7 Life Lessons from a Duck

Sometimes . . .
1.  You get your ducks in a row and something comes along and blows them away.
2.  You have to stick your neck out for the ones you love.
3.  You just have to roll with it.
4.  You need to check on your friends.
5.  You have to shake it off.
6.  You need to take a moment to re-group.
7.  You have to look unfazed and get back in the front to lead.

The Gap

1. A break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.

2. a missing part; gap
3. any gap or opening

I recently returned from a six day hiatus from my life as mom, wife, taxi driver, chef, volunteer and more. I was in San Antonio, Texas for an American Mothers national board meeting for a few days, which I then extended to Dallas to visit a friend for a few more days.

Six days away for a mom is a lot ~ in terms of time, and also in terms of what we do on the front end to prepare. We arrange rides, supervision, schedules, meals and more. Then there are the things we miss; games, tournaments, weekend family time. But there is also the substance (and sustenance) we gain ~ quiet, time and space for thoughts to move about more freely, to linger longer, to unwind to depths we might not have reached otherwise.

I needed a break in the continuity of my work as a mom. I needed to create a gap. I needed an opening. And the truth is, I didn’t even know it.
Don’t we all need that gap – regardless of our vocation? I would not have scheduled this time away. I needed a reason. The purpose of the post today is to encourage you to find a reason for a hiatus. To be creative when looking for a reason and location. If your break comes within the walls of a friend’s home, be bold when planning and let your friend know your purpose so that you build in quiet time. I had the luxury of a hotel room for a few of my days (and some great private space at my friend’s), but this may not always be the case.

Time away allows us to move from thinking about how to accomplish the urgent in our day to planning for how to accomplish the important in our lives. Take a breath, look at your calendar, plan ahead…way ahead if you need to, and create a gap.

Pizza with a Purpose

When Courtney was a high school freshman, my friend Barb gave me some great advice. Courtney had become part of a group of girls that ended up in our basement often. I wondered what to do with these girls ~ wanting to embrace them without hovering. Barb said, “Feed them.”

She went on to tell me to feed them something a little special, something they maybe don’t normally get. Her speciality was home-made milkshakes. Not many people make those anymore so when she broke out the blender the girls at her house felt special.

My speciality became homemade pizza. They loved it, so I made it often. I remember the evening of her junior year prom I made a pizza for after the prom, another family ended up hosting the group of kids at their house but Courtney stopped home and grabbed that pizza to take with her. I would have loved to have had the group here, but I was delighted that a part of me went with her to the other house.

She is now a college freshman, and few weeks ago she traveled to visit her friends for a weekend at their college. I received a text while she was there that said they said they missed my pizza. It made me smile. I replied that I would make it for them over Christmas break.

Tonight my basement is full of girls home from college…along with pans of homemade pizza. I love that the simple act of making pizza impacted them. As moms, sometimes we don’t know if we are doing things that matter, or if anyone even notices. But I think it does and sometimes they do. These girls would be here even without my pizza, it was Courtney’s invitation and presence that brought them here tonight, but something simple that I did to serve them mattered. I like that. Thanks Barb.

Can I See Your I.D.?

A funny (and embarrassing) thing happened when I took Zach out for dinner a few weeks ago. (If you haven’t read about the gift of presenCe, click here) I wanted to take him someplace he had not been to, someplace original and with great food; I thought of JK O’Donnell’s. Kevin and I have been there a few times and I thought Zach would appreciate the Irish food and environment.

The problem was immediately apparent when we were approached by our waiter who carded us! So, duh….JK ODonnells is an Irish Ale House! In American terms, a bar. I was thinking about the food and the atmosphere, not realizing it was a bar! So embarrassing…on so many levels!

We did find another restaurant that he had not been to and we did enjoy a great meal together. But as I write this, I realize the name of that restaurant is not something you would expect either – Granite City Brewery. Oh my. Now that’s Young Mother of the Year material right there.

I’m Back

I am coming back today. Its been a month of wondering if I have anything to say, and wondering if what I say matters. (I think I do, I hope it does, so I’m back)

Its been a month of preparing something special for my son’s 16th birthday, thinking about how to keep Christmas simple and focused, and a month in which we discovered my brother-in-law has cancer. I will be back here today with a post about mom stuff. See you soon!

Who’s in Your Group?

We all want to belong. In pre-school we hold hands with “my friend” even when we don’t know her name. In elementary school we find a group to play with on the playground. In middle-school we want to belong to a lunch table, in high school we long to fit somewhere, so we join the team, the club, the band.

It doesn’t really change, as adults we still long to belong. We want to know someone has got our back, that someone will pick up our kids when we can’t, that we can laugh, cry, pray and eat with others who know us.
Saturday night we gathered together with “our group”. After nine years, our group is a little like a family. We’ve been through a lot with each other and have stacked up some history. Recently we decided our gathering needed to change, life had taken us to new places, and what we had been doing wasn’t working anymore. We now meet less often but it felt more rich. I love that we mean enough to each other to re-evaluate and not just quit when it gets complicated.
I looked at this group of friends as we gathered to begin our study (also being done in a new format) and told them how much they all meant to me…and I teared up. Nine years is a long time. Courtney was 9 when we first were invited to join them – she is now at college. We’ve walked each other through a lot. Our lives criss-cross significantly more now that our kids are older. We can relax with each other, let our quirkiness leak out and know its OK (they know we’re quirky anyway). We know each others strengths…and weaknesses.

Right now our church leaders are urging everyone to get in a small group. Have dinner, do a study and pray together. I believe in this. I think it’s easy to feel alone; we don’t have family within 500 miles and yet we have what, at many times, feels life family within this group…all because we took a risk and showed up for Zesty Cheese Soup and a Bible study one fall evening.

Whose hand are you holding? Do you know who you are having lunch with? If you know these answers, awesome. If you don’t, look around and see whose table you want to join and invite them over for dinner. Let’s all do this life together.