I lay in the green grass of our backyard, staring at little purple flowers, bathing in sunshine. This, my friends, is why I love living in Georgia. I nearly lose my mind in the short few months that truly are our winter. The dawn of March finds my heart, soul, mind screaming in unison: Get. Me. Outside.
And keep me there, thank you very much.
It’s hard not to think of creation, sitting out here in it. The other night I felt like reading Genesis, just for the fun of it. I like doing that. Just picking up something to read with no set agenda, no high expectation of earth shattering revelations, just reading.
And what I saw, with fresh eyes, is just how much God enjoys creating. He likes it. He wanted to create and so He did, a lot. I’ve never thought of it that simply before. Oddly, He refers to it as work, valuable, heartfelt work. And yet He also says throughout the scriptures that there is nothing better than enjoying one’s work. How interesting that a God that could simply BE chose instead to CREATE. Creating is a mighty, meaty calling, and I am beginning to believe that we, made in His image, enjoy creating too.
I never used to think this. Creating was for other people, those that were off doing more beautiful things than I. Never mustering more than a “C” in Art class, I believed that creating was not my thing. Now I am a new convert to this creating process: blooming with a new belief that even though I may not have shined like other classmates, I am also not meant to be dull.
I am a parchment paper Momma. For this is how I am branching out creatively. The other night our daughter proposed making homemade pretzels. Homemade pretzels on a Thursday night with a “not very domesticated mother?” It is just these kinds of nudges out of my comfort zone that continually surprise me and delight me as a parent. Why would we make homemade pretzels on a Thursday night? Or more importantly, why shouldn’t we? So, off to Publix we went for the ingredients, and at 35 years, I bought my very first box of parchment paper. It felt a little sacred. For until then, parchment paper was for other people. You know, creative baking types. Behold! I have a parchment paper, people. This is a big deal. We made the pretzels. They turned out pretty well. A couple days later, I tried a cake recipe. It did not turn out well. Yet, for the first time, the fun in the opportunity to create outweighed the reality that it did not taste good. For the first time, I didn’t feel the weight of defeat, I felt the surge that comes with answering the call to create.
I love watching our children align with the call to create. They do it so effortlessly and joyfully. They don’t over-think it or over-analyze. They are rich in their use of colors. They have big plans, even if left with half dried play dough and broken crayons, almost dried out markers and scrap paper.
They have no sense of how their art measures up against that of other people; free to bask in the glory of the process of thinking something and then living it, however they picture it in their minds.
I am getting better at it. Creating beyond the limits that have lived in my brain for too long. Stickers are a safe place to start. I simply adore scrapbooking stickers. I stick them everywhere. Everywhere the call to create takes me. Sometimes I position them however feels right on card stock and I frame it. And I smile. I take a little break, and simply celebrate creation. And then I smile and sigh, contently, because in this moment, I am like my Creator.
Intimacy: I’ve been playing through this word a lot lately.
Last week, when blogs went all whirly with differing perspectives on the Fifty Shades Debate, I wanted to join in. I wanted to be one of the big kids on the virtual blog playground, throw in my two cents, you know, feel like I could hang with the big dogs.
But I could not pull my thoughts together in a meaningful way. In short, our conviction is we aren’t going to see it. I’m kind of blunt. I think if you have two free hours, and you’re married, you should go jump in bed with your husband. (You may have 50 shades, but it will not be dreary or gray!)
Intimacy: we all want it. And it is not limited to sex. It gets thrown into that arena the most, but there is a lot more to it. And I think there may lie some issue with Fifty Shades, it suggests and shows intimacy inaccurately, falsely. When you know the good and purity in something, and you see it tarnished, it is a bummer.
The dictionary defines intimacy as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” We want closeness, the safety of familiarity, and loving personal relationships. We want acceptance and confidence that who we really, truly are, is enough.
The above picture made my morning today. Our 4 year old daughter drew it on the way to school. When I asked her what it was, she said “Us 4, cuddling on the couch.” That is intimacy. Closeness that cuddles and smiles together.
And so, I am meditating on intimacy much these days. How can I better communicate closeness to my husband, my children, the kids at church, the women at church? These are all people worthy of intimacy.
I walked by our kitchen sink on Sunday night and felt a little sad. A few hours before, it had been empty and sparkling clean. Why will we always have dirty dishes? Then I had a perspective shift. Those dirty dishes mean we stayed in, and cooked, instead of eating out. Financial win! Those dishes are remnants of the special time our daughter and I shared baking banana bread. Those dishes wanted me to feel defeat. Instead, I waved a victory flag in celebrating God’s provision and stewardship. I waved my victory flag, and took myself to bed.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I’m not big on elaborate hairstyles, flashy jewelry, or expensive brand name clothing. Most weekends I don’t even put on make up, and I almost exclusively buy my clothing and accessories from thrift stores. Maybe that is why for several years, I have subconsciously lumped the above scripture in with the category of “that is great, I agree, I don’t really think that relates to me.”
Until now. There is nothing like parenting to continually offer you a swift kick in the butt and tug on the heart, right?
You know what my husband finds priceless, attractive, valuable? A gentle reply. Even to a toddler who has lost his ever lovin’ mind swinging from the ceiling fan, or his inquisitive big sister who has a million questions, (that all beg answers NOW). Even to the cell phone that dings to indicate some additional inquiry or need.
My husband is completely fine if Saturday finds me in yoga pants. He may or may not notice if I put on eye liner or the fact that I curled my hair with a curling iron. But he undeniably hears sighs and exaggerated tones. He sees eye rolls and drooping shoulders, and pouty faces. He senses the entire aura in the home has changed when I flag parental defeat.
This scripture totally relates to me. Even if I pass on that fancy flashy outward stuff. Because God’s definition of beauty does not change, whether I am into the bling or not. Husbands, made in God’s image, value beauty just as He does, whether you are into the bling or not. Gentleness is beautiful, to God and to our men.
The hubby and I had a fruitful conversation the other day that led me to think about the roles he and I both have for setting the emotional tone in the house. Naturally, I am joyful and a little bit goofy. I am an encourager. (I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, but the older I get, the more I wish I was. Or maybe I can just use those pom-poms now?) He is the ever patient teacher. He explains well. (He keeps cool when the toddler is climbing into our 125 gallon salt water tank (“hi fissheeey!!!”) and explains why this isn’t a good choice.)
We realized how much we need the other for maintaining emotional balance. When I lose my encouraging stride, and my answers are less than gentle, it affects everyone. I think I knew that esoterically, but it was very powerful hearing it from him. If he doesn’t take time out to teach and is less than patient, less apt to explain in the best way he can, it affects everyone. It makes sense that our home works well with each of us grooving in our emotional strengths, and that even a small hiccup throws the aura off kilter. Knowing this has helped us to be pro-active in mentally preparing for the times we are tempted to lose our groove.
This look within, this study of my inner self, brings out beauty for my current other half, and more. This kind of beauty is harder to harness, harder than slapping on some cute jeans and foundation on my face. This kind of beauty leaves a legacy – modeling the qualities of a wife that will sooner than later leave an important impression on our son. Someday he will engage in his own pursuit of beauty, and I pray his search is for one that is unfading and of great worth.
They say some people wear their emotions on their sleeve, I wear my motherhood. At any given moment, I am, amongst other things, a human tissue, sporting at least a little snot.
The other night at 3:00am, I woke up because our son was literally on my head. I know you find this shocking- that it’s really hard to sleep with 27 pounds of toddler poised as a hat.
This morning, I sat at my desk going over accounts only to realize a small section of strawberry cereal bar plastered to my cheek. Nice. Left over from a sticky, pudgy hand touching my face at daycare drop off, I’m sure.
I’ve never really been into fashion. And now that I’m a Mom to two preschoolers, this trend seems to be accelerating into an interesting combination: I’m like an old lady punctuated with remnants of toddlerhood. Just last week, I had the unfortunate mingling of a frumpish scarf with old lady pin, and the pre-mature arrival of elastic waist pants. The struggle is real. (Yet, if Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s “What Not To Wear” showed up at my door, I would secretly plot how I could use that money on books instead.) I’m just embracing truth: I can have a gift/curse to dress like a 70 year old librarian. (No offense to my Mom, who actually is a cool 70- something retired librarian :).
On any given day, my socks don’t match. I can’t waste precious energy ensuring an exact pairing. If they are, however, in the same ball park color-wise, then yeah me.
Sticky imprints, mis-matched socks, questionable markings (I did just wash that, didn’t I?) That’s about all I’ve got right now. I can enjoy rocking these otherwise whacka-doodle accessories; or I can stress it, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry, so I may as well rock them.
I’m optimistic – I may look really put together in another decade or two. Yes, my fashion could be a fine wine, as my kids age, it does too, better and better in time.
And, perhaps someday, I will be smokin’ hot, running fashion shows out my nursing home dining room. 🙂
3 things made me smile today – on a Monday, no less, so I am staking them as Wins 🙂
1. Thinking After School Outside the Box: The Working Mom Guilt (WMG) had been going strong since last week when our pre-Ker has been on a kick of going anywhere except her after school program. “Mom, did you find me someplace else to go in the afternoons, yet?” was her little plea. When we got to the heart of it – it’s not that she doesn’t enjoy it, it’s simply that she is there for so long…after the snack, after the playground, she doesn’t want to just sit there and watch TV. My little one was bored! We came up with a plan together of creating special folders of activities for her to do during this last hour of after school time. I talked to the director and teachers and finagled some logistics and VOILA! With some extra communication and $1 activities from Target, after school is BETTER!
2. Fresh Fruit at 4. Every day I hit the slump. A cup of coffee and snickers just tastes/feels so good. Like an old friend giving me a big hug. But I know better. I used to keep some oranges or apples in my desk for these moments, thinking that if I have them, maybe I’ll eat them. Now I’ve turned it into fun. Today I took an entire carton of fresh strawberries! Is it too extravagant to snack on fresh pineapple? I think not 🙂 Quite refreshing, really.
3. Have Cards – Will encourage. I happened to have an extra package of really fun, animal valentines in the car tonight. “Mom! I’m about to go to dance class! I want to give some Valentines to the girls at dance!” I love catching our kids being generous, eager to encourage. Tonight struck me of how much I want to keep extra little things around, simply so I can help facilitate my kids being generous. (*Sidenote – our local Goodwill had some great Valentine cards for about 75% off the regular store prices – brand new – never been opened. I wanted about 2 dozen but ending up buying about 4 dozen.) I am so glad I did! I am encouraged to see where in our budget I could spend on little tokens to encourage encouragement. Do you know how many Valentines I could buy with $5 I may normally blow on a couple of Happy Meals? 🙂
I am excited to be part of the Hope for the Weary Mom Blog Tour with Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker. You can find out more and join the tour by clicking here
I’m not sure what I was wanting when I thought about a Christian Women’s/Parenting book. And then I picked up this one – intrigued by the title – and THIS IS IT!
Non-preachy, real. Lets’ go beyond saying parenting is hard. Let’s say the scary stuff that we think we aren’t allowed to say because we also call ourselves Christians. Let’s get real, because God is real. And God REALLY wants to help us. Now. Not later, not after we’ve calmed down after that bad attitude or scream fest. Right now, in the midst of that parenting struggle.
What do I like about this book? Vulnerability. Brooke and Stacey, these ladies get two thumbs up. They get honest about the messes they’ve encountered with a very meaningful bonus – God has worked and continues to work powerfully in those messes. They share how God meets them in personal, intimate ways, and how they have had the strength from Him to get back up after feeling knocked down. This book doesn’t read like one of those safe Christian pieces where you aren’t sure if the author really ever had a bad day. These women know they need God and their transparency can’t help but inspire: God has met them in their weariness, and He will in ours too.
In the workplace, I am pretty good at keeping my cool. Why is it, then, that at home, such little beings can so fervently and zealously shoot me out of my comfort zone and leave me on edge? What the? I used to feel guilty when I knew I had lost my cool. A brief moment of monster mommy would wreck and undo all the good that day. Even after apologizing, I felt like scum of the earth, my how the angels must mock me! That great cloud of witnesses they talk about in the scriptures? I’m pretty sure they would boo me. Or at least I deserved it. I appear confident on the outside, and burdened with “you suck as a mom condemnation” on the inside.
This book addresses that – on page 21, “Instead of glorifying our weaknesses, letting them control our lives and break our hearts, we can learn to use them to glorify God, confessing our weaknesses and trusting him to make them into something good” I hadn’t thought of it like this, but when I carry around such negativity then I do glorify the weakness, and let it control me and break my heart. I think I need to earn back my good Mommy status by songs, stories, lullabies, and really awesome crafts. After I do all that, then God will want to help me, find me worthy again.
As it is turning out – God doesn’t want to wait until I “recover” from being blasted out of my comfort zone. God wants to meet me there! Even in those “icky, yucky, I’ve completely lost control, who are these children” moments. As it turns out, God is here all along. And He ain’t afraid of my mess.
Hope for the Weary Mom is a book about letting God meet you in the messy places of motherhood and finding true hope. You can find out more information here!