Saturday, May 30, 2015

Working the Weekend

Somewhere, over the past couple months, my 15 year old decided he wants a job for the summer.  Perhaps it was a reminder of boredom from last year or the dreaded chore chart mom created.  Truly, he's just always enjoyed working - or rather making money!

Noah's mowed yards for several years, but summer sweat equity is difficult and undependable.  Not yet driving, he's limited to our neighborhood and the need varies each year.  Plus, mowing is not his passion.

When he set out to putting in applications, I secretly worried about his disappointment, given his age, but I prayed he'd find something.  He never hesitated though.  Honestly, I don't think age has ever been a factor for him.  If we wants something, he goes for it.  And that makes me a very proud mom.

Noah's passion, from the time he could climb up to the kitchen counter, has been cooking.  While I assumed whatever job he found would involve food, I expected it to be of the fast version.  Yet God had other plans a huge blessing in store for him.

He ended up securing a job a local pizza place that's walking distance from our home.  At first, he figured he'd be taking orders, bussing tables, or washing dishes. And he was fine with that - it was work.  What thrilled him was learning he'd be able to help in the kitchen!

On his first night, we'd planned to give him distance, not wanting to embarrass him with overly excited parents lurking in the background.  But a text came in from him begging us to come down, ironically after we'd already eaten.  A true salesman, he gives us the pitch about how good the cookies are, so we try a couple.  And then asks if we'd like some bread sticks, the station he was working at that night.  Although we were full, we couldn't say no.

My little chef is all grown up.  Insert heart tears!

And even though already stuffed, we gobbled down each yummy morsel.  My boy knows his way around some dough!

It's been such a joy to watch him from a distance, as I wait in the car for his shift to end.  I can sneak views of him sweeping the floor, taking out the trash, and chatting with co-workers.  He's loving every minute of it.  

Yesterday, I asked what he liked best about his job and instantly he said, "Just working."  How lucky he is to be in a job that matches his passion at such a young age.  I pray that trend continues throughout his life.

He's been there long enough now to earn his first paycheck, which he proudly presented to me last night in the parking lot.  

"Did you know taxes took part of my check, Mom?  What's up with that!"

...Welcome to the real world, son.  Welcome.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Who's Driving the Bus?

Who's following you?  

And I don't mean in social media.

The truly important ones watching you aren't followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook.  (Welcome though!)

Instead, they are those real life connections who look to you as an example for inspiration and hope.

Often, I'm surprised who that includes.

The past couple of months have been especially rocky for us in a specific area.  There have been times this joy-gal has been especially discouraged.  Days I just wanted to throw in the towel.  Moments I thought about giving up.

Over and over again God has whispered and showered me with reminders of others riding on my bus.

If I get lost, what happens to those following me?

Think about it.  Who is watching you?  Your children?  Neighbors?  Co-workers?  Friends?  What difficulty have you survived or endured?  Did you handle it with some grace?  Did it draw you closer to God?  Did it change your outlook on life?  Someone is holding on to how you coped and using it for encouragement for their own trials.

Maybe that knowledge can seem overwhelming, a hefty responsibility; but to me it was an uplifting reminder that it is not about me!

Our role as Christians is to lift each other up, to pray for one another, and to keep our eye on the prize.  When it feels like you're losing your way, turn to the One for direction.

Don't be discouraged.
Never forget others are following us and finding hope along our journey.
And remember you can't get lost with Jesus as your co-pilot, 
no matter how rocky the road!

Linking up with: #DanceWithJesus

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lead Me

Tears brimming.  Voice shaky and cracked when words escape.  The stress from the past few days overwhelmed me as I broke down in front of my husband.  

"What do we do?!" 

Heavy uncertainty lingered in the room.  My husband's hand on the door, waiting.

I whispered, "I guess we just keep praying."

"You're right," he said, as his hands left the door, clasped with mine, and he led us in prayer.

My worries melted and, despite the pain of the moment, I found myself lifting up prayers of gratitude to God.  Forgetting the current struggle and celebrating, as my soul pondered what a beautiful gift this husband is.  Oh, what a change He has made in him!  And us.

Most nights, now, I drift asleep to the sound of my husband reading the Bible.  

Tears falling at the magnitude of this single sentence.
How many years...the number of prayers whispered. 

For so long I prayed for my husband's relationship with God to grow.  After we lost our oldest son, I feared those prayers would never be answered.

Not only did I hope for him to be stronger in the Lord, I yearned for my husband to become the spiritual leader of our home.  To be the man I knew God had planned for him to be.

Most of our marriage, I took the reigns when it came to our Christian walk.  My constant prayer was that Tim wouldn't just join me at church but lead us.  To not just attend but be present, engaged.  And there were many years I doubted.  Wondered if God heard my pleas.

Austin's been gone nearly seven years.

Unimaginable pain we've endured.  Unspeakable loss.  A broken that isn't easily mended.  My husband's shattered heart was visible, even from the outside.  The spark had left him, as well as his trust in the Lord.  He was angry, uncertain, hurt.

To fast forward to where we are now.  The progress and change that has evolved the past few years.  It can't be summed up in a few lines for this post.  But what I can say, simply, is that God can move mountains!  In all things He works for the good.

As I write this, my soul connects to other women I know facing this prayer.  I join them, knees bent.

If this is you today, my sister, please know God hears you.  He knows.  It has already been planned.  In the midst of your storm, He has already formed your rainbow.  Just cling onto Him.  Trust in His timing.  And have faith that He only wants the very best for you - and the man you love.

Don't lose heart!  Never cease praying.  

For when the answer arrives and you witness the powerful change that only comes from the hand of God, oh, what a blessing it will be.  How wonderful His mercy and grace!

In gratitude for the leader God's gifted to our home.

Linking up today with:
Dance With Jesus

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My fingers have been itching to get dirty as of late.

Empty window boxes beckon me.  And my deck, with the not yet planted spots calls to me each afternoon.

I'm in serious need of dirt therapy.

To be one with the earth.  Fingers stretching into the deep dark soil.  A tiny seed with the promise of something beautiful.

Though I do not have a green thumb and long to take after any number of "old" southern gardeners in my family, I do enjoy the yearly planting of flowers and a few vegetables.

A few veggies, being mostly tomatoes.  Yes, I'm aware they aren't really a vegetable but I categorize them that way and always will.  Unlike Ouiser, I actually do love tomatoes.  I could eat them every single day.

Last night, hubby came home with a few cherry tomato plants I scored free off of Facebook.  My weekend goal is to plant them and anything else I can get my hands on.

The hope is that the veggies will at least supplement my weekly trips to the farmers market.  And the flowers, hanging from boxes along my dining room, bring a smile to me every morning, as hubby and I enjoy coffee.  And are a sunny hello as I pull into the drive each afternoon.

This year we also plan to plant a butterfly garden, from a kit I received in the mail.  I was surprised to learn that butterflies, specifically monarchs, are struggling to survive.  Their population has decreased by almost 90%.

After losing Austin, butterflies became very symbolic for us, as this is often the way he'll send us a sign.

There have been several goose-bump moments, like in the middle of winter when it seemed impossible, that we would see a butterfly.  But when it was needed most, a single yellow butterfly would make its appearance.

Seems a fitting time to start the garden Memorial day weekend, as a way to remember our sweet boy.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Just a Day

Mother's Day.

Two words that evoke so many emotions.  Immense joy...deep sorrow.

A day I looked forward to while carrying my firstborn.  My first Mother's Day would find me eight months pregnant.  Expectant with anticipation.

Now, it is a day I tiptoe through.

I awoke this morning to cloudy sunshine.  Overcast.

 Fitting, as it matches my feelings.

The joy I feel from being a mom, on this day especially, 
is overshadowed by the sorrow of losing a child.

Grateful for the 14 years I had with my firstborn but longing for more.
Blessed to be celebrating the 15th with my baby.
A mom torn, with a foot in both worlds.

Most days I can live in the present.  
Joyful for the moments of each day.
But this day forces me to pause, to remember, to think about what was gained
...and lost.

I tell myself, it's just a day.  A date on the calendar.  
But one of the hardest to face when you're missing a child.

On this day I'll allow myself tears for what was, for the memories treasured.
But I'll also welcome laughter and joy, thankful for the time that is now.

Today is just a day.
365 days a year for the past 20 years is my Mother's Day.

Every day I've been a mother has been a gift.
Not just today.

My greatest accomplishments in life call(ed) me Mom.

Prayers for those of you who...
have lost a child
longed for a child
are missing a child

May your heartache find some peace today.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Get a Job

The countdown to summer vacation has begun.

For this mom, I'm looking forward to not having to set the alarm so early every. single. day.  Just give me sleep.  (Ironic since I'm writing this at 4 am!?!)

Our teens are antsy and ready for a break, but not for the lazy days you might imagine.  They remember from last summer how very quickly the fun-ness wears off and boredom sinks in.

Which is why for several weeks they've discussed getting jobs.

Noah is 15 and looks like he's 20.  Tina is 16 and can pass for 12.  This can be rather humorous when walking in for an application.

Yesterday was filled with laughs for this and so many other side-splitting moments.

On my way home, an hour earlier than expected, I called the kids to say if they were dressed and ready we could drop off one of the applications they'd completed.  The applications that had been sitting on the counter for a few weeks.  (They originally thought mom and dad were just supposed to deliver for them, as if we were a personal courier service.)

Yes, this job hunting has given us many life lesson opportunities.

But on this afternoon, there was an extra hour and mom felt generous to gift it to the kids.  So, after a pep talk reminder of dressing nice, as I know how they can strip down and become sloppy the moment they walk in the door, I arrived with a honk in the driveway.

Out stepped two professional looking kiddos.  Of course Tina often looks like she stepped off a runway, with little effort on her part.  But my "why can't I wear I this cut-off and camo hat as a uniform" boy stood in front of my car as a sharp dressed man.

I bragged on them both as they eased into the car.  Putting it in reverse, I said, "You do have the applications, right?"

They both looked at each other and we all started laughing. least they looked good!

Living in a small town, there aren't a ton of options, but we drove up and down our busy strip for potential candidates.  Not that they're picky but both have preferences in what they would like for their first job.  Tina prefers not to do fast food because of the pace.  Being 15 limits Noah even more.

He had no trouble securing applications, but once outside he'd scan the paper and moan, "You must be 18 to apply!"  After awhile he started calling some on the strip to save mom the Frogger-darting back and forth across the street, during what is rush hour for our sleepy town.

Tina decided she'd try her hand at waitressing and we stopped at our only Chinese restaurant.  The majority inside speak limited English, so I was interested to hear how it went.  She was in there longer than the hand-and-go for most of our stops, so it seemed promising.  When she came out laughing and stopped by my window, we learned why.

"I'm not sure what just happened or what I agreed to," she said.

We do know she filled out a post-it note.  She's also pretty sure one of the interview questions was, "You scared of sidewalks?"  So, we're not holding our breath on a call back.

Noah's most promising stop was also funny.  He too remained in there long enough to feel hopeful.  But he returned with a partially completed application.  Asking him why he explained that the lady said they did have openings and he could fill one out at the table.  Excited he sat down but then quickly realized he wasn't 100% sure how to complete all the questions.  So he politely escaped with a promise to return.  Mom was happy to help him fill in the blanks on the side of the road.

As he returned to the car from his second trip inside, he gave a sigh of relief and said, "Whew.  I'm ready to get back to my natural habitat," and nodded to the back seat.  Glancing back, I spy his tattered t-shirt and shorts.

Did he intend to change in the car?  We live a mere 5 minutes from everywhere he applied!

Who knows what is on the horizon for these teens this summer.  One thing is for sure, there will be funny stories and lots of laughs from their experiences.

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