My family

My family
2014

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Graduation

There are certain events in life that have me (and maybe you too?) reflecting on the past, evaluating the present and looking toward the future. Graduations are one of those events. This blog entry in ramblings of some of the MANY thoughts and feelings I have been having reflecting on June and graduations.
This year my first child is graduating high school. This special occasion is stirring up all sorts of thoughts and emotions. My husband and I are very proud of all she has accomplished, overcome and who she is becoming. She's worked hard and has big goals for the next 5 plus years. Those big plans include heading off to college which I know will have me and the rest of our family missing her.

Her graduation also has me thinking about my graduation and who I was in high school.  I look at my 3 daughters today and think back on who I was when I was their ages. It makes me count my blessings. There are similarities. I struggled with the "mean girls", the self doubt and insecurities, the pressure for grades and so on that my girls also struggle with. I was told I was smart and I know my girls are so I guess we are alike there too. But I think that might be where the similarities end. They don't get caught up in cliques and trends and I got caught up in trying to fit in. I got caught up in a guy who made me feel I was wanted and needed and yet like I was nothing at the same time; they aren't in dating relationships (and are better at spotting "red flags" than I was). I got really lost somewhere in high school or college where my daughters seem strong in knowing who they are (and who they are not). I am so grateful that my girls haven't gotten caught up in the things I did. They have struggles but they have made better choices along the way than I did.
Watching Sam with her friends going through their senior year has me thinking about my friends. My second daughter, who knows WAY more than I do about most things, tells me that statistically, if you have been friends for 7 years, you are likely to be friends for life. I find myself very grateful that I have several friends who fit this description. Friends who have stayed my friends in spite of my poor decisions, lack of communication (we had no FB or social media - just phones and letters and I was bad with both) and over long distances. I am so grateful for these friends who were and are always there. I hope that my daughter and her friends have the same type of relationships that stand the tests of time. My friends were and are the ones who help me remember who I am and what is truly important in life. They are the ones that helped me find myself when I have gotten lost along the way. I think my daughters (all 3) have this type of friendships and for that I am grateful.

I don't know what the future holds for me, my oldest daughter, her friends or for my other 2 daughters. I know that today, I can embrace the relationships I have with my family, friends and neighbors. I can pray for those I love (and for those who challenge me). I can pray for the choices I make on a daily basis. I can thank God for the journey I have been on, who I have become, for the friends (those from my childhood and my newer friends too) who have helped me find my way when I have lost it and I can thank God for never giving up on me, even when I gave up on Him. I can pray for the choices my children make, their relationships and for their futures.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who I am

I don't blog often but when I do, one thing I strive to be is real. I don't ever want to seem like I know all the answers or have my life all together, because I don't. I can only share my journey. I share it because it helps me when I look back at my entries and I share it in the hopes that anyone who reads it finds encouragement or perhaps a reader can offer encouragement.
Recently, I stepped out of my comfort zone and started volunteering with my daughters' youth group. I had hoped I might possibly be a positive influence in a teen's life but I never expected how my being a part of the group would challenge me to examine myself. Working with the teens I am finding myself looking back in time. I often leave youth group reflecting on the choices I made as a teen and young adult, the person I was, the person I have become. Sometimes it's difficult - facing mistakes and imperfections can be painful at times. Always it challenges me to grow, change and "do better" today.
As I look back, I realize most of my life I struggled with being accepted. I wanted to "fit in", be liked and be accepted. I think if I am truly honest, I still struggle with it. I never really knew who I was because I was always trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be. In high school, I tried being the "church girl", the "band/chorus geek", the "smart girl", "so and so's girlfriend", at times "the black sheep" and the list goes on and on. In college, I drank and partied any time anyone invited me (sometimes as often as 6 nights a week) to so I would fit in and be accepted. I made a lot of choices that when I look back sometimes I wish I hadn't in my journey to discover who I was.
Somewhere along the way I started to discover who I am - just me, not who others wanted or needed me to be. I have discovered who I am not as well. I am not confident or sure of myself - may never be. I am not the friend people call to go to social events or to go shopping and so on. I am not "popular" socially speaking. I am not perfect. So far I have discovered that I AM loved by a heavenly creator who has a plan and purpose for me. I am Steve's wife, my daughters' mother. I am a daughter and daughter in law, a sister and a friend, a teacher, a coach, a community & church volunteer. I enjoy doing thing for others and have a tough time "relaxing". I love being outdoors. I am somewhat creative and a bit disorganized. I still struggle with pleasing people, wanting to be accepted and liked but I am exactly who God created and is shaping me to be.
The journey I have been on to discover "me" hasn't been easy. At times I really disliked even hated
who I was or who I was pretending to be. Yet, today I feel as though God has taken those darker times of my life and is using them. I feel because of my journey I have great empathy for others who are struggling. I hope there are or will be times when I will be able to relate to what someone else is going through because I my own struggles. I hope that as a mom I can help my daughters (and maybe their friends) as they grow and discover who they are.
So stepping out of my comfort zone has challenged me to look back at my life, forward to who I still want to be and to the legacy I will someday leave. I am a work in progress. I am grateful to all those who are sharing in this journey with me and who have encouraged and challenged me along the way - through the ups and the downs, good choices and bad. I am thankful for those who have loved me through it all, who saw ME even when I couldn't.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Little Things are BIG Things

A friend once told me that one of the best parts of her job was that she was able to greet her daughter as she got off the bus each day. Her daughter was in high school, but my friend was still grateful to be there each day as her daughter walked through the door. At the time I remember thinking "that's so sweet - for you". I had no idea if I would be able to do that for my daughters as they got older, or if I'd even want to. I mean, we've all heard the stories of the rocky teenager/parent relationship. Some of use have probably experienced it either as the parent or as the teen.
Today, as I sit here, my daughter, age 15, sits beside me doing her homework and I am so grateful that I too have been able to greet my 3 girls each day after school. Over the years my girls have gotten off the bus with smiles and laughter after a good day. There are grumbles and complaints when a teacher has assigned a lot of homework or there was an annoying kid on the bus. I have been able to help them when they get home not feeling well. There have been many little things that I am grateful they shared and I got to experience. It doesn't seem like much to them but it is huge to me.
Why is this little thing such a BIG deal to me? First, it keeps me connected. My friend said she could see on her daughters face before she even asked what kind of day it had been. I have found that this is SO true. I don't have to ask "How was your day?" I can see it. Second, it allows me time with them. Quality time isn't always "fun" time. In our house, snack time, homework time and even "chore" time can be quality time if we let it. Last, but not least, my girls know I am there for them when they get home if there IS something big they are facing. That to me is priceless.
The teen years are hard today, harder than when I was a teen. In the 3 years we have had a teenager at home the following real life situations have greeted me at the door with one or more of my girls - my friend is cutting (herself not skipping school), my friend thinks he's gay, my friend thinks she wants to practice WICA, my friend wants to commit suicide, my friend is being abused, my friend is moving, my friend's cancer is back, my friend with cancer died, and today's was "my friend was taken from school in an ambulance when his shirt caught on fire during welding class". All big things I don't recall facing at 13,14,15 years of age. The normal teen stuff is there too "he likes me, I don't like him" friend A is fighting with friend B and all that "Drama".
Yes, I am VERY blessed to be able to be here when my girls get home from school each day. I try not to take it for granted, but I will be honest, sometimes I do. Then something happens - something big or something small- and I am reminded what a big gift I have been given in my children, in each day I have with them and that I can be here when and if they need me. Whether you get to greet your kids as they get home from school or when you get home from work, treasure each moment, good and bad, big and small because it is all so temporary and it is all a gift.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Spring - New life, new growth new beginnings

(Note: this post was started in April but I was unable to finish it and post it until June)
My family has been going through a rough season - a harsh winter if you will. We have faced health issues, money issues, growing pains and tragic loses. It's been
hard. At times I have felt sad, angry, frustrated, desperate, alone and even cold. But the great thing about winter is that under all that cold, harsh snow and ice, new life is forming. New growth is taking place. And so it is with my family too.
One of my recent struggles has been with myself. Friends and family have lovingly and kindly told me "I'm worried about you" and "I have been praying for you". I was so surprised by my reaction to this. I smiled and thanked them and told them how much their love and support meant to me and my family, but inside I was mad. At first, I couldn't figure out why I was mad. Then it hit me - I was used to being the "strong one". I was used to doing for others and worrying about others and at least pretending to "have it together". To hear someone say "I'm worried about you" meant 1) I wasn't hiding my pain as much as I wanted to. 2) I needed to admit I needed help and 3) for some reason - pride? stubbornness?? or maybe something else - I felt like I was failing somehow and that made me mad. How crazy is THAT?? Ouch. Another truth to face and another growing pain.
Well, spring has arrived in the region where we live. Flowers are breaking through the soil. Birds are returning and singing. Trees are budding. Sometimes it's warm enough to open window. Other days, the winds are still cold and it's still snowing. There is mud and dirt everywhere. The change of seasons hasn't been easy or pleasant this year and neither have the changes in my heart and in my family. Change is almost always upsetting, messy or painful. Growth hurts sometimes. The truth hurts sometimes.
But here's what I have learned and am still learning. Even though I may feel alone sometimes, I am not. I believe with all my heart that God is always with me, even through pain, fear, worry, and in all my struggles. He allows me to experience my growing pains to allow me to do just that - GROW. From the storms come the rainbows. God can take ALL things, no matter how painful, scary, cold or dark they may seem and make something beautiful out of it. I hang on to that!!! And lastly, I am learning that I am still not who I want to be. I still care too much about what others think of me - maybe more than I care about what I think of myself. I am learning that I need to focus on what God thinks of me - that I am his creation, unique, beautiful and special in a way that he designed and he loves me, even through my growing pains. I need to remind myself  he loves my family too and he's helped us through this rough harsh "winter". He has a plan to make something beautiful out of my family too. I can't wait to see what summer holds!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I think the 2 hardest phrases to say are "'I'm sorry" and "Goodbye". This morning I am having a REALLY hard time with the second one.
Yesterday, my family and our community woke to learn that a wonderful woman, mother, daughter, friend and devoted teacher/librarian had been senselessly killed and her 10 year old precious daughter a friend to many, a gymnast, a bright student and gentle soul attacked. Yesterday, there were lots of tears and shock. Many of us, as parents were (and still are) struggling with how do we help our children deal with this. This morning I am struggling with how do I deal with this? How do I say goodbye to a friend?
One of the things you don't think about when you sign your kids up for scouts, or a team or a club is how much time you will spend there and the friendships you will make along the way. You know your kids will make friends but you don't think of yourself - or at least I never did. I never thought about how I'd been spend 3 to 9 hours a week, sometimes more with the parents of the other team members. I never thought about the special bond we would share as parents or the friendships that would grow.
And today, one of those friends is gone and her "baby" girl is hurting (While I know her daughter isn't a baby - she's a strong beautiful brave smart loving young lady, to a mom - they are always our "babies".) I am one who like to try to find silver linings in dark storms and see that all things happen for a reason. I can't do it today. I can't.
Music helps me sometimes when I can't find the words. Today I woke up and immediately 3 songs were going through my head. "How can I help you to say goodbye" by Patti Loveless, "I need you now" by Plum, and "Blessings" by Laura Story. The first two give me comfort, help me to cry and give voice to what I am feeling inside. The third is usually a favorite of mine, but today it made me angry. How can there be a blessing in these tear drops? I am not seeing it.
I don't understand, and to be completely honest, I know I never will. But with every tear, every breath I am praying. Praying for a strong little girl who has been through more in her 10 short years than most of us will have to go through in a lifetime. Praying for my daughter who is hurting for her friend. Praying for the hundreds of students who lost teacher and who are worried about a friend. Praying for families who have lost a loved one. Praying for the family of a man who was sick and hurting and had let evil into his heart and mind - how do they come to terms with that?? Praying for finding peace and light and strength in a dark, sad and scary time. That's where my faith come in. My faith gives me hope. Hope that there is good to fight evil; that there can be light in the darkness; that there is a heaven. I guess for me, that's the only way I can say goodbye. I need to hang on to my faith - let it be the life jacket that keeps me from drowning in the dark waves of sadness, anger, worry and fear.
My family and I, our community and the family of my friend would all appreciate your prayers. Thank you.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Me - the real me

If you are reading this you may know that this blog is sort of my on-line diary. A place where I try and sort out my thoughts and feelings in writing. I share them in hopes that maybe others who are struggling with the same thoughts and feelings can find hope or maybe inspiration. I share them so my friends who might read this can offer words of advice and wisdom or even correct me if I am wrong. I share them so I can look back a month or a year or several years from now and see how God has worked in my life and in the lives of my family. Here I can be real.
This year has been a tough year for my family. All families go through them. We struggle. We fight. We worry. We cry. We pray. We hug. We love. We keep on going. Recently, I have been calling them growing pains, because we have been growing but it hurts.
I know part of why it hurts is my expectations. Maybe others do this too? I expected marriage to be "happily ever after" at least most of the time. But why? One speaker, I forget his name or else I'd look up the exact quote, said something to the effect of "a family is 2 imperfect, sinful people raising other small, imperfect, sinful people". So where does this expectation that things will be perfect come from? For me, I am guilty of comparing myself to others. "That couple has the perfect marriage" "They have the perfect relationship with their kids" "Why can't my life be more like theirs?" or similar thoughts.
I have recently felt like people are looking to me to be perfect - the perfect wife, mom or Christian woman. Some have told me they are looking to me as an example. Others have been pointing out my mistakes, failures and imperfections. I can't really blame anyone for doing it though because I have been doing it myself. I have been expecting myself to be the perfect wife, mom or Christian woman, so I can't blame others for doing it too.
So today, as I sit in front of the computer screen, reading what's new in the world and in my friends lives, I found myself also praying for answers and help. Help to take these growing pains and learn from them and grow. And God answered. Over and over again words of hope, of forgiveness, of inspiration and of letting go came across my screen. Quotes and Scriptures and other words that remind me of the truth. I am not perfect. I never will be. I will make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes will hurt - myself or people I care about. Others around me aren't perfect either. They will make mistakes and those mistakes might hurt them or me. That's the truth.
But it's not the only truth. It is also true that God sees and knows our hearts. He knows our mistakes and our hurts. He loves us and is there for us to help us learn from the mistakes, to grow from them, to heal and love. We are weak but He is strong. I am not perfect. My husband is not perfect. My family and friends are not perfect. Yet God loves us all anyway. He is there always - even when we do something that disappoints him. He forgives us. He teaches us. He uses our weakness to show HIS strength!!
I am grateful for how God loves me. It is my prayer that when people look at me they don't see or expect to see a perfect wife, perfect mom or perfect Christian woman. I pray they see an imperfect woman who depends on God to give her strength. A woman who loves God and God uses in spite of her imperfections. and I know it's starts with me. I need to be the first one to see myself that way. Then maybe others will see it too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Friends

Recently, my husband and I were sitting with a group of people talking about the value of friends and how important having strong friendships was. Since then, I have been thinking. What defines a friend or a friendship? Were any of those people discussing the value of friendship my friends? Do I have the kind of friendship(s) we were talking about.
Like most people (I hope), I am married to my best friend. I also have 2 sisters who are more than sisters - they are friends. But outside of family, what defines a friend or a friendship and makes a friend different from an aquaintance? Is it what you do or don't do together? Is it what you share or have shared in the past? Is it common interests? Is it fulfilling a common need? Is it how often you see each other or talk? Does today's instant long distance communication (emails, cell phones social networks) change what friendship is?
Making friends has never been easy for me. I often walk away from meeting someone or even spending a day/evening with someone thinking to myself "I screwed that up. They don't like me". I am not sure why and it drives my husband (and family) crazy, but it's true. As a result, I can walk into a room full of people I have known for weeks, months or even years, and not know who is my friend.
But I do have friends. Some people I call friends are friends from my childhood. These friendships started back when friendship was defined by "She's my friend because she liked the picture I colored" or "because she talked to me at the picnic". They started out simple, innocent and trusting and they grew as we grew. Now decades later I can still chat with these friends on FB or in person as if not a day has gone by. but we don't see each other more than once or twice a decade sometimes. What about people who share a common interest or role? These are the other moms or dads who we chat with at school functions, kids activities, serving in the same program at church and so on. These relationships are not be as "deep" as others so are these friends or acquaintances? Then there are the relationships in between. Some are friends who you see regularly, we talk, share and have things in common who would probably be there if you needed them but we don't socialize. There are also "friends" who I socialize with but I know when the chips are down - they won't be around.
But which of these types of friendships and relationships is the type of friendship we were discussing that evening a while back? We were discussing friendships where you share common beliefs and values, common experiences, common interests, bring out the best in one another, help one another to grow. You are there for one another AND have fun together. The kind of friendships that take time and investment to grow and flourish. I think if I am honest I often find myself looking for these deep friendships instantly - without putting in the time to build them. However, now at 40 something, I also see the importance of have all kinds of friends - friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.  I am blessed to have my friends. Friends who it's taken me decades to get to know and to let them get to know me and a few new friends who I am just starting to know. Thank you to all my friends <3