Category Archives: parenting

{a new rhythm in parenting}

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last sunday morning, we dropped the little girls off at a birthday party..
after the whole gong show of having to turn around halfway there to go back to
get the birthday present we’d forgotten.
pick kate up from a friend’s house where she’d spent the night.
get the little girls situated at the party.
and realize we were now 20 minutes late for church.
we decided to take the older kids advice and go out for breakfast with them instead.

there would have been a time i would have been more,
“no. we’re going to church. you kids need Jesus!”
and though i love church. and it is, and will always be a huge part of my life.
it’s certainly not the only place to find Jesus on a Sunday morning!
sitting in the breakfast house restaurant talking about life and universities,
and future plans and sex, {yep. that came up in the conversation too}.
and laughing, and listening and interacting, felt even more God-ordained
than sitting in a straight row in the church pew.

can i just insert here that, parents, if you want to keep the hearts of your kids.
keep the communication lines open between you, it might mean at times bending
on some of those things you never thought you’d bend on.
you can force your kids to do what you ask.
yes, your house. your rules!
we’ve actually had that conversation with our kids about church.
“as long as you live here you go where we go.
church together as a family is not an option.”

but, letting them skip out every now and then to go somewhere else?
or not even go at all?
taking off to the city with friends?
or a breakfast date with mom and dad?
okay, then. there’s exceptions to the rule.

we have to learn to bend so that we don’t break the relationship all together.
in my opinion, yes, relationship is more important than church attendance.
i’ve seen far too many parents force outward conformity at the expense of losing
the heart of their child all together.
it can be a tricky thing –
this delicate dance of knowing when to bend and when to stand firm.
it’s a rhythm i’m still working to find.

i LOVE having older kids.
it really is my favorite phase so far.
but i’ll be honest.. it’s the phase i’ve felt most lost in!
i’m not always sure how to respond. what the next step should be.
and how to maneuver through it all with grace and calm.
i remind my kids often, “i’ve never done this before!
i’ve never parented a 19 and 17 year old..
i haven’t a clue what in the world i’m doing!!”

it really has just been alot of trial and error.
alot of, i messed up. i got it wrong. forgive me.
alot of talks and tears and figuring it out together.

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when kate first came back from south africa we went through
such a period of just clashing!
it seemed no matter what i said it was wrong.
how do you give a curfew and say, no, you can’t do that when they’re of legal age
and basically lived on their own for a year?
independence once tasted is hard to be retrieved.
and it took some tough times and humbling myself to listen to her.
i had to hear from her what she needed from me and how i could do better
at mothering her at this point in her life.

it was HARD!

i thought these things would naturally align themselves.
wouldn’t my kids just always adore me like they did when they were five?
one of the hardest things for me has been to not parent from my emotions.
guys, i don’t do that well!!

the thing with your grown kids is they can hurt your feelings.
man! it can sting.
and my flesh, my emotions, wants to retaliate.
“fine.. hitchhike to ball practice! make your own dinner!”
no more sacrificing on my end!!
i’m not going to put myself out there to be hurt.
anyone?
please tell me i’m not the only immature parent out there.

shayne is so much better at it. that mature parenting thing.
he’s calm and cool and wise.
lays out the boundaries and sticks to his guns.
i’m a hot mess. so easily swayed.
one minute full of mercy. the next..
“i brought you into this world and i’ll take you out if you act that stupid again!!”
i’ve had to learn/ am learning that even though i might be freaking out inside
i can’t let it show on my face.
“what the what?”
that’s hard for me. i’m pretty much an open book.
but, i know from experience.. you freak out on your kid when they’ve made
a bad choice or had a bad attitude, or whatever it is, and you will shut their
spirit off to you in a heartbeat.

there’s a quote i like – “being kind is better than being right.”
i think that applies big time to our kids.
be kind to them when they make mistakes.
be kind as they’re trying to figure it all out.
who they are. what they’re doing with their life.
and most importantly, be kind, even if those choices don’t
look like what you think you should.

i never really cared much about what other parents thought of my parenting..
i mean, my kid was the pacy-sucking, disposable diaper wearing,
formula drinking one asleep on their belly!
i didn’t care what all my crunchy granola mama friends said about no peanut butter
until they’re two and no chewing gum until they’re six. whatever.
but put two college age kids on my hands? that everyone’s favorite question is,
“so.. what are kate and ben doing with their lives?”
and suddenly, i found myself caring a whole lot about what other parents think!

after the first couple of times of staring blankly at people when they asked
i went to the kids and said, “give me something, guys!”
to which is was something like,
“travel the world and run a lama zoo!”
so i knew i better come up with a better answer myself.

once, at a ballgame this past summer..
i was sitting a few bleachers up from kate when i heard another mom ask,
“so, kate.. what are you doing?”
kate shrugged, “oh, nothing!”
because as frustrating as it is being the parent of a college student undecided
on what they want to do, it’s even more frustrating for the student.
kate had said that was going to be her new standard answer.
but, caring about others opinions of our parenting in this new phase i did the
totally creepy mom, i’m listening to your conversation from all the way up here,
thing as i called down with a laugh, “oh, she’s joking!!
she’s working two jobs and saving her money and looking at different universities..
right, kate??”

kate just gave a half-smile and nod. she knew what i was doing.
i embarrassed myself that day! and decided from then on, going forward,
the best answer to give that i had struggled to find was just the honest one.
“she doesn’t know what she wants to do yet.”
and you know what?
that’s okay.
she has a better idea now than she did last summer
and we’re working on mapping that out with her.
but man! there is so much pressure on these kids straight out of high school
to know what they want to do with their lives, for the rest of their lives.
when reality is, here we are as parents at 42 and 43, still figuring it out ourselves as well.

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one of the biggest things in parenting older kids is giving them SPACE.
space to just be!
yes, we are there to guide and give advice and instruct
and there are times to put our foot down and say, “absolutely not!”
but most of the time, at this time in their life –
the foot putting down days are over.
and they have to be given the freedom to think and decide things for themselves.
and guys, that is the freakiest part of all in parenting!

and here we thought it was bad when they pooped up their backs when they were babies!

there’s moments with your older kids you’d give anything to have *that*
be the toughest part of your day again.
from, “which book do you want?” at bedtime.
to, “what do you mean one o’clock in the morning is too early of a curfew?”

i’m sure parents of older kids reading this are probably groaning and laughing
all in the same breath. i know you get it.
and parents of littles, don’t be afraid. ha!
it’s wonderful. i promise!
the good far outweighs the bad.
it’s a blast and nothing has burst my heart wide open with so much joy than having
young adult kids that i just find so cool as individuals and love hanging out with.

but it stretches your faith like nothing else.
that’s really what the “hard” is all about.
we say we trust God..
it’s the expected answer.
but the answer we know in our heads is alot different to live out!

those times of lying awake in the middle of the night,
worrying over something they’re going through.
or waiting on them to get home, when you know they’re with friends
who aren’t your first choice for them to be with.
when there’s been struggles and attitudes and beliefs they’re not sure they share.
those times of fear and what if’s? and feeling completely at a loss.
and what if all we’ve trained and taught them and tried to pour into them..
what if they choose a path opposite than ours?

as followers of Christ, we believe ultimate fulfillment is found in Him alone.
but what if our kids don’t share that belief? or veer away from it for a time?
what about those times?
will you trust Him then?
that He is faithful.
that He is sovereign.
that He cares.
that He’s at work.
that no amount of rules or lectures or 10 p.m. curfews or church services
or forced bible time or controlling or circling the wagons can change what
is inside their heart.

only God can do that.

and that.
that can be the hardest point of all our lives to trust Him with.

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of course it doesn’t mean we do nothing.
like, i’m just going to sit here twiddling my thumbs, trusting Jesus.
yes, it’s about faith in God. but it’s active faith!
as my kids would tell you, i’m not silent with them when it comes to what
i think they should and could be doing, saying, acting, living.
we talk ALOT.
we get passionate about our opinions.
we disagree.
we argue.
there’s still plenty of just plain, “i’m the parent that’s why!”
but more and more. little by little.
there’s this whole releasing thing too.
learning to parent hands-free.

hands-free parenting just means you’re face planted on the floor more.

prayer!

i’ve never been great at it.
but man! i’m learning.
i’ve been reading priscilla shirer’s book, fervent.
so, so good!

coming home the other night i had kate on my mind so strongly.
she was gone for the night with friends and suddenly, i was worrying about her.
usually, i’m halfway down the toilet drain of lies..
she’s kidnapped, dead, and gone before i even think to stop and pray!
anybody know what i mean?
but in trying to spot those early signs of beginning to circle the bowl,
i stopped right then and just went to God with my concerns.
kate told me the next day there was a weird guy hitting on her that night.
and when i asked about what time..
right around when i was feeling that way!

guys, we can never underestimate the power of prayer and the promptings of the Spirit in us.

i’m so far from having all the answers.
i don’t write these blogs because i think i have it all together..
but, because i don’t!
and for any of the rest of you out there maybe feeling the same way.

mothering of all our jobs is so closely knit to our identity.
such a reflection of who we are, and for years i struggled to feel that
i had to get it all right in order to feel i’d succeeded in my role.
now, it’s kind of this strange realization that it’s actually been, mostly,
in the times i’ve gotten it wrong.
the times of brokenness and not having a clue that have propelled
me to be the best mom i can possibly be..
because it’s been those times that have pushed me more into Christ
and seeing my great need for Him.
i’m convinced this parenting journey is far more about what God is doing
in me than what it is i think i’m teaching my kids.
the “success” of any of it is having a heart that is rooted deeper and deeper in Him.
and if my kids see that in my life? despite all my flaws and failures..
then i think i’ve done my job well.

this past summer we were at a waterfall with some friends.
after splashing around at the bottom for awhile, ben, in typical ben fashion
decides to climb up the side of the falls.
soon after, and again in typical fashion, he calls to kate who goes and
begins following him up.

i’m sitting on a rock close by watching them.
i feel a little nervous, but not too bad.
i’ve watched them do this sort of thing their whole lives.
but then, they get higher. and ben’s hand slips and he falls down a bit,
knocking kate off balance.
i stand up and call ben’s name, then kate’s.
they go a little further and i see ben struggling again.
the ledge is narrow and the rocks are slippery.
now my heart is beating fast and i try to get closer..
yelling out their names, but the water is too loud, too overpowering.
they can’t hear me.
i’m almost directly beneath them but they’re both oblivious.

and so i just stand there.
and hold my breath.

i know one of them will fall at any moment.
i’m almost sure of it.
expecting it.
i grimace as i see them go higher.
it’s the last ledge before the top and here i’m positive they won’t make it.
i shut my eyes, waiting on the scream.
when i hear none i open them up slowly, one at a time.
and as i squint against the sun trying to see, there they are.
at the top laughing and waving and, “hi, mom!”
and i just smile and shake my head and wave back.

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i’ve thought of that story so many times since then.
how parenting and struggling to find my rhythm in this new section
feels much that way. a bit helpless at times.
the roar of other influences so loud.
any attempt to control or change the course, futile.
there’s no going back.
all i can do is look up.
watching. grimacing at times. yelling against the drowning flow at other times.
but mostly, just trusting.

trusting God.
trusting them.
trusting this whole process.
that they’re learning to climb on their own.
and come to discover the Rock that is higher than any of this.

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{teens and clean}

i used to be that mom that followed my kids around picking up the toys behind them.
i made them make their beds every day.
every saturday was “clean your room day”.
and about once a month {when they weren’t around}
i’d go in with a big, black trash bag. anyone?
let’s just say i’m a, “recovering perfectionist”.

but, after almost 19 years of parenting.
2 teens.
1 {almost} preteen.
and a whole lot of frustrations later
i’ve learned something about teens and clean rooms..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

close the door, people!!!

some things just aren’t worth the battle.

let it go.
ain’t nobody got time for that fight.

trust me.. they’re not going to be slobs with dried milk on the floor and cock roaches in the sink someday when they have their own place.
unless they live in new york city, and then you have cock roaches no matter how clean you are!
but. when the time is right, they’ll know the proper end of a broom.

my kate is very neat.
everywhere else but her room.
but she’s the creative type.
and says she thinks better when her room is, not messy according to her,
but comfy.

my ben. is mostly neat.
except. well, when he isn’t.
and when there’s school and sports and it’s too early in the morning and too late at night
and he’s tired…
apparently it’s easier to find clothes when they’re all over the floor.

my emma likes sitting on her bed to read or color.
therefore even when it’s made it never looks it.
and she likes pulling the mattress off too so she can practice her flips.
she could be sitting in front of the television.
i’ll take mattress on the floor instead.

so. exasperated moms of messy roomed kids?
shut the door!

what about responsibility?
what about teaching them to respect what they’ve been given?

totally hear that.
totally agree we need to have those conversations.
there’s still those, “you’re not doing anything else till that room is clean, ” times.
but trust me, even without those times, they’ll get it.
really they will.
character is caught more than taught.
you’ll be amazed someday that they actually were listening to you.
and will apply the things you told them.

but, for now… the battles over clean?
the arguing. the frustration?
not worth it.
give them that space in the home.
that one space.
their space.
to keep how they want.
they know how you feel about it.
and they’ll shock you when they all of a sudden clean it up on their own.
now whether it stays that way consistently? probably not.
but they’ll try. you’ll see the effort.
amazing how sometimes when we just stop talking and nagging about something it will happen all on it’s own.
they’re way more capable than we give them credit for!

and. believe me..
the day is coming, much sooner than you think.
where you’re going to walk past your 18 year old’s room who’s not there.
and you’ll lean against that door frame and look in at the bed that hasn’t been rumpled in months.
the floor that doesn’t have a drop of clothes on it.
no cereal bowls on the desk or cups of day old tea on the night stand.
and guess what? you’re gonna miss the mess and wish it were there again.

because that mess you resent now represents relationship.
life. fun. activity. adventure. presence. meaning.
and that’s far more important than seeing what color the carpet is any day.

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so.
for now.
close the door, mom!
it’ll be able to be wide open all too soon.

 

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{letter from kate}

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it’s been a little over a month that she left for south africa.
since then she’s spent time on the streets of germany on the way there.
hugged a few lions.
hung out with penguins.
listened to lectures by two close friends of nelson mandela.
met desmond tutu.
and spent time teaching a classroom full of little swazi kindergarteners for a whole week..
which she said has been her favorite thing so far.

i talk to her on the phone and catch myself smiling.
i hear everything she says. hang on every word. every detail.
i picture it all in my mind.
but more than that. i find myself really listening to her voice.
i can’t describe it..
except, i listen, and i hear it.
the change. the maturity. it’s like she’s growing up even as she’s speaking to me.

her voice is sounding different.
and i love hearing it.

i think of her almost constantly.
like there’s never a time she’s not somewhere in my thoughts.
i wonder where she is at the moment. what she’s doing. how she’s feeling.
but i think a lot too about years past with her.
when she was little. when she was home last.
conversations. memories.
they all just spin and collide in one big mash-up in our hearts.
this beautiful medley only us mama’s hear..
of our babies becoming the people they were meant to be.
every part of everything that’s happened to them is so important. so necessary.
i’ve said to kate a dozen times – “no part of your story doesn’t have purpose.”

there’s a reason.

a reason that happened in grade nine. why you walked through that in grade eleven.
why we moved here when you were thirteen. why you felt your life was over.
why you hurt. why you questioned.
there’s purpose in it all.

and i think that’s one of the greatest joys as a parent –
seeing your kids take what once caused pain or confusion or insecurity
and using it to let others know they’re not alone.
communicating compassion and understanding that you only learn by walking that way yourself.

i miss her.
it makes me sigh even now.
to close my eyes and picture her face. her smile.
she’s not just my girl. she’s a best friend.

i love her company.

a few days after she left i was sitting in the mall parking lot in shayne’s big white truck
about to go in, digging around in my bottomless purse looking for something..
and out falls this two page letter.
i picked it up off the floor and seriously! i kid you not –
instantly miranda lambert’s song, “the house that built me,” starts playing over the radio
which is kinda like “our song.”
and i sat there. with that song. and her letter. and tears streaming as i read.

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anyone who knows kate knows she’s a note writer.
she’s an encourager and likes using notes to do that.
i’ve gotten so many from her through the years, but this one felt different.
like her voice i hear changing. this wasn’t just from my daughter..
this was from a woman. my equal. my friend.
she exhorted and inspired and spoke comfort to wounds i didn’t even know she knew i had!
iron sharpening iron. her words gave LIFE!
and there’s this beautiful shift you experience as your kids get older
where suddenly, they are pouring back into you!
it’s so precious.
the friendship between a parent and adult child.

but the thing is, it’s not always been “precious” between us.
there was a time. a set of about six months at the beginning of grade ten where..
man! i just didn’t know!!
didn’t know if the darkness that had closed over her would lift.
didn’t know if the things i wanted and desired for her would ever be reality.
if our relationship would move past that sense of strain and disconnect.
of walking out of counseling and feeling.. just hopeless.

that time seems so very distant now. just a bleep compared to everything else.
that spot of dark so dim compared to all the amazing light God has brought.

and i wanted to share that here because i feel there might be a mama reading this who’s struggling.
who’s feeling that dark heaviness. the worry and wonder over one of your kids.
a bit hopeless.

even you young mama’s – i know it’s hard to think that this little one you’re with 24/7 will ever do anything but take EVERY SINGLE OUNCE OF ENERGY you have!!
but can i just reassure you. remind you. there are better times ahead!!!
not just better – – but times you can’t even imagine right now they’re going to be THAT good!
with as much as you love your kids and your heart feels it’ll burst wide open..
just wait.
it’s going to burst even more!!

hang in there. and most importantly. hang on to your Heavenly Father.
keep giving them to Him again and again.
love unconditionally.
go in the other room to scream if you have to. but never let them feel your love has conditions.
and never {ever ever} underestimate the power of prayer. cry out when you feel at a loss.
He promises to give wisdom to those who ask. and He’ll do it.
He’ll guide your steps as you maneuver this holy ground of raising these kids.
You can trust Him.
He’s working.
even when it seems He’s not. He is!

someday you’ll have your parking lot experience too of just weeping your eyes out at missing your grown up kid somewhere far away, but mainly just weeping from God’s work of mercy in your home. in your hearts.

He’s a Good, Good Father!

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{hutch baby and heaven}

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she’s my kid that’s made me take back all those times i looked at those toddlers pitching fits in the middle of the wal-mart aisle and wondered what was up with the mom..

well, now i know. ;)

she’s full on. this little one of mine.
super sweet and loving.
or super stubborn and not so loving!

a few weeks ago out of the blue she started asking me questions about heaven.
with the other kids it seemed that shayne and i initiated these conversations more..
with her, i don’t know, things seem to slip more with the youngest. or you just forget!
let’s face it.. your forty something brain isn’t nearly as “on it” as your twenty something brain was.
and so, she would just ask these things when we’d be going somewhere in the car, like, “where is heaven at?” or when i was combing her hair, “do you have to get dead to go to heaven?” and, “what does Jesus look like?”

one day here recently while i was making dinner, trying to cut up a butternut squash, she came into the kitchen and was standing beside me a minute before saying, “well, i prayed to Jesus but He didn’t say anything..” it was one of those times where you just kinda absent mindedly nod a, “uh-huh,” to your kid but really, i wasn’t fully listening and more concerned with chopping my finger off over that butternut squash, which are like the hardest things in the world to cut, for crying out loud!!!!!

she left the kitchen and returned a bit later. “well.. He still not say anything..”

now i’m scooping out the slimy mess from inside the squash and trying to keep it over the trash can. it took me a second for her words to sink in, “what, baby? what are you talking about? who didn’t say anything?”

“Jesus.” she said flatly, as she played with the barbie in her hand.

“what do you mean, sweetie? what do you mean He didn’t say anything?”

“well, i prayed to Jesus but He not saying anything back to me..”

i’m still concerned with this squash, but..

“well, what did you say to Him?”

i turned back to the counter and caught her face looking up at me.
eyes wide.
“i said to Him, i’m sorry.”

i stopped. “why did you tell Jesus you’re sorry?”

she took a big, long gulp. “because i want to go to heaven..”

and then i’m full attention now!!
i put down the squash and wiped my hands off and knelt to her level.
i suddenly realized all those questions all these weeks..
and they had led to this, and on her own she was wanting to talk to God.

“do you want mommy to help you pray?”

she nodded.
we walked into the living room and sat on the couch.

and so, that sweet moment most of you parents know what i’m talking about.
i heard her little voice telling Jesus she loved Him. that she wanted Him to come into her heart.

and when we said, “amen.” and with tears brimming, i hugged her tight.
“now you’re a christian, baby!”

she beamed. “i am?”

and i laughed and hugged her again.

i love how all through the rest of the night she couldn’t stop talking about being a “tristian,” and heaven, and, “is ben going to be there? and kate? and emma? papaw too?”
and when i told her, “yep. papaw’s gonna be there too!” she broke into this happy song/ dance that went something like, “papaw’s gonna be in heaven, papaw’s gonna be in heaven. yeah. yeah. yeah!!” {she might have a future career in the music business!} and when she still seemed troubled that was she praying to Jesus and not hearing His voice, i tried explaining, best i could, that He “talks” to us in many different ways. and when she seemed content with that and skipped away, i watched her go and thought to myself how it will take a lifetime of her learning to hear that still small voice of her Saviour.

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and i still just smile thinking back over it all. those precious conversations. her genuine searching. her little forehead furrowed, thinking, as she processed it all. her excitement to tell everyone, “i’m a tristian now!”

i’m far from a theologian. i know there’s a lot of debate on the “age of salvation” and kids being too young to really understand. i don’t know what she grasps with it all and what she doesn’t – if someday when she’s older she wants to pray again or feels she didn’t fully get it, that’s fine. but the thing for me with it all was this.. i’ve often worried, “what if my kids grow up and don’t live for the Lord?” i’ve wondered at times throughout this parenting thing if we haven’t messed them up for life. that we’ve totally screwed up and there’s no salvaging it. that we’ve not been faithful enough with family devotions and pointing them to God like we should have. that i haven’t prayed enough or been the best example – – and then, then this youngest one of mine reminded me that HE is the one who works in their hearts. HE is the one who has begun something in them. and HE is the one that will complete it. sure. we are responsible as parents to teach and train and instruct and do what we can, but it is GOD that ultimately stirs in them that hunger for something more. it is God who reveals Himself to them.. that begins, probably much younger than we even know, to whisper to their hearts, even when they still think, “i prayed to Him but He not say anything..” He is there. He is working. He is faithful.

as a parent that gives me such comfort. such hope. such a new found desire to WANT to pray for my kids.. to cry out for God to do in them what He needs to do to make them the people He wants them to be. and being confident that, He will do it!

it’s funny how when we see issues in our kids our first instinct is to try to fix them. to stress and freak and get all controlling, which often only leads to surface performance from kids who know how to follow rules – but when i see things in my kids life, if my first response is to go to GOD for wisdom and direction and for Him to work.. His results in their lives are always so much better than mine.

and they are eternal.

so whether she fully gets it or not. one thing i feel certain of –
our little hutch baby has begun her own journey with the Heavenly Father..
and i can’t wait to watch it unfold.

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{about south africa and that time kate graduated high school}

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it’s been just about a month ago now..
i sat in an over crowded, hot gym on a thursday night straining and standing on tip toes,
along with all the other parents, trying to catch a glimpse of our kids coming down the aisle.

a very slow and slightly off-key version of pomp and circumstance was being played by the band. and tassels flung back and forth as the black robed graduates filed in.

i was to the side, on the bleachers, towards the front.
i couldn’t see -so i climbed up and stood on my seat.
then, i spotted her. smiling brightly, with that bit of nervousness at the corners of her mouth, only a mom would know.
my eyes went misty as she walked and found her place and faded in the crown.
i stood on my seat a few seconds longer before realizing i was the only one still standing.
i got down quickly, looking to the left and right of the packed row of heads in front of me
trying to find her again.

someone came to the mic and began talking and i turned my attention to listen.
but my mind raced back..
back to that afternoon i found out i was pregnant with her.
because as moms, isn’t that what we do in moments like this? almost by default..
flip through the index of memories inside?
it was three months into marriage. dead of winter. northern canada.
i remember being nervous.

life felt so weird. i felt so out of sorts. still finding my way in my new home. new life.
a new country. and new family – that was all like, “who the heck is this crazy american chick?” ;) wife and pastor’s wife on top of that! which, being raised in a pastor’s home i swore i’d never marry one. i have so much respect for pastor’s wives, i just wasn’t a good one.

that afternoon, i remember wondering if we should have been more strict with birth control -should we have waited? planned better? traveled more? saved more?
i’m not sure you can ever be “ready” for kids but i’m glad kate came when she did!
i wouldn’t change a thing about having kids within the first few years of our marriage.

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whenever young wives ask me about the pros and cons of waiting i tell them only what i’ve discovered to be true – the time you have being a mom really pales in comparison to all the time you’ll have for other things. seriously, “me time” compared to “mom time” throughout your life always tips heavier.

it doesn’t feel that way when you’re all up in it day after day – the diapers and nursing every hour and up in the night and messes and long days and dark circles under the eyes. but it’s true! as older women told me, and now i’m telling you :) your kids DO eventually grow up! and graduate. and leave…

and that last part. as i glance over into the kitchen, i see it on the counter.
the letter from CMU and her acceptance into their one year discipleship/missions
program. and i heard shayne on the phone, confirming her spot on the team for south africa. south africa? really?
she only just learned to parallel park, for crying out loud, and not very good!!!!

oh, my heart catches and those emotions rise in a hurry.

but i want to be so careful what i express to her. i’ve seen it, felt it. that temptation as parents of older kids to cling a bit tighter when you should be loosening your grip. to even, unintentionally, make them feel guilty for wanting to go. or play into their
emotions with it all. or worse, let the fears of unknowns cause us to control. manipulate. it’s hard when you just kinda like having your kids around. no ulterior motive at all other than you enjoy them. enjoy their friendship. their company. their humor. their
personality. what they bring to the family. add to the home. ben has been gone to camp for four weeks now, almost five, and goodness, i’ve missed him! we’ve talked about it so much, all of us, how much it’s changed even the very feeling around here. ~ and i’m not really sure how to “handle” my kids leaving. when i hugged ben goodbye at camp the first of july, i kept my glasses on ;) because i was surprised how tough it really was. to think of not seeing him day after day. i told shayne on the way home, “i’ve never been separated from my kids for longer than like two weeks max!!”

it’s strange. it’s new. these ones so part of you. so used to having around. suddenly, not! so it’s new territory for me. i’m sure i’ll be writing more as i process and learn. or, maybe i’ll just be sitting all quiet because there aren’t any words. haha. but a few weeks ago when kate had driven herself somewhere a couple hours south of here, and ended up lost, in toronto, in rush hour traffic and called and i could hear the panic in her voice.. shayne and i sat all crouched around my cell phone, with her on speaker phone, as shayne tried to talk her through where she needed to be and helping her find her way back to the highway, though we didn’t have a clue where she was. and when we were all through and she was safe on her way again, we hung up and i looked at him all wide eyed and a bit breathless.

“oh, babe! this is just the beginning!”

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but i remember the start of her life. how i felt so much the same.
and all the phases between. those moments of,
“oh, man! i don’t have a clue what i’m doing!”
and still. seventeen, almost eighteen years later, not much has changed there.
yet.. i know we’ll cross over into this next chapter with her as we’ve done every other –
with some fear? sure. a little nervousness at the unknowns and “what if’s?”.. of course.
but mostly with joy. a whole lot of joy. that we get to do this!
that we get to learn together what it means to trust and rest and believe in a God that’s so got this!

and as i look over again at that inevitable letter on the kitchen counter..
i’m reminded, it’s really, the only way to live.

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“You, who have been upheld by Me from birth.
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He.
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” {isa.46:3,4}

{of moments slow}

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there’s those moments in motherhood where you just kind of stop dead in your tracks and look at your child and go, “when in the world did you grow up?”

surely it was only yesterday they were this little slobbering active toddler.
pulling out all the tupperware.
and throwing the rolls of toilet paper in the toilet faster than you could pull them out.
when all they wanted was to eat hotdogs and cheese dipped in ketchup.
but mainly, just ketchup.
and to read, “den, mommy. den.” the cat in the hat. how that book went on for hours, it seemed…
all it’s silliness and rhymes and your tongue tripping over itself.
and how they would laugh, thinking it all so funny!
and sometimes you would secretly skip pages.

and there’s this hurry around childhood.
even from the moment we first know we’re expecting, we just want baby here.
then, if only baby would sleep through the night.
will they ever wipe their own bum? cut their own food?
will i be tying their shoes on their wedding day?
and without realizing, we can slip into going through the motions..
of doing with our kids, but not really being.
of an underlying rush to simply survive the day. make it to another bedtime.
but hope the book chosen at bedtime isn’t, please, the cat in the hat!
something shorter. quicker.
and all this hurry. hurry.
then.
she walks out of her bedroom navy blue and glorious and you stop mid sentence from talking to her friend’s mom that’s there..
and all those moments. all of them. they flood in.
from one day thinking the days are endless to the other thinking,”how did they end so soon?”

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and she’ll walk down an aisle in a few weeks and graduate.
and who knows how many more until another aisle awaits.
and just like that.
those childhood days are over.
and new, exciting ones ahead, yes.
but different. changed.
new chapters and seasons.
and we can all sigh a little lonely at times for days gone.
but still, you don’t wish to go back.
what awaits is lovely too.
and loveliest of all is the new eyes in which you see it with now.

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and when she emerges- this woman, happy and bright. and asks you to fasten her dress and hugs you tight. holding. you feel it. her grip. her slow. that pause. she sees it too.

do not rush the moments.

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one of my fav pics of the night.. little sister at the table, eating, just taking it all in.

mom’s of littles.
mom’s still wondering if these long days ever end..
if sleep will ever come again and hot coffee.
mom’s still in the middle of endless books and toilet paper rolls unraveled.
and this non-stop one who just, from sun up to sun down, goes.
and you kinda wish for independence and days to come.
it’s normal. we all do.
i have littles ones still too..
you would think i would see it the most glaringly.
still. i forget. i’m selfish. i rush and i hurry.
but. a word to us all – mostly me – DON’T!

let’s hug a bit tighter
read a little slower
swing longer
stop more often
bend over to their level
give eye contact
listen
watch
slow

living the moment. not rushing it to pass.
not distracted by documenting it.
just them. with you. no one noticing. no one seeing.
but they do.

and soon they’ll emerge wonderful and grown.
the days gone by a blur.
and you’ll realize it was more beautiful than you knew.

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{let’s do this part slow}

{let’s do this part slow}

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we had just dropped the older two off somewhere and i had errands to run.
it seemed everyone else did too.
i tried to hurry. but traffic moved slow.
and even sitting at a dead stop, i could feel the racing within.

i pulled into the parking lot of wal-mart and after a few loops around settled on the closest spot i could find..
clear out on the very end!
i buttoned up my coat and asked emma to put reese’s hat on.
telling myself i needed the exercise of the hike across the parking lot.
which as soon as i opened my van door to the first gust of cold wintry wind,
my new found fitness resolve seemed to blow away as fast!
i looked down double checking i really had done up my coat. it sure didn’t feel it.

with a little girl’s hand in each of mine we walked quickly.
finally scooping to hold baby and telling emma to hurry up.
herding our way through the doors with the dozens of others we grabbed a rickety shopping cart..
and like bumper cars we were off. everyone going every which way, trying not to crash into the person in front of you.

every few minutes emma would remind me she was hungry…
with a echo of, “me hungry too,” from her little sister.
and i would answer what i had for the last two hours as we had rushed about,
“just a few more minutes guys. promise. then mommy will get you something to eat… ”

in the check out lane i rolled through my mental list of what else needed to be done that day..
and i wondered why it was whenever you were in a hurry you always got behind the mother of all extreme couponer’s?
seriously. those people need their own special lanes!

finally paying, and then thinking i should be joining the extreme couponer’s of the world, instead of criticizing them..
you should have seen what that lady saved!
emma tugged on my arm. “can we eat there?” pointing to the mcdonalds in the store.
i sighed. and felt the guilt that if i were a better mom i would have packed a healthy snack..
atleast, a wee bit healthier than mcdonald’s. ;)
with an extra, “pleeeeese?” i ignored the guilt and said yes.

“but we’ll have to grab it real quick and eat it on the way.”

i guess the guy didn’t hear me say, to go!
and when i saw our food on a tray instead of a bag i decided we could probably have it already eaten,
by the time it would take me to call back over the clueless college kid and get him to switch it.

we found a spot and i settled the girls in the chairs opposite me.
“mom,” emma said as i split the fries between her and reese and shoved a few in my mouth..

“what, baby?”

“can we just do this part slow?”

i stopped chewing and instantly felt her words sting my heart.
i swallowed hard and reached and took a drink. then nodded.

“okay. let’s do this part slow.”

so i unbuttoned my coat and sat back a little further in my chair.
and while little feet dangled under the table and smiles flashed between bites and the crowds bustled round us
i was reminded of a good thing..
to slow. to calm. to take the time to savor. to enjoy.

sometimes i have to hurry because there are time crunches and packed schedules and responsibilities to keep.
but alot of the time i’m hurrying for no good reason at all…
only that this one thing has to get done so i can get on to the next!!!
and of course.. there’s forever one.more.thing.to.do.
but if we live always for the next thing, we miss the thing right in front of us.

like a sweet memory of just me and my little girlies.
in the wal-mart mcdonalds of all places!

so as this month winds to a close and the busiest one of all is about to start..
here’s to purposing not to be in such a hurry. especially when i don’t have to be.
and when i do. leave earlier. and maybe don’t cram so much in.
and when i can. choosing to sit back. unbutton my coat. stay awhile.

and chew those french fries just a little bit slower! :)

winter wonder bwkids

hancocks family photos and thanksgiving~ 255hancocks family photos and thanksgiving~ 307

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kate’s winter shoot in my wedding dress~
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a visitor on my front porch this morning~

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happy start to the most wonderful time of the year!!

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“the best thing to spend on your children is your time. ”

amber.

{a talk with kate last night}

i may or may not have taken emma to school in my pajamas this morning.
i asked her on the way there if she thought this might be a good first morning for me to drop her off in the drop off zone..
you know, just jump out the van door. wave goodbye. and mom drives off.
but no. still wants me to park. get out. and wait with her until the bell rings.

so, yes. if you saw a women there in a long black sweater with pink and white polka dotted pants stuffed into her ugg boots {the pretend kind from payless},and sunglasses two sizes too small with duck tape down each side because she couldn’t find her own and had to wear her sons, i assure you, i’m not on crack or nursing a hangover.. just a mom who overslept and bolted out the door with all of 2 minutes to spare.

last night when i asked kate what was something i could pray for her about this week, she said,

“that i wouldn’t go to school every day…”
then, realizing what she said, she started laughing.

“so you want me to pray you won’t go to school every day, hmm? okay, i’ll do that.” i teased.

“no.” she said, sitting up on the bed and growing serious.
“i want you to pray that i wouldn’t go to school every day with an attitude of just getting by..
i mean, sometimes i feel like i live counting down each day till friday.
school can be so boring. and it seems like it will never end. but i don’t want to be like that. live like that!
i want to.. um.. i don’t really know what the word is to use, like” and she took her hand and snatched at the open air, “grab hold of each day. really enjoy it.”

then her voice trailed off and she dropped her head and shrugged,
“i don’t know… does that make sense?”

i shook my head, and smiled. “makes total sense.”

and i’m always amazed when i listen to my teenage girl..
how many of the lessons we begin learning so young, stay with us for a lifetime~

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and whether 14 and dreading math tests and weird science teachers.
or 25 and dreading going to work each day.
realizing all those kids you thought you were escaping when you graduated high school are actually everywhere!!  ;)
or 38 and dreading laundry and dishes and messes and poopy diapers and feeling like a taxi driver…

in every season of life we wake up the same way- with a choice on how our attitude for that day will be.
are we just going to survive. muddle through. get by.
or as kate said and i like that mental picture, grab hold of it!
not just standing by watching it pass.

and i get that it’s not always as easy as all that. we’re tired with a tiredness that goes beyond our bodies at times..
the burdens of life can so weigh upon us and yes, our head is down and we’re just trying to take one step after the other.

i don’t think grabbing hold of a day means putting on some phony kind of happiness.
but as kate and i went on to talk about last night, recognizing life is about so much more than just us! so much more.

and having that perspective certainly won’t take the hard and hurt of some days away..
but it makes grabbing them and accepting them, so much easier. when we live with eyes beyond ourselves. ~

and it’s no new mind blowing concept. kinda like the dishes and laundry.. same old. ;)
but just like them. i too need re-doing. re- cleaned. wrinkles of my soul smoothed. and stains of selfishness washed in His truth!

and so that is simply the prayer of my heart today for my girl, and me also.
to have eyes to see this day as the Lord does.
to live with purpose and love on purpose.
to look for Him in everything. because He’s there!
to proclaim His love every morning. and His faithfulness each night.

amen!

some pictures from the past few wks~

september goodness~ 109
september goodness~ 114
the true woman conference in indianapolis~ two words about this. amazing! {and next year} GO!

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our ride down. and yes! that is the light of God shining out of that truck.. we needed extra grace for sure!! ;)

family
all the family. minus scott taking the picture~

september goodness~ 379
the guys. minus jeff who wasn’t there yet~

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kate and some of her friends she’s known since forever! :)

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emma getting baptized by her papaw~ so special

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morning glories finally in bloom. lovin em.

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at the fair

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her two favorite things there~ the bunnies. and cotton candy!

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and somebody turned two while we were gone. more on all that soon~

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the sunset last night.

time to run out the door for school pick up.
then on to football practice and hockey practice after that.
and yes.. this time i’m dressed more appropriately! :)

hapPy new week everyone!

amber.