Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Clash

I love variety.  Always, my mantra has been "variety is the spice of life."  Truly.  I mean I love to find new ways to get somewhere.  It gets boring driving the same way all the time.  I love discovering new ways to use things in my home (I love the word "repurposing").  And I love new things.  New scents of shower gel.  New hairstyles.  I love making new friends and finding new restaurants and places to hangout.  But, I especially love finding new ways to arrange a room.  I used to love re-arranging my bedroom when I was a kid.  Something my daughters have inherited.

So, today we re-arranged each of their bedrooms.  And as we did, I did not enjoy the process nearly as much as I normally do.  I struggled.  Because the eight-year-old, (i.e. the instigator of this morning's activity) has a very specific non sense of style.  And it does not match mine.  It doesn't agree with my hgtv taste and all of the things I've learned from that beloved channel.  She wants things her way.  No opinions please.  This is how I want my room to look.  Thank you very much.  My opinion on the new arrangement was politely dismissed.  She stayed her course.  And it bugged me to no end! 

As she described her vision of placing her day bed so it sticks out into the middle of the room instead of conforming to the nature for which it was created (i.e. being pushed up against a wall), my insides screamed "No!!!!"  That's why my husband so annoyingly wisely reminded me last night that I need to let her have her own space.  It's not my room.  It's hers.  Because he knew I would not catch her vision.  He knew we would not see things the same way.  He is such an amazing dad.  Therefore, against my every inclination to take her downstairs and brainwash train her with my Pottery Barn books and hours of hgtv, I calmly asked if I could offer my opinion.  She kindly agreed to listen.  And then decidedly denied the help.

You know what?  I already knew she wouldn't like it.  Because it wasn't her idea.  Sometimes, I feel like she doesn't like things just because it's my idea.  Like she was born to prove to me that she needs no training of any sort.  About anything.  Especially when it comes to something that is hers.  In this case, her bedroom.  Her space.

I hate that we have such different ways of seeing things.  We have always had this clash.  And, realizing that many moms and daughters have a certain mother/daughter clash thing, I am just not okay with it.  I don't want her to grow up to just accept that we will always clash because "that's just what moms and daughters do".  I want to have a healthy relationship with her.  With both of my daughters.  I want to work through it.  I don't want to struggle with my pride everytime we disagree on something.  Because I think that's what's at the bottom of it.  Pride.  Hers.  And mine.  She wants to prove she knows enough.  I want to prove I'm in control.  P.R.I.D.E.

That's why I began praying for a healthy relationship with her back when she was about two-years-old and the clash began to raise its ugly face.  Because I want to be the mom that Jesus made me to be.  The mom that He knew she needs.  The kind of mom that teaches her who Jesus is.  What His ways are.  Why they're the only way to really live.      

And sometimes, I feel like we're improving.  Like the ten minutes every night that she and I started spending together reading through a devotion book for girls her age.  And yesterday when we played Gamecube together while she was sick at home and her sister was at preschool.  But, we always seem to return to the clash.  I know we'll always have differences.  That's relationships.  I know we will never have the perfect one.  We are human.  But I also have to believe that it can be better.  Strong-willed child, strong-willed mama and all.  I only wish I knew how.

Any thoughts?  Anyone else been there?  I'd love some advice...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mission Statement Mania

Since I've become more regular in my blogginess, I find myself experiencing life in a different light.  Like when I first joined up on facebook, and found myself consciously updating my status in my mind, if not on my profile.  Constantly trying to whit-fully sum up in ten words or less what it is that I am doing.  The goal: make myself *laugh*out*loud*.  Well, now that I've learned to tame the addiction fun that is facebook, I am happy to say that I no longer live my life in third-person narrative.  I do, however, find myself going through my day-to-day with different eyes since becoming a blogger.  In perpetual search of my next topic.  Constantly seeking out spiritual parallels for things like pumping gas or picking out deodorant.  (Well, okay, I'm not really THAT bad, but I think you get the picture.)  The goal: furthering my writing skills God's kingdom.

It's hard for me to find the balance.  Hard to even know if that is what should be found.  How can I further God's kingdom while, at the same time, enhancing my writing skills?  And, even more importantly, what is my motive?  I mean, truly, what's my goal?  Not only as a writer, but even more so, as a mom.  As a wife.  As a friend.

I've been thinking a lot about goals and purpose lately.  It started about a year ago with the 2x4 God-smack and the Beth Moore study on Gethsemane from Jesus the One and Only.  And it's been greatly advanced by Kat at  God is using this woman to inspire me.  See, I've been wanting to be more intentional as a mom.  As a woman, really.  But how to do it.  Well, that's what this blog is about.  Specifically, this week we are working on defining our own mission statements.  And I am very, very excited about it.

Because this week, as I've prayed (a lot!!) about and pondered what my mission statement might be, I've found myself really struggling.  Feeling overwhelmed at times with all of the roles I play in life.  Examining everything I am involved in and the motives behind it.  Questionning my goals.  And finding them sorely lacking in some areas.  The truth is, I believe that God created me to bring glory to Him.  Period. 

"We were also chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. . . We were chosen to bring praise to his glory."
Ephesians 1:11-12(NIRV)
The question of a mission statement, though, is, more specifically, how does He want to use me to that end?  How can I "bring praise to His glory?"  As a wife.  As a mom.  As a friend.  As a writer.  And I'm excited about the filter that will be my mission statement.
I'm seriously thinking you should check out Kat's blog.  It's good stuff.  Super good.
Have a great weekend!
p.s. I would love to hear your thoughts about balance in life as a woman with many plates to spin...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chubby Little Fingers

Everytime my daughter grabs onto my hand, I marvel at the wonder of her chubby little fingers.

I love how they grip mine. The game we play as she squeezes my hand three times to say "I. love. you." without words. The trust that they represent as she looks to me to guide her through the risky parking lot at Kohls. 

What is it about chubby little fingers?  Is it their soft skin wrapping?  Or the preciousness of their smallness?  You have to admit that there is something of the tender glory of God that cannot help but be displayed in such small perfection that is a child's hand.  Is it the realization of the potential that such little hands might hold?  Or is it the innocence of what they have not yet touched mixed with the playfulness of what they have?  Maybe it's just the wonder of knowing that these chubby little hands belong to a real, albeit little, person.  In them is a picture of the miracle of life.  The amazing reality that this little human being which started inside of me is somehow real and growing and loving and true.

I wonder if that's how God feels when I grasp for His hand while He walks me through the unsafe parking lot that is this life.  Do I have chubby little fingers?  Do my hands make Him smile?  Does He marvel in the preciousness that my small hands represent?  Does He see the potential that my small hands hold?  Does He savor our game as He feels my heart squeeze His hand three times.  "I. love. You."  Does He want to play it more often?

Oh, to live in the trust of holding on with my own chubby little fingers.

My new Tuesday challenge as of late is to find the beautiful in the ordinary. To learn to be thankful for what I am given when it is given. Because of this awesome blog called, where a beautiful blogger named Emily hosts Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Some of my friends keep asking me if I've built that snowman yet.  Because I've been wanting to learn how.  And because I really want to make use of the pants that changed my life, hoping they change my legacy as well.

So I put on my life-changing pants today.  And we built a snowman.  Huh?  What?  I'm sorry I didn't hear you.  Oh.  "So what?" you ask.  So... the smiles on our faces and the fact that the snowman (actually, she's a girl) bears any resemblance at all to a traditional snowman is proof that snow pants actually did change my life.  Because, as you may or may not know, I have had very little experience as a snowman builder.  AND.  In each of my previous winters as a mom, I have kept my playing-outside-in-the-snow to a bare minimum.  BUT.  Today, we not only built our new friend, we also stayed outside for a very generous amount of time playing and enjoying (yes, enjoying!!) the snow (i.e. longer than five whole minutes).  AND.  I. Had. Fun.  The best part is, though, that I didn't even have to pretend it was fun.  We're talking good, old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness fun here, people.  A memory that will definitely last.  At least, I know it will last for me.  I can only hope it lasts for her too.  After all, she and her sister are the whole reason I bought the pants in the first place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Great Prayer Challenge

Five years ago this month, my family and I were preparing to move to Paris, France for a six-month expatriate assignment for my husband's job.  My oldest was three years old.  My youngest was seven months.  And my husband and I were pretending to be grown up enough to know how to live in a foreign country with very little knowledge of the language of the land.  We had A BLAST.  It was a life-changing, monumental turning point for me as a woman and for our family.  So I thought it would be fun to re-visit some of the memories from my private blog-journal that I (sort of) kept while we were there.  Here's one of the entries...

This is the Blue Slide Park (we named each park according to a distinguishing characteristic).  It's the park we frequented most often, as it was only about a five-minute walk from our flat.

Today, we went to the Blue Slide Park. We played in the sandpit because that's our new routine when we go there. Especially since we've actually been remembering the sand toys.  Anyway, I parked my three-year-old in a shady spot in the sand and went to sit on a bench in the sun, with my infant safely shaded in her stroller next to me.  Shortly after we arrived, a little boy and his mom did too.  Having followed the same protocol as I and placing her son in a shady spot in the sandbox, the mom came over to join me on the bench.  I love when people sit close enough to see my baby because in Paris, anytime someone is near her in the stroller, they automatically start talking to her, which gives me a great chance to try to talk with them and practice my French.  Too bad she's a baby and doesn't yet speak.  She could probably teach me some French.

So once the mom took the bait, I asked her my famous opening question, "Quel age a -t-il?"  How old is he?  Twenty-one months.  She followed suit and asked me about my two daughters.  We introduced ourselves.  Her name is Anna.  Excited to have any semblance of an adult conversation, I told her about my baby's double ear infection (which was just diagnosed yesterday after a very challenging French telephone conversation with a doctor's office here in Paris followed by a home visit by the doctor -- so nice).  Come to find out, Jacob her son was on his second round of antibiotics for the same thing.  We sat quietly for a little while, watching our two children play in the sand while I tried to think of another thing to say in French.  I so desperately want to learn the language.  And I so desperately miss my friends at home.  So I asked her if she had any other children.

That's when she told me.  Jacob was a twin.  His brother died at birth (or soon after) because she was only six and a half months along when they were born. Jacob was only about 3kgs when he was born and was in the hospital for a very long time.  (And, although I'm not really sure how 3kgs translates into pounds and ounces, I know it's very small.  Too small.)  She didn't cry, but I could tell it was hard to talk about.  Um, obviously.  Especially when I wasn't very proficient at understanding the words and had to ask several clarifying questions throughout the conversation.  Oh how sorry I was that all I could say was "tres triste" (very sad).  Oh how I wanted to say so much more.  To delve in and share Jesus' compassion and love with her somehow.  But, in my desperate search for more meaningful words, all I could say were two very small ones.  Very. sad.

Later this evening, I was coming home from the grocery store and was approached by a man who asked me for some money.  He appeared to be homeless.  All I could do was give him a Euro and say "you're welcome" in French when he thanked me.  And, again, I was frustrated by the inability to just say the right thing.  Or to tell him about Jesus' love somehow.  Or even to just say "God bless you."  But. I. don't. know. how.

That's when it hit me.  All I can do is pray.  Literally. that. is. all. I. can. do.  For Anna.  And for Julia, who I met in the park back in April.  And for the 22-year-old mom from Montenegro who's family had sufferd from her war-torn country and so was forced to live in Paris.  And for the beggar lady who sits outside the Post Office and always tells me something about her child, or children, who died or were hurt or something.  I can't understand her words.  But I can talk to God about her.  He's the only One Who really understands and knows what she needs anyway.  And I can do it not so I can be a "good Christian".  But because I believe God has purposefully put these people in my path so that I can ask Him to help.  And I believe He purposefully put me in a place where I can do nothing and say nothing so that I can trust that praying is enough.  That praying is what He has called me to do.  The only action I can take.

And I will take that fact home with me.  Praying is not just a last resort when there's nothing else I can do to help.  It is the only power I have to get anything of any importance done.  It is the only action I can take that has any real power to help.  Whether I understand words or not.  Whether I know what to say or have an idea how to help or not.

And so I will take the challenge.  And I hope someday I will actually know what to say.  And say it.  And I hope someday when I think I know what to say, I will know how not to say it, if it needs not be said.  Because He is the only One Who can truly help.  Sometimes with my words.  Sometimes with my hands.  But always with my prayers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter In My Heart

Lately, I've been feeling winter.  In my spirit.  It's just felt kind of . . . cold.  Like I want to curl up inside myself and wait for the onset of spring with all of it's excitement and anticipation.  And warmth.  And beauty.

I can't really put my finger on the cause.  I can't even pinpoint when it started.  But I feel it.  In my being.  Wondering where the excitement of following hard after Jesus has gone.  Waiting for the return of the juice-filled, beautiful fruit that is joy and peace.  So I can live off of it.  And enjoy it in all of its juicy succulence.  Where has it gone?  

Or has it gone?  Could it just be joy and peace with a different face?  The naked face that shows its raw beauty.  The kind of joy that simmers deep down inside.  The peace that truly "transcends all understanding." 

The other day, I was looking out the car window admiring the snow-covered trees and noticing their barrenness.  And it occurred to me that, even in winter, God displays His mercy and beautiful provision in all of creation.  For, He provides protection from the freezing cold by allowing the leaves to die off before the snow comes.  (well, usually...except for when there's an early freeze or a late frost.  But I digress.)

And it occurred to me that maybe, in this wintertime of my spirit, He is actually displaying His mercy and provision somehow.  Maybe He's protecting me from something.  Or preparing for something.  Some sort of deep freeze that might hurt my tender fruit were it to be in full bloom.  Or maybe He just wants to show the raw beauty that is winter.  In even me.  And I was reminded of His tender mercies that are not only new every morning but in every season of life, too.

And there, in that moment, He reminded me that He is perfect in all His ways.  "You are good and what you do is good." (Psalm 119:68)  Even in winter.  Even in my soul's winter.

What about you?  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Do you ever have wintertimes in your spirit?  How has God encouraged you through them?  I would love to hear.

I'm unwrapping the gift of today with a bunch of other beautiful bloggers over at Tuesdays Unwrapped.  And I'm really looking forward to reading them.  Hope you will too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lessons From the Salsa Jar

I remember one of my first clarifying moments as a mom.  It involved a beautiful home, an airplane ride and a jar of salsa.  My oldest was ten months.  Our only child at the time.  It was our first airplane ride as a family.  (An adventure all its own, I'll save the sordid details for another post.  Suffice it to say, the transporation part of that trip was chock full of drama.  And I mean the not-good sort of drama, including an ambulance ride, a CAT scan, and a baby who cried for two straight days.) 

The clarification came in a beautiful living room as people gathered to celebrate a birthday.  It happened when, in the middle of said living room, someone decided they wanted some salsa for their chips.

The moments that followed this request will forever be etched in my mind.  As I watched the ensuing panic as the homeowner made every provision possible to ensure that the aforementioned salsa would not be spilled on her white carpet, I realized that, while the deep desire of her heart had been to invite all of these people into her home to celebrate her special day, she was missing the moment.  As if ruined carpet might stain the day.

I realized in that moment how easy it is for each of us to miss what we truly have when we have it right in front of us, because of our desire for perfection in the surrounding details.  Our own little definition of perfection. 

And today, as I sit at home with my two young daughters, cooped up inside for yet another snow day, I'm thinking about how much I had longed for a family of my own.   And now that I have it, I so often miss what I have.  As if dirty clothes strewn throughout the house and "Mommy, I don't like this dinner that took you two hours to make" might ruin the gift that is my family.  So I'm reminded to see what I have while I have it.  And to see it for what it is.  A beautiful gift.  A family.  Dirty clothes, picky eaters and all.

I'm unwrapping the gift that is today along with lots of other awesome bloggers over at Tuesdays Unwrapped.  Hope you check it out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quiet, Still, Strong

Isaiah 30:15
"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:

'In repentance and rest is your salvation,

in quietness

and trust

is your strength."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Change of Perspective

Thankful. Hmmmm. Struggling to find it. All kinds of excuses to not even look for it. . . Winter blues. Too many trips to the pediatrician already this year. The mouse that found its way into the drawer at the bottom of my oven and left me lots of little deposits to clean up.


It's winter. And I have good reason to stay inside and cuddle up with some coffee and a cozy blanket and watch videos all day with my sick kids. And there's so much beauty in the winter. The early-morning frozen trees after a below-zero overnight. Snowflakes. Rosy cheeks and hot chocolate after hours of playing in said snowflakes (when my kids are well, of course).


I have children. Two beautiful daughters who, although they get sick (way too often, in my opinion), love life and help me love it more than I already did before I knew them.


I have a home in the country. Where I have always dreamed of living. Two and a half acres of beauty surrounded by miles of Amish farmland and rolling hills. And. I. love. it. Even with mouse deposits in my bottom oven drawer.

Today is a Tuesday Unwrapped over at Chatting at the Sky, where all kinds of bloggers are unwrapping the beautiful in the mundane. So I've taken up the challenge to unwrap this kids-are-sick and it's-dreary-outside kind of day. And it's changed my perspective. And I can honestly say I. am. thankful.

Thanks for unwrapping it with me.
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