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 ‘Family’ 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.

 

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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.

Work In Progress

I spent all of yesterday and most of today curled up in the corner of one of the living room futons battling the worst respiratory “yuckiness” I’ve had in a long time.  Maybe ever.  Apart from the coughing, sneezing, and the occasional nap, I had much time to think and even did some praying.  Almost all of this thinking and praying was specifically for a family member who is hurting.  This big sister wishes she could do more than pray but the situation is so far out of my control it’s crazy.

My sister is hurting.  Big time.  Like “can’t-breathe-not-sure-how-to-keep-functioning” hurting.  The circumstance is so huge that it has hurt much of the family – my sister more than any other, but my kids have all gotten stung as well. My other sister, the husbands, my parents . . . all are a little hurt/frustrated/angry.  So take big sister anger and add some mama bear growl . . . let’s just say my first impulse when I heard about the situation a week ago was to jump on a plane and rush to the rescue; with violence, if necessary.

As I’ve prayed for my sister and her boys, I’ve also had to pray quite a bit about my own attitude.  I don’t want to forgive.  The offender hasn’t asked for forgiveness but forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, is it?  I mean, there are so many times when the other person doesn’t care if we forgive or not.  Forgiving is really about my releasing the right to seek revenge for the wrong.  In this case, the wrong was not directly visited on me.  But anyone who has ever been a big sister or a mom can tell you, I would probably be MORE forgiving if it was me – rather than my sister or my ducklings – that had been hurt directly.

I am an imperfect Jesus follower (aren’t we all!) and I know there are areas in which I need to grow.  This whole week has revealed a very big one for me.  I don’t want to forgive this person.  Right now this person shows no interest in being forgiven or trying to make amends.  But I’m only responsible my response, not the other person’s actions. And I REALLY DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE!!!  *sigh* So now I know what I need to work on –

I need to get better at forgiving.

I need to get better at extending grace when others have screwed up big time.

I need to look to the person who “took the direct hit” for my cue on how to respond.

But I’ve also realized that I can drop everything and be there for hurting family and not, even for a moment, regret the time spent.  In the time I’ve spent praying for this, I’ve been very honest about my feelings and asked for help growing up.  And I’ve tried to be very aware of the usual cliches offered in situations like this and (hopefully!) avoided them.

Regardless of the eventual outcome – this whole thing could drag on for a year at the least – I have just a couple things I hope will be true in the end:  (1) I want to be available as a sounding board/person to vent to/shoulder to cry on as often as possible and (2) I want to forgive the “guilty party” even if that person NEVER owns up to the hurtful actions.

Sometimes “adulting” is hard.

Song for Sunday

Haven’t done one of these in a LONG time.  But this one has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  Might have something to do with the fact that my youngest daughter just spent her last summer break living under my roof.  Six days before Christmas 2015, she will become “Mrs. Hendrix.”  So weird to enter this phase of life.

True Confessions

Confession #1 – I am still, at the age of 46, learning how to schedule my time to do all things I need to do and hopefully squeeze out some time for things I WANT to do.  As my absence from this blog can testify, I didn’t do so well through July!  Might have something to do with the fact that both of the Youth Theater shows were that month with two tech weeks happening just three weeks apart!  The summer program is over and life has slowed down . . . sort of . . . or at least, looks like what “slowed down” is around here!  Hopefully I can nudge “post on the blog” up the priority list!

Confession #2 – I know that I need to make healthier eating choices, but I get so overwhelmed with the contradictory “healthy eating” information out there – no carb, low carb, low calorie, high protein, low fat, exercise more but only interval training works, lift weights, etc. – that I have to fight a serious urge to give up and just go eat a bowl of ice cream.  Or two.  I’m not giving up on the healthier eating goal, but I’m not making as much forward progress as I would like!

Confession #3 – Many, MANY years ago, when I got married, I bought into the unspoken but carefully taught lie (the media, comments of other women, etc.)  that every husband is a project.  They need cleaned up or dressed up or fixed up by their far more capable wives.  I didn’t set out on my marriage with the sole purpose of “fixing” my husband but I definitely understood it to be one of my “jobs”.  How did I learn that you ask?  Simple.  Every husband/father on sitcom television was a moron, incapable of having a thought that his wife didn’t carefully and systematically trick him into having.  (Don’t believe me?  Watch old episodes of The Cosby Show.  The man was supposedly a doctor but teachers wouldn’t trust him to have a conversation about his kids and his wife was CONSTANTLY scheming with her kids to manipulate him!)  The other “teacher” of this attitude was the way married women I knew spoke of their husbands.

“How many kids do I have?  Well, I’ve given birth to three and I’m married so, really, I have four children” at which point all the other women in the group would chuckle knowingly as if some great secret of the universe had been shared.

“And he let her go out of the house wearing a polka dot top with a plaid skirt!  But what can you expect, he’s a man!”

You get the idea.  It’s taken time, but thanks to some wonderful counselors and, most recently, some FABULOUS accountability partners, I’ve learned to focus on the things about my husband that are amazing.  He never shies from physical labor and is VERY quick to help me whenever I ask.  Even if I say “whenever you have the time,” he usually jumps up right away to help.  He is a passionate pastor and I LOVE to hear him preach.  He is a committed golfer – and is actually getting REALLY good at it! – and I can say from personal experience that he is a VERY patient instructor to a total novice on the driving range and is EXTREMELY encouraging (even when said novice somehow manages to bruise her own forearm with her golf club!).  He loves to make me laugh, is my biggest fan when there is a theater or music performance I am somehow involved and certainly is my biggest encourager in life.

As I’ve focused on seeing the things about him that are good/positive/amazing I’ve discovered something quite fascinating.  We were complete opposites in high school.  I, the triple nerd status performing arts geek – band, theater, and choir – and he, the year round athlete.  (I hesitate to say “jock” because the man is also extremely smart and doesn’t fit the “dumb jock” characterization at all!)  And like many young women, I had this picture of what my “perfect man” would be like.  But I”ve learned something.  My idea of that “perfect spouse” fell so far short of what I really needed.  I’m still WAY more into the performing arts than he is.  But he’s tried out for a couple of plays at the local theater.  Won an award in the first one and will find out this weekend if he’s been cast in the other.  And me?  I’ve actually swung a golf club a few times.  As for my skill . . . let’s just say I won’t be winning any awards any time soon.  Probably ever.  But we’ve each managed to step into the others passion a bit and found the experience to be a rather fun one!  (And he truly is the most patient instructor ever for a totally uncoordinated clutz swinging a golf club!)

That fascinating thing I discovered?  When I learned to value my husband for his character and his drive and his passion, I was thrilled to discover that he really has been my “perfect man” all along.  His strengths shore up my weaknesses, his level-headed, analytical approach to things keeps my tendency to respond emotionally from running away with me.  He loves to make me laugh and smile as often as he can and frequently tells me I’m beautiful.  As if all of that isn’t enough, he tells me “no” when I need to hear it – whether it’s in relationship to finances or my simply trying to get him to do things for me that I really should do for myself!  He let’s me babble on about my latest theatrical endeavor and has learned the art of simply listening when I’ve encountered a situation that leaves me needing to vent.

He may not be the man I THOUGHT I wanted.  But I am so thrilled to say that he is exactly the man I needed as a partner in this crazy ride called life!

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