This is a little story about doing what you think is important even if you don't know it is.
Three out of the four high school years that my middle son played football, another player's mom and I made snack bags for the team to eat pre-game. We asked other parents to donate. Each bag coast about $1.65 to make and we thought is was a small amount of money to ask from each player to pitch in for the eight or nine games of the season. So that was a roughly $15 per kid. My snack bag friend would supply the water bottles iced in a cooler, and cheese sticks, and I baked cookies. The money went for the paper bags, zip lock bags, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and chips. Every Thursday we would get together and make about 40 pb&j sandwiches, fill the bags, load my van and head out to meet the boys as they went into the locker room to get ready for the game or to load the bus for an out of town game.
At the first of the season we would get a good amount of money donated and then the end of the season it was more difficult to get donations. We would chat as we slapped peanut butter and jelly on bread about how to get all the kids to do their part and donate what we felt was a small amount for their food. Sometimes it was frustrating to see only a percentage of the parents paying for all the boys. We fed about 40 teenage boys a week.
My middle son played on the varsity team last year. He has since graduated from high school. During that season I helped with the official team dinner. A few of the mom's who worked on the first team dinner thought it would also be good to provide the boys with snack bags before the game. My pb&j sandwich friend and I said we would do it again that season. As before, it was difficult to get all parents on board with the feeding of the boys. One mom asked us via email why we were feeding the boys twice. I took it upon myself to answer. I felt that this Mom had a valid question. It did seem a bit excessive to feed this team two days in a row. Our motivation for doing the snack bags was simple: Although many kids on the team could drive and go somewhere to get food, either at home or at a restaurant, some could not get home or afford to buy some food. And that was my answer to the inquiring Mom. We wanted to make sure that everyone had food before playing the game.
Tonight while I was checking out at Target I was chatting with the lady who was the cashier. In the conversation I told her that my son worked there. She asked who. She knew who my middle son was and said that her son played football with him. Somehow in our conversation the snack bags came up. She said that her son told her that my middle son's mom worked on them. She was so appreciative of us feeding her son. She said that they had nothing back then and that she was a single mom. She told me that she wanted to write a note to thank us. I told her thank you for telling me.
I was so happy to know that what we did wasn't over kill and actually was helpful, even if it was only for her and her son. My take away from that conversation was that you just never know what need you may be filling when you feel the need to reach out and do something. If you see a need that you can fill, no matter where or how small, just do it. You never know what it may mean to someone!
Do you ever feel it? You know that Blah feeling. It comes when it wishes, uninvited, unannounced. You are not supposed to talk about it because you are supposed to be "to blessed to be stressed" and "happy and you know it". Well it comes anyway.
The last two weeks I have taken my youngest son to the doctor 4 times. Four times in 7 days I had to explain to someone the not so good stuff going on with my son. First, there was the urgent care doctor, who sent us on to an ear, nose, and throat doctor (got us in that day), then this week back to the ear, nose, and throat doctor, and finally to the pediatrician, all to find out what I suspected before the first office visit, my 15 year old son has an ear infection. I was happy to finally have a diagnosis that would be treated, but just raw with the truth that one doctor says that my son has one thing and to do one treatment, and then another says another thing and no the other doctor is wrong, and now we need to do this treatment. It makes me wonder who to believe next time. Well, the truth is that I should always believe myself. I knew, but it took time for the prof to show up.
There is some just something about all of this medical stuff that just wears on me. This whole year this kid has been sick with only a little bit of breaks in between. His migraines have gone chronic. I don't like opening up myself and how we live as a family to people I have never met or hardly know. I feel like I'm being judged against whatever the current study has found to be the right way to do things. We live the best we can with what we have and no one has done a study on us to prove if we are doing it right or wrong.
I know that all of this leaves me feeling blah. It's not something that you proudly post about on social media, nor is this the kind of stuff you call a friend to catch up on (well I do have one friend who has been through similar stuff and I do let her know because she truly understands where I'm coming from). Hmmm......that is exactly that helps run the blah feeling away, understanding. Not many people truly are able to understand where another is coming from unless they have experienced similar life experiences. I am so grateful when one of those people cross my path. Having understanding and empathy is food to the soul, it connects us to one another in a way that says, "I will stand with you right now in your trouble, and I'm here with you and I hear you."
Let me just say that I encourage you that if you ever have the opportunity to give understanding and words of encouragement to another, one who your really understand where they are standing in life, do it. You have the power to turn someone's blah into to an ahhhh.
My youngest son is 14 going on 4 this Christmas. He is excited for every element. I on the other hand have had a bit of a hard time getting into the mood of the season. Now that there is a beautiful white blanket of snow on the ground, I'm starting to feel it's magic.
I was getting pretty irritated at this child's constant questions of when we would be doing our traditional cookie decorating, Christmas light looking, and gift shopping. He had such an urgency to get the show on the road, while I was just trying to keep up with getting more food in the house. (We always have food, but the perception of the two teens that live here is that there is often no food in the house.) The driving force in his life was getting Christmas going full steam, and I was just trying to get some steam.
My real irritation was the fact that he was pushing me. I don't like to be pushed. But then it dawned on me that what he was really communicating was his excitement and this excitement was of great necessity to him. It has been a rough few months for this child. He has had a lot of illness, not just the stomach flu, but the kind of thing that sends you to the ER, the urgent care, and knocks you off your feet and into bed for long periods of time. This Christmas is important. This Christmas is bringing life to him.
Once this reality set into my brain, the gears switched. I bought a little something that wasn't on his well organized wish list, wrapped it and put it under the tree. This surprise was nourishment to his soul. I baked up a ton of Christmas cookies last night. In a few hours we will be enjoying the sugary tradition of decorating these cookies. He needed the life and hope of Christmas.
And really, that is what Christmas is all about, life and hope. There is also a necessity and urgency that comes with the true meaning of Christmas. We need a Savior. All of us just fall short of God's glory, his holiness. He demands holiness to be in his presence. We really are hopeless on our own. It was totally necessary for Jesus to come to earth and take on a earthly body, so that he could die in our place for the sins we commit. Why death? Our sins desirve the death penalty and he took it in our place. The bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin. Jesus shed blood paid the penalty for the sin of mankind. This gives us life and hope. When we believe that Christ did this for us, and turn away from our sin to live to the glory of God, we have true life and the hope of being with him for eternity.
Christmas is about sacrifice. I'm feeling that this Christmas. Because of the need of someone else, I needed to sacrifice my time in order to make this time special for my kiddo. Because of our need to be rescued from the sin that separates us from God, Jesus sacrificed his life for us. Christmas is necessary. Christmas is urgent (we are in grave danger without Jesus). Christmas is life. Christmas is hope. Christmas is sacrifice. And truly Christmas is all about Love!
May your Christmas be filled with joy as you share in all these things and may you experience the love of you family and the Love of Christ this season of celebrating his birth.
I know that a ghost writer is someone who writes under a different name, who wishes to remain anonymous. I feel like a writer that is a ghost, possibly unread and maybe not even heard. You see, I think a lot, feel in depths of the Grand Canyon, and have a need to have an air valve. Writing is my air valve, what I need to let out some of those thoughts and feelings. But who comes here? I do not know but I show some hits. It is a mystery to me. So I will continue to write even though I feel like a ghost.
Imagine if you will, the end of the world Hollywood style. I have to confess that I have watch too much "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead" coupled with movies like "I Am Legend". Take all of that imagery and picture me on a cb radio trying to connect with life out there. "Hello, hello, is anybody out there?" I have such a need to connect.
An event this week made me acutely aware of something that I had forgotten about myself, maybe something that I tried to bury. When I was a teenage girl I was very emotional. I cried deeply. I hid toilet paper under my bed just so I would have what I needed when the emotions hit hard. I grew to hate this about myself, my ultra sensitivity. I felt love deeply, and so I felt rejection and pain with the same veracity. No one around me could understand it, so I thought there was some thing wrong with me. I prayed to God to take it away. I matured and it lessened, but never totally went away.
This week has been a particularly difficult one. I really do not want to say why, but I can share that many forces came at me and left me feeling left for dead. I have felt a ghost of myself. One event in particular has brought to the forefront of my person-hood the sensitive girl I once was. This event cause the hairs on the back of my ghost self to stand up and take in every bit of my surroundings. While I was experiencing it I didn't notice what was going on in the depths of myself. Visually I was ultra observant. My ears were perked and could hear conversations that I was not to be privy to. My sense of smell was acute. My emotional perception took in things that I wasn't even aware of until I debriefed in a state of exhaustion the next day. I had forgotten that I am a highly sensitive person. I cannot suppress it, nor deny or change it.
Twenty percent of the population are highly sensitive. We are not the norm, yet we are normal. I also posses a personality that is defined as an ENFP and this type is about 5-8% of the population. I was told once by someone that I wasn't like all the other girls. That boys knew what he was talking about when I didn't know if it was a pick-up line or his insightful observation. Now I see his statement as sort of prophetic.
Not being in the main stream of persons is a challenge. My husband said I think differently than others. It is confusing to try be in a group discussion and always have people not get what you are saying. "Did I not say that clearly?" is a thought that is familiar to my head. Self acceptance is always a struggle. It is especially hard to meet very self-confident people and wonder how is it that they are so self assured. On the contrary, I have often heard form others how self confident I am. In reality, I know that I am a ghost who must move about in this world as other worldly. One who doesn't have a fit, a place, a body if you will. My confidence comes from walking alone for so long, void of a peer group, relying on self and God alone.
The beauty of being me is that I can see inside. I can hear reality. You can trust me because I care. I am forever your friend once I have taken you into my world. Even if you walk away from me, you are forever with me. Others may see the world through Facebook, but I see the world through the stories you tell me. I know that each of us has a hurt, a vulnerability, and a place that is beyond your control. In your stories I hear the longing for a world that is set aright, a world where love wins. We want love. We want to be accepted for who we are. We want God even when we can't admit it or don't want to see it. And people like me, the 20% and the 5-8%, I believe are to be a conduit of the very nature of God, love.
If you found me in this ocean of blogs and websites, wow, just wow. I do not know how you got here. If you are a Mom and feel this way, you are not alone. Like the dooms-day character who is holding the cb asking if anyone is out there, the answer is yes! I'm here. I'm with you. Or maybe you have a child like me and it is bewildering you! Why can't this kid just go with the flow? Why does every tag on his shirt bother him? Why does that ticking sound you can't hear drive him nuts? Why does she feel so deeply when her friend's cat died? Why is she so sensitive? She/He is that way because their function in life is to be the antenna, to pick-up on signals, to know without being told, to see what others miss, to be close to the broken-heart and minister to the souls of men. Empathy is our gift. It is a gift given to those who are sensitive and will carefully carry it to the people who need love when no one else can see that they are there. The highly sensitive are the ghosts, who see the unseen things in people that need to be seen, so they can show that the hurting are deeply cared for. We carry the medicine for the soul.
To Melanie and Me, when we were in our thirties, well I was in my early thirties and you were still maneuvering through your twenties. We have not yet met, yet we go to the same church and have mutual friends. I know some of the family that you married into and mistake your husband for his cousin when I see him at church.
We were busy at this times with little boys. I had two and you had one. We were trying to do it right, the wife thing, the mom thing, the take care of our home thing. We had great expectations and felt pressure to do all of it well and to look good doing it. Little did we know that all of life is a progress and that we would never even arrive and have it down when we arrived to this present day in 2015. So this letter is to us, what I wish I could say from the perspective we both have now.
(*This is letter is birthed from a recent phone conversation in which we talked about us as our younger selves.)
Dear Us (Circa 2003),
Be gentle with yourself. You are learning the dance of life. You will need dance teachers, you will have to learn new and challenging dance steps, you will step on toes, and sometimes trip and fall. This is the dance of life, get up when you fall, dust yourself off and start again. Your life’s dance will be the Rumba, Salsa, Swing, Square Dance, and the simple Sway. The music is an ever changing tempo, the dance floor isn’t always made out of smooth flooring. Here is the secret, just dance, do it in your style, and have fun with it.
You are learning how to be a wife to an ever changing man, who unfolds like a slow opening flower in the dew of the morning. You will not always understand what is going on in his head, and he will be challenged to tell you. Be gentle on him. Give him respect, for that is what he needs. Show him that you trust him, and trust him, he knows more than you give him credit for. Thank him for all the hard work he does so he can bring home the bacon and you/or he can fry it up in the pan. This all will not be easy, there will be challenges, keep at it.
You are a good mom. You do it in your style and your kids don’t know any different. Don’t compare you mom style with anyone else. Your kids are more important than a clean house. Your kids are more important than all the millions of little things that are calling you right now. Yes, you have to clean, do the laundry, dishes, go shopping and get all the stuff you need at Target, yes it is just a part of life, but sometimes just drop it and look into your kiddo's eyes and listen to their sweet voice telling you whatever they want to tell you. You can’t get that moment back, and there will be a day when you want to. Soak it in. Play. Have pajama days. Watch movie together sometimes. Hold those babies so close, and smell them, and sing to them, and try to enjoy and try and not worry about the mess……...it will get messier and smellier when they hit puberty! But they won't ever grow back to littles.
Your home is ok just the way it is. HGTV is a lie! Better Homes and Garden magazine is a lie! No one lives in that perfect home, well unless they have loads of money and they have help. Don’t try to have your home like either of these supermodels of brick and mortar. You will own and you will rent, and there is good and bad about both. But what really makes a home is love, fun, discipline and letting Jesus live there with you all.
The Bible. Read it. Study it. Learn it. Love it. Live it. It is the one thing that will redeem every minute spent in it back to you and with so much more.
Those other ladies, that you think have it all together, well they don’t. No one has it all together. We all have problems and trials. Don’t worry about what the ladies-who-are-trying-to-present-a-perfect-image think of you. Oh, they are probably not even thinking of you, because really, we are all pretty self absorbed. Just do your thing, be you! Pray for the perfect ones, because they are struggling with something and they are hiding it very well. Be kind to them.
Your body will never quite be the same after baby #1 pops out, oh heck who am I kidding, babies don’t pop out, you contort every muscle to squeeze them out! How can a body that went through a thing like that ever be the same? You are going to be harder on your body more than anyone else. Your friends don’t care what size you are, well unless they want to borrow something of yours to wear! But really we don’t judge each other with the same harshness that we judge ourselves. And your husband may miss the old body, but he will love this new shape as well. Be free sister, you are more than your body. Yes, work on it, eat good food, exercise, relax at times, but remember that genetics likes to rule over you! Work with genetics and a good fashion sense and then go out into the world with a big smile and a kind heart and that is what people will see, remember, and love.
On being a stay-at-home mom; it’s a job, a career choice, and a huge responsibility and privilege. You are not lucky, you are blessed. You are not lucky, because it is a choice that you have to sacrifice other things for in order to do what you do. It is a choice because your husband chose it with you. You are blessed because not all ladies get to. Use your time wisely to serve your family, and to serve others. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, it is your work space, and work spaces can be very messy. You will never have the laundry done, the dishes will never be done, just work at stuff, keep the ball rolling and the machine of the home running. When you feel cabin fever strikes, get out of the house! When depression is creeping in, call each other and talk about it, and get out the house!
Mental health, and pure sanity are important. Always use the phone a friend option! Go to a counselor when needed, they are there to help pull you out of the mud you are stuck in, just like a doctor is there to help get you well.
Priorities, you need them. Yes put God first, that is the most important. But don’t ever let anyone tell you to not put yourself on the priority list. You matter. You are important. You will have to be the one to advocate for yourself, because everyone else in your family (the ones you live with) will need something from you and will most often not realize that you need stuff too. It is more than ok to take time for you! Do something you love that refreshes your soul, oh, and did I mention (?) get out of the house. Go to Target and grab a Starbucks and drink it all by yourself, walk around and just look at stuff you can’t afford, breathe. You need to take time to rejuvenate! Give yourself permission, and drop the guilt.
You two will be friends for a long time. Your friendship will ebb and flow, like all relationships do. Remember, you need each other. You will learn from each other and grow because of each other. Someday you will catch up to the point in history that this letter is being written, and you will understand. But just trust this letter, you really should heed it’s advice.
From the one who can’t sing but loves to write.
I was going to let all the men in my life off the hook for this Mother's Day. I didn't expect them to do anything. The most two important gift-giving-make-a-big-deal-about-me holidays are my birthday and Christmas, all other things are icing on the cake so to speak. I know that my husband and boys struggle to know what to do for me even with just those to "me declared" special days. I have to confess that I get weird about my exceptions on both and just wanted to spare us all the extra hub-bub.
Well, my husband totally surprised me and had planned something. He even asked if he should keep it a surprise or not, knowing that having a surprise is important to me. He did good. He asked that our oldest son come home for dinner, and he did the shopping and planned the meal. So when it came time to pray I wanted to. I wanted to thank God for letting me be a mom, but as I was praying I decided to keep it short and sweet because I knew that I couldn't say what I wanted to say with out getting all teary eyed and squeaky voice. The boys get a bit annoyed and mystified when I cry over silly stuff. To me, what I wanted to say wasn't silly stuff. I just want to write it out here because I want to get it out of my heart and express that prayer.
Thank you. Thank you for giving me a husband that loves me and stays even when we have to disagree and fight things out. Thank you for giving me the ability to forgive and move on when it's hard. Thank you for the person who listens and is there for me. Thank you for giving me a husband that supports me in my passion driven "career" of being a full-time mom. Thank you for providing all that we need.
Thank you for baby boy #1. That little ball of energy that kicked and punched me from the inside and then tried those moves on me on the outside. Thank you for his hugs and kisses as a baby, his silliness, funniness, smarts, and ryhming games in the car, his passion and drive as a child, his crazy Mohawk hair, long talks about deep things, and fighting it out with me until I had to put a stop to our madness by stopping the whole argument and not talking until we both cooled down. Thank you for showing me how much you must love people by putting a crazy aching kind of love in my heart for him.
Thank you for baby boy #2. That little baby inside who didn't move all day and I would often to check to see if he was alive at night by poking and pushing my belly. Thank you for his easy birth and his easy style as a baby. Thank you that he didn't fall on the knife he found on the counter and carried in his had as a toddler, and that he never fell off the table that he was always on top of. Thank you for his smile, his sweetness and how he would sit on my lap and just be with me. Thank you for his independence and ability to learn and take on life on his own. Thank you for his funny way of watching the same scene of a movie over and over so that he could learn the lines and then act out the scene over and over again. Thank you for his tender heart that he tries to mask with an air of toughness. Thank you that he has blossomed in the past few years and I am getting to know what is inside that quiet little boy.
Thank you for turning my world upside down when you surprised me with baby #3. It was a rough time in life and I experienced a lot of grief that I shoved down into my soul. You gave me a gift of life that I didn't feel I deserved. Along with his life came many other things that are gifts to me now, but tough to go through. Through this child you have shown me your love and long suffering. Thank you for his amazing smile. Thank you for his daring acts as a toddler that had me in constant fear. Thank you for protecting him from himself and his brothers. Thank you for the love and support from my church when he had to have a CT scan at 7 months because the dr. was concerned with his rapidly growing head. Thank you that all was normal. Thank you that he loved me unconditionally and wanted to have me close. Thank you for all the lazy naps I took with him because he wanted me to lay down with him. Thank you for his wonderful happy playful self. Thank you for the learning challenges and medical challenges, because they are challenging, painful and are shaping me to see life differently. Thank you that you are working right now through the difficultly he is currently having. Thank you that I get to be his Mom and get to be the one to take care of him when he gets sick. Thank you that he isn't always sick and that there are good days when that little boy, who is now a teen, gets to be his normal self. Thank you for his incredible intelligence in spite of the difficulties in reading and writing because of his Irlen's Syndrome. Thank for the ability to get his special glasses and that he is learning to not be bothered when people look at him funny.
God you are amazing. You called me to motherhood when I was only a young lady of 15 years. You set in my heart a strong desire to be a wife and mother and you fulfilled it. You have been ever providing, ever loving, ever protective, and ever there....even when I cannot see you or feel you. You never leave. Your love never changes. You are constant when I am wavering. You are my Father, teacher, and Savior. You are patient when my finite mind wants so desperately to understand infinite things. You call me to obedience because you love me.
I am keenly aware of my humble state as a mother. I have no fame or glory. I am a servant. At times I long to go do something else, something that will get a paycheck or an award or something to affirm me. But you have called me back and kept me here. What you are doing in my life isn't for all mothers, you have other plans for other moms, but for me I know you have me where you want me, serving you in my home. Help me bow my head in humble submission to you my King. Give me strength when my heart wonders, strength to know my mission and obey my calling.
Help me to live and speak in a way that will point these babies to you. I don't always know exactly how, please show me each step of the way. I love them, my husband and my children. You love them more than me. Work in their life, call them to faith in Christ and reliance on you. God you know how imperfect I am at being a Godly wife and Godly mother. You know that I have much to learn and much more to grow. But thank you, thank you for giving me these people to go through life with. And thank you for my mother, who did so much to take care of me, to teach me and model life for me. I am forever grateful for all the things she sacrificed, gave to me and gave up to be my mother. Please bless my mother.