Monday, January 25, 2016

A House Divided-Single Mom-Preface

Today as I was driving with my three younger boys I thought of a book title for a book I might write. Or I just may blog it here. The title would be "A House Divided-Single Mom"

I am not someone who has ever really studied or read one single piece on what it means to be an author.  What I do know is this is what the first page would say. This would be the "Preface" and I do know this much, because I just opened a book sitting on my desk to get the exact name of what you call that page, Preface. The cover would be a house broken in half and kids looking between those cracks.  For now I will just start with the preface here:

"Earlier today I was driving in a car with three boys on their day off. Giving them a wonderful day. I have piles of laundry, work for clients, and I really could use a shower.  Instead of those things taking priority, today I am doing my best to show up and be super mom.  Because for kids it's not what we do, or what we say, it's showing up that makes us super. 

I am sad, and sometimes angry over the idea of writing this kind of book.  It means, my house is divided.  My kids time is divided and for that alone I am sad to be writing this.  Two broken marriages, and five kids.  All who have had to grow up in homes that were divided by two parents. 

Then today, hiking, and laughing with three boys.  Pouring into them any nuggets of wisdom when asked the hard questions. Like, "Mom would you stare at the sun for 5 minutes if you could win a million dollars?"  Or,  "Why is it some people seem to know all the answers, and the exact right way to go."  I smiled thinking I was in fact super mom that they would  think this of me.  Instead they referenced John, a man I have been dating for over a year now.  Because he does in fact find answers quickly, and we always get where we are going, and he does not stop and ask questions.

As I am writing, I have had to go and ask one boy to unlock the handcuffs off the younger brother. Screams from the family room, that although are happy and playful, with one bump can turn into a trip to the ER.  I want to write. I want to encourage single parents to building better relationships  with their children. I have already grown up two children now approaching their late twenties.  They tell me, it was "showing up, mom." That is what meant the world to them.  They are two of my best friends.  The younger boys are also my best friends.  Yet all five kids will speak up and boldly say they know the line between friends and mom.

I want to share in each blog post, this next  year, some nuggets of wisdom that go beyond looking at the sun for five minutes in exchange for a million dollars.  I see the desperation, the struggles, and hardships that single parents face in the houses that are divided. Maybe, just maybe you might find something here that will change the way you parent, the way you interact with your children and learn creative ways to show up in your kid's world.  I want this to be a dialogue between you and me and readers who land here. One thing I have learned from blogging and writing for almost ten years is that there are hard things that you would never want to comment on, but you can always contact me via my email.

Another thing you should know is I am not a writer. I am someone who talks, face to face with people. Thus, you WILL see typo's and edits that should have happened before pushing the publish button.  Together with families breaking apart, perhaps we can begin putting them back together by raising kids who are willing to fight for their own families someday."

I just looked in on the book on my desk. It has 10 chapters.  Looking back over the past years I am going to now come up with an outline for future blogs. Or to present to my publisher. I don't have one, but then it does make me feel for about five seconds like a writer. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Am I The Only Person

Am I the only person who has a million things on her brain to share with the world, and sits in front of a  blank screen and your mind goes blank? I swear I come up with the best blog posts while driving across a mountain pass, or laying in bed at night. So today, just one tiny thought.

Love who you are. Have a great day. ~ Elizabeth

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Keys to Forgiveness

Forgiveness is hard. Do you agree? Sometimes we move on from a situation and no longer have to deal with the situation, see the people involved, and the pain of the situation slowly takes a back seat to the joys of life as it moves forward.

In the past month some of those hurts which I believed I had recovered from have come back and I have had to face things head on. I have felt like I have been in a head on collision with life and even my safety belt could not protect me or my heart. I have had moments in my life when things surface and I think or say something like..."wow, I thought I had worked through that one, only to be feeling the pains and emotions as if it just happened all over again." That is when I realize and learn that for the many seasons that have passed and the removal of people or places I have not had to face the realities.

This past week I have been thinking alot about my active response to forgiveness. One which I truly believed I had, only to feel the pain of the past once again. Does God protect me from pain, until I have grown up a little more and can face and deal with things in a much better way then I would have in years past? Such a perplexing question and yet here I sit typing away over what forgiveness looks like for me this week, next week, and the months to come.

Forgiving myself, forgiving the hurts of others and functioning without the fear of facing the pain again. I realize I give no details to the matters I am working through. The details are not important for this post. The questions I ask myself, reflect on a little deeper are not the details, but more of actively forgiving. My forgiving is not based on the other person's response or lack there of. It's acknowledging my part, asking for forgiveness on my part and being free to heal the hurts, the wounds, the pain and then seeing the burdens lifted. Sometimes, that burden sits deeply in pockets of my soul because life did not allow me to do my part.

I have done my part to some degree these past weeks. Asking for forgiveness and seeing the other person accept it. Now forgiving myself is an even bigger task.

I think that mercy and grace truly are amazing. We have the capacity to forgive, and to live life to it's fullest. We have to let go of our own understandings, let go of being right, let go of entitlement, let go of what we think we deserve, let go of how it should be, and just humbly seek the face of Jesus in all we do. Even in forgiveness. The Bible speaks volumes on forgiveness, and yet as I write from my heart I realize my own pride wants to hang out, prove my right, and in doing that I myself hinder the freedoms in forgiveness.  Did you read
that, "I myself hinder the freedoms of forgiveness."

Some may think that is backwards, but in letting go, the chains that hold our hearts, our minds, our process, and souls captive can be easily unlocked. We each hold that key. Not the person who offended us. Not the situation to blame. But I hold that key of release and freedom. 

What are you holding onto?  Who are you waiting on? Let the keys of forgiveness, which you hold release you.  Cheers!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Feb. 7th 2015 Dinner Time and Dance Moves #OLS (Our Love Story)

 Feb. 7, 2015  Dinner Time & Dance Moves

Last night I brought ingredients to John's house to cook dinner. I had two of my rambunctious boys, his spirited and chatty daughter.  I started the chopping, and steaming and boiling. John returned, and without missing a beat joined me in the kitchen. There we cooked together in his kitchen. John, already has come across as a bit of food snob. As in he likes to cook, eat well and cooks well. (His dad and mom may have shared this with me earlier.) I am open to ideas and especially when cooking his his kitchen. We chit chatted away, sharing the ideas of how best to lay out the dinner. Even with a bit of crazy, as the kids were pretty much using the entire house as a jungle gym, John and I chatted away, paused for chatter with the kids and then picked up where we left off. Dinner was delicious and together we cleaned up and the evening continued.

I always had this romantic dream of cooking in the kitchen with my best friend, lover and life partner. That somehow we can make a connection in the fun of cooking and the crazy chit chat of kids and their energy, after a long day working when you feel you want to kick up your feet and chill. Every parent knows that kids seem to ramp up during the dinner hour.   I have always loved cooking. Loved working alongside the ideas and inspirations of someone who could share the same. Last night was so much fun. It was not planned, or even talked about what or how we might make dinner. It was not planned on what our kids liked, or disliked. We just started in together and it was beautiful. Like two experienced dancers breaking out the cooking dance moves.

Relationships are teachers to understanding who we are. Who we are with another person, and who that person is with you. And then there is magical dance, one that is not scripted or taped. One that is learned with that one single person who moves to the same beat and steps that you do.Creating your own dance moves exclusive to the two of you.

I realize I have only been dating John for a couple of months.  Time will tell how this dance plays out, but if we are learning the unique steps of the other, we are off to a great start. Especially in the kitchen, which is important to me. It's where our family gathers, enjoys a good meal around the table, and talks about our day.  Is it to early to fall in "like" with this man?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jan. 27,2015 He Has A Four Year Old #OLS


January 27, 2015 He Has A Four Year Old

Things I think about when dating a man with a child.  After all these are things to think about. 

John has this precious little four year old. I did not ever have to stand on the sidelines hoping she would like me. Before her daddy and I started dating we already saw each other every two weeks. She got to know me, and loved visiting my store. Her daddy would buy her a dress, she would play, and I would follow her around while she joyfully chatted about life. I was no stranger to that sweet girl. The first time we met outside of my store, she was happy to see me and snuggled into my arms,  "Miss Elizabeth" is what she calls me.

I am dating a man with three children. Two are grown up and on their own. Those meetings have been brief with his older boys. I may be a bit confident in thinking that they will like me. Elliot and Emily growing up in a home where all their friends love to hang out gives me that confidence, but then I am dating their dad, so I will love them from a distance.  Then there is a four year old who is very much in my life. I have found myself "trying her out."  When she is in my space I ask myself alot of questions. Many "what if" kind of questions.You never know where a relationship can lead. I even told John, "I want to hang out with Mia, so I can take her for a test drive."  He has allowed me to have her a few hours, with me, while at my store.

What if she is so dramatically different than Emily that I pull away from Mia? I would never ever want a child to feel that I do not love them.   After all, Emily is my only daughter, and she was every bit of fun to raise.  Emily was easy, and challenging and teachable, and well does a mother's heart for her own come by the same with someone else's child? No, it does not come by the same. There I said it. Mia is her own little person. And I do have a heart that has the capacity to love every kid who comes into my life. Mia is no different. I love having her sweet bubbly, strong will, in my life. We seem to get along fine.

What if she is disobedient, and John allows it and his parenting culture is dramatically different than mine, then will I want my boys to be seeing two parenting styles? John and I have both talked about this. He and I coming together through conversations. The good news is he is a very good dad. He is silly, and funny and thoughtful in how he disciplines and teaches Mia in similar ways I do with my own boys.

What if her mama sees another woman loving her daughter and I am stepping into the emotions of another woman of John's past?

Am I prepared?  Am I even capable of dating someone with children?
My daughter and his daughter, delightful friends.
 This journey of another's children is one that ALL single moms should consider.  It is hard to think about these things when there are flowers, and romance, and love unfolding, but I can not sit these questions on the back burner.  John can look into my eyes, express his kindness to me, and romance and pursue me, but if these questions are not laid out and answered, then we should stop right here.

These questions are being worked out. Mia is a delightful little girl. One day she took my hands in her face and said I remind her of her mommy. I figured since her mommy is blond, about my height that made sense. I told her that she must have a wonderful mommy, because every time she comes to stay with her daddy, she is such an amazing little girl.

I am falling in love with this four year old.  John and I are working out little things around parenting because the little things matter in BIG ways. Did I mention he has a four year old and I like them both very much.

October 2015

I am reading this today, a Monday in October.  I wanted to share the lovely friendship I have with Mia's mother.  I called her one day last Spring to introduce myself.  Letting her know that I thought she was a good mama, and that I wanted her to always know she could talk with me concerning Mia. I appreciate John, the first time I said, "May I have your ex-wife's phone number? I would like to talk with her." He simply handed me his phone, without any questions, trusted whatever I would have to say.  
 Truly I appreciate that she knows she can call me and check on Mia and vice versa.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dec. 21th, 2014 John Comes To My Birthday Party #OLS

Posting Today, but written in late
December 2014

Our Love Story-Dec. 21th, 2014

I woke the next morning after our first evening together. You know! (you can read here first)   Meeting John officially and a fun night, followed by the next day. My birthday.

He had sent me a text message thanking me for the evening before and offering to help me get the things needed for today's party. Since I had returned late from Portland John offered to go to the store and collect some of the things I would need. Oddly I accepted his offer. His offer would afford me a little more time to take my morning slower and without stress. After all it was my birthday.  I texted him a list of things like flowers from the produce department, cupcakes to match the flowers (the designer in me directing) and balloons. I told him to stay within a certain budget. For being the kind of girl who loves to decorate for a party I found it odd that I was accepting this offer of help for my own party.

I went into work and opened the store. With only four days before Christmas, having my store open on a weekend was where I would be hanging out on my birthday, thus hosting a birthday event all day in my store was my party.  John showed up with an ARMLOAD of flowers. Lily's, roses, carnations, hydrangeas, daisies. Wow!!!  Cupcakes, balloons and a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks. (Noted last night's drive into Portland I did say that was my favorite coffee drink.) (Also noted, not one man in my life ever delivered to me my favorite coffee and an armload of flowers.) Of course a girl thinks about these things.  I got set up for the party and now everything was ready.

 It was a great day and John met all my friends, he met David, my boys and Emily. He was easy to have around and I could see he easily fit into my circle of friends in both Portland and The Dalles. If you know me, you know I love connecting people and seeing that others are making new friends.  I did not have any of those girl feelings of romancing any of the past 24 hours. I just simply thought what a nice person. After all he was no stranger, having shopped in my store for a few months. Yet this is part of a story that has changed my life.

John ended up joining our group later that evening at a local pub with live music. Kind of one of those moments of, "hey join us if you wish." and he did. Now for the real raw emotions.  I am sharing this, because life is a journey and I believe it should be shared.

After a big and wonderful birthday day I got into the car to drive home with Emily and started bawling my eyes out. Weird, strange outward process of relationships in my past. I was crying and telling her the internal struggles of past loves and how it meant so much that John would attend a Christmas party with me.  Past loves and emotions around parties, like my own birthday.  Emily has watched in years' past so I was not crying over anything she did not already know.   Yet this man, somewhat of a stranger, without any thought attended a Christmas party with me and it was fun to not only have him along, but he fit in and enjoyed my friends.  Then to come with ALL my favorite flowers. At first I did not think anything of it because I asked him for the receipts to pay him back. But when he said, "no these are my gift to you." I was deeply touched. Because what girl will EVER forget a man walking in a door with an armload of all your her favorite flowers.  Then the coffee. I mean really? Why am I crying over a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha?  Because I talk alot and this man listened. I mean not just crazy driving through the record rains in the Gorge, but he heard my love of coffee and a specific holiday coffee. And a girl remembers that.

As we drove home, Emily listened and said that it is quite normal for me to have this outward process. Feeling valued, and accepted.  Discounting that I should not feel this for a stranger. He was just reminding me of voids in my life and,  "that a stranger is reminding you that you DO matter." Yet it meant something to me. Bless my sweet 25 year old daughter who grew up with her mama and affirmed that this man did step in, and not ever knowing anything of this about me, may have opened my eyes to what it means to know and understand the other person. To listen and extend kindness based on knowing me for less than 24 hours. It made me think something was wrong with me for feeling this emotion. Yet an outward process of understanding things about myself I buried deep.

Our  a 30 minute drive of processing the fact that I felt like a girl who had made a friend. A friend that might be worthy of more of my time. Asking myself how I might thank him. Asking myself why I was so comfortable around him. Asking myself why I felt so safe to have him around.  Safe, what a word. Why this word?  Because he was kind with no agenda but to know about me. Listening to my heart during our casual conversations and remembering tiny details. He had no clue the value and weight of his actions. Kind and giving with no expectation of anything in return.

If our paths never cross, which I seriously doubt in a small town, let's just say my heart is smiling and will be smiling for a very long time. 

Today Oct. 16, 2015 Our paths did cross again, by John asking me out on an official date.  That story will be posted someday soon. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Start of OUR love story......

January 28, 2015
Someday this may be "our" love story.  A fairy tale at the age of 49 years old. Prince charming melting the places in my heart I did not know even existed. Not one person ever ventured into these parts of me, thus I am writing and will someday share.
I love spending time with this man.
 In the Fall of 2014 a man walked into my store with his little girl. Mia is her name, and all of 3 years old.  She was chatting, playing and darling. Her daddy bought her a dress. Two weeks later he came back in and then another two weeks later and soon I realize that Mia was going to be getting a new dress every two weeks from Skip To My Room.  My conversations with this man were brief. He kept to himself, and I always respect a customer who is on the quiet side.  One day he came in and let me know that this was Mia's favorite store. He would get her for two week blocks of time, and this was often their first stop, per her request. Mia played, gathered blankets, stuffed toys and watched part of a movie. This is a regular with many of my customer's and their kids. For over 23 years customer's wandering in with their children, and my staff always allowing kids to just play with everything.  This is a fun shop, and kids love it.
He loves me well.
Around Thanksgiving Mia's dad dropped by the store and dropped off a bottle of wine.  He walked in and out so fast, I had to practically grab his shirt-tail and asked if I could give him a "bro" like  hug. As in, a thank you for the wine and continued business. At my store over days, months and years customers become like a family.  He stopped and allowed me to quickly thank him and off he went.  The card on the bottle of wine read, "Thank you for letting Mia play." No name. I asked Emily if she remembered his name and neither of us could remember. I am certain I asked his first time in, but then I am known for knowing the names of customer's kids over the parent's name.  I actually kind of poked a little fun to my friends over this bottle of wine.  Being new in The Dalles, and having many suitors it was just another dude getting in my space. Although I was flattered for about 10 seconds.  It was one of my favorite all time wineries of my past. Thus I would remember more than just 10 seconds of thought.
My best four year old friend.
 On Dec. 20th just before closing on a Saturday, this man walked back into my store with another bottle of wine.  He set it on my counter, said Merry Christmas and then proceeded to walk out. This time I stopped him. I told him that he does not get to do this a second time without joining me for a glass of wine. I invited him to sit and share a glass of wine with me. He had other errands to run and said he would be back shortly. "Merry Christmas" is what the card read and yet another bottle of my favorite wine.  No name on the card. He did return just before we closed.  I figured that since he had been coming in for over 3 months with his precious little girl, he was safe. So I locked him in my store and there we sat drinking wine. I was embarrassed to have to ask him his name. I learned he had moved to The Dalles in August and was brand new to the area. He was single with three kids. Two grown boys and that little bundle of sweet girl, Mia.  Mia and I had become great friends. After all those dress purchases and her loving every stuffed toy in my store.   Some say puppies can attract a woman, however that sweet girl and his love and care of her was attractive.

As we sipped wine, I watched the clock. I had alot of work to be getting done and was trying to decide if I should head to Portland for a dear friends' Christmas Party or put in a long night of work. Then out of my mouth, without any thought, "....John, would you like to go to a Christmas party,  this evening with me? In Portland?"  He just said, "Yes!" I mean no thought, pause or hmmmm. He said yes and there we were. He offered to drive and we gathered ourselves and headed to his car.  I was not keen on the idea of driving through the Columbia Gorge in a small mini truck. I voiced my concern and suggested we take my big heavy SUV. He said, he had another heavier car at his house. That if we could drive there, he could put on a nicer shirt, and take his other car.  We did just that and his other car was much safer for my comfort level.

It was one of the most windy rainy drives through the Gorge.  I have had way to many car accidents and tend to NOT like anyone driving me. Something about John,  and his amazing driving skills had me calm and feeling the safest I had ever felt with someone driving me. As we drove, we chatted and I told him he needed to friend me on Facebook so I could look at his Facebook page and see who he really is. After all Facebook is good for seeing the kinds of things people post. And if I saw anything that made me uncomfortable, I could have him drop me off in Hood River.  I loved what I saw. Sharing some of Proverbs 31 snippets and James Dobson inspirations. I asked him if he was a Jesus person, to which he said he was. I liked that about him. I also like the ease in conversations and even with territorial rains, I felt safe and comfortable.

We attended the party, and he seem to fit in well with my friends. After the party we drove down to NW 23rd Ave. in Portland.  Ducked into Papa Hydens for dessert and there again, just sitting and talking and John being the perfect gentleman.  We drove on home and I got home just after 1:30am.

One evening together and I am going to share what I LOVED about this man.  Not once during our entire time together did he make any sexual innuendo's. I am sure that many women reading this know exactly what I am talking about. It's common talk even in some of the most "christian circles" I may be around. It is a complete turn off in building any kind of friendship with a man when there is that kind of chatter. Thus, John an entire evening and honorable to me as a new friend. As of this first night together my only thought was simple, "What a nice man."  There was no other thoughts except to introduce him to more people in The Dalles.

The next day I had a birthday party for myself planned at my store. I invited John, as this would be a great way to meet more people here in The Dalles.  I had no idea that first night would be the beginning of our love story.

(I wrote this on the date listed above, but waited to post until now.  I have written over 20 blog posts in the past 10 months of knowing John. I never wanted to post as you never know where friendship will lead.And since this week we are "In A Relationship" as posted on Facebook, well it was time to start posting)