Tag Archives: heart bin

For My Mother

Her name is Caryn, and she likes birds. She is my mother.

I am the firstborn. She is, as well.

We are both left-handed.

We both have lots of children. She always says I win with eight. I think she forgets those she lost, and when we get to heaven, she will find that she is actually the winner.

Even though it’s not a contest, and I’m not trying to prove anything!

I remind her of that as often as possible.

It’s not a contest. 

I have not been a Hallmark daughter. Our relationship has been messy and complicated. We have grown.

So much so, that last year we took a trip together to Boston for Sisters and Mom week.

It was a pretty big deal, the two of us flying together.

It’s a pretty big deal that we live within walking distance of each other and spend time together and that my kids are close to their grandma.

A few months ago, one of my daughters made a list for me and asked that I post it on my blog. It is in that spirit that I offer one of my own. To my mother.

I love you, Mom. Here are 100 reasons why.

1. You breastfed me.
2. You read books to me and sang with me.
3. You took me out for coffee with your friends when I was little and let me drink out of the little creamer cup.
4. You let me play with little neighborhood friends, even when we didn’t live in the best neighborhood. You kept the front door (and your ears) open.
5. You taught me Bible verses.
6. You made up songs. (B-e-d, B-e-d, Bed, Bed, you need bed. You have ten miiiinutes….)
7. You sewed a doll with brown yarn hair and blue fabric eyes for me.
8. You sewed a bathrobe for me.
9. You played Memory with me.
10. You gardened.
11. You harvested.
12. You canned.
13. You connected with people around you.
14. You told stories with Lolly Elephant.
15. You taught Bible club when we lived in the apartment.
16. You used flannel graph.
17. You cooked meals for us every night.
18. You helped me make friends with Rene.
19. You noticed the tick on my hip when I was four.
20. You tried to limit red dye and cheese consumption for my greater good.
21. You participated in a food co-op that time.
22. You tried to be a sport about thrift stores.
23. You took us on road trips to Michigan.
24. You took me on outings with Janet and Nicole.
25. You let me cook.
26. You let me bake my own bakery-style birthday cakes.(haha!)
27. You let me invite Nicole over for birthday celebrations.
28. You coordinated the church nursery.
29. You made me a little orange and yellow playroom with organized toys.
30. You kept fighting the clutter monster, even when it threatened to take you down.
31. You made organizers from plastic milk jugs when you couldn’t afford store-bought ones.
32. You survived a remodel, addition, whatever that was, you survived it.
33. You exercised.
34. You wore exercise sandals.
35. You noticed that one of your many children had already gotten in the pool when they weren’t supposed to.
36. You took us to the pool.
37. Because you made friends with older people who had a pool and invited us to swim.
38. You have a heart for older people.
39. You made childbirth sound like an evening stroll in the park with a stop off at Bob Evans for breakfast on the way home, so I wasn’t fearful of childbirth. Oh. My. Thank you?
40. You wore stylish wrap around skirts.
41. You tried to teach me to sew.
42. You let me just figure it out.
43. Ok, so I can’t sew.
44. You got me a real chalkboard so that I could play school.
45. You let me set up a school room.
46. You took me to get my ears pierced.
47. You took me to get my hair cut.
48. You watched Growing Up and Liking It with me at school in 5th grade.
49. You sometimes forgot to plug in the crock pot, and we got to go out to eat instead of eating soupy chicken at home.
50. You invited people over.
51. You let me go to friends’ houses.
52. You bought me bras and underwear at JCPenney, because that’s just where you get those items.
53. You let me ride on the bus when you substitute drove Steve’s route.
54. You cared for animals.
55. You made real life connections back in the day when the internet was non-existent (at least in people’s homes), and mothering lots of kids at home was even more isolating than it can be today.
56. You survived living on a low income with a lot of children.
57. You always kept us fed and clothed.
58. You decorated a nursery for Greg on Nicholson St. complete with a chair rail.
59. You let me have it for my own room when he got bigger.
60. You let us hide our special toys in the attic so they wouldn’t get ruined when people came over.
61. You took us to the doctor.
62. You took us to the dentist.
63. You tried to do a frugal recycled birthday for one of our siblings by fixing up discarded toys. That had to have been so annoying when we all began to claim our stuff!
64. You tried to cut back on our sugar intake, even if it WAS on Easter and involved CAROB bunnies.
65. You hid real Easter eggs for us to find.
66. You got me hot chocolate from the hot drink machine at Giant, and were only slightly annoyed with me when I started splashing hot liquid everywhere and freaking out.
67. You were frugal before there were websites to teach you how, even though you weren’t fond of frugality.
68. You took me shopping for fabric with Nicole to make our 4th grade pillows.
69. Sunshine Family Dolls. Enough said.
70. You were calm when we were flashed while coming out of Giant that time. “That man doesn’t have any PANTS on.” Oh my. Thankfully, it was only the backside, and he ran off quickly.
71. You didn’t act too annoyed on long car rides to Michigan when the backback was down, and the kids were sleeping, and my chin was propped on the seat back between you and Dad just hanging out.
72. You let me pack boxes of magazines for the infamous move while leaving behind your dining room chairs.
73. You planned a wedding for me during a season of huge transition.
74. You drove to see me after my first baby was born, and you lived hundreds of miles away, and your baby was only 4.
75. You still buy me groceries and treats sometimes “just because.”
76. You cook amazing meals.
77. You host family gatherings.
78. You hear hard things.
79. You continue to learn and grow.
80. You come hear me when I sing on worship team.
81. You spend time with my children.
82. You step out of your comfort zone.
83. You care for people.
84. You help with piano run.
85. You help with last-minute sick grandkids.
86. You baked Christmas cookies with the little girls.
87. You make memories.
88. You took me to the banquet.
89. You attend choir concerts and recitals.
90. You drive to Michigan to spend time with YOUR family.
91. You read books.
92. You learn new technology.
93. You remain curious.
94. You go to lunch with your friends.
95. You taught me to make the best chocolate chip cookies.
96. You fly places now.
97. You stay young.
98. You love your husband.
99. You love your children and their families.
100. You gave me space to risk in our relationship, and you didn’t run.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you!!!!!

Embracing Disappointment

I am supposed to be in the car right now with a friend headed north for a personal retreat. 

Instead I am home in my pjs, sitting in the corner of my room, listening to the “playing” of children in the living room and the coughing of a husband in bed and wondering when the next sound of my 5 year old’s, “Mooooooooommmmmy! He’s (insert annoying thing a 10 year old might do with a 5 year old’s toys)….” will whine into my ear.

I’m disappointed today.

Even though…

This is where I need to be.

Even though…

My friend and I considered and prayed about our options and struggled through the decision not to go.

Even though…

I agreed that she had the final say since she was the primary driver with the car.

It’s still hard.

And that’s one thing about choosing to feel and embrace and consider hopeful possibilities.

You will be let down and disappointed. Your heart will hurt and you will cry.

I burst into random tears at random times yesterday and didn’t know why. My heart just hurt, and I was struggling with so many perceived failures.

I don’t care well for the sick. I don’t engage well with my children. I don’t like to cook or clean or plan meals, and I REALLY struggle with keeping up the laundry. I’m not embracing ANY of this.

Yesterday was FULL of all of the things that I. do. not. like. or. do. well.

Yes, I know I can link to the words of others about how it’s not performance-based, not what we do. I could find grace-based quotes to print out. I could link to my own words somewhere from a better day when I was feeling hopeful and encouraging and my heart wasn’t a floundering mess splattered across and tangled up in the world-wide-web. But sometimes I just need to sit in it and let my heart be for awhile.

My daughter reminded me that I don’t have to get my word in a day.

I’m grateful for kind reminders. I know that, too.

But that’s where it is.

Day 2 of the year and instead of embracing the opportunity to explore new ways of getting un-stuck (which is what I thought I would be writing about), I am embracing the disappointment of changed plans. This also gives me the opportunity to embrace a day of wearing pjs and reading my book and writing and processing and feeling. I’m right where I need to be. Where are YOU today?

From the Compost Pile ~ Remembering

9/11 Remembrance Day.

I stood in front of my small class today, doing opening exercises, going through our morning routine, discussing the date. September 11, 2013. Mine is a multi-age, multi-level classroom, and none of the children were even alive on September 11, 2001.

Why is today 9/11 Remembrance Day? What are we remembering?

I look at my partner teacher and ask her what she remembers.

She remembers that she was in 4th grade, in the very classroom where we now teach together, and that Good Shepherd closed early that day. She remembers going home and watching events unfold on TV.

I remember being her teacher. I remember grabbing a quick break while Mr. McClay taught Bible to my class and being informed by another teacher that something was awry. We were standing outside on a brilliantly beautiful fall day, a chill entering our souls.

I remember that my oldest child was 8 and my baby was almost 3.

I remember I had a roomful of students to teach, and we had sentences to diagram and spelling words to review. I remember being in my own little classroom bubble as events continued to unfold.

Twelve years ago technology was not what it is today. I had no cell phone. No internet.

I remember a memo from the office.

I remember wondering what our world was coming to.

Today I looked at my students and told them that they represented the hope we have for a future. None of them were born, yet, but each of them was planned by God for a purpose.

While we spoke in veiled, age-appropriate terms about Remembrance Day, those who were old enough to understand got it, and those who weren’t…well…

As I took the final comment from the raised hand of a first grader, my heart had to smile.

My mommy and I went to a PURSE party! 

All innocence, and earnestness, and importance, as it should be for one so young.

As we remember.

Guest Post by a Truthteller

Four, four
Four bigs, four littles.
Two, two
Two parents, two tries
At parenting style,
The first four ruled
Polished and smooth
But rough on the inside.
The last four freed
Wild and unique
Through a challenging ride.
Eight, the magic number—
Eight of us
Jumbled together.

This was written by my firstborn daughter as a Facebook status and speaks such truth in few words. I had to steal it for my blog. Enjoy!

From the Compost Pile ~ Three Years

Written circa 2008…

Today at the end of an outing to Barnes&Noble with my friend, A, she looked at me, held up three fingers, and said in what I’m sure she thought was an encouraging voice, Three years. Things will look a lot different in three years. We’ll be able to have a conversation.

She wasn’t with me a week earlier when I was drinking wine with a different friend. Now 47, she was looking back and reflecting on 37. Two small daughters after years of infertility treatments, home after a career, she recalled feeling alone and miserable. Her response to a similar 3 years comment was, That’s 1,000 more days of THIS. I canNOT do 1,000 more days of this.

Now, I firmly believe that this is my calling, and that God wants me here and is giving me grace for each day, but in that moment, I felt incredibly hopeless and alone.

3 years?!!? Are you kidding me?!

I swallowed the lump in my throat, forced myself to breathe, caught my two-year-old, coaxed my three-year-old, hoisted the infant seat bucket over my arm and onto my hip, and exited the store.

Do you know that in 3 years, I will have been doing this for 20 years? This is hard for me? That it has always been three years until something better that never comes?

I am trying to figure out the now. To understand myself within the context of my life. I want to love the gift that is now, not the elusive never-to-come.

It has now been many more than three years. I think we both would agree that things look different. We have both grown, and yes, we can now have a conversation, albeit long-distance. I love you, A. You are a gift.

Remembering Brian

Today marks 3 years since our friend and former “Wolfe Pack” neighbor was taken from this life way too soon.


I remember the day. The morning strife. The afternoon uncertainty. The evening confirmation.

Sitting with friends on their deck. No words. Hugs. Tears.

Processing the painful.

Left behind in the mess.

Brian, I remember the smiles and waves from the stop sign on the corner as I played with toddlers in the yard, the last-minute rides for the teens to and from youth group, having the “Wolfe Pack” down for dinner, your unsuspecting humor, the shock and numbness of finding out that you wouldn’t be coming home, after all. I remember your kind soul. You are still loved and missed by many.

What Does Your Heart Need Today?

Mine needs space to breathe. I can tell when I can’t get the air all the way into my lungs that I am carrying too much inside and trying too hard outside.

I need to let it be. The cares and worries that I feel and want to process can wait. I can feel freedom to lay the burdens down.

Today I will allow my heart to find space in tending to my flowers, in playing with my girls, in the pages of my art journal.

How will you care for YOUR heart today?

Be inspired!

Be inspired!

From the Compost Pile ~ Connection

After this post on processing life with littles in tow, a friend messaged to ask what the compost pile produced from that season of phonecalls. It got me thinking and pondering, and one thing that it produced was connection. Connection with others. Connection with my heart.

You never know what might grow....

You never know what might grow….

Trying to do and be and keep up is really hard. Expectations bind and should’s keep a person small. My heart was full of both.

I worked hard at my life trying to get it right. I tried to be the perfect daughter, girlfriend, fiancee, wife, mother, teacher, friend, big sister, the list goes on. Oh how I tried. And failed. And tried harder.

Those were lonely, dry years. I was locked down tight with the key lost somewhere beneath the piles of rules and guidelines and man-made burdens I was trying to bear. 

I cared for the hearts and dreams of others. Theirs had value and worth. Looking into the eyes of my students, siblings, children, friends, I saw potential. Future. Hope. My own eyes were dead. Future resigned. Hope aborted.

Pressing on. Tossing in. Packing down.

Then it happened. I began to break. To crack. Just a little.

They started. The phone calls. Heart calls. From sisters. From friends.

I shared. They didn’t run. They remembered. I collapsed.

She came to me.

I remember a particular friend who I didn’t know well at the time, also a mommy of littles, calling to check on me. I was honest. She didn’t judge. She called back. We processed life.

I felt safer sharing my story. I practiced trusting that people cared about me. Those phone calls were drops of cool water on my dried-out heart. I began to soften inside and feel freedom to look at some painful places.

It was a time of great breaking in order to bring about great healing, but I wasn’t alone. I had my phone-a-friends.

It’s funny, but not really, that it happened as I was incubating the second half of my family. Having spent my 20’s as a working mother of four, I embarked upon my 30’s with a sense of What will this decade bring?

It brought four more children and the stay-at-home version of me.

I remember thinking, At least I have an excuse to be home, because I am caring for all of these little (and big) ones. Must there always be an excuse? It wasn’t until a few years later that the compost produced choices, but for now, there was connection.

And it was sweet.

Good Tuesday Morning! (6 years ago, that is)

Flashback alert…this is another retro post of where I was 6 years ago in life.

This is a shout out to all those of you checking in on my (LiveJournal) blog. You are loved! Just the fact that you care enough to see what’s up today shows me how loved and blessed I truly am. Whether you comment or not (I know it’s a tricky process) here’s a hug for you!

Today started with a “nice” breakfast at Bob Evans with mom. (Remember the Simplify sign?) Then off to Food Lion for a few things before heading home to really start the day.

After quiet time is over for the babies (This would be Coco and Roo with Kirkle being 4), I will be taking the kids shopping for school supplies. (These would be adding in the 4 bigs.) They are all excited.

I will try to get more pictures up soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the gift of this day God has given to us! (I didn’t get pictures up in this post. This was part 1. Will post part 2 later today.)



This is a test. It is only a test. I found an old file on my computer full of LiveJournal posts that were written from 2007-2009ish. Supposedly I can post them to this blog, so I am going to try it out. Blasts from the past, so to speak.

August, 2007

Mom and I had a good laugh at Bob Evans this morning while waiting to pay the bill. In the little shop area were fun fall decorations and other gift items. What caught my eye, though, was a carving of the word “Simplify” among others. I’m sure you’ve seen these inspirational words designed to display on a shelf or ledge or wherever.

I wondered…does one purchase this in order to let visitors know she purposely has no other knick~knacks? Does one give this as a gift to someone in hopes that they’ll get the idea and start getting rid of some of the clutter that is everywhere? Must you spend to encourage reduction? What does it mean to simplify, anyway?

I don’t know the answer to all of these questions. All I know is that somewhere there is money to be made in decorative items encouraging others to clear out the crap so that they can buy more “meaningful” stuff. All I know is that I chose to pass on that purchase and take yet another bag to Goodwill.

Simple enough for me!

June 2013

I wish I could say my life has become simple and decluttered since then, but alas, it is still crazy chaos. And I still haven’t found answers to all of my questions.