Friday, September 28, 2012

From the Archives - Community: Finding It In Unexpected Places

(in)courage is doing a (in)RL {real life} Check-In Series on community. It is topic near and dear to my heart and one I have written about often. With all the editing and writing I am doing for the book, I decided to sneak back into the archives again for this post on Community. It is in response to this week's question  “How do we build local community: some practical ideas.”

This was originally posted in June 2011 while I was living in Oregon. Our smallish suburb has grown a bit by moving to the Bay Area and yet, I am still a creature of habit who likes to get to know my baristas, librarians, and the people who are around me.


I live in a smallish suburb. Not too small where everyone knows everyone's name but small enough that you run into the same people lots of places in town. I often find one of my kids tugging on my hand after church or at the library saying, "let's go" or Little One's favorite, "you're talking forever." When you first move to a new town, everyone is a stranger. But the more you frequent the same spots, the more you get to know people at preschool drop off or the library story time, you slowly begin to build community in unexpected places. Here are a few of my favorite unexpected favorite places...

Starbucks is the obvious first choice for me. I like to go to the same Starbucks every time. You know you are finally a regular when they know your drink order before you say a word. My Starbucks knows me well enough that I have had friends go in and order my drink and the barista will ask if that is for Jen? I have to say that I think my Starbucks has the best baristas (though in all honesty I will probably think that about our new Starbucks in California as soon as they know my drink.) I also run into so many people in the Starbucks line and love the opportunity to chat for a bit while waiting for our coffees.

The grocery store is another great place to see people. The joke at our house is if we are in a hurry send my husband because if I go to the store it might take a while depending on how many people I run into that I know. Who knew Safeway was such a great place to catch up? Even if I do not see anyone I know from outside of Safeway, I have slowly gotten to know a couple of the checkers. Okay I don't really KNOW them but I can tell if they are having a good day or need an extra smile from me.

The YMCA is another great place to build community. Mind you it is a community of people with headphones in their ears, reading magazines while running or elipticalling next to one another. Occasionally I will run into a friend at the Y. This last set of swim lessons for the kids I got to enjoy reconnecting with someone I knew from a mom's group years ago. But most of my community is faces I see but people I never speak to. If you go at the same time often enough you start to know the rhythms of the the people around you. The people I see each time I go and wonder if they are okay if I have not seen them for a while.

Maybe it helps that I am a creature of habit. We go through the McDonalds drive thru most Tuesday evenings for the $1.25 Happy Meals. (Before you judge we get apple dippers in at least one of the bags and everyone gets milk.) So I should not be surprised when the lady working the drive thru recognizes me and smiles. She also knows to double check that the hamburgers are plain and to give me straws for the milk which is an added bonus being a regular.

This is part of the community I will miss when we move.

What unexpected place have you found community?


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WednesDAY of Faith - Are you Still There God?

On Wednesdays, I will be posting thoughts on faith, specifically my faith and my walk with God. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus, born again, born anew, a child of God, a believer, a Protestant, a disciple of Christ. All that I am, all that I do, starts from that identity - my relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in one, one in me.

And most days, I believe deeply. I walk through life with God ever present. I am not sure I can explain it, but I just know He is with me. I read the Bible and something jumps from the pages or simple rings true in my ears. I walk outside and feel the wind on my face and know the earth, all of nature is moving and dancing for its creator. I spend time with friends and I feel a nudge to give a hug or to stop talking and listen more. I look at my children and am amazed at my powerful love for them and see God's powerful love for me, His child. I have conversations with Him in my head, silent prayers throughout my day and know I've been heard.

But then there are days, even weeks, and once months, where I do not feel God. This usually is because I have strayed away, I have stopped spending time reading His words to me or have allowed myself to spend more time churning ugly thoughts through my mind than kind ones. Sometimes, I walk away from His presence.

But there are also those times when I am doing all the right things. I am reading the Bible. I am going to church. I am singing the worship songs and praying out to God to hear me and answer me. I am walking the walk but I don't feel it. I don't feel Him.

I don't know why He sometimes chooses silence to speak to me.

It is the silence though that forces my faith to stop being about me, to stop being about what I feel, what I experience. The silence requires me to ask a tough question - without the feeling of God, do I still believe? Without God's hand felt firmly on my life, do I still believe He is real?

It is in the silence that I freely say I do believe. 

And there is comfort in knowing that my belief is not based on good feelings or experiences. There is peace in knowing I believe regardless of what God does for me. I don't know why but it makes me feel safer with God, not less safe.

How has God let you know He is real? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Motherhood Mondays - Silence is Golden

Years and years ago, before we had children, my husband and I would go to the movies. Most weekends, we would spend at least a few hours huddled in the dark, watching the pre-movie advertisements that always ended with cartoon character reminding us that "Silence is Golden."

For the almost ten years I have been a stay at home mom, which stopped making sense when the kids got old enough for school and activities and we ended up rarely at home. This was how I justified buying a two bedroom condo for five people. "Honey," I explained to my husband, " we are hardly ever home."

And then this summer came and we were home A LOT. Three boys can be noisy. So incredibly noisy.

But fall has finally arrived and my three sweet boys are back at school, and this year for the first time, I have six whole hours to myself. Six hours for me to schedule as I please, no longer forced to follow the designated one giving to me by preschools, play groups, nap times, class times, six month check ups, etc.

Now the three boys and I ride our bikes to school in the morning, the middle one complaining that it is going to kill him each day. But I can be patient through it because in just a few short minutes, we will be at the school, their bikes will be locked up, the bell will ring, and off to class they will go. Leaving me alone for six whole hours. SIX.

So what to do with all that time.

Most days, I start by chatting with friends after the kids walk in their lines into their classrooms and the doors are closed behind them. Sometimes we even head to a nearby coffee shop to experience the joys of being a grown up, out and about without kids.

Eventually I make my way home, I enter the condo, lock the door behind me and just relish in the quiet.  So much quiet and it's all mine. I'm greedy that way because I know that soon, sooner than I like, the quiet will be broken by the sounds of fighting amongst brothers and grumbling about homework and guitar practice.

But for now this quiet is all mine. I flit away time on Twitter, clicking through to interesting or silly links across the internet. I read another chapter in Isaiah. I write or edit or read or think. I look at couches online and order pens and pencils from Amazon so I don't have to leave my house. (Thank you Amazon Prime.) Sometimes when I am tired or have been particularly productive one day, I will watch some Teen Mom (research I say) or read a novel.

At some point I will realize how quickly the time is passing and panic for a brief moment before relishing the fact that I am no longer having to do the kindergarten pick up. No, I still have two and a half more hours of this blessed silence.

For me, silence is golden.

But then so are lunch dates with friends and mornings spent with the moms at church.

Can we make the school day any longer?

Friday, September 21, 2012

From the Archives - Forgiveness

I love that (in)courage (in)RL {real life} is spending time on the topic of community. I think so many of us want community, want support and love and friendship and laughter, but we are not sure why we do not feel like we belong. I think this week's question is a good one to consider if you don't feel like you have a community you can call home.

This week the question is "How do we forgive past hurt by community?"

Again, I am going back to the archives for this one. Both because I need to get to back to the book editing but also because I think this story of forgiveness is one that still challenges me. While I address my hurts with my mom in the post, I think any hurt, any need for forgiveness, can garner strength from Mary's story.

This was originally posted in July 2011.


Last Sunday our pastor was set to preach on forgiveness. But instead, he showed a video that someone passed on to him from CBS News. It is the story of a woman who has truly walked the hard road of forgiveness. You can see the story here. Go on over and watch it if you have not heard the story of Mary and Oshea. It is worth your time.

After showing the clip in church, Mary and Oshea came out and shared more of their story with the congregation. What stuck out to me from their talk was that forgiveness did not come easy for Mary. It was a hard process, a long process. It took work on her part, years of prayer and seeking God's heart for Oshea. And while Mary's forgiveness had nothing really to do with Oshea, she forgave him before she ever knew him personally, it was in Oshea's receiving that forgiveness that the miracle grew. Together they have taught the world something vitally important. Together they have shown the power of Christ's forgiveness and love for His children, no matter what.

Hearing Mary talk about forgiveness I began to think about the long road of forgiveness I have been walking. Some hurts, I have been able to forgive quickly. I don't know why. Maybe because the offense didn't feel directed at me even though it was the spark that started the kindling that was my childhood family on fire. Our family was already brittle and weak, easy to catch flame. We had been drifting apart, unable to really enjoy being in the same room all together. There was drama and competition, rage and manipulation. Life with my childhood family was centered around one person. Her mood, her reaction, her opinions and thoughts were the center of our familial universe. One person at the center was not healthy. And so the spark was easier for me to forgive and move on. I understood it, I think, even though I cannot condone the actions my father took to light the match.

Sometimes it is easier to forgive the big sins. I don't know why. I think partly because my mind cannot really manage the pain and partly because God's grace shows up bigger in those deep pains. I know my quick forgiveness has hurt and probably surprised others. Especially since I seem to be having a much harder time forgiving the events, actions, and words at the center of our family that made us brittle and weak. I am still in process with my mother. I am able to say the words, I choose to forgive, as Mary said on Sunday morning. I am able to choose the words but my heart is still not there. My heart is still not ready to live next door to her. I am still on the road. But I really am not sure I want to take any more steps. I am not sure I really want to walk any further down this road. I am just not there yet. I am hopeful though after listening to Mary tell her story that someday my heart will catch up with my head.

Hopeful and yet reserved. Because life is complicated and I am not sure what would have happened with Mary's story if Oshea had not said yes to meeting her, yes to moving to her community, yes to making a better life for himself.

During the church service we sang a song I had never heard before. Today I heard it again on the radio. It is hauntingly beautiful to me and I wanted to share it with you. This is the group Gungor singing their song "Beautiful Things".

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Here are my past posts for this series:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

WednesDAY of Faith - We Had Hoped

Yesterday I sat in a room full of moms all listening to my friend teach about from Luke 24 - Jesus on the road to Emmaus. We then were given ten minutes to sit with the passage and the teaching we had just heard, the story of Jesus talking with the two people the day after he was resurrected. They did not know who he was, nor did they believe that he had rose again. They were lamenting what had happened. When asked what they were talking about they replied,
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. ”  Luke 24:19 - 21
As I sat with these verses I was struck by the phrase "but we had hoped...." They were hoping he was the king redeemer they had been told about by the prophets. The one that would vanquish Israel's enemies and sit as the ruler over all of Israel.

These are the words I scrawled across the pages.

"We had hoped..."

Oh, how lost we get when we put our hope in the wrong things. We miss God working when we expect Him to show up in a particular way. We close the door to possibilities when we place our hope in specifics and details and not in Christ alone.

Sometimes we put our hope in theology, what we believe about God instead of who God really is. We see God as a set of rules or a judge who is deciding if we deserve saving. We try to measure up but when we know we can't we give up trying, we give up on God because we can never merit God's favor.

Sometimes we our hoping for happiness and a good life. We put our hope in the Prosperity Gospel that says if I do right, if I do good, God will bless me. But what happens when illness strikes, when jobs are lost, when pain sneaks in. What happens when our faulty hopes are dashed.

Sometimes we put our hope in ourselves, in our ability to create the life we want, the family we want, the home we want. We hope in our ability to control our circumstances and our wold. What happens though when we can no longer keep all the plates spinning, when our bodies give way or our hearts get lost along the way. What happens to our faith when we lose all hope in ourselves.

I've been tangled up in all three of these at different times in my life but am ever thankful that now my hope is in Christ alone. 

Hope that is shaken at times but ever there.

Where do you find your hope? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Motherhood Mondays - I Will Parent Differently

I have been thinking about how to keep this blog focused as I work on my larger writing projects as well. Often I just type what is on my mind one day and through it on the world wide screen. But that can feel disjointed to myself and the reader. Also I know some of my readers are interested in my posts on motherhood, some on faith and some enjoy both.

So I am going to try something new starting this week. Mondays will be about my experiences in Motherhood. Wednesdays will be for me to share what I am learning about God and how I am growing in my faith. For now, Fridays will be From the Archives. Obviously, at least in my life, these topics often overlap and mix together to create something that cannot be categorized but I am going to try to put some rhyme to my reason.

Today, is Motherhood Mondays so without further ado...

I love my kids dearly, fiercely. I love them in ways that I did not expect when we decided to start this family of ours. I absolutely want what is best for them.

But I will parent differently than you.

Sometimes I admit my parenting differences will be due to sheer laziness or lack of interest. I don't like crafts and science projects require serious clean up. I don't want to fight with my kids about clothes each day so if you see them wearing shorts in the winter, know that our pediatrician has approved this choice as long as the temperature does not dip below freezing. Also, our dinner table selections are pathetic. I know. But the thing is I really don't care. There are fruits and vegetables on their plates, most nights, but they are probably carrots and grapes which I serve them ninety percent of the time. I don't enjoy cooking.

I do enjoy baking and eating treats together. So some of my parenting choices will be different than yours because I like different things than you do, my passions may not match your passions. We will go to the yogurt shop for our after school snack more than we should and we may even have cookies later that night. My kids are all healthy, growing and active, so I am not going to worry about their sugar intake just yet. I also love reading so we will spend many an afternoon going to the library where we will have another late fee for that book we keep forgetting to return. We will spend our Saturdays in the fall watching college football and I will indoctrinate my kids on the superiority of the Beavers and Wolverines.

We have different means as parents, different amounts of money and time, and that will cause us to parent differently. I certainly don't begrudge my friends who can give their kids more but we will never be able to keep up with the Joneses. Not in this neighborhood. My kids have to buy their own iPad apps and video games. They get one pair of tennis shoes. The tooth fairy only brings one gold dollar coin per tooth. We vacation at hockey tournaments, always grateful when the tournament is near a vacation destination like Disneyland this year. I set boundaries on our time by allowing my kids to only do one major after school activity at a time. My family may spend way more time at the ice rink than seems normal but I will not become a taxi service, always driving and never getting to spend time with my kids at the activities they have chosen.

But I will also parent differently because I have different beliefs, values, and morals than you do. No judgment from me. Just different. We will bring them up in our faith. We will require church attendance. We will pray with them, read the Bible with them, and remind them as they leave our arms that Jesus loves them. We will remind them to love their neighbor and to do the right thing when no one is looking. They will be required to call adults Mr. or Mrs. (or Dr. or Miss or whatever is appropriate) and to thank their coaches and teachers. We will push them to do their personal best at school and not care about the grades. My kids may not be allowed to play the same video games as yours or they may be allowed to read books you would never let your kids read that young. We will be teaching our boys that sex is for marriage. We will also teach them that if they do choose to have sex, they need to take responsibility to protect themselves and their partner. Oh and that condoms break.

I will parent differently because my kids are different. They are each unique. Wonderful compilations of their father and my DNA along with their life experiences and some magic dust sprinkled in there somewhere. My kids have different needs and so I parent them differently.

There is not a right or wrong here.

No judgment from me.

Just a desire for understanding.

How do you parent differently?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From the Archives - To Know Me Is To Love Me

The question tomorrow over at (in)courage's (in)RL {real life} Check-In Series is “How do we stop hiding from and open ourselves up to community?”

This is not something I usually struggle with - the authenticity part. I think it is all the moving we have done, fifteen address in fifteen years, that has taught me to get real fast because I may not have much time to wait to build a relationship. But I also know that my personality can be a bit surprising (off putting) for some. Turns out I don't make good first impressions which I wrote about in April 2009.


I don't make good first impressions. I am not sure that my second or third impressions are all that good either, but eventually I win most people over. Which is why I don't like having to get to know new people. I know how to be friendly and outgoing. But eventually within the first few minutes I will say or do something that comes across as arrogant, judgmental or self involved. Actually I am not sure that is how I come across but at some point in an opening conversation I will end up interrupting, correcting or arguing with someone about something that at the time seems very important to me. Not a great way to make friends.  Thankfully my friends looked beyond my flaws and love me anyway.

I did that again today. I am back at my old church with people who have learned to love me. I was asked by a leader to help her co-lead her small group, made up of women I do not know at all. I love this woman, who is a former leader of mine, and jumped at the chance to spend time with her and lead a group. But as I walked into the room last week I remembered that while I make bad first impressions in most situations I make horrible, foot in mouth, did I really say that out loud mistakes when I am in a new small group. It comes from my insecure need to prove who I am. To prove that I am smart and not just a stay at home mommy of small kids. This is my only intellectual outlet most of the time and I want to be taken seriously.

So today we are in our small group and some lovely lady starts to say something about politics and religion, or at least that is what I think she is going to say because I jumped on top of her first sentence so fast that she stopped talking. I realized right away how rude and selfish I was being. I apologized and asked her to continue which of course she did not do because how could she knowing I was the supposed "expert" in what she was talking about and had discounted her point before she started. The big irony though was that our study this session is called "Conversational Peace" and just yesterday I did the self assessment that showed me that needing to quarrel, interrupt and be proven right were a huge problem area for me.

Thankfully the woman had enough grace to talk to me after group and I was able to apologize. I realized that I was so caught up in her details (which struck a soft spot of frustration in me) that I missed her point altogether.

I do that a lot.  Get caught up in the details of the words and conversation and miss the heart of what my friends and loved ones really need heard. I miss their heart which is truly tragic because I want to really know the deepest parts of the people around me. I really care about the joys and pains of my friends and family. But I often miss the important stuff.  So feel free to tell me if I am not listening to what you really want to say.

You can read my week one post here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

From the Archives - Saying the Women of Bible Study

Life has gotten in the way of writing, as has editing, so I thought I would pull a few posts from the archives until I have time to get back to writing here.

Over the next five weeks, (in)courage is doing a Check-In Series looking at Community. This is a topic so dear to me. I have written on multiple times over the years and decided to look through my archives for items to share each Friday. This week the question posed was "What does community mean to you?"  

I find community in a number of different places in my life but the women in the post below came to mind immediately.

This was originally posted in June 2011 when I was moving from Oregon to California. 

Yesterday I started the goodbye process, saying goodbye to the women at Bible study. I wanted to share a few things with them about how much they have meant to me and what I have learned by studying the Bible together.

I wanted to tell them that God really does care about the little things in our lives. A few years ago a group of us were studying the essentials of the faith. Our discussion that week was about how involved is God in our day to day lives? If we find a front row parking spot at Starbucks is that God? Or is He really more involved in the big decisions, the life changing decisions of our lives. This discussion came back to me later that week when I was sitting in the ICU waiting room at the hospital, watching the husband of one of these women grieving the loss of his daughter while trying to help his wife fight for her life. In that moment, in that waiting room, I knew deep inside me that God does care about the little things. He is involved in the day to day. Because it is the little things, the day to day that changes lives. My friend was driving to the library. No big decision, just a simple trip that rocked the world around them forever.

I also wanted to share with them the lesson I am slowly learning about the importance of inquiring of God. My small group is reading through the Bible this year and we are in the story of David, a story we should know well by now since we did a Bible study on David last year. What struck me with this reading of his story is how often the Bible says, David inquired of God. And when he did, things went right. David might still be hiding in caves, but God was there and his heart was right. But as he became successful, we don't see that phrase as often. What we see instead is David inquiring of his advisors, or inquiring of no one and taking what he wants. We see him fall into sin. Inquiring of God has been a theme this year for me through these studies and also the study of prayer I did to teach last fall. It took a few different studies to really start to sink in but it is.

But mostly I wanted to tell the women in the room, how much they meant to me. How much I have learned from not only what they have shared in our small groups but from their kindness and grace towards me and the women around them. These are amazing women. Women who want to know God's word better. Women that want to love one another, even when we don't always agree. Women who want to be connected to one another in a deeper way.

I don't know if they know how much it meant to me to be able to teach the group the few times I had a chance. I loved the opportunity to study and read, to write and teach. I loved seeing them nod or smile as they connected to what I was saying. They encouraged me in my teaching. They gave me a small sense of purpose which for this young mom who spent my days with small children was life changing.

I have grown immensely over the last 8 years and this group is part of the reason. How far have I come? At the end, one woman who was in my first small group came up to me. She told me she remembers the very first words I said at Bible study so many years ago, words that I remembered when she said them but now feel so distant. I had said I have a hard time with women. Oh, how I remember the past pain of being disconnected, of having been brushed aside. These women changed that in me. These women showed me love, encouragement and grace. They challenged me to grow but always from a place of love. These women laugh together. They pray together. They find joy in one another.

I am hopeful that my tears of gratitude as I said thank you will give them a small understanding of what they mean to me. They have known me and know I am not one to cry easily. But saying goodbye to these women was so much harder than I imagined. Just writing this brings fresh tears to my eyes. God has blessed me so very, very much with this group of women. My small groups have changed over the years. I have gotten to know so many amazing women with each new small group and each new leaders. God has blessed me with these women in countless ways.

Thank you so much ladies! Wednesday mornings has been my resting place in my week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

From the Archives - God: "Because I Said So"

Life has gotten in the way of writing, as has editing, so I thought I would pull a few posts from the archives until I have time to get back to writing here.

This one struck me because there are so many times I want to ask why? I want to know what God has planned. I want to have the plan laid out before me and explained. I want the world to be about me. But the truth is it's not.

This one is from June 2010 but still true today.

A thought had been swirling my brain the last few months, slowly taking a solid form. And it is this, God is God. A very simple equation. God is God. Nothing more, nothing less. As He Himself said, "I AM."

Seems like a simple concept to grasp and yet it has taken me this long to remove myself from the equation. I used to think God is a loving God. God cares for me. God wants what is best for me. God has a plan for my life. All of which are true statements but my definition of God was all tied up with me, me, me. I defined God by how He related to me. I was constantly trying to figure God out, make His seemingly inconsistent actions in the Bible, make sense. I wanted to understand God on my terms. I wanted to understand justice and grace in a way that worked for me, more importantly in a way that was comfortable for me.

But the truth is that God is God. This life, this earth, these 6 billion plus people are His creation. We, by our very creation, belong to Him. And what He decides is best is best, simply because He is God, He is the designer. He created a world that was so perfectly designed that the laws of physics are true. Not the other way around. He is not beholden to the laws of physics. We are His art, His design. We are the products of His hand. We like to think of God as at our disposal, as our comforter and our cheerleaders. And He does do those things as part of our relationship to Him but the truth is we are at His disposal. We were made to glorify Him, to praise Him.

I have recently stopped asking why so much. I spent years sounding like Little One with all my why? why? why? questions. I wanted to understand the world, I wanted to understand God. The truth is I can't. I can gain knowledge and wisdom everyday. I can read His word that tells me who He is. But I will not understand God until I am standing face to face with Him. And even then I may never understand. This used to frustrate me.

I always hated it when my parents answered my why question with the standard, "because I told you so." But as a parent, I know so much more than my kids. Sometimes I want to explain my decision making to them. Sometimes I don't. Maybe because I am tired, or more likely maybe because they would not understand even if I explained it. And sometimes because I am not ready for them to deal with the darkness of this world.

And so now I find peace in knowing that God is God. I don't have to understand it all. I may have to do things out of blind obedience when God's answer to me is 'because I said so."

I know that God is God. And that is enough now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From the Archives - Boys, Boys, Boys

Life has gotten in the way of writing this week so I thought I would pull a few posts from the archives until I have time to get back to writing here.

I choose this post because I have recently had some of my friends' lamenting the advent of the tween years and all the drama that comes with it. I should be a better friend but there is a part of me that is gloating inside, okay not gloating but what is the word for taking joy in your friend's pain? Now that I read that sentence I realize 1) I hope there is no such word and 2) I need to repent of this sin because as the saying goes karma is a bitch. Except that is exactly what I am thinking as my friends with daughters share their woes of daughters rolling their eyes and giving attitude because for years these little girls were angels and my boys... well my boys were boys.

This one is from March 2009. What a difference three years makes.

I get a lot of looks when I am out and about with my three boys. I sometimes get comments that go something like this:

Stranger - "Wow are all three of those your boys?" 
Me - "Yes. Aren't I a lucky Mommy."
Stranger - "Must keep you on your toes."
Me - "They are an active bunch but I always wanted three boys."

All of which is true, though I used to be sort of offended when people implied that three boys was harder than having a family with some girls in it. I obviously don't know any different but I really did want to be the mom from the tv show "Home Improvement" with three boys. 

This past week though I am starting to understand all the sympathetic looks and caring comments. As my baby is turning into a little boy and getting bigger and more physical and my oldest is starting that wonderful phase of being too cool for me (he actually wiped my kiss off his cheek at school drop off the other day), I am starting to realize I do live in a zoo. And the monkeys are trying to take over. 

I will do my best to raise respectful, caring, compassionate, hard working young men that will treat their wives well and be really good daddies. But there may be some nose picking, burping contests, noise, wrestling matches and more noise between now and then. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

From the Archives - Wonderfully Made

Life has gotten in the way of writing this week so I thought I would pull a few posts from the archives until I have time to get back to writing here.

As we start a new school year and we are again trusting our boys to new teachers, praying that each one get the right fit for him, I am reminded of how each of my boys is so very different even when they are alike.

This post is from March 2010.

This past week we celebrated Middle Man's birthday. We had a simple family celebration on his actual birthday and also an Olympic themed birthday party over the weekend with our friends. The kids had fun competing and playing a variety of games. Thankfully the rain stopped and we were able to enjoy a few events outside including a relay race and the long jump. Middle Man loves the Olympics and hopes to play on Team USA's ice hockey team one year. I think though his favorite part of the party was the closing ceremonies where we handed out gold, silver and bronze medals and then played the National Anthem. He stood so still, hand on his heart, staring at the flag. He had smile on his face and took the whole thing very seriously. Watching him in that moment reminded me yet again of what he has taught me as a mother.

If my first born taught me how to be a mom, how to cuddle and love, to chase bad dreams away, to kiss the booboos, to stay out of the way of bodily fluids coming forth and how to give a time out, Middle Man has taught me how to love him. He has taught me how very unique each child is and that each requires a different set of tools and communicates love in a very different way. Hockey Boy still loves hugs and kisses and wants to sit close to me. Middle Man started rubbing off kisses recently but will give knuckles. I have learned from Middle Man that each of my boys are who they were made to be. God made each of them which different character traits, talents and struggles. Psalm 139:13 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Middle Man is not nearly a combination of his father's and my DNA, if he were, then he and his brothers would be more similar than their blue eyes. He is a child of God, a masterpiece of the Great Creator, made with a purpose and plan set in place before Middle Man was born.

From Middle Man I have learned how to love him which is much bigger and deeper than loving a child. Loving each of my boys is a different experience, no better or worse, but unique and individual. I have learned to respond to who he is and what he loves. I have found joy in watching him create treasure map after treasure map or read our Children's Dictionary with fervor. I have learned that those parts of him that frustrate me now, his completely independent spirit that does not crave affirmation but is content in who he is will serve him so well later in life. Hockey Boy is a people pleaser by nature which is something we already have to protect him from at times, his perfectionistic tendencies and his need for outside praise. Middle Man is self motivated, often self taught, and can only really be controlled by himself. Frustrating at times, especially when what we want or need him to do does not fit with his plans. He may not respond now to my look or my disapproval of what he is doing, but he also will not respond to those in the world that want to sway him off his path.

Middle Man has also taught me how precious we all are to God. Seeing God's work in creating Middle Man, I have also seen this attention to detail as a symbol of how much God loves me. I was also knit together in my mother's womb, made with a purpose. Psalm 113 continues, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."