Category Archives: embrace

Grace Enough

I am wrestling the notion of good enough these days. I’m taking measurements, self-assessments, and coming up short. I’m feeling the failure. Inadequacy.

Contempt seeps into my brain, whispering accusations and reminding me of where I lack. I see it everywhere. Even though . . .

Even though I have worked hard this year at my job as teacher and working mother.

Even though I have loved my husband, children, students, co-workers in the midst of my struggles.

Even though I have learned much about flexibility and taking one day at a time.

Even though I have walked through a school year not knowing at the beginning that a wedding was awaiting me on the other side. Would I have taken that first step had I known?

I can still see so many shortcomings.

I’m NOT good enough. 

That’s why there is grace enough.

There has been an abundance of grace, and today’s was no exception.

Inspired by my homeschool-mama friend, Davene, I planned a field trip to the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace in Staunton. The planning began weeks ago, and today was the day of the trip. I was feeling woefully inadequate.

Had I prepared my students well for the experience? Would they learn from it? Would it count in their minds as something fun while at the same time holding lasting educational value?

As we sat in the parlor of the manse, not touching, only listening, and our guide explained the serious nature of the parlor and the importance of the family Bible, I was reminded of yesterday’s conclusion of Caddie Woodlawn

One of my favorite childhood books, I had chosen to read it to the class, and yesterday we finished the last two chapters. Not wanting to be a spoiler, I will simply say that Father received an important letter from England and called Mother to the parlor where they shut the door to discuss its contents. Later, a family vote was taken on a serious matter with each member casting their ballot in the family Bible.

I hadn’t set an agenda in the timing of the chapter, yet it fit perfectly with our experience.

Later, when asked questions about Woodrow Wilson, my students knew answers due to a crash course we had that morning and on the way riding on the bus. I brought some books along, and we discussed some random facts, and I let students read the books, or be read to, if they wanted something to do.

I hadn’t planned out a big unit, but the time spent riding the bus was productive.

It was grace enough.

This is what I need to remember. There is grace enough for each day, and when I recognize it, it’s breathtaking. And I can breathe.

Embracing Sunday Growth

Today I sat in church listening to our worship pastor’s sermon.

We arrived late, but earlier than last week, and friends graciously scooted down the second row to make room for us.

Sitting close to the front became our strategy for worship engagement several years ago when trying to figure out what worked for the small children in our family. Sunday notebooks was another strategy, where children could take “notes” (read this as color and draw) during the preaching part of the service.

We have done battle many Sunday mornings over who would sign the attendance register or who would sit by which parent or who was looking at whom the wrong way. Usually the struggles began during Mom or Dad’s favorite worship song or scripture passage.

We have exited with an angry child in tow and have encouraged the hearts of both young and old sitting behind this. I know because they have told us. We just love watching your family on Sunday. It’s such an encouragement.

My heart has suffered discouragement.

This morning my heart was encouraged when I glanced down our row and saw three children sitting actively engaged with what was going on up front. I can say this is a first, and I had to document it discreetly.

Two children sat with pew Bibles open while a third wrote out detailed pictures and words.

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I was both stunned and grateful to be given a peek into God’s work of completing the good work that He has started in my children.

Living in the Tension

It’s happening, yet again. The tension. Good and bad mixed up and poured out into one big, glorious, disappointing mess. Living in that. Always.

This week’s mess looked like illness brought on me suddenly Thursday morning and lasting through Friday evening, derailing an important plan that had been on the calendar for months. A really important, FUN plan.

Instead of spending Friday with my adult girls shopping in Charlottesville, among other things. I spent it home sick being cared for by those who love me.

Embracing the care was hard.

Embracing the care was sweet.

Mom texted to ask if I needed anything. I didn’t think so, until it was apparent that someone ate the rest of my Tom Yum soup. I wasn’t sure. I could say no and isolate. I could say yes and embrace.

I chose yes.

Mom showed up with two orders of soup and conversation. It was a sweet lunch. And dinner later. And a snack the next day.

An adult daughter texted that she wanted to come over and hang out if I felt up to it. I wasn’t sure. I could say no and isolate. I could say yes and embrace.

I chose yes.

It was a sweet afternoon. She showed up with tea and soup. We spent time reminiscing and laughing and sorting through memories. The afternoon flew by. Such grace.

By evening, though, it was apparent that I was not recovering as quickly as had been hoped and that another fun family plan that had been in the works for months would have to be canceled. An out-of-town weekend visit to a sibling at college was not going to work. It broke little hearts.

It broke my heart to break theirs.

I wanted badly to take our well-reasoned, thought-out decision back. I wanted to try. I wanted to fix and make everyone feel better fast. It’s hard for me to sit with my children in their heartache and tears. It’s hard to help them sort feelings, when I don’t understand my own very well.

The sweetness from earlier in the day changed to bitterness on my tongue. Even harder was feeling responsible for their pain, since my body was the one not cooperating.

I chose to believe the truth. I was not the one who had ordained the day and the disappointment. We all live in the pain of the fall. We all live in the tension.

Embracing the Struggle

Close to the edge,
I could almost slip off.
My head looks around.
My heart cringes.
I am supposed to rest in the chaos;
Find a place of calm apart from externals.

And all I feel is tension.
And all I hear, condemnation.

I am trying.
God, I am trying to do the job before me
In true thankfulness
As the gift that it is.
There’s freedom to work through my days,
To care for my own family and others.

Why is it so hard to feel happy and restful?
To tap into the joy they say comes from within?

Within me are knots
and expectations
and endless lists
of chores and projects and unmet needs.

Instead of gratefulness for being granted another day of life
~ a full life  ~
a life to be lived.

And living life means quit dreading it.

The cry of my heart is for change in my heart and for grace to continue this journey with hope.

 

 

Spring Not-So-Much-of-a Break

It came and went.

The week I had been looking forward to for months arrived, flew by, and left in its wake a mess in every sense of the word. Physically and emotionally wrung, with household chaos all around (read piles of laundry and unmopped floors) and mingled memories of sweetness and struggle, nothing went my way. Everything went the way it was supposed to.

Overload.

Four children, eager to fill their days with fun. One mama who isn’t the fun type. Lots of lessons to learn in planning, patience, and grace. I’m glad that there are lots of little teachers in my life.

Swimming.

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Four not-so-littles dug out swimsuits, and one mama found the bin of towels in the basement after much searching and a phonecall to Daddy. So what if the bin was blue and not green like he thought? (Jehovah-Jireh!

Painting.

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Another day. A cross-country visit from an aunt. A beautiful yellow egg that was black by the end of the morning. A friend who was there with her child asking, Oh, are you here on a field trip with your class?

Because an excursion with my kids kind of does look like a field trip to the untrained eye. (Unlike my friend, Davene, who is a legit homeschool mom who does REAL field trips with her children!)

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Relaxing.

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Yes, there was this moment, and I had to be okay with it being short and sweet. Moments grabbed by just the two (or three, because someone had to take the picture) of us were all we got this time.

Snuggling.

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There was this cutie to meet and sniff and snuggle. We were watching you and Steve during Sunday School with the baby and thinking that you will make such cute grandparents. That we will. Totes adorbs. Just not yet!

Celebrating.

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The highlight of spring not-so-much-of-a-break was the bridal shower of my firstborn. She was celebrated well by many who love her.

After a full, fun week of family and friends, it was time to pack it all up and resume normal life Monday morning.

It’s never normal. There is always lots of life.

My Embrace of Today’s Grace

Jehovah Jireh

For Steve and me, it’s our mantra, our verbal response, our acknowledgement that we have witnessed direct provision in a given moment. We have uttered it upon locating a lost pacifier in the middle of the night, finding extra money in the budget, or receiving a positive response to a last-minute babysitting call. It’s all Jehovah Jireh.

It’s what escaped my lips after barrelling down the rickety basement-cellar steps to root out the soccer box containing old uniforms, socks, and shin guards.

Weeks ago, I had retrieved the bin of cleats and found a pair that fit Roo and one that fit Coco, our two soccer players this season. Jehovah Jireh!

As the girls rushed to prepare for their first practice tonight, something wasn’t right. After painstakingly locating and lacing and tying up soccer cleats, it was Coco who asked about shin guards (or maybe it was Roo).

Shin guards! But, of course. Shin guards! That’s why it was only slightly more difficult than too easy to get ready tonight, in the fifteen minutes we had to spare.

Oh God, be with me in this time of need. The day has been long, and the end is far off, still. Please help me to find the box with the shin guards.

I barreled down the basement-celler steps.

I knew they were in a box. A brown, brown, opaque box with Soccer Uniforms or something written on TOP. Not even on the SIDE where it would be easily seen if it were in a stack with other brown boxes. I remember scrawling it there on top once upon the end of a soccer season.

There it was. The beautiful brown box, resting solo on an old piano bench or whatever people like us keep in basement-cellers.

You know in Christmas Vacation when the Griswalds finally come to the tree? It was that moment for me.

That and Jehovah Jireh.

 

Giving it Up

I last posted on Fat Tuesday. Isn’t that supposed to be followed by a Lenten reflection or series or something? Shouldn’t I have blogged the grand reveal of what I am giving up for Lent this year? What about progress? Am I making any in my life? Is it being chronicled?

Wow! What a hefty dose of should’s and expectations I bear on my shoulders!

Lenten observance is a touchy subject, according to my facebook feed. I have friends who devoutly observe the church calendar and post blogs and links supporting their choice of what to give up or not. There are many great ideas, deep thoughts, and encouraging words.

In fact, my Lenten focus existed in cyberspace before I even knew it, as I wrestled with where I am on the journey this year. I found confirmation and encouragement in one of those facebook links. I felt affirmed and free to embrace my choice to engage.

There are those who take a non-observant stance when it comes to Lent. They believe that there need not be a particular season of fasting. Not only that, but some communicate this non-observance with an underlying tone that those who choose to observe are somehow acting superior to those who don’t. Motive is read as trying to earn God’s favor, doing penance, or gloating in works of righteousness. Those personal-opinion blogs and links also pepper my all-important facebook feed, causing me to soul-search and explore my knee-jerk reactions.

Why am I choosing to have a forty-day focus? Why am I triggered by someone else’s equally valid choice not to? What is true here? What is my tone in the above paragraph?

I’ve been on both sides of the Lenten fence in various life seasons.  Lent offers up the opportunity to engage with and release what seems to be taking over and consuming me, other than Christ.

Some years it’s been chocolate, others alcohol or caffeine. There were seasons of self-consumption, where the choice to just rest in the mess and let it be was made. There was a season of sitting in the office of a wise counselor and hearing the words, “Of COURSE there are Legos all over the floor. You  have NINE people living together. It’s a MESS!” During that time of my life, I had to learn to be present in the mess and recognize my idol of control when it reared its ugly must have everything appear perfectly organized delusional head.

This year, I have decided to actively give up clutter. This means being intentional about getting it out of my house and is where Pinterest and Facebook friends have so kindly linked and informed me of all the ways that this can be done.

It’s also about not allowing it in!

For me, I am giving up the shoulds and just doing it. Letting go. As I continually learn to breathe, so will my surroundings, and order will follow chaos, to the degree that I choose to enter the battle.

It’s not about a formula or a three-step plan to spiritual wholeness. It’s not about superiority or measuring how many tons of clutter are removed from my life. It’s not a before and after shot or marketing plan. It’s about being honest with my heart and taking action to remove what so easily becomes my focus…stuff.

Where are you today? What do you feel nudged about giving up or resting in? You are not alone!

 

Embracing Reality

Reality is…there are eleven academic weeks left of school, one spring break week, and one week of testing. That totals thirteen weeks to finish out this adventure I embarked upon last fall.

Reality is…there are thirteen weeks until a major life event happens, and my firstborn gets married.

Reality is…there are a lot of strong emotions in this house, and they aren’t all mine.

Reality is…I need to look ahead and set goals to sort out the clutter in my heart, head, and house, while being present in the now.

Reality is…I have a lot of accepting from and agreeing with God to do, and it’s still not happening well.

It is difficult for me to embrace the reality of this season of life right now, but I will continue to try. Ready or not, it is coming, and there are no guarantees!

 

 

No Helpful Hints Here

It’s written in the dust on the corner table in the living room.

Yes, this is dust.

I wrote it before documenting the shenanigans taking place with the camels and the Candyland blue man in the nativity stable.

I stumbled upon this adventuresome bunch while disassembling the aforementioned stable and the rest of the Christmas corner in the living room to prepare for someone’s birthday party.

It’s amazing the things you discover when you finally get around to cleaning things.

I try. I really do.

In fact, I have often told Steve I want my epitaph to read She tried.

There is no profound point tonight other than to remember and to remind myself that some things just can’t be explained, and life is full of playful surprises even in the midst of the dusty mess.

I want to embrace the playful surprise part.

Hey, Guys! I got stuck in molasses swamp after escaping Grandma Nutt and could really use a lift. Whaddaya say? Is this the way to the King?

Today’s Embrace

Embrace.

What did that look like today?

It looked like embracing the fact that birthday parties are hard for me, and that doesn’t mean I am a terrible mom or that I suck at being a mom.

It just means that it’s hard for me to organize and run birthday parties.

So I allow myself to embrace the help of my amazing Luvvah, and I do the shopping and fix the food while he cleans up the house and executes the fun. For him it’s all about having a plan written on the marker board in the kitchen…DSCN7480For me, it’s all about embracing his help and appreciating what a great team we make.DSCN7458Him.DSCN7395Me.

And the dolls hide…DSCN7434And they party on the couch…DSCN7462And they hang out at their own table while the girls eat snacks and drink punch…DSCN7464And even though in the midst of it all there is struggle and difficulty and maybe somebody throwing up, there is beauty and joy and fun to embrace.

And I will keep pushing through until I find it!