The Plus Side of Aging

There are some things that I truly love about getting older. I love that I am willing to walk into a restaurant all alone and ask for a seat on the patio (where people will see me dining alone- gasp!). I love that I’m totally comfortable ordering exactly what I want, which tonight happens to be guacamole, beer and a side of black beans. I love that I can sit and enjoy my own company. I’m not nervous or uncomfortable or embarrassed to be alone. In fact, I savor it.

I can watch as people walk by- some, couples on dates holding hands, some parents with littles, some single moms herding kids like cats, some teenage kids trying their best to walk far enough behind their parents that maybe people won’t notice they are here with them (likely against their will)- just observing. Watching humans be human. All shapes and sizes and colors. And like the sweetest of fragrances, I breathe it in, inhaling deeply. Appreciating the diversity, the ordinary, the possibility.

But the thing I think I enjoy most of all is knowing that I have mastered something that a younger me would have worked so hard to avoid. The joy it brings me makes me hopeful that there are many other things ahead of me, things that I once was afraid of, that will be beautiful and wonderful and that come with the comfort of aging. Moments like this leave me with with hopeful anticipation of the aging ahead.

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Revisiting

I found this from a year ago. And while I vaguely remember writing it, I very much know the feelings that drove it. Revisiting it today as a reminder to myself and for someone that may see it for the first time.

I feel certain that I am discovering my purpose. When I was young, I wanted it to be grand and imagined it to be lived in a giant public extraordinary way. But in the mundane happenings of the checkout line, I heard a whisper that said my purpose was to love others and be kind, exactly where I was planted. My purpose didn’t have to be on a stage or in all caps to be important. It didn’t have to be fancy or award winning or even recognized by others. But for a long time I thought it did. Or perhaps I just wanted it to be.

I can remember pleading with God, begging Him to use me. Surely I was meant for something more than just an ordinary life. Surely my capabilities and talents should be put to better use than just the everyday duties of mother, wife, daughter, sister, neighbor and friend. On my knees, crying with desire to do His will, begging for Him to show me what He wanted. Months and years spent in ache wanting to be a tool for Him. So willing.

Or at least I thought I was willing. I was willing as long as it fit into my construct of what I thought He’d made me to achieve. So focused on the “out there, the next thing,” I couldn’t see that my purpose was right before me. It was in the ordinary moments of a quiet life. Surely that couldn’t be it- my desire was so deep and so great that surely what I was purposed for had to be equally great?! How could ordinary, simple and everyday be enough?

But it is more than enough. Because it’s what I was designed to do. I am clear that I love well. And that’s not said in pride; that’s me acknowledging the gift that God has given me. I am good at loving others. But that’s because of God’s faithfulness to me. For years I prayed that the light of God’s love would shine through me and that I would see His light as it shines in others- even in the least likely of people. He answered that prayer.

For years I stood in the way of His will for my life. I kept tripping over my days and getting in my own way. I was so focused on what I thought I was going to see, that I wasted much time not seeing what I already had.

I’m grateful to have clarity about my job here on earth. And wherever in this life I end up, whether on a stage speaking to women about God’s love, or driving a minivan full of kids, or answering a phone at an elementary school, or writing my words down to share with others, I am CERTAIN that I can do what I’m called to in each of those places. I’m fortunate enough to have the resource I need living inside me- a heart full of love!

Can you hear me?

When I open my mouth to speak, can you hear me? In my head, it seems like I’m saying something. It feels like I’m making noise, asking something of you. But your response, or lack of response as it turns out, leads me to believe that the only voice IS in my head. The blank stare you give me, the glazed over look- is that because you can’t make out why my mouth is moving without sound, or is it because you can hear me and what I have asked of you is too big for you to handle? I’m not quite sure.

I get it, cleaning the toilet, picking up your room- pretty burdensome. For a child that believes magic fairies replace the toilet paper, provide clean towels, and supernaturally keep you in shampoo and deodorant, I can see how this might seem a daunting task. But, I believe in you!! I know you can do it.

I am certain that you are so very capable of doing these things I ask. Sure, it might require time away from your phone. You might miss an Insta story or two. Perhaps even an entire episode of your favorite show will be over before you finish. But I have good news! Technology is such that these things can wait for you and be available at your convenience. Crazy, right??

I need you to show me you can be obedient. I need to see that you respect me as an authority, and you will do what you’re asked. I need you to make a real effort. Because if not, I’m pretty sure that this mouth you can’t seem to hear, is TOTALLY CAPABLE of biting your head off. You better not test it!!

Uncertainly Certain

Standing at the edge. Ready to take the leap. Uncertain, but not afraid. Excited even, as I know that you are there. Looking forward to how you will make yourself seen through this. Sure that you are present, and praying with all that I am that my actions as I jump, as I fall or as I fly, will bring honor and glory to you. Grateful for this opportunity!! Ready for what’s next.

Prayers In a Messy House

There is so much to do. Tomorrow I will have a group of women in my house- my messy, cluttered, dirty house. We will lift up our children, their teachers and their school in prayer. And you know what? God will hear our prayers. He won’t care that there’s not a single empty space on the floor or table in my dining room. It won’t matter to him that I haven’t dusted and that there is laundry piled high in nearly every room in the house. It’s my great hope that these women won’t care either. But to not open my home in fear that they might care just isn’t an option.

See, here’s what I know and why I have to be willing to let my worry about my house go. I know that we aren’t perfect, whole beings. Not one of us. We all have cracks and are broken. Something, somewhere in our lives is askew. I fully believe that it’s in showing our brokenness that God’s light shines through- it’s seen through the cracks in our lives. If I put a candle deep inside a perfect vessel, it provides light to no one. But, if I am willing to show others the mess that I am, that’s how God is glorified. Because if there is any good in me, any light that shines, it’s Him shining through me. My mess makes that clear. I have to be willing to admit to and show my imperfections if anyone is to see what God can do with broken people. He really can make beauty out of them (though He’s yet to do so with my house 😜).

My great hope is that He’ll do so tomorrow as a group of loving mothers step into my mess, fight past the dust bunnies and climb over my clutter to lift their voices in prayer. May He be glorified in my lack of pretending, and may the other moms know perfection is overrated. 🙏🏼

It Wasn’t Always This Way- Part One: Parenting

**Warning: If you are someone who is made uncomfortable when people share the ugly details of a truly human life, you might not like this series of posts. Also, because I know no one wants to read a super long blog, I’m going to break down this topic into parts.  Spilling out all of my guts at one time is too much for any person to handle. You’re welcome. 😏**

It wasn’t always this way. The way my life is now, the joy that I have, the peace that I know. This contentment. It’s taken 42 years, some seriously deep valleys, countless prayers, oceans of tears, many mistakes, bunches of scars, the companionship of many, and the persistence of a God who loves me better than I deserve.

At certain moments in my life as a mother, if you had asked me if I would do it all again, I would have told you “no.”  Not a popular (or socially acceptable) response. But it was true. I loved my children- deeply and fully. I was just overwhelmed by the amount of work it was, how endless the hours seemed, and quite frankly by my certainty that I was definitely going to screw them up. The weight of it was crushing.

I felt like every choice I made was a “make them or break them” decision. What if I only serve one vegetable instead of two for dinner? Am I talking to them enough, singing to them enough, touching them enough?  Did we read an ample amount today?  Am I speaking into their lives as I should?

I was so focused on the work of it, the “getting it right,” that it wasn’t always easy for me to find the joy of it. It was a job I took very seriously (after all, these were PEOPLE I was helping mold- a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly), and it was one that had no weekends, holidays, breaks or vacations. There was no annual review to check my progress and there was no raise for a job well done. I was tired and felt inadequate and was pretty sure I was probably going to end up producing a rooftop shooter and a pole dancer.

So, no, I wouldn’t recommend parenthood and, if given the choice, I wouldn’t do it again. The world deserved better, my husband deserved better and these kids definitely deserved better. I wasn’t enough.

But, thank goodness, things can change. People can stop seeing everything through the filter of “me.”  We can learn to ask for help, can recognize that doing our best is the best we can do, and learn that not everything matters all that much. So what if dinner was a meat, a bread, and ONE vegetable?  I was remembering to feed them, and we had the resources to do so. It was a win!!

When I finally accepted (through the advice of great friends, the benefit of medication, and a closer walk with God) that perfection was neither expected and clearly not possible, things began to shift a bit. The best that this broken human could do was love on and raise broken humans that tried to be kind and recognized that their brokenness could only be made whole in Christ. I was trying to take on the job of  God. Not on purpose, but because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I was trying to be all things for them. A job that, as much as I tried, as much as I wanted to, was not even possible.

So, I taught them to laugh. I tried teaching them that walking close to God is the best way to walk. I was honest about my flaws. I stopped pretending I had all the answers, and I stopped being disappointed in myself when I didn’t have them. I modeled for them what it looked like to mess up and to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I spent more time being authentically who I was, and I retired my self-awarded super hero cape.

True, it didn’t hurt that they were now big enough to wipe their own behinds, tie their own shoes and formulate complete and complex sentences, but with the weight of my over exaggerated duties gone, we were free. I could look up from “the work of them” to watch them. I could enjoy them. Who they were was no longer  going to be solely determined by my raising of them (as if I had that much power- the arrogance). I could breathe and so could they. It was a thing of beauty.

Ask me today if I’d do this parenting thing all over again, and I can give you a genuine 100% YES!! I’ll say that it’s the second hardest job I’ve ever had (being a spouse is first), and it has broken my heart and brought me more joy than anything I could have ever imagined.  Watching little people become bigger people navigating the world, it’s a pretty amazing show. I’m grateful for my front row seat. I’m glad to be a mom. But,

… it wasn’t always this way.

Tug of War

My body is sore from the tug of war of life.  Work grabs this hand and pulls one way.  My family has my heart and pulls a different direction.  The dust bunnies wrap themselves around my leg and keep me stuck where I stand.  The volunteer opportunities/obligations on my plate pull me forward. The words in my head that need to be given life pull my fingers toward the keyboard. Hurting friends, though not a one is asking out loud or making demands, have my mind going with each of them.  My need to be still and reflect on God and spend time at His feet doesn’t pull or tug, but it calls from deep within.

Some days I feel ripped apart.  Like no one gets the whole of who I am.  Only small parts of less than an effective me.  I don’t like functioning this way.

What’s a girl to do?  I take a deep breath, lower my head and push on.  Like a traveler walking against the wind and rain, I tuck in and move.  I keep telling myself that it won’t be like this forever.  Soon the things that tug on me will be small in number, and I will miss the pull.  My body will ache missing all the tugging and pulling.

So I try to rejoice in it. I try to be grateful that I am well enough, that I am wanted enough, that I am capable, and lucky enough to have all of these opportunities.  And I try to offer myself grace.  I remind myself that I am one person.  One imperfect, broken, limited person. One creature trying her best to give all she has to make today better.  Better for work, better for my family, better for my house, better for those I’m serving, better as a writer, better as a friend, and better for my loving God.

I wrap myself in a blanket of His peace, and I cover myself in essential oils. I put coffee in my cup and a smile on my face, and I take one step in any direction.  Because whatever direction I step, there is work to be done!

How Can I Be Grumpy?

As I go to bed on Friday, tired from the week, I think of how awesome it is that tomorrow is Saturday, and I can sleep in. No getting up early for me!  The sweet slumber of a Saturday.

And then, before the sun has fully awakened herself, I hear the ringing of  jingle bells. We have bells hanging from our door so that the dog can tell us when she needs out. Again.  Ring, ring. Again. “Hold on, I’m coming!”  See, the dog doesn’t care that it’s Saturday. All she knows is that she has to pee- now!! UGH, I want my sweet Saturday slumber! I think I might be grumpy.

My initial thoughts are to open my eyes just enough to take her out so that I don’t really wake up and can come in and go back to sleep. I just want to go back to sleep. Sweet Saturday slumber.

But then, as I walk to the bathroom to get my robe, I pass a cat that starts purring loudly just because I came into the room. Purring, giant excited purrs just because I’m here and got close to her. Purring in anticipation that I just might pet her.

How can I be grumpy?

Leashed up and ready to do her business, the dog and I step outside, and as we do her tail is going a hundred miles a minute, because, well, living. Because she knows there are a thousand new smells to check out in the grass, and maybe, if she’s lucky, some sort of treat left by nature (aka “chocolate” rabbit droppings 😩).  So excited at the possibilities of this new day. My eyes open, because while sleep is great, maybe I don’t want to miss this excitement either.

How can I be grumpy?

As I walk around the house, I’m greeted by the most gentle of breezes. Softly, it wraps its arms around me in a hug of the most perfect temperature. I breathe deep and my lungs fill with the sweetness of the morning. I open my eyes wider, sleep can wait.

The sun, having risen to just the right place that it doesn’t yell, but quietly whispers “good morning,” touches my face. Kissed by Heaven itself, my cheeks feel the warmth of the embrace. Eyes closed, not because they are sleepy now, but because they want to absorb every beam of love, I lift my head to savor all the kisses.

How can I be grumpy?

Moved by the beauty of another day and the potential that it holds, I decide not to miss the stillness of the morning by crawling back in bed. There are bird songs to listen to- concerts of gratitude for another chance and another day. I have a front row seat in the chair of the guest of honor, if only I’ll sit long enough to enjoy it. After all, it is Saturday.

How can I be grumpy?

You Are Amazing!!

To all you moms out there that get up each day to get yourselves ready for work and your households ready for the day- YOU ARE AMAZING!! For real, I’ve always had a deep respect for working out of the home moms, but over the last two weeks that respect has been amplified.

Until earlier this year I’ve spent most of my post-children work doing direct sales that allowed me to work my own schedule. Never more than part-time, I had so much flexibility to work when I chose. And it was awesome.

Several months back I took a part time “real” job- one with set hours. And while that was an adjustment, it was doable. Recently they’ve been having me work full-time.  Based simply on the measly few days I’ve done it, I’m here to admit- I am a weenie!!!  I have no idea how you amazing ladies do it.

I am fairly certain that if I had to maintain that pace for very long, I’d fall out- face first, smack dab in the middle of my desk in a giant puddle of drool. I can’t even imagine what you’ve endured or where you’ve gotten the stamina for all of these years.  I applaud you!!

I know we are all created with different gifts and for different purposes, and I am feeling so grateful that mine hasn’t been the exhausting dance of full-time work while also juggling parenting and volunteering and housework. (Well, who am I kidding, we all know from my previous posts that not much of that has been on my list.)

So today I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that you are amazing, I admire you, and keep up the great work. And tonight, order dinner from out, because holy cow, it’s been a LONG week!!

Do You Hear That?

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of empty. It’s the sound of quiet. It’s the sound left behind by two kids, one teen and one tween,  when they begin the new adventure of another year. High School and Middle School gain two new students today, and our house loses their constant summer-time presence.

Do you hear that?  The sound of peace.  The sound of no fighting.  The calm of no television blaring, no video games sirening.  It’s the sound of space where I can fill it with the things I choose.

And I rejoice!  I rejoice that they both were excited to go. I rejoice that they are able and well. I rejoice that we live in a place where education isn’t just a possibility, it’s a given.  I rejoice that my years of stay-at-home momming have helped get them to this new milestone. I rejoice!

And I mourn! I mourn that another year has started and will, too soon, have slipped away. I mourn that this is the beginning of the end. That, like I’ve heard many times, the closer you get to the end of the roll of toilet paper, the faster it goes. It’s true in life too. So I mourn. Four short years with one, seven with another. More than half-way there. I mourn that my hourglass of time with them here at home is half over. I mourn the quiet. I mourn the ache that I feel as the distance of days spent at school and evenings spent at activities create. I mourn!

Do you hear that?  It’s the sound of a mama’s heart breaking. Breaking open with pride and joy for the accomplishments and potential of her children. Bursting apart with anticipation at all they will do and learn and be. It’s also the sound of that same mama’s heart splintering into a thousand little pieces with the weight of her short time left with them. Cracking at the sound of the quiet they leave behind.

Do you hear it too?