Friday, August 29, 2014

Faithful Friday: Finding Rest

What are your plans this long labor day weekend?

Whether it is cookouts, time with family and friends, camping trips, one last jaunt on the lake, or tackling a home project, I think a common theme in anyone's holiday weekend is the joy of an extra day.

For many, the thought of rest comes to mind.  An extra day to sleep in or just linger as summer says farewell.

Around here, rain threatens to dampen many plans, but I guess it makes it lucky for us that we really didn't make any.  Knowing Tim is on call for multiple areas this weekend, we decided it was best to go with the flow.

If I can get one gallon of homemade ice cream made, spend time with family, sneak in some fishing on the boat (rain clouds not included), and take a few naps, I'll be one happy lady.  My September calendar is looking pretty crowded so resting up will be much appreciated for these tired old bones.

An unplanned Labor Day weekend takes me back to our last with Austin.  We shared an extra special one that year, not just because it was our last, but because on that spontaneous trip time seemed to stand still.

Our entire day was unplanned and unscheduled with new and exciting activities. 
Such a simple holiday, filled with precious memories. 
I imagined Pine Knob as a little piece of Heaven and like to think that Austin now lives among beauty and peace such as was found on that perfect summer day.
You can read more of that day here on Austin's blog.

While we all long for that eternal rest we'll see someday, such peace is available in the here and now.  When you fully give your heart to God and trust in Him with all of life's worries, he sends a peace that is indescribable.  I know because I've felt it.  It's been a gift in the most traumatic and dark times of my life.  

But there's a joyful peace too that I carry with me too, always.  He's there shining down on the sunny days and within me on the not so sunny ones...There's rest in Him on everyday stresses and times of chaos.  Of juggling schedules and feeling the pulls of motherhood.  Of expectations we set on our ourselves that we never quite reach.  Of the darkness of this world.  

Whatever I'm facing, I know that I can lay it at His feet and find rest.  I pray this for you too, my friends.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Enjoy the NOW

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Your belly round and tight, feet swollen, and waddle walk.
A red circle on the calendar counts down the weeks as you yearn for your little one here.
But don't wish this time away, this precious period that only you and baby share.
This time, where your tiny one learns the beating of your heart from the inside.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of sleepless nights, stacks of diapers, and feedings before the dawn.
When your baby sometimes cries for no reason and in frustration tears fall down your face.
But don't wish this time away, just hold and shush and rock that baby back and forth.
This time, they stay this little for only a blinking of your tired eyes.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of terrible twos, how did they know to label it with such truth.
When your toddler tries your patience every moment of the day.
But don't wish this time away, of pouts and tantrums, and of stomping feet.
This time, when imaginations soar and bedtime snuggles are sweet.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of kindergarten days, where you juggle being mom on a much tighter schedule.
Where lessons learned don't always come from you and sharing is done by more than your child.
But don't wish this time away, of ABC's, morning struggles, and toys scattered on the floor.
This time, where one bedtime they read a story to you instead and the nightlight isn't needed anymore.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of school days and play dates and extra-curricular activities.
Where you wonder where to fit in family time and just want your not so little one to crawl in your lap.
But don't wish this time away, where days fly through to another year and it's first day pics all over again.
This time, when one day you realize your baby has become a child and has changed overnight.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of teenage tempers and attitudes, stinky laundry, and messy rooms.
Where mom becomes a taxi service and you're shuffling schedules and reigning chaos.
But don't wish this time away, of growing pains, freedom fights, and late night worries.
This time, where your teen evolves in front of you and you wonder where the time even went.

Savor these moments, for they pass way too soon.

Momma, I see you, wishing away this season you're in.

Of little ones grown into young adults and you're longing for days gone past.
Where you wish there was an imaginary brake so you could just. slow. them. down.
But don't wish this time away, where you learn to let them go but get to watch them begin new journeys.
This time, where your babies begin to fly and make it on their own.

Whatever season you're in, linger there mommas, and enjoy every moment.  
Savor the good - and the bad - for days go by so very quickly.
Hold those babies close in gratitude for how special they are, no matter their age.
And count your blessings if life grants you the gift of experiencing them all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Faithful Friday: Patience of a Pea

Sitting here stewing a bit and wondering how I'm going to get in the right frame of mind to bring you a Faithful Friday post.

The fact that it's nearly 6 pm and I haven't even begun one should give you a hint to the hectic week I've had.  Though I enjoy the routine that back to school brings, it certainly hasn't been a seamless transition.  This mom has played taxi and delivery service more times than she can count.  And we're only into our third week!

Most of my running has been because someone forgot something somewhere.  

I'm trying to be patient and kind, really I am.  Honestly, I am probably being too nice because right now, I'm still transporting said people and items.  At some point this school year, there will be a "suck it up" responsibility announcement.

For now, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are young and high school is crazy and easing into the structured schedule after a carefree summer isn't the easiest to do.

But tonight's moment that has my temperature rising and blood pressure elevated isn't because the kids forgot to do something, instead they were responsible, but the adult in charge was not.

Yet, as I'm mumbling and grumbling under my breath, God whispers and reminds me,
"What's the difference?"

I should give the same grace to everyone, not just those I live with. Wouldn't I want the same for me?  In fact, don't I get the same from Him?

If I'm truthful, my patience has been wearing thin the past week so tonight's mishap probably seems worse than it really is.  Normally those things that become our pet peeves are really warning signs, an internal check engine light showing us areas we need to work on.

Sure, the said party could certainly benefit from a session or two on organization and time management.

But what I've learned most is that the lesson for me this Friday is to spend a little more time in prayer ripening my patience fruit!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's in Your Bucket?

Hello, my name is Heather...and I'm a food junkie.
Or, as the cool kids say, a Foodie.

Although I know my love language is quality time, if a new category opened up in "food" I'm sure that would be mine.  At least, it's the way I think.  If you're sick or feeling blue, it is just in my nature to head to the kitchen and whip up something for you.  I love gifting food to others.  When trying a new recipe, I smile inside awaiting the reactions from the family or friends.

One of my most favorite gifts ever from Tim has been the mixer he bought me this past year.  And I'm sure we'll spend a long life together.  Well, Tim can stay too.  (wink)

As much as I love cooking and enjoy being in the kitchen, I absolutely adore trying new food experiences. When I travel, it is a rule that we can't eat anywhere we have at home.  It's my preference to not even eat anywhere we've ever been before.  And much of my planning in preparing for a trip is to scope out restaurants or dishes off the beaten path.  Forget the tourist traps, I wanna eat where the locals go.

When I eat around my neck of the woods, I'm known for rarely eating the same thing.  Even though I loved the customers who ordered "the usual," as a waitress, I try to order something new every time.  

The adventuress foodie in me has rubbed off on Noah.  He shares my passion for cooking and trying new things.  He just sometimes regrets what he orders.  And normally I'll trade with him.  Except for the latest mishap he received.

This past weekend we were boot shopping for his welding class and were strapped for time to squeeze a much needed dinner in plus make it across town to another store before they closed.  We opted for a Asian restaurant next to the shoe store.  A quick glance at the menu agreed with my budget and appetite so we were seated.

While Noah will try new things, he sometimes has a hard time choosing quickly.  This particular night Mom had to step in.

"Do you want sushi, Chinese, or Hibachi?"  (they offered all three)

"Chinese, I guess," he says.

After a few glances... "Ok, Noah, how about this, that, or this?"

He found something called Shrimp with Lobster sauce, which sounded decadent, but included no information so we asked.  Language barriers kept us from really understanding her answer but Noah decided to go for it.

SEVERAL minutes later, after I'd resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn't make it to other store, his food arrived.  And (gulp) it moved.

It wasn't alive, but it wiggled.  

A slimy, gelatinous mixture of goo was on his plate with a side of rice.  
If you're eating don't read this next line....

Basically it looked like an elephant sneezed out shrimp and crab.  

Yuck.  Ick.  And no thank you.

As adventurous as I am, I couldn't do it.  I give him mad props for even putting any of it in his mouth.  He took a few bites and then when he started playing with it, I moved it to the other table so I could actually finish my food.  

And although this particular story wasn't a yummy win, most of the time our adventures are good.  Part of the fun is just in trying and learning about different cuisines.  I've tried alligator, eel, octopus, turtle and goat, to name a few, fruits I can't remember the name of in Jamaica, and to-die-for risotto and escargot on a cruise.

But there's so much more out there I want to taste.  As such, I have a food bucket list.

Some things I just want to try to say I've done it.  

Pho - a Vietnamese noodle soup, Rocky Mountain Oysters (look it up if you don't know) and Caviar are among the top of my list.  

Other foods I want to try IN the location they're known for.  Call it a Foodie Road Trip.

Among them my tops are authentic Fish & Chips, a beignet from Bourbon street, and a deep, ooey-gooey pizza from Chicago.

So, of course, now I want to know yours.  Give me your top three, whether it be something you've always wanted to try.  Or, places you want to experience.  

My taste buds are waiting.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Faithful Friday: Loving the Unlovable

Have you ever been personally attacked by someone for no reason other than it is just the way they are?

Even when we know they are "one of those people," it doesn't take the sting away that comes from the prodding.  Like a caged animal, maybe you feel like they're taking an extra long stick and teasing you.  Poking you here and there, in just the right spots to make you growl.  Like the bully they are, they wait - until you take a breath and think it's over - just to pounce again.

Ever had an experience with someone like this?

Sadly, we've had more than our share.  Some worse than others.  One that lingers still and, in fact, had us shaking our heads just the past week at how boring their life must be that all they have to do is sit and stew about how to torment ours.

But, honestly, if you've ever dealt with even one difficult person, who makes it their mission to make you miserable, it is one too many.

Sometimes it's just words, gossip, rumors...the stirring of the pot.  Sticks and stones, you say, but it still hurts.  What makes it worse is when they attack you in other ways.  Perhaps your finances, your faith, your family.  That is when it makes it extra, unbelievably hard to love them.

I prayed for such a people yesterday.  This time, I'm watching someone being beaten down from the outside.  As uncomfortable as it is when it happens to you, to see ones you love being hurt - for no reason other than there is true evil in this world, is difficult to say the least.

And I'll admit it was somewhat with a clenched lip that I lifted them in prayer; but as I was pouring out my heart to God, in how loved ones were being treated, he laid it on in whispers to include them too.

Goodness knows they need it, or else they wouldn't act the way they do, but it isn't easy to pray for those who hurt us.  Especially in the midst of the storm.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  Luke 6:27-28

Sometimes I ponder on why good people suffer.  Why the nice ones always seem to get knocked down.  To receive pain for no reason.  And then I think of Jesus.

Isn't that just what he endured for us?

No matter what I (or those I love) face in this life, it doesn't ever add up to the pain and suffering He willingly went through for each of us.  He chose to.  Just because He loves us.  That's an amazing truth I remind myself time and again.

To be in the midst of a trial and be able to say you are blessed may seem strange to someone who doesn't know God's love.  But He says it time and again in the Beatitudes.  Not a list anyone jumps to be on, but He's with us each heavy step.  And great is the reward for any suffering we face.

Hang on, dear friends, JOY is coming....

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Joy through Darkness

This post is probably one of hundreds that will be written this week inspired by the shocking death and apparent suicide of Robin Williams.  I don't have any higher wisdom than anyone else but couldn't shake the need to say something.

When I heard the news last night, I was on my way to bed so we didn't talk much as a family about it.  There was just stunned silence in the room.  Hearing it on the radio this morning, the kids and I discussed it again on the way to school.

Noah said, "This is pretty much all we're going to hear about for a day or two, I think"

Because it is such a shock, I told him.
When you picture Robin Williams, you smile.

Robin Williams = happiness

He made so many laugh through the course of his life and it just saddens me to think of the pain he was hiding inside.  Often, it is those who bring light to others that are holding the darkest secrets.  Laughter is avoidance and it distracts from how you're really feeling.

I know because I've mastered it myself.  In this life I've been hit with many blows and yet I still stand.  The biggest, deepest, darkest of all those, of course, is losing Austin.  And time and again people comment about how strong I am, how they don't know how I manage...  But few rarely took the time to see how I really felt. Few know the true pain I've experienced.  Because few are allowed behind the veil.

Is it irony that my latest post, about losing friends amidst the pain of child loss, published today on Still Standing Magazine?  It's one of the darker pieces I've written and admit it felt like I was exposing myself -more than I'm comfortable with.  But it was truth and needed to be said.  I know others are facing this unexpected hurt during a time of greatest grief.  Maybe my post will bring awareness to one friend to reach out, even if the other party doesn't seem welcoming.

And that's really what all of this is about.  We must, as a society, remove the stigma that comes from depression.  People don't just get over things.  This world is hard.  Life is hard.  And every single one of us battles something.

In the course of your day, you probably come face to face with someone screaming on the inside for just one person to reach out.  For just one hug.  One REAL "how are you?" that truly wants an answer of more than one word.

I'm lucky.  I can't explain how I've made it through the fog, how I found joy through the darkness, other than to say that God took me by the hand and pulled me out.  In the same breath though, I know others who are just as strong in their faith and God wasn't enough.  Medicine or therapy was required.  And that's ok too.

If you're hurting....ask for help.  Reach out.  There IS someone who cares.
If you're healing...look for someone hurting.  Reach out.  There IS someone in need.

Let's love each other more.  Be kinder than necessary.  Spread JOY.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Faithful Friday: Time

"Are you there, Heather? It's Me, God"

Sometimes I wonder if this is how God feels when I've had a scattered day....or week....or summer.  When I let my to-do list bump the most Important to the side.  When even my best intentions fail miserably and I plan yet again to do better tomorrow.

When I haven't made time for the One who gives me time.

Anyone who knows me at all, would say that I'm good at time management, great even.  It's something that has always come natural to me but throughout my life and career it's been necessity.  Maybe part of it is being the first born - or coming from a family with habitual lateness that drove me crazy.  I'm sure some of my skills came with being a young mom juggling both college and working full time.  And it was helpful to have a short stint in teaching professional development, which focused on time management.  As I have most of my life, if I'm going to teach it, I better preach it myself.

Which brings me to my point, and the topic of today's post.  I haven't been very faithful in my time with God...meaning I haven't managed my time well.

Yes, I have multiple reasons (er, excuses) like changing jobs, summertime, and chronic fatigue but truth be told, there's a lot of days I just didn't schedule enough time with Him.  And I'm the one who suffers from it.  Though I often crave physical rest, I know that what I really need is rest in Him.

While it might sound crass to "pencil in" time with God, I'm sure He'd rather appreciate me setting special time aside instead of tossing up flares and screeching in for a quick check-up here and there.

This dawned on me last night when our pastor admitted the same struggle.

On a side note, let me say how refreshing it is to have spiritual leaders who are up front about their shortcomings.  None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes.  The key is learning from them and then sharing to build each other up.  I love that our church supports and encourages us, instead of looking down their noses at us, like we are a different breed.

It helps to know that others mess up too, which is maybe why I'm so forthcoming with my faults in this blog. I figure it is worth spilling my guts, if it helps at least one person.  So, who's with me today?

Do you ever feel as it there just isn't enough hours in the day?  Like you're running on empty?  Like your "check engine" light is blinking but nobody has time to take it in for a tune-up?

Even though God is there for the emergency situations in life, He doesn't want to just be a band-aid.  God desires to be there every mile along your journey.  Up the hills, down the valleys, but most all through the plain-nothing-to-see roads of life.

My commute/prayer time is something I've missed since changing to a job five minutes from home.  I never thought I'd complain about not having to drive 45 minutes to work (and there's LOTS about that I don't miss) but my quiet time with God has suffered.  I was guaranteed two blocks of time, at the start and end of my day, to just talk and listen.  That time was precious.

Now, the responsibility falls on me to ensure I set aside time each day.

For now, I'm learning and adjusting.  My schedule changes daily (which I enjoy) but it does make it more difficult to be consistent.  Although my alarm clock is groaning with the changes of back to school, I am looking forward to a steadier routine.  And praying it helps me carve out time with the One who means the most.

How do you manage your quiet time with God?  When do you read His word?  I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Case of the Mondays??

If people looked forward to Mondays as much as Fridays, the week would surely fly by faster than it does. Instead, most moan about Monday as if it were the same as a trip to dentist, which I've never really understood because I love going for a cleaning!

Anyhoo, if you're having one of those Mondays, I thought I'd treat you to some of the joys that have come my way lately.  Maybe they'll brighten up your day.  Or make you smile.  It's always better to smile than frown anyway because they say it takes more muscles to make a grumpy face...and I'm sure it causes more wrinkles!

Plus, I feel like I owe ya a post, since I wasn't very Faithful at posting this past Friday.  More on that below!

May seem funny to start out with on a post about joy but my weekend started a little weepy.  You see, my baby is starting High School this week.  My itty bitty, little mouse, once tiny now towering boy is all-most grown-up and now has one foot out the door.  It's hard for this momma to grasp that her strapping guy of 6 feet 2 1/2 inches has reached this stage of life.

At the same time, this season he's in brings up a lot of bittersweet memories about Austin that add to the water works.  Freshman orientation is about the last happy high school memory we have of our first born, now gone from this world.  He left us just three short months later.

So you can imagine that I was biting my lip extra hard at an effort to keep it all together Thursday night, as we walked Noah around his new school.

But several things helped me in the process, like seeing the excitement on Noah's face.  I don't know why but I think he's been ready for high school since preschool.  Orientation didn't start until 5 pm but he was calling me after lunch, wanting to know when we'd leave.  Much to our surprise, Tina even got teary-eyed, as we drove past the middle school.  She commented that she didn't know if she was ready for her "little cousin" to be this big.  That girl never cries at things like this but it hugged my heart at how close they've become. It helped distract her tears, in finding excitement by showing him around and introducing him to teachers.  Each of them got a chuckle at her "little cousin" introduction, given that he's two feet taller than she.
And of course, at the close of the night, once we settled into the car to head home, I glanced down at my phone to see the battery on 23%.  Austin's way of saying hello and that he'll most certainly be watching over his little brother.

The rest of the weekend continued to be focused on our two teens, as we began and completed their school shopping in one giant swoop.  It was sweaty and hectic, crowded and chaotic, and my feet hurt more with each step.  I'd say it reminded me again and again how old I'm becoming but even my energetic dancer complained about her aching toes, so I know it meant we walked A LOT.  But in the mix of the hustle and bustle, we did share some great moments and lots of laughs.

Slug bug punches.  Bohemian Rhapsody.  White Castle Crave Case.  
Funny Tshirts.  
The search for the biggest - and smallest - shoes in the store.  
Impromptu visit with my sister's babies and extra sweet hugs from Baby Rae.  
Fresh, yummy cherries.  Stripper pants.  Evening walk with my hubby.
School snack stock-up.
  A Tim & Tina date.
And of course....Sushi!

It was a wonderful way to spend the last free weekend before school starts 
and this momma surely enJOYed soaking up the memories!

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