15 things I love about my mom

Many of you don’t know my mom, and likely never will. She’s a quiet lady – one that I think many don’t know too well. But I was thinking last night about all the reasons I love her – so in no particular order I’m going to list some thoughts about why I love her so much.

1. I love the way my mom tries so hard (and in so many ways!) to make her hair straight, even though it has incredible and adorable natural curl. All without ever taking herself too seriously.

2. I love the way her face lights up when she sees her grandchildren.

3. I love the way my mom makes lists and keeps herself organized with oodles of post-its and notebooks.

4. I love that my mom can answer any tax question known to man or will find out for you within hours of your asking. I also love that she will get her feathers up -in a sweet, quiet way- if she doesn’t think how it all ended up for you is quite fair.

5. I love that my mom put up with a goat, dog, birds, cats, owls and who knows what other kind of pets while we were growing up so we could enjoy them.

6. I love that what I remember of my mom from my kid years is not someone who hated housework and just wanted a break from us kids, but a woman who cheerfully fulfilled her responsibilities and genuinely wanted to be with us in whatever we were doing.

7. I love that my mom loved hearing my sister and I play the piano and told us that quite often. My girls are taking piano now and #1, Mom, you were an amazing woman, and #2, I know that the influence of your positive attitude helps me to appreciate the “music” they make for the treasure that it is.

8. I love that my mom loved our teenage years.

9. I love my mom for being the best “driver’s ed” teacher ever. EVER!

10. I love that my mom was a college cheerleader; even though many don’t see that side of her anymore she still has that same fun and spunk with those she’s closest to.

11. I love when my mom tells me about a new outfit or “look” she likes and how she’s trying it out.

12. I love that my mom is so cold-natured that she wears boots about 10 months out of the year, despite living in Florida. This may be a slight exaggeration, give or take two weeks. = )

13. I love that my mom was never too anxious for us to be in bed that she wouldn’t take time to pray with us.

14. I love that my mom was so honest with me about how hard labor is before I gave birth for the first time.

15. I love my mom for being an encourager. She is the one that no matter what I tell her about what’s going on in life, she thinks it’s great. “Mom, we’re about xyz days behind in homeschooling.” “You are doing so great! I don’t know how you do it.” “Mom, we bought a house.” “That’s the best thing you could have ever done.” “Mom, look at these pillow covers I made.” “Oh, they’re beautiful!” “Mom, we’re having another baby.” “Oh, that’s so exciting!” “Mom, it’s been a rough day of potty training and no one is taking naps like they’re supposed to.” “It’s okay, it will get better!” I love telling her about what’s going on and I love that the reaction will always be something positive and encouraging. I want to be that person for my girls when they’re grown.

"Grammie" in her happy place.
“Grammie” in her happy place.

Mom, I love you. This list feels so insufficient for all the love you’ve shown to us, and for all the things that I love about you. You are a gift from God to my life; chosen to be the one that would bring me to the point of being a wife myself and then graciously letting me go into the new life that God had made for me. I’m so thankful for your love and your friendship. Miss you! 

January goal check-up

If you remember from New Year’s, my goals are very simple this year. Here are some thoughts on the progress so far.

1. Treasure God and His Word.

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I have to say here, that I am so thankful for my husband. Three times a week I get to hear him teach the Bible and every time I learn and grow in my desire to read and study myself. That being said, I know there are pulls in my heart to choose other things when I have the option. My prayer is that this year those would be put aside and replaced with a deeper hunger for the knowledge of God and His Word.

My current place of study is Acts because Paul is going through this with the students on Wednesday nights. The girls and I are memorizing in Proverbs, and I also would like to come up with a plan of what to read when I just want to sit down and read for awhile. (Do you ever feel like that?) That way there will be some direction of where to pick up.

The other part to this goal is the prayer that God’s Word would be right on the tip of my tongue as I go throughout ordinary life with the girls. I know I need to speak the gospel to myself constantly and I want that influence in their life as well.

Practically speaking, this goal involves nightstands, pens, journals, and a specific effort to reduce clutter. Sitting down to read or meditating throughout the day are greatly helped for me when things are in order and easily accessible.

2. Read. Read. Read.

I love reading! In January I finished The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and I highly recommend it! This month I’ll be reading Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss and The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by her husband George. Also, Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keesee and Robinson Crusoe with Paul. Someone gave the girls the entire Little House on the Prairie boxed set for Christmas so I am officially making it a goal this year to read those aloud to them.

2a. Read aloud the Little House on the Prairie to the girls. = )

3. Regain an enthusiasm for mothering.

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What I’m realizing is that this involves a very careful putting aside of “extra weights” and a very conscious commitment to do the things I want to do with the girls. Discipline is involved in this. The girls are much more delightful to be around when I am proactive about their behavior. Also, the more involved they are with what I’m doing throughout the day, the better. Yes, everything takes three times as long, but that has to be an investment in the future that I’m willing to make.

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I’m sure this goal will continue to take shape as the year goes. More to come!

4. Make monthly menus and make one freezer meal a week. February’s menu is done! And I have two extra meals in the freezer. Hooray!

5. Make a list for every day and week. Do a monthly goals check-up. 

About halfway through January I stopped making a list every morning and I can see how it slowed progress. That’s why there’s a monthly goals check-up (yours truly) to remind me! And out of the twenty-two items on my most recent weekly list, I accomplished about nine. Oh, look at the room for progress there! = )

These next goals are specific to this month alone.

*Make and use chore charts for the girls. It’s time, people. Way time.

*Accept help with things around the house. It has come to my attention that I cannot do everything. In fact, I do it quite poorly. However, I am not content living in such a sad state of affairs, so I am going to need help.

I can think of two ladies at church who have specifically, genuinely offered their help. This month I want to contact them and make a plan to do some things around here.

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Thanks for reading! See you at the end of February. {James 4:14-15}

Can and Can’t

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Pardon a thought train here.

I look out the window and see my two oldest daughters attempts to free a kite that is stuck in a tree about twenty-five feet in the air. I’m fairly sure they will not be able to get it down.

But what if they could? If one of them figured out how to climb the tall pine tree and get out on the branch would I let them?

In the battle of attempting and achieving the impossible or staying safe, where do my loyalties lie?

We have certainly heard enough of the “if you can believe it you can achieve it” mentality. So many waste their life on useless pursuits, passing by a meaningful, ordinary existence.

I recently read (was it by Tim Challies?) “Seven things Fathers should tell their sons.”

One of them was “You can’t do it.”

And I totally agree. As finite human beings, and especially as believers we must admit our limitations.

However, when dealing with our kids – where do you draw the lines of hard, impossible, and foolish?

What if the Wright brothers parents had stopped them?

Which brings me to the next boxcar on this train – is there anything left to be discovered like that? If you could conceive something that had never been done before, something that would change human history – what would it be?

This is what I think about on a Thursday afternoon while making burritos.

Hope, a birth story

She was such a special baby, such a timely gift.

I guess since this isn’t titled “A pregnancy story” or “The life of the mom and dad story” I’ll start as close to her birth day as I can.

Just a few hours old
Just a few hours old

Our little Hopey was due on January 1. She was our first baby and we were ecstatic about having her! At a mid-December appointment, our doctor predicted that we would have her by Christmas. I was already dilated at least two to three centimeters.

I was feeling great and if I experienced any Braxton-Hicks contractions I wasn’t aware of them. We were busy with Christmas preparations, Paul’s responsibilities at the church, and my piano teaching.

Christmas was on a Tuesday that year and several things had been planned for the days right before the big holiday. Some friends were having a Christmas party on Saturday night. A man had planned a special Christmas service on Sunday afternoon for the inmates at the local juvenile justice center, and my brother and his family were going to be in town. My sister was also coming in from a few hours away and would be staying with us.

On Friday, a friend and I went to Target to do some Christmas shopping. While there something abnormal happened which I would later realize was what they call “losing the mucus plug.” Lovely. Right before the Christmas party on Saturday, we dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up some other gifts. (Seriously, Christmas is a great season for staying active and doing things to help you go into labor.) = ) While there, I began to feel quite poorly and felt a great, sudden need to use the restroom. It seemed to go away, but when we got to the party, I knew I wasn’t quite myself. After sitting down on the couch, I did not want to move. Usually the independent one, I was quite content to have Paul get my food and refill my drinks. I started to notice that every so often I would feel really bad. So I asked my sister on one of those occasions what time it was. When it happened again, I would ask her again. It didn’t take long to realize that the “bad feeling” was happening every fifteen minutes. Later, I would realize, duh, the contractions were beginning. That was around six pm on Saturday night.

We went home when the party was done and stayed up late. I was wrapping Christmas presents for bus kids and Paul was assembling some nightstands I had just bought. I kept careful track of how often the contractions came. They worked down to seven or eight minutes apart, but never felt unbearable. When all our work was finished we went to bed.

In the morning, the contractions were still there. But as they weren’t really that hard to take, we got up, got ready and went to church. I was definitely walking different. My pastor’s wife took one look at me and said, “Are you in labor?”

“I don’t really know.” I answered. “Maybe?” Ah, first round ignorance. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal since the pain was not that bad.

I played the piano for the church service noticing that every now and then it did take some extra concentration if it was during a contraction.

We ate lunch at my parents house with all the family. I remember walking in the door and my brother saying, “Hi, Labor Lady!” It was decided that my sister would play for the service at the justice center.

This was great for me, because I still hadn’t found the perfect Christmas gift for Paul yet. So where did my sister-in-law and I take off to? The mall! I happen to be a very picky shopper so we literally walked through every department store of the mall. I found the right gift and then headed to Walmart. Of course it was crowded, we had to park very far away, and once again, did quite the walking regimen.

By now I knew I was in labor. I didn’t know if it would be it for sure, but the contractions were regular and a little more painful.

We went back to my parent’s house to switch cars and people. Paul and I and my sister headed back to our house. At this point, my sister had a movie she wanted us to watch, so we did. It was horrible. There we were on the couch and my contractions were consistently every six to seven minutes. Sometimes I would look up at the ceiling or breathe really hard through one of them and Paul and Laurie would look over at me and ask, “Are you okay?”

After it passed I would look back at them and say, “Yup.”

This went on until the end of the movie (for which we all rejoiced). = )

I decided that I would go to bed. If I could fall asleep, then there was obviously no reason to go to the hospital, but if the pain kept me up, then we would go from there. We made sure the right phone numbers were on the refrigerator and headed to bed.

At about 1:05 AM I realized the contractions were too painful to sleep through. I told Paul that I was going to get up and call the hospital. The contractions were five minutes apart so the hospital told us to come in.

I remember having a great quandary over what to where to the hospital to have a baby. I didn’t want to go out in my pajamas, but it seemed silly to get dressed. I ended up wearing some of Paul’s basketball shorts and his Duke sweatshirt.

My sister came with us. We were all very excited. I kept wondering if this was really it.

We arrived at the hospital around 2:30 am. The people did not take us seriously at all. They nonchalantly called for someone to wheel me up to the maternity floor. That guy wasn’t the greatest; he laughed at us and said, “If you were going to have a baby tonight, she’d be cursing.”

I don’t remember too much about the first little bit of being there. I think I was only dilated to four centimeters. Thankfully we had an older nurse who thought it’d be great for us to walk around a bit. So we walked around the floor while the contractions continued. Once they were too bad to continue walking, we went back to the room. Again, I don’t remember too much; only asking for a ball to sit on, trying it and realizing it would never work for a short girl like me; and being very hot. Paul and my sister would take a washcloth and wet it with cool water to put on my forehead or neck. This felt amazing.

For some reason, I climbed up on a loveseat and kind of leaned my arms and torso over the armrest while kneeling on the seat. The pain was very bad. I rocked back and forth a little bit trying to do different things with my breathing to just stay in control and not give in to the pain. It was kind of like a zone. I knew other people were there, but still felt all by myself.

The next time the nurse checked me I was at nine centimeters!  We all cheered. Apparently, the weird rocking on the loveseat experience had been “transition.”

From there I stayed on the bed.

Again, the exact details here are a little sketchy. I think the nurse asked if I wanted to try to push. Of course, I did and she gave me this long explanation of what to do. I was excited as everything I had heard was that labor was bad but pushing was good.

Well let me tell you, not for this girl. I tried pushing a few times and stopped. That was not for me. To this day, I hate the pushing part!

Through all of this, my water had yet to break. They said they would call the doctor to come break my water. Then we found out that our doctor would not be there, he was out of town.

This didn’t seem like a big deal. A doctor’s a doctor, right? We’re pretty laid back.

I remember somewhere around five or six in the morning telling Paul that he needed to pray for me. I’d been doing pretty good, but was beginning to lose my trust in God. Why is this taking so long? It really hurts!

When the doctor walked into the room, a new wave of confidence was given.

He broke my water, which I thought was pretty cool. If nothing else, childbirth is a feast for curiosity.

I started trying to push again and was miserably unsuccessful. Let’s just say I push like I’m trying to play a trumpet or something and all the force does not go to the right place. And no, another explanation of how to properly do it will not be helpful, thank you.

The doctor gave the nurse a look and she told me they were going to do something to numb it because he was going to cut.

For some strange reason, this bothered me not at all. I don’t remember feeling any pain until recovery.

A few more pushes and there she was. (I have to say that the moment when the baby comes out is really cool! I thought for sure that that part would hurt quite badly, but for me it really didn’t.)

In just a moment, there was a beautiful red and purple skinned, dark-headed screaming baby on my chest.

“Hi! Oh, you’re so beautiful!!” I said to her over and over again.

I looked up with tears in my eyes at Paul and saw his first proud daddy smile.

“She’s here!”

She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Happy can’t even describe how we felt.

They took her and cleaned her up all while Paul followed and watched.

I remember being sewn up and not even caring. (Whatever they did to numb me worked really good!)

When they brought her back to nurse, it was so precious. She latched on beautifully and I watched in amazement at what was happening.

She was six pounds even and nineteen and a half inches long. Such a little peanut. An absolutely perfect little peanut to me.

One funny memory from after delivery is when the nurse informed me that I needed to get up and try to use the restroom. I looked at her like she was crazy and thought, “Hello, just had a baby! I don’t need to get up and do anything!” 

But sadly, I discovered, that yes, I did have to do something. And from there the pain and annoyance of recovery began.

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We spent the first Christmas of our married life in the hospital. It was great. Everyone was being so sweet, bringing us gifts and miniature trees. All the while I was thinking, We just got the best Christmas present of all! Nothing can top this.

We held our sweet little Hopey and tried to take in all that she was. I was so surprised by how many faces and expressions and noises she already made. I had never been around a newborn before.

She was such a sweet baby, nursing and sleeping so well.

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All the pain of delivery didn’t seem to matter anymore. I was thankful and surprised to have gotten through without any medication. While it certainly isn’t for everyone, setting myself up for it to be really bad and trying to breathe and concentrate through the pain seemed to do the trick for me.

I will say that recovering from the episiotomy was very painful and unpleasant. To this day I have no idea how many stitches I had. I didn’t want to know and didn’t ask.

Also, unexpectedly painful were the contractions that returned with nursing during the first week. I was totally caught off guard by this and a little mad that no one had told me about it.

Baby

The whole experience was only about half as bad as I had prepared for. Someone had let me borrow some Lamaze magazines and much of what I had read in there was helpful for ideas on how to breathe through contractions and for the overall “You were made to do this!” mentality. It wouldn’t be true to say that I followed it completely and I think that some women have a lot harder time than I do, but overall what I read  was helpful.

I remember the week after we had settled back down at home my sister-in-law sitting down and saying something like, “So tell me the birth story.” As I talked it out for the first time, I realized just how special it was and how special it was to be able to share it with someone else.

Even as I’ve written this I realize how many details I’ve already forgotten. But at least what I still remember and what was really important about those hours is recorded here. I can’t wait to write out Sophia’s! Hers was quite the whirlwind.

 

Remember this {on bouncing back}

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About this time last week, I was down. Down on housekeeping, down on homeschooling… cooking, kids, you name it.

When I look around and find myself so dissatisfied with what I see, feeling helpless to turn any of it around, I’m often forgetting some extenuating circumstances.

In this particular case, my husband just graduating from seminary! A four-year long culmination for him. Not to mention more than a week of careful preparation on my part to insure that everything went smoothly that weekend so we could fully enjoy celebrating together.

So yes, there were rotten bananas on the counter that just hadn’t gotten made into banana bread. The laundry that had been so carefully taken care of before Friday had once again spiraled out of control. The two-year-old who had completely mastered potty training started having accidents out in public when I had no extra clothes and no idea what to do about the mess.

But accidents and dirty laundry and rotten bananas are not the point. The point is that I let these things convince me that I’m a complete wreck who will never get it right no matter how hard I try. Which is completely untrue. What is true is that I am a very average homemaker who most of the time keeps everything in line enough so that our family can run smoothly and enjoy each other, who some of the time can do above that, and who sometimes bottoms out and lives in a very messy house for a few days before bouncing back.

When you’re pregnant and there’s big a big abnormal life event, you might have to just rest for a few days. And no, your housework will not get done while you’re resting. And that’s okay.

Because somehow, in some way, I usually bounce back. It’s not normally from the big, all day, get-this-place-cleaned-up times I dream of; it’s usually in very small, indiscernible steps. Then one day I look around, and things have gotten better.

This applies to so many areas of my life. Just after having a baby is a big one. Or when baby has to start eating solid food. Sometimes it’s not just the physical settings of a messy house, testy kids, disorganized homeschooling, or never-ending schedules, sometimes it can be spiritual growth (or the lack thereof), strained relationships, or cloudy moods that evoke those feelings of hopelessness. It’s hard to convince yourself that those circumstances won’t last forever, but really those “lows” are most often just as temporary as the equal and opposite “highs.”

It might be the next week, the next month or the next year, but most of the time if you wait long enough, things will bounce back.

Maybe I’ll remember for next time. = )

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Just wanted to say a quick hello to you, the readers! This may be the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without blogging! We did indeed have a lovely and touching graduation. God blessed and everything was smooth and wonderful. It’s hard to believe that sweet time of life has come to an end. We currently have three days of homeschooling left before we finish our first year. And then, it’s get ready for all things baby! Somehow that has given me the itch to rearrange everything in the house. = ) I am woefully behind on sharing pictures. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will have some ready for this Saturday. Until then or whenever, thank you so much for reading and for your sweet support. 

lyrics i love

 

Before you close your eyes to sleep
I have a promise still to keep
As I hold you in my arms.
I pray your little frame grows strong
And that faith takes hold while you are young;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
May you trust Him ‘til the end.
May you trust Him in the end.

This world is not as it should be,
But the Savior opens eyes to see
All that’s beautiful and true.
Oh may His light fill all you are
And the jewel of wisdom crown your heart;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
He is with us ‘til the end.
He is faithful ‘til the end.

You’ll travel where my arms won’t reach
As the road will rise to lead your feet
On a journey of your own.
May my mistakes not hinder you
But His grace remain and guide you through;
This is my prayer for you.

Take His hand
And go where He calls you to.
And whatever comes, seek Him
With all your heart;
This will be my prayer for you.
mmmm Father, hear my ceaseless prayer;
Oh keep them in your care.

 

Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Fionan de Barra; © 2012 Gettymusic and Fionan de Barra (adm. by MusicServices.org)

Generous, ordinary words

imageA few evenings ago I caught myself in some rather nostalgic contemplation as I was doing dishes late at night. I was thinking about words that had been said to me that had meant the most in my life. Oddly enough, I don’t think any of the people who spoke them would have given them a second thought; especially not imagined that they would mean that much to me.

For example, out of all the things my dad ever told me (and there were many very good and helpful things), the most special one to me was so simple and ordinary. (I’m planning on posting about another one closer to Father’s Day)

I was fourteen or fifteen and in the middle of having braces. I had pined for braces since I was a little girl because I thought they were so cool. = ) Luckily I had inherited my father’s rather crooked teeth, so soon enough I got my wish. Overall, it had been a great experience; not nearly as painful or bothersome as I had heard others describe.

However, one particular time after an appointment, my mouth and jaw were really hurting, the only time I remember this happening. I walked by my dad’s door and saw him resting on his bed from a long week of work. He must have asked how I was doing and I decided to tell him that my mouth was hurting pretty bad.

I’m sure he said he was sorry or something, but there is one thing he said that I’ll never forget. “Just remember I had them, too; and I know exactly how you feel.”

I probably just smiled, said thanks, and went on with whatever I was doing. But everything in me felt completely better.

Isn’t it strange how much that impacted me?

Another one that struck me unexpectedly was a simple remark that a man in our church choir had made right before I left for college. I had been the church pianist for about four years, so naturally lots of people were coming around to give goodbye hugs and good wishes for that next step in my life. One quiet man told me with a small smile that he remembered when I first started playing for the choir. (It was when my sister had left for college) He said he remembered how hard it was for me to play even the simple choir accompaniments, and how fun it had been to watch as I grew little by little. I’ll never forget those words. Forget all the compliments from other performances in my life; someone remembered when it was hard, when I was just a complete play-by-ear fake who had to really work at reading music.

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I began to think that possibly the words I speak that will be remembered will be ones I’m completely oblivious to, spoken only in passing. I mean of all the things I say to my girls day after day what will really warm their heart when they’re all grown up doing dishes late at night? Of all the words that I speak to friends or casual acquaintances what will it be that matters?

It appears the answer is… who knows?

Sometimes I recall a conversation or remark spoken in passing and think, “Why is my first reaction to say something about myself? Or, wow, what I said had some really negative undertones. Is that really what’s in my heart?” Of course, we can say good or wholesome things when someone approaches us for help or when we have a chance to prepare. But what do my mindless words that spill out communicate to others? What should they teach me?

As I stood there scrubbing away, I desired for God to change my heart; to make me someone who loved others above myself; to give me a spirit that would generously speak compassion and love even when I’m not really thinking. Every day so many words are spoken. May they be redeemed to be ones that bless and minister grace in the moment, whether they’re ever remembered or not.