Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vacation Planning

I used to love to research vacation destinations. I still like to look at websites and dream of where I might go. But we are now three weeks from Spring Break and I have still not booked our vacation. Originally we were hoping to go to Whistler, BC. But as you may have read in the post about my lost passport, I still do not have a passport so while I could go to Whistler, I would not be able to return home. So I have now started looking into local vacation options. Unfortunately, all the local options involve a lot more choices than I like. I am a Disney traveler. I like to book my hotel, buy my tickets, and be done with decisions beyond where to eat lunch. But the local resorts have lots of different rental options, resort locations and amenities, as well as a whole host of ski school options. So I am now faced with a lot of decisions and I just want to put my head down and give up. Staying home for Spring Break could be nice. Except I don't want to disappoint my kids.

The boys are really excited to learn to ski and surprisingly love the snow. Maybe because we actually invested in some good snow clothes, boots and gloves for them. I remember as a kid always being cold and wet in the snow. My long hair dripping with wet snow, whipping my face as I headed down the hill on my old school style sled. I liked the snow as a kid but I did not like being cold and wet. The one time my family took me skiing, I was wearing jeans and kept falling down so that quickly I was cold, wet and falling down a hill. I gave up rather quickly after that and have not skied since. It never occurred to me that my kids would want to ski or do anything snow related. But turns out after living in California for two winters, the big excitement of moving home was snow. They really wanted to see snow, play in snow, go sledding and now skiing. This year though I found the secret to enjoying snow. Good snow clothes. The right gear makes all the difference. Though I don't think it will help with the falling portion of learning to ski. And that part still makes me nervous.

My worry is that as I am getting older, new things are starting to scare me. I find myself not wanting to try new things, especially new things that involve speed, heights or the possibility of serious bodily injury. It is a good thing to have a healthy sense of self preservation, but I am slowly becoming old, scared of things that should be fun and exciting. I am worried I am becoming an old woman, someone who will be too scared to fly to see my grandkids. Someone who would rather stay in my house than get out into the world. And I don't want that! I want to enjoy the world when I finally have the freedom and finances to do it. I want to see Istanbul and go to a wildlife preserve in Africa. I want to go swishing down the snow covered mountain, ideally on a snowboard because I want to be cool and hip. I want to take chances because I know without taking chances life gets dull and I get stuck in a rut.

So it is time to get over my anxieties and worries of trying to plan the perfect vacation, trying to find the absolute best place to stay. It is time to get over my fear of the phone and call the ski school and actually talk to a real person about the best way to get everyone in my family up and skiing. It is time for me to take a chance on something, without expectations of perfection. It is time to step up and book our reservations.

But since it is 10:30pm I will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life in the Fairy Tales

I think I am living a fairy tale life. Not Cinderella, which was my favorite growing up, or any of the other princess movies. I have found my prince, but does happily ever after really exist? Long term yes, but my day to day living does not involve mice and birds making my bed, cleaning my house or tying a ribbon in my hair. I do relate a bit to Snow White since I spend my days cooking and cleaning for little men.

I sometimes feel like the mom of the three little pigs. Hockey boy would definitely build his house of bricks. Little One would probably be the one using sticks or wood but having seen his lego building skills I am pretty sure the Big Bad Wolf could blow it down pretty quick. MIddle Man, what to say about Middle Man? I am pretty sure he would be the straw one, though I doubt he would actually build a house with the straw. More likely he would make a big pile of the straw, climb inside and call it good. In his defense, I think the Big Bad Wolf would probably walk right by the pile of straw though so his plan may be genius. Thankfully, for Little One and Middle Man, Hockey Boy is a very caring big brother and I am sure he would let them move him. He already plans to have them all live together in their own house someday in Detroit when they are playing for the Red Wings. Three grown boys in one house makes me think I will be staying in a hotel when I visit.

When I am not living with the Three Little Pigs, I find myself feeling like we have entered the home of the Three Bears. If it is not too hot, it's too loud, or too bright, or too wet, or too cold. What works for one of my boys, does not work on the others. Hockey Boy loves hot showers. Little One hates things too hot. He likes his corn dogs cold, but Middle Man wants his hot. The tv is too loud says Little One. I can't hear they then all shout when I start loading the dishwasher. One can't sleep because he is too hot but I refuse to turn the air conditioner on in the middle of winter when I am freezing because someone likes to sleep all snug in way too many blankets. Occasionally, there is a rare and magical moment when all is just right in their worlds. The moment when their little eyes are closed, their bodies at peace, as they sleep. And then I want to climb into bed with them and enjoy the just right moment.

I really do have a fairy tale life. It might be more a Grimm's Fairy Tale then the Disney versions but still a fairy tale.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Desires of our Heart

I am reading through the Bible this year with a group of girl friends. We are using a reading plan that has us doing a little Old Testament, a little New Testament, some Proverbs and a Psalm every day. It does not take a lot of time, unless you procrastinate a few days and then find yourself having to read 10 chapters of Exodus and the exact measurements for the building of the Ark of the Covenant. For extra motivation, beyond the joy that comes from reading God's Word, there is a prize, a prize that involves a hotel room, sleeping in and a whole day with the girls. I wonder how many different ways we can paint our toes in just one girls getaway. In order to attend this girls getaway though you have to have completed the whole Bible, every single verse, this year, 2010. No exceptions. And since I am the rules keeper, I can't fall behind. I don't want to miss the fun.

So recently, I was catching up a bit on my reading and was struck by something I read in Psalms 37, something I have read dozens of times. I am using the Bible I used in college because it is easy on the eyes without any notes and good size type. My eyes are getting old and my little pocket Bible really does not work, at least not if I actually want to read the words. It is awfully cute though in pink and orange leather. In Psalm 37 I have verse 4 circled. "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." You hear this all the time around the church, but what does it mean. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that the more we seek God, the more we walk in His ways, the more our desires will align with His. What I liked about reading Psalm 37 this time was seeing verse 4 in context.

"Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him"

Trust, Delight, Commit, Wait.

This is why I really do love reading the Bible without a study or plan beyond just reading it. I am struck anew each time I do by something that is both timely for me and eternal from God. When I am not going to the Bible with my intentions, my plans, my interpretation, but just read what is before me, God speaks clearly through His word.

Trust. Delight. Commit. Wait.

Just what I needed to hear.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mommy Knows Best

At least some of the time, it turns out that Mommy really does know best. Little One learned this lesson on Friday when I took him to the zoo. It has been gorgeous here in the Pacific Northwest, sunny skies and warmish temperatures. And when the sun comes out in February, in this part of the country, we head outside to soak up as much vitamin D as we can. We know we need to store it up in our cheeks like a squirrel with nuts, because come April we will be in the midst of a depressingly long month of rain.

So on Thursday, when our morning plans fell through, I decided I would be Mommy of the Year and take Little One to the zoo while is brothers were at school. Seemed like a winner plan until I mentioned it to Little One, at which point I found out that he considered a trip to the zoo an act of the meanest Mommy in the world. He wanted nothing to do with it. He did not want to go to the zoo. I tried to talk him into it telling him about all the great animals we would see, lions and tigers and bears. "Oh my" thought Little One. It turns out he was scared. I know he gets scared around dogs and such but to be scared of the zoo? Well actually, I am not totally surprised by the zoo fear. When he was little, we were at the San Francisco zoo and I took him into the big family farm petting zoo area in his stroller. I thought I had gotten all the food secured, but I guess there was one cracker hiding behind Little One. Those goats are tenacious! I thought he had grown out of his fear because he went back to the San Francisco Zoo a few more times and had a great time. But I guess not. I let the idea go for Thursday because his reaction was so extreme, but I was not going to let this go.

I knew though that he would love the zoo, once I got him there. So the next day, I loaded him into the van and started driving. He kept asking where we were going and I told him a few pieces of information, the city name, that we would be walking around outside in the sun, that there would be lots of people having fun. But I never said the word zoo, or animals or anything that might give my deception away. He eventually figured it out after we bought our tickets and started to walk in and he saw the animals. Thankfully our zoo has a long entry way, that feels a bit, a very little bit, like a hike through the woods. So I was able to ease him into the main part of the zoo. Little One was pretty nervous at first, backing away from the animal enclosures. I picked him up to see the otters and he was a bit shaky. But then we found the big sea lions, swimming behind a huge sheet of glass and he fell in love with the place. Turns out he feels much more comfortable behind glass than with wire netting acting as a cage. May be from all those visits to the aquarium. But once he got comfortable, he really got into the visit, wanting to see the penguins swimming and the polar bears sleeping. He liked it best when there were two or more animals together, always pointing to the "friend". He was still a little scared at the lion exhibit and stayed pretty far back, though still making sure he could see the two "friends" sleeping together on the rocks. As we were walking out he said the lions had been quiet. I guess he had expected them to ROAR their terrible Roar and GNASH their terrible teeth.

As I was dragging Little One out of the zoo that he refused to visit the day before, he said, "I like the zoo." He is already planning what animals he wants to visit next time he goes. It may seem cruel to force a three year old to face his fears, but sometimes that's what we need to do. I am sure there is an important lesson in here for me as well. Sometimes I need to face my fears because the experience really will be fun.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Fever

I LOVE the Olympics. Summer or Winter, doesn't matter to me. I will watch pretty much any Olympic event NBC decides to put on tv. I love watching the Today Show coverage in the morning, feeling like I am right there with them. I root for team USA, whether we are speed skating or snowboarding. Notice I say we because in my world, I am a part of team USA. And have you seen the P&G commercials with the tag line Proud Sponsor of Moms. Try watching that without crying.

My boys have caught my Olympic fever, which was further fueled for them by the Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics Wii game Santa brought at Christmas. We have been perfecting our bobsledding, working on our ski jumps, and figuring out curling ever since. I was surprised how much they love all the different events. Middle Man was "speed skating" down our hallway the night we watched the long track races. He had at one point said he wanted to be an Olympic ski jumper or snowboarder but now that he has started his ice skating lessons so he can play hockey, Middle Man is all about Team USA hockey. I spent this morning trying to decide what jersey we will be getting him for his birthday. I then went on a lunch date with LIttle One and we ended up cuddled in our booth watching the US curling team while waiting for our lunch. Team USA lost but it was fun to be watching with Little One. Thanks to the Wii game I knew a few of the rules and we would cheer when the US stone got closest to the center.

The nice thing about the Olympics as a parent are the conversations you can have about hard work, getting back up after a disappointment, and being a good sport that come naturally while watching the different events. I get to lecture my kids about all sort of important life lessons that would normally go over their heads or end up with them walking away. Yesterday we were talking about how hard they will have to work, how much they will have to practice, if they want to be in the Olympics. Hockey Boy responded, "I need to work on my offense then." So we talked about ways he can practice his puck handling and shooting. I love that it is coming from him and his desire to be the best than from me pushing him up a hill he may or may not want to climb.

I know that the excitement of the Olympics brings out a lot of new future Olympians each time. Right now my boys are dreaming of being in the Olympics as hockey players, or snowboarders, or skiers. I love that they are dreaming of greatness.


I really want to delete the last two blog posts I wrote. I don't like to be defined by my history. Nor do I want to be the whiny, emotional girl on the web. I don't mind being honest about my struggles, at least the struggles I can control or that start and end with me. But I really hate feeling like a little girl at the mercy of the grown ups in my life. I want to pull down what I wrote for a lot of reasons. What if they read it? Am I being too mean? Will people think I am weak or attention seeking? It would be so much easier to delete the post, I know because I have done that before. Not this time. I don't know why, but I feel like I need to leave it there, even as it makes me very uncomfortable. Because I know that I cannot be the only one struggling to deal with family issues in a way that pleases my true, Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Forgive or forget?

Warning: If you know my parents, know that this is only my perspective. I am sure they have frustrations and hurts of their own. I am sure my story has inaccuracies that could be pointed out and misunderstandings on my part that could be explained away. But this is my blog, this is my struggle.


As I wrote in my last post I have found a new identity in my relationship with God. This identity is based on who I am as a child of God and what Jesus did for me on the cross. This I know is true. But what am I to do with the old identity, or more specifically, my family of origin, more specifically, my parents. Lots has happened in my 30 something years on earth that has hurt, tarnished and ripped that relationship to pieces. People have changed, both for the better and more frustratingly for the worse at times. I have tried over the years to rebuild my relationship with my parents. Tried to heal what was, which did not really work because as I later found out, my healing could only be done by God. We have tried to create the relationship we would want to have, which worked for a while. But even when it was working, there was too much underneath that I ignored in order to make it work. And then we moved away and peace overcame me. I was free to create my own family, my own traditions, my own memories. I was finally free to be my own person.

And then we moved home again and I had to deal with my parents again. I prayed a lot about how to mend the fences. Prayed for how to be loving, to show grace, and share in forgiveness. I prayed a lot. I tried to seek council from wise women, but it turns out that wise women often have kids of their own. They could not understand my separating myself from my parents, my breaking the ties. The few people I have trusted enough to seek their council all agree that I need to protect my kids and my family, but what does that mean to protect? Some say you have to do what is best for you but that is not really a Biblical principle. Turn the other cheek. Forgive 7 times 70 times. Love your enemies. Honor your mother and father. These are Biblical principles. I want to do the right thing, not the right thing for me, but God's right thing. I want to make choices that honor God even at the cost of my comfort and a few hostile family dinners. And yet, the still small voice in my head says, "What about the other Biblical principles?" Lately I have been thinking about the passage in Luke 8:19 - 21 that says,

Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

My family of origin wants to hold onto what never was but they wished it had been. I get that. I love the holiday movies with the whole extended family cooking Christmas dinner. While cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation is fun to watch in a movie, bickering in laws and petty snipes are not a fun way to spend Christmas day. There are lots of families that come together at the holidays in a joyous and caring way, families that truly love one another. I want that to be true for my family. But I am only one member of my family. I can only control my own behavior, make my own decisions and bring my own joy and love to that table. Though when I am at that table, the little girl in me often shows up, with all her wounds, all her anger and all her frustration. I have grown a lot but something about being with my family can bring out the ugly in me. And when it does not bring out the ugly in me, when I am calm and at peace, it feels like that somehow rocks the boat as well. At what point is it okay to say, "Enough."

I honestly don't know. I am still struggling through this issue. I want to be the bigger person. I want to forgive and forget. I want to move forward. Though in all honesty I would really like to just stop. I just want to be done with it all. I know deep in my soul that it is not going to get any better, at least not long term. I have been on this ride before. I know the roller coaster has smooth parts, I know there are moments of great exhilaration, but also moments of extreme fear, huge disappointments and wounding words. And the thing about roller coasters is they go in a loop, a continuous circle. The only way to make it stop is to get off. And I want off.

Honor your mother and father.

My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

So Far

A few weeks ago I was watching Beth Moore teach via DVD (Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed) about the transforming power of God. She said, "I don't want a tweak; I want a transformation. ...A full-fledged so far transformation." She later writes, "We talked about allowing God to bring us "so far" that He alone could be the excuse for it." I love this idea, this SO far idea, that God has brought us SO far in our lives, SO far from where we came, SO from who we were, that He can be the only explanation for the amazing transformation in our lives. What an amazing thought that is! What an amazing blessing to think of my life as a work of God's, not something I must fix on my own.

This week she had us read 2 Samuel 7:18.
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
"Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

And then the question was "Have you ever come to a time in your life when you asked the same question?"

I stopped. In that moment I knew that God has brought me SO far, SO far that I am able to be a healthy mom to my kids. God has brought me SO far that I am not tied down by my history, not controlled by the circumstances of the family outside me. I used to be defined by my childhood, defined by my family. I always felt like I needed to explain my situation, explain the dysfunction in my life. Somewhere in the years after I left home, I started to heal. I started to find my identity in who God is, and who I am in God. My story changed from the child who had to share my entire life and being with a mother who was hurt so badly as a child that she never became herself. So even though she was in a grown up body, she was still learning to become independent, to think for herself, to become her own person. She needed time and space and oxygen to do this. They always tell you when you are flying to put your own oxygen mask on before helping others who might need assistance. My mother needed to put her oxygen mask on first but it was not enough. It felt like she needed some of mine to, like we had to share the air we breathed in order for her to grow and heal.

I don't know how or when it happened, though I am sure it was a very slow process, that has brought me to a place where I can breathe freely because I am breathing the sweet oxygen of my Father. I am no longer the child my family made, but the child of my God who made my soul. I have come SO far. So now as a mom, I don't worry (well not too often) about being a good mom. I know I will fail miserably at times. I know that I will have moment of pure joy and a sense of touching my kids' lives in a profound and good way. Motherhood for me is the ultimate example of how God works in lives. God transformed my life, my identity, my story SO far that I am able to be a mother to my boys.

Who Am I God that you would trust me with these three souls? I am your child Lord!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Lost Passport

I have had a passport since 1991 and have traveled to 13 countries without ever losing my passport, well except the one time I left it in a shop in Germany but it was quickly found and returned to me. I have lived overseas twice and never lost my passport. Now though, when I have been safely inside the US for years and years, I have lost my passport. This would not be a problem, except we are trying to take the kids' skiing at Whistler over spring break and I will need a passport for the trip. We have torn the house apart. Looked in the safe place where we keep our passports multiple times. Checked the cars, the luggage, my coat pockets, the old diaper bag I took everywhere. I cannot find my passport. I can get a new one but that will require a birth certificate which I don't have because I have a passport. I have ordered the birth certificate and paid for it to be expedited but there is not much expediting that can be done when snowmaggedon, the snow storm of the century, hits the state where you were born. So this morning I had the following conversation with God.

Me: God, it would be awesome if you just put my passport on the counter for me to find.

God: Why would I do that?

Me: Because I can't find my passport and I have tried everywhere. And I need my passport so we can all go to Whistler.

God: So you want me to make your passport magically appear so you can go skiing?

Me: Yes, a miracle would be nice

God: Why would I do that?

Me: Well then I can go skiing and imagine how awesome a story that would be

God: So the story would be you prayed and your passport miraculously appeared on the counter. It would be a God thing.

Me: Yes? You would get all the glory.

God: And that is what I want people to learn about prayer? That is why I perform miracles?

Me: Hmmm... Probably not.

God: And you don't think I might already have this situation under control. Maybe I am already working out the details the way I want.

Me: Hmmm.... Probably.

God: So we good?

Me: Yep. We're good.

Please know that I have never actually heard the audible voice of God and in this dialogue I am really role playing both parts of the conversation. Losing my passport has not sent me totally off the deep end. I have been reading a book by Susan E. Isaacs who writes about her conversations with God as part of her taking God to marriage counseling. So I am thinking this conversation in my head was probably heavily influenced by her writing in Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I keep seeing the word occupation on all sorts of forms lately, from Facebook to my Federal Tax Return. And always accompanied by a blank space for me to fill. But what do I say? When filling out forms for our mortgage a few years ago, the person suggested homemaker. This bristled because I am definitely not a homemaker. At least not in the traditional sense. I don't enjoy cooking, decorating or gardening. I don't scrapbook or craft or find cute roosters to put on my counter tops. I wish I did. I really do. So calling me a homemaker just sort of reminds me of my failure. There is always the title Stay At Home Mom, but if you have spent any time with someone who has this title you soon realize that we don't stay home. We are moms who are on the go, going to story time, the bus stop, the grocery store. We are picking up Valentines at Target (bonus points if supplies are bought at Michaels for home made cards), tying ice skates for hockey practice, taking kids to the pediatrician and dentist all while remembering the form for school, stopping to feed the kids and possibly if you are lucky like me getting in a nap time for Little One. So Stay at Home Mom does not really fit but don't even think of saying Full Time Mom because that really hurts the Working Moms who have the full time worries of being a mom all while trying to work. Oh and then there are the Work at Home Moms which is a totally different group of people altogether and I am not one of those because I don't have a home based business. So what to put? A few of my creative friends have given themselves great titles like CEO of their family business. Or list their family in the employer section. I don't think I can do that because I am not sure I want to work for that organization not to mention, who would be my supervisor? There is not board of directors at my house and we don't take a vote. I think currently my Facebook page has the title Slacker Mom and Wife in the occupation box. (I stole the title from a book I read). Wonder what the IRS would do with that job title?

I get that we want to know people's occupations. It is a quick way to figure someone out. He's an accountant. She's a nurse. He's boring. She's caring. Quick boxes. Boxes that allow us to compartmentalize or trivialize someone's responses, desires or dreams. Boxes that allow us to think we know a person because of what they do but we don't really know who they are. Is my occupation my identity? Am I what I do? I don't want my occupation to be my identity. I hate it when I meet people at my husband's work functions or at school meetings and they ask me what I do because I know that when I say that I am a mom they will make some perfunctory comment about how lucky I am to be able to stay home and then they will pretty much dismiss any future comments I make because what could I know about the real world. Hello people! Do you have any idea how much time I have to stay informed on topics from the Health Care debate to the state of Iran's nuclear development program. I watch Oprah! I can talk about green house gases, the plight of women in the Congo and the shape healthy poop makes (an S shape is best if you are curious). I also have plenty of time to read the news websites, along with the occasional Mommy blog, all while standing at the bus pick up line. I did have a career in education which could explain why I am way more interested in the educational standards and classroom management techniques than school spirit events even though I am in charge of the candy gram sale this year. So you see my fascination with occupation goes beyond what to write on the form. Because how I answer that question impacts how people see me.

If so then I think I need to start writing "Child of God" as my occupation. Because that is first and foremost who I am. That is where my identity lies and what informs all my decisions and thoughts about the world. I am a Child of God.

I really wonder what the IRS would do with that answer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Love Actually

Tomorrow morning I am supposed to be talking to a group of moms about love. Thankfully I just have to fill 10 minutes. I have some ideas and some good quotes to use and can probably wing the rest. I am supposed to be writing something brilliant right now. But the truth is I feel completely inadequate to address this topic, to talk about love. Love does not come easily to me. I have only been in love once. So glad I married that guy!

My heart is completely engrossed with my three boys, though it is really my mind that is usually leading the love train. So much of love it turns out is daily choices to do what is best for the other person, often with disregard to the cost to yourself. Love is making the lunches, doing the laundry, giving the time outs - though only to the kids because giving time outs to the other grown ups in my house does not go over well. Love is so many daily actions and decisions that I find myself often so focused on the daily and the actions, that I forget the feelings. I go through my routines, get annoyed when people are not doing things my way, rebound and get back to taking care of everyone, and miss out on the feelings of love. And just when I start to feel a bit heartless in my care taking, a bit like I am just doing not feeling it, I am hit by a huge wave of overwhelming love that makes my heart full to bursting. These are the moments, I look at my child's smile and cannot stop smiling myself. The moment when, as frustrated as I am that my husband is late for our date, he walks in and my world is right again because he is in it.

I have a friend who I really admire because of the way that she loves her boys. She also has three boys so we are kindred spirits in the moms of all boys club. When you see her with her boys or hear her talk about her boys, you feel the love coming from the very heart of her being. I wanted to be like that, I wanted to delight in my boys very existence. But I was often distracted by my circumstances or frustrated by their behaviors, focused on what they were doing or what I was doing. I decided to take a lesson from my friend. I was going to focus on the good in my kids. I decided to strive really hard to see the best in my kids at all times. To see them through the eyes of God, their maker, their designer, who has a very special plan for their lives. And you know what. It works. I still get frustrated. I still get annoyed. And then I get frustrated and annoyed at myself. But when I started looking for the good in my kids, when I decided to see the best in my kids, to enjoy my kids, to celebrate who my kids are, I began to delight in my kids in a new way. I am falling more deeply in love with my kids each day. They are teaching me to love not just in my head, not just in my choices, not just in my actions, but in the deepest part of my being.

As a mom, I get to spend most of my day loving on my kids. Loving on my friends. Loving on my husband. Like the movie says, love actually is all around us. And I am learning to feel it more each day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saying Yes

I had a moment today when I had to just laugh as I watched the hand of God moving in my life. This may sound sort of cryptic because the details don't really matter, but today something happened that I know was in the works from God's perspective for a while. I don't normally see God's hand moving the cards around the table of my life. It is usually not until after I am through a situation that I can look back and see where God's hand was touching and carrying my life. But the last few weeks, I have had a sense of God's guidance in a way that would totally make sense but still caught me off guard and made me grin.

I am not sure how far back this particular series of events started. Possibly when I realized that moving back home would allow me to get more involved with the ministries of our church. I had attended a very big church in the Bay Area and was also a newbie to them, so I did not really get to participate in the things I do here. It was kind of nice to sit on the sidelines and enjoy being fed for a while. But I knew also that was just a season and I missed feeling productive outside of my family. So when I knew I was moving home, I felt like I needed to say yes, yes to leading a small group, or helping out with special events. Just yes to whatever was needed, well, within reason, because I am still hiding from the lady that runs the church nursery.

So I said yes, which brought me onto the team that leads the mom's group at our church. Which later brought me to saying yes when they asked me to speak for a few minutes about our ministry in front of the entire church. I cannot remember if I blogged about it or if the overwhelming anxiety I felt kept me from being able to process much once I got off the stage. I have no problem talking in front of the women at Bible Study or our Mom's group, but there was something absolutely terrifying about being in front of the whole church. Something I did not expect at all. I had felt actually pretty okay about the whole thing, until I got up on the stage with the microphone in hand and almost burst into tears from the stress that took over my entire body.

Being on that ministry team put me in a room a couple of weeks ago where we were asked for prayer requests for ourselves. And in that moment I knew where I needed these ladies to prayers. It was something I felt really uncomfortable saying out loud. I hated how it sounded because I have issues, deep seeded insecurities and mistrusts, but I knew it was where God wanted me to be opening my life to Him. So I asked them to pray. I am pretty sure that I was vague enough that they did not know what I was talking about, but they prayed, and God knew that I was saying yes to Him.

In the weeks since, the Bible study we are doing with the women at church has been challenging me and also strengthening me. Reminding me that God has not only a purpose and plan for my life, but also that I am uniquely equipped for the task He has for me. And even more importantly that God is going before me, that He will provide the wisdom, the power, the strength for whatever job lies before me.

Which is a good thing because I know I am supposed to say yes to God. Sometimes the yes is easy because what I am asked to do is part of who I am. For me teaching is a passion and a joy for me. That is an easy yes for me. There are some harder yeses. Some times saying yes means opening myself up to criticism or debate. Some times saying yes has me spending time with people I would not choose on my own. Some times saying yes brings up all the ugly voices in my head from years past. The voices that I avoid saying the words I fear might be true.

I have a policy of saying yes early for the job I want to do. This has served me well volunteering at church and at school. It also has allowed me to bring the brownies which are so easy to make instead of hard stuff like appetizers or veggie plates. I step up early for the jobs I like. This keeps me from having to say yes to the things that are hard or scary.

But these past few months, I have seen God working in my life. I am not sure the end result of all of this, but I think I may have to say yes to some things that are both scary and hard. I feel it coming. I have a feeling whenever that happens, I will have to smile at all God has done to get me to that point. Because for some reason, this time, He let me see His process.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Bus Driver

As I mentioned in the fall, this year was a first for bus riding at our house. Last year we were walkers but the move back home also moved us to a neighborhood that has a bus. We were all so excited! I would no longer have to wake Little One so we could pick up his brothers from school. They would be delivered right to our doorstep, almost. But then the time came to put my kids on the bus and I was nervous. I tried really hard to hide my anxieties, which were well founded because I rode a bus most of my childhood, though all the scary and horrible things I did not want them to hear or learn on the bus did not happen until I was in middle school. So my anxieties might have been a little early. But the boys were so excited. So excited that even though I was going to the school on Middle Man's first official day of school for a kindergarten coffee right after drop off, he insisted on riding the bus and I ended up hopping in the car and essentially following them to school because I had to be there when the bell rang. They loved the bus from the first moment. I continued to be a bit nervous but each day, they arrived home safely and the bus driver always had a smile on her face and warm greeting for my kids

I have to be honest. I don't know how she does it. Our bus driver seems so happy to be on a bus full of elementary kids. I can barely handle being in the car with my kids for the five minutes it takes to get to the YMCA. And in my car they are all locked in car seats and booster seats. The bus can be a free for all. But with her in charge it does not seem to be.

She learned all their names in the first week or so and knows which kid goes with which parent. She knows my kids and their personalities. She makes sure I am home and does not just dump and run. Her care for my kids is evident and it makes me feel better, knowing they are in her care. My kids love the bus driver so much that when I asked them about Christmas gifts for the teachers, Middle Man, said right away that he was going to make an ornament for Bus Driver. At which point I felt a little bad that at our house her name was Bus Driver. How did I not know the name of the person who drives my kids to and from school every day. They spend at least 30 minutes on that bus each day. I should know her name. It was way too late in the year to ask her so I did what any embarrassed person who forgot someone's name would do. I called the district transportation office and asked. So we now know her name.

And I know that my son's ornament meant a lot to her. She kept it as she does all the notes and gifts from the kids. I know this because this morning as I was sitting down in Starbucks getting ready to do my Bible Study homework, she walked by. We waved, I took my earbuds out, and we had a conversation. Which is how I found out that our bus driver is a Christian. She was on her way to Bible Study. Truth is, I am not surprised.

They will know we are Christians by our love.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stopping to Smell the Firetruck?

Today Little One and I were at the grocery store picking up the essentials which at our house are milk, gogurts and eggos. We did also get some of his favorite cantaloupe and some Valentines cookies for the kids' lunches. We were having a nice slow time looking at everything when we spotted a fire fighter walking through the store. We then saw another one. This has happened a few times while we were at this same store. I am thinking the fire fighters like this particular store because there is always plenty of room for their truck. Well Little One was gazing at one of the guys who stopped to say hi and we asked if his truck was outside. Once Little One heard the truck was outside he was suddenly in a big hurry to get our shopping done. "Hurry Mommy" he kept saying. He was not thrilled that we had to stand in line or wait for the lady in front of us who needed lottery tickets and was paying by check. I was not concerned since I had not seen the fire fighters check out yet but Little One is little and could not see the other check stands.

Finally we were done. I put the groceries in our car and let him stand and stare at the fire truck. When I was done, he was not. He wanted to see the truck drive away. And that is the moment when I realized how much I love being home with my kids. Because we then walked closer to the fire truck and we just sat and watched it sitting there. We looked at the lights and talked about the color. We saw the funny things they put around the tires to keep it from rolling away while it is parked. We read the side and the engine number. It was sprinkling but we had our rain coats on and were enjoying the moment. We stopped and watched the fire truck.

And then things got even better. The fire fighters came out of the store and walked to their truck. Little One was going to see the truck drive away. And then it got even better because when the fire fighters saw him watching their truck just sitting there they called us over. They tried to talk to him, though he was shy. We saw them put their grocery bags in the special side sections with the hoses. He got a sticker. And then as they drove away they waved and turned on their lights. Just for my little three year old.

I am so glad that our lives are not so rushed that we can't spend 15 minutes watching the fire truck and talking to the fire fighters. I know it made Little Ones day. This is one of a thousand reasons why I am so glad I get to stay home with the boys.

Oh and then we went to Starbucks and watched our favorite baristas make Mommy's coffee and then a few more because Little One also loves watching the baristas at work.