The beauty of the real

If you put words to the places God takes your heart when you have a little time to think, what would you say?  What kind of beauty would come out of your mouth if you were able to get those thoughts out of your head and into your reality.  Who would listen?  Who would connect with you because you were honest?  What if there really is something to this vulnerability thing and you are missing out simply because you are too busy or too scared to get real?

In my MOPS group this year our theme is Be You Bravely, and each time I hear women speak on this topic, I get this overwhelming urge to write that I know is from the Lord, but I quickly feel myself resist because I don’t have the time or energy to take the thoughts that God has given me and write them out in a way that is coherent and meaningful.  I just don’t do a very great job balancing my own dreams and goals with the day to day reality of life with small children and I am not sure that I truly have something unique to say that hasn’t been said by a dozen other moms a hundred times before.

But yet—I am drawn to this idea that writing about my reality is my way to “Be You Bravely.” So here is a feeble attempt to say something real–not knock your socks off awesome—but real.  Because there IS beauty in the real.  There is something about connecting at our points of weakness that strengthens us–especially when what we say isn’t unique and isn’t incredible but is common to the experiences of others in a similar life stage (like being a mom of preschoolers)

If I could take the thoughts from my head in my most real moments here is what I would share because these are the things on my mind when my life allows my brain to string two or more thoughts together.    You know that minute in the shower before any of the kids realize you are trying to be alone, or that two minutes at night before you fall into a dead sleep or those seemingly endless hours washing dishes because the only way to make your family disappear is to offer to let them help load the dishwasher.  Here is where my mind takes me when I have a moment to pause and reflect and be real with myself.

I think about….

How I wish I knew how to go deep in my friendships with other women

How I wish I could move beyond getting angry with my children

How much I wish someone magical would show up to help me with the housework so I didn’t have to be responsible for that

How afraid I really am of not making a difference in the world

How much I really get annoyed by being interrupted, climbed on, constantly needed, and daily getting pushed to the limits of my patience by my three littles and honestly, sometimes my husband.

How much I hope that my children choose to follow Christ wholeheartedly despite my parenting missteps.

How much God has used my failures to teach me to trust him

How much I hope that God continues to grow my marriage and helps me be an encouragement to my husband

How I truly want to be who God created me to be–whatever that looks like.

How much I want to see God move powerfully in my little piece of the world so I (and others of course) can daily experience His greatness.

How I wish I could take a break from being a grown up and all the responsibility and burden that just hangs around my life waiting for me to respond to it.

How about you?  Where does your mind go when you are raw and real with yourself?  Who would be encouraged if you took the time to put the beauty of the real into words that others can hear or read?  What would happen is you had the courage to Be You Bravely starting now?

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Mini family vacation…very mini!

Since Sawyer and Chris both have fall break and a long weekend off from school and work, we planned a mini va-ca in Tulsa, OK- a place we have never been before and close enough for a quick getaway.  That was Monday.  On Tuesday afternoon I got a call from the school nurse.  Sawyer had thrown up at school.  How bad is it that it took about one second for me to be utterly estatic that was one mess I didn’t have to clean up! 

Anyway, Sawyer missed school on Wednesday but we were hopeful about our weekend plans.  No one else showed any signs of sickness and surely Sawyer would be better.

This stomach bug has been pretty mild overall.  Except for the five minutes before and the 10 minutes after Sawyer’s visits to the bathroom, you would never know he was sick.  Thinking all was well I sent him to church Wednesday night and let him eat regular food.  All really was well until 2:00 AM when he threw up AGAIN!  So I kept him home today and by lunch he really was better. 

Our plan all week has been to leave right after school on Thursday…so I started packing and praying healthy blessings over our family.  Maddie had a couple of suspicious diapers and a raw red bottom, but she is one…that could happen any day.

At three-o-clock we loaded up and headed out.  Everyone was literally giddy with excitement.  Plans to head to a cool restaurant and hit the hotel pool were being made.  Then I smelled it.  Sawyer and Lucy were so busy chatting I couldnt get their attention, but I needed their eyes to check Maddie’s seat since she is still rear facing.  The smell was definitely getting worse and Sawyer finally confirmed.  It was puke.  All over the car seat snd Maddie

How far did we make it?  20 minutes folks!  I had said all week that if anyone else threw up, we would stay home.  So, sadly our glorious getaway became just a trip up the road.

After dealing with the initial disappointment, Sawyer and Lucy have made the best of the rest of our evening.  Oh and Maddie? She is fine. 

Maybe things would have been fine if we had plowed forward, but if my kids are going to be sick, let them be sick at home.  Sometimes that’s all a mom has!

Jill of All Trades, Master of Nothing

Sometimes I wish I was REALLY good at something, but it seems I have talent in many areas, but find it difficult to stand out or be exceptional.

I’m a pretty good cook. I even enjoy it, but my kitchen looks like a hot mess when I am finished and I have been known to go through some nasty experimental streaks where meal disasters overshadow the meal successes.

I really want to be a great photographer, but just a quick glimpse of the awesome photos on others blogs makes me shrink back to the beginners class and wonder if I will ever see improvement in my skills.

The same holds true for gardening.  I love the idea of growing things.  I especially enjoy planting them, but after that something goes awry and well, where there are supposed to be vegetables and lush flowers….I got nothing.

I really want to be organized, but I am just not consistent enough in my efforts.  I find much more pleasure in the planning of the organization than carrying it out.

Before I was a mom, I had visions of being that cool mom that always had yummy (and healthy) freshly made snacks and time to do crafts and play sports with my kids.  Now I just wish I could get the dishwasher loaded without my one-year-old taking all the dishes out or grabbing a sharp knife.   Forget the crafts—too much mess.  Outside time?  Three kids that need socks, shoes, coats, hats, mittens—that’s a lot of work!

All that to say, there is still something inside of me that drives me to do my best even when my best is so far from perfect that I almost have to laugh at myself.  Am I really good at something?  Yeah, I am really good at being real.  And, as long as I don’t allow myself the temptation of comparison with others, my best really is good enough.

A fitting verse from Corinthians speaks to the foolishness of living is this “I’m not as good as her” world or even that place we can let ourselves go where we focus on our insufficiency.

“When they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely (2 Corinthians 10:12).

I have been learning a lot lately about focusing more on just being in the presence of God rather than all the responsibilities of life.  I am still processing, but will write more at a later time.

Modern Day Slavery- Can I afford not to be convicted?

Before I was a mom, I used to marvel at how my mom-friends were so clueless about what was happening in the world and quite frankly I was pretty judgmental about how their talk seemed to center only on their children and their bodily functions and other accomplishments.  Of course now that I am a mom, I am TOTALLY guilty of telling poop stories at socially inappropriate times.  But worse I have to admit how easy it is to forget about life outside my family because the demands of every day life seem to suck up all brain activity.  I need other people to remind me of how I can care for my family and others too!

This Sunday was Freedom Sunday at my church.  We have been learning about how we can become involved in ending modern day slavery.  Our speaker, Kevin Austin, called for action from the Christian community in the work to end modern day slavery.   Kevin actually came to speak in chapel at the college where my husband works last year and stayed in our home, but I was unable to hear him speak and during our informal interactions I found myself unable to speak intelligently not only on the topic of slavery but also on what my response to slavery should be.  It was a privilege to hear his presentation today, and I feel both overwhelmed and moved by what I learned.

One of the most practical tools Kevin spoke about was a website called free2work.org which evaluates industries, specific products and companies in four categories that measure their involvement in perpetuating modern day slavery.  Their website and app, help train clueless people like me to become conscious consumers so that my chocolate habit doesn’t unwittingly enslave some five-year-old little girl.

After perusing the website, I honestly feel more overwhelmed than hopeful.  Very few companies that I have heard of score high.   Take children’s clothing for instance,  we shop where we can find the best deals.  But to my horror,nearly every children’s clothing line on the list that I recognized received a low score, except Old Navy which received a B.  Way to go Old Navy and Gap people!  But here is a listing of the failures–That’s an F people–Carters, Genuine Kids, Just One Year, OshKosh B’Gosh, and Child of Mine.  Faded Glory received a D+ and Disney received a C-.   The Children’s Place, which we shop often, was not rated.   How achingly ironic that keeping my kids clothed, keeps other kids in bondage.

And to think, I almost spent $40 at Carters just yesterday, but didn’t because I forgot my coupon!  But here’s the problem, if there are so many bad choices available where do we shop?  I understand that my demand for cheap clothes contributes to the problem,, but these companies should be kept accountable as well.

Am I really ready to kick my chocolate addiction?  I ate two handfuls of chocolate chips on the same day I heard that 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from slave labor.  worse, I told myself it was ok because I already bought it and I wouldn’t want to waste it.

I fear not being able to afford becoming a conscious consumer, but can I really afford not to be convicted about modern day slavery?   There is a lot to think about and I’m not sure how today will change me for the long haul, but I want to be a part of changing the way people are treated.  I want to stand up for the rights of those who have no voice.  That’s something I care about–it should be more important than chocolate or a great sale.

Too busy to be me!

I often get carried away with a new project or a new idea into a world of possibilities that keeps me entertained and distracted for days or even weeks until I take some sort of action to make my idea a reality.  Of course most of my ideas require boundless energy and time to actually carry to fruition, but I optimistically plunge forward with success as my goal.

I’m not a consistent list maker—my lists get too long!
I’m not super organized—but I spend more time than most people trying to be!
I’m not good at everything and truthfully I don’t even try to be.  But I have a lot of things I would like to be better at and I’m always running out of time to actually be skilled at anything!
I love learning.  I devour new ideas, chew on them, and find ways to integrate “newness” or inspiration into my life.

I have a brain that won’t turn off.  Some days I long for a more simple personality that would more easily focus on a few important things, but then I get some random idea and off I go into imagination land.  The end result–I’m too busy to be me and I end up living life between the me I want to be and the me I actually have time for.  Leah one the edge of sanity, contentment, tears, laughter….it really depends on the day.