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three letters of encouragement

Posted by [email protected] on August 12, 2013 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (1)
There are some friends who will go down in your own personal history book.   Your first best friend, you know the one you skated with, played dolls with, hid in closets together with at the end of play dates; then there's the older girl from school who told you about sex and tampons; and the stranger-turned-sister who was waiting for you in your college dorm room your freshman year;  the gal who introduced you to your future husband; and the one who helped you plan your wedding, tying bows on programs and throwing you your bridal shower; and the friend in your life right now who smiles more than all the others put together, the one who inspires joy and hope by her example.   Despite the years and the states that stretch between you and these epic, memorable, note-worthy friends, they are part of your story.


I received three encouraging emails over the past couple of days.  One from Tamara, who was my faithful right hand as I planned my wedding day.  The next was from Angie, that ray of sunshine who loves my kids and me in such tangible ways.  And another from Ashley, the dear one who introduced me to my beloved husband.  


Before I share some of their encouragement I must state that I've been down in the dumps lately.  In a rut with my family, wanting more, feeling like I can't quite muster the strength or joy needed for the tasks of mothering and homeschooling — of loving day in and day out.  When I  honestly shared from my heart with my beloved friend Tamara, she wrote back:  Thank you! God bless your beautiful heart, courage and fortitude! You never have to be figured out to share with me. Know that although we can't always see or hear each other, we walk together.


A day later my ray of sunshine, Angie, had my boys over for a slumber party.  The next day she wrote:

I so much enjoyed seeing how Caleb has matured recently. I witnessed it in the “fire” of his fight with Brody last night. I am still not quite sure what caused the fight, but they starting throwing fists. Caleb took some blows before I could break it up, and I saw how Caleb restrained himself . . . even though he said, “I want to hit him really bad.” I know at that age, it is SO hard to use self control, but he did. He had great manners and just seems to have grown in being a gentleman.

And sweet Brody . . . I know he feels emotion very deeply, and I could tell he was feeling a lot anger after his fight with his brother (which made him cry that he wanted to go home)!. Once he settled down, I told him I was sad that he wasn’t having fun at our slumber party. He announced that it wasn’t a real slumber party since we hadn’t had a pillow fight . . . so I whacked him with a pillow! After a few minutes of pillow fighting fun, Brody got in bed and turned into mister chatterbox (so funny). Anyway, after coming to tell me (a few times) that he was having trouble sleeping, he said, “God made my with lots of problems.” Before I could object, he caught himself and said, “But he also made me with lots of good things.” I loved that, because I knew those were words of truth that his momma spoke to him, and he is hearing them and believing them. In the morning, he also said, “Miss Angie, I’m sorry that I cried about going home.” That is so mature to apologize for something (and the next day too). And remorse shows sensitivity to wanting to do what is right. I know you are diligently directing him in what is right.

And Asher . . . what can I say? I ADORE him. He has the sweetest little heart and is so articulate for his age. I think your youngest will really bless you.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some words of encouragement, because you looked so discouraged when we met up. And since you asked for advice, here it is: keep up the good work, stand firm, and don’t grow weary … you WILL reap a harvest!

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).


And finally, Ashely, the angel who brought me my husband, who has three boys of her own, wrote me some great advice to kick start what I can do as I stand firm — what not growing weary might look like in the days to come as I press on with renewed faith and vigor:

As for the havoc and chaos the boys wreak in your home, any mom of all boys (especially me) can relate to the challenge of harnessing the testosterone so as not to emasculate them but to foster them in such a way that they are the Christ-like combination of strength and gentleness. Something that I have found to be incredibly helpful in giving me boundaries as well as them boundaries is Greg Harris' "21 Rules of this House." I have been reading it nightly to them for a couple years, and it is posted on the fridge. We all have them memorized now, and it helps! Google it and print it out it if you think it could be helpful. The rules touch on all the major moral, character-building traits that I want to foster in the boys. If it's not on the list, I've chosen to let it roll off my back. I try to be strict
within the rules and then give loads of freedom beyond them.


I looked up Gregg Harris' 21 Family Rules, printed them up, and thought I'd pass them on to you down below.  Because we need one another.  We need a Tamara to walk with, an Angie to remind us of the  fruit that is being produced in our midst, and an Ashley to inspire fresh ideas for tomorrow.  


I can't be the only one who wanders into the valley some seasons, and so I share.  Here's hoping you are blessed.


The 21 Rules Of This House

by Gregg Harris

 

1. We obey God.

2. We love, honor and pray for one another.

3. We tell the truth.

4. We consider one another's interests ahead of our own.

5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.

6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.

7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.

8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.

9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.

10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.

11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.

12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.

13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.

14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.

15. When we open something, we close it.

16. When we take something out, we put it away.

17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.

18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.

19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.

20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.

21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept

the discipline and instruction of the Lord.



How I see me... then and now

Posted by [email protected] on June 11, 2013 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Looking back, I must have been mental!  Either that or I was simply an odd concoction of narcissism and ignorance.  5'5" and 117 slim pounds.  I hadn't birthed a baby, no sun spots on my face, fine lines around my eyes, or weird skin hanging from places that (no one told me) skin would eventually hang.  And yet I was having a "fat day."  A what?


My mom looked me over, up and down, and said in a flat tone, "Wendy, this is the best you're ever going to look."


Here's the real bummer, where was my self-esteem?  I'm not saying it should have been wrapped up in my physical beauty, as tight as the elasticity of my young skin, but it surely is a shame I spent so much time judging myself, my thighs, my waist; feeling not good enough.  Now here I am, 10 months out from my 40th birthday, and a reverse conversation is happening between the mirror and my self-image.  I look at my reflection or a photo that's been snapped and think, "Who's that? I'm prettier than that?  Aren't I?"


Just a decade and a half ago my self-image was lower than my reality, and now that my self-image has finally gotten acquainted with my physical reality... it's all shifting again.  Downward.  Steadily downward.  


I'm going on a women's retreat in one week.  I mentioned that here. In just 6 days.  This isn't just any retreat; this is a group of writers, thinkers, photographers, and cooks.  It's a spectacular time of recharging in their collective midst.  And I'm giddy at the thought of what's to come.  (While it may seem I'm heading off down a rabbit hole, stay with me...)


Last year, one of our photographers captured each of us in the late afternoon sun at Castello di Amrosa, a midievil winery in Napa Valley.  While I love the photographer and can appreciate the pictures of me she took, I still look at them and wonder who the subject is.  Not me, surely.  Something strange happens to my face when I smile now.  


Anyway, this year Tammy, from Tammy Labuda Photography in Texas, is attempting to create unique, artistic portraits.  We've been asked to do a little bit more than simply "show up and smile" this time.  We've been charged to search both our souls and pinterest for images that capture what's going on in our imaginations, what's collected over these forty years on our insides, in our dreams and ideals.  We've shared pictures like these.




As pictures and creative ideas have flown between us, via pinerest, emails, and texts, the most fun has been shopping for costumes for one another.  Bethany in St. Louis, Kelli in Florida, Tammy in Texas, and me, out here in California.  Pictures of hats on heads, scarves round necks, dresses hung from bodies, curtain rods, or strewn on beds, are photographed and sent on.  We're teenagers again,  trying on clothes.  Stall after stall after stall, all lined up side-by-side in the dressing room.  Giggling as we hand each garment over the dividers for the next female to try on.  O, the comrodore of women.  


Of all the hilarity that's ensued from our dressing room frivolity, one email exchange pierced me most deep:

Kelli:  You guys are amazing. I love the creativity you have rolling around in your brains. All I can think is, "I hope Tammy's camera will actually take ten pounds off rather than add ten pounds." These are the thoughts in my brain.

Wendy:  The pounds! Kelli. I know. For three years now!  After Asher was born I lost it all, then suddenly there were 13 extra pounds.  I knocked some of it down, but the last few are just hanging on me, unbecomingly. The thought of Tammy's camera was stressing me out. The thought of bathing suit season was even worse. But, I tell you, the thoughts about all the self-centered thoughts were the final nails in my coffin. That's when I thought, "I don't want to see me, I want to see Jesus". Not just in these pictures, but in life.  I"m rather tired of thinking about myself so darn much!

Tammy:  Regarding those last few stubborn pounds, Wendy, I have struggled with not being happy with my physical appearance for far too long. Self esteem has never been my strength. My bum is droopy, my thighs are dimpled and jiggly, and my skin is not as youthful as it once was. As our time together approached, I was starting to fret. But, then I remembered I was going to be with all of YOU. Like Jenni said in her blog post last summer. We share a fellowship of friendship that embraces and celebrates who we are - as we are. There is acceptance and a celebration for who we are. I'm loved regardless of whether or not my knees look smoking hot in a shorter skirt. It just doesn't matter. My soul is enriched each time we are together. I leave with more confidence — that oozes from the inside out — making me feel more beautiful than I have ever felt before. That doesn't mean I don't wish I were more fit and trim. But it is what it is. I'll still work hard at it, but even if I haven't reached my fitness goals, I'm going to come to California and hang with you beautiful ladies — as I am. And I'm once and for all perfectly okay with that.  Besides...I know Photoshop!


How to wrap up a post like this?  I charge us all; let's not just embrace friendships that celebrate who we are... let us do the same.  Stretch in the morning, with your naked feet firmly planted on the cold hard floor, breath deeply and tell God what a good job He did when he wove you together in your Mother's womb.  Celebrate that and do a little naked dance step before stepping into the shower, for we are, ladies, fearfully and wonderfully made!


I'm going to practice this personal celebration, because I reflect more real beauty today than I did 3,000 yesterdays ago.  It's been hard won.  And the trophy of my years should be shined up and displayed without embarrassment!  I have persevered and loved longer and better, and each line reflects that; my widened hips tell of loved ones birthed and then propped upon them.  


So shine up that camera, Tammy!  I'm bringing my A Game!  Not because I sport the figure of an A list actress, but because I am Absolutely Amazing, today.  Every Phenomenal ounce of me.


Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelo

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I'm telling lies.

I say,

It's in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

I walk into a room

Just as cool as you please,

And to a man,

The fellows stand or

Fall down on their knees.

Then they swarm around me,

A hive of honey bees.

I say,

It's the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,

The swing in my waist,

And the joy in my feet.

I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

Men themselves have wondered

What they see in me.

They try so much

But they can't touch

My inner mystery.

When I try to show them

They say they still can't see.

I say,

It's in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.

I'm a woman

 

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.

 

Now you understand

Just why my head's not bowed.

I don't shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It's in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

the palm of my hand,

The need of my care,

'Cause I'm a woman

Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That's me.


 


It was a wonderful, soul-satisfying walk

Posted by [email protected] on March 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (2)


Today I took a long, soul-satisfying walk beside the lake. Spring was underfoot and in the trees; it budded, chirped, and blew all around. I strode happily, though the hills were high and the heart in my chest beat steadily. Time alone in God's creation is rare for me. If you have little ones with you all day each day you understand. But here was my moment and I walked until my muscles quaked from exhaustion... and then turned back and headed home. Celtic Music wafted from the cell phone in my pocket, keeping a happy rhythm for my feet to jig along home to.

 

When clouds gathered to block the sun I untied the sweatshirt at my waist and put it on. Mist came upon thick in a Springtime moment, then cleared away again. On and off my sweatshirt went.

 

Around the last bend I came to a meadow of wild lupine, cobalt and striking, and stopped to pick myself a nosegay. Instantly I knew the vase I'd use for the evening dinner table.

 

As I continued up the final hill to our home, with the music, and the flowers, and the vista, it began to rain. Not a rain that soaks you through or makes one melancholy, but a happy sort of rain with just the right number of droplets to increase joy.

 

As I cleared the final hilltop and saw my home I thought how much like a character from a Jane Austin book I must appear, and a soul-springing-up smile spread across my face.  My husband stood on the porch talking with a neighbor, and I waved.

 

It was a wonderful walk.  I came home nourished from the inside, ready to love my beloveds fresh again.





Bethany is a treasured friend of mine that I met after becoming a mother - more specifically a mother of three.  Bethany never knew me well-kept and unhurried, only in this uniquely exhausting season of life.  During one of our first conversations, Bethany mentioned poetry. "Oh," I sighed, "I love poetry!"  She lit up and retorted, "Who are a few of your favorite poets?"  

I stood there dumb.  Silent.  Empty headed.  Not a poet nor poem came to mind.  It had been so many years since I nourished my mind and imagination with rich poetry.  How long had it been? But when does a busy woman have the time for poetry anymore?  I confessed to my newfound friend that it had been years since I'd enjoyed any beautiful prose or rhyming couplets.   

A week later I received a package in the post, it contained two beautiful compilations of poetry.

Bethany is a gift giver, I know that now. But the gift she gave me that changed me the most was not the actual gift of poems, but the awareness that my unique soul needs to be nourished and fed, invested in, and prioritized.  For me it's not in trips to the salon or a new pair of shoes, the key to satisfying my particular soul is found in deep conversations, God's glorious creation, hymns and violins, open windows on beautiful days, and, as you now know, poetry and long walks.

Now I'm asking you, what builds you up from the soul, nourishing the you that's been laid aside to minister to your family?  

Without leading you into depression at the thought, how might you infuse your home-making, life laying-down service to your family by reconnecting with those little things that feed your soul and bring life to your being?  Jot them down, make a plan, share it with your husband, your mother, your friends.... I don't know if it takes a village to raise a child, but I whole-heartedly believe it takes a village to raise up a mother.

Confess to your dear confidants what's been lost and ask them to help you reclaim those dormant parts of your soul-satisfied self.

Green

Posted by [email protected] on July 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (5)

  
  

Green is the color of new growth and fertility.  Green evokes a sense of safety, peace and harmony. Green is soothing; calming anxiety and bringing healing to the body.    It is the most restful color for the human eye.  In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope. And, of course, green is the signal imploring us to "Go".


If ever a color could represent a handful of days, green was the one that wrapped these five in sunlight and ivy.  Wednesday afternoon five dear friends joined me at our lakehouse in Northern California for our  2nd Annual Christian Women Writers (& Photographers) Retreat.   We laughed together, encouraged one another, and shared good food; but most of all, we enjoyed long, quite afternoons of writing, reading, lemonade.  The steady click click click of shutter lenses mixed with the rhythm of our typing.

Like the color of the trees all around, new growth sprouted up from 6 surrendered hearts.  As the sun shone through the branches,  peace and harmony enveloped us, granting a safe environment to write and share our work together.  Rest.  Growth.  Hope.  And, of course, our time spent writing was our response to God's green light - His call to "Go".  We all feel called to tell stories.  Writing novels, asking tough Biblical questions, sharing pieces of Christian History, and telling stories through the lens of a camera.  

It was a truly edifying time, with an extraordinary group of women who love the Lord and one another.  I am expectant and therefore eager to see what this new growth matures into by the time we all reconvene here next June. What testimonies will we share, what victories will we celebrate and new projects will we pray over and brainstorm our way through?  I don't know what tomorrow brings, but today the memories are still fresh and green and refreshing.  And I am so thankful.

Bethany, one of my sweet and creative friends, wrapped our time up with this darling Limerick.


Words and pictures we use to tell stories
Working hard beside gorgeous lake shories
We laugh and we play
Sharing hearts 'long the way
Pleasing Father and revealing His glories


Today I am Deeply Grateful for:
24) Bethany and her Limerick.. and her ice pucks too
25) Kelli and her talent and sense of humor
26) Rabbits
27) Jenni and her adventurous spirit!
28 ) Angie and her example in my life
29) Angie and her love for my children
30) Angie doing our dishes
31) Tammy and her generous spirit
32) My husband (can I list him multiple times on this list?)
33) Grandpa G and Gramita and their availability to take in all my men this week!
34) Tammy's tenderness toward my boys
35) Carolyn and Tony
35) Bill 
36) Caleb's 1st 12 bars of Puff the Magic Dragon on Piano - good job, Dollface!
37) Brody's joy over getting to sleep in my bed tomorrow
38 ) Caleb's sweet expectation that it's his turn tomorrow
39) Caleb finishing the Jr. Novel Brave in time for last week's opening of the movie
40) Asher's continuous joy in working alongside his father
41) Caleb's mad skill at checkers and chess
42) Butterfly nets
43) My husband's big muscles
44) My husband's ability to flip our boys high in the air in the pool
45) Lake views
46) Nanaimo bars
47) Apricot Pepper Jelly
48 )Mango Pepper Jelly
49) Raspberry Pepper Jelly
50) My Mother in law's impending arrival tomorrow!
51) Ruth over at GraceLaced for inspiring me with her wonderful color posts last week.  I specifically loved this one... 









That's Poetry!

Posted by [email protected] on April 9, 2012 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (2)

C22

poem by Ellen Bau


At gate C22 in the Portland airport

a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed

a woman arriving from Orange County.

They kissed and kissed and kissed.  Long after

the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons

and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,

the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other

like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,

like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped

out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down

from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.


Neither of them was young.  His beard was gray.

She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine

her saying she had to lose.  But they kissed lavish

kisses like the ocean in the early morning,

the way it gathers and swells, sucking 

each rock under, swallowing it

again and again.  We were all watching -

passengers waiting for the delayed flight

to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,

the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling

sunglasses.  We couldn't look away.  We could

taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.


But the best part was his face.  When he drew back

and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost

as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,

as your mother must have looked at you, no matter

what happened after - if she beat you or left you or 

you're lonely now - you once lay there, the vernix

not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you

as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.

The whole wing of the airport hushed,

all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,

her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,

little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.


Last week I received a riveting compilation of poetry selected by Garrison Keillor, sent to me by my new friend Bethany.  I met Bethany less than a year ago.  As we talked and shared, and got to know one another I said something like, "I love poetry."  "Really?"  She asked, "Who's your favorite poet?"  I mumbled, tossing out a couple of names of long dead wordsmiths, whose lines I treasured years ago.  Then I confessed, "I guess I haven't read poetry in a long time.  Not since becoming a mom anyway."


Bethany's a mother too.  She understood how easy it was for me to lose this part of my autonomy and forego this passion in the midst of spit-up and diaper changes.  


Since our meeting I have received three such collections of both old and modern day poets from my dear new friend.  The above poem, C22,  rattled me to the core two days ago as I read it aloud to my husband, driving north on Interstate 5.  At the poem's end I sighed and said, "That's poetry."  


Last night I found one of my well worn books and brought it to my eldest son's room.  We read Robert Frost aloud together.  Ironically, when we came to his famous "Nothing Gold Can Stay" I saw those same two words written by the title, and the date penned beside it.


"That's poetry 9-5-90"


Not only is my passion for the written word in tact after all these years of laying myself down to pick up the needs and passions of so many little ones, but my response to what moves the core of me is unchanged.


"That's poetry!"  


It's the same.  The same.  I'm the same.  Way down deep.  Though time and mothering has separated me from some hobbies, I find myself the same today at 38 as I was as at sweet 16.


I love poetry.  Always have.  And as I start to untie the binds I've willingly bound these past 8 years I'm discovering some of my old passions again.


I've missed me.  


Not just anthologies of poetry and rose bouquets,  but me, and my thoughts, and my dreams, and my skin, and my heart.  


Thank you, Bethany, for the gift of this discovery.  And might this post be the inspiration you need to grab a good book, turn up the radio, or plan a date to walk along the shore with your love and Kiss, kiss, kiss.  Long and hard.  Remembering how good it feels.

Bible Studies with flesh on (part two)

Posted by [email protected] on February 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (1)
Angie.

The name.  The word.  The person.

Another brilliant Bible Study with flesh on.






Angie is possibly the single-most important friend the boys and I have had these past few years.  The more overwhelmed I get, the more solid and grounded she seems to be.  When I lose sight of ideals, Angie reminds me of what is true.


She has been our champion and our cheerleader no matter the day or the trial, the event or the chore.  She is always there to celebrate how wonderfully made my children and I are.  


(Tears spill as I write these words.)


Her home is my boys' favorite place to be because there is a constant stream of applause and ice cream flowing from her presence. How she celebrates... I'll say it again and again... she celebrates us!   


Her backyard is better than Disneyland, not because it is grand but because she is grand.  


Her food tastes the best because she'll make you whatever you want.  She makes everyone what they want, even if there are 12 people at her table.  And the sound of her sing-song voice makes me smile as I sit across the table from her.


She is a lover of all and a servant to all.... and it is real.  Real.  Because, at her core, she is a lover of God, and His handmaid through and through.


I often say "I want to be Angie when I grow up," and I do.  I really do.  But you know.... I think I will be.  Well sort of.  You see, God's Word promises me in 1 John 3:2:


"...what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."


Angie is the most Christ-like person I've ever known, and I long to emulate her because she is so much like the One I was made to look like, and will look like in the end.  And so I glory in the knowledge that God will complete the good He has begun in me and bring it to completion when I finally see Him face to face.  


I know that I adore her because she reflects so much of Him.  And I shout my Thanks to the One who gives good gifts, because He knew I couldn't walk this life of faith alone.

 

“Holy solitaries' is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.”  (John Wesley)



I have One God, One Savior, One alone whom I worship and adore... but I am so thankful to Him for giving me Angie.  She brings the Bible to life each time we are together; the way that she lives and loves, tirelessly.  She allows me to see what fruit looks like in the life of a surrendered believer, and she invites me in to know her weakness' and needs too.  



It is an honor to call her friend.  And it is humbling beyond words that she would call me the same.



Get to know my dear Angie at Celebratingholidays.com .  She will be a marvelous resource to you each holiday as you incorporate history and faith into your family's celebrations. Click here to get ready for St. Patricks Day!

Bible Studies with flesh on (part one)

Posted by [email protected] on December 4, 2011 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (1)
Our time as a family this Thanksgiving was sweet, fun, and memorable.  We were blessed to have another family of boys join us for the long weekend full of manly play.  The boys hiked, fished, did some turkey hunting (really just left a few ticked-off birds in their wake), and went looking for Mountain lion tracks during the day and bats at night.



And as the boys played with their dads, us moms cooked and baked.  And as we did we drank tea, talked, listened to music, took in the beautiful views of the lake, ate another cookie, and talked some more.  It's rare this special lady and I get to go deep in conversation because we're always together with numerous little ones around asking for a juice box, help with a toy, or another push on the swing. But as the dads played laser tag with our five testosterone filled "interruptions", Lyn and I got to, "go deep," as I said.

The thing I love most about this gal is the real, honest and authentic, non-churchy way she pursues her faith.  Now let me clarify, because I love church and so does Lyn, but there's nothing she says that sounds like "the right Christian answer."  She's almost always saying something very true and doctrinally sound, but it comes out hers.  It's been hard earned while pondering her feelings, lifting her prayers, and with consistent Bible Study before she lets you know her thoughts on an intimate matter.  But you have to listen closely because she takes her time getting the words out.  In the quiet of the lakehouse I realized I tend to jump in and talk when she is taking a moment to construct her next spoken thought.  It's possible I've interrupted her as often as I've blamed the boys for interrupting our time together.  So I learned over our weekend together to be slow to speak and quick to listen to this special girl.  For when I listened to her, uninterrupted, I found such lovely depth.  





One day, as the cider was heating on the stovetop, I asked her, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"  I knew it was an open ended question and was curious what her response would be. There was silence for some time as her brow creased thoughtfully; I've come to learn those are two tell-tale signs she is searching her heart and mind for just the right words.

Finally Lyn said, "I used to want to do this or that, and it's not that I don't want to do specific things anymore, but i now know that life changes."  And then there was silence again and I started to speak, trying to clarify and put words in her mouth.  Then I remember I just needed to wait and listen.  "Today I want to be mom, because that's where I am," she said, " and tomorrow when my life is filled with different things I need to be doing, I want to be ready to do those things.  If I make a plan that I'm too attached to I won't be able to do what life is bringing me... what God has for me to do." And she was done.

Later that day as we went on a walk with the children, all bundled up, I watched Lyn walk with her youngest.  He stopped and picked up sticks.  Then the two of them walked a bit and stopped again for more sticks.  Lyn went at his pace and when his burden of sticks was too great for his little gloved hands, she carried the load of kindling.  And I thought, "what if she had a plan as to where she wanted us to go on our walk, and when we should get there or get back home?"  Lyn walked, and stopped, and remained peaceful, when many a chilly Mamas would have complained, pushed, or carried their children back home.  But she walked.

My current favorite Bible verse these days is Ephesians 2:10, which states, "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

How difficult it is to discover the good works God has prepared for us when we aren't walking with HIm.  How impossible when our hands are already clinched tightly around our expectations.  How tough when we don't walk with empty, available hands.  How difficult to discern the pre-appointed God-works for us each day and each season of our blessed female lives when we are consumed by our plans and dreams about what tomorrow (or today) should look like.

I am blessed with so many thoughtful women in my life who long to know God better and make Him known to their children and grandchildren; women who speak quickly or slowly, but all who desire to live rightly.  God has given me so many ladies who are to me Bible Studies with flesh on.  They are a study of lives surrendered to the Gospel and I am convicted, challenged, and encouraged by their authentic, vulnerable examples.

Thank you if you are one of these women, walking in good works before me today.

The Mothers of Other Brothers

Posted by [email protected] on October 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (2)

Yesterdays blog post about my new friends, caused me to think of some of the most encouraging friendships I have right now in my life.  




They are, simply put, The Mothers of Other Brothers... Specifically those women who have multiple, interesting, strong-willed, boyish-boys in their home.  Boys who push one another down for the sheer pleasure of it, only to have it end in a broken arm or black and blue forehead; boys who climb high into a tree and come up with the brilliant plan to pull down their pants and take a pee together; boys who look forward all day to a light saber battle with their dad, only to melt down when Dad comes home, because they all want to be Luke Skywalker; boys who go on hikes and think nothing about picking up arms full of old dear bones and freshly shedded snake skins.  


"Yuck, yikes, pull up your pants, and quiet down please!"  


That's what most people would holler.  But not The Mothers of Other Brothers!  While the decimal level may skyrocket when there are multiple families with multiple boys altogether in one place, encouragement comes in seeing other families lovingly parenting their way though similar testosterone-charged chaos.  


We even live on a cul de sac, right smack dab between other families with boys.  As the boys battled it in the street with a football the other day, another mother and I laughed as we saw similar challenges in one another's children.  "Same stuff, different house..." She said with a laugh.  Grace, I thought.


Without that laughter, I can feel isolated and like a failure compared to my friends with only one boy.  Boys who don't have another ball of boy energy to bounce off of and pummel, are different than boys who do.  Now I know I'm generalizing here, but it's been my general experience thus far.


While I've heard it said "the more the merrier," where boys are concerned it's not always the case for me.  For me.  Because I thrive in peace and quiet.  But I don't just want to learn to be content with what I have, i want to find joy in their chaotic, stinky, boyishness.  Without these Mothers of Other Brothers, I can lose track of the Merry experience of Mothering Brothers.  


Today I am very grateful to get to Mother Strong, Squirrelly and Stubborn. And I'm thankful for the Others Mothering Brothers all around me.


Sincerely!

Other Mothers

Posted by [email protected] on October 12, 2011 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (3)

We need them!  Don’t we? I’m talking about The Mothers of Others . We rub shoulders with them as we drop the kids off at school, sit in the bleachers beside them as the kids play their sports, and laugh with them on the cul de sac as our little ones close out the day with one more bike ride or sidewalk chalk-masterpiece. They are the other mothers all around us.


From afar they may look better, stronger, more loving or fit… they appear more gracious, joyful, resilient and calm… but truth be told we’re all in the same boat as we parent our miniature charges. And the chief thing that ties us all together, as we walk shoulder to shoulder, is that we all desire to do our best, but need encouragement to keep marching lovingly on. We need an Atta-Girl!  over the fence. We all need exhortation, inspiration, shared recipes, laughter and tears. We need companionship, adult conversation, and comfort. Comfort when we struggle with nursing issues, or  when our hearts break over the physical or emotional pains our children struggle with. We need fellowship as we celebrate their victories and our own achievements. Yes, we need friends.


Today I made two new friends.


I’d seen them before at back-to-school night, the Kindergarten picnic, and in the pick-up line at school, but today was the day we became friends. Here’s how it all went down:


This morning a small group of us moms stayed around after drop-off to help chaperone the Kindergartener’s first field trip to the local Pumpkin Patch. By late morning the temperature soared into the hundreds as children, teachers, and parents alike began to melt. We gulped down water bottles, lovingly tugged the children back towards the school bus, and laughed our way back to campus with 35 red-faced girls and boys. On the ride back to school I overheard two other mothers discussing if they were going to drink hot or cold tea this afternoon.  


As a certifiable, tea-drinking nerd I had to interrupt. Turns out they were going to go for tea at a new little tea-house this afternoon after returning the kids to school.  Unashamed (until the words actually fell out of my mouth) I asked, “O, can I come? I love going for tea!”  Praise the Maker, they said yes (enthusiastically in fact), and off we went to The Grand Tea Room in Escondido: Lovely little place with fabulous scones, flavorful salads and savories, and finger sandwiches.


Within five minutes of sitting down we had progressed from another reminder of one another’s names and the names of our children to the stories of meeting our husbands. Fun facts about our passions and our husbands interesting hobbies practically splashed out of our hearts and into our tea cups.  Plans were made to get our families together soon and we beamed at one another, satisfied with new friendship.


I know that I'm embarrassingly out-going at times, and you might be the farthest possible opposite of me imaginable, but today I wanted to share this story with you because we all need friends.  And I've come to see that the Other Mothers all around us on the playground, at MOPs groups, and on the sidelines, are uniquely equipped to laugh, encourage and march on with us during this specifically glorious albeit challenging season of life.


Tell me, are you out there seeking friendship or waiting for friendship to find you?  Let me encourage you to extend the hand of friendship to someone this week.  Blessings...


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