This past June, I took my kiddos home for my dad’s 60th birthday. It was just me and the two littles- aged 5 and 1 1/2 at the time- and we had the absolute best trip ever. We’ve taken a lot of trips back to Kansas. For various reasons- funerals, holidays, to show off the new baby. I don’t know what it was about this trip, but it was by far the best yet. Everything was smooth and fun and wonderful. Continue reading
I was probably ten. It was still dark. Long before the casino was built and long after the lights of the racetrack had been turned off, the dirt road to our house was crowned in a blanket of early morning stars. A few lights twinkled across the Kansas horizon… but not many. It was just me. My dad. And the cloudy puffs of hot breathe rhythmically making their way into the crisp morning air.
I don’t remember much else about that morning except that I didn’t want to be there. Continue reading
That’s what they say. If you want to commit to something, you have to do it every day.
Really want to see health improvement? Workout and eat well every day.
Want to keep your house clean? Pick up a little bit every day.
Shooting for the Olympics? Practice every day.
Developing a skill? Do it every day.
Want to write? Been told that you must write? Encouraged to become a writer? Trying to find your place in the writing world? Called to write?
You guessed it… Every. Single. Day.
Unfortunately that simple answer is always harder than it seems.
This morning I woke up at 5:45 thinking I would get some time to sit and drink my coffee and write. But first….
5:50 But first I had to put my husband’s work clothes in the dryer so they’d be ready for him by the time he left for work.
5:55 But first I had to put the dry dishes away because I’m gonna be gone all day and needed room to put more dishes in the drain rack.
6:00 But first I had to clean out the filter so I could make my coffee.
6:05 But first I had to gather up the trash for my husband to take on his way to the car.
6:10 But first I kindly took the bags that didn’t fit in the trash can out to the road.
6:15 Finally sat down to drink my coffee and get out my computer. Husband jokes about me going to get his car (it’s a very long story… but it’s about a 7 minute process and a nice refreshing morning walk)
6:16 Stare at computer. Think it would be nice of me to surprise him with his car when he got out of the shower
6:25 But first I took the trash out to the road on my way to get his car… excited to surprise him.
6:26 Return from outside. Sit in my chair with my computer. Read one email.
6:27 The boy cries. The girl wakes. All is lost.
Now I’m sitting here on my computer with Mickey Mouse blaring in my ear and if you know me at all, you know that this doesn’t work. I cannot think if there’s noise. Some people like white noise. Some people sleep to music. Some people can talk in a crowd full of people.
I can’t string two words together with my mouth if there is background noise. Let alone my fingers.
And suddenly the discouragement sets in and the thought of finding a QUIET peaceful time to write every day becomes less and less possible. Because of all of the “But firsts…”
As I walked to get the car I pondered this. That no matter how important I know something is, I simply cannot get myself to commit to doing it every day. I mean, I’m lucky to brush my teeth every day. The ONLY thing I manage to do daily is drink coffee and check Facebook (embarrassing confession). But seriously, checking Facebook on my phone doesn’t require anything. It takes a moment here. Three minutes there. Five minutes to read an interesting article. People say “If you have time to check Facebook you have time to ________” But that’s not really true. Facebook is a totally different animal. Facebook is easy. Commitment is hard.
Writing? Working out? Cleaning?
Those are commitments that require focus and attention and effort. And the more I write these thoughts, I feel more and more like a sloth.
Cleaning is the easiest, really. I’m smacking my own mouth for saying that. But really, I can wash those five dishes in the sink in 5 minutes or less… if I would just do it. And I like to clean the bathroom while the kids are in the tub (multi-tasking for the win!). And the living room can be picked up and vacuumed in the 10 minutes before my husband walks in the door… I’ve tested this one many a time!
Working out is the second hardest. It’s not the “22 minutes” or the “only 30 minutes to a great body!” It’s not that. You know what eludes me about working out Every. Single. Day????
I hate it. I hate that I can’t just pop in a video, get my muscle on, and go about my day. Instead I sweat like I’m in Thailand again, soil ANOTHER outfit (throw that in the pile of things to do daily), and have to take a shower with an up and coming toddler on the loose. It’s never 30 minutes. It’s always more.
But writing? My soul? My heart? My FAVORITE thing in the world to do? It’s the hardest of all. Because it takes time. And peace. And quiet. And focus. And inspiration. And nine times out of ten, the moment that I’m inspired to write some wonderful thought, there is no way for me to put life on hold and get it out. If I get up early, maybe. But just like this morning, the “ButFirst” monster took control. If I wait til naptime, I still have a little shadow needing juice and snacks and help and “Mommy, play with me.” If I put it off til evening? Well… you can pretty much cross that day’s writing off completely. Because when the kids are finally asleep and the house is finally still…
I just want to sleep.
I guess that is one other commitment I can keep every day.
It’s written on a blue and white magnetic wipe-off board that is stuck to our refrigerator.
I wrote it out- a simple, familiar verse- mostly because the Pickle has spent the last three months being terrified of everything from storms, to sleeping with her door shut, to me spending more than two minutes in the next room. She’s been engulfed by fear.
So we comfort and we speak truth and we convince her that lightning is not going to strike the house and I write a Bible verse on the refrigerator.
Not that she can read it. But so that I can remember the battle she is facing. And so I can pray for her.
When I’m thawing chicken and filling up juice cups and stuff. Continue reading
The woman in the photo above is a friend of a friend. She is a mother of three little boys and one new baby girl. That is her Facebook post on March 27th, 2016. Easter Sunday.
The next morning she found that baby girl in her crib not breathing anymore.
That beautiful woman there is the mother of one of my former students. She and her husband were unable to have children, so they adopted three beautiful babies. Two boys and a girl. Her oldest, at a ripe 3 years old, was in my class. Her heart is enormous and her faith in God, unmatched. She has been fighting cancer for over a year. A few months ago she came to school dropoff with the incredible news that she was cancer free!
Two weeks later they discovered two new forms of cancer, growing aggressively, where her womb once was. They began treatment immediately, but infection hindered their progress and sent her to ICU. On a Monday we heard she was making progress and going to a regular room soon. On Tuesday she was on life support. And on Wednesday she was gone. I turned and hugged her son when I heard the news.
And that beautiful Momma. Holding her oldest son, the one who made her a Mommy. She goes to our church and is one of the strongest women I know. Her boy is an amazing, deep, passionate kid. He loves football. He adores his mother. He is an awesome big brother and just an all-around good boy. She is raising her three boys, with one more on the way, to love God, to serve others, to live passionately.
Two weeks ago her son was involved in a tragic accident at their home and lost his life. He was 9.
To put it plainly, I am at a loss for what to say on this Mother’s Day.
If you were alive in 1986, you know what that title is in reference to.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.
I was in Kindergarten. And by this time the very next year, I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything in the world. Apparently I didn’t understand what all of the media hype was all about. All I saw was a woman in a space suit and that’s all it took.
But the pictures of the woman in the space suit, at the time, were not all over the place for little girls to be inspired. They were all over the place because something went dreadfully, dreadfully wrong and the world was anxiously waiting for answers.
I just don’t think anyone was ready for the truth. Still today, I don’t think anyone likes to hear the truth. No one wants to believe in the aftermath of one of the greatest tragedies of our generation…
That this could have been prevented. Continue reading
It’s been a year. Not a good year. Not a bad year. Not a big year or a little year. Just a year.
As I get older, I am learning that this is a blessing.
God shows his strength and his provision and his unfailing love in the years where we are shaken and sifted. Where we transition and change. Where big choices are made and the roller coaster dips.
But God shows his faithfulness. His steadiness. His “be still and know” in the years where not much changes at all.
Ask me nine months ago if I felt steady or faithful or still and I probably would have laughed at you. But looking back, taking all the little moments and wrapping them with a neat bow and calling them a year…
It’s been steady. And faithful. And in all the little things, it’s been big. Continue reading