Posted on September 28, 2015
When I fear there is no way and no room, God squeezes encouragement into the treasured places of my heart.
Boy do I love to shop in bulk. Less trips to the store equals fewer times that I’m required to take two children with me that think they need everything that can be given a bar code and stocked on a shelf. I cherished the last stock-up so much that I couldn’t see over my cart. At the sight of me drenched in sweat from hauling it to the front of the store, the cashier asked,
“You fit this all in one cart?”
“Yep, but I can push two out…it’s OK,” I replied, laughing.
“Oh, good,” she laughed, “I’m glad you’re not opposed to the idea.”
The sense of achievement I felt as I drifted through the aisles checking things off of my grocery list faded to black when I opened up my freezer to assess the situation.
“Blast,” I said to myself…”one more box of waffles.”
Can I just spray some pixie dust in there and toss the waffles in, and just trust it’ll all work out? That’s what Lo would do. But she’s five. And I’m not a fairy.
My eyes drifted over to the ice cube bin.
“I’ll just have to use the ice maker until we eat all of these waffles….” I self-comprised.
Life is full to the brim with these significant badges of motherhood. I’ve always been encouraged by the fact that each mother is picked specifically for the children she is tasked to raise. For this mom called to “stay home,” the struggle to remain content in God’s promise came under fire the day I dropped my last my baby girl off at all-day Kindergarten. I became restless, and started to let the door of the comparison trap creak to a close.
My daughters witness every reaction. They ask loads of questions and demand explanations. They increase in beauty and brilliance with every passing day, and my overwhelming and impossible responsibility to lead them follows suit.
“Will they value their ability to inflict change upon the world if they only see me affect these four walls we live within?”
In these moments I rush to fill my cart up to the brim in panic, and attempt to shove extra waffles in the freezer…when instead I should be reminding myself of God’s promise. The tendency to add things to my life and my schedule in absence of my focus becomes tantalizing and tempting…
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
God is a God of encouragement, and He will interrupt my meddling to nudge my heart in subtle situations. Like when my daughter grabbed a paint brush and wrote “love” on a rain barrel…
“Doesn’t that make you proud?” Came the encouragement delivered from a friend. Messaged received. I’m not failing.
Those God-sent seeds of encouragement run a variable risk of floating to the bottom of my Tervis full of ice water no mater how proficient I become at extracting them with my lemon juice squeezer thingy. But all is not lost, I end up sucking up a lemon seed up through the straw at least once every day. And as I spit it into the sink, I think,
“Why on earth don’t they make the lemon squeezy thing big enough to catch all the seeds?!”
It drives me nuts, and I’m pretty sure I’ve swallowed enough seeds to have a lemony fresh forest growing in my abdomen somewhere. My daughters are constantly spitting lemon seeds at me, but theirs are the kind that crunch between my teeth before I notice them swishing around a midst my swig of water.
“How do babies get in your belly… Why do people move… Why does it take so long to get ready for school in the morning (OK, that’s my question)… I miss kitty … Do we come back as angels after we die… It’s too hard … Mom, you know that you are the one who is in charge of losing your temper, right?”
The seeds I allow to grow into lemony freshness are determined by the truth I align them with.
Paul encouraged Timothy to ” …hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, known from whom you learned [them]” -2Timothy 3:14. Timothy learned his faith from observing his mother, Eunice…who in turn learned her faith from observing her mother, Lois. (2Timothy 1:5).
I am already doing a better job than I think.
In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy of his salvation in Jesus Christ, and the knowledge and treasures of the Word that have been stored in his heart since childhood.
God reverted my mind from spitting seeds to find room for the box of frozen waffles…in the ice cube bin.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (NIV), So that the man of God may e complete an proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” -2Timoty 3:16-17 (AMP)
It was there all along…I just didn’t see it. Seeing the space doesn’t always eliminate the frustration of wanting to live up to something that requires more than I feel built to deliver…but it’s a comfort. Life’s going to spit lemon seeds at me at a rapid rate until my time here expires. I can’t prevent that from happening to me or my children. And through the tears that are simply a product of the journey, I keep moving. I keep praying. I keep looking for more space. I look to God’s Word. I pray for His help.
To grow. To learn. To love.
To be the best mom than I can humanly manage to be on this day, and trust in the journey He has set up to be mine alone. Did you know that a monarch chrysalis has a shimmer of gold on it? I didn’t either, until I took a hike with my kids in the woods. What an amazing fight that butterfly has to go through just to become a butterfly…and one of the most beautiful at that, if you ask me. Kids have a way of stopping us mid-battle to reflect back on a beautiful moment.
I wonder on lots of day if I’ve done it right…tried hard enough…been smart enough…set the right example…but I realize even if I reached the bar I’d then, in turn, reach for a higher rung. Being content in the journey is anything but easy, but having faith in my Lord is.
It’s a joyful struggle. It’s a worthy fight. It’s a purpose I’ll fully understand one day beyond the stars.
“Point your kids in the right direction- when they’re old they won’t be lost.” -Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)
Category: Christian Living, Encouragement, Parenting Tagged: christian, feezer, food, groceries, kids, lemons, mom, Parenting, shopping
Posted on April 2, 2015
“Mom, I’m sooooooo hungry,” came the voice promptly at 6:15 am from my four year old daughter, Lo.
“Ok, Ok,” I responded sleepily,” let’s go get you some breakfast.
Normally, my little one wakes up about an hour before everyone else’s alarms go off, pitter patters into my room, crawls onto my bed, steals half my pillow, and soaks up some cuddles before she starts her day. It’s honestly my favorite way to wake up, and every morning I utter prayers of thanks for those cherished moments, and pleadings for her to stay little forever. I know all too well how those morning cuddles are fleeting. My older daughter now sleeps like a brick through her alarm most mornings.
“Ok Lo,” I said to her as I poured she and her sister a bowl of cereal, “you can’t just eat the marshmallows. You have to eat the cereal, too.”
“OK MOM!” little Lo stated matter-of-factly, and back upstairs I went to start getting the family ready for the day.
By the time my oldest daughter, not such a morning person, got ready and went down to eat her breakfast, little Lo had already bounced back up the stairs to get dressed and brush her teeth. She passed her Daddy on the stairs, on his way to have a relaxed cup of coffee on his Friday morning off of work.
It was then that I heard the following arguement waft up the stairs…
“Dadda, there’s not enough marshmallows in my cereal,” Brianne complained.
“Brianne, that’s rediculous,” he stated. “Eat the bowl of cereal that your mom poured you.”
(To my husband’s credit, silly morning conundrums are not out of the ordinary for her, so he launched into the normal parenting tecnique.)
“But can’t I just have Cheerios instead?” she pleaded. “There’s like, no marshmallows in here!”
While my husband continued to reprimand Brianne, sending her flying out of the kitchen in tears, I sauntered over to Lauren’s room. Happily humming a tune as she got dressed, I interrupted,
“What Mom,” she answered in a way-too-happy, I-just-got-away-with-something- tone.
“Did you pick all of the marshmallows out of your sister’s bowl of cereal?” I pryed…already knowing full well that’s what had happened.
Little Lo smiled, giggled, and then confessed, “I just couldn’t help it, Mommy!”
Both of us in total laughter by this point, she added, “THEY ARE JUST SO DELICIOUS!!!”
I flew down the stairs to rescue Brianne from her plight, and pour her a new bowl of cereal. Explaining to her and to my husband what had happened, trying to get them all to join in on the laugh. Brianne was content to swipe her sister’s purple vitamen and replace it with an orange one…thinking she’d surely evened the score. My husband was confused as to why no one was going to be held accountable for their behavior.
“It’s 7:30 in the morning,” I explained, “Do you really want every woman in this house in tears before school?”
There are so many instances in life when I want to pick the marshmallows off the top. Times when I feel like taking a shortcut, and others when I put in the effort, the work, and the discipline…realizing that the outcome is still out of my hands. Parenting has given me a front row seat to this show for seven years now, just as my passion for running throughout my life.
“I’ll try, and see how far I get,” I said, responding to the possibility of running a marathon.
“You’re going to run a lot of ‘halfs’ in training for a full,” George told me, when I asked him to help coach me through my attempt at the half-marathon. (My cousin is a distance runner, too, and is running the Boston Marathon again in 2015.) I nodded and laughed in response, but agreed.
All along, I doubted that my back would allow me the opportunity to run that far. (If you’ve kept up with me on this blog, you know why…if not…just know it’s not conducive for a marathon runner. In fact, it was in the shape of an ‘S’ the last time it was x-rayed, but no longer fused at the bottom…which is a literal miracle. Praise God.) Fear and anxiety nagged me every long run day. Six miles, seven miles, eight, ten, eleven…and as a the distance I originally set out to conquer faded into the entries of my training log…thirteen. (13.34, to be exact.)
I’m so knicked up, it’s become more practical to take an ice bath than to rotate the ice pack around every 20 minutes. Yet, as I write this entry I am attempting to prepare for a 15 mile long run. The doubt is creeping in and magnifying every pain that I have…exploiting every weakness I struggle with… tempting me to give into the fear, instead of trusting in the faith has carried me this far. Faith that “can do anything…far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.” (Ephesians 3:20) Like, maybe, run 13 miles.
In the spirit of Lent, imagine if Jesus just picked all the marshmallows out of the cereal bowl. What if he only liked the sweet, brightly colored parts of me? When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethseneme, he said that “His soul was overwhelmed with sorry to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) On the way to Jerusalem, he told his disciples that he would be betrayed. (Matthew 20:18) As he made his way to the cross, “Those who passed by hurled insults at him.” (Mark 15:29) He was spit at and hit, his clothes torn. (Matthew 26:67) He was beaten, and given a crown of thorns. (Mathew 27:28) He carried his own cross up to Golgotha and was crucified. (John 19:17-18) There were no marshmallows in Jesus breakfast on that day.
Simply imagining a morning without cuddles from my daughters brings tears to my eyes. Recalling the sacrifice that God made…I guess that’s why God is God.
He has encouraged me through every stride. Through my cousin’s advice and encouragement, friends and neighbors that encourage me in conversation, Facebook comments, and high fives. Through a high school teammate who responded to my Facebook post about GPS watches, mentioning that he listens to sermons while he runs. While I logged a 10 mile, 11 mile, 13 mile…run, I learned through Moodswingers how to “beat burnout” and shift my attitude. To focus on God’s voice in moments when the other is picking me a part. (Crash the Chatterbox). To push through “weakness of the flesh” (“The Genius of Jesus.”), and become the healthy person I was designed to be (The Daniel Plan). Marshmallows.
“He is not waiting for you to cross the finish line first. He is smiling at you as you run the race.” The Daniel Plan.
“I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Phil. 4:13
“Push through what you dread to get to what you love.” Pastor Steven Furtick
Marshmallow. (I think that one was a purple moon…)
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corintheans 10:31
“God whispers to us in our pleasure but shouts to us in our pain.” CS Lewis.
Marathon training has revealed itself to be such a painful, unfathomable, anxiety-filled, and incredibly joy-filled task. It’s bringing me closer to God, because it keeps the conversation going. I need Him out there on the road..to survive every stride. With every step forward….every mile I run…every distance I complete that I felt terrified to try…the roots of my faith extend into the ground a little further.
When Jesus died on the cross, He died so we may live. He ate the whole grain cereal, so that we could enjoy the marshmallows. When I choose to let Him lead me through parts of life that I am the most afraid of…guide me through situations I don’t know how to handle…pray to Him for help I cannot give myself…I get to experience His love. I celebrate Easter because Jesus rose from the dead of that cross. His tomb was empty. God made the impossible, possible. For the love of his son. For the love of his people. For the love of you.
(…I decided to add an update to this entry before I click on publish. God willing, I completed that 15 mile run, and the following week a 17 miler. Never stop praying.)
“Maybe one day we’ll see that the greatest setbacks in our lives were setups to seeing God’s glory in places we didn’t even know to look.” Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church.
Posted on June 9, 2011
“Eat your Cheerio’s before they get soggy.”
After a brisk morning run, that’s how my day begins …every day.
We all endure tests throughout life. They shape our character and reflect all the repeated quotations that have stuck to and motivated us throughout our lives.
“Be a leader.” “Don’t Worry.” “Just Run.” “Don’t judge.” “Be Happy.”
We accumulate all this knowledge and then start scheming on how to get our kids to catch on to it faster than we did. And then the kids arrive…and everything we ‘planned’ to do becomes comical when blasted in the scope of reality. Things that were once fun now take so long to get ready and unready for that it swallows up the fun and spits it out into a poopy diaper. Where’s the inspirational quote to deal with that?
Life’s beautifully challenging.
My latest? Dinner. And how to get my kid to eat it. How about that one? Isn’t there a famous mom somewhere that has a motivational quote to get your 3 year old to eat? Bah. ha. ha.
Regardless of what food I feed her, it takes a minimum of an hour and 45 minutes for her to eat dinner. Every single night I bother, ignore her, bribe her, threaten her to get her to eat her mother loving dinner. I cannot follow the advice of the parenting magazines and let her go hungry …or offer her an alternative to make herself. Please… Not. Going. To. Happen.
In light of her older sister’s poor example, my 11 month old (who started to refuse to eat mashed up food at 7 months) continues to eat everything I cut up into pieces for her …with one tooth.
My latest tactic is ‘The Take Away.” No dinner? No blanket. No dinner? No ballet. Which at the moment is crushing for her …she dances all over the house in tutu’s and grass skirts and hasn’t even taken a class yet.
In the midst of the chaos I try to relax the situation with some conversation, and ask her if she dreams of being a ballerina one day. (…because I’m a mom, and inside I am dying to encourage her to follow her dreams …which she’ll most likely read as me being too pushy …it’ll be awesome.) She just looked at me puzzled, trying to pull the literal answer out of her butt …or her nose. Then she broke out into giggles as her little sister spiked her hair up with spaghetti sauce. Her reaction made me think back a few months ago, when she told her then 9 month old sister to “Stop looking at me.”
Chill out, mom.
“Stop looking at me.” Isn’t that how we all feel, sometimes?
But lately when I feel that way it’s causing me to stop and look harder. To sit back, calm down, and relish in the moment. Just as fast as 11 years have gone by since I stepped on the track to do a workout (which I did this week …streak over …legs sore.), soon my daughters will be dating, graduating, leaving, and the quiet will cause me to take on such a fury of hobbies I’ll most likely go insane. Maybe it’s just time to bump wine time up a little bit, sit back and let the madness unfold. So what if dinnertime is 2 hours of minuscule bites, giggle breakouts between sisters, 15 spill disasters, and anything but eating…
I will miss this.
Ok, so now my babies are eleven and nine …Brianne still dreams of and lives for ballet. Lo is still biggest crack up we’ve ever known. Dinnertime is still obnoxious and now we have a dog who’s paws up on the table just waiting for someone to sneak her a bit that’s too chewy or crunchy. Most mornings I’m up before everyone else for coffee and QUIET. This momma is NOT doing track workouts, but did run a half marathon last fall. (I’m averaging a year of rest into between races to pay homage to all the injuries that occur in my oldness. Shhh -It’s fine.) I’m savoring every crazy minute of all of it. It’s going fast. We’ve got a junior high kid in the house this year. Both my girls are beautiful, fierce and brilliant which terrifies their dad into complete denial as the boys start to notice. Life is not easy, hardly ever, but always worth it. Soggy Cherrios and everything.
Category: Parenting Tagged: Parenting, static, throwbackpost
Posted on March 8, 2011
Ahhh, the beginning of Track season. 32 degrees, but the sun was out and the wind was dead. “Shorts and T-Shirt” weather, as one of our brightest observed. My view of the track has always been linked closely with pain…and joy…and hurt…and triumph…and nausea…and pride…and…well, you get the picture.
From the other side of the track as a volunteer coach, I recalled my initiation into track at fifteen. A green pea, I thought over a decade of ballet wold lend me the coordination and speed it took to be a hurdler. Yet, I took notice of how much fun the distance runners had out on their runs… and I fell over a lot of hurdles.
I laughed as some of our Cross Country runners deserted the distance crew to be sprinters, and wondered what painful episode caused the sudden change in heart.
Quickly pulled back to reality by my run-away child, I caught the glance of every non-parent in the weight room as she stumbled hazardly through bars and leg press machines.
Practice rolled on, and I fed my 8 month old a bottle while attempting to coax my stubborn ‘almost-3” year old down from the bleachers, I collected goals and last week’s mileage from the distance runners. Learn new names, calculate workout paces, establish new goals…and chase after my 3 year old who believes with all her little heart that she can keep up with the ‘runners’ as they exit the track to log some miles.
The thrill of the “chase” made me question my motives, Why coach? Why drag my 2 kids up to the track?
Truth? Track is a piece of me. My little peepsters misbehave and make the experience a wonderful combination of gut wrenching and embarrassment on some days, but being at the track never was a completely comforting experience.
I had drifted towards distance runners, just like I had at fifteen.
I always wonder how people know what their passion is. (Little kids on American Idol that say they’ve known since they were 2 they wanted to sing.) Perhaps it’s just what you gravitate to….what you love so much that any pain that goes along with it is overshadowed by the triumphs.
Maybe my daughters will learn to love distance running and it’s masochistic ways, too. If not in running than in something that they question why they love, until they are out there in it. I’m trying to instill an experience in them that will help shape their determination, by simply showing them who I am. I might not have it all figured out yet, but maybe that’s a good thing to accept early on in parenting.
Practice isn’t perfect, but it can make it.
Happy Track Season,
Category: Christian Living, Parenting Tagged: coach, commitment, daughters, distance running, Parenting, runners, running, Track