“But It’s Not Like Last Time!”: Finding Joy in Unmet Expectations and Change

Remember this?

Her face was red and wet with tears. Her fists were clenched and she was shaking her head spastically making her blonde hair flail around her head. She continued to whine and complain, but I could barely understand her words through her deep sobs. She was having a full-fledged meltdown.

Baggage was to blame.

No, not figurative baggage, as in difficult life circumstances that travel with us from our pasts into our future, I mean baggage, as in, our suitcases.

My 9-year-old daughter, Kenzie, was sitting in the one back row seat of our van that we had not folded down so as to have more room for our luggage. The van was still snuggly parked in our garage, and we were testing out the seating arrangements for our twenty-hour drive to Florida. This would be our second year taking a Spring Break vacation as a family of five. There was a lot of stuff shoved into our minivan: golf clubs, suitcases, beach chairs, snacks. Kenzie was surrounded by all of it in this trial run of making sure we could get everything in the van, including the kids.

Kenzie wasn’t crying because she was crowded or uncomfortable, she was crying because the suitcases were not close enough to her.

Sob. “Last year when I sat here the suitcases were right up against me!” Sob. “That was one of my favorite parts of the drive.” Sob. “I want it to be just like last year!” Wail.

There are moments in parenthood where you lose your cool. There are also moments when you’re overjoyed with your child. Then there are moments like this one when you’re just plain confused.

“So you’re telling me that you’re throwing a fit right now because the golf clubs are closer to you than the suitcases?” I said with a bit of a growl in voice.

Sob. “Yes! I want the suitcases to be closer to me so it’s just like last year!”

And thus began year two’s vacation where we frequently heard the phrase, “but last year we ___________ (fill in the blank).

My kids are huge fans of tradition. They savor life and enjoy each season and activity that comes with it. Each fall, they want to make a trip to the same apple orchard. Each Christmas, they want to hang the garland on the banister just like we did the year before. They love each tradition and have big hopes, expectations, and emotions involved in each one.

Speaking of apple orchards… the apple has not fallen very far from the tree. I wish I could say my husband was the tradition-lover who has thus modeled big feelings toward repeating expectations, but he ain’t that tree, folks.

I’m going to have to take the blame on this one. This baggage comes with me.

I love tradition, and I have a lot of hopes riding on expectations. And for many reasons, I’m going to say that’s a fine way to live. We tradition-lovers are also big on noticing and appreciating things, and we are often full of gratitude. If I do say so myself, we can be really lovely people to be around when traditions and plans go as scheduled.

But hitching our hopes to tradition and expectations can sometimes lead to a bumpy ride when plans come unhinged.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to recalibrate when it comes to traditions and expectations. Just as an infant is trained to self-soothe when she cries in her crib and no one comes to pick her up immediately, I’ve learned to self-soothe when expectations turn into disappointments. I’ve come to understand that joy can still be found in the changes, even if joy seems to be wearing a disguise.

Our first year in Florida, we went to a beach on a beautiful intercostal waterway where we found about a dozen whole sand dollars. It was amazing, and the kids loved these fragile sea treasures. But on our second trip, when we returned to the same beach, the wind was strong and the choppy water churned in a way that made it impossible to find any sand dollars. The kids were super disappointed.

But, as we walked along a different beach, we found some really cool shark teeth, a treasure we hadn’t found the year before. I capitalized on this and starting saying a five-word phrase each time one of the kids, or myself, would let disappointment creep in over a failed expectation or change.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Guys! Think about it! Both are treasures! So we didn’t find sand dollars this year, kids. But, we found shark teeth! How cool is that? It doesn’t have to be just like last time to be good.

“But last year ate at that one restaurant that had the popcorn shrimp!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But last year we made those apple pies!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But it’s our tradition to have cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

And this doesn’t just help my kids deal with changes and unmet expectations. It helps me!

When my second book launched and it didn’t go the same as the first book had, I repeated “sand dollars and shark teeth” in my mind often. It was a mantra to remind myself that it didn’t have to be just like last time to be successful or good.

When my child’s schoolteacher didn’t run their classroom the same way my older child’s classroom was operated when they were in that same grade, I had to recalibrate. Wait, I thought I knew what to expect and how this was going to work! But it’s okay. Sand dollars and shark teeth.

When holiday plans changed last minute due to illnesses or activities beyond my control my gut reaction was, “this won’t be as good as last year.” But maybe it was. We made new memories! Sand dollars and shark teeth.

I’m going to be honest, Kenzie’s meltdown over not sitting close enough to the suitcases was a little over the top for me. I did not initially understand her response and I got pretty upset with her.

But after a week of finding zero sand dollars and realizing that unmet expectations and change were the reason for her tears, I understood a little more. I didn’t let her off the hook for behaving like she did, but I file the realization away in my mind.

“But, it’s not like last time!” can be baggage that travels with each of us. I get it. I’m a frequent flier in this club. But just because it’s different, changed, or not what we expected doesn’t mean it can’t still be good.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Tuck that phrase away in your baggage.

Our Marriage Needs a Prefix.

IMG_1276

Last night I told my husband that I miss him. He nodded in agreement as he sat beside me.

We are together a lot, but our moments of non-distracted, non-exhausted, non-sick, non-stressed, non-necessary, non-rushed, non-interrupted communication are slim. We’d like to add those little nons into our relationship, but they’re elusive little prefixes.

We strive to have non-distracted conversations, but texts, and emails, and demands keep breaking our concentration. Not to mention our kids.

We desire to talk about non-necessary topics, but there are fires to be put out before we can intentionally try to fan into flame our love for one another.

We want to give each other our non-exhausted selves. But, we can’t seem to find them.

We need the nons in our marriage.

But adding that prefix takes work.

And it should. Life moves forward after the wedding day and so should our relationship. It should grow and blossom instead of wilting. But it takes effort to remember to care for it in the midst of dizzying schedules and bursting calendars.

The daily, “What time should I plan dinner?” and,  “Did you remember we have that thing tomorrow evening? Did you find a sitter?” questions cause us to put a finger in the leaking dam and leave us in a bind the next time we hear, “Babe, can you give me a hand here?”

The days of long uninterrupted dinners and fun filled dates are taken over by quick, “How was your day?” volleys and conversations squeezed in while sitting in the bleachers.

You have to make an effort to add those nons. But how? What does that look like?

I think it takes many different forms.

Some days you make your kids gag as you kiss in the kitchen. Other days you put a movie in for them and you finish that difficult conversation that’s been driving a wedge between you. Some days you splurge on a nice dinner for two after they’re all in bed, and you tuck your phones away in another room too. Some days you go out to a movie neither of you really care to see just so that you can sit beside each other and hold hands.

And some days you simply acknowledge to each other that you miss the nons. Both of you do. That you’re striving to find them and you believe in each other and miss each other in the meantime. That the effort to find the nons is a small price to pay for the love of your life. You’re a team in this daily work.

Marriage. It sometimes needs a prefix.

And together, we’re going to work to add it.

Non-stop.


 

This post has been re-shared from its original publish date of September 21, 2016

Assault with a deadly pair of socks.

 

DSC_0373

I’m not sure if it’s a blessing, or a curse. Maybe it’s both.

I’ll just come straight out and say it. I have an unusually good sense of smell.

I hate to brag. But, yes. I’ve got a good sniffer.

Case in point, I have called the city gas company on several occasions alerting them of a specific address or intersection where I smell a potential gas leak. Do you know how many of those times I have later seen a crew repairing said gas leaks in the exact spot that I’ve reported? Every single time. I’m not saying the city should hire me as a “gas sniffing unit” just yet, but they might want to keep the idea in the back of their minds.

Anyway, this sense of smell can come in handy, but it can also lead to suffering. Suffering in the form of extreme awareness of foul odors.

And let me tell you, I have I met some foul odors in my day. But just this past weekend, I experienced a new level of one particularly rancid odor.

And it wasn’t it a gas leak.

It was my son’s socks.

Granted, the poor kid has been hearing complaints from me for years about his socks. They’ve never smelled like roses. In fact, roses are probably now offended that I even dared make the comparison. Please forgive me.

Anyway, one time, in a hotel room, our family decided to put Karson’s socks and shoes in the hallway overnight because none of us could stand the odor with them in the room. We figured if anyone dare steal them, then bless their hearts. And noses. We’d buy new ones. But, his socks and shoes were there in the hallway the next morning, and my son’s pride remained in tact. Karson owns up to it. He’s just thirteen, but he’s a true man when it comes to owning his stinky feet. He’s not ashamed.

So, this past weekend, my husband and I “divided and conquered” with the kids. I took two of the kids to Michigan for my son’s basketball team to play in a tournament, and my husband stayed home to coach our third child’s game. We all had fun. It was a wonderful weekend of friends and basketball, and my son’s team got to play in seven basketball games over the course of two days. And bonus, they won them all! What great memories!

But here’s the problem. Minutes after getting into our van to drive the two hours home Sunday evening, I smelled trouble. I did not even have to turn around to verify my suspicion. Karson had taken his shoes off.

And I was about to pass out.

And then I find out why it’s this bad. This whole new level of awful. This “my eyes are burning” odor that is now assaulting me from the back seat.

He wore the same socks for all seven basketball games.

Yeah. You heard me. All seven basketball games. Same pair of socks. No washing machine. No spray deodorizer. No “airing them out outside.”

No comprendo. 

So… the conversation went like this.

“Karson. Something has to happen right now with your socks. I can not make it the rest of the way home in this condition. This situation is not going to work.”

Deep breath. Hold it. 

Exhale.

I continue. “I don’t care if you like those socks or that they’re Under Armor socks. Do we need to pull over and throw them away?”

“Hmm.” Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson barely notices the odor and doesn’t understand why wearing socks seven games in a row without washing them is bad.

I exhale and reload. 

“Okay,” I add. “I have an idea. Why don’t we find a bag and you can put your socks in it and wrap them up SUPER tight to try and stifle the odor.”

Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson slowly wraps the socks of death in a trash bag that we miraculously found in the van.

And we made it home.

Who knows, we may have passed several gas leaks on our way and I was not able to sniff them out and call them in because of the sock situation.  I guess I may never know.

But this I do know.

Seventh grade boys aren’t always going to smell great. Or even acceptable.

And they don’t care.

But, if you can hold your breath for awhile, and remember how much you love them, stink and all, you’re in for a great ride!

 

 

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

Each year for the past several, I have taken the time to sit down and write out my thoughts and ponderings at the end of the Christmas season. Granted, by the end of Christmas break (yes, it’s January 6th, but my kids haven’t been back to school yet) my “thoughts and ponderings” have been boiled down to bullet points. No deep philosophical quotes are being conjured up here. Even that last sentence took longer to write than I’d like to admit. But regardless, I like to summarize what I’ve observed during the month of December.

And so, I give you:

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

  1. If you’re losing to your son in a game of Checkers while on a date with him at Cracker Barrel, you can get out of the loss by claiming probable victory when your food arrives before he takes your last piece.

IMG_2055

  1. Just because the candy/icing/sprinkles say they are edible doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eaten.

IMG_2432

  1. You are never without holiday entertainment when you have two daughters ages seven and nine. Show times and themes vary.

IMG_2339

  1. If you invite a group of fifth graders over to your house for a Christmas party, you might as well take the mistletoe down before they arrive. The shrieking, pointing, and giggles will be quite disruptive until you do.
  1. Handmade cards with misspellings are my favorite. (Unless they’re from my husband. He should be able to spell correctly by now.)

IMG_2532

  1. If, due to sickness in the family, you all binge watch an entire season of a Hallmark show in a matter of two days, the sappiness in the acting and script may in fact lead to more feelings of illness.
  1. Sometimes your husband gives you three flashlights in your stocking with no explanation. Go with it.

IMG_2477

  1. Children love to shop at the school “Holiday Shop” and surprise their parents with “real gifts” on Christmas morning. They also like to hide said gifts in their shirts.

IMG_2417

  1. Pretzel rods dipped in chocolate > pretzel rods. This should really go without saying.

IMG_2421

  1. Eaves dropping on two sisters playing a strategy game at the table is well worth your time.

IMG_2479

  1. Store bought cut-out cookies don’t taste as good as homemade sugar cookies. However, the fact you don’t have to make them from scratch brings their taste level up to “rather delicious.”

IMG_2423

  1. You’re never too big to sit on Santa’s lap.

IMG_2452 2

  1. There’s something hopeful and fresh about the blank page of a calendar.

IMG_2499

  1. Candlelight services are beautiful and meaningful. Hot wax that drips from said candle onto your youngest child’s hand causing weeping during Silent Night seems to steal a bit of sanctity from the moment.
  1. When you are used to calling your son’s basketball compression shorts his “special undies,” and you need to take some back to the store and exchange them for another size, don’t ask the male sales clerk if he has “special undies.” Instead, stare at him for an uncomfortably long amount of time while trying to think of the words “compression shorts.”
  1. There’s nothing that will put a spring in your step quite like when you’re in what is literally the world’s largest high school fieldhouse and you’re sitting three rows from the bottom and have at least 50 steps to climb to get to the restroom, and your youngest child looks you in the eye and says, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
    IMG_2510
  1. Sharing with groups of women during the Christmas season about the “Light of the World,” Jesus, and why you have chosen to live in His light instead of darkness is quite possibly as special as it gets.

 

3 Things I Expected and 3 Things That Surprised Me About Releasing A Book.

IMG_0757My latte not only tasted delightful, but it looked good too. How accomplished it must have felt to bring joy to my senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch all wrapped in one warm ceramic mug. That is, if a caffeinated beverage can feel accomplished.

My remaining sense, my sense of hearing, was also being satisfied by the voice of a dear friend who sat across the table. Terri and I don’t get together often anymore, but when we do, we make it count. When I sat down in my chair, the steam from my latte had barely risen to my nose before she asked the question.

“So, it’s been about a year since we’ve really been able to chat. I want to know this. In the last year, as you’ve released your book, what has it been like? Do this. Tell me three things that have gone as you expected they would, and three things that have been a surprise to you.”

Terri doesn’t mince words.

There was no, “How was your Thanksgiving?” or “It’s unseasonably warm today.” No, we got right down to it. And I like that. I find it the mark of a true friend who is able to take you to the heart of things before your coffee is cool enough to sip. I believe it’s an accomplishment. A decaffeinated one at that.

“Hmm.” I said. “Let me think.” And I did. I thought it over for a few moments as I reflected on the previous seven months since the release of my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels. And here is what I said.

Three things that have gone as I expected with the release of my book.

  1. It has been a lot of work. I am not complaining when I say this. Like I said, I expected a book release to be a lot of work, and I was mostly prepared for it. Writing a book takes a lot of time and effort. Releasing it to the world does too, only you have to add courage, money, time, hopes, dreams, logistics, public scrutiny, a speaking tour, and the cost of shipping. It’s not for the faint of heart, or the faint of public speaking. Thankfully, I’ve enjoyed the work my book release has brought, and as I told Terri, I mostly expected it to be as it has been.
  2. It has been brought me a lot of joy! I had a feeling that writing and speaking would be would right up my alley. Not that I had never done either before the release of this book, but since the birth of this book baby, I’ve definitely done more writing and speaking than ever before. And I’ve loved it. It has been so much fun, and I’ve found that there is such a joy and peace in serving God and others in what you feel is your God-given purpose (at least for the season of life you’re in). And, my joy has been almost immeasurable at times, like when my own children have read my book and talked to me about it. My conversations with my son about his cancer (‘That was a sad chapter, Mom.’ ‘Yes, Karson. It sure was.’) and with my nine-year-old daughter about how her Daddy and I met and dated (‘Daddy said he liked your legs!’ My face turns red.) have been beyond special. What great joy there is in seeing the fruits of your labors, even when the labor is plentiful.
  3. It has complicated the family life vs. work balance. I figured this would be an issue, and it has been. The delicate balance of knowing when it’s okay to say yes to an oppuntuntiy that takes me away from home, and husband, and kids is a tough one. Overall, I feel like we’ve been blessed with our family schedule and my speaking and travel schedule working together pretty well. But, there have been occasions when I’ve missed events and/or when I’m home, but busy and distracted with preparations and such. This is tough. In the near future, I’m traveling and will miss a band concert, at least three basketball games, and more. I hate that. But, it’s been a growing experience. It has taught me, and it has taught my family. My kids don’t need me to be involved in everything they do. My life doesn’t actually revolve around them and which set of bleachers I’m sitting on (though sometimes it feels like it does)! My kids know I am present at their events most of the time, and it’s proven healthy for them to see me work hard and share the message of hope and faith with others when I’m not in the stands. They are excited for me and the opportunities I’ve had, and so far, they haven’t seemed to resent it (it would break my heart and cause a lot of revaluation if they did.) We’ve been open about this family life vs. work balance as a family. We’ve prayed together over opportunities, and talked honestly about how it makes us feel. Has it been all bad? No. Has it complicated the issue. Yes. Did I expect it to become complicated. You bet. But just because you expect something doesn’t necessarily make it any less difficult when it arises. 

Three things that have surprised me with the release of my book.

  1. The amount of speaking I’ve done in past 7 months. I know that I just said above that I expected it to be a lot of work. Yes. And I did expect to do some speaking in relation to the book. However, the opportunities that I’ve been given to speak and share have been far more than I ever dreamed! It has taken a lot preparation (think Power Point, handouts, outlines, discussion questions, travel, logistics, book tables, business cards, credit card readers, etc.) but it has been SO much fun! I’ve had the opportunity to speak to groups of women, senior groups, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups, my alma mater’s student body chapel (Huntington University), a corporate chapel, podcasts, radio interviews, a parenting seminar, private home book parties, my denomination’s national conference, and even as a keynote speaker at a church’s women’s retreat. It has grown me and pushed me and sometimes worn me out (at the women’s retreat where I spoke three times in three days, I feel asleep in the middle of the day on the bed during free time with all the lights on and with my shoes on – and woke up two hours later!) Yesterday someone asked if I now call myself a communicator, or a speaker. I said I don’t call myself anything! But, I sure have enjoyed these opportunities.
  2. The fact that people actually read and care about my story. This sounds like a really stupid thing for an author to say. If you’re going to put a book out there, you shouldn’t be surprised when people read it. But I have been. I’ve been surprised that people care about my life story. I mean, I figured my parents would read it. And maybe my husband. But the rest of you? Bonus! And, the comments you’ve made to me, sent to me in cards, messages, etc. have absolutely humbled me. It has been special (and surprising) to hear how the stories or Life Morsels have touched many readers in very meaningful ways. As I was sharing this with Terri, I speficially mentioned how many comments I’ve gotten about Kraig and my love story. Terri said, “I still count it as one of the diamonds in my necklace of life that I was able to actually live that out with you all those years ago.” How can you not like a friend how feels that way? Or who says “necklace of life”? Anyway, the various ways the book has impacted its readers has been humbling. I still can’t get over it.
  3. The amount of work… and joy… and complicated schedules it has brought me. I know. I know. I’m cheating here. I’m basically taking all three points from above that I said I expected, and now I’m putting them down here in the surprise section. Deal with it. I’m serious. They go both ways. I expected to be busy and for it to be complicated and for it to bring my joy, but it has all surprised me at the same time. You know how that is. Things can feel both ways. I’m sorry I told you to deal with it. What I mean is, thank you for understanding.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen these photos as you’ve followed along with my speaking over the last seven months. For those of you who are not on social media (What’s a Instagram and why does someone want to request my friendship?)  I will post some photos below.

Thanks for reading and for your support in this journey. I wish I could share a chat and a latte with each and every one of you. But then again, that would be an awfully lot of caffeine.

Cheers.

DSC_0487

My turn signal pinged its rhythmic song. I heard it, but wasn’t really listening. I watched the oncoming traffic, and waited for my chance to make a right turn.

My thoughts were ringing in my head, playing the harmony to the accompanying noise around me. I was trying to give my thoughts my full attention in hopes I could corral them into orderly conduct.

“You, over there. Yes, I know I have laundry in the washer that’s been sitting there wet for three days. I’ll run that load again when we get home. And yes, I’ll add detergent again. I know it stinks.”

“Excuse me, what? I have to write two checks to the school when I get home? One for a lunch account and then I have to order that sports gear. Oh, and the photograph form. Got it. I’ll try to get that done before picking up Karson from practice. Wait, is his jersey in the washer? What time is his game Sunday afternoon?”

“What’s that, Mr. Stomach? I haven’t made dinner plans yet for this evening? Give me a break. I’ve barely even been home this afternoon. You’ll just have to wait.”

My own mental conversation was not the only one echoing in my ears. In the backseat of the van, my daughters, ages seven and nine, were having one of their own.

I could hear them, but I wasn’t really listening.

“Let’s make up our own cheers, Kenzie.” My oldest daughter was saying.

“Okay. Let’s use letters and then think of words that they stand for,” Kenzie replied.

I tuned them out again.

Where did I put the checkbook?

“I know. For the letter ‘O’ we can make it stand for ‘Honesty!’ ‘O’ says ‘Ahh’ so honesty is a good word! I like honesty!”

“Yeah! ‘O’ for ‘Honesty’. Good idea Kenzie!” Karly responded to her little sister.

“Honesty actually starts with an ‘H,’” I chimed in. “How about ‘Octopus,’ instead?”

“No way, Mom!” Kenzie said. “I like ‘honesty’ better.”

I looked back at the road. I never was a cheerleader. What do I know?

“Okay, now for the letter ‘C.’ Kenzie continued, “Let’s use the word “Kind!” I looked in the rearview mirror. She was smiling and enthusiastic.

Once again I broke in to the conversation.

“Kind actually starts with a ‘K’ not a ‘C.’” I informed.

“No, it doesn’t.”

“Yes, it does.”

“No, it’ doesn’t”

“Yes, it does.”

The turn signal kept the beat.

“Well, we don’t really care. We like honesty and kindness so we’re going to use them.” Kenzie said.

I thought about it.

Whose team mascot is an Octopus, anyway?

“You know what?” I said in my best Mom Authority voice. “I like honesty and kindness too. Go for it!”

And they did. They completed their homemade cheer and happily chatted the rest of the drive home.

They may not be winning the spelling bee anytime soon. But, I’ll tell you what, I don’t really care.

Honesty and kindness trump winning in my book, anyway.

Hip. Hip. Hooray! You go girls! Let honesty and kindness be traits you always cheer about.

And who knows. Maybe I could have been a cheerleader, after all.

If it ain’t broke.

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.06.32 PM

It’s one of our family’s favorite “home videos.” Our middle child, then two-year-old Karly, attempting to drive a small motorized golf cart.

Attempting is the best word for this scenario.

She pushes the gas pedal with her little purple shoe, and the cart lunges forward. Karly’s hands are resting down by her sides. She moving, but not controlling where she’s going.

At the prompt of her big brother yelling “Stop!”, she lifts her foot off the gas and narrowly misses driving into a row of bushes.

“It’s not working!” She claims as she climbs out of the cart (the cuteness of it all multiplied by the fact that she can’t pronounce her ‘r’s’ and rhymes the word ‘working’ with ‘looking.’)

Oh, but it is working, sweetheart. To drive you must steer. To steer, you must put your hands on the steering wheel.

It ain’t broke.

You ain’t doin’ it right.

I’m guilty of it too. No, not driving with my hands by my sides (Geesh! Give me some credit!) but of getting off course.

I wish to get somewhere. To head in a new direction.

Toward better conversations with friends. Talk that is rich and uplifiting, not gossipy and self-focused.

Toward better understanding of who I am in Christ. Life that is lived free from worry and fear.

Toward a healthier body. One that makes wise decisions to eat well and exercise regularly.

But, sometimes I end up in a row of bushes.

“It’s not working!”

Oh, but it is working, sweetheart. To drive you must steer. To steer, you must put your hands on the steering wheel.

I can’t just wish to be somewhere. If I really want to get there, I must steer myself in that direction.

Steering rarely requires large movements. It’s tiny corrections and changes that put you on a different trajectory. 

Little changes, small tweaks, tiny adjustments. They can add up to big change, and put you in a whole new place.

You just need to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your foot on the gas.


This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for five minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: WORK

 

Neighbor Day Weekend

Happy Neighbor Day

My youngest daughter snuggled into me this morning on the recliner. She had just gotten out of bed for the day and carried her seemingly ever-present-when-she-first-wakes-up purple blanket down with her. She rubbed it against her face.

She’s in first grade, so I delight in these moments. They are becoming increasingly rare.

“I’m excited about today.” She said softly.

“Why?” I asked, expecting her to tell me she likes the fact it’s picture day at school, or something she is planning to play at recess.

“It’s Neighbor Day weekend!”

I laughed, and before I could correct her, her big sister chimed in.

“Not Neighbor Day, Kenzie! LABOR day.” Karly said as she shook her know-it-all third grade head.

“Then when is Neighbor Day?” Kenzie asked.

Karly told her there was no such thing.

I corrected her.

“Actually,” I said, “EVERY day is Neighbor Day. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and he didn’t say just one certain day of the year. He meant every day.”

Karly gave me an eye roll. And then she grinned.

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” She said.

If only we were given a three-day weekend to celebrate Neighbor Day every week.

Sigh.

But nonetheless, I hope to celebrate today.

And every day.

Happy Neighbor Day to you! Today, and always.


This blog was inspired by the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to spend 5 minute blogging based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: NEIGHBOR.

 

That’s How We Roll.

IMG_0912

The grass felt damp and cold under me. The late summer sun was setting and the warm day was giving way to a crisp evening. I wasn’t prepared. My jacket was in car. I guess I’d need to adjust my thinking now that fall was fast approaching. It’s jacket season, Christy. Like it, or not.

I turned and looked over my left shoulder. My kids were standing on a small hill. Each had a golf putter in hand and a pile of golf balls at their feet. They were playing around on the putting green and I was enjoying the show. Mostly, I liked the commentary.

“Which of those three flags on the putting green are you aiming for?” I asked.

My middle child, the one who just turned nine, answered quickly.

“Whichever one the ball rolls closest to when I hit it.”

I smiled and shrugged my cold shoulders. I guess sometimes we all adjust. Our mindsets, our golf swings, our wardrobes.

Earlier in the week, that same child sat and sobbed at the thought of making a decision. It wasn’t even a bad set of options she was choosing between, she just felt overwhelmed and fearful that she’d pick the wrong one.

“There is no wrong answer here, Karly.” My husband said. “These are both good choices. Mommy and I understand that it’s sometimes hard to make a decision, but what we have learned to do is to just pick one — to the best of our knowledge, and then later, if we need to adjust, we do.” I stood there nodding my head in agreement.

Sometimes we just have to swing the putter, hit the ball, and watch where it rolls.

And then we adjust.

We learn. We think about how we hit the ball and what it felt like, and we decide if that’s how we want to do it again. Or, do we want to try something different next time? Should we try to aim at something else?

Life is full of adjustments. Full of surprises. Confusion. Change. Clarifications.

And that’s okay. We truly live and learn every. single. day.

Sometimes we guide our decisions, and other times our decisions guide us.

Either way, we’ll never be succesful if we don’t swing the putter, hit the ball, and watch it roll.


This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s prompt: GUIDE

Just visiting.

DSCN1027.JPG – Version 3

The pictures in my iPhoto library scrolled in front of my eyes like credits rolling on a screen at the end of a movie. Only faster.

I was feeling a little uneasy in my stomach. Granted, I could have been getting motion sick from the quick movement (No, really. I’m serious. This happened to me once at the library in the 1990’s while looking at microfiche), but the real fact of the matter was that I was nauseous from nostalgia. Sick from sentimentality. Pained from pondering.

You get the idea.

I had to sort through the memories for a reason. All three of my children have had the same woman as their kindergarten teacher. My youngest is now “graduating” from kindergarten, and our tenure in her class is over. Just like that.

This teacher is amazing, and in an effort to make her a gift containing a photo of her with each of my kids when they were in her class, I had to search through approximately 12 billion photos in hopes to find three. Eventually, I did find them, but in the searching, I found many more that pulled on my heart strings.

My now twelve-year-old’s third birthday party with the Thomas the Tank Engine cake that I spent HOURS making.

My now eight-year-old’s first pigtails.

My soon-to-be first grader’s birth. The first time her siblings held her in their arms.

Chubby cheeks.

Little toes.

Birthday parties. First days of schools.

My seven-year-old’s store-bought birthday cake.

The time my girls got their pigtails cut off to donate to children in need of wigs.

The three of them arm in arm at a baseball game.

I found myself lost in a world of memories, yet feeling like these events had happened in my life almost as quickly as the photos on the screen were whizzing past me.

And in a few more minutes, it seems they’ll be more photos in the camera roll.

Graduations.

Weddings.

Grandkids.

Another generation of chubby cheeks and little toes.

More firsts. More lasts.

The knot in my stomach was now fully tied.

The moments of this life are so fleeting. I try to hold on to them. To keep them. To at least make them slow their pace.

I mentally place the events in my bucket as I cross the firsts and lasts off my list. But I must have a hole in my bucket because as fast as they pile higher, they’re gone.

Each moment is only here for a visit. No, they can’t linger for long. The are just passing through.

But regardless, I’m going to keep inviting the moments of life in. I’ll keep putting them in my bucket, my iPhoto library, and my heart.

And I’ll enjoy each visit, for as long as it lasts.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: VISIT