Tag Archives: kids

The Raw Struggles of a Homeschool Mom

2 May

I make plans. They look so good on paper. I feel optimistic, like maybe I could actually get all the stuff done that needs to get done. I’m not being unrealistic. Maybe ambitious, but not ridiculous, right?

Then life happens, and I am forced to admit that yes, any ambition in my season of life with my specific kids is ridiculous. If it’s not the baby crying or needing a nap, it’s the toddler/preschooler throwing another tantrum and becoming the wedge pulling me in multiple directions. And if it’s not him, it’s my big girls complaining about school or whining about my making them clean up the messes they’ve made. And if it’s not them, it’s the dog chewing up a poopy diaper or my husband venting frustration that he can’t find the tools that HE moved. NO ONE COOPERATES. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE ASSIGNMENT.

I feel good on the days we actually do more for school than just math and reading. Not just because I feel like the girls are learning more, but also because those extras are fun. They’re creative, and not just the “bang it out so you’re done” school.

But those days are few and far between. 

This season of life — baby who won’t nap without being held and wakes up 4-5 times a night (on a good night); preschooler who is intense, loud, and over-dramatic; homeschooling 1st and 3rd grade; husband who could be (and should be) working 60 hours a week — is breaking me. Both Travis and I are being swallowed up by so much stress and chaos that we might go down with the ship, and never recover. 

What does God want? Put aside the voices of other homeschooling moms, and even my own standards, and ask, What does God want from my day? Does He want me to follow the schedule I’ve laid out in my planner, forging the path no matter who I mow down or flatten? Or would He rather me walk in obedience, which looks like trust and patience? No yelling, no forcing, no threatening. Just clear expectations, and appropriate follow through.

I can’t live that way. That’s my first response. Because how would anything get done? And how can I keep my cool when they are so stinking disobedient?!

But what if, just like tithing is an expression of trusting God to materially provide what we need, acting in love and patience was an expression of trusting God to multiply the time? Trusting that what He wants us to get done WILL get done. And whatever does not get done, didn’t need to be done.

But I don’t want to surrender control to my schedule, and my agenda. I have surrendered everything else! I have surrendered my body, my time, my sleep. I have given up my hobbies, my lunch, my sanity. Must I also surrender this?!? 

“I just want to…” The death knell of those words. That’s what I was thinking this morning. “I just want to do school so we can be done!” And “I just want to go on a freaking walk!!” Those words are my discontentment. Those words are me saying to God, “I don’t want this life. You are not enough for me.” 

After studying Jesus’s awe-full sacrifice on the cross, how could I possibly say to my Lord that He’s not enough for me? I am not enough for Him!! He is everything for me, and more. 

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. I am so overwhelmed by emotions, by frustrations and feeling thwarted by my kids in every aspect of life. Help me see and believe that YOU ARE NEVER THWARTED. Your plans are ALWAYS accomplished. Do I believe that? Do I believe that Your plans for my kids will be accomplished? 

I don’t want to admit that I’ve been wrong. I don’t want to go back to my kids, with my tail between my legs, and say that *I* was the one in the wrong this morning. Because THEY…!!! But I must. I must repent. I must choose God’s way. I must surrender. If I want true freedom, true peace, true contentment, I must do it God’s way.

Give me the strength, Lord. Give me the kind of strength You had during your trial, beating, and crucifixion. Strength borne out of complete trust in the Father’s plan.

Hope: Don’t Give Up {2022 Focus}

23 Mar

My word for 2022 is HOPE. The subtitle for that word is Don’t Give Up. The Scripture God gave me for the word HOPE is Lamentations 3:21-23 —

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

An alternate translation of verse 22 is:

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”

It is God’s mercy to me that I am not consumed by this season of life (parenting four young kids and homeschooling). It is because of His compassion to me that I haven’t given up and curled into the fetal position indefinitely. There are so many moments, even whole days when I am tempted to. Because it all feels like too much. From my viewpoint, I am falling short in every area — parenting, homeschooling, homemaking, personal goals.

When one is trying so hard to do something right and well, but still meeting with failure, it would be understandable to just give up, right?

But God’s steadfast love prevents me from giving up. He sustains me by giving new mercies every morning, mainly in the form of HOPE.

The way I’m viewing HOPE is this: Hope doesn’t give up. Hope doesn’t look at the challenges before it and grow discouraged. Hope isn’t cynical or pessimistic. Instead, Hope continues to believe that things can change. Hope keeps showing up, pressing forward, living faithfully into God’s calling for that day. Hope accepts what God allows, even if it is not what was wanted.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to “call to mind” God’s mercies for HOPE so far this year.

When I want to work out in the morning, and be productive after the kids go to bed, but sleep deprivation from baby Neola makes extra sleep the greater priority, I have to remind myself of hope.

When I feel incapable and daunted by the thought of and need for potty training Corbin and sleep training Neola, I remind myself of hope.

When the girls are showing troublesome attitudes and Corbin is throwing yet another tantrum, and I am tempted to feel like I’ve failed them as a mother because of what I’ve allowed them to do, or acted like myself, I remind myself of hope.

My natural human reaction to these discouraging and overwhelming situations is self-pity. Like Oswald Chambers writes,

“Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity.”

(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

But HOPE reminds me that I don’t have to give up, or collapse in the face of these challenges. God gives new mercies. I can trust Him to keep providing, day by day, what I need. I can trust Him even if I don’t meet my goals, if I lose my temper again, if my house is a mess, if I can’t figure out how to get Neola to sleep better. My purposes may remain unfulfilled, but HIS purposes will be accomplished.

God’s provision of new mercies every day won’t mean that I wake up in the morning or enter different situations feeling competent or on top of things. I hardly ever feel that way, and I actually think that is intentional on God’s part. Jesus fed 5,000-plus people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He didn’t produce a banquet table laden with food. He just stretched the existing food farther. He takes the little that we have, and He makes it enough, as we need it.

As I’ve been digging into Lamentations 2:21-25, I read in a John Piper sermon transcript (from almost exactly 28 years ago),

“Our task today is not to have the strength needed for tomorrow’s burdens. Our task today is to live by the mercies given for today, and to believe that there will be new mercies for tomorrow. Today’s mercies do not include strength for tomorrow; they include faith that tomorrow’s unseen mercies will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

(John Piper, “Today’s Mercies for Today’s Troubles,” March 13, 1994)

I love that. Like the manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness, God gives just enough for each day. I must live in moment by moment dependence on Him. And because His provision of mercy for this day, this moment is always sufficient (and abundantly so!) for my need, I can always have HOPE.

Here’s to a hope-filled year.

Freedom in Christ

29 Feb

I wrote back in November that I planned to start going to counseling. Here I am, on the cusp of March, with 5 sessions under my belt. Has it been helpful? Yes. Has it been what I expected? Not really.

I think I expected my therapist to overthink things like I do, and to give me deep, meaningful, existential explanations to my problems. Instead, the way she has been challenging my thinking has been utterly practical and no-nonsense. When I lament about mounds of laundry, kids’ messes, or frozen pizza dinners, her response is, “So what? Is anyone going to die if they wear dirty clothes or eat frozen pizza for dinner?”

Obviously the answer is no, so that begs the question – then why do I care so deeply? Why does it bother me so much when my house is a mess, or the laundry is undone, or I failed again to plan dinner? Even as I’ve been doing the hard work of trying to let go and be more relaxed about things, I find that there’s a tipping point. I can ignore the mess in order to go play outside with my family, but if I come back inside to find that they’ve made another mess, I lose my crap.

I honestly cannot fully explain why I have this neurotic need for everything to be in its place. And frankly, sometimes I feel fully justified in being neurotic, because isn’t this the way God created me?! This is just who I am. But sometimes it feels like my need for control is controlling me, and I can’t stop being controlled even when I try. I was expressing this to God the other day and He brought Galatians 5:1 to mind,

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

It stopped me in my tracks.

In Christ, I have freedom. Freedom from my own need for control. I do not have to be a slave to my personality that desires organization and tidiness! Armed with that verse, I have the confidence to declare that I AM NOT A SLAVE TO CONTROL. Because of Christ, I can refuse to be dominated by my need for order, and I can instead prioritize relationships.

I have long tried to wage this battle equipped with my own paltry strength. Is it any wonder that I’m still struggling with the same old thing? But this verse has given me something new, infused my soul with gospel confidence. This is my birthright in Christ. This is what He has won for me! I get to live in freedom because of my Savior!

I told my husband about this, and encouraged him, “Please, if you see me going off the rails, remind me of this verse.” I am staking my claim to freedom in Christ, and I will not submit anymore to a yoke of slavery.

Coupled with this promise, I have decided to give up yelling at my kids for Lent. That has, unfortunately, long been the way I deal with the feeling of overwhelm and stress caused by my kids either not listening to me or getting out of control. So, no more yelling. (I am hoping to continue that beyond Lent too.) Instead, I want to pray. Out loud. Instead of screaming at my kids, “We need to go NOW! Get in the car or you will be in big trouble!” I want to say, “Father, we are late. And these kids are not listening to me. Help me maintain my patience and grace, and help motivate them to listen. I trust that we will get to wherever we are going and it will be ok that we are late.”

There’s a quote from Connected Families that I have on my computer desktop – “When kids misbehave, make obedience a secondary goal, and make accessing and walking in the fruit of the Spirit yourself the primary goal.” That is the idea behind “no yelling” – instead of relying on my own power and effort to accomplish, I run to God, confess my inability, and rest in His power to accomplish.

I put this into practice this past Thursday when my oldest daughter was not wanting to go to school, and threw a tantrum. We were 20 minutes late to school, but I walked out of dropoff with a smile on my face. Because I hadn’t yelled, but had instead connected with my daughter and found out that she just plain missed me, which is why she didn’t want to go to school. I am really looking forward to seeing how God works in me over the coming months.

I’ll end with just the amazing feeling that I have of God personally ministering to my soul. I feel so unworthy of even His sideways glance, let alone of His speaking into my struggles. Counseling has been helpful, but the Spirit is the ultimate Counselor.

Where I’m At Right Now…

20 Nov

It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything on this blog that hasn’t been an update on one of my kids. But today, I got my kids to school early (!) so I have a few minutes before work to put down some thoughts.

We’re in the throes of hunting season here in Minnesota, which means I’m at the nadir of my emotional and mental resources. Time and time again, year after year, October is balls-to-the-wall CRAZY busy and I enter November feeling like I could take a nap for a year and it would still be too short.

This year, hunting camp ended abruptly when I declared that I was sick and tired of being constantly stressed out, so we just up and left. My poor husband missed opening weekend of rifle season because my dad got remarried (I’m obviously from a non-hunting family), and then it didn’t work out for him to hunt during the week, and then the second weekend got cut short.

I’m stressed out because of busyness — no matter how much I have tried to create white space this year, it just is not happening. That is one of the great questions that has been rattling around in my brain this year: How do we do less, but not be selfish with our time? How do we serve others without overloading our family? 

I still haven’t figured it out. And from what I hear about other family’s schedules, we actually are less busy than most (which blows my mind). I want off the merry-go-round!!

I’m also stressed out by all the conflict in my life. All 3 kids fighting over toys. Various kids throwing various tantrums over various issues. It seems like at least one child is upset at any given time. Corbin crying because he wants another sucker, or to play with permanent markers, or who knows what else (seriously, sometimes I can. not. figure it out). My husband responding in a situation with a comment that he obviously didn’t think through, or cracking a joke in the middle of a serious conversation (not funny!), or swooping in with the dictator approach to a situation with the kids that I was handling thankyouverymuch.

This post is probably a downer, and honestly I’m not even sure why I’m posting it because I’ll probably read it later, and be like “What the?!?”. But my blog is called Life, REALLY for a reason. This is real life. Deep down, I know that I really have a very blessed life, with a wonderful, caring, thoughtful husband (he offered to leave deer camp for me); 3 creative, healthy kids; a beautiful house; a part-time job that I love; friends who care about us; and a God who died for me.

But I’ve reached a point where I’ve lost my emotional resiliency. I forget library day for my middle child AGAIN, and we’re running out of the house late for school AGAIN, and I forgot to do something important at work AGAIN, and I overreact to my kids not listening AGAIN, and I am just done. Done.

So I’m going to see a Christian counselor. I need professional help. My first appointment is the second week of December. I need someone outside of my life to speak into it. I need someone to connect the dots that are scrambled in my head. I need someone to authoritatively tell me that it’s ok to say no to good stuff, stuff that I should be doing, for the time that it takes for me to get my crap together. Or for that someone to tell me how I can serve others without neglecting my family.

Maybe my hopes are too high. I sure hope not. I know several other people who have received counseling for various issues, and they all say that it was the best thing they ever did, and they wish they would’ve done it sooner. Hopefully by next hunting season, I can look back and say the same.

2018 Focus: White Space

6 Feb

whitespace copy2017 was a crazy year…

Because of me. I made it one.

The whole year, my mantra was, “I just have to get through this/finish this/do this… THEN life will slow down and I can spend more time with my kids/have a consistent quiet time/read more books…” Except that following each one of those “had-to’s” (some my own doing, others expected of me) was another, and another, and another.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy with good, worthwhile things…

I decluttered our whole house, did a garage sale with friends, and we donated $500 to the Lakes Area Pregnancy Center.

I co-organized and hosted a pallet-painting craft night. I organized several events for our church group. I threw a baby shower for my brother and SIL.

I brought meals to families with new babies and other needs.

I served on the leadership teams of both my local MOPS group and our church group.

I worked 2 days a week and served in the church nursery once a month.

But the more important things suffered…

I had no consistent quiet time with God. I’ve been using the same journal since June of 2016, which for me is unheard of. To me, that shows how poorly I’ve prioritized my relationship with God as well as my mental health.

I went months without actually playing with my kids, or spending time outside. There were too many “When I finish this” and “I can’t right now” responses to my girls’ pleas to do something with them. Too many days of errand-running and just keeping the kids “occupied.”

By the end of the year, I was feeling crushed by obligations. I deeply desired a day to just BE and not have anything I had to do, but it seemed I always remembered something that was either already overdue or would be overdue if I waited. I felt bitter and boxed in by my life.

Life actually slowed down in December, giving me the chance to reflect and decide that this year…

I’m choosing White Space.

I’m going to Say No and Do Less.

I’m giving myself permission to not bend over backwards to meet every demand, see every person, milk every opportunity, and take every chance.

I’m letting myself step back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible.

I’m promising myself (and my husband) that I won’t plan any events this year, and will never do a garage sale again.

I’m setting up boundaries, limitations, and borders on my time and my family’s time, so that we can live out a schedule that aligns better with what we say our priorities are.

Because that’s the thing about busyness and no margin, regardless of how good the reason: they squeeze out the important for the sake of the urgent.

NO MORE.

Things may fall through the cracks. Balls may get dropped. Opportunities, untaken. Fun things, undone. Expectations, unmet.

But I’ll be gaining my own sanity. And spontaneous memories. Time with my family. Relaxation. Refreshment. Freedom from responsibility.

That’s not to say I won’t ever Say Yes and help others. I don’t think that’s what God wants. But I will Say Yes with a much more intentional mindset, remembering that a Yes to one thing is a No to something else. My time is finite, and I can only do so much. And I want to Say Yes to my family more.

WHITE SPACE. It’s about time.

A Psalm for Moms

19 Jan

God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

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Though everything I do immediately gets undone,

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Though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

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Though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.IMG_6046 IMG_6047

“God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble. 

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Though its waters roar and foam,

Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

(Psalm 46:1-3)

20 Ways Dogs Are Like Kids

5 Dec

While having dogs for 4 years and being around young kids often, I’ve noticed a few similarities…

1. They always want whatever toy someone else has. Doesn’t matter if they thought their squeaker was the coolest thing ever 5 seconds ago – it is now lame sauce.

2. They run around in short bursts of intense energy and then crash hard. Only difference – dogs voluntarily sleep about 20 hours every day.

3. Everyone has an opinion about how they should be trained/raised. My dogs don’t walk beside me on a leash because I don’t care enough to train them, but I always feel like I’m going to get chastised by someone more dog-savvy.

4. If they misbehave in public, you feel like a bad parent. Sorry, we’re still working on teaching Charlie to not jump up. Or Katy to not run out the front door. Or both dogs to not go berzerk when the doorbell rings.

5. You’re more concerned about their health and nutrition than your own. I don’t measure out my own food to make sure I’m not eating too much.

6. They wake you up in the morning several hours before you want to get up. Always.

7. You clean up their messes, bodily and otherwise. Can I just say “EW” and “You never get used to it”?

8. Their safety and well-being keep you awake at night. This is especially true when they are puppies. “Does she need to go out?” “Does she think I’ve abandoned her?” “Is that her whining, or my imagination?”

9. You feel bad for not spending all your time with them. But sometimes you just need a freaking break already.

10. You plan your day around them. “Well, we should probably drive 20 minutes home and 20 minutes back to this same area, so that we can let the dogs out.” “Well, we should probably drive around aimlessly for 40 minutes so that Emma can take a nap.”

11. You talk to them in a baby voice and kiss them on the head. Hey, they’re cute!

12. You and your spouse have to be agreed and consistent on how to discipline them. Mixed signals are never a good thing.

13. They constantly want attention. Wherever you go, there they are.

14. They decide that the perfect time to bring out every toy they own is when you have guests over. “It’s a little hard to hear over all the squeaking you’re making!”

15. Their adorableness makes your anger melt every time. Who can stay mad at that face?

16. They can make a clean house dirty in an impressively short amount of time. Tell me, how does dog hair get into the freezer?

17. They like to cuddle. Little space heaters.

18. They don’t let you have anything nice or valuable for long. It all gets chewed on eventually.

19. They are easily entertained. A plain bone occupies them for hours.

20. You do things with and for them that you wouldn’t do otherwise. The number of walks I gone on has increased exponentially since getting dogs.

…………………

Dog owners and parents, can you think of any more?

What I picked up…

31 Oct

Saturday morning, I made a very necessary run to Walgreen’s for coffee and then spent a long time in the morning researching in the Bible what I wrote in my recent post on grace. I think this is going to be the hypothesis or main focus of the book I’m slowly attempting to write.

After getting dressed, I decided what to make for dinner (usually I choose 3 recipes, but this time, I chose 4 because of the little butternut squash from our garden I want to use up):

Minted Rice with Garbanzo Curry

Chicken and Dumplings

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Then I made my shopping list, and went to my favorite grocery stores: Sunflower Farmer’s Market and Safeway.

Here’s my haul:

Pantry Items: 2 loaves of bread, instant brown rice, condensed tomato soup, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, raisin bran granola, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Hint of Salt Triscuits, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash puree, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom condensed soup, dried apricots, walnuts, chocolate chips (which I realized after I took this pic should have been included with the baking stuff)

Baking Goods: 2 cake mixes (bought to make these easy pumpkin cupcakes and they were Buy 1, Get 1 Free), Bisquick, brown sugar, white and semi-sweet chocolate chips (also B1G1)

Produce: baby carrots, Honeycrisp apples, bananas (usually I buy more than this but we have quite a few vegetables left over from last week)

Perishables: shredded Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, half & half, pepperjack cheese, roasted red pepper hummus, mint leaves

In case you’re curious, I spent a little less than $100 on all of that (plus sandwich bags and Febreze, unpictured).

Then I checked out more books from the library than I could possibly read before their due date (thank goodness for online renewal!):

I started reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge and LOVE it so far.

I also set out our green tomatoes in the sun to ripen.

{Notice Katy in the window – that’s how she alerts us she wants to come in.}

Instead of diving right into the books though, I went on a 3 mile tempo run with the dogs (32:43) and then did the first 30 minutes of YogaX.

Saturday night, we babysat a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old for some friends. It was so much fun! As I sat by the 1-year-old’s crib waiting for her to fall asleep, she rolled over and I was struck by how much they are little people, with little quirks and personalities. And I realized, if I can be so fond of someone else’s kids, how much am I going to love my own kids someday, whether they are biological or adopted! I am still praying for the grace to wait patiently until the time is right for us to try. Soon…

Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch (leftover Tortellini Soup, which was delicious but very rich – would be good as a small appetizer instead of the main course, or with less cream), and after starting laundry and cleaning the bathrooms, did Travis’ favorite thing – shopping. Like a lot of men, he is very hard on his clothes and has one by one destroyed his good work jeans by either getting them irreversibly dirty or wearing  holes in the knees, until he was down to one pair of jeans. So shopping it was. I was also on the hunt for a pair of skinny jeans to wear under my new boots.

We looked at the thrift store first because I have been able to find a lot of good deals there for myself, but there wasn’t a good selection. So we headed over to the Eddie Bauer outlet at Denver West. Travis has had luck there in the past with finding jeans that don’t have holes or any weird washing technique. Often, men’s jeans are very “trendy” and Travis is not. So he sticks to brands like Wrangler, Carhartt, and Eddie Bauer.

We found a couple of great pairs of jeans on the $19.99 rack – it was such a good deal, I was worried that they had been misplaced there (having worked in retail myself and seen that happen many a time). And I was right. They rang up at $49.99 each. But when we said that we had found them on the clearance rack, the clerk was amazingly nice and gave us the sale price. I was floored. He saved us $60!

After that, I asked Travis if I could take a quick detour into a store called Papaya. It looked a lot like Forever 21 and I found that the prices were similar as well. I found a pair of skinny jeans for $24 that fit me well. They’re just a little bit long, so they bunch up around my ankles like this, but since other people wear them that way, I guess it’s ok… Sometimes I feel like such a poser wearing fashions like that! I even felt like the girl manning the dressing room at Papaya gave me a look like “What are you doing shopping here?” I guess I am almost 30… And when I shop at stores like that, I have to get over any hangups I have ever had about pants sizes because the reality is, when a size 6 adult woman shops at a store for juniors, she’s going to be more like a size 11. (Is it just me or have juniors pants gotten smaller since I was a teen? I mean, who can possibly wear those size 1 pants?)

I told Travis as we were leaving that I’m going to be sad when I can no longer shop in stores like that, either because I’m too old or because I can’t fit into anything, because those stores are so cheap! Shopping in adult stores meaning paying adult prices. Ugh… I don’t want to grow up. 

After our shopping trip, I called my mom, finished laundry, cleaned the rest of the house and then went on a 4 mile run (43:30) with Travis and the dogs. The pooches were still exhausted this morning!

Have you read any good books lately? Do you ever feel weird wearing trends?

The Future, as Yet Uncertain

17 Aug

I feel a buzz of anticipation in my life. Some of it comes from goals I am looking forward to accomplishing. Some of it comes from major life milestones being realized. Some of it comes from knowing exactly what I want to do with my life.

There are 5 things in particular:

1. Running my first full marathon in 2012

I tried (and failed) last year because I was stupid about training. Not next year! I will train smart and I will cross the finish line! (Which marathon is TBD.)

2. Moving back to Minnesota (in 2013?)

As we were driving home from our Minnesota vacation, Travis and I started talking about seriously moving back to Minnesota. We thought about what we would need to do to our house to make it sellable, where he would look for jobs, what cities we would be interested in moving to, when we would shoot to move (anytime but the winter!), etc. These practical considerations made the idea so much more real and got us both really excited. While we love Colorado, our hearts belong to Minnesota (and to our families).

I most look forward to seeing our family more than twice a year and even seeing our extended family on a more regular basis (instead of every 3-4 years!). These also have me excited: seeing more fall colors than just green and yellow; spending time on the lakes; having a bigger yard for the dogs to run around in; and watching lots and lots of hockey games.

3. Getting pregnant (in 2012?)

Starting a family has been one of those things that over the years, Travis and I have continued to put off, saying, “It’ll be a few more years.” At that rate, I’d be 40 before we’d have our first! Since we are in agreement about wanting at least 3 kids, age 35 marks the start of high risk pregnancies, and I just turned 28 in July, I told Travis it’s getting to be “about that time.” So we are tentatively planning to start trying in July 2012 and who knows from there?

Along with that…

4. Being a mother (in 2013?)

I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant but this would be the ideal timeline. Then, I’d be having our first child at 30. Which is old enough, I say.

Having kids feels like the last real step in becoming an adult. Even though I am 28, I don’t feel 28. Sometimes, I’m still shocked that we own a house, we’ve been married for over 4 years, I have a well-paying job, and I am old enough to be a mother (and have been for some time). Some day, I could be entrusted with a kid of my own (here’s asking God!). It boggles the mind.

As a mother, I am hoping to either stay home full-time or work only part-time. My mom had the privilege (and yes, I consider it a privilege because not every family can afford it!) of doing this when I was growing up and I have so many great memories of being with her all day, every day.

5. Being a published author (in ????)

Being back in a 9-to-5 in corporate America definitely has its perks. And for the most part, I enjoy what I’m doing (regardless of the fact that I’m crawling the walls with boredom). But it’s not what I really want to do. I’ve had countless conversations with my mom about this. She’s offered me many helpful ideas that I’ve seriously thought about. But none of them seem to be it.

Then I listened to the audio book of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. He wrote (read?) something like, “When you find what you’re really supposed to be doing, you’ll encounter resistance.” That is exactly how I feel about writing. Anyone who has read my blog from the beginning (I am probably the only one 🙂 ) knows that I have always wanted to write, but have continued to listen to the doubts, the fears, and the reasons why I will never be a published author.

But if you asked me, “If you could do anything with your life, what would you do?” The answer hands-down, 24 x 7, no doubt in my mind: “I’d write.” And not just write anything (because as a copywriter, I am currently writing for a living). But write about what I feel passionate about, what I feel like God has given to me to tell to the world — which happens to be mostly about my life and the lessons I’ve learned.

Yes, I’ve struggled with the whole “That sounds really vain” objection. Who cares about my life? Who am I to say that I’ve learned enough to teach others? But I can’t escape the fact that writing is my passion and so is God, faith, and what I’ve learned from making SO MANY mistakes. I honestly believe that God has given me this desire and my writing material, and I have to step out in faith to pursue the dream He’s inspired.

So what’s different this time? How am I going to overcome the tendency I have to get wrapped up in the busyness of life, push writing to the side and say, “Yeah, I still want to write but I just don’t have time.” Well, self, I have news for you:

If you don’t make time, you’ll never find time.

And if you don’t find time, you will never be an author. An author, by definition, writes.

Are you really willing to compromise your dream in order to do the dishes? Are you really willing to long for this aspiration to come to fruition but never work for it? Are you willing to put hours upon hours of training into a race that is done in 2 hours instead of investing in what could become your career?

This is life fulfillment we’re talking about here.

The reason why you were put here on this earth, the person you were created to be.

Don’t you dare take this lightly.

I am done with making excuses, with being half-heartedly invested in writing. I don’t care if I get published by Crossway. Or Doubleday. I don’t care if I have to self-publish or print on demand. I don’t care if I only make an e-book and sell it for $.99 to Kindle users. The bottom line is, I need to take my writing ambitions seriously. Because if I don’t, no one else will. And I will continue to gaze through the misty cloud of future hopes, wishing I could be a writer.

And I have a plan. Once triathlon training is done and I have 4-5 more hours a week, I am going to write. I am going to determine a set time, most likely in the morning when I’m most apt to stick with it, and sit down and force myself to write for at least 15 minutes. This is great advice for writers. Don’t wait until the inspiration hits you. Write now. Even if it’s crap (which it probably will be). Eventually, something good will come out of you.

Another great piece of advice I’ve heard (that I might even frame and hang up at my desk) is this:

The Secret to Success: Disconnect Yourself from the Outcome

Writer’s block often comes from worrying that what you write will be crap, no one will read it, and you’ll just be a writer wannabe. This happened to me when I was working on my book at the beginning of this year. I was too concerned about the outcome to focus on the process. So I just need to let it go, trusting that God will help me write my best.

So here’s my BHAG (Big hairy audacious goal):

Be done writing my book on walking by the Spirit by the end of this calendar year.

There will be more on this once my Olympic triathlon is over (just a little over a week left!).

Of course, in the midst of all these exciting goals or milestones, I recognize that God is the one in control of my life and that any one of these things could not happen, or happen differently than I am anticipating right now. But this is my assurance through it all:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

What are you looking forward to over the next couple of years? Any big life changes or BHAGs?

The love of family

17 Jun

Tonight, I finished the book I was reading called The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond. It was a very good novel about a little girl who goes missing and the ensuing panicked search for her. The book was a little slow moving in the drama at times but it was nonetheless very insight and interesting. It said a lot about the nature of memories and human desire to preserve moments that are, by definition, passing by.

Which led me to look through old picture albums – first, the one with pictures of Travis’ and my engagement, wedding and honeymoon. Then, my study abroad trip in Venezuela. And finally, pictures of my childhood.

And it was in looking at pictures of my childhood that I realized what a blessed childhood I had. I was surrounded by loving adults – my parents, of course but also aunts, uncles, grandparents. I didn’t realize how good I had it – of course, children never do.

My mom’s mom is who I get my middle name from – Ruth. Grandma Ruth. She lived in Hendrum with my Grandpa Ralph, in a small house on the corner. I can remember exactly what the house looked like inside – you entered into a small mud room, where you could either go down into the cellar (which I never did) or into the main part of the house. Through that door, you came into the kitchen. Straight across the kitchen, there was a cold, mysterious room. The door was always shut because that the kids were not allowed in. Once, we went in and discovered the entrance to the attic but were so nervous about getting caught that we ventured no further.

To the left of the kitchen was the dining room. The right hand wall was lined with windows and the wall to the right of that was lined with cabinets. In the middle of the floor stood a giant table – so big that it took up most of the room. On the left wall, there was first the door to a small bathroom. Then there was an armoire that took up what little wall space there was. Then, the door leading out to a landing that led to the next floor.

Straight ahead through the dining room was the living room. In my memories, the furniture was never quite arranged the same when I came over. But I do remember a TV, a couch, some lamps, a bed perhaps (for when my cousins slept over) and a card sorting machine that my Grandpa liked to use when playing cards.

On the way to the upstairs, you passed by another room, one step down from the stair landing. That was the den – I’m not sure I ever went in that room. It was Grandpa’s room.

There were two flights of stairs – halfway up the second, there was this opening in the wall. It had a door and a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. I think we called it the Fort. It was big enough for 3 of us kids to fit in there at the same time, 4 if you really squeezed. Whenever we went over to Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Ralph’s house, we would race each other to that little room. There was a latch on the inside, so you could allow others to enter (or not allow) at your own discretion.

At the top of the stairs, there were 2 bedrooms – 1 had several beds in it and the other just 1. The room with just 1 bed was Grandpa’s room. We hardly ever went in there either. The other room was fun because there was a hole in the floor that looked down into the living room below. It was entertaining to listen to the adults down there, talking, when all the kids were upstairs.

But I digress. All these memories came flooding back into my head as I looked through my photo album tonight. My Grandma Ruth died when I was only 12 or 13 – I was old enough to understand what had happened but not old enough to really understand. Growing up, I had thought of her as a little bit weird – she had a back condition that made her slightly hunched over. The pictures in my album don’t disclose any animosity toward her but I can’t help but think… how did I act toward her? Did I love her? Did I thank her for the gifts she gave me, as they were sacrifices on her behalf? Or did I act like a stupid child, ungrateful, only focused on superficial details?

These thoughts so overwhelmed me as I looked at those pictures tonight that I started crying. I wish I had known her. I wish I could have told her that her love and generosity mean the world. I wish I could’ve gotten past the outward appearance and seen her for the amazing person I hear she was. Even if I had been older, if I had known her better and been more mature, I don’t know if I could have put into words that kind of emotion.

The same kind of emotion that I feel for my mom. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by how much I love her that I can’t bear the thought of this world existing without her in it. How does one go on without your beloved parent? And I know that I fail to express how much I love her, that I fail to show her how much she means to me. I don’t call her all that often, I don’t say in words how much she means. And I realize that I’m losing precious moments – they’re floating away on the winds of time – but I get too engrossed in the minute details of life to remember these truths. WHY?!?!?

The same goes for when I’m looking at pictures of my dad and me growing up – all the memories we created together. That man has a heart of gold. I know that I am precious to him and that he loves me more than words. Knowing that makes me love him even more. How do I communicate that kind of love back to him? How are words adequate for that kind of love?  The truth is, they just aren’t. And they never will be.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to communicate those feelings and that is where, I fear, I fall very short. I have found myself looking at gifts lately and wondering, “Did I thank that person for this?” Remembering that Travis’ parents paid for the groom’s dinner, I wondered “Did I ever tell them what a huge blessing that was?” I think I did, but I can’t remember. And what if I didn’t? I can barely stand that thought!

Every time I feel like this, so overwhelmed at how much I love my parents, I wonder why I live so far away from them. Why did I choose to move, so that I only see them 2-3 times a year? But I have to remind myself that Travis and I chose to follow the Lord and no matter how much human love consumes one’s heart, devotion to and love for the Lord always have to come first. He is ultimately the one Person who matters. And I have to entrust my heart, and all the love therein, to Him.

But I do pray that it is in the Lord’s will to let Travis and I move back to Minnesota to be near our parents when we start having kids (in a couple of years). I want my kids to know their grandparents, because they are the coolest people ever.

I love you Mom and Dad!