friends, God, Laughter, Life, Love, People, Uncategorized

It Matters. (Found this in some old files of things I had written a few years ago)

I stayed home from work today.  I felt somewhat achy, was it headache?  Was it a tummy ache? I wasn’t quite sure, but I stayed home.  The thought of sitting at my desk pushing papers to and fro, and answering the endless phone calls was all too much to face.  I gave into the aches and pains that usually disappear within moments of my fifty-three year old feet hitting the floor.

After the hustle and bustle of one daughter off to college and work for the day, another daughter starting her second week of her sophomore year and my sweet hubby heading off to work, the house was at last quiet.  I sat on the couch still in my nightgown and looked around my “lived in” house.  “Lived in” is my daughters favorite line to use when I am on a rampage about the house being messy.  “Mom, it doesn’t matter, it just looks lived in?”, they will say.  They don’t understand the inner pressure I struggle with to make my home look like a Better Homes & Garden magazine, or worse, Pinterest!  “It matters to me” I will tell them and then I set off on a mission to clean every nook and cranny.

I sat there on that couch for an hour, in the quiet, just thinking.  I thought about my life and the road I have been travelling for the last fifty-three years.  It isn’t playing out exactly as I had planned.  That sounds like I am unhappy, but I am not, though I am finding myself at a crossroads.  Many parts of my perfect plan have come to fruition.  I am happily married to a wonderful man who loves me more than I ever imagined being loved.  He makes me laugh, he understands me to the best of his ability as a man to understand a woman, and he supports me.  I have three amazing daughters.  The oldest is newly married, the middle daughter is in college and the youngest is in high school.  They are strong in their faith and they are living it out.  Nothing could make me more proud. I attend a wonderful church with many longtime friends.  I have been on mission trips and I have taught Sunday School  for high school girls long enough that I am now teaching the teenagers of the students I taught years ago.  Frightening!

We have experienced hardships just like everyone else.  God has blessed us time and time again.  He has met our needs even when we probably didn’t deserve to have those needs met.  We have learned so much as a married couple and as a family about God’s grace and mercy.  All this matters.

Five years ago I went to work full time after working five years part time.  Our daughters were getting older and more expensive.  My husband had experienced a lay-off from a job he had been at for nearly ten years and had started over at a new company.  Financially it seemed the right thing to do.  Up to that point I had only worked twenty hours a week to help out our finances.  The full time employment came at a time we were really struggling.    Now five years later I am still working full time, mostly because we have become accustomed to the extra money.

This full time employment had never been part of the plan.  I was supposed to have finished my first book, become published and obtained a lucrative book deal for additional sequels.  The plan also consisted of me becoming a women’s speaker and ministering to women through conferences and retreats.  This kind of work mattered.

I got up from my place of contemplation on the couch and decided to do something that matters.  I got to work cleaning up the house.  I made beds, I washed some clothes, I organized a cabinet and I even straightened up the girl’s bathroom.  I had forgotten what it was like to be home in the middle of the day.  The house was peaceful and I was getting so much done.  The last time I had been home during the day on a regular basis was when my youngest was four years old.

At 3:00pm my fifteen year old came in from school.  We sat and talked for an hour about school, friends, homework and anything else that came to her mind.  Things got quiet for a moment and she suddenly said, “I like you being home when I get home from school.”  Then she was off to her room to take a short nap.

I sat there a while longer thinking about that moment.  It won’t be long till she is graduating and then off to college.  This is what matters.  It matters that I am there for her when she comes home.  It doesn’t matter if we have lots of extra money to spend.  Being there for her is what matters.  Preparing my home is what matters.  Serving others is what matters.  Seeking God above all else is what matters.  This is not what the world preaches through every social and public media.  It is subtle.  It is constant.  But it ways in heavy on what really matters.  We become confused about what is important.  We strive to have it all and do it all.  We push our children to be involved in everything and to maintain great grades while forgetting that they sometimes just need to be kids.  We feel like failures when we haven’t achieved some kind of recognized symbol of an extraordinary woman who is perfect at parenting, leading and achieving, all while providing healthy meals, a spotless, well designed home and meaningful moments all chronicled on social media for all to admire.

I cannot compete with the ideal that floats around in my head of how I should be doing everything.  It’s too exhausting.  I will never live up to my expectations.  The realty of life is that my house is not always clean, I do not have a particular set of skills that allows me to have every room decorated and looking magazine worthy.  I am not a great cook!  There I said it.  I have go to meals that are no longer considered healthy or “Keto friendly” or any other kind of healthy friendly.  I don’t have a deep desire to be a chef.  I probably won’t be the granny cooking up amazing treats and creating lasting memories.  I will probably never be a published writer.  As of this writing, I have yet to have the children’s book I wrote achieve even one request for further chapters.

Loving, talking, laughing, hugging are things that matter.  Nurturing is what matters.  Encouraging faith in a God who loves unconditionally and who sacrificed His Son just so we could spend eternity with Him matters.  Cheering each other on matters.  Calling a friend matters.  Writing a note matters.  Listening matters.  Spending time with our sweet Savior matters.  Not measuring ourselves against the world’s standards matters.

Our family is FAR from perfect.  We are loud.  We laugh inappropriately sometimes.  We may be a little judgmental at times.  No one is brilliant.  No one is incredibly talented.  Not one of us will be famous.  We are not rich.  But what matters is we love each other.  We talk about everything.  Our girl’s poor fellas probably find the constant conversation overwhelming sometimes, but we all know what everyone else thinks about everything!  We share meals, we share vacations, we share last minute road trips.  We support their activities, we beam with pride at their accolades.  We go to church together.   I love how my youngest daughter once told us, “Not all families are like ours!  We are freakishly close.”  If freaky means we love each other and we are in constant communication with each other, that  we talk a lot, we laugh, we cry, we fight.  We hug and make-up.  Then yes we are freakishly close.

There is one thing that matters.  Love.

Uncategorized

Rest

I am floundering around in a new place in my life. I became unemployed the first of September. That experience alone is it’s own blog entry. For a month now I’ve been trying to figure out what my next steps were. God has allowed me to be thrown for a loop, left standing empty handed staring up at the heavens. I’m 56 years old. I have accomplished no great earth shattering feat, nor have I written some great masterpiece that touched the hearts of all who read it. Even yesterday as I drove down the road, I was pondering the thought that I don’t sit and write anymore! Not even to blog. My soul is still. My heart thoughtful. My mind is chasing so many thoughts that I am struggling to settle on one path to walk down. I have felt lost….not knowing what direction is the right one. I have felt guilty for not pounding the streets to find a job. I have sat in front of my laptop trying to decide if I pound that super highway for a job, or put words to a word document expressing this strange season I have stepped into… and then done neither. I have sat quietly thinking about what I want to do…. and been clueless! I took a road trip to the island to get clarity from the sounds of the waves and the beach. As I sat there, feeling awkward sitting on the beach in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, I cried out to God. Out loud! Thankfully I was enjoying solitude on my portion of that sandy heaven. I heard only one word in that moment “rest”. I said “What?” I stayed there for an hour, both confused and a little agitated that this was all He gave me. I needed more explanation. I needed clarification. I needed Him to elaborate!

I wish I could tell you seven days later that I get what He was saying. But I do not. Does He even see my life right now? Does He even see my financial situation right now. He is an amazing God. I love Him. I desire to know Him better. I want to glorify and honor Him with my life everyday. But God, could you just be a little more specific! And just for the record, you and I both know I am not good at this “resting” thing! Instead my thoughts are: Why do I need to rest? What’s coming down the road? Isn’t resting also being lazy? I don’t know! Now I’m more uptight than before!!!

So. This blog post will have to be continued” as I chew on this while “rest” thing, and try to understand what He is telling me!!

friends, God, Laughter, Life, Love, People, promises, Uncategorized, Writing

What I want this Mother’s Day….

If I could truly have a wish this Mother’s Day, I would wish to have my own Mom back. Sitting close beside me on her couch, magazine in her lap, nail file in her hand shaping her already perfect nails and softly laughing as we talk.  She’d reach over and take my hand and begin shaping my nails, telling me I should slow down and take time for a manicure.  But she is not here to wrap her arms around me, to rub my back as she holds me, whispering in my ear that everything will be okay and that He is in control.  

What I want this Mother’s day is not a fancy dinner, it’s not jewelry or a gift card.  I want grace.  A boat load of it.  Grace that covers the million mistakes I made over the last twenty-five years.  Grace that covers the ridiculous idea that I had to do everything right in order for my daughters to turn out right.  Grace that covers too many times I gave into the frustration and yelled at them.  Grace that erases my inconsistencies and my unrealistic ideas.  Grace that would replace my mistakes with perfect responses and patient replies.  Grace that would take my lame attempts at teaching them the Word of God and turn them into precious moments that ingrained a deep desire to follow after Him their entire lives.  Grace for the moments I collapsed in an overwhelmed heap of tears and cried out to Him asking Him to fix something.  I need more grace….and maybe a bubble bath.

 

 

Laughter, Life, People, Uncategorized, Writing

Just when I think I’m a loser Mom…..

Just when I think I'm a loser Mom.....

These 3 beautiful girls surrounding me are mine, well mine and their Daddy’s, but they’re my baby girls. Yes, they all tower over me. But I’m still the Mama! I have struggled as if riding some winding, hill climbing, free falling roller coaster with the overwhelming responsibility of raising godly, stable, grounded, loving, kind, strong, unwavering, God loving daughters that can change the world. You see why I am often overwhelmed….the bar has been set high! And not having conquered all of these desirable traits myself, I am not sure I am equipped to raise them in a way that they are set apart for the Lord. I wrestle with the expectations that our home should be a place of peace and tranquility, and because of our love for each other and the Lord, there is no fussing, no disregard, no lack of respect, no inconsideration, and NO YELLING. Yes, I know, what alternative universe am I thinking we live in!! The reality is the dynamics of 2 teenage and 1 young adult (+ the mama) hormonal females living in close quarters, sharing 1 bathroom, going to school, work, social functions and knowingly and unknowingly sharing clothes causes a constant state of, well, friction! There is lots of loving, yelling, laughing, crying, dramatics, and even some times physical battles that occur on a minute by minute basis in our home. These beautiful girls are all strong….you just have no idea! All fighting for their own way, their own will while still trying to figure out this faith walk. This week has been filled with extreme moments that I am quite sure are contributing to graying hair I see in the mirror every morning.
Our youngest was in a week long try out for volleyball with daily cuts. She lasted till the second cut. The word devastated doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere that permeated her bedroom and demeanor. The world had ended. Life was over. I tried to encourage and make things better, only to be sliced into little pieces for my effort. That happens sometimes when you’re a Mom… A day and a half later, all is better and she is recovering and moving on. I have put my pieces back together again and have also moved on!
But the point of this blog “Just when I think I’m a loser Mom…”, and there is a point if you were beginning to wonder, is this. My oldest just applied to nursing school, for the 2nd time. She has worked so diligently the last 2 semesters, harder than I’ve ever seen her work. She has juggled A&P 1 and A&PII at the same time, along with working at a clinic and dating all at the same time. To get in to the program you have to achieve points thru a standardized test, then high grades in the pre-req classes. In the end we were confident that she would have “B’s” in both A&P courses, as well as the “B” she got in Microbiology. (As a side note, the names and idea of these courses both impress and terrify me! I don’t know how she does and likes it!). Anyway. It’s finals week. She studied a ridiculous amount of hours. She looked online on Tuesday and she saw a posted grade for A&P1….it was a “C”. She was heartbroken. I was heartbroken. Her Dad was heartbroken. This child has pushed harder, worked harded and perservered harder than I would have. She has been determined to be a nurse. She called me, and I could hear the quiver in her voice. She began talking about a Plan B. My heart sunk. I told her to email the professor and ask how she got a “C” when she had an 83/B the week before. She just had to know. No answer on Wednesday. The application had been submitted a week ago. The decision whether she gets in or not will be in June. On Wednesday, she called me again, this time she was in her car and she was crying. “Mom, I just heard this song on KLOVE, the words Mom, the words, I think they were from God for me. “I will trust in you, you’ve never let me down before”. Mom, I just have to trust.” She was still crying, but she had had one of those moments we all know about….that moment when you are struggling so deeply with something, and at the perfect moment God steps in and orchestrates a message, verbally, whether thru music or someone else, that changes you somehow. It allows you breathe and cry in wonder that the omnipotent God above heard you, saw you, and cared to let you know He’s got this. She was at peace, not matter what happens. So yesterday, she calls me, not crying this time, but shaky and joyful and ecstatic. The teacher had responded with an apology for making a mistake on her grade. My baby had made a 91 on her final (I’m impressed because I cannot even pronounce most of what she has me call out to her from her index cards!). Her posted grade for the semester in A&PI should have been a “B”. She called the school to let the nursing advisor know that the grade change was coming. When the advisor pulled her application, someone had already put down the “C”. She made notes and changed it to a “B”. So now we wait. But we wait knowning that no matter which way it goes, we experienced God’s intervention and that He has a plan for her life and she will trust Him in it.
My middle daughter is transferring colleges…again. There has also been some struggles between us over her current relationship. It’s been one of the most difficult things we have had to deal with. But, we are all growing from it. She is learning that she has to deal with our honest opinion and we are learning that she is growing up and may not always listen to us. Finding a place we can all live in peace over this has it’s challenges.
Last night I found myself sitting on my middle daughters bed having a long talk over the situation, then the oldest and the baby were there and we sat in a little “sharing circle” as the baby called it and we talked about a plethora of things, laughing and chatting. But I listened to them say things that made my heart swell with pride, for they are strong young women, trying to figure out this faith walk, speaking confidently, desiring to be in God’s will while trying to figure how to know that will.
I share this to say, I, at 52, am learning that no stinking family is perfect, there are no guarantees and loud chatter, dramatic hormonal episodes and such is normal in a family (with 3 girls anyway!). I can look in their faces, forget about the clothes scatter all over their rooms, the wet towels left on the bathroom floor, the make-up & hair paraphanalia that covers the counters, cups and glasses left in the living room, the dirty clothes piled in the laundry room, the late nights, the disagreements about relationships and expectations and see that they are amazing young women who are becoming beautiful, godly young women who will change the world!

Uncategorized

I Am a Writer

I listened to the quiet.  It was summer and my children lay in blissful slumber.  I slowly got up and walked to the bathroom. Stopping in front of the mirror I looked at the woman before me. “Who are you?” I thought, leaning closer to get a better look.  “Who are you?” I asked out loud this time.  The sleepy face in the mirror stared back at me confused.

I looked down at the counter at the photos I had found the night before.  Staring up at me was a fresh faced eighteen year old.  “Who are you?” I asked the girl in the photo.  She smiled, her hair perfect, skin flawless, eyes full of expectation.  Aspirations of becoming a famous writer sought after by every agent in the publishing industry flooded through my mind.  I looked back at the woman standing in the bathroom mirror and back at the girl in the picture.  Were they the same person?  Twenty-five years had changed everything.  The woman in the mirror had hair sprinkled with gray….highlights, she jokingly told her friends.  Freckles covered her face from sun exposure.   Eyes now surrounded by little creases, looked very tired.  Weight gain from pregnancies had not disappeared as hoped, and her face had become rounder.  “Who are you” I asked her once again, agitated that no answer came.  Suddenly I heard a voice “You don’t know either, huh?”  Did I say that?  Did she say that?

Where was that girl in the picture from twenty five years ago?  Marriage, babies, potty training, laundry, ball practices, school projects, dinners, the list was endless.  It had been years since I had sat down to put words on paper.  “When did you get so old and fat?” I asked her.  She frowned this time.  Then I heard the words “Are you writing?”

Tears filled my eyes.  Memories of dreams, tucked deep in my heart came flooding back.  A dream that might not be worth removing and dusting off, I thought.  “Tend your dreams” the words of a writer friend rang in my ears.

Then, as if someone was standing next to me, I heard “Dana, your real excuse is fear.  Fear that you won’t be good enough, fear that you will fail.”  This was too much, I backed up and sat down on the side of the tub and began to cry.  I was afraid.  Afraid that it was just one of those dreams never realized.  The voice returned “What are you going to do about it?”  I sat there for some time thinking, then from somewhere deep within, a renewed passion began to stir and a renewed strength found its voice and declared  “I am going to write. Good or bad, I am going to write.  Talent or not, I  am going to write.  Published or not, I am going to write.”

Joy bubbled up from somewhere.  I stood and looked at the woman in the mirror.  There was new sparkle in her eyes, her cheeks were flushed and she had a smile on her face.  Walking closer to the mirror, I looked intently at her and introduced myself, “Hello, I’m Dana and I am a writer.”