Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cleansing and Purging My Soul

“What a wonderful day of being blessed and cleansing and purging my soul. It's hard sometimes, but it's done. Over, moving on….”

Today, a dear new friend sitting on my sofa and hearing the intimacies of my heart. She does not offer wisdom or words. She bows her head and prays. The holiness of God and His love and care pours in.
I did not tell her how to pray for me, she just did. Her prayers and words speaking the freedom in pain that God gives. It only comes from God, because on my own I would not be able to sail off into the afternoon and go swimming with my boys and friends.  A much needed day to breath in friendship, the fresh  air and love back my life as it is.  Living in the joy of what my life is, who is in it and how I live it.

Earlier in the weekend another orchestrated blessing. Desperately needing to be with close friends. and one friend drives in from Portland to play, hang out and spend two days with me and the boys. Her timing of friendship and extending her ears to listen and heart to just love me right where I am. 

There is truly joy in hardships. My joy, in the midst of private storms keep my sails up, and moving forward.  I don't try to be strong and I don't pretend to be strong. I ask God for comfort, for peace and the blessings of friendships bring exactly what I need.  My faith is made strong in this storm. The strength anyone may see is simply God's hand holding me up through friendships, faith, and loving care.

God cares for our hearts. He knows our story and we do not have to be held captive to our situation or circumstance. Seek Him in all things. Cast you cares upon Him. I did that at 1am two nights ago, and last week, and this morning and right now. Casting over and over because I am an imperfect example of not doing it all at once. And each time I cast, HE gives me a greater peace.  

As the weeks unfold, a new chapter is going to be written. The pages will ring with the awesome and amazing wonders of God. May your heart learn, grow, and be strengthened. Blessings, Elizabeth

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Five Tips On Kids Summer Fun

Five tips on summer kids fun could easily turn into 100 tips. After all ever kid is different and we all know that even with 100's of Lego's and shelves full of toys our kids still say they are board.  I think sometimes people think that because I have five kids I could write novels on this stuff.  The reality is I learn so many new things with each season, and each stage of mothering deepens my understanding of each of my kids.

Tip #1 PLAN to take time doing what your kids want.
I do not like playing Monopoly. There I said it. Yet it is Eric's favorite game. He will set this game up and just beg for someone to play with him. I can spend all day saying, "later" "not now" and really it's just delaying some of the finest moments with Eric.  Planning time to sit with your child and play what they love grows your friendship with that one child. It also eliminates the begging for mommy time when you plant that special time with your child.

Tip #2 PLAN and encourage your kids to write. As in paper and pencil kind of writing.
Ethan will talk your ears off. He loves making up stories and sharing every detail.  Each day we planned a time for writing a chapter a day. I then planned some work I could get done. I loved the time watching Ethan write. I loved our interactions around the breakfast table, as I sat working. Ethan was only required to write one chapter a day, but he loved it so much some days he wrote two or three. Setting a time, and requirement will  fill up some time in the day. Also keeps your kids writing and thinking all summer long.

 Tip#3 PLAN cozy time & sleeping in.
It's not just the kids who are on summer break, it's you, too. Why not plan that cozy time in the mornings.  Our children spend 3/4 of the year jumping up, and out of bed and heading out the door. Encourage and plan those cozy times and sleeping in. Emerson would come in quietly, climb into bed and draw pictures while chatting away  When you "plan" these times the night before, and stick to the plan. Your kids learn to lay low during that time and you get that lazy slow wake up.

Tip #4 PLAN your kids TV time.
I love that the boys have an entire room to hang out in and for TV time and they are sitting close.  Kids spend more time being board after hours of unsupervised TV.  Plan your TV time the same time every day.  With limited TV time, they seem to have more creative play with less fighting. Trust me on this one. 
Tip #5 PLAN time with friends.
Make your home the home that kids want to come and visit. Encourage your children to be friends and invite kids into their space.  Plan and be willing to drive and get other kids.  Helping out a single or working mom.  When you plan these kinds of playdates your kids have something to look forward to.

Notice I use the word "plan" in each of my tips. When I make plans, my days seem to fly by and more importantly my kids stay happy, active and busy. They can see what has been planned and seem to like this kind of loose structure.  I want to make sure you get your money's worth from this post so here is my bonus Tip.
Bonus Tip PlAN outside play daily and join your kids. 
Getting out daily with your kids breaths not only fresh air, but breaths life into our souls.  Our kids spend most of their childhood in a classroom. Wide open places to run, play and explore.  No agenda, and lots of packed picnics. 

Kids are not great at planning out 14-16 hours of awake time.  I am very blessed that all of my kids love reading. I never have to plan reading time. They read often, and if they didn't this might be a six tip post.  These tips on summer fun will help make for a very chill and nice summer. Start  planning now as summer is just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ever Feel Like a Mommy Failure?

Today was not a good day.  Today I cried and felt like a mommy failure.  Many things broke today.  Things got dirty that made me upset, and I took a three hour nap in the late afternoon. In addition to feeling like a failure I have allergies like I have never had, thus the three hour nap. Apparently the pink colored allergy tab makes you sleepy.
Cupboard door that will not close and will not edit on this page.

Writing on brother's desk. Tsk! Tsk!

Duct Tape art of broken glass.

Starting with what broke. The dishwasher leaked, the cupboard door got hung on and bent the hinge so the door does not close. My one son was angry for having a time out on his bed and threw something that literally cracked the glass in his window. He was mortified that a stuffed animal could do this, except he forgot he had tied a matchbox car around the neck of the stuff animal weeks earlier. So we have dishwasher, cupboard door and window broken.

If that was not enough one child decided to use a blue sharpy and draw a stick figure with big buns on his brother's desk. Then tried to clean it with my fancy expensive bathroom towels.  No one liked the healthy smoothies I made and laundry is everywhere.  Allergies are in fact compromising my coping skills because today I could not just laugh it off. I cried and then slept for three hours. Which was easy since one boy was grounded on his bed, one was lost in Ipad Heaven and another had control of the remote.

What happens on days like today.  Don't we all have a little of this every day.  Of course we do.  I thank God that this is just a day.  I felt like a mommy failure, and the minute little arms are wrapped around you saying I love you it all passes.  The one who broke the window had so much remorse.  I know how he feels. I broke a window once. I can not get mad.  David was calm, and got the duct tape to cover the cracks.  He is getting good at this quick repair. Last summer a flying rock broke another window, and that is still artfully duck taped.

Did I mention this is a house full of boys. I have learned that no size of a home can contain the energy of boys. Thanking God we have space and lots of outside play.  Now it's 2am.  That 3 hour nap was great, but the morning will come....oh wait it's Spring Break and this mama will be sleeping in.  Mommy failure day has passed.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Addition of Sarah

Notice one more in this picture?  Notice David's smile as he stretches his Papa arms across Sarah and Elliot.  This was taken the night that Sarah and Elliot got engaged and our first picture with a new family addition.   I have to be honest in saying that my prayer life is changing and I could not be happier.  I never dreamed what this day might be like.  What a blessing from God,  that the many years of praying for a sweet bride, someday for my son has been answered.

The addition of Sarah is the result of  26 years of praying for that little girl who was growing up to someday be Elliot's wife. That little girl who might be out skipping, and drawing flowers with chalk on hot summer sidewalks.  I prayed for a little girl that she was being loved by parents. My prayers were not deep, long hours daily.  They were moments throughout the past 26 years. Hand written notes in my journals of prayer for her.  Whispers of prayers as I watched Elliot growing up.   Praying that some day a young woman would know how to love, cherish and boldly come alongside his life with an identity in Christ.  The prayers of a mama's heart over who that little girl might be.  Praying that her life dreams would be to wrap her heart first around that intimate relationship with God, that she could understand the holiest of loves which would guide her heart in loving a man.

This precious girls loves boldly and out loud.  Sarah embraces the her newly extended family. She has our DNA.  When you carry the DNA of the Lord most high it's no jumble of emotions in fitting in.  She just does. She is passionate and caring and those around her can feel that care and love.  I sit back and watch her love that man I have raised.  I would be lying if I said I did not cry, with deep emotions over the magnificent way in which God answers prayers.

Sarah, in her fun spirit wrote that she prayed for a pony and prince charming. God gave her a prince.  I prayed for a princess of the Lord most high for my son. A beautiful girl that could come alongside the ministry God had set before Elliot. A girl who would know how to love and serve others right where they are at. Sarah has her ministry that God has grown her into.  She serves others and seeing her love the boys, Ethan, Eric & Emerson, and seeing her wrap her heart of sister love around Emily is a natural addition and progression of family and holy community.Our newest picture of our children.

Mama's don't ever stop praying for those who will someday join your family.  My prayer life has changed in that there is now a name to  young woman. I can now pray with a name a new prayer for both Elliot and Sarah.  God hears the prayers of our hearts.  We often wonder just how long we must pray.  We pray as long as the life we are given.  I encourage a journal of writings, scribbles, notes.  Looking back over the journals of over 20 years ago, I was but the age of Sarah when I started praying for her life.  I delight in the joy of this next season as a mother. 

Thank you God for you beautiful blessings, Elizabeth

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mother of the Groom Diaries.....

On March 10th my oldest son Elliot asked the lovely Sarah to be his wife.  It was a splendid affair.  I could write this lovely event in 1000 or more words, but instead take a few minutes to watch this video.  I am very proud of my son and his love for  sweet Sarah.  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hiking Mt. Jeneau in Alaska

Hiking Mt. Juneau in Alaska was not my typical hike.  A dear childhood friend was living in Juneau, AK. For many years sharing her biking, hiking, and snow boarding experiences.  After years of hearing her adventures, this city girl decided to venture into the culture of Alaska.  I am writing about this particular event for the simple reason of coming across this photo and busting out laughing while alone in my home office.  Memories.......!

Kari had to work her Mountaineer bike business that day in Juneau, AK.  She handed me over to the care of her energetic and fit husband, who thought taking me up a mountain was equal to my walk around the block in the city and stopping for a coffee.  He gave me all the right gear, even a nice water pack.  We were up early and started up the mountain.

Within an hour there was a vertical "walk" that was more like climbing. Let's just give meaning to this. You climb a ladder.  One hand above the other holding each rung to give you balance and stability. In my humble opinion we were climbing the side of this mountain. Both hands were required.  It was a warm day,  Each time I tried to sip my water nothing would come out. I was already embarrassed over how out of shape I was. So winded I could not even get water out of my pack. I was not about to ask why I could get no water from a simple water pack, so with a stubbornness we continued our trek.  Kari's husband was always several feet ahead of me.  This is never the good end of hike to be on. Those who scramble faster get to sit, wait and rest, and the minute you reach them, they plunge forward. No rest for the one lagging behind. In this case me.

We finally came to a creek that splashed over the trail. I drank in as much water as I could. Soaked my head and then we continued.  Ray had no ears for any whining or complaining. My stomach started to growl.  I am with someone who is responsible for my food intake. Cleary two hours into a hike required some snack. Nope not at all.  We plunged forward.

We finally reached the top. I tossed my water pack down. Ray looked at me, and said, "Are you drinking water?"  A full water pack was not a good sign. I finally told him I tried but nothing would come out. He started laughing. Really laughing hard at me. I was not amused. I was tired, hungry, thirsty and hot.  He then went on to explain that you have to bite down on the straw to allow water to pass through.  How would this city girl even know this?!

Finally time to eat. He pulled out a bar, unwrapped it and gave me a quarter of the bar. He then explained that this kind of bar was like a meal. I remember thinking, great then give me the entire meal.  That day was one of my best days in Juneau and I had so much fun. I am so glad to have  had this experience and this picture is one that makes me smile. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

5 Ways to Handle Someone Picking On You in Social Media

This past month I received a DM ( direct message) on Twitter from a young man who was being bullied in Social Media.  At first I was not sure why he would contact me. Then he shared that he thought as a mom with 5 kids I might have some ideas on how to handle it. I looked in on what was being said about him. It did not matter to me if any of it was true or false. What mattered is a handful of people were publicly attacking this young man.   I shared with him 5 ways to handle someone picking on him in Social Media.

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

I told him to completely ignore and don't respond to any comments or tweets linked to his name. I am happy to report that those who were bating him into these terrible tweets went away.  On the heals of this treatment the same happened in a group I am involved with.  Tweets being shared in a negative light on behalf of a group of women. It was not just one person. It was a small handful of people.  It was not easy to see, but then I had to do the same. Ignore, don't respond & block.

Social Media has given people a platform to pick on others. It's sad to watch, and sad when it happens to you.  It's hard to look away and go about your business.  But you must.  I know for the times when I have been picked on. I have had to do the same. Ignore it and don't respond. I personally block all those who engage and join in to such behaviors.

People who put this kind of stuff on a public forum are attention seeking.  It also reveals their true character and sadly affects their own communities in a negative way. Imagine if they are tweeting that about someone who offended them, what they might tweet if you offend them.  No one wants this kind of attention, so quietly people watch, in horror, but say or do nothing to defend the person being attacked.  I agree as those who are bold enough to be tweeting out negative things about another will surely do the same to those who come to defend.

My husband, who comes from years of a therapist back ground has always said you can not argue with a crazy person. No matter how right you may think you are, that person tweeting crazy things will continue as long as they are getting attention.

Pretty hard to ignore when it's hurtful. Pretty hard to ignore when you want to be able to speak what is right and true.  Someone who is speaking ill-will of you is bating you. That bating sucks you into being on the defensive and even your best efforts to defend yourself or a friend only fuels the person who is picking on you.  The best thing to do.....

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

Social Media, especially Twitter is like a cocktail party. A room full of lots people. Imagine if one person stood in the middle of the room and started ranting about your character.  Do you jump into the center and try to defend yourself or do you slip to the back of the room?  

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

I slip to the back of the room, and carry on.  In doing so, you give nothing in return to the person broadcasting discontent of you.  How you handle this kind of situation is the same in real time as online.  It is also how I am teaching my own children.  For those looking in, and believe me, in a public forum like this, others are watching. YOU speak to your character by how you do or do not respond.

I hope this is helpful.  We as parents, must educate and teach our children the confidences and the boldness to just walk away. Ain't nobody got time for that.