

I have come to admire my daughter as a woman.  Yes, I will always love her as “my baby”.  But she has built a great reputation at work, manages her finances really well, takes care of her home, and lets her creative side out to play on a regular basis.  She knows what she believes and what she values and she lives her life accordingly.  Truthfully, there are times I breathe a prayer of gratitude that she is “adulting” much better than I did when I was her age.

And I love watching how she loves her little girl.  I’m not gonna lie – I am humbled and grateful that she texts and calls for advice.  I love “selfies” of the two of them that she sends me if I haven’t seen them in a couple of days.  Mostly, I love watching her love her daughter.  “I love her so much” is said often in my presence so I imagine she says it when I’m not around as well.

My baby has a baby of her own to love.  And I am more grateful than I can say that she has invited me into their world so I can watch the journey up close.

Now What?

My month is up.

I gave myself the month of June to “wallow” a bit.  Empty nesting isn’t any more fun.  Not a bit.  But I am getting better at coming up with clever or useful ways to fill the time.

Now that my self-imposed deadline has arrived, what next?

For the better part of 26 years, my schedule and my choices have had to revolve around the fact that I was a mom.  Their schedules, their needs, their activities . . . they came first as they should have.  But that’s not the case any longer.

My leisure time is now mine.  Completely mine.  I got married at 20 and had my first child before I was 23 so it’s been a few years since I’ve owned my leisure time.

So I’ll make a list of creative ways to spend my times and plan some “purging” of various rooms and cupboards.  I’ll repaint the room that is now mine and get my stuff all settled in.

I used to say that one of the advantages of having my kids when I was young was the fact that I would still be young enough to REALLY enjoy the empty nest phase of life.  Well, that phase has started, so it’s time to go prove myself right.

The Value of Friends

It’s been at least 2 1/2 decades since I met Denise.  I can’t tell you exactly how or why we became friends.  I was already married and living in a campus apartment when Denise moved into the dorms for her freshman year of college.  But our paths kept crossing and somewhere in all of the intersecting, a beautiful, valued friendship grew.

She was in my home two weeks after my oldest was born, leaning on her crib and saying, “You need to wake up, baby.  Aunt Neesy wants to play with you.”  I had to remind her that a two week old doesn’t play much and I might have threatened to harm her if she woke up my sleeping infant!  She babysat as often as her schedule allowed and my kiddos loved to see her coming!

My kids have always called her Aunt Neesy.  My youngest daughter actually cried the day she found out that Denise wasn’t really a blood relative.  My sisters both adopted her as an honorary sister.  She helped out at one of their weddings and did the cake for the other.  When she got married, she stated that the wedding party was going to be all family so I was blown away when she asked me to be a bridesmaid.  My youngest daughter was the flower girl and my hubby was an usher.  When people who knew her “family only” policy asked, her answer was simple – “Like I said.  The bridal party is all family.”

She grew up in Iowa – Cedar Falls, to be exact, where the University of Northern Iowa is located.  3 of my kiddos have earned or will earn their Bachelor’s degrees from that University and two currently live in that city.  She now lives in Michigan with her wonderful hubby and her two lovable kids.  I grew up in Michigan and now make my home – an empty nest! – in a city just an hour and a half from her hometown.  We haven’t lived in the same state for more than a decade so I’m deeply grateful for social media allowing us to keep track of what’s going on with one another!

This past Sunday, Denise and her daughter, Emma, were in Cedar Falls for a graduation party with all of their family that still lives in the area.  (I’m still in denial that all of our kiddos have graduated from high school but that’s another issue!)  The schedules worked out so that hubby and I were able to go.  My oldest and her beautiful 7 week old daughter, Henry, were able to ride over with us as well.  Esther was only 2 weeks old when Denise held her for the first time – she has literally watched my daughter grow up! – so it seemed fitting that she should meet the newest member of the family as soon as possible!  My two kiddos who live in Cedar Falls – and their significant others – were able to stop in for a bit as well.

When I walked into the house and hugged “Neeser”, it was like coming home.  We told stories about one another to our kids and simply enjoyed being together again.  Her daughter Emma loves babies so she spent quite a bit of time holding Henry, even offering to handle bottle duty!  Time and distance hadn’t affected a single thing.  We simply caught up on extended family happenings and talked about work and kids.

I value every single one of my friends.  The reasons why are as varied as they are.  But there is something abundantly precious about those friends that you learned how to “adult” with; those friends that have known and loved your kids pretty much as long as you have.  They are a treasure, rare and priceless.

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