Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 260: 2's

Last night the two older boys were at church activities and so we were home alone with Oliver.  I cherish these moments.  Even if I'm working away (last night we were madly trying to stain a bookshelf consisting of 20 SHELVES! before sunset) or cleaning up from a hectic evening of rushing around and shoving food at people, he is right there ready with some funny spectacular tidbit to share with me.

Last night he had on Liam's cheetah hat and was crawling around on the floor saying "I'm a cheetah." His first completely independent sentence. 

He makes me smile. 

My favorite age.

Today I am thankful for these moments shared.

Day 259: Sunrise

Lately I'm around to see the sunrise, but today I actually got to leave home early and saw it on my way to work.  It is hopeful, and lovely, and full of grace.

I need grace these days.

Today I am thankful for the sunrise.

A sure and beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 258: Questions

Last night was one of the easiest nights of parenting I've ever had. 

No, my kids weren't gone.  Although admittedly that would be easier. 

Something happened Sunday night in the midst of a full blown breakdown and tantrum.

I asked a question. 

And it must have been the right one. 

And for, at least for the time being, it changed something in our family wiring.

Today I am thankful for those times when I get a nudge from God and then make the choice to go with it.

Day 257: Wave

I live in the Midwest.  I admittedly (after many years of denial and trying to claw my way out) love it.  I am so Midwest it hurts sometimes. 

A friend of mine from the East Coast took a quiz one time that told him how "Midwest" he was.  He only scored around a 40% and at the end they told him he should practice waving at cars driving by more.  And it wouldn't hurt to smile.

It's true.  We wave at each other.  Especially when you're on a narrow country road and it's only the two of you.  You wave; otherwise you look like a stranger.

There are extremes of course - instances where even we Midwesterns are freaked out by the random kindness of people we don't know.

Which leads me to this...

I work at two different schools.  Everyday I park at one school and then walk a half a block and cross the street to the other school at a crosswalk with a very cheerful and friendly crossing guard.  She's lovely.

The very first day of school I had to walk past these two older people who were chatting on the sidewalk between the schools and waving at many of the cars that went by on a very busy street.  They had their bikes there and I figured they were old friends that had run into one another.  And knew A LOT of people that were driving by. 

Then I saw them the next day.

And the next. 

And I realized that they were waving at EVERY car that went by. 

They have been there everyday since.  Rain, sun, wind - they are out there waving joyfully at every car.  Most people (who probably drive this route daily) just as joyfully wave back.  Some people give half waves and nervously wonder if they should know these people.  Very few act like they don't see them. 

None of this discourages these two people of course. They are there to serve as the cheerleaders of the community - the junior high and high school students - the busy Moms and Dads - the young professionals trying to get to work on time.  They are simply a cheerful face that is happy to see all of them first thing in the morning.

This must be their ministry. 

What a creative way to give of yourself. 

Today I am thankful for these two and what they do for every car that passes by.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 256: Challenges

I know I've written about my church before and how grateful I am to have them.

I truly am. 

And I am grateful for the times I am surrounded with love, but also the times I am challenged. 

Today I got to feel both of these things.

Today I am thankful for my church community.

Day 255: Tiger

This morning I was watching cartoons with my boys and there were two episodes of Daniel Tiger on in a row.  It was only two days ago that my coworkers and I sat around the lunch table conversing over how his songs tended to stick in our heads - which can be pretty annoying.

But this morning I felt so lucky that there is a show out there teaching social skills.  Not reading or math...but simply how to be a better person.

When I stop and think about it, it is pretty amazing.

Today I am thankful for Daniel Tiger - or as it was known back in my day - Mister Rogers.

Day 254: Friday

Today I am simply thankful for Friday.

Tonight we had an impromptu get-together with our neighbors that included chili, pumpkin ice cream, and great conversation.  What a warm way to end this week, and the first crisp fall day of the year.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 253: Words

Photo courtesy of the talented Katie Zeller

A friend of mine who tragically lost her mother a few years ago wrote these words when taking First-Day-of-School pictures:  

I could be all sentimental, but life has taught me not to be sad to see these days come, but to be thankful we get to be here to see them.

When I read those words they instantly changed my life and the way I look at it.  Since that day every step has been one I was lucky to travel with my children.  I'm not saying I don't want to rip my hair out once in awhile, and I still need time to myself, but in my mind it's not about that.  It's more about the idea that rather than wishing time would stand still, I can allow it to move forward with the freedom of gratefulness and joy.

A year ago I would have looked on with sadness as Miles did grown up things like climb the steps of the bus or walk into school by himself.  I would have cried great big crocodile tears when I packed up Oliver's crib for the very last time.  But those words... they changed everything.

I get to be here.  I get to hold their hands through it and teach them.  Show them.  I got to be there the first time he put on a brave face and walked into school by himself.  I saw him reach out for a friends hand and invite him to walk in together.  

I was a part of it.

Today I attended the funeral of a friend that oozed goodness.  Everything about her made me want to be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, fill-in-the-blank.  She raised two boys that look a lot more like men.  Although her job wasn't necessarily finished, I know she gave thanks for the bits she got to navigate with them. This includes the final things, like a wedding and moving into a college dorm. She got to teach them how to be young men.  How to walk, talk, and treat those around them.  I think it is pretty obvious that she did one heck of a job.  And I have no doubt that she relished in it.

Today reiterated for me how much I want to be here for all of it.  I don't know the plans that are laid out for me, but now I have the freedom of truly celebrating every milestone that I'm a part of.  I can no longer afford the sadness that comes with the regret of time moving forward.  I will no longer beg for time to slow down or stand still.  I want to see all of it.

I want to help them navigate everything I can.  I want to be there in the times of sadness and joy that come with getting older.

Every step in the right direction is worth an armful of gratitude. 

Today I am thankful for these words that came to me at the right time. 

Every once in awhile you read/hear/see something that changes the way you live.

Thank you Sara, for your words.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 252: Music

Today I am thankful for a good Pandora station to lighten my mood.  

This morning when I logged into Pandora after days of listening to touching, but slightly depressing stations like Milk Carton Kids and Floyd Vance, Pandora recommended I tune into 80's Pop Hits.

So I did. 

By the end of first hour my entire 8th grade class was belting out Journey and just like that I knew today was going to be a good one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 251: Rain

Today I am thankful for the sound of thunder and rain as it surrounds me and my coffee this early morning.
A summary of my week through my boys - masking myself from it, leaning into it, and eventually falling back in defeat.

I have been avoiding this entry for 10 days.

Actually, the first three days were just me traveling, and then simply being overwhelmed with life.  The next three days were a loss of a will due to some weird combination of sadness and anger and (if I'm honest) ugly resentment.

But the last four days - those have definitely been me avoiding this blog.

Last weekend I went to a beautiful wedding full of family I hadn't seen in many many moons.  I held new babies, got to know my very cool 16 year old cousin really well as we shared a backseat to and from distant lands, and even had time to meet a friend for coffee.  In the midst of it all I stayed with my long-lost roommate from the first time I went to Northern Ireland 14 years ago.  This is a person that knew me inside and out after four months of sharing a very colorful room in a house with one crazy woman and her even crazier cat.  That, my friends, creates lasting friendship.  It was this kind of friendship that was reignited through hours and hours of conversation on her couch.  Add some caramel popcorn, Coke, and Mexican food and you have a recipe for nostalgia.  All of it was perfect.

However, sometimes perfect weekends lead into not-so-perfect weeks.  You spend days playing "catch-up" - canning vegetables you've been avoiding, and going to soccer games even your kids aren't excited about anymore.  Weeks ago you had made plans before you realized this was the WORST WEEK EVER to make plans.  You find out about missed opportunities.  You hear about friends who seem to have moved on.  You barely see your kids and the guilt makes you crazy.  You love your job, but you regret working.  And then you hear that a friend - a friend you still had so much to learn from - takes a turn for the worse and is in ICU.

I've spent the week being inconveniently depressed.  That is a super unpopular thing to admit, but I also know I'm not the only one that goes through a "funk" now and again.  I can't be.

On a beautiful Sunday morning, during a lovely outdoor service we received news that our friend Jill had passed away because of cancer.  All along I've been hanging on to this hope and belief that she would make it through this.  Some of it is selfish of course - as a mother of two grown (and put together) boys and a faithful Sister in Christ, I knew there were things I could learn from her that I hadn't already by simple observation.  And so now I'm so sad to say goodbye.  And I'm sad for her boys, and her husband, and all of the people that loved her so fiercely.

But because of the life she led, I want to be a better person.  I want to be present.  I want to be engaged.  I want to give of myself as she did.

So I'm starting again here without fear or anxiety.  I'm not going to make-up the last 9 days I missed.  Those prayers of gratefulness did happen, but between God and me.  They were sparse, and desperate.  But they were there.  You'll just have to trust me.