Crushing on my daughter for #WCW

Sometimes those Facebook memories just really get me. This week it’s been taking me back to some dramatic and hilarious and sweet times with my second baby – Lydia. It’s her turn for a #WCW post.

Lydia’s got what you call “personality” in spades. She’s always had it – mischievous eyes with long eyelashes to die for, a smirk always moments from appearing on her face. She has always been her own person with her own style pretty much from the get-go. For a period of maybe 3 years, she only wore dresses. She also ran the fastest and climbed the furthest in the tree in our front yard. She entered her school’s talent show and did stand up comedy. As a first grader. And then again at a new school as a second grader. She’s still got the jokes.

She is one of the most athletic kids I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Getting to help out with her team is truly a highlight in my life. Watching her play is really, really fun. I think she could probably play just about anything she decided to, but for now has landed on softball and this softball-playing mom is just thrilled about it!

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Tiny catcher!!!

She’s also incredibly musically talented – her ear is amazing! My husband the other day remarked to her that she was like having Pandora on- she just went from song to song, humming and singing along. She knew every word! I remember when she was little, she’d come home from church or preschool and sing verbatim any little song they had learned. It takes her no time at all to pick things up.

Her independent and confident nature has of course provided us with many, many learning moments as parents. Here’s a tip for any of you with “strong-willed” preschoolers who only throw fits for you but are little angels with their teachers. Leave the room. Grab a camera. Come back to tantrum child. Take video. Calmly explain that the video will be shown to said teacher in the morning. Magically watch as tantrum dissipates into shocked outrage. But along with the more challenging times have come a wealth of experiences I never would have had without her.

One example is her Halloween costumes. She has pushed me outside my box almost every year on this one! I think under the age of 4 she was good with whatever generic princess dress I had on hand, but since then she has had a mind of her own! Here are a couple of the costumes she’s designed/asked for:

Halloween 2014
Smarty Pants, Candy Corn, Tinkerbell
Halloween 2011
Clown, Mandie (from a book series), and Rapunzel

She wanted to be candy corn a few years ago. I think we pulled it off. Another year she was a marshmallow and that one didn’t turn out as well. We’ve also done Piggy from Elephant and Piggy, Batgirl, an Enderman, and a unicorn (for which she wore a unicorn onesie).  She’s the first to want to try something new – surfing, zip-lining, climbing – you name it – she wants to try it.

She is so fun. We have a rule in our house that when there’s tickling or rough-housing (or really anything honestly), you can say “Please stop” and everyone stops. There are no exceptions to this rule. Well her older sister lasts about 1 second and her younger sister lasts about a minute, but not Lydia. It’s her goal generally to tire out everyone else and to outlast everyone in the fight. She doesn’t say “please stop” – you have to just quit while you’re ahead. Tom, of course, loves this challenge and they bait one another throughout the whole thing.

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Bike ride “date” exploring the creek beds. This is such a Lydia thing to want to do with her date time.

She brings so much laughter to our home, but also serious insight. One day I’ll never forget – I was asking her about her day and then started chatting about dreams and such. We talked about what things she might want to do when she grew up. I remember her not being really sure and I encouraged her to keep dreaming and to dream big and never stop pursuing her dreams. She kinda nodded and then said to me – “What about you? What dream are you going after?” Oof!

It’s crazy because at that time I was really wrestling with where my life was. I didn’t feel like I was living the dream, but I also didn’t know what the dream was.  I believed vaguely that it was important for children to see their parents pursue dreams and to live an abundant life. But until her question, I didn’t see how deeply true this was. Why should she bother to dream if she saw that once you get to a certain spot, you just quit dreaming?  Quit pursuing the deep down thing that moves you?

I can really point to it as a turning point in my life as a mother – before I had believed that it was better to just be ok with how life was. After that conversation, I pushed more into what felt like dangerous territory of asking questions of myself like, well what do you want to do when you “grow up?” Is this the life you want? If not, what is the life you want? If so, are you living it as fully as possible?

She does this kind of thing all the time. We’ll be having some sort of family discussion that’s important but it’s staying pretty shallow until all of a sudden Lydia pipes up with something deep. We all just go, wow – yeah – that was good – hmm. Either that or she makes a joke none of us saw coming and we all laugh for a long time.

This is her last year before becoming a teenager. It’s crazy how fast it’s going. I want to slow it all down and enjoy every moment of being her mom. She is a treasure and God’s gift to me. Love my sweet Lydia!!!

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A Marginal Morning

It’s not even 9 am and it has been A DAY! It started relatively peacefully with me waking early and getting in a walk and prayer time. When I went up to hop in the shower, I noticed that Michael was awake. He’s been waking up pretty early lately (between 5 and 5:30) but usually enjoys playing and singing (or yelling) in his bed. Having made sure that his noise isn’t waking up his sisters, we’ve decided to leave him there until we’re ready to get his breakfast going. But today, he was crying – so I went to check on him. This is when I discovered that my morning was officially derailed.

The precious boy had pooped and decided that he didn’t like how it felt and so removed the offending diaper from his body and threw it across the room. Unfortunately, that didn’t actually remove the feeling from his body and he only succeeded in spreading it over his bed and hands and body. So, we cleaned up.

And this is where the margin comes in – my husband was around and could help. A few months ago when my business started taking off some more and I was working more regular hours, I told him that what I needed in the mornings was margin. Anyone with children of any age knows that parenting is often a series of interruptions to what you thought the day would be. So, when I wasn’t managing clients and deadlines, basically all the interruptions just dictated the flow of my day. But things have shifted now that my work life is different. So what I asked Tom is to provide some margin in his mornings just for situations like today. Most days, it just means that we both have a little more time to sip the coffee or check in to our apps/games/books. But today, it meant that I didn’t have to clean up poop by myself. It’s just one of the many things I’m grateful for in the scheme of this morning….

…because unfortunately that wasn’t the end.

After the cleanup of room, baby, bedding, clothes, and self, I allowed myself to just sit for a while. Which was totally fine until we realized that we had just missed the high school bus. Oy. Insert second derailment of the morning. The High School is about 10-15 minutes away depending on traffic and the third kid wasn’t even awake yet for the elementary school bus that was coming in 40 minutes. Oops. Everyone shot up into full go-go-go mode and miraculously everyone got to where they needed to go and had what they needed to have (except for a lost very important piece of paper that has disappeared into the unseen regions of a home with 6 active people living in it.).

What’s interested me about this morning the most is how I’ve handled it. This kind of thing – cleaning up poop, missed buses, missing papers – this is normal. It’s the everyday stuff that adds to the chaos and stress of managing a family. But today, I didn’t feel overcome by the stress of it all. I for sure blurted out in frustration – Oh no! We missed the bus!!! But I didn’t yell at my daughter for not telling me or spend the whole drive berating her about time management skills. I was definitely frustrated with the toddler – and ohmygoodness did he hit the ground running this morning after being cleaned up – we are in the toddler chaos zone right now. But it wasn’t pushing me over the edge and into snapping at everyone in the family.

Why am I telling you this ?  It’s not to brag really. It’s just an observation of how things have changed in my heart and mind over the past almost 15 years of being a parent. And I guess I just want to say that things really can get better. My usual way of dealing with mornings like this has been to devolve into just more and more frustration with every. little. thing. going exactly the way it shouldn’t. And today it didn’t. So I’m marking a moment. I don’t want it to be a marker that brings shame to anyone, not the least of which my old self or my future self. It’s just saying – today, love and peace won over the chaos.

Thank you God!

 

My mom, part 2 – The Reverend

Last week ended up being too full to get this part 2 post wrapped up and sent out, but I didn’t forget about it! If you missed Part 1, check it out here – it’s a few snapshots of my relationship with my mom and is a great setup for today’s post.

I’ve been a pastor’s kid my whole life. Someone once asked me if it was strange that it was my dad up on the platform preaching, and my response was, “No, because it’s always been that way. It feels more strange when it’s NOT him.” When I moved away from home and those conversations came up about who we were and where we came from, I almost always answered that my parents were pastors. Many would exclaim, oh really?! They’re BOTH pastors?! And I would correct them and say, “well, technically, my dad is the pastor, but they’re both so integral to the running of the church that I see them as a unit, pastoring the church.”

IMG_8396This past week, my mom made it official – she is now an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God. In addition to her decades of real-life ministry experience, she took classes at night and over weekends to fulfill the requirements: classes on theology, biblical history, and leadership. She did this in addition to her full-time job and her role as worship leader at our church, all while still showing up as a wife, mother, and grandmother. My dad gave her the pulpit several Sundays to give her time to practice preaching and teaching and finding her own voice. Watching her pursue this goal and watching my dad support her in it has been life-giving to me as their daughter in innumerable ways.

I may write something a little later that fleshes out my thoughts in a more general manner regarding credentials and ordination of women and what it all means. There are interesting conversations happening around this subject, and I may dive in sometime.

But today – it’s really about my mom and my daughters. I’ve heard it said that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” It occurred to me last Monday that my daughters are seeing a woman step up into roles of leadership and pastoral authority and to them, it feels obvious. It is the next step. They won’t think it’s odd to hear their grandmother preach – they’re growing up with it. We adults all felt the gravity of the moment. There were tears through the smiles. In these days, in this society, with our history, my mom’s ordination MEANS something.

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Family row at the service – forgive the lighting

I tried to explain a little bit of the significance to my daughters but truly it was foreign to them that some would (and will continue to…) find this step offensive. They really didn’t get it – and for that I’m thankful. While I do want them to understand the history that we stand on, I’m grateful that this moment was one of simple celebration for them.

It was such a pleasure going to the ordination service. There were about 30 other people getting ordained that night and watching the diversity of age, gender, and race walk up to the podium was very meaningful. There were at least two married couples who had gone through the process together and were being ordained together. It is our network’s 100th year anniversary this year, so the service was extra special and drew national leaders to the stage. These new leaders were charged with some excellent (and challenging!) remarks by our General Superintendent Dr. George Wood. IMG_8390

As a participant in the service, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future of at least our small corner of the church world. There is so much pain and brokenness going on in the church. Last week’s service didn’t change that and won’t heal the wounds overnight. But I couldn’t help but begin to see a rising tide of sound, strong leaders taking their place.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Proud granddaughters. My little one wouldn’t stop hugging her! #allthefeelings

 

#WCW – International Women’s Day Edition

Well, I haven’t written in almost a month! Things got busy around here. I was going to skip today too because my head is just spinning a bit from other things going on, but then I saw that today is International Women’s Day! I have to highlight someone on this day!

So, today I’ll tell you about my daughter, who is rapidly becoming a woman in her own right. She turned 14 last month and today she had quite the milestone of getting her braces off! Ugh, now she’s even more beautiful.

Parenting is such a funny experience. It all happens right in front of your nose so you don’t really see what’s happening. Then you look at a picture from a baby album, or remember how old you are, or write on the invitation to the birthday party the age of your kid and the reality smacks you upside the head. She is growing up! She is not a baby anymore! All the things they said when she was a toddler are true! “It goes so fast.” “The days are long but the years are short.” “This too shall pass.”

22431_301334152450_5771074_nYep, we conquered teething and sleeping through the night, potty training and not eating poisonous things from under the sink. She does NOT still use her binky (phew!)

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I no longer worry about her having separation anxiety or whether she’ll learn to tie her shoes. She’s spent the night away from me too many times to count. She eats her vegetables and makes her bed. We’ve moved on from Dora the Explorer to Harry Potter. The milestones just keep piling up.

She’s an amazing daughter and I’m so excited to watch her turn into a lovely young woman. Next year she heads to high school and while I simply cannot imagine time going any faster than it already does, I know that it, too, will ZOOM. So, I’ll share some hopes I have for your future while I have this moment. (Your baby brother is currently very happily banging on an empty coffee can. This could go on for MINUTES!)

I hope you always believe the TRUTH about yourself – that you are talented, intelligent, creative, beautiful, full of potential, worthy of love, and loved immensely by your family and by God.

I hope you continue to surround yourself with friends who support you and who you support. Girlfriends are life – treasure them! Bring them over for dinner – we love your friends and we love a home full of girls’ laughter.

I hope you take time to pursue your dreams and passions. Go to school. Travel (just always call me when you get there, ok??) Try something crazy. Enjoy the adventure of your life. We’ll always leave the light on for you.

I hope you know you are more than your GPA, your transcript, your list of activities and accomplishments, your eventual college acceptance. Your achievements will be so important, but they’re not everything.

I hope you’ll remember you come from a line of strong women. We support you and cheer you on. Your grandmothers and great grandma are women who have not always walked easy roads, but who have gained resilience from walking those roads with dignity. Their legacy is an amazing one and I’m so glad you get to know them. I hope you keep up your own relationship with them as you grow older.

I love you my sweet girl. You and your sisters and brother fill me with such hope for our future. Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Bethany Anne – first in a #WCW series 

Last week I shared that I’m going to try to be more intentional in my blogging this year – to write more and to write something encouraging and positive.  This will be my first in (hopefully) a regular series for Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW. If you’ve been wondering what that hashtag is you may see on Wednesdays every once in a while – that’s what it stands for…you’re welcome)

First up is my youngest daughter, Bethany Anne. It was her birthday last week so I’m highlighting her. I know she isn’t quite a woman yet, but whatever. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 

It’s been fun in the days leading up to her birthday seeing my Facebook memories pop up. She was a week late (by some calculations, almost 2 weeks late!) and so there were lots of “nothing happening today!” And “still sitting at home…” posts. At first, I wondered why I was posting such random thoughts. Then I looked at the year and it all clicked.

Bethany has always had a mind of her own. She came into this world on her own terms and still walks around like she owns the place. As her mom, this creates just as many struggles as it does blessings.  To be honest, I’m in a phase where the struggles seem much bigger than the blessings of such a strong nature.

She was determined to play in the sand and make the perfect sand angel

That being said – Bethany has brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. She is a trip. She asks the best questions, thinks deeply, plays hard, and loves well. She adores giving gifts and writing notes. I’m always finding little notes around the house to one family member or another. Even before she could write, she was drawing or scribbling away at lists. She would make grocery “lists” to copy mine when she was little – then hand it to me and ask me to get the items on the list.

 

After the polar plunge in the Hilton Head pool

Recently she’s had some pretty deep questions about God. She’s struggled with nightmares and we pray every night for her to have sweet dreams. But sometimes she still has a bad dream and it’s left her wondering (like all of us have!) – Is God actually listening to me? It doesn’t seem like He hears. I don’t think He’s real! It’s not working.

Describing a life of faith to a 7 year old will force you to soberly consider what you really believe – platitudes won’t cut it for this one.  Being her mom challenges me to think beyond the pat answers and really fight for faith. It’s not easy for sure, but I’m so grateful she’s sharing her journey with me.

At school having lunch. Michael was so amazed by all the big kids!

 

 

 

She’s grown in to an amazing big sister and it’s so fun to watch her play with Michael and get his giggles going. I can tell he’s going to be her little shadow as he grows up.

I love my Bethany so much. It was fun talking about her on the blog today! I think this series is going to be fun 🙂