Monday, November 26, 2012

Motherhood Mondays - Beck and Call Girl

I was watching a movie this weekend about a career woman trying to juggle her work and her family and all the struggles that come with wanting to have it all. And all I kept thinking was, I want her life. Not the late nights trying to make homemade pie for the bake sale after getting home from a business trip but the business trip. The night away. The excuse to leave everyone behind and do your own thing. And it is not just the night away, it's the days at the office where people treat you like you know what your doing. It is having a legitimate, acceptable excuse for not volunteering more at the kids' school. It is the nanny and the husband sharing the household burdens because you both work.

Yes, I know it is hard. I know that I really do have it easy because all I have are the household burdens and the homework, carpooling and feeding of our kids when they are home from school. Except I really hate cooking and cleaning and shopping. I didn't notice it much when the kids were little because the household chores gave structure to our very long days all home together. A trip to Target was not an errand, it was our afternoon activity. We would wander and let the kids look at the toys after I checked out the cute toddler clothes. The grocery store was an educational activity for the kids, where I showed them different foods and how to decide what was the best price, ending the trip at the bakery for a free cookie as a reward for good behavior in the store.

Now though, these are simply errands. Goodwill items piled in the bathtub. Christmas decorations that need to find homes in our new place. Grocery store runs and school forms. Things that have to happen and usually during the quiet hours I have alone to write. And so I put them off until there is an emergency trip required for milk. I recently went into Target for the first time in over a month because I discovered that Amazon will deliver almost anything directly to my door.

And it's not just the housekeeping. Or the birthday planning. Or the make all the appointments and remember to get the kids' flu shots thing. I miss being someone. My own someone. My entire life revolves around my family and yet each of them has a part of their life completely separate. My husband goes to work. It's not easy I'm sure and I know it can be stressful and tiring but its his own. And when he lets me know he needs to travel or work late, I adjust my schedule. My kids go to school all day. They play sports with their friends. They go to other peoples houses. And I work around those schedules, organizing the calendars and driving and siblings.

I am thankful I got to be home with my kids when they were little. I am grateful I still get to be home because I cannot imagine the stress of trying to do it all. But sometimes...

Sometimes I wish it didn't all fall on me. Sometimes I wish I had a real excuse to drop the ball, to escape, to be my own person even at the expense of my family.

I am transitioning to a new phase of parenthood. The kids in school all day and what does that mean phase. And while most days I am really happy with my freedom to stay home and write, there is a small part of me that wants to go back to work so I can have an excuse to not be a full time on the scene parent. Because without a paycheck, without a place I have to be, I still very much feel like I am my family's beck and call girl. And I don't like how that feels today.

What part of being a parent is hardest for you this week?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Instead of Receiving This Year

A month or so ago, the grandparents began asking for birthday and Christmas gift lists from the boys. When I asked them about what they wanted, they named a video game or two but they all had trouble coming up with anything they really, really wanted. I suggested that maybe this year instead of receiving Christmas gifts from all the extended family this year, they might ask instead that their family give gifts to a charity they choose. 

I was surprised that the boys all quickly agreed this was a good idea when I first mentioned it. This may be because all three of them have winter birthdays and would receive gifts then as well as knowing that Santa Claus would still be filling their stockings and under the tree like he does each year. But I also think they are realizing how much we really have (and how little our home is to store it all).

And so they jumped on board with the idea. They especially enjoyed choosing their own charity to support. Each spent time considering their options and their choices are definitely indicative of what they love and value.

Today the boys sent this email to the family.

Subject Line: Giving Instead of Receiving.
Dear Family,  
When we started to consider Christmas wish lists, we realized we have lots of toys, books and games and we don't really need any new things. We know we are blessed and there are kids in the world that don't have as much as we do. We would like to raise money for a charity instead this year. Each of us has chosen a charity project that means a lot to us.  
Hockey Boy is collecting money to buy books for kids who do not have the amazing library he has through Ethiopia Reads. (Link
Middle Man wants to buy chicks through World Vision to give to families. (Link
Little One wants to give soccer balls to kids who use grass and mud balls to play soccer that he saw in the World Vision Gift Catalog. Link
If you would like to give us a Christmas gift this year, we ask that you support these charities instead. Santa Claus will still be visiting us so don't worry about us going without fun toys on Christmas morning. You can make checks out to World Vision and Ethiopia Reads or to each of us individually and we will send them on as a group. You can also donate directly online if that is easier but please let us know because we want to keep track of how much we are able to raise.  
Happy Thanksgiving!
Hockey Boy, Middle Man, and Little One

I would not say that my boys are especially compassionate or empathetic. They are not the kids that get upset about the homeless person on the corner or worry about the starving kids in Africa. But when a specific need is presented to them, they want to help. Maybe that is the lesson here for those of us with kids that don't take the initiative. We need to give them the opportunity to help.

And don't worry about my kids being all sad on Christmas morning. I am sure that Santa Claus will be pretty happy with their generosity and will be putting them on the nice list, the extra nice list.

How do you help your kids love the world? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Falling on Grace's Side

I am tired of being told I need to stand up for truth. 

I am tired of being told which sins "we" must fight against. 

I am tired of being told I must vote a certain way because I am a Christian. 

I am tired of my faith being used as part of a political agenda. 

When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" (Matthew 22:37-39)
I have chosen to err on the side of love. If I am going to miss the mark, I would rather fall on the side of grace than that of righteousness. One I cannot attain. The other I can only give because it was first given to me. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Words From My Pastor Regarding Women In Leadership

We are in the midst of the holiday season. We have a few family birthdays in the month of November and December to add to the holiday fun (and frenzy). I am thinking that over the next few weeks, my blogging will be sporadic and completely off schedule and topic. Starting with today.

I was sitting in church this last Sunday when our Pastor John Ortberg said something that almost brought me to tears. In the middle of his sermon centered in the book of Judges and the cycle of sin and redemption, he said words that touched my heart. I want to share these words today because I sit here and know that a war on women is happening in the church universal. As someone who has been pushed to hide my spiritual gifts because it might make someone uncomfortable, I know the body is being hurt by the diminishing of God's people.

And so I share these words. Words spoken by a pastor. A well respected pastor of a well respected church. A trained theologian who points to Christ with each word he preaches. In the middle of the story of he adds these words:
I'll say a word about this, because people sometimes wonder about God and the Bible and women in leadership. So notice Deborah was the highest leader of Israel. Although she was married, she (not her husband) was chosen by God to be the leader of Israel. 
Her husband was part of Israel, so he (her husband) is one of the people she (a woman) is leading. Notice this text does not say God did this because no other man would step up to spiritual leadership because it was supposed to be a man. It doesn't say that. It just says God chose her. Just one little indication. Even way back in the Old Testament, God chooses women. I, for one, am so glad to be a part of a church where woman and men can serve and minister and follow and lead together on the basis of spiritual giftedness and not gender. - John Ortberg  
You can watch the entire message at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church's website. (The story of Deborah and Jael and Sisero starts at about the twelve minute mark.) It's a good sermon about the idea that you reap what you sow. That was the point of the sermon. It was not about the role of women in the church.  It was about the vicious cycle of sin, pain, redemption, peach and sin again. But in the midst of the message he said these words because Deborah and Jael were there, in the Bible. He didn't avoid the story of these women. He didn't discount the role of Deborah.

He simply taught what the Bible said.

Deborah was a prophet. She was a judge. She was the leader of all of Israel. She was a woman.

I am thankful for my church, for a place where my gender does not determine my place in God's family. God does.

What has your pastor said recently that you needed to hear? 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiction Friday - Quiet

I honestly feel empty. Empty of energy. Empty of ideas. Empty of words. I wonder if this emptiness is why I can't write... or if more likely I am empty because I am not writing.

Today, I will make an attempt to engage and pray that it brings me more than it takes from me. In order to get started though, I am going to merge two ideas into one post.

On Fridays, I try to focus on fiction - my love and my truth telling place. I write here on these last days of the work week a piece of fiction as a prompt to my reader (and myself) and then leave you, me, to finish the story.

On Fridays a group links up over at Lisa-Jo's place for Five Minute Fridays. They write for five minutes. Five minutes only (unscripted, unedited, real) on the word for the week.

Today I will spend five minutes in a fictional world using this week's word - Quiet.


The office was quiet. Too quiet.

She had been late getting out of bed this morning. Her alarm clock too quiet to break through the deep sleep she had finally found around 3 am. She had been groggy when she finally reached over and hit the snooze button. It took a moment for her to remember, to realize that she had overslept and was in jeopardy of being late for the all hands meeting at work. She rushed through her shower, got dressed, threw on her make up and clothes, never stopping to check her phone for emails or the news.

She had run the four blocks to her office. Thankful for the proximity and the sunny day. The elevator had been empty. Another sign of her tardiness.

Now standing in the empty office she sought out the sound of something, anything to direct her to the meeting. Was it even on her floor?

Her eye caught a quick movement off to her left. The conference room she saw was full with her colleagues. She moved toward the room, hoping to sneak in unnoticed. She was successful because all eyes were on the speaker, a man she recognized from a few cubicles away from her own small work space. His voice was low. His words too quiet for her to hear at first. As her heart rate calmed from the rush over and her ears adjusted to the quiet of the room, she finally heard him.


What was he saying? 

(Add the next part to the story in the comments below or on your own blog and link it in the comments.)

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WednesDAY of Faith - I'm Not Happy With God

UPDATED: This post was actually written last week for today. I did not consider that today would be the day after the Election. This post has nothing to do with yesterday. Nothing.


I'm not happy with God right now. He knows why. I would tell you but it really is between him and I and the details would make me seem small and petty I am sure.

Nothing big or dramatic happened. I'm just a bit frustrated, no angry is a better word. I am a bit angry right now at God. Or a lot angry. 

In the past, I would have been scared to say those words out loud, to admit that I am angry with God. Because in the past, I did not think it was okay to question God or His plans. I thought that faith was accepting what God ordains without question. Faith was admitting that God knows best and He is working all together for our good even when we do not see it. I thought that faith required me to do these things without emotion, to accept blindly without question or even disappointment.

But here's the thing I have learned about God. He is BIG. He is STRONG. He can handle my pain, my disappointment, my anger. Not only that but my faith can handle it. I am strong enough to be angry or hurt and acknowledge those feelings without losing my faith altogether.

It's new. This willingness to go before God and tell him how mad I am that something happened or something else did not. It felt foreign the first time I really opened up and said out loud how frustrated I was with God. But it felt right.

Turns out I have kept God out of a corner of my heart because I refused to access those feelings myself.

I do believe that God's plans are best. I do believe that He does work things together for good. I do believe that He is sovereign, in control. But that doesn't mean I like it.

I hate watching my friend's son continue to be sick.

I hate watching my son's friend lose his mom to cancer.

I get angry when things are so easy for some and so hard for me.

I get hurt when it feels like I am working and striving toward nothing.

Hate. Anger. Hurt.

Emotions that do not change the truth. 

So I am not happy with God right now. But I am right with Him because I am finally telling him the truth about how I feel.

God, I am sad and bewildered by the pain I see.

But I trust you.

I am jealous of your blessings on others.

But I trust you.

I'm hurt and I am angry with you God.

But I trust you. 

Are you able to trust God with your feelings toward Him? 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Motherhood Mondays - Thanksgiving Trees

I have always wanted to do a Thanksgiving Tree with my kids. I envisioned having a tree mural painted, or stuck, on our wall and then spending the month of November adding leaves each day with the words of the things we are thankful for on them. Or anyone of the creative Thanksgiving tree crafts -  Pinterest is full of them. But see, I am not crafty nor do my boys enjoy crafts, or writing, or most any project I plan. 

I considered buying this premade Thanksgiving Tree but Pottery but I kept forgetting and this year they didn't even have one for sale. I thought about just doing what I had done the last few years and thinking about it and then not following through on anything. 

And then I had a premonition. No that's not the right word. Inspiration. That's the word. A great idea that came upon me suddenly. On November 1st which meant now or never because if I did not put it into action on day 1, it would be day 10 before I would actually get going and starting late kills momentum and perseverance I have learned.

I bought washable window markers. Truthfully, my friend actually texted me from Target and asked if I needed anything, and he bought the washable markers and brought them to me. I did pay him back. I promise.

When the boys got home, I gave them each a window marker and told them to write one thing they are thankful for on our patio window. It was that simple. And since it involved writing on the window which is almost as awesome for a boy as writing on the walls, there was no complaints. They each quickly wrote their one thing on November 1st and on each day since.

The window is full of smears from erasures and fingerprints. But is also full of the names of people we love and little things that brought us joy that day.

It may not look pretty but it is full of love and gratitude. 

How is your family preparing for Thanksgiving? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fiction Friday - Thankful

It is November which means my family along with celebrating Little One's birthday will be creating lists of things we are thankful for in preparation for Thanksgiving.

And so today, I give you the list of great fiction books we read this year and for which we are thankful.

My List
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Heft by Liz Moore
The Expat by Chris Pavone
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio

The Husband's List
Walking Away (Though that may be because his wife wrote it.)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (He does listen to books while commuting to and from his office which is far, far away.)

Hockey Boy's List (Avid Reader - 4th Grader)
The Enchantress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) by Michael Scott
The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
The Pendragon Series by DJ McHale
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

Middle Man's List (Emerging Reader - 3rd Grader)
Harry Potter by JK Rowling (He has made it through the first three books in the series.)
The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

Little One's List (New Reader - 1st Grader)
Anything Berenstain Bears - He still loves to have us read these to him. I did find some of the Leveled readers that he can read.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss - This was first "read" book he read aloud.
We Are In A Book by Mo Willems (He loves all the Mo Willem books)
If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff (And all the Give a Blank a Blank books)

What are some of your favorite fiction reads for which you are thankful?