Monday, August 29, 2016

speaking faith into existence

Photo Credit: Geoff Dunn

Have you ever noticed that praying out loud is often more effective than the silent "pray in your head" kind of prayer?

I have always known that about myself, but always attributed it to the way my mind always has way too many browser tabs open at any given time. I didn't really think about praying out loud vs. praying in one's mind as being a universal issue.

Until last night.

Our church has been doing a Sunday sermon series on Philippians for the last several weeks. For Sunday evening small groups, we've been discussing some of the key points our pulpit minister made that morning. Yesterday's text was Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness* be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
* or, cool-headed 
A lot of the sermon focused on modern day anxiety and how joy happiness. 

At group, we talked a lot about both of those things. Regarding joy, we talked a lot about how it is a perspective issue rather than an emotional feeling. Bringing in the context of the rest of the book, much is mentioned about humility, and I noted that submission to God's will and to the idea of "considering others as better than yourself" makes the way for a joyful outlook where we can see the big picture outside of our current situation. It was repeated often that living a joyful life is not about being a Suzy Sunshine Christian (see also, Ned Flanders), and understanding that one can be sorrowful and joyful at the same time is a key concept to living with an authentic sense of joy. Case in point, Jesus in the garden on the eve of crucifixion. He wept, and struggled with the pain he was about to endure, but he knew that by fulfilling God's promises, he would restore humanity's relationship with the Father. What greater joy could there have been, knowing that HE would be the vehicle to change countless lives through the ages?

Then, a chain of thoughts bubbled up in me as I focused in on verse 6. 

We are made in the image of God → God spoke creation into existence → by speaking our prayers out loud, we speak our trust in the Lord into existence → we also speak into existence tangible reminders of what the Lord has done for us when we offer these prayers "with thanksgiving" → as these things transform from jumbled thoughts to uttered reality, the peace of God sets upon us, whether it makes sense or not. And joy springs from that sense of peace.

I don't know if it was as mind-blowing to the rest of the group as it was to me, but it was a light-bulb moment for me, and made me think about how active participation in worship, singing the lyrics into existence versus just listening along, verbally asking God for wisdom, verbally acknowledging the big picture (salvation) and small picture (health, material things, etc) things He has done for us, is so important in growing our faith. 

Reminds me a bit of the Velveteen Rabbit:
“Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.” ― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit
When we speak our faith into existence often enough, it becomes Real. 

And when our faith is Real, we don't mind being hurt.

That's no small thing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

a homecoming in the making

Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.       
---Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again 

March 4, 2015

She sat, a pale and fragile 73, in the recliner, cannula snaking out of her nose down to the oxygen canister that pumped life-sustaining air into her body. Mere days out of the hospital following a cardiac episode for which the hospital attending physicians and the VA docs couldn't agree upon a diagnosis, she broke my heart as I searched for signs of the spirited woman I grew up knowing as Grandma.

Heart attack, said the doctors at the hospital, who'd tended to her from the ambulance to admission.

Transient Ischemic Attack, or a series of mini-strokes, said the VA doctor who read all the records of her admitting symptoms and saw her for follow-up.

Whatever had happened, it wasn't clear if she was out of the woods yet or if she would make it there. So Mom and I had thrown a rush trip together to see her, the details of getting there ended up being dramatic enough for a Lifetime TV movie. That's a story in its own right. Most of it was told on Facebook, but the details - man, you can't make that stuff up. But we'd made it.

We entered Grandma's house - not the home I'd grown up with her living in, she'd moved to the Tri-Cities sometime in the late 90s after Mom had moved us to Colorado - and were met with a haze of thick cigarette smoke. I saw her sitting there, thinner than I'd ever seen her, hair stark white, and pallid skin devoid of color. Had she not brown eyes, she could have passed as an albino. This was not the chain-smoking, dirty-joking spunky ole broad who always had her hair setting and nails painted of my youth.

I'd known to expect that - she had been in a declining state at my sister's wedding 6 years earlier. I'd known that her mobility was severely impaired, and it followed that, of course, she would have atrophied further.

For some reason, I guess I had some kind of fairy tale thinking that once we were in Washington again, that she would be herself in her own place. The head and the heart don't always work so well together, ya know?

We greeted each other, shyly and yet also with the hungry emotions that accompany a brush with mortality - fear of losing time to say the Important Things, repressed love that has burst out of compartments of the heart that were wrapped in ambivalence, and the weighty dawning of reality that time is coming to a close.

My uncle was there. David and I had been close when I was little, before he went to jail at age 16 and the arc of his life changed dramatically. He had taught me how to play chess as a pre-schooler and we played often. After he'd been in lock-up, he came back hardened, older, and had his own family to tend to not long upon re-entry to the world. Always a smartass, he played people with his wit, often in a game of hurt or be hurt. And sometimes the stings went deep. But, damn if he didn't love his people with a ferocity I've not seen matched by anyone else in my life. I always could count on him when it came down to it.

He made some snide comment to Mom about her weight and his face beckoned her to bring it.

He damn near killed me when he turned to me and the first words asked of me in oh some 20 years were, "So, you still play chess?"

I told him no, but quickly built rapport by good naturedly throwing my Mom under the bus. Casting a [mock] baleful glance at my mother, I retorted, "Somebody moved me 1,200 miles away from my chess teacher 20something years ago. I seem to have forgotten how to play." My eyes may have leaked as I reflected on how he deliberately chose something of meaning to say to me, instead of some crass attempt to bruise with humor. He came and hugged me strongly. I felt a tear or two land on my shoulder, and my fissured heart cracked a little wider.

It hadn't been as long since I'd seen my aunt or my cousin, but still over a decade, so we embraced each other and worked to overcome the disjointed intimacy of being close family relatives who are practically strangers, having to merge who we were now with who we remembered each other to be so long ago.

Upon making ourselves comfortable, Grandma struggled to light herself a new cigarette.

Mom got up sharply and removed the cannula, saying, "I wish you wouldn't smoke with that on - it's so dangerous!"

Grandma shot her a black humored look over the top of her glasses, chin cocked downward and seemed to be bolstering for a fight.

There's a glimpse of that ole broad, I thought to myself, as a half-grin emerged on my face. Here we go!

"Mom, I'm not going to tell you to quit smoking - just don't do it with the oxygen, ok? I know that quitting isn't going to undo the damage that has been done and it is a comfort to you as a stress relief. I'm not interested in making you give that up when everything else is going to crap. I want you to be happy, so I'm not going to fight about the cigarettes."

What happened next haunts me, and drives me to making others feel like they matter, in the work I do, in the faith I walk, and especially with the people I love.

Grandma rolled her eyes, pursed her lips, and looked around at all her medicine bottles, tubes, the walker she was forced to never be without, and said, "Tara, I'm not happy." Unspoken, she said, I'm old and my body is failing. My family is not Rockwellian or even similar to the Roseanne Barr show. I have regrets. A lot of regrets. And I'm sorry, but there sure as shit ain't nothing I can do about it now.

Later that week, we were sitting around and Uncle David tossed out some memories for Mom.

"Hey, remember that time Howard beat the shit out of mom, and we......" I don't even remember the story that followed - I was stuck on how nonchalant he was about what should have been a terrifying event. But it had been an all-too-common, normal even, piece of their childhood.

They reminisced about it, laughing that protective chuckle that covers gut-wrenching pain from the past.

Oh, Lord, does it grieve you as it does me?

How many times had she been beaten in front of them?

How many times had her children been beaten in front of her and she felt helpless to do anything about it?

How much shame and self-loathing did she still carry for allowing it, and other unspeakable abuses that occurred, to go on as long as it did?

How many times and in what ways had she been victimized as a child?

Had she ever felt loved unconditionally? 

That her life had purpose and meaning somewhere beyond all the abuses, lies, betrayals, and failures?

Does she know You love her - no matter what - and that she is precious? 

Has she ever felt her worth as You created her to be, not to be used and manipulated by men?

She sat, a pale and fragile 73, in the recliner, cannula snaking out of her nose down to the oxygen canister that pumped life-sustaining air into her body. The hardness of her life had finally caught up with her, trapping her in the shell of a declining body and the double-edged sword of a still-sharp mind. The erosion of her spirit began long ago, long before my time, I'm sure. Over the years, the constant pressure had to have depleted her in an ongoing manner, but because people saw her day to day, the changes weren't that noticeable. I sat there, looking at her in awe and sadness, able to see the canyon-like caverns in her joy, her spunk, and her energy. Life had been wearing away at her all this time, and only now with the passage of a lot of time had the erosion become noticeable.

My career has centered around poverty alleviation and human services programs that act as safety nets and/or create greater self-sufficiency. A lot of the work in recent years has shifted toward generational poverty. And this is well and good, as Scripture tells us we must address material needs of the poor in James 2:
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
But this poverty in spirit, this brokenness without hope for the future that I see in so many members of my family, the participants served by my employer, can be generational, too. And that also must be addressed.

May we be kind. May we be intentional. May we be seekers of those in need of love, and be prepared to give love to them when we find them. May we forgive things long past us.

I cannot bear the thought of people going to their deaths with such despair, self-loathing and loneliness.

In the past year, I have spoken more with my grandma, aunt, uncle and cousin than I probably have combined in the last 10 years, particularly this spring.

Grandma kept asking me if we would be able to come out for the family reunion this summer, and I was hesitant.

We're busy. It is expensive. My family is colorful and very complicated. My kids are pretty sheltered. Etc.

But I couldn't quit hearing and seeing her defeat.

"Tara, I'm not happy."

So I started re-evaluating our budget, and an epic road trip was born.

The kids and I are going to embark upon a 10-day 3,000+ mile road trip to the PNW starting July 30th.

We've got a full itinerary and the excitement is building.

The kids have never been west of Vernal, UT, nor north of southern Wyoming, have never seen the ocean, are total history buffs, and are about to get a healthy dose of family roots, for better or for worse.

There will be a lot of feels, since I haven't been back to Kelso, my hometown, since 1999, and the house that built me is still around. We will drive by the old neighborhood for sure.

We told Grandma a couple of weeks ago, and she called me (a rarity!) Sunday to talk more about it.

And I heard her say, "I can't hardly wait."

We can't either, Grandma. It's gonna be great.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Purer in Heart

Wednesday my youngest son's school brought all the 1st grade classes on a field trip.

I, in my typical want to compensate for the lack of school volunteering, went as a parent helper. I, of course, had that one kid. The kid who doesn't heed instructions or redirection unless he thinks it is his own idea. But it worked out all right.

As we were walking to our various stations, we'd pass kids from the other groups. One of these classmates had a visible simplicity of mind and a difference in his gait. He also had his own adult providing individual care to him. Whether she was his mother or para wasn't clear to me..

We made eye contact, me and this precious soul.

And in a too-loud voice, timbre deeper than most 8th grade boys, he called out, to anyone who would hear, "Hi! Hi!" holding his hand up in a static wave so as to let everyone know the source of this raucous greeting.

"Hi," I said brightly, smiling as I held my group at bay for the moment.

"Wha's yer name?" he asked with an odd cadence, putting the emphasis on "yer."

I caught the microgesture of his adult helper, the ducking of the head and tug on his hand making both the unspoken plea to "quit bothering this poor lady," and apology to me.

But I wanted to let him know, he's not a bother.

And, knowing my own daughter's "twice exceptional" status with tendencies toward the autism spectrum and a giftedness that makes her very book smart, often left her struggling to engage in exploratory social interactions, not to mention the awareness of just how often this little guy probably got ignored, I responded.

"My name is Heather," I answered with a smile as my hand echoed his own still gesture.

"Oh! Hi!" he said with a megawatt beam of a smile as his helper smiled back faintly, urging him on.

Later in the day, I took my group for a bathroom break, when my toothy grinned, auburn locked new friend passed by once more.

"Hi! Wha's yer...." he began, and I recognized her embarrassment again.

"Wait, yer Heather, right?"

I nodded, smiling broadly as the pride of his remembering rippled across his face. His adult helper relaxed, some.

"You remembered," I said, initiating a celebratory fist bump with him, putting his aide at ease and pushing this happy-smiled angel over into a dreamy bliss.

"Yes, Heather....yer My Heather."

It takes virtually no effort to change someone's day, and often the reward profoundly impacts you.

I can't get that sweet boy out of my head.

I wish that we were all so pure of heart that joy would be so easily grasped. Instead, we cover our joys with worry, envy, conceit, etc.

Lord, give me a simple mind and a joyful heart. Help me see the significance of the seemingly insignificant actions and their impacts always. Help me to encourage those around me.

"Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be."


Friday, November 6, 2015

this job

I just happen to be blessed enough that this ^^ is the job of my dreams

Yes, it's another post about how much I love my new job. It truly never gets old.

The people. Both with whom we serve and for whom we serve.

The energy. In the community, in the opportunities waiting at the state and federal levels.

But mostly?

Because this work has been my heart's desire as long as I can remember.

The LORD is good and faithful to His promises!
Social work is a hard field.

Resources are limited. Despair is plentiful. Crises rule. Political ideology divides the community.

But still, hope rises, beauty emerging from the ashes of a broken spirit.

And that is the hook for me. 

That triumphant ascension of a restored spirit is so damned beautiful. I am drawn like a moth to the flame - it might hurt a bit or even a lot, but I just can't resist being part of the process.

Today, I facilitated a meeting with my employee (still in training) and a participant whose case is complicated (but aren't they all?). At the end, my staff member thanked me for my help and guidance, saying, "To see and hear how others word things and how they encourage our participants is so helpful to me. You taught me a lot today."

It made me think of a few of the most vivid memories of my career....

The first time I put my blood, sweat and tears into my work...(read the entire post here, but the most important part follows.) 
.... There he was sitting on a bench on the sidewalk.
"How's it going this evening, sir?"
"Purty good, girl, now whatcha up to?" he slurred. 
He's pretty well lit you know."You're pretty quick," I said with a wink. "Well, my friends and I are doing surveys for the statewide homeless count that's going on tonight, and I wondered if we could take a few minutes of your time and go over the survey. Everything is completely private and cannot be traced back to you. Whaddya say, huh?" ...
.....At the last question, asking what services had he attempted to access but couldn't obtain, he verbally offered up "respect," as the number one thing he wanted but couldn't get.
I showed him the paper, and said, "Look, I want you to see me write that down. I think it's very important that the state know this is important to you. What about the rest of these, housing, job assistance, clothing....?" 
...We crossed over the intersection to head up north on the west side of the street we'd just been on. Shortly after, Seth directed us to look across the street. Our guy had already put on the t-shirt in his goodie bag. 
"We just made his night didn't we?" Seth asked incredulously.
I nodded, misty-eyed. "He may not remember it tomorrow, but for a few minutes tonight he was reminded that he matters."

The time I was going to grad school and Christ showed up as a homeless man.
It was then that I saw Him.
I thanked the Lord for showing Himself to me, as I walked past the homeless man who’d just scored the remnants of a to-go box out of the trash. I hurried past him returning to my plastic bag of goodies, saw it was still there, grabbed it and started back toward the man.
When I stopped at the bench on the sidewalk where he sat, he looked puzzled, his face begging the question, “Didn’t you just walk past me?”
“How’s it going?” I asked him with a smile.
He looked up skeptical, but overall in good spirits. “Good, how ‘bout yourself?”
“Good. Hey, you’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I just last night bought a bunch of snacky-type food that I really only need a little of – and when I walked by you the first time, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I could share my extras with you. Could you use some bagels and whatnot?”
His face lit up – sure, he said, he could use all the help he could get. However, he told me, he only had room for some, not all of what I was planning on giving him. It is always so poignant to me when those in need reveal that they haven’t lost all of their need for human dignity, despite primal survival instincts.
We sat and talked, with no strings attached to case management or service plans, for a good 45 minutes on that bench. Passersby stared at us, this unlikely pairing of a grubby old chronic and a young professional woman, neatly done up for the day.
His name was Rick. He was a vet who had fallen in love with the rich culture of the “old world,” while stationed overseas, and felt that we Americans had no culture in the arena of art or history, and what we did have was being replaced with TV, technology and rampant materialism. Somewhere along the conversation, he asked me why I was “bothering” with him. I told him I used to work with the homeless in Fort Collins, but that I was out of the “business” nowadays. I told him I missed the contact. 
....In short, our conversation was highly enjoyable, intelligent discourse covering a vast array of topics. Rick asked my name, and I told him, saying, “I don’t know that we’ll ever meet again, but it does feel good to know a person’s name, huh?” He agreed, saying perhaps we would meet again, that we “never know.” I bid Rick adieu, shook his hand unabashedly, and headed down to the university.

And the time after I'd put my career on hold:
Yesterday I received an e-mail from my former boss telling me that a woman, let's just call her Ladybug, had stopped by the office looking for me. She thought that Ladybug had been a former housing client of mine.
I looked at Ladybug's name and indeed, she was a former housing client of mine.... 
Today I called her, and we talked a bit before she revealed the reason for her wanting to get in touch with me. Being pregnant, I teared up with emotion when she told me that the 4 (or more? she couldn't remember anymore) people who'd been put in my housing coordinator position over the past 5 years have "never even come close to how good you were, Heather. Never. And I think about you a lot." 
We talked some more and at the end, Ladybug asked me shyly, "Is it ok if I keep your number and call if anything else comes up?"
I'm not a social worker anymore, and now I can put myself forward as just a person who loves others as Christ has shown me to do. As a social worker, this would have been a taboo move to make, but there was something freeing about the answer I put forth: "Sure, Ladybug. Maybe we can even get lunch together sometime."
Whether I'm on a payroll or not, my heart longs to be helping others, in big, transformational ways down to the reaffirming display that I recognize someone's worth, even if society does not.

And I am so filled with joy to not only be doing it again, but this time, training others as they join me.

Someone once told me:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

this and that (and a freezer meal menu bonus)

So, it's been awhile ....again.

But it's all good.

Happy Fall.

My life has been so FULL of late - the new job is really coming together (btw, please go like our page on FB!) and the feedback I'm getting from our students just warms my heart. It makes me want to do better for them each day. Also, every day, no exaggeration, I come to work thinking, "What blessing is the Lord going to drop in my lap today?" And, every day, something arrives. 

I have NEVER been so aware of His workings in my life. At home. At work. At church. He is THERE.


So this happened.

My daughter is now in high school and she went to her first homecoming last month.

I feel a bit overwhelmed with that tidbit of information. For multiple reasons.

1. While most of my NoCO colleagues are just beginning their families, I have one that is not so far from leaving the nest. It's a bit surreal.

2. I feel so old - like I have a high schooler!!! - and yet, I was 20 when my mother was the age I am now.

3. I was only 1 1/2 years older than Kelsey when I began dating my husband. She could potentially meet (or already know!) her forever friend with benefits in the near future. I'm not ready for that, and am reminded that we need to be on our knees in prayer for her and her future spouse.


Today's sermon (10/ wasn't up yet at time of this post) was just amazing. It had a little bit of this, and a lot of You Matter Intimately to the INFINITE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!

Please, go listen. It will lift your spirits no matter where you are at in life. If you have weathered some storms and are in the sunshine once again, it will foster a sense of gratitude and remind you of the blessing that hindsight is. If you are currently in the storm, it will speak to your heart and whisper truths that the world may be overpowering at present. Listen hard for the quiet but firm voice of truth.



In ways that are inconceivable. In ways that inspire hope. In ways that speak purpose into your life.


Any mama that's on Facebook or Pinterest has seen the "X number of freezer meals in A Ridiculously SHORT Amount of Time," posts, and I have fallen prey. More often than not, it is batch cooking, making 2, 3, EVEN 4 of the same recipes, times several. Which is fine if you have a family that lives in a rut.

I can barely get my family to eat leftovers, let alone would be unscathed if I made them eat the same meals several times in a month.

The other thing is that some of these recipes are just.... meh.

While I cannot vouch for the quality of all these meals just yet, I was really pleased to get a variety of meals (only 2 are repeats) from Michelle Pleiter's blog. (I don't know her, just think I happened upon this post while social media-ing the other day.) BTW...if you freezer cook, this menu is available in Excel with the recipes hyperlinked and shopping list itemized.

Yes, I am a nerd. But a nerd who shares the love.

I only did some recipes that I figured should be tasty by the ingredients, (but added some of my own touches, too, like southern style hash browns - read: pre-diced potatoes - for the chicken pot pie and adding some celery to a couple of recipes).


I have to warn you.

This takes a fair amount of time.

Those Pinterest mamas that say it only takes 2 hours must have a small army helping them chop, label, mix, and assemble, because it took me several hours.

That said.

Have a great week, all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the power of for moms too...



Here I am, sitting shyly in the corner, about to get confessional and, well, REAL.

I'm a pretty authentic person, and usually what you see is what you get with me. I don't do fake and gamey sorts of relationships. Though I have a formal register vocabulary for work and my more casual register for conversational speaking/writing, my bottom lines are usually the same, just in different vernacular, so to speak.

But, that said....

I am not a reality TV star where everything I do and say is exposed for all to see, hear, and judge me for.

Well, yes. I do blog and share some of my weirdo neuroses - e.g., my word nerdisms, affinity for tying pop culture references into daily events- and deep thoughts - my faith is integral to who I am, thus I talk about it; I also entertain my inner Kant, Plato, Locke (philosopher for those of you unfamiliar) - and life struggles on occasion in this space.

So yeah, I do share more of myself a bit more freely than the average mama bear, but not ALL THE THINGS.

Like {what I feel to be} my huge failings in the parenting arena...beyond the standard mommy guilt, sometimes we have some really intense "discussions" in our home (see above picture's "We do REALLY loud."). With feelings so large, voices so loud, chaos so great, that our pets take cover. (Not kidding, or as my son said tonight "Hyperbole-ing.")

And it makes me so sad after these episodes, because that's not how I wanted this part of my story to go! I was going to be different than the examples I had.

My kids were going to come to me with ANYTHING and feel comfortable approaching me with their awkward queries, confusion about navigating their emotions, and the need for assurance and comfort when life was hard.

Anyway, that's not the way things are shaping up and more often than not I feel like Drew Barrymore's Beverly Donofrio, desperately wondering through tears and clenched teeth, "When does this job ever end?!?!"

Yesterday at our staff meeting, one of our organizational consultants shared the brilliance of Brene' Brown's TED talk "The Power of Vulnerability." I had already watched it numerous times, but seeing it again reinforced the truth in the paradox that through our vulnerability, we gain strength, power, confidence, and ultimately, contentment. (It's 20 minutes, but I tell you, it is time WELL spent. Click the link! Then come RightBack here)

And then I got home and we had much sibling rivalry over chores and other tween/teen miscellany that is minutia to the hubs and I and MOUNTAINS OF WOE AND ANGSTY STRUGGLE (cue Miley with The Climb) to them.

But I was enlightened. I had been reinforced with wisdom and truth!

And it didn't mean a damned thing.

This morning was a lather, rinse and repeat kind of deal, despite my best efforts to be mindful, present, and meditative during that window between the older two leaving and the littlest little waking.

Then my day at work got consumed by IT issues, that felt very real and worrisome....until at the end of the day, I discovered the reason my laptop couldn't recognize the hard drive, and therefore fail to boot up, was because it had somehow dislodged and was hiding in a pocket in my tech bag.

Seriously, I live a charmed life.

Got home, ate well, kids were behaved.

I felt a weight lifting.

Then the youngest and hubs went to Cub Scouts, and the other shoe dropped.

And by dropped, I mean that darn shoe fell with the relative velocity and force the Looney Tunes anvil had when being pushed out of the window.

I asked for some help with the household chores. Which has been the hot topic of late. I keep asking for help and all I get is push-back from all my room-mates at casa del Meyer. It's been a bit frustrating.

And it got really ugly and intense and I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and have someone mother me with the nurturing and support that EVERYONE in our house so clearly needs right now.

It passed through, and we took a timeout. I returned to my onerous task of comparing the costs and terms of health insurance and would it be better if we all went on my new employer's coverage or if we did a split of one of us with the kids and the other partner at their employer. (I live it up on a Tuesday night, yo!) The kids went to do the homework that was cited as the raison de la resistance, because, "Mom I can't do any chores because _________ never does jack squat, and I have homework that is due TOMORROW, my friends all hate me, yada yada yada."

After calming down, and the homework was done in, I kid you not, less than 10 minutes, I opened up to my son, the child with whom I'd particularly clashed tonight.

Was the cost of getting your way over not even 10 minutes of homework worth it?

I understand things are rough for you right now. I would never minimize that - and I'm not asking you to, but I am asking that you take a break from your own misery and recognize others around here are miserable too, for various reasons that may be different from yours, but just as real to them as yours are to you.

I am sorry. I don't want to be a dragon roaring in your face with ugliness and anger, and probably really bad breath. We did eat lasagne with a lot of garlic in it.

That garnered a chuckle.

We are in a lot of transition right now - and by and large it is good transition but new is stressful. New grades, new schools, new work, new routines. There is a lot going on, and I feel...... when ...... Sometimes, I don't want to come home after work because I dread the fighting so much. I'm so tired of this, aren't you?


Right now, I've got a lot on my plate. I don't have a lot of time for fun. My ankle still hurts from spraining it last Saturday. When you guys where playing at the party down the street the other night? I spent hours grocery shopping for bargains and nutrition and then cooking/prepping it all so that we can do our activities and not have to wait to eat at 8:00. Would I have liked to play or read a book? Heck yes, but I also have to make things run smoothly or else we are always in unhealthy chaos.

I love you. Will always love you, no matter how mad you get or how hateful your words may feel - you're stuck with me for always. I'm so proud of you and really wish I got to see the awesome young man everyone else at church and school gets to see. Instead, I get all your insecurities and anger dumped on me, and I understand it is because you trust me to still be here after all of that, but I am so very weary and tired of it. My bucket is beyond is starting to crack because of the dryness. 

Then the scouts got home and bedtime routines started...sort of.

The littlest decided he didn't like the lasagne I spent all night cooking (along with a bunch of other freezer meals) Sunday so that we could eat at a reasonable time, so naturally, he was hungry when he got home. I went to make him a bowl of cereal when I saw the notebook over by the coffee pot.

It's a very hard balance sharing your adult self so openly with your child. You can't burden them with adult problems they can't control, and you can't blame them for things when sharing. But let me tell you, that ^^^ right there? 

That is power in vulnerability!

It takes a big person to apologize. Bigger still when one is only 12 and that full of heart.

That has given me some peace, confidence, and contentment. (Also? My bucket is no longer dry. The tears that were generated have filled my bucket pretty much to the brim.)

Peace that he gets it.

Confidence that he is so much more than the angry and sullen kiddo that I've seen so much of recently.

Contentment in knowing somehow I've given him the knowledge that sharing hard things makes us grow closer.

A heart that is lighter, fuller of love, and reduced in worries and weariness.

These are all powerful gifts borne of me sharing my hard truths with my kids.

"Share each others burdens (vulnerabilities) and thus fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.

^^^ truth that has been tested and proven by the work of the lovely Brene Brown. Why are we always so surprised when Scripture is proven time and time again?

Thank you, Lord, for your beautiful paradoxes in life. 

" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' ...For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 9, 10.

It now stands to reason that I should be spiritually/emotionally strong enough to rival The Hulk's physical strength after this display of transparency, no?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Deo gratias; a counting of blessings

For the solid presence of his arm around me as my eyes reluctantly opened this morning.

Deo gratias.

For the inexplicable peace a mother feels when all her children are under the same roof.

Deo gratias.

For the sparkle in her eyes last night and the newly acquired Mexican accent on her Spanish.

Deo gratias.

For the little one stumbling into my room at 6:30 whilst I was fighting wakefulness; his quiet assent to me noting I had to get up. But can I still get in your bed? The peace on his face as he instantly fell back into dreamland.

Deo gratias.

For the gentle breeze caressing me as I walked this morning, soaking up Your mountainous beauty of in the midst of suburbia around me.

Deo gratias.

For the sun-washed extravagance of that particular time of morning, golden halos bouncing off every still dew-kissed leaf, pine needle, and flower petal.

Deo gratias.

For good friends and neighbors that stopped and talked while I was out.

Deo gratias.

For kindly forcing all these awarenesses into my conscious observations. Because You know as well as I do, I'm prone to forget. That all of these things? They're borrowed. And You chose me to give them to.

Deo gratias.

For the quiet peace and happiness on my heart this morning.

Deo gratias.

For the graceful glide of the pelican overhead

Deo gratias.

Sometimes as mothers, we can get swept up in the frustrations, the struggles, The Hard Things. Understandably so, because there are a lot of them. As a Christian mother, I get frustrated with how "They rise up call her blessed" does not seem to apply to my life. How all the strife and petty arguments (heck, I'll be real, the kicking and screaming, and not always by me!) seem to overwhelmingly season the days.

But then sometimes, the Lord gives me a morning like this that totally restores my soul. 

The resulting gratitude colors the day in a way words could never do justice to. Not just for the things I remembered above, but for the chain of grateful thoughts they birth. Like, wow, all those are great, but then there's Christ and His sacrifice; thank you Savior. 

There's a lot of mindfulness buzz out there that talks about how we have to be aware of our thoughts (hmm, sounds familiar) and while I don't disagree with the concept, I do feel like it is one more thing we feel like we have to do On Our Own. 

Be strong, and soldier on in your life. 

That has its place. Though when you're in the trenches of tantrums, potty training, work-mama balance, teenage rebellion, or whatever other mama meltdown du jour faces you at any given moment, how much strength do you have to muster up the mindfulness? Usually? I. Got. NUTHIN.

And that's ok.

Did you know there's no shame in asking God to put these things on our minds for us? Or for allowing Him to speak through a good friend who will do the same?

There's a reason why the song is called Blessed Assurance.

Thank you Lord. For this day and all the yesterdays and tomorrows you've written for me. For the countless blessings You've showered up on me. Please keep me mindful of them.