Welcome

On this beautiful sunny morning, I am enjoying pancakes, coffee, and rest. But as rest often does, I am now stirring with thoughts, ideas, concerns, inner deliberation, and unease. I have attempted for months to transfer all these words onto paper in any kind of organized manner, but nothing has come of it. This isn’t the face of writer’s block; rather it is the face of a mind too busy to function.

One driving thought that continues to surface is that of acceptance and welcome. Without going into much detail on the issue, I recently experienced a moment with someone who didn’t make me feel welcome. Oddly enough, I was the person who has been around for a while, and was attempting to reach out. This moment made me feel frustrated and rejected on a morning I was needing to feel accepted and nurtured.

I hope that, if nothing else, I can encourage you this morning to open your eyes to the people around you. Take a moment to notice peoples’ faces and body language, their interactions with others and the eye contact they make with people. You’ll notice joy, pain, sadness, excitement, loneliness, and more. And by making yourself aware, perhaps you will feel compelled to respond appropriately.

That said, I understand at times it is difficult to be someone who opens our eyes to others. We may be going through our own heartache or difficulties, and the last thing we want to do is focus on others. But the brilliant design here is when we open our eyes to others in the midst our own pain. Somehow we find even stronger bonds and greater stories.

It’s a fascinating social world, and if we don’t engage in it and view every interaction in God’s eyes when we are placed in the middle of it, we miss out on playing a role in this beautiful story.

In Reality

This was a glorious snow day, for many reasons. Firstly, my kids had a day off, so they were joyful. Secondly, I work at the school, therefore I had a day off as well. More joy. Lastly, we had a beautiful layer of snow that continued into our day, and every time I looked outside I welled up with more joy. I LOVE snow!

But I must tell you, I barely went outside.

I watched from a screen as adorable kids and loving parents made snow forts and went sledding, showed off cute pictures of snowmen and backyards filled with kids and animals. And here I was, not even taking a single picture. Here I was, still in my yoga pants, drinking coffee most of the day, while my kids enjoyed this wonderful surprise of a snowstorm without me.

And I am okay with this.

You guys, I had the most pleasant day. I did dishes, sorted cabinets in the kitchen, cleaned the kids’ filthy bathroom, cleaned out our cat litter box, and locked my kids out of the house a few times so they would stop letting all the cold air in the house, for the love.

I sat on the couch and stared at the wall. I actually realized I was BORED at one point. I wish I could say it led to a lot of flowing creativity but in reality, it just led to sugar.

I am guessing there are others like me who participated in today’s snow day in an alternative way (we’re such rebels). I’m guessing you hid away in a similar fashion, hoping no one else would notice your lack of creative snow pictures online.

So basically, I just wanted to tell you nothing happened here today, and it was EPIC.

The End. For Now.

Empathy and Screen Time.

Aaron and I both have regular cell phones. The kind that only have text features and basic calling. My phone doesn’t even understand emoticons. This is sad. *sad face emoticon.*

We bought iPod Touches a while ago, but just use wifi when we have access. With this combination, we still get to occasionally have fun, but we save HUNDREDS of dollars yearly on our phone bill.

But despite our household’s lack of cellular advancement, we still find ourselves checking our “phones” (iPod Touches) on an obnoxiously regular basis. I’d love to say it’s once an hour but let’s be honest here. I am never too far from my iPod at any given moment.

There are the justifications. Waiting for a response from an email I sent in the morning. Looking to see how many people commented on my anniversary on Facebook. Checking for any possible notification that would make it necessary for me to spend time swiping and tapping. All while my kids breathe and dance and laugh right in front of me. Or honestly… while they are trying to talk to me. Or more honestly… while my husband is trying to talk to me.

I’m reading “UnSelfie” by Michelle Borba. Actually I’ve barely begun. But what has INSTANTLY struck me on the topic of empathy study and education is the self-centeredness of parents and what we are modeling to our kids. If I’m going to care so much about this issue, I should be modeling it. One of the actions they encourage parents to do is to stop checking their phones so much.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m going off Facebook, deleting my Instagram account, and setting time limits on my devices. And I’m not selling my iPod. It’s my precccciousssss.

But I very seriously and genuinely stared my kids down this morning and said, “I give you permission to let me know if you see me checking my phone too much.” And then I proceeded to tell them why. I want them to know that the people in front of me are the most important. That the people in the room with me are more important than an email from someone else, or a funny Facebook post, or a cool Instagram picture.

There is a time and a place, of course. I can set aside purposeful time on my computer and iPod to answer emails, and check a few social media accounts. Or sometimes I need down time on my couch, browsing Pinterest while my kids laugh and play around me. We all need our down time.

But if we could… shall I say… EMPATHIZE. If we could put ourselves in the shoes of those around us and consider the way they are affected by the things we do, say, act, swipe, and tap, I wonder how that would affect the generation who learns our behavior.

I could be eating my words, as my kids will likely constantly have to remind me to put my phone down. But I feel as much pain as it’s going to cause me, it will turn into a fun game, AND it will hopefully teach my kids the value of face-to-face time and communication.

Here’s to hoping. *smiley face winking*

 

Power

Our family sat around the dinner table yesterday with candles lit, playing Settlers of Catan, and talking about silly things. Half-way through the game, our nine-year-old son Ian asked if the power was back on yet. At this point, most of the area had experienced 8+ hours without power due to a massive windstorm and multiple downed trees and lines.

In response to his question, I lowered my voice, placed my finger to my lips, and said “listen.”

We did. There was barely a noise to be heard.

“Ian, that silence is why I’m not stressed out right now.” I remarked, after a few lovely seconds of silence.

I realized in that very moment how gladly I would live without power. That gentle hum of machinery and engines that fills my ears and busies our lives.

Can I please move somewhere off the grid, away from machines and all the chaos of life? I know, easier said than done. You somehow need food and water, and some way to stay warm. All I’m saying is that I could handle it. 🙂

And that’s all I have to say about that.Summer Road Trip 14 484

Today’s Thought

From Oswald Chambers, and sharing from a deep conviction in my heart about God’s will.

“If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say– ‘Well, I wonder if He did speak?’ Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.”

How to Remove Head Lice from your Daughter (or son) in Twenty-One Easy Steps

  1. Freak out and run away from your child.
  2. Realize she is crying and afraid, and run back and console her. From a distance.
  3. Tell her she has the lice.
  4. Throw her in the bath. Hopefully your hot water heater is working at the time.
  5. Throw in some toys. From a distance.
  6. Double check the situation. With a headlamp. And not your own comb.
  7. Send your spouse to the store for lice removing tools. Even though he leaves for night shift in an hour.
  8. Pace frantically as you have no clue what to do, have never seen the vermin, and are afraid for your life.
  9. Turn into a robot, cleaning and vacuuming all the things.
  10. Debate whether or not to tell people you have the lice.
  11. Give your child a popsicle in the bathtub to make up for freaking her out
  12. Once MacGyver returns with the goods, thank him.
  13. Retrieve her from the tub, and place her on a wooden chair. Because THAT’ll stop the lice.
  14. Rub in the lice cream, and comb her scalp until it’s a nice dark shade of red.
  15. Let her watch her favorite show while eating another sugary snack. While you comb.
  16. Wash hands. Repeat.
  17. Get over it. Its not as bad as your darkest fears predicted.
  18. Pour a glass of wine.
  19. Do some laundry. Ten to fifteen loads should suffice.
  20. Give a gentle, thoughtful heads up to your friends and family that they may have been exposed.
  21. Wonder WHO THE H*!? gave you lice in the first place. Smiley face.

Lessons in Humility

God reminds me so often of who I was born to reflect. Who I should be. How I can be more like Him, and less like the sinful, prideful person my humanness entices me to be. He uses mornings like this, with the crisp morning air and the sun grazing our windows, illuminating the dining room from where I write.

My eight-year-old son Ian is an artist. He loves to draw, paint, build, scream, and create stories. He is a witty, intelligent, soft-spoken child who is painfully shy, but funny beyond words to those he allows into his world.

As he sat at the table this morning using his toy dragon and the light from our chandelier to cast shadows on his paper, he asked, “Mommy, does this look like the shadow of my dragon?” It was a simple question. One most kids would ask to receive praise or get attention. But not my son. He was asking because he was curious, and really wanted to know if I understood the intention of his art.

In that moment I realized this: I love giving praise and rewards to my humble children.

I love that they don’t seek attention. I love that they don’t brag (except in the natural sibling rivalry way), and that they perceive others on the same level. I love lifting them up and praising their accomplishments and seeing the inward satisfaction that comes from unsolicited praise.

Ian’s inward desire in that moment was to create art. He was using his gift, doing his passion, and enjoying his quiet morning.

It was a humbling moment. Realizing my son was so far ahead of me. In all my endeavors, I have the deep-down desire to receive praise. To do things perfectly and be recognized.

But that isn’t what Christ wants from me. He wants me to go about my business, doing his work, and giving all my efforts to whatever I’m doing simply because He has given me that ability.

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. ~James 4:6

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How to Start a Daily Bible Reading Plan (for busy moms)

  1. 4-5F48F8BA-121168-800Put kids to bed.
  2. Open laptop, check Facebook and Email. Respond to group email about playgroup next Thursday.
  3. Watch a few Kid History clips. Because they’re funny.
  4. In Google Search, type “90 day bible reading plan”.
  5. Walk sleepwalking child back to bed, and pray he doesn’t wake up again. At least not until tomorrow.
  6. Return to computer, play Bubble Breaker nine times.
  7. Return to Google Search. Make the decision you can create your own plan.
  8. Brush teeth, remove makeup, pluck eyebrows, practice smiling, practice sucking in post-baby belly.
  9. Retrieve water glass from kitchen, unload dishwasher, wipe down counters, shut fridge door.
  10. Turn all lights off, then shut door quickly or something will bite your toes.
  11. Remind yourself to act brave in front of the kids.
  12. Do a few last-minute planks and crunches since you missed this morning’s workout.
  13. Neatly set Bible on nightstand.
  14. Pray before opening Bible.
  15. Hit snooze button on alarm
  16. Take a moment to figure out why your alarm went off. Check clock.
  17. Get up, brew coffee, pray the kids don’t wake up. At least not for another hour.
  18. Drink the coffee before the kids become too annoying.
  19. Pour another cup of coffee.
  20. Run kids to school in your slippers. In the minivan.
  21. Return to your peaceful home.
  22. Clean, fold, and wash all the things.
  23. Microwave coffee you left on the counter two hours ago.
  24. Get data entry work done for your part-time, flexible, stay-at-home job (…or if you don’t have a job outside the home, multiply step #22 by five, and add a little extra dinner preparation).
  25. Eat lunch. Or take a shower.
  26. Clean more things.
  27. Pick kids up from school.
  28. Prep dinner while kids read school reading books to you in a box on the kitchen floor.
  29. Give in to letting kids play Lego Batman so you can sit down and play 2048.
  30. Eat a nice family dinner. Remind kids to stay in chairs as you notice “someone” wrote “their name” on the dinner table earlier.
  31. After dinner, throw the smelliest kid into the bathtub.
  32. Guide kids lovingly to the bathroom to brush teeth and go potty. Remind them to flush next time. And wipe.
  33. Tuck kids lovingly into bed, read them a goodnight story, and say a thoughtful prayer about good dreams and *yawn* that they *aaagh… amen.*
  34. Repeat.

My First Car.

I’m always amazed when music causes me to write. Here’s what I think happens: I hear a song, and it sounds like a part of my life soundtrack. I smell and see and taste memories I had completely forgotten about.

The other day I heard a song that pulled me right back to high school. Of course now I can’t remember which one, it was a boy band. (I know, surprising.) Probably Barenaked Ladies or Third Eye Blind.

In high school, I drove around a 1984 Grey Mazda 626. It was awesome. Because it took me places on my OWN. I remember the first time I took off with my brand new driver’s license to pick up a few groceries for dinner. I pulled open the sunroof, manually rolled down the windows, and blasted the best radio station ever… 107.7 THE END. It. was. awesome.

Why was that my favorite radio station? Because I thought it would attract the boys. Oh sixteen year old Kelly…

I also remember the first day I drove my car to school. I bought a brand new obnoxious bumper sticker that said, “Next time you think you’re perfect, try walking on water.” I was thankful later that my friend’s older brother Tommy told me people might be offended. (Amazing I still remember who told me that). I removed it and stuck a shiny Jesus fish to the trunk instead. 🙂

I remember dreamy summers on Whidbey Island, peeling down Wintergreen Drive at ridiculously high speeds with friends, late at night. With the sunroof down, and of course… yelling loudly.

I remember the late-night, New Years Eve drive with a car full of friends to the cove in Des Moines. One of my favorite memories with still some of my favorite people, although I never see them. Hanging out around the fire talking into the late hours of the night… then passing out on couches and the floor after consuming a good amount of licorice and pizza.

I remember the day my car breathed its last breath, driving a friend to Bible Camp one summer. It might have lasted longer if I had known it needed oil. Like, ever.

Its so interesting looking back and having dozens upon dozens of memories tied to a single car. And then the old car passes, and is replaced with a new one. And then a whole new decade of memories await. Its funny to apply such meaningful thoughts to a car, but its absolutely true.

I had even more amazing memories with my Ford Ranger (named Bob). It led me to my husband, who also had a Ford Ranger (but mine was better and prettier).

And now our minivan. To those of you who swear you’ll never own one, sorry but I know better. I was just like you once.

So, thank you Mazda 626. I will remember you… 😉