Friday, January 12, 2018

Accepting The Techy NEW normal.

I have a confession. A few Sundays ago while waiting for church to start I ordered my daughter's birthday presents on-line.  I looked to my right and my daughter-in-love was taking selfies with my youngest. It has been a hard road to accept this new normal in tech at your fingertips.

I realized during this church service that I was using my phone to look up the verses shared, and then to look up deeper meaning in an online commentary. I actually got more out of the message by answering some of the questions rattling around in my head by going to my phone and looking up deeper insights.  It turns out that I am getting better at accepting what has now been around for well over 10 years.

Why has it taken so long for me to NOT be offended that a phone interrupted my time with face to face meetings? I think the detest started with my daughter, who at the time was 16 years old and texting was introduced. She started dating someone and she sat in one spot in the family room for over an hour texting with this young man. I mean how do you have a conversation without actually using your voice-box?. "Oh mom, you need to get with the times." I honestly recall her saying something like that. That was over 12 years ago.

The texting thing led to dinner table rules of "No phones at the table" which led to that wonderful thing of calling your phone service provider and asking that that texting feature be removed from my daughter's phone for three months. I was not about to let my daughter go down this path of disconnecting with human souls. That is what it seemed like to me 12 years ago.

I am an older mom raising young teen boys in the fancy phone culture. None of my boys have their own phones. I am not that popular around here. They do have access to some of my older phones and get phone time. I admit I love that the sports enthusiast can watch games on his phone. And learning to play cribbage with an app. And I love face-timing with my kids, and we do have specific rules which so far comes with some grumbling. I am okay with that,too.

Here is what I do not understand. When parents say they can not get their kids off their phones. It's pretty easy. Take the phone, hide it and insist that rules are to be kept or phones are taken. I had one kid go three months without a phone. It was pretty easy. Argue with me over your phone and you lose a week. Keep arguing and you lose even more time. I have been a little more flexible during vacations and holiday seasons but the bottom line is mom is charge of it all. I have their social media passwords and at any given time mom can take the phones. And the kids have learned to comply with the rules.

It really is not a "new normal" if you are under the age of twenty. This is your only normal, but for us older folks it does take a little getting use to.

And who does not love a good selfie of your kids when the sneak your phone. I love those goofy pictures and can say with confidence we have figured out how to navigate as a family. It has come with some struggles, but overall nothing makes my heart happy than to be tucking kids into bed who are reading books because when all is said and done, the phones are turned off and life still does have the old normal lingering.

I think I will write a post on five ways to stay connected with your kids. As I am happy to say my kids allow me to comment on their social media sights. They are not embarrassed of my sharing and I may be a bit more hip than most when it comes to teenagers and phones.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

I am not starting the new year out as well as I had hoped. The flu bug that is ravaging many I know hit me. I think I have my sister Suzanne to thank for this. However after a wonderful post Christmas vacation in her home, I would carry the weight of the flu all over again for the fun we all had.

I have just spent the better part of two hours sitting at my desk and telling my body to, "be well and overcome this sickness." And then I look over at Eric who is not feeling well and I think..."dang this flu bug." When your head is foggy and you ache and have a fever it's easy to think it's the end of the world. Reality is I have sat here for two hours cleansing the old, and in with the new. And thinking about how 2017 is a reminder of God's amazing love for me and my family.
 I have been writing thank you notes. Not the kind you write after gift giving. Writing thank you notes to people and families who have walked out 2017 with me. The hardest year in my life and I can sit here today and thank God for each and every person who boldly stepped out to help carry the burdens of this past year and hung close to our family. Our family is so very blessed. I mean the kind of blessings where you sit for two hours and could write for days to thank people for staying the course. I could shout out names from a mountain top, but if you are reading this, you most likely are one of those people. Thank you.

Now into 2018 we go. And if you are reading this and know our family you know that we are a very strong unit. We have always be a close knit family and even with the events of this last year that has not changed.

As we venture into a new year it's easy to look back and feel all those pains and sadness all over again. I am not a look-backer. I look to the future with a a hope that comes in knowing that God knows all of 2017 and He will sustain and care for me and my family in 2018.

As I recover from the flu-bug and continue to sit at my desk there are three words I look to the future with.
Restore Rebuild Release

These are important words and words that come with great meaning as I look to God's word. Watch how God shows up to restore, rebuild and release. He has got 2018 in his hands. May your 2018 be one where you meet God in new and wonderful ways.
Happy New Year.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Single Parent Insights #4356

Are there to many blog posts about being a single parent? I have not really googled to look up single parent blogs, nor do I have the time.  This evening stuck a single mama funny bone. A funny about being tired, and wanting to turn in for the night and wishing sometimes there was another grown up in the house to tend to the children. Tonight it's just me, the single gal who will keep showing up for her kids no matter how tired I am. At the end of a week believe me I am beat. And sitting down for a few minutes and I could go right to sleep.

I have always prayed that my boys would have solid young men in their lives.  Men to talk cars, and sports and all the boys stuff that boys love. From Elliot all the way down to Emerson my boys have always had a solid group of community to love and lead them. However this evening I had a good chuckle. A chuckle over being the single mama connecting with her teenager over what interests he has.

My boys will ask me questions like I am all knowing and the smartest mom ever. They have even asked me at times how I could know so much. Let me start by saying that it does not take much to have a kid think you know a lot. The secret is simply asking them questions about what they love, they in return teach you and then you are able to carry a conversation about what they are interested in.

This evening a conversation went like this:

"Mom, you know how a Lotus breaks down a lot?" 

I am thinking that we are talking about a car since this particular kid is fascinated with sports cars. And everyone knows in that first seen of "Pretty Woman" Vivian jumps into a Lotus. So there is my knowledge of a Lotus.

"Yes, I am pretty sure they do break down a lot."

"Wow mom you sure know a lot about cars."

When in fact I know nothing of a Lotus breaking down, I just repeated back what one child already knew. And that child went on to explain to me in more details as he watched a car show.

What is the point of this blog? The point is simply this. It's hard at the end of the day to give more ears and attention to one kid. You are the only parent, or grown up in the room for them to process life with. Be there for them always. Even if it's just repeating back what they have said. Listen, ask questions and discover how much knowledge you can learn from your kids. In return you are able to share conversations with your teenagers.

I have found the greatest joy in just sitting with my children know matter how tired I am. The phone put away, the car show on and minutes from nodding off. They do not remember all the hard details of having a single mama. They remember that you sat with them and talked about cars.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Be still and Know That I am God in YOUR Grief

Today one of the biggest hurricanes reported is hitting Florida. Hurricane Irma is reeking devastation.  I have been following the hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. Reading the stories that we are all able to follow.  It is a storm. There will be many facing loss, grief and devastation.

Yesterday and weeks before Irma was a storm in my heart. Many of us are facing our own storms. Unrelated to rising waters. Unrelated to winds that take off a roof. Storms that affect our lives that many know nothing of.

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday.....

Sometimes in the middle of your storm...
"Be still and know that I am God."

You see my storm has nothing to do with winds, rains, and hurricanes. My storm is facing new realities in mothering. My storm is navigating the hearts of my children as we face new realities for our future. My storm is watching the enemy of deceit, lies, and division affect our family. And when the storms comes in wind, rain and hurricanes, you hunker down for the damage that is pending.

What about the storms in life that affect you and devastate you?  Storms that gave no time for hunkering down and being prepared. How is the tragedy of deceit, the tragedy of lies and the path of evil going to help any one of us hunker down and be ready? Maybe you are facing your hardest of hard. It is unexpected and you have no clue how to hunker down or even navigate it.

I cried a lot yesterday. I looked up "grief" and the stages of grief when there is a loss or tragedy in your life.  If you are close to my circle of friends and reading this, you know my story. The reality is that my story is no different than your story. The details  are not what is important. What is important is how we handle the storms of life.  How do we face the grief? How do we face new realities of everyday life? In asking these very questions of myself this past week I could only come up with this, "Be still and know that I am God."

I thought something was wrong with me because every time someone asked, "How are you doing?" I fall into a heap of tears. I thought something was wrong with me as I look back on the past years and think what I could have done differently?  And then facing family and friends and trying to muster up enough joy to show up for them. To be able to encourage them and give them hope. As the leader of my home that is important. Yet this storm is rocking my internal boat of life. 

And then these words of hope. "Be still and know that I AM God."  

It's very hard to convince anyone that God is really in the middle of our storms. Right there. We tend to think that God should step in and make everything all better. Like His might and power could toss hurricane Irma back out to see sparing Floridians of disaster. Or God could show up in a court room and cast the evils that fill the room out. And yet we watch the storms envelope us and wonder, where the heck is God in any of this.  I know I have cried out to God for months to change the trajectory of this situation. And it appears He has no answers for me and the devastation continues. And all I get from God is to simply "be still". 

There is pain and grief. There are unanswered questions. There are lots of tears.  Today is Sunday. I am home from church. I did not want to face people and answer the same questions over and over. I just wanted to be still. I wanted to sit with a friend over coffee and allow the outward process of grief. She listened, two states over. A phone call of a dear friend who knows my children, knows my heart and knows these days are hard. She asked me hard questions. She allowed me to outward process it all. 

Grief 101-1:  Do not isolate yourself and stop existing. 
I have shown up for my children. I know they are hurting and struggling. I have shown up for work. I have shown up at the dinner table. I have shown up. Even at the grocery store when the smiling checker asks me how I am doing I break down and cry. I am okay with that because I am showing up at the grocery store.  I embrace the memory of who I was before all of this. Generally happy, joy filled, and loving the little things of life. And I have to remind myself every single day that THIS is who I am. And this is a storm that will soon pass. Practice all over again that joy and that happy person.  Accept that a storm has come and God did not leave or abandon you. Because HE has shown up and prepared me long before I knew these days. (That's another blog series coming.) God shows up in people everyday. A coffee invitation later in the week. I wanted to say, "no" but I am not going to isolate myself and stop existing so I said yes. God showed up today by putting ME on the heart of a dear friend to call. God knew what I needed today. I did not want to give another breath to this storm, but grieving requires an outward process. In that outward process we learn more about ourselves, about the storms we are in and how to better navigate. Today this friend was the ears and voice of God. Using her to remind me of who I am. Using her to remind me of the mother I am and using her to pour wisdom and hope. God is a God of hope and wisdom. "Be still and know that I am God."

Grief 101-2: Read blogs and journals on grief. 
I have never experienced this kind of pain in my heart. Like actual physical pain over my chest cavity above my physical heart. My heart hurts. I really thought this cannot be normal. I though I was not handling this storm well.  I have cried tears, not been able to eat, and could not sleep. I thought of the should haves and could have's. Beating myself up. One decision in July 2016 to help a child turned into a storm I was not prepared for. All the nights awake and asking God the why and the how and then one night a blog post. A story and journey of another person's loss and grief. I thought something was wrong with me. Only to read story after story. Then to read medical journals of the stages of grief. I realized that I am actually very normal in my grief process. It felt empowering and it felt very good to know that everything I am experiencing is textbook grief in medical journals. Last night I finally slept solid. Almost 12 hours straight. Read!!!  Learn about what it means to experience grief. Face the grief. And be okay with your grief. And then .......
"Be still and know that I am God."
Grief 101-3: It's hard to let go.
There are important relationships that may have changed during this storm. There are important relationships that you had to let go of. In the middle of your storm decisions are made that you may look back on and regret. I have pleaded with myself to just let go because no one told me to not make important decisions in the middle of such a storm. And it's hard to let go. Love and caring and then changes happening all around you. Accept that it is HARD to let go. I spent the morning texting with my daughter who reminded me of the year I have had. She reminded me of the height of emotions in your hardest days and it's okay. "It will get easier mom." It's hard to think it will get easier, but it will.  And again God's heart on this, "Be still and know that I am God."  

Grief 101-4: Thank God for the people in your life.  
Today is a new day. I am giving myself permission to take one day at a time. Today is the first day in over a year I stayed behind. I did not want to show up today. The people in my life know this. It's okay.  I have people in my life who will accept today. Those same people will pull me into showing up when I can not show up on my own. I have people. Thanking God for ALL the people in my life who have walked with me in the storm and stayed the course with me when I did not know what to do. I have told my family and friends to please accept my combustible tears that come unexpectedly. It is all part of the grief process. I can be with these people any day or time and they love me, even in the storm. These people remind me who I am. Pull me into activities, play cribbage with me, invite me to their homes and allow me to cry and process this grief. They share my tears and my pain and they love my family unconditionally. God is in this. He is using YOU every single day in the way you are caring, loving, praying and allowing our family to walk through this storm. It is through the people God has surrounded me with that I truly can, "Be still and know that I am God." The truest of words EVER.

Grief 101-5: Everyone has a different storm. It's not all about you.
The hardest part about grief and storms is that you feel you are the only one in the world to experience such pains. There is loss, there are storms, there is devastation. Honestly if you met me in person. My hair and make-up may be done. My clothes clean and pressed. My shoes matching my handbag. I am that next person in line at the grocery store who appears to have it together. And it's that thought alone that reminds me that the person next to me may be experiencing really hard stuff, too. One thing I love about being with strangers is I can deflect the conversations away from me and ask questions about them. Never having to share my story again. Remember also that there are good things happening with your friends and family. Do NOT rob them of their joy. This might be a moment where you think, "Be still and know that I am God." More like, just be quiet right now and embrace where the other person is at. 

Grief 101-6: Have much GRACE for people. 
In general people mean well. People want to help you. People are concerned and care. And people will come along with the best of intentions. And in the best of intentions they will do things that make absolutely no sense at all due to the simple fact that we really do not know what we want or need in the middle of a storm. AND in a time when you are broken, grieving, and wading through the storm take joy in knowing that people love and care.  The reality is people mean well and want to help you. Tell people exactly what you need from them. I am guilty of not knowing how to do this. Yet in this storm I have learned to ask. "Be still and know that I am God." Here these words that God is the God of all of this and HE will send people to come alongside to help. 

Grief 101-7: Psalm 51:10 
 "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
I am no Bible scholar but it's pretty clear that God knew there would need to be a renewal. A renew of steadfastness purity of my heart. In the many sleepless nights God met me in scripture and Word. Reminders on a daily basis. Renewing my heart daily back to HIM. Back to His promises,His hope, and His joy. Reset the internal system. Daily!!!  I know God is real. I do not have to ask or read or find Him. He has given me peace through ALL the tears, the messy and the hard. His very name is a calm in the storm.

I read the following passage on the 46th day of reading a Psalm a day. I read... 
Psalm 46:10. I wrote it in my journal and I have read it over and over. And it's the very passage that inspired this blog post.

Psalm 46:10
"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

For a girl who is on the go, this passage struck me. I did not know how to pray anymore more words. My tears and broken heart were overwhelming me. I decided to just read out loud a Psalm a day. This passage took hold of my heart.  Today my 13 year old son Eric and I are reading out loud a Psalm a day. We are on chapter 5. We are doing this together after I shared how God spoke to my heart on hard stuff. Eric asked if I could do that with him. And we are doing it together.

Our storms are very hard. Grief is hard. Knowing that there is a God who can carry us through every single storm is the only way I know how to get through this. I pray today that one single person could step into the storm with confidence knowing that God is with you. Be still. Be quiet and allow God to pour into you the hope, wisdom and peace He has in this storm.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Famly, Friends, Siblings for Life

It has been one of my greatest joys to spend my time being a mother. These kids have been in each of each other's lives. I have often said that I learned to be a good friend by first being a sister. I, being the middle of five kids. Each of my five kids have lived in a home where each person is celebrated for their unique individual personality. The unique design straight from God.

How do you celebrate each individual child in your home?  I look at Emerson below. Since the boy could hold a guitar, a microphone, a mandolin, and pluck his little fingers at the piano he has loved music.  Along with Elliot and Emily. Three out of five is not bad for the gift and passion for music. We have scoured many garage sales for instruments to practice on. Encouraging those musical passions.
My children have learned to give and to take, and to wait and to share. And if you asked each one of them today who their best friends are, all five would say each other. I witnessed something on Mother's Day weekend. Young men who are caring and thinking of each other. I use to pray that someday when they all grow up they would want to hang out together, be friends, and desire to be in relationships with each other. The Saturday before Mother's Day Ethan asked his older brother Elliot, and his wife Sarah to coffee. He then invited Eric and Emerson. There was that split second when I almost said, "I want to come." But I held back. Today was that prayer being answered. Ethan had some birthday money and he wanted to take his brothers and Sarah to coffee.
They are all growing up. These pictures found in my archives. Pictures I had no idea I had. When I found them, I just stared at each one. Their faces and the joy of being brothers many years ago and still today. I pray that as the years go by they will always look back on the friendships they had with each other growing up.
Elliot and Emerson, my oldest and youngest building Lego's together. Believe it or not this picture has not changed much, they have only gotten bigger. I have been asked over the years what I have done as a mother to build these friendships. Emily is not in these pictures, but she, too  just as much part of the sibling friendship factor. What do I do?  I think the most important part of mothering my children was to teach them to serve each other. Teach them to be helpers to each other. Teach them to always speak kindly to each other and teach them to apologize to each other.

Each of them will always remember the little chairs facing each other. If you had a conflict, even at a young age, you would be asked to sit in a time-out facing each other. The instruction was that both had to talk to work it out and come to a mutual agreement. And then they could invite me into the conversation to assure that all was well.

There will always be days when we struggle at a parent. There are many sleepless nights, or waiting for curfew, or homework, or reading.  All those days will soon pass and one day you will look back and ask yourself what did I teach my children? Teach them to be friends with each other and they will have friends for life. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Love Never Fails

Some days we wake up tired. We think we have failed because we did not have the perfect breakfast, or the hot cocoa when we promised. Then love steps in, and we are reminded that when there is love, even what we think are small failures mean nothing more to our children than just a fleeting moment. They know love is not measured in green eggs & ham.
 As single parents we work hard. The blessing of having my kids in my space after school. Their friends coming to play and being able to kiss mama when the day is done. Working. Have I failed my children? Of course not. I have been blessed as an entrepreneur to be present in the raising of my five children. Even with a tired face, from working all day there are kisses on the house. Love never fails.

Selfies, we take lots. For those who have raised children before phones with cameras we were the one's behind the camera. I have very few pictures with my first two children as I was always taking the pictures. That one single thought of turning a camera around and including oneself never occurred. Now my children will always be able to say, "oh and that is my mom the picture." Love never fails.
Love never fails. When your teenagers allow you in their selfies it's a win not a failure. I am truly blessed for the friendships I have with my children. They know our story of hard, easy and inbetween and because of the love we share, we  are all still here.

Dear Parents,
Our children know the difference between stuff, time and love.  They may beg for all the stuff. But I can tell you one thing is for sure. My grown children thank me more for the time, and expression of love more than any stuff they ever had. That time earns us the right as parents to speak into our children. When love steps in, it will never fail.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

God Sends His Promises

It was several weeks ago.It had been a few days of the sheep wandering off. On this new day I woke up early to take care of the sheep and today they were behaving. I had a chat with them before opening the barn door. Telling them that I am like they are. I understand. That straight path to the perfect pasture for grazing has so many distractions. I told them they had to trust me in leading them to that pasture. Stay on course. It's only a 3 minute walk, but then you can run free. And they did as they were told. No herding circles around the house and out to a pasture that was not planned.

Later I dropped Ethan off at school and before closing the car door he looks back, smiles and says, "Thank you mama I love you."  Sometimes that is all that this mama needs is sheep who obey and your teenager saying sweet kind words.

I went on to my Bible study. I love these ladies. I love hearing how God is growing their hearts through life experiences. Together we discussed last Sunday's teaching on "Loving your Enemy". It was a wonderful dialogue.  Then I see  a call on my phone. I take the call and return to the table shaking and crying.

It was hard news. And the tissue box was passed my direction and the mascare I put on has all been poured down my face with tears. Today was suppose to be easy.  Says who?  Who said any day would be easy?  We all go through our days with the realization that things can change or not go as planned. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position, turn off my shop lights and cry my eyes out. That is not what God had planned. No he put me smack in the middle of the hearts of praying and loving women. Stopping the direction of our meeting and covering me in prayer. And guess what these are some of God's favorites. These women slighted the fear and the fretting with their prayers. And then one very sweet sister shared and prayed through Psalm 37. And God steps in with HIS words of encouragement and HIS promises.

Oh how God shows up and sends His promises. He put me right where I needed to be when a hard phone call comes. Have you had a blow to your day? Read the following passage. I highlighted those promises that have touched my heart. My heart was lifted and once again, as the weeks and months have shown me God is still in the business of the very promises written in the Bible.

My circumstances may not have changed, but my heart left less heavy covered in prayer and scripture.  Stay the course with Jesus through the harder days. He knows these days and his promises are true. Remember all the other times he has been there for you. 

Psalm 37 (copies from Biblegateway)

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity....

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
    but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
    but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;

24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

26 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.[b]
27 Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed[c];
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.

33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
    or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the Lord
    and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
    when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

Do you walk through each day with the confidence that God's Word and promises are true?  Look for His promises in your daily walk. Thank God through out the day for the ways he has covered your heart. Today I am thanking Him for Psalm 37 and these sweet gals.