Women are Wow

I’ve spent this past weekend with some amazing women.  I’ve always known these women are phenomenal, but this past weekend brought a new understanding of how wonderful it is to be surrounded in my family by women who are beautiful, smart, and full of laughter.

The most amazing part is how all of our lives, despite miles between us physically and days between our time together, intertwine and tell similar stories with prevailing lessons.  As stories and commentaries flowed this weekend, the unifying factor was deafeningly clear: women are amazing creatures.

Women are giving and forgiving.  Regardless of the tears shed or the misunderstandings or the times we’ve not received in return, the spirit remains to give and forgive.

Women put others needs before their own.  The needs of their children, their husbands, their family, and their friends are always on the forefront.  This relates to the giving nature women are blessed with along with the selflessness to seek the smile and response in others that confirms why we are the nurturers that we are.

Women love.  Women love hard.  Women love without fear, and women continue to love after hurt has bruised and hardened the heart.

Women keep going.  The demands of the day, for the working mom and the stay at home mom, often overwhelm and fatigue a woman just at the thought.  The demands of the day overwhelm and fatigue the woman who doesn’t have kids, who is just trying to live up to the image that is plastered around her, showing her what is expected and what is right.  Women keep going and never give up, because the weight of the world is placed and held on shoulders that are strong despite their daintiness.

Women inspire through connections, through smiles, through laughter, through an understanding nod, through so many different moments.  Women seek to inspire and uplift those around them, and women can tell immediately when someone around them needs that connection in order to see their worth, understand their purpose, and be reminded that they are not alone.

Women are able to withstand so much, but yet women are underrated.  Women go unrecognized and almost prefer it that way.  Women are complicated and so simple at the same time.

Women have their faults that sometimes overshadow their strengths.  The strengths are so much bigger in number, but the woman finds it easier to focus on the fault that stands in the way of the current ideal.

Women are beautiful.  Women are shaped differently, with different styles and color, and different preferences and different decorations.  But ultimately, women wish for others to find and see their beauty. And women are beautiful.  Despite size, despite age, despite all other factors, women are the most beautiful and glorious creatures that God created.

When I look around at the women in my family, I know that I am blessed.  I am fortunate to know such beautiful women.  I am fortunate to share memories and futures with them.  I am comforted to know that I am not alone; I am loved and I am supported and I am cherished by the women in my family, and it is the most amazing feeling to recognize that my daughters will one day have this same understanding.  I will never forget this weekend, the memories that we shared, and the stories that we heard, and I pray that my daughters will one day have this same epiphany: women are absolutely amazing, and the most amazing ones are in our family.

 

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Responding in Love

I don’t know a lot about politics, and I know less than I should about religion.  Recently, I am aware that a concert in Paris was under attack, and the phrase “terrorist attack” is being used.  I am not suggesting that it wasn’t; I am honestly showing my ignorance because I often avoid reading confrontational headlines.  I typically choose my safe, bubble wrapped world because if I stepped out into the real thing, my heart would explode.

In my devotion tonight, this was the scripture assigned:

 

 

I am by no means an expert.  I don’t have any answers.   I recognize that it is extremely easy to get caught up in the constant debates of political and religious warfare, but I also know my God well enough to understand that His message was about love.  Not hate.  Not wrongdoings.  Not revenge.  Not self.  Not fear.  Not a silly red coffee cup either.  His message was love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

Love thy neighbor.  Despite favoritism, partiality, socioeconomic status, religious background, cultural identify, race affiliation, literacy level, age, or gender, love thy neighbor.

There is no right or wrong answer, but what an awesome thought, to respond in love.  How would our struggles, our hardships, our reasoning be impacted if our first reaction and initial thought was love?  Our own words and thoughts would change drastically.

The encouraged prayer focus was for neighbors in conflict so praying for America seemed appropriate. Our own personal conflict about how to respond in this moment is huge, and it’s clearly dividing us, Christians included.  Responding in love is not easy, but what a great thought.

Perfect Mess

It is not a surprise that our home, which had enough room to stretch our arms at one time, is now getting small.  The original family of two has grown to a family of four, and while it is a blessing that we have one another and a space to call home, it seems to be getting smaller by the day.

My husband and I have plans upon plans about our next home.  More room.  More cabinets and closets.  A porch.  An open kitchen.  A basement.  A backyard.  Two full bathrooms.  One level.  Two car garage.  Near good schools and our jobs.  Hardwood floors, and many other wants that feel like necessities when we live day to day.

I am thankful for this little space that we have embraced, that is cluttered wall to wall with toys, dust, and moments of love.  The memories we are creating are unique to us, and they will be unknown to the family that lives here afterwards.  My girls are sharing a room right now, which delays sleep because the room fills with whispers, songs, and the occasional frustration prolonging dreamland for at least an hour on a typical night.  Toys make it difficult to walk from nightlight to door, and sneaking toys to give away past two little watchful pairs of eyes makes the task too difficult to attempt.

Our beds remain unmade most of the time, and I am lucky if I get a chance to sweep.  The only part of the house that is cleaned daily is the kitchen and the laundry room in attempts to keep up.  Books are piled in every nook and cranny due to an obsession that I can’t help but to feed for both myself and my daughters.  Our spare room has become the catch all for outgrown clothes and things that are no longer needed.

The walls were painted with careful choice, but the colors are now outdated and drab.  Pictures are up reflecting what fills our hearts, including snapshots of our children in random order and placement.

Our home is small.  It is messy.  It is cluttered.  It might be outdated and worn out in some places.  It needs a desperate cleaning and facelift, but it is our home for the present moment.

This is where we have our lazy days of pajamas and Mickey Mouse and chicken nuggets.  This is where we delay getting out of bed with giggles and tickles and squeeze hugs.  We pull the chalk out and color the fence and driveways, and we leave our coloring books out to revisit as many times as we can.  We overlook the mess to take the time to live rather than sweat to try to keep up.  We talk, we pray, we smile, and we sleep in this home, and it is an absolutely messy and chaotic picture of perfection when you ask those who live here. It won’t always be our home, and the memories we are making are once in a lifetime moments.  I look forward to the new memories that will become new rituals and routines for us in the future in a new home that might allow us to stretch our arms again.  But, for now, I’ll take the perfect mess that surrounds us.

One day the mess will be addressed but today we are just too busy being blessed.

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50 Positives

Let’s count the positives.  I woke up (1) in a comfy bed (2) next to a sleeping husband (3) and across the hall from two sweet, slumbering girls (4) in a cozy, warm house (5) with a fridge stocked full of edible good (6) to take a warm, long shower (7).  I dressed in clean clothes that fit (8), packed lunches for the day for myself and my littles (9), put on warm fall jackets (10), and walked outside to a beautiful fall day (11) to start my car (12).  I drove no more than two miles away (13) to drop my littles at a Christian Daycare facility (14) where they are loved and they can hear about God through their weekly lessons (15).  I drove to work with no incident (16) to a job that pays my bills (17), and I was greeted by coworkers who smiled in my direction and asked about my weekend (18).  I received a sweet text from my husband about our past weekend when we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary (19).  I went to my morning post to greet (and sing to) middle schoolers (20) which prompted a few greetings and smiles in return (21).  I tackled several small tasks today (22), including holding and prepping one meeting (23) and addressing one student meltdown where the parent came to school to support our team and her child (24).  I accomplished a few more tasks, including rescheduling a meeting, before leaving the building (25).  I drove without incident to pick up my girls while chatting with my mom (26) and my husband (27).  While picking up my girls and maneuvering through a function being held at their daycare, I heard several compliments of onlookers at how cute my littles are (28), and I received positive reports about my girls for the day (29).  We went home to take a walk outside (30), to pet the kitty (31), and to play (32) before coming in to eat dinner which was followed by a treat (33).  My girls watched Mickey while I clipped and managed some coupons for our next shopping trip (34) for Super Doubles (35).  The girls took baths quickly (36), and dressed for bed (37).  We picked out a book to read and one sat still while we read it together (38).  We started our routine for bed which includes prayers (39) and songs (40) followed by kisses and hugs (41).  They went to bed with only two checkins (42) while I washed dishes and packed lunches for tomorrow.  I remembered (43) to pack their dance clothes (44) according to their schedule for the week which includes princess wear (45); when I tiptoed in to find their costumes in the closet, one little was found asleep (46) while the other was doing cute hand motions to a song I couldn’t identify in her bed (47).  I stole another kiss (48), and then left the room to put the bag by the door in hopes that we will leave with all necessary items in the morning (49).  I then sat down to catch up on a few unnecessary sites on my computer for my elected downtime (50).

And here I sit.  Completely and utterly grateful.

I know that there are many more positives that I can list.  I know there are more opportunities than the 50 I listed to be thankful and grateful.  Lately, I’ve realized that it has become easier to point out the negatives and hold on to the frustrations of the day rather than enjoying the moments that surround us.  There are so many positive moments within our reach; they often fall through our fingers before we can acknowledge that the moments occurred at all.

This afternoon, after our walk down the road, my girls played outside with some of their inside toys.  While I was trying to groom our sweet old cat who lives outdoors, I glanced up at my girls who were approaching me while I was holding my scissors.  On the tip of my tongue was a reprimand to “watch out”, but I stopped.  I saw my girls framed by their curly, damp hair in the sunlight, outdoors, on a cool fall day, smiling at me as they asked if kitty was getting a haircut.  I stopped in that moment and soaked it up.  I grinned a silly grin in response to their smiles, and we giggled together.  They sat beside me as the kitty walked back and forth trying to figure out who would give in and pet her the longest.

There are positives in every negative.  Sometimes the positive is before or after, and sometimes it’s right in the middle when you think the frustrating moment won’t stop.  The positives are definitely more difficult to identify, especially when my mind is prone to harp on the negatives.  From this point on, I choose positivity.  My number right now is 50.  If that’s my baseline, that is amazing.  I’m pushing for more though.  I am determined to train my brain to find the positive in the moments that are tackling me from alarm clock to pillow during the day.  I know there are 50+, and I am determined to find each one!

Positivity - FaveThing.com

A New Kind Of Fairy Tale

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H: Why are the knight and princess in the same picture?
K: Because of the dragon, the knights coming to save her from the dragon.
H: Why can’t she save herself?
K: Because the knight’s strong.
H: Well, the princess is strong too.
K: No hers not.
H: Hey. Look at me. Princesses are strong. Princesses are girls. We’re strong. K?
K: OK mommy.
For the record, I am not trying to destroy the traditional fairy tale.  I know I am raising a romantic with my first born; this fact is as clear as the dress up clothes she wears and the dramatic play she engages in with her sister.  I know that she will always relish the princess stories where the shining knight saves the damsel in distress just in time for everything to end happily ever after.  I know that she will find renewed hope time after time whenever she watches her favorite fairy tale and all over again when she acts it out.  I won’t even laugh when she sings at the top of her lungs believing in her heart that the animals in the forest will run to her to play and be friends much like her mother believed…and did.  I know she is her mother’s child, and I know that she will always look for her happily ever after, and I pray that she will find that knight who will live up to the most unrealistic expectations that Disney teaches us before we can say “Once upon a time”.
At the same time, I do want her to learn new fairy tales.  Fairy tales that I never explored because they didn’t match the princess and prince versions I had memorized inside and out.  I want her to realize that sometimes a girl can flex her own muscles and get the job done.  I want her to realize that sometimes she can look beside her to grab the helping hand of her sister.  I want her to understand that a friendship can be stronger and deeper than any romance.  I want her to know that Hollywood and Disney and social media and Facebook and favorite TV shows and airbrushed magazine covers are only going to give you what you think you see.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be rescued.  I want her to know that being rescued isn’t a job that someone is hired to complete, because true rescue starts within.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to rely on someone and that someone doesn’t have to be a lover.  That someone can be a friend when she is crying uncontrollably.  That someone can be a parent who knows her next thought before it’s even entered her mind.  That someone can be a brother who might joke too much but would drop it all in order to be at that “family meeting”.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be intimate with someone to the point that it’s not about a perfectly planned kiss.  I want her to find the intimacy where she feels beautiful and loved despite and without her makeup.  Without her courage.  Without her strength.  With the lights on.  I want her to know that intimacy exists when fears take over and tears tangled with good intentions meet, and he is still there.  Intimacy is not easy, and it will not always be present, but if you work hard at it, it can be resurrected over and over.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of what it means to be beautiful.  And not just to be, but to feel it too.  Beauty comes so easily to the airbrushed images that dance around us.  Selfie after photoshopped selfie shows us desirable things in others which only highlights the undesirable things we find in ourselves.  I want her to realize that real beauty has imperfections.  There are stretchmarks.  There are scars.  There are wrinkles and gray hairs.  There are wounds that go deeper than the skin will show, but true beauty is found in the hands of the people that surround her, support her, love her, and find her beauty in her actions.  Beauty is everywhere, and not just in the mirror that reflects a perfect image of a cartoon figure.  Beauty is in her laughter, her smile, her song, her hands, her words, her heart, and her eyes.
I want her to search deeper to find truer examples of love.  Love comes easily to the writers of Hollywood and Disney, and it leads all little girls to believe that finding love is easy and always perfect.  And it’s not.  It’s freaking hardwork, and there is sweat involved with compromise and tears and moments of frustration.  Those moments are hidden moments that we don’t always get to see, but they are there in every love story.  She will have to figure out how to highlight her high points and hide her lows like everyone else, but as long as it is with someone who holds her up instead of down, it will work out.
I am not shattering her world at this young age.  I am trying to build around it so that when the picture perfect romance or friendship or moment doesn’t happen the way the script would normally go, there will still be reason to smile.  It seems silly and pointless at the young age of three, but her little heart is already on her sleeve, exposed and open to everything life has to offer.  She is resilient and hopeful, and she is very much my child.  My little romantic will always believe in her happily ever after, and I want to give her all the ways her happily ever after can exist.

I’m Famous

I was walking through the doors of daycare earlier this week holding the hands of my two littles when they noticed a friend pulling in the parking lot behind us.  Kenley turned to say hello and Mila quickly followed the lead.  I held the door to wait for the friend and her mom while the girls continued to squeal and greet one another.  As the little girl walked closer with her mommy in tow, the little girl looked up at me and said “That’s my mommy”.  I smiled and looked up at her mom who smiled in response.  I realized that this is a common prideful announcement that my littles give random strangers as well, and then it hit me: I’m famous.  This mom is famous.  We are famous.  Moms are famous, and in these young, innocent moments of our littles, we are the most famous we will ever be.

In moments of stress and anxiety, I am still the one that holds up the moon.  Even after time outs and tired cries, I am the one who can solve the world’s problems.  When there is a stumble or a fall, their eyes look to me for help and relief.  Putting together puzzles, dressing up a Barbie, and building tall towers often involve requests for help which come in my direction.  The title “Mom” is a pretty famous and significant title.  It may not reach millions, and my Facebook feed isn’t full of friend requests from strangers, but there are two little girls who place me on a pedestal that is completely undeserving.  I know one day I will fall and my title will tear away, bringing me off of the pedestal that they’ve placed me on, but for now, I will enjoy it.

The rush of the daily grind often gets in the way of enjoying those moments where I realize I’m pretty darn special.  Insignificant to most, but adored by them, and that is worth all the money in the world.  This fame is priceless and irreplaceable.  There is no amount of money that can provide the same amount of admiration that the eyes of my children give me throughout my day.  And the little words “That’s my mommy” will be my stamp of proof that forever reminds me that I’m famous and, most of all, loved.

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Be Human

Manhattan Night Skyline Wallpaper

The picture above is your sin.  It’s your sin, your neighbor’s sin, your husband’s sin, your coworker’s sin, etc.  Every building represents a different person and the height reflects the way we judge sin from our earthly perspective.  Some sin we place more weight on.  Some sin, we decide, should be punished while we can continue to sin in a different way that may not appear to be so obvious.  Interesting.

Note: The full-size image is 1.6 MB.

This picture shows God’s view of sin.  Looking from the top down, it’s a little hard to tell what kind of sin is happening.  Everything looks the same, doesn’t it?  Heights are difficult to compare; therefore, all sin is treated equally.  No matter how often, no matter how frequent, no matter the type, sin is sin.

This analogy had me like whoa.  Our church pulled this idea together showing the congregation a sideview of what could be a bargraph or a skyline with the onlooker understanding that the different sizes reflect the amount of weight we want to assign to certain sins.  The aerial view shows the way God sees our sin.  It is the same.  Sin is sin, and we should always strive to avoid it, but it is the same in the eyes of God.  A person’s decision to sin a different way isn’t a ticket to shun someone else.

I am not one to preach to this because I am far from where I know I need to be in my faith.  I know I have a long way to go, but the analogy that was presented Sunday has echoed through my days this week.  It’s come up in conversation, it’s been at the forefront as I’ve listened to news stories, and it’s a part of my conscience as I go through each day.  I know that there are so many issues shoved in our face through social media avenues showing us how we should make a stand, speak out, respond and react, or not tolerate other people’s choices.  My humble opinion is freakin’ BE HUMAN.  Be human to your neighbor whom God commands you to love.  Period.  Not “Love your neighbor unless they are gay”.  It doesn’t say that, and while I can’t quote scripture very well, I’m pretty confident I can defend that.  I’ve read post after post after post on Facebook of divided friends, and I often bite my tongue and continue to scroll, thinking “Not my circus, not my monkeys”.  I’m also telling myself that if people would just be open minded, consider acceptance, stand together, and embrace the fact that we are all so very different as God intended, we could celebrate rather than create conflict.  It feels like we, as a society, are making a conscious choice to live in anger, hate, and isolation rather than finding ways to love each other and celebrate the unique ways that we are made.

Some of the thoughts in this blog are not my own but a combination of thoughts that I’ve collected through my favorite research which includes mindless scrolling.  I love finding a post that I connect with, and I know that is what it was all originally intended for: connection.  We are human.  We want a connection.  We want to feel connected to someone, anyone else, who could understand.  Be that connection for someone.  Be human.  The world would be a much better place if we could get outside of ourselves and, for once, think about the person standing next to you.  Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be human in every moment, because there is always an opportunity to make a difference.