Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do We Parent?

We bought a new table. This may not seem like a monumental occurrence, but when you get married at 19, have zero in the bank account for more years than you can count do to school and part time jobs and small towns, and livin' on love takes on a whole new meaning. Then the kiddos come and it's time for new shoes and school supplies and the grocery bill just keeps climb, climb, climbing. Soon you realize that the hand-me-down table isn't big enough and the one at the yard sale will do.

Then you outgrow that and your parents offer their old table which gets bigger and you take it with thanks and feel a bit more like and adult with furniture that (mostly) matches. But it's not really YOURS. Because it's always been some one else's. Some one's first. Some one's own style bought for their own dining room. And seconds aren't bad. Shabby chic and old to new is often some of the best.

But it's our table.....

It's where we gather and join our hands and bow our heads to give thanks. It's where the hubbs and I pass a whole conversation over the tops of heads with a single look. It's where the homework spreads out, the paint gets spilled and the Christmas presents are made.

It is more than a piece of furniture.

Friends share coffee here, as was done this morning when the girls came over for Tuesday coffee. We talked about our jobs, our families, our parenting. And the state of parenting was one that came up a lot this morning. I think we're all worried.

Our society has changed. Our culture has changed. Kids are different. Parenting is different. The common thread was this: we're often afraid to take our kids someplace. It seems that no matter what we do, rules are overrun, attitude abounds and general misbehaving and defiance is running rampant. I understand that some of it is general kid stuff, but it goes beyond that.

Extra chores? Tried them.

Loss of toys and privileges? Yep.

Not getting to join in on the fun stuff? Oh yeah.

But still. My kids treat me in ways I would never think of treating my parents. Am I raising my kids differently? I don't think so. But our world has changed too. Kids all around are given freedoms that seem too much. And the way parents are represented on TV is far from in a good light. Quite the opposite. I'm pretty sure Disney's one goal is to make any authority figure on their television shows look as idiotic as possible. So they're not allowed to watch.

photo from crosswalk.com
But it doesn't help. And I'm at a loss. There are things in my kids' lives that I can't change. Behaviors that were laid in place before I ever even met them. But at the same time, the rules haven't changed and you would think that over time things would be better. Yet I feel like we're always back at the drawing board, trying something new.

I have to admit, it was reassuring sitting 'round this table knowing I'm not alone. But where do we go from here? What can we do as parents to just bring a general peace to our homes? Is it all genetic? I think some of it is. I look at other families and I don't see the chaos of my own. But it's not all in the DNA. It can't be.

I've read the books on parenting challenging children. I've read the books on adoption and attachment. I've prayed. I've talked to counselors. We've done family devotionals. We've made changes in our parenting and discipline to try and meet the various needs. And still no change.

So again, where do we go from here? How do we teach gratitude and general kindness when the groundwork may not have been laid to start with? How can we build a solid structure on a foundation made of sand? We are consistent. The rules are the same. The love is the same. And I'm at a loss.

So we gather 'round the table. We offer support and different ideas. And we reach out, like I'm doing here. What do we do as a society?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Have an Addiction: 31 Things

I have a bit of an addiction. Er, and obsession. Okay fine, I may need an intervention.

See, I have this thing for bags. And totes. And lunch boxes. And thermals and purses and canvas storage containers and all things pretty with good colors and designs and a purpose.


Yes. An intervention probably would have been best. Key: would have. But some things I just can't.....er....don't want to, give up. Organizational adorableness? Well it's one of those things.

So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? And at least get a discount!

So I did!

See, I love 31 Things. I had never heard of it until three years ago when I went to a party a friend of mine was hosting. And I fell in love. (see above) Since then I have given them as gifts, used them for promotion of my book, swapped out my laptop in the ubber adorable purse for baby wipes and diapers.

I. Love. Them.

And they do good things. Which makes me even more happy. The U R U collection is all about empowering girls and women. Since 2012, the U R U collection has contributed to donations of over $350,000 to charities that work with women and girls. Yeah, I know. Awesome. Then there's the Thirty-One Gives Cares Ribbons, which allow you to spread the word about the cause you're most passionate about. Oh, and then portions of the sales go to those same women and girls charities we talked about. Two birds. One stone. And then there's the camp they sponsor for            

Middle School girls. Oh, and don't forget about the Ronald McDonald House! There's a thermal lunch tote specially designed for this haven for families, and of course, portions of the moohlah from the sales goes straight to helping families in their home away from home.

Why 31? Well it takes after Proverbs 31.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her lives. 
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with strong hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from afar.
She rises with while it is yet night
and provides food for her household 
and portions for her maidens. 
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp doe snot go out at night. 
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy. 
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for her household are all clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself,
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
She looks well to the ways of her household
and doe snot eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.
Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. 
vs. 10-31

Yeah, I know. Girl got it goin' on! Who can stand up to that? Not your average chick. But that's the beauty here, no one is perfect but we've all got gifts to give. And that's where 31 things sits. The Proverbs 31 woman has some pretty stellar skills, but if you look closely, a few things are the same: she provides for her household. She is diligent. She is kind. She provides. Isn't that what we all are trying to do as wives, mothers and daughters of the King? 

We want to provide. We want our family's needs to be met. We want to be a blessing. And that's what 31 Things is about. Giving women a chance to be a blessing to each other. And get some ubber cute and helpful things in the process. 
So I jumped. I love the stuff. I use it all the time. I may as well get a discount, right? ;) 

It's my new adventure, and I'm excited. If you ever want to check out some bags or need a little storage help (and even have it monogrammed) let me know! Here's the link My Page.  Happy Shopping! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mid-Afternoon Baths

It's a mid-afternoon bath kind of day. When the sun has been kind and we pricked our feet on hard grass and drank iced coffee in the camp chairs.

He is inherently boy, this babe. He pushes trucks and elephants and boxes wrapped in duct tape around the patio and living room, vroom noises echoing off his lips. He pulls sticks from the pile of fire wood, kept for when the world turns cold, and plants them like flags in the muddy field bed of a Tonka truck.

So he doesn't understand when I fill the tub with soapy water and wash the smoothie out of his hair and pry the dirt from his nails: this is just another game.

Fill the pool and connect the toys.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Lavender suds and golden shampoo. Gentle on the eyes and warm on a mamma's heart.

It's all made bitter sweet with the knowledge that this season will not last. Summer will fade away the the melting otterpops and the next time it rolls around we will all be another year gone.

One more trip around the sun.

More bathtimes and playtimes that have slipped away and the toys change and new things become the unknown adventure.

So for today I'll wrap up the dimpled behind that's only cute when it hasn't aged. I'll towel off the drips and fasten the diaper.

And I'll breath in the smell of one more mid-afternoon bath.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When There is Nothing Else: Love

These weeks, with their boxes and the changes and the "no you may nots" and the "please just listens" and the  consolation prizes of "I know it's hard, but it takes time" have lead to a culmination of bad days and long nights interspersed with the joy of meeting new friends and setting new traditions of coffee on Tuesdays and girls' nights to come.

There has been beauty interwoven in the hardship, as any true experience in this life will bring. I try to keep looking for the grace that rises out of the ashes and see the gold strung through the cracks in the porcelain. But it has been wearing. I have found myself wound with anxiety, my chest tight and my hands shaking, waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The renters have a problem in the house that just wont sell.......

The new job is demanding time and the contract isn't signed yet.......

The boy is fighting himself, the demons of his past breaking through the peace and the battle to keep the sanity is losing.....

The teenager is testing the boundaries and blowing through the limits.............

The girl is picking up the attitude and testing the waters of her character...........

The car search for a commuter has backfired time and again and each week the gas bill rises...........

And I sit in tears and preach to myself to just pray. Ask for the beauty of vision in the small miracles. Give thanks in the little things, like that tipped over bottle of dishwasher detergent that didn't spill or that cup left in the living room that was knocked over by the baby-it was only water.

But I am blessed, beyond measure. And I know this. Yet it sometimes is hard to see and feel through the chaos and the dirty diapers and the fights over why we're not going to the library again today.

So what is the answer? Where is the key to this mayhem and the path to the peace?

I wonder this as I sit here, computer on my lap and thoughts swirling through my head but nothing that sticks to the page. And then I hear it, filtering through the dusty speakers and filling the living room. It is love.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

My words, they are nothing without the backing of love. The ecstasy and eloquence of these letters on the page and the words from my mouth, they are nothing but the sounds of rust and and fall from my lips like the flaking of metal run dry. 

 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

My faith could move mountains, see them heave up their rocks and roots and let the sun pass beneath their great majesty and it will mean nothing. Nothing. If there is not love. I can ask my children to obey, I can believe that Jesus will provide and that all will be well, but if I don't live by love-it is for not. It does not matter. Because I have no strength if there is not first love. 

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Bankrupt. Empty. There is nothing to spend, nothing to give. Nowhere to go. My actions are just motions following a pattern in this new setting. My job as a caregiver, empathy feeler and compassion bringer is just a pretty resume with no long-term meaning. 

It is LOVE and it is all things encompassed within love. Because love is so many things. 

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love is powerful. It is beyond oneself and the actions of your hands and instead is the action of your heart. Mind over matter and hope over conquest. Because love is all. If there is love, there is absolute trust, which can overcome any anxiety. With love there is a lessening of self, which releases the bonds of perfection. 

With love there is endurance. A race that never ends and where nothing is lost but all is gained. 

Love is messy. It is terrifying and it is brave and strong and bends in the storms of this life. And it is worth it.

So love. Love extravagantly. Love like it pours from your heart in a waterfall of giving. Love like nothing else matters-because it doesn't. Out of all the things we are called to do and all the ways we hope, the gifts that are bestowed and all the blessings that may rain down, the greatest of them all is love. 

~These words are from the 13th book of Corinthians. 

Today I'm joining up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and #TellHisStory

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Bloom

Sitting on my own with a bunch of awesome ladies over at lisajobaker.com. Where we write for 5 then share.
Prompt: Bloom


Where you're planted. Even if the soil is tough and dry and you have to bend your stem to reach the light.

Where you're planted. Even if the soil feels to rich for your blood and you are the outsider. The one without. Not the best car or the shiny shoes. No nanny or maid service or chauffeur to drive you Ms. Daisy.

Where you're planted. Even if everything feels like it should be right but something is off. When the neighborhood noises die down and you're left at the end if the day spent and wondering why perfect feels anything but.

Where you're planted. Even if it is easy just to be, blending in to what has always been  and when making the change to spread your wings means ruffling some feathers.

Where you're planted. Because you are right there in that spot for a reason: to shine. To grow. To soak up that sunlight or let the sunlight shine through you.

Even when it's hard.

Even when it seems daunting.

Even if it makes you uncomfortable.



When the Coffee Pot is Empty and You Cry

Photo: It's a big cup, multiple pot kind of day. #coffeeIt was decided early on that today would be a big cup of coffee day. Ahem, perhaps a small bowl of coffee day. The day didn't start off particularly early and the boys were in a good mood. But by nine a.m. things had spiraled down hill. Lil' Girl had a bad dream and came upstairs tearful and upset. X-Man tripped on the deck and nearly fell down the stairs to the concrete below, saved only by the baby gate I had just put up. But in the process he spilled a bottle of bubbles in his eyes. And the sink was full of dishes from last night.

As I scrubbed off baked on baked beans and peach juice I thought to myself that anyone who says stay at home moms don't work have lost their minds and obviously never had this job.

Then came the fighting. The tattling. The stress from a job I haven't *officially* started yet. I went into the bathroom after sending one kid to his room (again) and looking in the mirror said to myself I suck at this whole motherhood thing. Because Momdays are worse than Mondays. 

 And when I went to pour cup (bowl) number two of coffee, the pot was dry. So overwhelmed was I that it actually made me cry.

 And I was just asked to list 3 things I'm thankful for. Offda. My mind (and heart) right now are more likely to list 30 things I'm NOT thankful for. Therein lies the problem, yes? 

So maybe I need to take a minute and look at this chaotic life of mine and remember all the things there are to be thankful for. So here we go: 

1) The view off my front and back deck: stunning. 
2) I am blessed to live in the house I do. That all went through and God provided this home right where we needed it, when we needed it. 
3) I have food in my cupboards and refrigerator. 
4) My family has access to healthcare.
5) We are all healthy.
6) I moved into a new town with a ready-made friends and support system.
7) My brother will leave work on his lunch break to check out a car for me. 
8) So will my husband's uncle and cousin.
9) My hubby and I both have jobs.
10) I was given children when it seemed I never would. 
11) I have family that will step in and babysit at the drop of a hat when work comes up.
12)My hubby. 
and maybe the biggest for today: 
13) I can make another pot of coffee. 

Well now. I feel better. How about you? What are you thankful for today? 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Montana Storm

Tonight there is a storm coming. I can feel it in my blood. The thrumming chorus of the wind and the rain and the beating leaves pulsates as it draws near.



The sent on the air is electric. Like a live wire has been let loose from the heavens and only the crackle of it's flame will light the sky tonight.

The forests will hunker down in their dry grasses, praying for a pardon.

But the storm will come.

It will rage and conquest and pull up all in it's way. Bending the branches with it's might.

The storm is coming.

The birds fall silent and we batten down the hatches and secure all that might fly away on the tempest.

My hair whips 'round my neck and blinds my eyes as the rumble grows so deep and strong that I feel it in the marrow of my bones.

The storm is coming.

All will bend and some will break and the violence of its course.

 Take shelter. Take cover. It whispers as it draws ever near.

But my windows are open and I welcome this presence with my arms wide, the prodigal daughter returned home and welcomed by the storm she has missed and didn't even realize the absence it had left in her soul.

The storm is coming.

I can feel it rumble.

The storm is coming.

I can smell its power.

The storm is coming.

And I am hungry for its arrival.

Joining Jenn Peterson for No Words are Needed.