What I’m Reading these Days…

I used to love trashy magazines (I’m talking People and the likes filled with celebrity gossip and stolen pictures). Then I had kids and started receiving Ladies Home Journal in my mailbox. When my oldest started reading, she would read anything she could get her hands on, looking at some of the articles, even in that magazine, through her eyes made me cancel the subscription. Several years ago my new favorite magazine became Real Simple. Love that magazine and everyone in the house can read every article.

For Christmas I asked for SHAPE magazine, my daughter couldn’t remember what I had asked for and got me a subscription to Prevention. Seriously, I have gone from People to Prevention. Good Grief.
What really cracked me up was yesterday as I sat in an office for an appointment, I picked up Arthritis Today and I actually found a few articles that were interesting. This seems like cause for concern.

First Day of School

Many of us have traditions we follow on this day each year. Most of us mark this day with photos ~ on the porch, on the steps, by the tree, with siblings, new haircuts, new clothes, with friends and neighbors and the dog. So many emotions wrapped up in those photos…with many of those being felt by the ones behind the cameras!

One of the traditions we have is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, ready and waiting when they walk in the door after school. I set the table, chill the glasses in the freezer, and as we share cookies and milk I hear things like what friends are in what classes, who they had lunch with, first impressions of teachers, if they got lost, how the locker combo thing went and more.

I love preparing for this. When they walk in the door I want them to instantly know I was thinking of them and that I am grateful to sit and soak up every detail of how this new year is looking and feeling to them. Its one way we mark the beginning of the new year at our house.

How do you mark the first day of school? Do you have traditions you would share with us here? Sharing parenting ideas is one of the things that makes us all better moms. Use the comment link to share your ideas. Happy 2010-2011 school year!

My oldest will start classes at college Monday, maybe I will send her cookies in a box? Hmmmm…new territory. Ideas?

Everything Changed on August 27, 1997

I wrote this on the day in which my first baby left for kindergarten…tomorrow she leaves for college. As I re-wrote it here I realized that at the time, in the place and stage we were, sending her away from me for even half a day was oh so significant. Thirteen years later I am stunned at how similar I feel as she leaves once more. Our kids…they grow and change, but a mother’s heart, well…its always a mother’s heart.

Everything Changed Today

The little girl climbed onto
the big yellow school bus
for the first time today.
As she climbed the large steps with ease
the mother struggled and ached with
each and every step.
When she had taken her first steps,
her mother had clapped and hoorayed,
but then it was into her father’s loving
and gentle arms she had walked.
Today she walks into the unknown.
The outside world hovers ever so near,
looms ever so large…
and a
tear
rolled
down
her
face.

Had she done all she had intended
those first five years?
Was the foundation good and strong
and ready to hold up under forces that
may stand ready to tear it down?
Had she looked her in the eye enough?
Had she held her in her arms often…and long?
Had they laughed enough? Learned enough?
Lived carefree enough?
Would the big world be gentle and caring?
Would her heart, mind and body be
protected and nurtured?

As the bus pulled away, the mother did the only thing
she could, she believed in what she had done. She believed she offered
what she could. She believed in her little girl, believed that
she was strong and would find her own way. And she trusted
in God whom she asked to guide her little girl gently and
return her safely at the end of each day.
Father, thank you for being faithful. For growing me as a mom as you have grown my children. Thank you for loving my girl even more than I. Thank you for opportunities before her. Thank you for friendships you have already formed, thank you for paths prepared. May she return safely to us always. With a heavy but grateful heart,  Amen.

Searching….

My favorite devotional is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I should read it daily, I do not. In fact, I have not picked it up for months, but I am searching, and today my hands found this book again.

Truth: The life we are leading as adoptive parents to our youngest is not one I anticipated. I am grateful for the refreshing that continues to be sprinkled in here and there, and I receive that refreshment as an act of grace directly from the hand of God. But I’m not gonna kid you, its draining to feel like we can do this, and then feel like I don’t know how we can do this.

There is the boy most people see who is charming, talkative, engaging, and there is the boy who puts holes & scratches in our furniture. Who steals, dents the new refrigerator, plays dumb for attention and more. The boy who can be violent towards us and who just wants his mommy…the first one God gave him. There is the boy who presents to others the clear answer…he just needs positive attention, but when we give that to him, we find all of the above damage and wonder when and why it happened. We have been working with professionals for the entire two years that he has been back, we are not doing this alone, and yet so often we feel alone in what we experience.

I know he was brought here by the hand of God. I know that. (Thank you God that I know that). But I don’t see the path to healing. I don’t know how to balance an ordinary life and this life that requires so much attention and focus on one child. I don’t know the answers, I don’t see the path, sometimes I don’t really like my reactions, and due certain new behaviors, I’m not even sure we know the direction.

Except . . . I do. And Oswald Chambers used Luke 18:31, 34 to remind me.
“And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished…And they understood none of these things.”

Here is the devotion that followed:
God called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster. Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death; He led every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God’s, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.

There comes the baffling call of God in our lives also. The call of God can never be stated explicitly; it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.

If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try and find out what His purposes are. As we go in the Christian life it gets simpler, because we are less inclined to say – Now why did God allow this and that? Behind the whole thing lies the compelling of God. “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.” A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity if the leisureliness of which out to characterize the children of God.

So…that was a good word for today. Thanks, Oswald. Thanks God – for reminding me once again You have a purpose, and I am overwhelmed that you trust us for it.
Now off for a bike ride with him and his little brother. (Thankful that part of God’s purpose was that three of his siblings would be in a famly near to ours.)

Taking it in

I’ve been enjoying the moments this summer. Although the moments are all too quickly sifting through the hourglass of this season, I am trying to be in the moment and savor them as they come along. (This seems to also have meant less writing)

One moment to take in was the other evening when my college bound daughter said in a moment of frustration, “10 days.” My husband said, “You know we can hear that, right?” Another moment was when she laid her head in my lap – the very evening the 10 days comment was made.

During the many trips to and from football practices, I’ve taken in moments as I have listened to my son tell his tales of hard work, sweat dripping from..well…everywhere. He tells of workouts that make my muscles spasm just from listening to him, and I marvel at his dedication and strength, his passion for the game he loves.

I’ve watched my baby girl watch her big sister and I’ve taken in the reality of her best-friend moving out in 9 days. I know there are moments coming for which I am not looking forward, but for which I must prepare. Our dynamic is shifting and I must prepare not only for my own emotions, but for others as well.

Our youngest has ebbed and flowed as summer relieves the tension of school work, but doesn’t relieve the pressure he continues to feels at the loss of a biological mother and a the right to an innocent childhood. Moments have taken place where I have felt absolutely inadequate, frustrated, scared, disconnected and lost.

As my kids have all come home from camps this summer I have listened to them describe moments that changed them…working in the gym during free time to improve a shot, walking campers to the bathroom at 4:00 am because that’s what you so as a counselor, leading devotions before bed to a group of 3rd & 4th graders, asking God to come into the broken heart of a 12 year old boy. Worshipping with all they have and being unashamed. Its been a joy to hear of the moments that took place while they were away from me.
There have also been favorite moments with no kids involved, girlfriends on the patio, music, food, wine, and endless talk and laughter. Another was a friend and I sharing a cup of coffee on her porch and then going for a run together to start our day. (I mean at age forty-five and forty-eight, we were kind of excited that this is how we chose to spend some of our limited time together!)

Moments. Its what’s on my mind tonight. There are some very significant moments coming up as this mother seeks to prepare herself for the end of summer. But for the next 9 days I will watch for, take in, savor and ponder all the moments that I can.

What an Honor

Today, along with the Indiana Mother of the Year, Darlene Cyr, I was honored as the National Young Mother of the Year at the Allen County Courthouse. I am posting, in part, what I spoke about since this blog is about the journey of a year in the life as the National Young Mother of the Year…

As a 45 year old mother of 4, can I just say it is an honor to represent YOUNG mothers!!

For those of you who don’t know, my husband and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this month and are in the midst of raising four future adults. I say “future adults” as my perspective has changed as our oldest prepares to head to college in the fall…I am glad we have not raised a child as they are self-centered and are prone to throw tantrums easily.

The opportunity in May through American Mothers to attend their national convention in New York City and meet moms from across this country made me realize that what we are doing is so much larger than what we may realize on a daily basis.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in the daily tasks and believe it’s about homework, chores, practice, dinner and such. But meeting moms from Alaska to New York reminded me that we are raising up this country…in fact the next generation. The new leaders are all in our homes, so what we do on a daily basis matters in a really big way. Such as…

* Walking in integrity and with character…behind the doors of our home. This is important, its what our kids see most clearly.

* Not being distracted when we interact with them, which can be so hard with the cell phone, inbox and text messaging we find ourselves engaged in.* Looking to God so they understand that even we have a higher authority.

* Following through on what we say.

* Apologizing when we need to…especially to them.
* Showing the tender mercies of grace and forgiveness.
* Learning what is relevant to our kids and then leading them through what for us is uncharted territory. (Who knew I would have to be talking to my middles schoolers about messages and pictures that could show up on their cell phones.)

With technology today it seems our kids are leading the way. How many of us have had our kids do things on the computer for us or show us how to use our new phones! They are moving in a world of technology many of us do not understand and so some of us stay out of it. Let me say, we can’t stay out of it. We must lead them through this even though we walk in uncharted territory. They may not look like it or sound like it, but they are looking for guidance and boundaries and we must step up and lead them.

If you have ever looked at your kids and were confused about where they came from, remember they were created by our creator and He knows them better than we do, so we go to God for guidance. He longs to direct our steps so we can help direct them in the way He created them to go.

Look to other moms. I am here today because I rub shoulders and lean on other moms for wisdom and strength, counsel and prayer. Keep or get some moms who are a little ahead of you, a lot ahead of you, right next to you and even younger than you on this parenting thing.

The truth is this, the very fabric of our nation is coming from our homes. Be reminded that from this generation, who right now we get to wrap our arms around, is coming our very next generation of leaders.

One of us is raising our future President.

All of us are raising future church and community leaders, teachers, CFO’s, CMO’s, CEO’s, managers, engineers, sales people, mechanics and so much more more.
Seeing the bigger picture can be a little overwhelming. But you and I will create this tapestry one day, and one parenting decision at a time. What an honor. I look forward to doing my part and walking alongside you as you do yours.

Hold On…

It is a big weekend. My daughter, Courtney, turns 18 today! Her commencement ceremony is Saturday and her graduation party will be Sunday. With much to do during this time, my mother-in-law has been in town most of the week to lend a hand. The other night while we were all in the living room enjoying some time together, Courtney crawled into the chair with me and laid her head across my lap. It was a moment to take in.

I was suddenly keenly aware of a few things: One was how peaceful, and even proud, I felt to have the relationship that we do at this stage that she would snuggle in like that. Another was that even as I stroked her hair I could see her little girl face just under the surface of her almost adult one. And then I looked at my husband and glanced at his mother sitting across the room and wondered how many more moments I will have like this with my child. When will she simply sit across the room from me?

Who knew there would come a time when the simple act of holding my daughter could mean so much and affect me so deeply. I don’t recall thinking, this is the last time I will bathe her, wash her hair, push her on the swing or hold her in my lap to read her a book. Those lasts just happened while I was unaware.
It is a busy, busy time in our family right now, but being cognizant of moments like this is what will help make the transition we are about to make a little easier…for we are in transition, and I am about to move a little further out on this parenting thing, but for now I will hold on where I am today with eyes wide open.