Friday, September 9

Finding Your School-Year Rhythm Again

The signs are everywhere.

     The cooler evenings, the heavier dew in the mornings, the ransacked school supply shelves at Wal-Mart and Target being replaced with Halloween and Thanksgiving trinkets. There have even been a few moments, either later in the day or early in the morning, when the girls and I have been outside and a cool breeze blows across our bare arms. Their eyes get big as they look at me, "Oh, Mom! It's starting to feel like..."

     "Shhh! Don't say it!" I tease.

     I know. I know.

     I'm just not sure I'm ready.

     It's been a fun summer. A hot summer. A fill your bucket to the rim, squeeze every ounce of  juice from the fruit summer. We've picked berries and made pies. We've been to Cedar Point, the beach, Darien Lake, and kayaking at Canalside. We've stayed up late for  no good reason. We've stayed up late for very good reasons. We've seen fireworks, and visited friends. We've been to Columbus and Sandusky, Whitinsville and Boston. We've climbed the trees at Sky High in Ellicottville. We bid farewell to our first hamster and recently brought home a new one. We rode bikes and took walks, nursed fractured toes and dislocated knees. Scott even ended up on a serious round of steroids for a vicious case of poison ivy.









     But, I won't beat around the bush here...I'm a little bit tired. Maybe a lot of bits tired.  Tired from 10 weeks of unstructured fun, but very full days. Tired from the crazy messes, and lack of order (If school makes me face my paperwork management issues, summer makes me face my inability to instill order in the house with 3 kids at home all-day-everyday issues!). A counselor once used this analogy when I was talking to her about my reaction to summer vacation, "It is like drinking water from a fire hose."

     Yes. Yes, indeed.

     I'm ready to return to drinking my water in smaller sips from a nice, cold water bottle. For now anyways.. I'm sure that by the time May rolls around next year I'll be ready to embrace the tidal wave of firehose water again.

     And so here I am, Friday of the first week of school working to find my rhythm again. I feel like we lost it a little bit over the summer. It's like my  preference for life music is a mix of energetic folk tunes, with a little bit of classical piano, some acoustic guitar and maybe some funky jazz beats...something fun, but with some structure-- upbeat at times and quieter at others. It's as if the radio dial accidentally got bumped by one of the kids and some hair-raising, brain-thumping, hard to understand, aggressive rap station started to play in our house...ALL. SUMMER. LONG.

     A good up-tempo rap song is a fun addition to an occasional dance party in the living room, but that's about where my appreciation for it ends. I am ready for a return to a more natural cadence in our household!

   It seems that every summer I start out with lofty goals to make the kids read daily, make their beds, do chores, help me around the house, etc. I even plan (in my head) all of the fun things that we're going to do, like go to the beach. It all sounds so orderly in my head and on paper. And then...

     Then you get to the beach, and one kid accidentally trips the other kid, and everyone goes flying and then two of them start screaming. You brush them off,  settle them down, assure them that no one intended grave bodily harm and continue your walk to find a spot on the beach. By the time you get the blanket and the chair set up, everyone is ready for a snack.  You dig said snack out, only to realize that someone kicked sand into the snack bag during the whole tripping debacle...and so everyone eats gritty watermelon and laughs that this wasn't AT ALL how it was SUPPOSED to go.

     That pretty much describes life daily with three kids under 10 over summer vacation.

     It has been nice to feel like we're returning to steadier rhythms of life this week. Packing lunches, doing homework, reading books together, getting to bed at more scheduled times, etc.

     The girls are thrilled to see old friends and make new ones. Ava started at a new school this year (Christian Central Academy) and gets on the bus almost an entire hour earlier than last year! I was a bit anxious about the transition, but she has managed it with ease and is enjoying it all so far.

     The start of a new school year makes me face all sorts of things--that my girls are getting bigger, that I have a horrendous track record for managing school paperwork and remembering permission slips.  I'm also not very good at letting go of art projects and schoolwork that I probably should throw away. I never know what the "rules" are for that sort of thing so it sits in cluttered piles in corners of my house.

     I'm trying to put some systems in place...But, I'm also not very good at following through on systems...grrrr...I really would have benefitted from that Time and Home Management class that they should have offered in college instead of Introduction to Computer Science. I mean really, digits and algorithms? I just need someone to tell me where to file a permission slip so that I don't lose it. Is there an algorithm for that?

     If you're a systems guru (not the computer kind, but the house management kind) please stop over any day of the week...I'll make you a great cup of coffee and will willingly take any and all suggestions from you!

     In the meantime,

     Here are my top 5 suggestions for getting back into a rhythm, or at least what I've been trying to do this week...

1. Take a day (or 4 to clean!). I've been catching up on laundry, purging kid's closets, going through yard toys and throwing out the random broken pieces of things that seem to be everywhere. Now that Aubrey is in preschool a consistent two days a week I try to devote one to cleaning and errands and another to writing, or other miscellaneous things I want to get done. Before this year (when I had a little one home more frequently!) I would allow myself the freedom to hire a babysitter on a regular basis so that I could get some of this stuff done while the big kids are in school in order to free up our evenings and our family time when everyone is home!

2. Create some time for planning! I have actually spent the better part of today day going through file folders, looking at my calendar, and trying to integrate many separate task lists into one. I'm hoping this helps me to be better organized throughout the year. I haven't gotten to everything I wanted to get to, but my brain is feeling a little bit lighter and less overwhelmed. For that I am grateful!

3. Try to pull the kids in to help where they can! I've been doing a much better job of having the girls help me pack their lunches and snacks, and I'm trying to be more consistent about having them help around meal times (setting the table, cleaning the table, etc.). It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself because it feels easier, but I'm realizing that it doesn't make things easier in the long run!

4. Don't take on unnecessary tasks! I confess, I almost agreed to driving Ava to and from school this year when there is a perfectly fine bus that can take her to and from school. I was feeling bad that she started so  much earlier than last year and that the day is longer.  As her mom, I wanted to make things as easy as possible for her (not always the best parenting strategy, by the way!). Her new school is a 20 minute drive from our house on a route that has heavy traffic in the mornings. I knew it was going to be a chaotic commitment if I chose to make it.   I eventually gave myself a little reality check by reminding myself that there are two other kiddos, with two other sets of needs, not to mention many other responsibilities on my plate. Driving her to and from school was not necessary and it was really going to complicate our lives. I still feel sad, but I've realized that I truly can't do it all, and she has actually made a great friend on the bus already!

5. Take a day to rest! I confess, I haven't actually done this yet, but once I get the house pulled back together and some of my paperwork in order for the school year, I will give myself permission to just go sit and read a book somewhere without any guilt!



    Hopefully you enjoyed some part of my ramblings...It was therapeutic for me, so if nothing else, thanks for listening! (:


P.S. I realize that some of this is specific to my own life rhythms. Many of you (my teacher friends in particular) are back to school as well. You don't actually have time to clean your house, or take a day to rest now that the 'kids are back in school'. Thank you for taking such great care of our kiddos and I pray that  you would have an amazing school year. I also pray that you find some extra time for rest and planning in your days as well!

And to the full-time working moms, I pray that you too would find little spaces and resources for rest and rejuvenation. That God would bless your rhythms and give you wisdom as you work through all of the multi-tasking logistics.

P.P.S. And then there are my homeschool momma friends....oh man...extra graces and spaces and prayers to you! I pray that you would be blessed with wisdom, patience and resources to do your jobs well!






Thursday, July 7

Live, Laugh, Love as Life Moves By!

Ahhh, all of my "recent" blog posts (and paper journal entries) seem to start the same way. Or, at least I have the same feeling each time I begin one. They sounds  a little something like this...

     "Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote last."

     "Where did the last month go?"

     "Where did the last two months go?"

     "I swear I'll be more consistent this time around!"

 And then life kicks in, and two months go by, and while there was a season of my adult life when I  was both a consistent blogger and journal-er, stretches of time seem to come and go faster than I can get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!), and I find myself wondering how to summarize and encapsulate all that has really happened since I wrote last.

(Photo borrowed from forbes.com)
That's me, in the green, wondering where all of the time has gone...

My last blog post entry was Tuesday, April 19th...a couple of weeks after we had returned from our trip to England. It feels like just yesterday, if that counts for anything.

Of course much has happened between then and now. Much I've wanted to write about, thought about writing about, scratched notes on paper with details to include in posts and so on. But, the time isn't always there. Mostly because when you are in the middle of living life as a family with three young kiddos, you don't have a whole lot of time to write about it. Heck, I hardly have time to take a shower (or two!) some weeks.

But, even though I haven't been writing here, I have been writing. I have a couple of cool projects I've been working on-- some freelance bits and pieces, and one very cool collaborative writing project that I'm still working through details on. It's an inspiring story about one man finding faith and perspective in the midst of challenging life circumstances.  It's someone else's story, but my own faith has already been strengthened in the short time I've collaborated on it.  I believe in this story, and this person to change hearts and lives as they develop their speaking and writing ministry.  I'm humbled, blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be able to participate in bringing such a faith-filled story forward. More on that in the months to come!

I've also had other commitments to follow through on-- a fantastic 29-week Bible study that I just finished, for one. I want to tell you more about this study, called Healing Journeys (because I think everyone in the world would benefit from taking it!), but I'll save that for another day.

Of course there have been more events with the kids than I can even count; plays, picnics, recitals, gymnastics meets, birthday parties,  and many end of year celebrations.

In the midst of life I've also been trying to discern what I want this space to be about. It started out as a "mommy blog" by a stay at home mom who needed a writing outlet.  I'm not sure I ever really had a "focus"--my day-to-day has felt so full of kid antics and family craziness that it is all my brain seems to be able to process when I sat down to write. Some of that craziness has become such a part of the fabric of our day that perhaps it doesn't seem particularly novel anymore. Or, perhaps I've matured as a mom and so I'm thinking about different things.  (For everyone's sake, lets all hope I've matured as a mom in the last five years!). So, we'll see. I won't stop blogging anytime soon...it will probably just continue to come in bits and pieces...with weeks (or, months!) in-between.

As I've said before, since I'm not a big scrapbooker (mostly because there just isn't enough time to scrapbook AND blog, otherwise I'd probably attempt throwing an album or two together!), and so this is where I capture memories...in long strings of words, based on what rises to the surface of my mind when I finally sit down.

We are in a season of life where I am enjoying watching my girls grow and develop their skills,  interests, and passions. Ava is strong and athletic-- she is truly one of the strongest 9 year old girls I have ever met. I would not be surprised, and I don't say this lightly, if she qualifies to be a contestant on America Ninja Warrior someday!! I keep telling her it might be a good way to get some of college paid for! She has big bright eyes, and is full of wonder about the world. She LOVES ropes courses and roller coasters. While one might say she has an adventurous spirit, and in some ways she does, she also likes to stick close to home. As a matter of fact, just last week we picked her up at 11:30 from a sleepover--her second attempt at a sleepover in the last two months that ended in a late night cell phone call. It's all good. We're kind of relishing the moments when she calls us...it reminds us that she still does need us close by...for a while longer, anyway!

She turned 9 in early June, and is such a big girl now. I always joked with her that she was going to be taller than me before she left elementary school. I lucked out...her current school only goes up to 3rd grade and I've still got her beat by a couple of inches.

She and I also ran our first 5k together last month, which was one of the highlights of June for me!

Ella, who is 7 now, will be the first to tell you that "sports are NOT her thing". I keep encouraging her
Ella was Anansi in her class play,
Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock
to try different things, but quite frankly she is  beautifully independent and creative. She has LOVED her piano lessons this year and even told me she has a "piano brain" (I totally believer her, by the way. I think there are logical creatives and then more spontaneous big-picture creatives. I am definitely the latter. She certainly sees life through a more logical lens than I've ever possessed. I admire that about her!). She LOVES to draw, and paint and create collages out of the craziest things. I find myself saving pieces of paper that I've punched holes out for my own random craft projects. "Hey Ella! Can you do something with this?" I'll ask. Her eyes always light up.  She loves the thrill of making something new out of nothing!

She has finally lost her two front teeth, which is one of those monumental moments when your little ones physically seem to transform right before your eyes. They go from kiddish toothy grin, to toothless grin, to all of a sudden looking so much older over night. I can hardly handle it sometimes! She loves to sing, and get lost in her own world. I find her talking to herself (in a good way!) in corners where she is making up a story about something, and the characters, or animals, or whatever, are talking to each other. She has a brilliantly vibrant mind. I can't wait to see where it all leads for her.


And, then there is Aubrey.

Oh, Aubrey.

For those of you who know Aubs, that's all I have to say. She seems to come kicking and scratching and full of very specific ideas about what she wants to do, every time she enters a room. A lot of times her "want to's" are not really viable and it requires an incredibly amount of patience to explain this. "No, you can't dump all of the electronics and cords out of that basket, to use it as a step stool, to grab for one of the leftover muffins on the counter."

There are so many reasons why that is a BAD idea, but she is usually not ready to understand any of them. And that is one, 3-minute segment, of an entire 13 hour day with Aubrey (she has stopped napping to boot!).

She is a little (or, maybe a lot!) wild, beautiful, and FULL, full, FULL of life.

She's so full of life that she never wants to sleep, actually. Something that has been a wee bit of a challenge for her dad and I. She is hilarious, smart as a whip, and keeps a dance beat way better than her mother. She somersaults off furniture and attempts handstands in her bed. She leaves us all with our eyes wide open, sometimes in laughter and sometimes in shock, as we watch her barrel through her days. She leaves me breathless some days, standing over her bed at night praying, "Dear Jesus, please give me the stamina, patience, endurance and wisdom to channel this kid's energy in the right direction. In a direction that glorifies you and brings a lot of light to the world! Please. Please. PLEASE!"

While Scott and I feel like we are barely making it through some of our days in our attempts to manage the day to day, and cultivate gracious hearts, we have been told by friends and family that "our girls are delightful" and that "we're doing a great job". I don't say that to pat us on the back, I say
that because by faith we hope we are doing enough of the right things that our girls will be lights in this crazy world. We hope that they, and our family, will be representatives of God's love and grace.   Sometimes it's hard to see if you're getting it all (or anything!) right. You come to appreciate the hi-five from other parents who are a few years ahead of you with an outside perspective.

I must say, it feels somehow ironic that as parents you feel so 'in the dark' while you are trying to create "light". Maybe that is how Thomas Edison felt. If that is the case, and hopefully it is, we're all actually creating some sort of beauty we can't quite see yet!

So, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for reading. Thanks for walking alongside life with us, in whatever way that may be. For those of you who are family, hopefully this sheds some inner light on why we don't always answer your phone calls right away (sorry!). If you're a mom of little ones, I hope my ramblings in some way  inspire you to keep up the hard work of raising your kids well (it IS hard work!), and that you feel somehow encouraged that when your life feels a little hair-raising (or hair-graying, as is the case for me these days!), that you know you are in very good company.

Until next time...






Tuesday, April 19

Adventures in London and Beyond


      If you had asked me several years ago if I would take three kids, all under the age of 10, on an international flight to England for a week I would have told you that while I loved the idea of doing such a thing, that in theory it sounds really great, that I'd like to be the kind of person who would do something like that, really at the end of the day, with the 5 hour time change, it might just be easier to stay home and go out for ice cream. Maybe we'd pull up some pictures of Big Ben on the I-pad from the ice cream joint.

     So, when this idea slowly became a reality about a year ago (when Scott's twin brother Mark formally proposed to his English finance and announced that they would be getting married outside of London in the spring of 2016), I had it in my head that of course Scott had to go, but that if I wound up going it would be only if we could find someone to watch the kids, which I knew was going to be a challenge because the only person who has ever stayed with the kids for an extended period of time (Scott's mom!) would also be in England.

     Ahh well...we'll figure something out, we have time, I kept thinking. But as it turns out, there wasn't anyone who could really watch extra kids, even though they're super cute. In the end the question came down to, "Do I stay home with the kids while Scott heads off to the wedding (and get crabby while I'm cooking chicken tenders in the kitchen...again...and he's sending us selfies in front of Big Ben!), or do we embrace the adventure and all go as a family?"

     Scott was pro-family the whole time.

      I, on the other hand, was thinking about a 2-year-old on a plane for seven hours-- knocking over juice cups, shrieking, refusing to put her seatbelt on, obsessively putting up and pulling down tray tables, needing to constantly visit the minuscule airplane bathrooms (EWWW!),  and many kicks to  the back of the seat of whomever the poor, unfortunate soul would be sitting in front of her.

    I wasn't sure I was pro-family on this one.

    But then I started to think about our big girls, who are 8 and 7, and realized what an amazing opportunity this would be for them to see the bigger world. How it would likely shape them, at some level, for the rest of their lives.  I thought about them getting to see a real, brick and mortal, 800 year old castle. Not the Disney kind, but the kind you read about in ancient legends.

    I thought about us all being offered a 'spot of tea', biscuits, or even just pizza (anything, really!) by someone with a real British accent.

    When I considered all of this, and also the idea of the girls getting to be a part of their Uncle's wedding (a special day indeed), I found, that despite my fears of flying and traveling and all of the other things a mom thinks about, that we couldn't say no.

    So, off we went. This momma, who has needed xanax to get through international flights in the past, armed herself with prayers (lots of them), no pills of any kind, and walked forward in faith that we were going to embrace this journey and enjoy it every step of the way.

     My grandmother, who is 87 and who has never flown on a plane in her life, alluded to the fact that our choice was ridiculous. "That's an awful lot to take on, don't you think?"

     "I don't know, Gram. I think it might be fun."

    "Ok, well I hope that all works out for you," were her parting words.

    And, so besides wanting to embrace the adventure, I think there was a little piece of me that wanted to buck the generational perspective on sticking close to home, and living a lifetime full of conservative and "safe" choices.

     So we went and returned, and we're all safe and sound, tucked back in at home. We created amazing memories, took lots of pictures (over 600 to be exact),  had a blast, and feel like we all grew a little bit as a family.

     Guess what? God was absolutely, positively with us all along the way. I felt his presence, His safety, the confidence of moving forward and enjoying this journey as a family without much of the anxiety that these kinds of trips can often cause. Praise God for that!

    Being on the other side of the experience now I can wholeheartedly say, I'd do it all over again. I would encourage anyone considering a big family trip, but wondering about whether it might be too much of a hassle, to reconsider. I'm glad we were nudged into this one, and I now know we will take others.

     Below is a bit of a round-up of our trip. Just a few short summaries of the highlights. Feel free to skim through and check out the photos. I hope that in doing so you might be inspired to consider where, if you could, you would take your family. Start dreaming it up...and leave a comment, if you have a chance, about where that place might be!


Trip Highlights  

The airport and flights to and fro:

 Ahh, a seven hour plane ride with a 2-year-old...It went just about how you'd think it would go. Apple juice and water bottles spilled, crackers were crushed precariously into the seat, tray tables moved up and down faster than I could say...well, anything. I visited the minuscule bathroom more times than I'd like to count and tried to lay down as much toilet paper as possible to make the seat acceptable.

     Fortunately, the big girls were completely entertained by the on-flight television, their Nooks and the frequency of flight meals and snacks. They were great big sisters, helping Aubrey from time to time and acting very "big girl" and independent. I didn't read any of the books or magazines I had stashed in my bag, but I did have the chance to watch Nigella cook up some fabulous fare, and the newest Jurassic Park movie.

Being a tourist:

Yes. Yes. We did all the touristy things. The red busses, the London Eye, Windsor Castle, dinner in pubs, Trafalgar Square, Kensington Palace, taking photos next to stately dressed guardsmen and more photos in red phone booths. We ate french fries (oops, chips!) next to the Thames and watched a handful of guys whirring around a skateboard park. We watched street performers and put money in their hats. We tried to blend in, but that's hard to do with three kids, cameras, a map, and heavy American accents. Ah well. We played the tourist role well!














Funny foods:

The food in England, fortunately, is not too far off our beaten (American) path (this was helpful for the kids, I must say!). I could try good Indian food, while the kids ordered chicken tenders. The girls tried hot cross buns, and stripey pudding, welsh cakes and "flake" (the yummy flakey chocolate that goes on top of desserts or can be eaten on its own). Scott, of course, enjoyed trying the many English beers, and I enjoyed, well, not having to cook as much. Honestly, I think you could have stuck any hot meal in front of me and I would have been wholeheartedly praising its culinary excellence!


English Pubs:

There are lots, and lots of pubs. Some from the 1600's. Some that look like you're walking into someone's dank, stone basement. Cool and secretive. Some on street corners serving decent food and lots of beer.

Some that don't let children in after 5 p.m. (leaving you and the rest of your mostly adult crew wandering around London at dinnertime looking for a place to feed three small kids!).

Some that say children and dogs allowed!

All of them with copious taps and pints flowing, many with beautiful hanging baskets, and always full of an eclectic group of people, mostly with British accents to fulfill my people watching quota for the day.


Lots of tea:

Let's be honest, you can't go to England and not drink lots and LOTS of tea.

Quite frankly, sometimes finding a good cup of tea was far easier than finding good coffee. And the tea, is very, very good. I once remembered an elderly British woman telling me that American tea was like cloudy water and thought she was being just a wee bit coy.

Guess what? She was right. We are accustomed to drinking murky water and calling it tea.

We brought a big box home, and even Scott, one of the world's most avid coffee fans, enjoys it. Fortunately, you can order just about anything on Amazon these days, including British tea (;

Cathedrals:
The churches. Oh, the churches. They are just stunning. Take your breath away stunning. And old, old, old! Like a thousand years old. And yet they stand, with their spires and turrets reaching high into the sky proclaiming their prominence, beckoning you to see them, and making you feel more reverential just by walking through their doors.

While I love my contemporary church here at home, there is something about the commitment to building these cathedrals, at a time when everything was carved by hand, and made of stone. I  know that God doesn't ask that we build alters, or require large buildings for us to meet him in, but I couldn't help thinking that the decades long act of crafting some of those churches, one stone at a time, must have felt like a job honoring God for His beauty, creativity, and sovereignty over all things.

The wedding:

The wedding was lovely, delightful, a total blast. Ava and Ella danced their socks off until 11 p.m. (an evening when we had the time change working in our favor) and Ava asked, "Are all weddings this fun?"

"No, Ava, many of them are fun, but this one was special for sure."

The ceremony was held in a small country church that was reportedly, hundreds of years old (or parts of it were anyway). Scott was honored to be asked to play the song Iris (Goo Goo Dolls) on an acoustic guitar as Anna walked down the aisle, and joined his mother in a beautiful acoustic duet singing Amazing Grace towards the end of the ceremony. The big girls, in matching blue and white dresses handed out programs to the guests, and Aubrey made it all the way down the aisle to the front of the church and then cried into my shoulder (but she made it!).

The vicar overseeing the ceremony was quite funny as he and ran back and forth between overseeing vows and the ceremonial components, and then played double duty as the organist.

A lot of weddings are fun. But, this one was special. Probably because it was Scott's brother and we are thrilled for him and his wife Anna. Probably because it was in England. And, because, the location was picturesque...something out of a movie, really.










Time around the dinner table and the breakfast bar:

The reality is, that for all of the fun we had at the wedding, in our travels, sightseeing and visiting new places, when we got home and started flipping through our photos, the images that prompted some of the most excited and emotional responses were the one's of us sitting in the kitchen, at the breakfast counter of our most gracious and hospitable guests, Mark and Sarah Wilson (Anna's parents).


For all of the hullabaloo and planning, and everything else they had going on, the Wilson's wholeheartedly welcomed us into their home. They made dinners for us, they made beds for us, they made tea for us. We sat around in the evening eating cheese and crackers, jellies and spreads, and learned more about the land in which we were briefly staying. Thank you Mark and Sarah for your most gracious hospitality.

Our children left England feeling like they had gained not only perspective on the greater world, but friends, who felt as close as family...an extended family of sorts. We joked about sending the girls to their house in high-school as exchange students. Who knows, maybe we will.

I know that they would be in good hands and well cared for, and perhaps they would get to see Miss Sarah's most glorious English garden, which at the edge of an early Spring was not quite in bloom, but which looks like a snippet of a Monet painting, even in the off season. I bet it's absolutely stunning in the summer months.

The girls also urged me to share with you the many words they added to their vocabulary. Learning that a shopping cart can be called a "wheelie", that knickers are in fact women's underwear, that "pants" are children's underwear, (I'm still a little unsure what you call men's underwear!) and that "trousers" are indeed what we know as pants. You should also know that the "loo" is the toilet.

And, just in case you are a potato chip and french fry lover, please be advices that potato chips as we know them are kindly referred to as "crisps", and that if you ask for chips you might just get french fries!

In conclusion, we came home feeling a little bit...different. Stretched, in a good way, as a family. Full of memories, and new ideas. Brimming with laughter and smiles about all that we had experienced and the lovely people we met along the way. It was a good, good trip. The most stressful part of it was the coming home, opening my calendar and trying to re-engage with our daily schedule of who needs to be here, and there and everywhere and how is it going to happen.

Well, and maybe the fact that Aubrey was waking up before 4 a.m. for several days after we got home telling us that she was hungry, because it was in fact breakfast time in England. But, after a trip that great, you hardly mind and realize that even some lost sleep was worth it.

So, yes Grandma, it was all worth the hassle. And, since I know you won't be getting on a great big airplane anytime soon,  why don't I come over, make you a cup of tea and we'll wander through my photos together?





Saturday, March 26

An Anchor for My Soul: Celebrating Easter!



I started writing a blog post recently, and then stopped.

And then started another one...

And stopped.

I went back to the first one...spent more than an hour on it, and never hit publish.

It was about lice, and stitches, sickness and dislocated elbows. About backed up plumbing, and the shenanigans that left us spending $900 on lice treatments and and another $500 on Urgent Care visits in the last four weeks.

I offered all of the nitty gritty details. It was about how I found myself laughing, instead of crying, because when life becomes that ridiculous it really is hilarious.

But, then I thought, No one wants to read this!

I  mean, maybe you would like to hear the stories. I have told some of you when I've seen you at ballet, or school pick up, or in the foyer at church. I've texted others, and you've been so encouraging in your responses, feedback and prayers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Your prayers have meant the world!  I'm learning that sometimes it feels like the smallest thing you can do for someone, but really, those prayers, they're the biggest, best, most important thing you can do. 

(I mean, sometimes a casserole, or babysitting helps, but only if it's in addition to real, intentional prayers!)

The reality is, the material of my family life would make for a better stand up comedy routine, than a blog post, and I'm no stand up comic. So, if you want to hear the whole story, you can ask me next time you see me...and the rest of the material, well, maybe I'll save it for that book I'm going to write someday...you know, when I'm not picking out nits and sitting in the Urgent Care waiting room (;

But, in the meantime.

In the meantime...Easter is this week!

What is important this week is that we remember the Easter story.

The real story. The one about the cross, and the thorns, and the massive stone that was rolled away. What is important this week is how that story, that moment in history, changed the trajectory of the world over 2,000 years ago and is still changing my life, bit by bit, today. What is important is how it can change your life too.

This story, the one that you will hear if you walk through the doors of a church this Sunday, of Christ's death and resurrection, it is not just a parable, or nice metaphor to contemplate while we eat extra chocolate and dye eggs in vibrant pastel colors. It is truth that will permeate your soul if you spend the time to meditate on what it really means.

As I've been reading books about Easter to the kids, listening to worship music on my I-phone, and thanking God for the many, many blessings in  my life, I have been reminded that my faith in Christ and my belief in his ability to actively work in my life, has been a comfort and an anchor to my soul...no matter what my circumstances are.

In the midst of many unexpected moments, I have found myself reminded that while I didn't anticipate any of it, God's sovereign hand was in all of it. His grace has been the silver lining, and my faith in him has anchored my heart and my mind.

When I start to feel tired and weary from the day to day my soul has whispered, "Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest."

When I start to wonder why nothing seems to be going as planned, I hear, "I know the plans I have for you...plans for a hope and a future."

When I feel irritable and incapable of all that is required of me as a mom, the whisper says, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."

And, when I wake up in the morning and that sense of panic about all that the day may require of me threatens to overwhelm, my soul proclaims, "THIS is the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be GLAD in it."

An anchor prevents a craft from drifting, it is a source of security and stability. One description I read recently said, "the anchor is a symbol for both hope and steadfastness. When a ship raises it's anchor it is leaving on a new adventure, when it drops its anchor it is securing itself."

In the sea of life, I so often need that security. I need something to connect my heart, mind and soul to. Something steady that I know will not shift, no matter how high the water may rise, or how far from shore I feel.

I hope you have a blessed week. I hope that, even if you haven't been in a church since Christmas, or in years for that matter, that you would allow yourself to wander through the doors this week and let God speak to your soul. Let Him anchor you to something more solid than anything this life has to offer.

If there is any week to start something new, it's this week. So, if church is new for you, no excuses! It is spring, a season of new life. We are celebrating Easter, the story about life overcoming death. Wiggle your way into a church pew or seat and let the story transform your heart this weekend.

Our church, The Chapel, has four services you can attend (7 am, 9am, 11 am, and 1 pm).

If you are a steady church goer, and have been on this faith journey for a while, allow yourself some extra time to meditate on the truth of the Easter story and how it has impacted your life. Read the stories to your kids, paint pictures of new life, make resurrection rolls (they're yummy!), and point out the new life springing forth from the ground as the crocuses start to push through.

Hope. Life. New beginnings.

It's good stuff.

Happy Easter!