Picture of Perspective

wall-street-articleToday I saw this picture in the Wall Street Journal and my heart was rocked.  This boy is young. Too young to be fleeing for his life, trying to save these animals, which may possibly be his family’s livelihood. Look how strong he is as he holds on to the resistant horse, and tries to heard the goats. What turmoil he is living in, what hardship has befallen him; it’s quite unfathomable to me.

Each of my kids has come to my mind one by one today. I’ve considered their current situations and am grateful that despite any real struggles they may be walking in, they are not fleeing for their lives. They are not standing with outstretched arms trying desperately to hold on to family assets. They are not wondering if they will ever get to go home again.

Last month Zach, our almost 22 year old son broke two bones, tore muscles and ripped a tendon in his ankle. He hobbled around for a week before surgery. He’s lived in pain, fatigue, discomfort and dependence on others for several weeks. Getting to classes around a large university has not been easy. I’ve witnessed and respected his display of strength of  body, mind and character during this time. Yet still my heart has wished for less pain, more healing and more independence for him. Even as evidence of strengthening faith and the providence of God have been present, despite little to no complaint from Zach, my heart wants it to be easier for him. I want him to be at football games, not selling his tickets. I wish he could drive his car, not ask others for a ride. I wish he could carry his own plate to the table.

The picture above has not diminished in my eyes the difficulty Zach is in, but it made me thankful his biggest problems are what they are, not escaping from an ISIS held village. Our country is far from utopia, but we are currently not being slaughtered village by village or being held as human shields. Tonight I take this young boy under the wings of my prayers, asking God for His providence for him, his family, their animals ~ hoping he has found a place to rest and be safe. I’m sure I stand with his mom and dad as they seek and pray for things to not be so hard for their boy.

Give Them Life ~ Again

“I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”
~a mom

Words hopefully none of us have ever uttered! But these words are very, very true.

Zach - just bornWhen my sweet babies were placed into my arms that very first time I could hardy believe I had brought life into the world. The pain of labor and delivery immediately swept away by the appearance of a tiny human being who needed me to keep her (and then him, and then once again her) alive! From my lips came soft kisses, a tender voice and late night whispers telling them of my love for them.

We use our voices and lives to speak love, life, confidence, teaching and more into our children; it seems to come fairly naturally when they’re little. But there came a time when from my lips came words and tones that weren’t always so affirming. Those tones and words had the power not to give them life, but to take them out.  When one child became two children –  some new and raw emotions seemed to come out of nowhere. (Or possibly due to a baby that cried for me and only me. Oh, and he didn’t nap.) Suddenly all my words weren’t so life giving. Words that came forth when milk was spilled could be soaked in impatience and sprinkled with frustration, denting little minds and hearts.

I knew I wanted to breathe life into them, not suck  life out of them, so I got help in changing a legacy that had formed within me; I learned how to quit banging into my kids with harsh words and a loud voice. Isn’t it a little bit scary to realize we have this power to shape and mold? I wasn’t always sure I wanted that responsibility; it’s so big, with the ability to affect generations to come!

And the truth is, these darlings of ours can be so darn challenging! But maybe the reality is that the challenge is discovering how to continue to be life giving when circumstances, responses, our children, or people in general aren’t so easy. As moms and women I believe we have a unique ability to keep our sons, daughters, our son & daughter-in-laws, and other women around us afloat when it feels sticky and hard.

As a mom I’m still growing in the life-giving area. Sometimes I’ve said things that have sucked the life right out of my adult and adult-ish kids. I don’t mean to, it’s never my intention and I strive to fix it when I’m aware – or made aware – that I’ve done or said something that took some life out of them. (In the sting of learning I’ve hurt my kid’s feelings, I’m always grateful they trust our relationship to share that truth.) My best guess is I will always be growing in this area because I keep traveling into new territory with them as they get older, have more life experiences and are more independent.

I’ve walked alongside women whose mom’s haven’t been life giving with their words and actions. I believe we have multitudes of opportunities to breathe life into each other in ways that are nurturing, even maternal. With Mother’s Day approaching, look around in your circles, is there a mom within your reach who might benefit from some words of encouragement and life? There are women around us whose moms have passed on, maybe we could send a card or even text those women on Sunday, breathing a little life into them.

Since I met my mother-in-law over 27 years ago she has been kind, gracious, respectful and loving, but I’ve heard that isn’t the experience of every daughter-in-law! If you are a mother-in-law, the power you have to bless your daughter or son-in-law is incredible. I’m not there yet, but when I am I hope to measure my words, tones, time, expectations and authenticity in ways that breathe life into them.

Here’s the bottom line, Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” and Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones.” So as a mom, a friend and simply as a woman, I’m aiming for recognizing the power of my tongue, as well as striving to be gracious in my words that I might be healing to the bones and life giving to the soul; that I would give life again and again.

Getting Rid of What I Didn’t Plant

20160425_123000_001Gardening has never been my thing. I love bright flowers blooming all summer long, I buy them in the spring and put them in the ground & pots, easy-peasy!  But this new old house we’re living in now has flower beds all along the fence lines. 96 feet of beds; mostly it’s overgrown groundcover ~ greens and ivy. There are a few peony plants, daffodils and tulips that pop up here and there and I believe I remember a hosta from last year. Since I don’t like to garden I had decided to leave well enough alone, grateful for a few perennials amongst the tangles of green; until a few weeks ago when it all looked very overgrown and reckless.

Insert a sunny 70 degree day and a spark of initiative; I boldly  decided I would clear the ground around the peonies and tulips, giving them room to breathe and stand out. I ended up working over two hours ~ on a portion of ground spanning one section of fence. I didn’t enjoy it. It was quite the work for six feet. (Later that day my neighbor told me she had not seen anyone work in those flower beds for the 16 years she’s lived here ~ that explains a lot!)

The next day I decided to tackle another section ~ back breaking work, plus after I was done yanking, pulling and digging I had to clean up of the piles of debris I had pulled out! Not my thing. I’m impatient and don’t like tedious work, case in point, a few weeks ago I weeded the garden that’s in good shape along our driveway. (Due to Kevin’s back breaking work last year!) I pulled out the weeds leaving them in the driveway for him to clean up. I’m not proud of that. My thought was I had a tub to scrub and a bathroom floor inside to clean, and he usually does all the outside work, so really I was helping him! I even had the nerve to tell him that!  (Sometimes he must look up and say “Really God, this was your best for me?!!”)

The sections I had tended to along the fence were now standing out from the neglect. Motivated, I tackled a third section, not fun. But on Monday I did one more section and that’s when everything began to turn. By now I had learned pulling out the ivy was different from digging out the other green groundcover plant. I also noticed all that ivy seemed to have slithered over from my neighbor’s garden just on the other side of the fence.

As I worked the ground in the sun that day I thought a lot about how often our lives are similar to this gardening situation.

20160425_123037It looks good but is it what I wanted?
Because of our proximity, what my neighbor intentionally put on her side of the fence, unintentionally became a part of my side of the fence. Two years ago at first glance I thought it was OK, in fact helpful as I didn’t have to do the work of cultivating my own garden; my ground just absorbed what was hers. But as I pulled back the vines I could see they were choking what had at one time been intentionally been planted in my garden. Although it was easy to let this groundcover take over, it wasn’t what I wanted, it didn’t really reflect me.

Getting to the root of it can be complicated.
20160425_125926
By the fourth day I discovered a deep respect for root systems. I learned before pulling the root if I gently moved the soil  away, exposing more and more of the root, more often than not I could remove the entire root. Though the longer the plant had been there the more connected its roots were to other vines with more roots, creating intricate systems of connection. It’s impressive what lies beneath the surface. Sometimes I just couldn’t get to the bottom of the root and it would break off. As I heard the snap I knew that one might stay below the ground and look OK for awhile, but sooner or later that unwanted plant will resurface. I’m realizing once we decide to clean something up, it doesn’t necessarily mean we get rid of all the undesirables below the surface at first swipe, it’s more of a process.

20160425_143753Pruning
It’s also clear that learning about separating bulbs and pruning  plants is on my list. Some of the plants I want to keep are overcrowded and blooming sparsely, even a novice like me can see that a little separation will allow the tulips to become more healthy. Pruning the daisy plant will help its overall health, a website tells me, and allow it to put its energy into new growth. Hmmmmm….sometimes even good things need pruning to make way for growth.

Support
There’s a small tree in the corner by the garage that is growing out at an angle. It’s clear a support and twine would go a long to help this sapling go in its intended direction.

The hard work is worth it.
I’ve put ten hours in thus far and have many more to go, I thought I would hate every minute of it but I don’t. I’m happy with the result and find myself excited and proud of work I’ve done. Similar to life, what sometimes feels like a tangled mess can become something beautiful with pulling, pruning and getting to the root of that which you really didn’t want planted in the first place.

The Church Search

I would not have chosen to leave our church, but when we moved 90 miles up the road last fall we decided that was too far to drive each Sunday. (Although for a minute we considered it.) There were a slew of things that made it difficult to leave, the most significant being many of the people in our church had become like family.

In 2011 Christmas landed on a Sunday, the question wasn’t if we were going to church, in fact I thought it would be quite special to sit with so many good friends on Christmas morning, the question was ~ what to wear. Our family stays in pajamas all day on Christmas, with feeling like our church is family the girls and I decided to go in our pajamas. (The guys wore suits – to balance our attire.) Our church family had become so much a part of our lives that our pajama decision seemed natural. (Note: except for a few children, we were the only people, in a packed church, wearing pajamas! I still don’t regret that decision.)

For fourteen years our church was a central part of our lives. This tribe came alongside us and our children, having influence in each of our lives. They led us, ministered to us, loved us, and gave us opportunities to grow in service to, and care for others. Consequently our search for a new church is not something we’ve taken lightly; this new community will matter to us.

It was harder than expected to begin the search, in fact we took many Sundays off. (During this time so many kept asking us if we had found a church yet. That, my friends, is a caring question for which we were grateful.)  Kevin and I knew we wouldn’t give up meeting together with a group of believers, so at last we began our church search in earnest. When we did began our quest to find a church home I quickly discovered it was with grieving heart; I missed my people and the connection I felt each week. Going to church doesn’t feel the same here, but I have been known to say, “God is not a feeling”, so our search is about so much more than settling into a feeling. We are not going to feel connected right away anyway, so we will look for the things we’ve learned are important through our home church, they did these things well.

As we talk through our Sunday experiences we’ve focused on these things:

  • Is the message scripture based, and is scripture used in context?
    Teaching the Word is what matters. We’re looking for the Word to be clear and the gospel truth to be heard.
  • Is worship led or performed?
    Worship leaders have the awesome responsibility and honor of leading us to the throne, the cross, to God. Excellence in worship matters, performing does not.  I’m being challenged with a little different worship style, but worship isn’t about me, it’s about God. I want familiar worship, but what I need is to focus on what matters, and that’s not me. This is not a bad challenge for me to be working through.
  • Do the people seem connected to each other, is the atmosphere friendly and welcoming?
    This matters because “the church” is the people. How they interact with each other gives a window into who they are.
  • Is this a church that serves beyond it’s walls?
    Love God, love others ~ this is the greatest command, so this matters.
  • Does what we believe align with their “What we believe” statement?

We have chosen a church to attend each Sunday. We are mostly in that place of “last in and first out” on Sunday mornings ~ we call it hovering. We’re getting closer to the ground, but we’re not quite ready to land. We’re grateful for the opportunity to occasionally drive to our home church, where they did the above things well, and also feeling peaceful about the steps we’re taking to land in a new church community.

If you’ve had to search for a new church home, please feel invited to share your experience by leaving a comment. I’d be so interested in learning about your church search process!

Lasts and Firsts and Taking it All in

Christmas 2015 7Christmas break is still going at our house, which means two college kids remain here and we are enjoying the company of my mother-in-law. It’s slowing coming to an end though, Courtney has returned to her apartment and job and Kevin went back to work, making me aware of these dwindling days.

The other night after going to bed, I crawled back out, tapped on Erin’s door and climbed into bed next to her; sometimes a mom just feels like she needs to cuddle her baby, even if her baby is 18 and a college student. My intention was to stay for just a bit, but when she fell asleep in my arms I couldn’t leave; I woke up next to her in the morning light and my heart was full.

Christmas 2015As I walked through the next day I felt like I had experienced a gift ~ and hoped it wasn’t the last time that would happen, but wondered if it was. Sometimes the many “firsts” we get to see when they’re little hide some of those lasts, so we don’t even realize we missed the “last”. But my awareness of lasts is heightened in this season, and I took that one in…just in case.

Here’s another thing that happened this week ~ after two weeks of vacation Kevin needed some shirts ironed before he returned to work (wife fail: I don’t do his ironing), his mom said she would be happy to iron his shirts. As I watched her put shirt after shirt on hangers for her son I wondered if she was having a mom-moment; caring for her son in this way. As I’ve sat at dinner and listened to Kevin thank God for his mom’s presence I am cognizant of their mother-son relationship, and also grateful they have the opportunity to be together like this, and hope this is a glimpse of my future. (Yesterday as I put a pair of pants on Zach’s bed, I decided  to iron them for him since I had the iron out anyway. As I did that I wondered how many more times I would iron something for my son, and smiled as I thought of Verona ironing Kevin’s shirts.)

Christmas 2015 3In this season of change ~ so much change, I’m also encountering some “firsts” as I experience some “lasts”. Zach and I went for pizza and a beer at our local brewery the other night. We’re planning a visit to Minnesota soon to meet the girl he is dating and his core group of friends. I’m going to visit Courtney for a weekend and she is looking forward to showing me around her town and sharing her life there. Erin is planning to study abroad in Spain this summer ~ all firsts.

I love being a mom ~ parenting these kids with Kevin has been the greatest joy of my life to Christmas 2015 4this point ~ and ~ things are shifting. So I’ll take in those hugs, cuddles, and give the shoulder massages my kids love. I’m working to embrace the paths we are walking in, and walking towards. Five months ago we were living in the same house, today we live in four different states – that’s a lot of change, and that was just the beginning, there is more to come.

As I consider my loving mother-in-law ironing her son’s shirts, going out to dinner with just him, lingering with him over coffee, I am reminded the role of a mom remains even as her purpose transforms.

A season for everything

Dear lost, found, claimed, free yet bound child of mine,

We made it ~ today you are 18 years old!

In this family that you were grafted into I believe we have ALL had periods of wondering if we would make it, and yet today is here and you are free.

There are many emotions and thoughts running through me today ~ the image of you the first time I met you, an adorable blond haired, blue eyed little boy climbing into my minivan in a parking lot. I’ll forever remember you buckling your seat belt and then immediately putting on a Batman mask and cape, quietly staring out the window all the  way to our home, a place of respite within the foster care system.

So many memories, remember the day you went and pulled up all the utility flags that had been placed that day in a yard down in the cud a sac!? Or the times you got on your hands and knees to let little Geradaldo climb on your back to get on the trampoline? How about the end of the school year parties, stromboli and that orange salad I sometimes make? I recall one evening holding you in the big brown chair (one of the few times you let me hold you) watching TV thinking my love and arms could finally protect you for good. A mother can dream, can’t she?

We’ve been through a lot over the last ten years. We’ve seen Mount Rushmore, been to an island on the ocean, a farm in Kansas, the cold and snow of Minnesota, the music in Nashville, the heat and humidity of Georgia, and probably a few trips I’m forgetting. We’ve encouraged you to run and wrestle and workout. You’ve made us proud as you worked to overcome so much.

Things have been more rough than maybe either of us expected. I’ve sometimes used tones and words in ways I’m not proud of. I’ve not always known what to do, say, or respond, so I’ve had to wing more than I expected in situations I wasn’t familiar with. You’ve sent words, attitude and items sailing across the room too many times. You’ve longed (all the time I’ve known you) for your birth mom to love, support and protect you as God intended. I get that – despite her role in your beginnings; I believe longing for the love a mom is instinctual and hard to overcome.

This day I’ve been all over the board, from seeing glimpses of your adorable towheaded dimple-faced self in my mind, to feeling bitter and resentful for all we’ve been through, especially these past few months. My heart has felt broken open with love for you today, as well as angry for the rejection you shove our way. Last night I wanted to yell at you and hug you and not let you go. But the time has come when we must, and we will, give you that for which you have been asking for for so long with your words and your actions, freedom to live your way.

This is what I know today ~ you’ve grown a lot from that scared little boy who hoped his Batman cape and mask could shield him, to a young man who knows in the deepest part of his heart that God is his rock and his shield. I know that you know to your core that God has a plan for your life – and that those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. And I believe you understand that when you call on God and come and pray to him, that he will listen to you. That when you truly seek God with all your heart you will find him. I know that at one point – (maybe three :) ) you have given your heart to Jesus, and this is truth: He will never leave you or forsake you. Never. He loves you. Deeper and wider and more fully than you know.

Know that this family, mom, dad, two great sisters and an awesome brother, is yours. In the eyes of God we have become one. Mark 10:9 says what God has joined together let no man separate. I know that’s referring to marriage, but I believe to my core that God joined us together. “We” (the six of us) were a part of his plan in this fallen world we navigate. It’s hard, buddy…it is. I don’t want to leave a sugary or hard message here, but in an attempt to remind you of the whole picture, I record the good and the ugly…our story is both.

I pray for you as David prayed for one of his sons, that those who come upon you will be gentle with you for our sake. I pray that if you come upon hardship the Lord will be your protector, and that you remember always that you are loved, not for who you are, but that you are.

Love,
your mom

More than pictures

Fifty-nine days ago the move to Marshall was official, and for each of those days I’ve been capturing a photo of at least one moment that has made me happy. I suspected the 100HappyDaysChallenge would be a good discipline for me as I adjusted to this new season with it’s many, many changes. At this point I can report that it is valuable and centering to intentionally look for one thing, view, moment or person each day that makes me happy.

This move has gone more smoothly than I anticipated; the level of peace I continue to feel is unexpected. A friend recently told me I look “so good”, I’ve thought about that compliment a few times. ( Who wouldn’t want to replay that kind of compliment!) I believe that living apart from Kevin for two years was more stressful that I acknowledged, even to myself. We did what we knew was best for Erin and never looked back, but being together is what we were meant to be, so I think some stress lines have disappeared simply because we are reunited. (Truth be told, I’ve also discovered a really  great new make-up foundation, so there’s that!)

On a recent photo a friend remarked that our town seems perfect. When I read that I knew it was time to write a reality check post, lest the #100happydays project projects a false sense of perfection! Let me say that I am engaged in and appreciating the Happy Days challenge, but like that really good make-up foundation I recently discovered, the project may be responsible for making me look better than I really do.

it is wellThis blog is about real life. My heart is to be encouraging by writing about all of life, so let me get real with you today. First, things truly are going well. Second, there is an issue that has been hard, really hard. It’s regarding our youngest son and it’s all sort of tricky to talk about. The bigger picture of life in our new town is that he has been making some decisions and crossing some lines that have caused us to make some difficult decisions and reinforce some lines. Much of it is not pretty and there is no filter to apply that would enhance the picture. I share this because it’s more of a panoramic view, and considering I share my life with others I want to be honest, not deceptive, even unintentionally.

It’s hard to be in a town where no one knows you. Or your family. Or your history. Or your story…or your character. Walking through this would be easier in our community of sixteen years, but that is not our reality so we walk on being challenged to do the hard, right thing. To seek God and not justify, or feel the need to explain, or to be understood. To lean not on man, but on God who knows our hearts. For me, this is sometimes hard, hard stuff. I share this here not to garner words or sympathy or even prayers (though I’d never turn away a prayer!) but to show more than the scrapbook pictures of our life.

The thing about social media is that it’s part of our picture, not the whole picture. Think about our scrapbooks, we pick the best pictures to fill the pages, the things we want to document, record and remember. I never went around taking pictures of my house when it was a disaster or shot videos of my kids arguing, but those things were also a part of our lives.

For forty-one days I will continue to document one thing a day which brings me a sense of peace, joy or a happy feeling. It will remain a very good and important daily discipline, helping to remind my soul that it is well.

A Second a Day, Summer 2015

I have the honor of having my daughter, Courtney as guest a writer today…

This past summer was a huge one – I graduated college, spent some much appreciated time with friends and family, watched a baby start to grow into her engaging and hilarious personality, started a CAREER in engineering (that still sounds weird), parted ways with someone I really care about, moved to a new town, helped my family prepare to move out of my childhood home, and a couple days into June, learned how to properly orient phone videos.

A few days after graduation, I realized I wanted to capture this transitional period as a way to remind myself to be present in the moment, instead of worrying about what the next few weeks and months were going to bring. I started taking little clips of videos every day, inspired by those “second every day” videos you see every now and then. It’s not the traditional second-a-day video, although there are representations from each day over the 3 month period I chose to record. Some days have several video segments dedicated to them; each video is approximately 1.5 seconds long. You would be surprised how much more can happen in half a second, and how much more emotion can be captured.
     This project allowed me to both step back and lean into moments with the people I care about, and the moments I had to myself. A lot of the time, taking these clips gave me the same warm feeling you get when you stop for a second in the middle of an evening with friends and quietly watch the people you love enjoy themselves. It also allowed me to actively look for little moments in each day I wanted to record; this was a great exercise in gratefulness. I noticed things about the people around me; how my sister tilts her head back every time she smiles in surprise, how my grandma’s face lights up when she’s speaking to a loved one. Part of the way through the summer, I started editing, and noticed that my dad was in very few videos. My parents spent two years living in separate houses after he got a new job to make things easier on my younger siblings, who were finishing high school and attending a local college, and he was working during the week while I spent a lot of weekends away. Realizing that we spend a small amount of time together made me more appreciate and aware of the time that we do have, for which I am grateful.
     Finally, during the making of this video I noticed two things about time; how quickly it goes, and how much of it I pretend is inconsequential. I almost always have my eyes forward on an event I’m excited about and I’ve often been guilty of having a countdown going to wish away days until it gets here. One example that presented itself this summer were visits to my then-boyfriend, who lived a few hours away, but also came in the form of visits to friends, apartment hunting, and vacations. Watching the videos back, I was surprised at how much time was between those events, and how quickly they went when they did come. It made me realize that counting down until the next big thing has a way of making you cheat yourself out of the time you have right in front of you. Having visible reminders of the in-between days made me realize that they’re not really in-between at all; those days are what make up most of my life. I’m thankful that I liked what I saw in those days. I’m not perfectly reformed yet, but I’m doing my best to consciously enjoy those days now.
     In conclusion, I loved this summer. It was fun, it was exciting, it was scary, it was at times sad and hard. I got to see a lot of the people that mean the most to me. I had to say goodbye to people, places, and entire chapters, and I got to welcome a whole new part of life. I’m glad I have the opportunity to look back upon it, literally.
You can see the video here.

10 things 4 weeks after the move

IMG_61641) Peace has resided within my soul since my first night here.

Boxes linger in every room. The big furniture from our great room doesn’t exactly fit in our smaller living room, meaning furniture decisions still have to be made. Also, my clothes don’t fit in these itty-bitty closets, yet there is a peace that rests within me. What a gift.

2) The dogs and my FitBit have seen increased activity.

The smaller quarters and yard mean Lucy and Emma need more exercise, so each morning I take Emma on a walk, drop her off and then take Lucy. We walk past the ladies that run the valet parking at the hospital and they greet us each time. After dinner Kevin and I walk the dogs together on one last loop. This has been good for all of us!

3) I’m grateful we moved only 90 miles up the road.

Appointments on my calendar have kept me running back and forth between Marshall and Fort Wayne this whole time. It has been been wonderful for continued connection but also a little draining; there might not be as many boxes maintaining their position if I could stay home for an entire week.

4) It’s been a little lonely.

I’ve been reminded anew that noticing others matters. When someone moves into our neighborhoods, let’s all agree to go say “Hello, I noticed you moved in!” and “Welcome!” I’ve had one neighbor stop over to welcome me to town, it meant a lot. Other than that its been pretty quiet. Nothing and no one is familiar, so a friendly face and extension of some kind has the potential to go a long way. We did finally walk down to the brewery last week for pizza, and my favorite waitress welcomed me with a hug and asked if I was officially living in Marshall yet. When I said yes, she invited us to church.  I want to be like her!

IMG_6165 (1)5) My girls are coming “home” for the first time this weekend and I am both excited and nervous.

This has never been their home, and their stuff doesn’t have a spot – at least not yet. (I mean seriously, my stuff doesn’t even have a spot yet!) I find myself hoping and praying they will find a high level of comfort and peace here. Home is where we are and we are here, may they feel at home. I want to be strong enough to allow them room to feel whatever they feel.

6) Living in the same house with my husband once again is what I’ve been waiting for.

When we entered this arrangement two years ago to grant Erin the opportunity to graduate from high school in her home town, I told Kevin we would be better or we would be worse, but we could. not. be. the. same. You cannot live apart for two years and be the same. Over the two years, sometimes it felt worse, and a few times it meant counseling, but we came through the two years and are stronger. I am so proud of us.

7) I love living where we walk everywhere!

We have one of the very old homes in historic downtown Marshall and so we walk everywhere…the bakery, the farmer’s market, to dinner, for milk,  the flower shop, the hardware store and more. That is one of my favorite things about living here.

8) We have 1,200 square feet less space, but the unique features of this old house are making up for some of that.

I love the french doors, the screen porch, the small upstairs deck, the huge pocket door, the wood burning fireplace, the back porch/pantry room, the vestibule, that the front door has a mail slot and so our mail lands on my floor each afternoon. I love all the windows this home has. I really do love this old house.

9) I’m taking a year to figure things out.

My friend, Cathy, gave me a valuable piece of wisdom, “Take a year to figure out what you want to do.” In the quiet and loneliness it could be easy to join things and sign up to volunteer to fill time, but I am intentionally deciding to work through the tension I sometimes feel in the quiet days. I’m working on a logo for my blog, considering some options for an old project that belongs to my sister and I, and spending more intentional time in prayer, my Bible, devotions. In the silence I am discovering it is well with my soul.

10) Leaving our church family has affected me more than I expected.

Kevin and I will begin our search for a church community. We will. We have only been in town here for two Sundays, but we have not gone to any church. It almost feels like too much right now. As we discussed the invitation to church from the waitress, we just felt unable to muster the energy and emotional strength to walk into a new church. We will, we need, and will crave, a church community, but I’ve been surprised a bit by the grief I feel. I wonder if this is normal. Jesus is the reason we attend each Sunday, but the people we attend with became like family, and I do miss our big, huge extended family each Sunday.

On a final note, I have taken the 100happydays challenge. The premise isn’t that I’m happy all 100 days, it’s that within each day there is something that likely makes me happy. I’m on day 29 and it’s been a great discipline to intentionally be aware of at least one thing each day that makes me feel some level of happy, joy, or even peace. I have photographic proof that it really is the simple things in life that create that happy feeling within.

Peace,
Sheri

 

#100happydays after the move

Goodbye house...ErinThe move to Marshall is in motion. A week ago we drove Zach back to college in Minnesota, leaving his childhood home for the last time. This past weekend Courtney and Erin finished packing up clothes, books, baby dolls and Barbies, then Erin said goodbye to her room and her house. Tears and hugs, and more tears and some squeezes ensued, and then Courtney drove Erin back to college before she continued on to  her home in Illinois.

Kyler began school today ~ we are so grateful that Michigan begins after Labor Day! (Also thankful for a late Labor Day this year, we needed it.) What that means is that yesterday we loaded cars with much, finished a few small projects, cleaned and got the house “show-ready”, because Sunday the For Sale sign went in the yard and today the realtor is taking pictures of the house for the promotion pieces of this process.

It was a physically exhausting and emotionally hard weekend. We attended our church for the last time as every Sunday kind of people. The emotions caught me off guard and tears streamed as I worshipped alongside my faith family. A gentle hand reached out from a friend creating a picture of the love and support we have received for fourteen years within this church – these people helped us raise and shape our children. We’re 90 miles up the road – and we’ll be back, but it’ll be different.

Moving is hard. Leaving friends who are like sisters is not easy. Creating new community takes time and investment. Discovering and then building within a faith community requires much, and yet there is so much for which to be grateful. So today I checked out the 100happydays challenge. I loved this line: The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being. I also loved this: #100happyday challenge is for you – not for anyone else.  It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting. Same goes for cheating.

100happydaysI believe intentionally seeking to be aware of the small happy moments in this first 100 days in our new (well, actually 98 year old) home is valuable. Focusing on the blessings, having a mind of gratitude will all help float me to the place and person I want to be. Moving is hard, and not getting stuck is important. The #100happydays project for me begins now.

(In conjunction with this project I’m also going to attempt to try something my daughter, Courtney, did this summer. She video recorded a few seconds each day and put all those seconds together in a video. We got to preview it the other day – it was beautiful, touching and funny. It made me want to capture the happy, boring, funny, normal moments for a year. We’ll see if I can do it!)

Previous posts on the moving process are here and here.