Speed dating‎

Ponderings

This One’s For You, Dad

To the dad who carpools and coaches, who stays up until curfew and runs next to the bicycle without training wheels: Don’t underestimate the power you have as a present father.  Your consistent involvement is admirable, but far beyond that, know that your influence will affect your children into adulthood.  It’s the collection of hundreds of little moments- chaperoning his field trip or brushing her hair after the bath- that will bring them successfully to the brink of adulthood.  And before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone, ready to take on the world, knowing they can spread their wings because they had a dad who pushed them out of the nest with an enormous amount of love.

To the dad who just welcomed a new baby- ankle deep in diapers, bleary-eyed and exhausted, and so, so proud: Whether you’re holding your first or your fourth, congratulations on your beautiful miracle.  You’ll almost certainly mess up in this parenting gig, at least twice by 2:30, but press on, keep going because we’re all cheering for you.  Celebrate this Father’s Day squeezing the little hand that has managed to completely take hold of your heart.  After all.. babies don’t keep.

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To the dad who spends this Father’s Day weary from illness and medication: You have a crew that couldn’t be prouder of your strength and bravery.  You’ve proven that neither bandages nor IVs, pills nor their side effects, hospital stays, diagnoses, or ongoing treatments could keep you from being an incredible dad, one who somehow still has the fortitude and humor to challenge us to arm wrestle, even with an IV port in your arm.  Fighting for your health has reminded the whole family that every day is a gift, and it’s with that in mind, that your children celebrate you on Father’s Day, letting you win that arm wrestle just this once.

To the dad of multiples whose remarkable super powers qualify him to join the Avengers Initiative:  It’s okay to operate on adrenaline 95% of the time to make sure all the children are in all the right places.  You experience the emotions associated with each stage of childhood multiplied by two (or three or four..!): joy, confusion, surprise, exhaustion, hopefulness, frustration, love.  What a privilege you’ve been given to be their dad and what a gift it is that they have you too.

To the dad whose children have no trace of his biological DNA, yet are every part of who he is: Happy Father’s Day.  I know it doesn’t matter that your kids don’t have your eyes or your height, or maybe even your skin color; they don’t have to share your physical features to be entirely deserving of your love.  Others may call you a “foster dad” or an “adoptive dad”, but at home, it sounds so much simpler: “Dad”.  You’re a good one, and they’re so lucky to have you.

father's day

To the dad who regrets his mistakes and all the time lost with his children: Today is a new day.  In fact, it’s your new day.  Make the decision to forgive yourself before you expect anyone else to extend forgiveness.  Be the father you wish you could’ve been starting today, by giving your kids the gift of time and attention.  Pick up the phone.  Go to their game.  Write the letter.  Tell them you’re proud.  Ask for forgiveness.  You can never recapture all of those years gone by, but you can mend those relationships by making today count.

To the single dad feeling equal parts overwhelmed and empowered: You are walking a tough road, but you’re doing such a great job. You’re facing the challenge of being in charge of lunches and bedtimes and the discipline and all the sick days like a real man- accomplishing it with determination, wearing the dandelion flower crown your kid made for you at the park.  It’s no secret that your children are your most important priority; that’s easily seen by the wonderful way you’re raising them.  What you’re doing is far from easy, but so very worth it.

father's day

To the dad who celebrates Father’s Day as a proud father and grandfather: The full life you’ve lived is never more evident than when you’re surrounded by the energy and youth of your family.  We all know you’re also the dad that signs his name at the end of text messages, which is entirely unnecessary but amusing.  You may not have any clue what “Juju on That Beat” means or understand the point of a fidget spinner, but you’ve taught your family everything else they know, which obviously means they can light a fire without matches and farting will always be funny.

To those of you who celebrate Father’s Day with a twinge of envy and a hint of grief, relying solely on memories for this type of day: I stand with you.  This summer will mark a decade since my dad’s funeral.  This last one’s for you, Dad.

To the dad whose legacy lives on in his children, gone but never forgotten:  If you could see your kids now, I think you’d be impressed.  They’re not so little anymore- taller, older- with beautiful families of their own.  Your memory lives on, even in your absence.  Every pasta dish, each church service, basketball game, or dad joke, you’re there.  Your kids have your sense of humor- dry and quirky but clever and carefree.  They miss you everyday, but especially today.  Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

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A very happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there.  May today include the giant steak dinner you so very deserve.

One Year Blogiversary! {+GIVEAWAY}

You guys!  I can’t believe that one year ago- March 2016- I began blogging here at The Cat That Barked.

One Year Blogiversary {+GIVEAWAY!}

The first words of my first post were: “I didn’t realize 2016 would be The Year of the Blog.  It just kind of happened.”  There’s more to that story, so hang with me here… we boutta get deep for a hot minute.

The journey that led me here started well before the first post was ever published.  You see, months before I created this little internet space, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter.  She was sweet and easy from the very beginning.  My world had been turned upside down, in the most special, exhausting way, and I loved getting to spend my days (and nights, HELLO) with my girl.

It was about three months after she was born that my symptoms began: sadness, irrational anger, anxiety, very low self-esteem, and on the list went.  My husband… my sweet husband, y’all… he saw my crazy eyes and my unpredictable mood swings and loved me through all of it.  And it was during this dark season of postpartum depression that I rediscovered creativity and passion, through writing.  My PPD story could be its own post, and maybe one day it will be.  Once I was able to stabilize emotionally, thanks to my doctors and the people who loved me, I was able to move forward as a healthy, happy wife and mom. Writing became part of my healing process.

The irony is not lost on me that postpartum depression indirectly produced a humor blog.  As I celebrate a year of blogging, it means so much more to me than updating a website.  Each post- whether humorous or pensive, related to faith or parenting or man-colds or book recommendations- is my celebration of being able to see the world in vibrant color again, in all of its hilarity and beauty, and have the gift of time and talent to write about it.

These were some of my favorite posts to write this past year.  Get cozy and read any you missed:

When I Die, Spread My Ashes In Target’s Threshold Aisle
target

The Truth About Co-Parenting With Google
Google

Slow Clap For Teachers: The Saints of Society
teachers

People of the Beach: You Do You.
People of the Beach-

Calling All White People To The Dance Floor
dance floor

Want more?  Go here to read other posts from this past year.

Having an audience has been one of the most energizing pieces to blogging this past year, and so, I felt it was only appropriate to say thank you for being such an interactive and supportive crew of beautiful internet citizens.  In the spirit of celebration, who doesn’t love a GIVEAWAY?!

Here’s the deal.  I have four Target gift cards to give away, each worth $25 for winners to pick out a little somethin somethin courtesy of The Cat That Barked.  To enter, all you have to do is subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the right side of the site.  Anytime a new post is written, it goes to your inbox and it’s as simple as that.  No quizzes, no random spam, no “Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: READ THIS” subject lines… just 2-4 emails a month with fresh content.  (Already my Email Buddy? Then your name is already submitted for one of the gift cards!)  The four winners of the giveaway will be randomly chosen and announced on the blog Monday evening, so make sure you’re entered to win by April 10, 2017 at 9PM EST!  Good luck!

Here’s to another great year of blogging with all of you wonderful people!

Questions Asked By Southerners When It Snows

When it snows most places in America, people calmly put on their down feather jackets, lace up their Sorel boots, and head out the door to work with coffee in hand.  Life goes on.  It just happens to go on colder and whiter.

And then there’s the South.

The moment there’s a snowflake anywhere in the ten day forecast, everyone gets really intense and involved with their local weather app.  People sprint through grocery stores buying all the food from all the aisles.  The hype gets built up and starts trending online.  Everything gets shut down before the weather even gets bad.  And then you end up with a day off from school when it turns out to be a chilly rain.  Or, you get the rare snowfall that paralyzes everyone and causes pandemonium, as seen here:

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{photo credit: Lindsay Webb}

So here I write this from my couch on a Snow Day.  This is a list of the outrageous questions that Southerners ask when it snows, because we just don’t know any better and because bless our hearts.

    1.  How can I obtain the meteorologist’s personal cell number?
    2. When will they cancel school?
    3. When will they cancel work?
    4. When will they shut down the city so I can re-watch every episode of This Is Us and feel my feelings?
    5. Babe, can you look in all of the closets until you find the box with my snow clothes?
    6. What are the driving rules in inclement weather?
    7. More specifically, how does driving work?
    8. Do we have enough food to feed us all for the month of January?
    9. Will my children like experiencing frostbite?
      (Based on her facial expression, SURVEY SAYS NO)
      hayden-snow
    10. Does snow cream count toward the Raw Food Diet?
    11. What hashtag are we all using for our snow Instas, you guys?
    12. When the meteorologist said 6-8″ yesterday, does that mean 6-8″ of lies or………………?
    13. Wouldn’t it save time to just announce “ALL FIRST BAPTIST CHURCHES IN THE CAROLINAS ARE CLOSED” instead of scrolling every individual FBC closing across the screen?
    14. Will I look like a loser if I’m pouring kitty litter to gain tire traction?
    15. What are the food essentials I need to buy at the store?  (strawberry toaster strudels…Swedish fish…party size bags of Chex Mix…)
    16. If my kids are driving me crazy, am I allowed to lock them out the next time they go play outside?
    17. Why is snow SO FREAKING COLD.
    18. How homeless should I look on this particular snow day?
    19. Does that weatherman know he is not helping my trust issues with men?
    20. *opens pantry during power outage* What meal can I fix my family using leftover Christmas candy, lemonade powder, and crunchy peanut butter?
    21. What would Olaf do?
    22. Is there anything worse than sleet?
    23. How much food is too much food to eat in one day?
    24. Are there babies in little tiny snow bunting outfits in heaven?  (I have to assume yes)
    25. If we lose power and my phone dies, will I die too?  (I have to assume yes)
    26. How many filters do I need to put on a picture so it looks like I showered recently?
    27. Was the entire purpose of this snow day that I should rearrange our living room furniture six different times?
    28. Is today the day I find out if my Schnauzer could have made it racing in the Iditarod?
    29. How is the weather forecast taking us from Arctic tundra to spring fever in five days?  Explain yourself, EL NINO.
      snow-forecast

This is only a small sampling of the questions that Southerners ask on any given snow day and should not be considered a comprehensive list.  There are at least a hundred more.  Tell me- what did I miss?

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Our Forgetfulness, God’s Faithfulness

our-forgetfulnessMost days when I sit down to write, I have a week’s worth of snark and sass that unloads into a blog post.  The goal is to entertain, to elicit a smile, maybe even a giggle or, on a good day, a reader’s burst of laughter in a quiet public place.  If you’ve come for humor, then I’ll reroute you to Co-Parenting With Google, because I’m boutta drop a word on y’all.  *kiss, kiss, hug, hug*

The blog has been quiet for a few weeks, mainly because fall is insanely busy, but also because today’s post has been churning for awhile.  An idea that I’ve meditated on for a few months, had to learn and re-learn.  It’s simple and it’s this:  When we are forgetful, God remains faithful.    

Awhile ago, I spent some time reading through Exodus, in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Moses is the key player in this book and he had the really small job of convincing the Pharaoh to let the enslaved Israelites leave the country.  By the way, there were over a million Israelites (Exodus 12:37) and they kind of did a ton of work for Egypt, so Pharaoh wasn’t too excited to let them just walk away.  Ok, spoiler alert, turns out God wins and Pharaoh loses.  God delivers his people from Egypt and Moses is in charge of leading this massive exodus.

That’s only the first third of the book though.  The rest of the book details the journey of the Israelites and their wandering in the desert, the laws and commandments that God establishes, and creating the Tabernacle.  What really stuck with me was the recurring complaining and grumbling of the Israelites, a people group who were time and again provided for, and continued to fix their eyes on themselves rather than on the Lord.

Exhibit A:  God has just delivered an entire nation of people from slavery to freedom in Exodus 14 and also managed to destroy the entire army of Pharaoh in the meantime (14:28).  The Israelites are singing and celebrating and saying things to God like, “Who is like you-  majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (15:11).  Then, the music stops like SCCCCCCRRRRTTT.  They get to a place called Marah, experience thirst, and grumble.  God in His goodness provides for them.

Exhibit B:  They are only seven miles south of Marah, now in Elim (Chapter 16), and the whole community grumbles because they’re hungry.  Look- I get it that hangry is a THING- and it’s no joke.  But I read this story like, “Did y’all not just cross an ocean?”  God hears their complaints and displays his power by providing food in a miraculous way on that day, and for the next forty years.

Exhibit C:  New chapter (17), old complaint.  The Israelites are thirsty again.  Grumbling again.  Guess they forget to fill their Yeti thermos up in Marah.  Once more, God hears and provides.

We could play this game for chapters upon chapters.  Especially in the book of Numbers.  The Israelites are noted as complaining and grumbling in Numbers 11:1, 11:4, 14:1-4, 16:3, 16:41, 20:2-3, 21:5, which probably isn’t even an exhaustive list.  If I were God, I would’ve been like, “I’M SO DONE WITH Y’ALL.  For real.  BYE.”

It’s so frustrating to read about the Israelites.  They continued to be spiritually short-sighted and full of unbelief.  They just didn’t get it.  The extent of the Israelite’s forgetfulness, however, causes the faithfulness of God to be emphasized even more.  He extended grace, mercy, deliverance, provision, and guidance- unconventional at times, in the eyes of the Israelites, perhaps- yet, given freely and generously to a forgetful people.

Is this not the story of the entire Bible?  A God who extends mercy and kindness to people who have rebelled and forget who He is and what He has done… over and over and over again?

Turns out I’m not so unlike the Israelites after all.  I grumble because I’m dissatisfied and God graciously meets a need.  I complain because I think the time table should be different and God gently reminds that His paths are beyond tracing out (Romans 11:33).  I stubbornly choose my own way and God displays unlimited patience to draw me back.

So today, written for you and for me, when we are forgetful, God is a faithful God.
For you, young Mom, caught up in chasing munchkins and organizing carpools.
For you, weary believer, who needs a reminder to endure and rest in who He is.
For you, who walked away from faith long ago.
For you, whose busy schedule doesn’t allow for an extra moment of reflection or spiritual rest.
And for me, today, right now.  Because even the one (especially the one) who pens the post needs to be continually reminded of God’s great faithfulness.
the-steadfast-love-of-the-lord-never-ceases-his-mercies-never-come-to-an-end-they-are-new-every-morning-great-is-your-faithfulness
The point isn’t to acknowledge we’re forgetful and carry on in our half-hearted allegiance, distracted forgetfulness, or even willful rebellion.  Let’s confess our shortcomings to the God who already knows, who stands ready to forgive.  Let’s press on and pursue Jesus.

Life At 30-Something.

Last week I turned 30.

[No longer accepting belated birthday texts, only money orders and elaborate Edible Arrangements, thanks fam.]
People like asking if you feel different when you have a birthday and most years, it’s easy to say “pretty much feels identical to twelve hours ago”.  But not for thirty.  When the clock hit midnight, wisdom descended and I saw into the reality of this next decade.

Life at 30-something: 

  1.  When you enter your 30s and say, “I’m going clubbing tonight”, you absolutely do not mean you are going dancing at a low lit night club, staying out all hours of the night.  You are now referring to one of two clubs: Book Club or Supper Club.  These are literally the only two types of clubs that could convince you to be out of the house until 9pm.  In context:
    -“I’m going clubbing tonight.  My Book Club is discussing the new Harry Potter and we’re trying a new type of trail mix!”
    -“I’m going clubbing tonight.  Our Supper Club friends are doing a Low Country Boil, so what I’m trying to say is I’m taking my sleeping bag and living at their house for 24 hours because I’ll be too fat to move.”
  2. People in their 30s are now starting to realize their lives didn’t turn out exactly how they imagined.  Which I guess isn’t saying much because we based most of our expectations of adulthood on our M.A.S.H. results. According to my 1997 M.A.S.H. I should be marrying JTT, driving a garbage can, living in a mansion, and working at Hello Kitty.  We’d have 8 children, so hopefully my garbage can has bucket seats.  (Had to.)
    mashJust feeling bummed that I didn’t have the foresight back then to write in every single “car” blank-  “Uber, take me everywhere”.  I could get behind that.
  3. In your 30s, you begin to suffer from a delusional disorder that causes you to believe you are “just out of college” and “still young and relevant”.  I regularly feel like I am just two years older than the college-aged girls who babysit our daughter.  And then I do the math and calculate an entire decade between us.  When she was a newborn in the hospital I was ten and doing the Macarena.  It makes me want to sit these girls down and ask lots of desperate questions like,
    “Where did you buy those jeans with the holes or did you put the holes there or do they even sell those to Moms” and “What emojis are college kids using these days” and
    “I’ll tell you what a Home Owner’s Association is if you can Rosetta Stone some millennial slang for me right quick”.
    32
  4. These are the years you realize it’s time to officially own your adulthood, the years when you actually discuss things like refinancing the house and have to compare five different stroller models.  You realize it’s time to embrace responsibility and do adult things like listen to all of your voicemails and respond accordingly.  The up-side to owning your adulthood?  You get to do whatever you want because you are the boss of you.  Want to stand over the sink at 10:30 and eat a slice of pound cake out of your hands?  COOL.  Want to play Candy Crush for hours even if you don’t have WiFi?  DO IT ‘CAUSE YOU GROWN.  Want to act like you fell asleep on the couch when your spouse brings up the budget?  GO FOR IT, ADULT.
  5. At 29, you feel strong and healthy and young, and then I don’t know why but you turn 30 and immediately everything hurts.  All the things you were doing in your 20s now require Aleve and a back brace.  I used to carry eight bags of groceries in at a time without flinching (because who has time to make three different trips out to the car) but now when I carry in that one bag with the orange juice, my hands start cramping and shriveling up.  My husband plays pick up basketball with some friends and he basically dislocates his shoulder during warm ups now.  He needs a 3-4 hour recovery period after getting home to ice random muscles and stretch his thirty-year-old body parts in the door frames.
  6. Your 30s are the years when you make peace with your slower metabolism, choosing kale over bread and chia seed smoothies over Girl Scout Cookies.  Eh, never mind. That must be your 40s.
  7. If someone in their 30s says “Let’s stay up late tonight”, they have no interest in seeing any time that ends in “A.M.”. They also aren’t planning on staying up to find out the host of Saturday Night Live.  They probably mean “Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s stay up late tonight and watch the weather coverage on the 10:00 news.”  Like, even then- contacts are OUT, pajamas are ON, and they already have one eye closed getting a head start on a REM cycle.

Finally, a toast to all these years as a 30-something.  May the book clubbing be turnt and may these years be far sweeter than you could’ve imagined.  Cheers!

life-atImage Sources: 1, 2, 3

 

A Tribute to Soul Sisters

girl friendsThere are different levels of friendship, ranging from
I Will Like Your Facebook Picture But We Probably Won’t Talk In Public For More Than Four Minutes”..   to..
I Will Text You A Three Line String of Emojis And You Will Clearly Know The Depth Of My Anguish At Watching The Parenthood Series Finale”.  

The deepest level of friendship: a soul sister.  The same person who knows the Social Media You and also knows what you look like twelve haircuts ago wearing retainers to bed.  They love you and they like you.  Most days.  Seasons of life have passed by with friends like this- walking to class together, buying the bridesmaid’s dress for her wedding, holding her firstborn.  And because life isn’t perfectly packaged, sometimes it means I will leave for my vacation three days late to be at your Dad’s funeral.  I will walk with you through depression, miscarriages, the messy and the baggage.  A friend like this is someone worthy of your priorities and deserving of your time.

A group of my college friends have gotten together the past five years for an annual girls’ weekend.  We find the cheapest (read: FREE-EST) house in a different city and go sit on that couch eating lots of food.  It’s awesome.  This year we had 13 girls staying steps away from the beach.  We’ve done mountains, lake, small town, big city, and now- the ocean.
Some highlights of those in attendance:
-preggo road tripping from DC with zero bathroom stops
-Chickfila owner/operator coming in HOT from Illinois
-chief resident of Emergency Medicine at a Nashville hospital (kinda important. humble brag on her behalf.)
-one wearing an engagement ring, months away from marrying a Brit and moving to The Land Of Fish And Chips, and another unknowingly about to be engaged two weeks later
-stay-at-home Moms raising precious little ones, past roommates and current roommates, saucy Gingers in abundance

Here’s the moral of that story: Spending time with these friends is life-giving, refreshing, and encouraging.
I was sitting among them, eating my ham biscuits, thinking: Yes. This.  People need more of this in their lives.  No drama, no toxic negativity, just a group of women who have memories spanning from flip phones to dating apps, who genuinely get each other and enjoy life together.  The blog post was already turning in my head.  (The poor people in my life now ask me, “Are you going to write about this?” like I’m the Taylor Swift of the blogosphere, poised to put all triumphs and angst to paper.  “Yes.. I will write about this.  And one day when my guitars are being sold on eBay and I’m feuding with Kanye, I will remember all of you little people.”)

You don’t have to collect an enormous friendship squad.. I honestly don’t even like 8 of those people that go on our trip.  (Just kidding. But seriously, it’s like at least five.)  I do think there’s such value in women having healthy female friendships that are deep, authentic, and energizing, whether with one person or several people.  Choose friends who are willing to come over and real-talk with you over Chipotle, but also look up YouTube videos of “people falling” before they leave.  They’ll tell you they’re praying for you and actually mean it.  They will back you up so hard when life gets messy and prank you so hard when you least expect it.

This post is a tribute to soul sisters- that person, those friends, your biffs- who have always been ready for an adventure and continue to be constant, perceptive, and thoughtful.  YOU DA REAL MVP.

A tribute to soul sisters

For Better or For Worse (or For Dishwasher Wars)

ImageChef Meme Maker - ImageChef.com

We were just babies when we walked down that aisle seven years ago.
Giddy and fresh out of college, starting our journey together into the world of bills and taxes and a mortgage.  (Also known as being an actual adult that doesn’t use your parents’ money when swiping a college I.D. card to buy Combos at 1am.)

We recited vows that are traditional and familiar, but no less meaningful and weighty.
For better or for worse- even when you have to hang pictures on the wall together.  (Lord Jesus, be near..)
For richer or for poorer- “Mo money, mo problems”, but also “Need mo money because we overdrafted”.
In sickness and in health- Truly so thankful for good health and minimal sickness.

Somehow, seven years feels both long and short.  It feels familiar.  I’ve memorized our comfortable rhythm and know him better than the lyrics to my Summer Mix CDs from high school.  (And I know my Summer Mix lyrics.)  Kind of like I know that he’s going to get a glass of orange juice every night around 10pm.  He’ll get home from work and kiss his girls saying “This is the best part of my day”.  When we hear someone talk about Martin Luther nailing the theses to the door, I’ll smile to myself because I know we both heard the word “feces”.  (By the way, we’re allowed to raise a child.)  I see the side of him that few people get to see, but I guess that’s because they don’t know to turn on 90’s rap music in the car.  He knows what time my favorite gym class is… my go-to lunch at home… the songs I can’t get out of my head.

In case he hasn’t fully come to question what he’s gotten himself into by marrying me, I made sure to bombard his SnapChat with mature pics and filter choices on our anniversary.  Just to note, these were sent while he was responsibly working to provide for our family and I was sitting on the front porch looking like a Certified Millennial taking selfies.  Hayy neighbors.  In case anyone needs some MARRIAGE GOALS—

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I want to point out that his response to the “Check __yes ___no” snap was “If your dome was that big and your eyes were in the middle of your head, then absolutely not.”  So apparently one of us meant their vows and the OTHER ONE DIDN’T!!!  Awesome!

 

Our seven years have not been charmed and we are both far from perfect.  Many others have had to walk much harder and more challenging journeys in their early years of marriage.  And yet, all that to say, I am proud that we’ve survived- and by the grace of God, even thrived- in our seven married years together.  This post is simply a celebration of love, ending with a renewal of vows to recognize the commitment we’ve made and our future together:

BAE, I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become.  I vow to teach you the right way to load the dishwasher and will try my best not to be a backseat driver.  I promise to listen to you and learn from you, unless you start talking about baseball stats and pinch runners and earned run averages, and then I will have to think about other more interesting things like Anna Kendrick’s Twitter feed.  

I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own.  (However I cannot mourn the loss of the shirt with armpit holes that I threw away.. but we can discuss this later.  “If you love something set it free.”)  I commit to being FOR you in every way.  As you pursue your passions and grow in godliness,  I will proudly stand by you and cheer you on.  When our journey leads us down painful paths, I will choose to continue fixing my eyes on Jesus first and on you second, because that is the most loving thing I could do.  

I promise to keep almonds in my purse to curb the hangry, to cheer for your sports teams (for better or for worse), and to love you as deeply, richly, wholly, fully, and completely as I love dropping ca$h in Target.  Here’s to many more! xo! 

For Better Or Worse

The Practice of Waiting Well

“Boys and Girls, please come to the carpet for story time.
Go ahead and sit Criss-Cross-Applesauce but not Indian Style because we don’t use that phrase anymore. 

waiting-kevin-henkes
Today I have a story to share with you called “Waiting” by Kevin Henkes.  He wrote some awesome picture books like Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Plastic Purple Purse, and Wemberly Worried.  We love Kevin Henkes.

In the book, there are five toys that sit by the window and each of them are waiting.  The owl waits for the moon, the pig waits for the rain, the bear waits for the wind, the puppy waits for the snow, and the rabbit isn’t waiting for one particular thing- he just likes to look outside and wait….”

As I read this book, I started to envision not toys on the windowsill, but people.  The faces of dear friends all around me who were looking out their windows while I too sat at my window and waited.  We each anticipated something that was just out of reach, that next step of life that appeared brighter and better and more fulfilling.  The waiting didn’t discriminate toward any particular age or life season either.
Around me, I saw:

Waiting for a proposal
Waiting for a new job opportunity
Waiting for a positive pregnancy test
Waiting for the wedding day
Waiting for summer to start
Waiting for the adoption to be finalized
Waiting for the right person to marry
Waiting for the baby to hit developmental milestones
Waiting for your spouse to decide if they want to make the marriage work
Waiting for a house to buy
Waiting for retirement
Waiting for life to slow down
Waiting for life to speed up
Or maybe just waiting, like the rabbit, for the sake of waiting

It’s easy to focus on what we wait for, because we all have something that comes to mind. (hello- two, three, four things..) Rather, maybe we should spend some time reflecting on how we wait to determine if we are waiting well.
Consider:

  1. What is the attitude of my heart and the focus of my mind as I wait?
    Waiting with impatience, anxiety, fear, anger, and even obsession means we are waiting with unbelief.  We wait with a high view of ourselves and a low view of God, when waiting well requires the opposite:  prayerfully submitting the attitude of our hearts and the focus of our minds to the One who created both and asking Him to help us in our unbelief (Mark 9:24).
  2. How have I believed the lie that “this next thing will be better and entirely fulfilling”?
    Often, “the next thing” that we’ve waited for (marriage, children, a new job) is a good gift and blessing.  When we determine that- fill in the blank- will finally satisfy us, we create a “functional savior”, meaning that we have attributed our identity and significance to something other than God and wrongly worship these good things as ultimate things (as Tim Keller says).Part of waiting well means that the hierarchy of our affections are ordered rightly.  If I believe that Jesus plus something will ensure my happiness, then I don’t believe that Jesus is enough.  Sadly, I embrace this lie far too often.  Expecting that “the next thing” will not be just a blessing, but a savior, is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom.  It may be filling temporarily, but not for long.  I pray that my waiting submits to Jesus and finds rest and fulfillment in Him.
  3. Am I spending so much time focused on what’s ahead that I lose sight of the gift of right now?
    Looking back, I recognize times when I was so intent on moving my life forward from a particular season that I missed out on goodness that was happening around me.  In our waiting and anticipation, let’s resist having a fixed tunnel vision and choose to be present with thankfulness.

the practice (1)Waiting can be refining and stretching and wearying.  It’s not easy.  Waiting well means we’re trusting that God is wise enough to give us our food at the proper time (Psalm 145:15) and loving enough to fully satisfy us in this season and the next (Psalm 63:1-5).  We can trust God with our marital statuses, the people we love, the children we’re raising, jobs, next steps, moves, even the details of tomorrow. That’s good news, friends.
{image: source}

Slow Clap For Teachers: The Saints of Society

Teachers,
I was once in your midst- copying papers, squatting next to desks, sitting through meetings, greeting students with smiles. I know about your long hours and I remember what it’s like to grade the never-ending stack of papers.

You had a year to remember, complete with triumph and a few tears.  Somehow in the middle of assessments and bureaucracy, you were given the gift of being able to sit back and quietly remember why you became an educator in the first place.  Now, summer is just in reach and you’ll finally get to sip your coffee and leisurely watch the Today Show.  But before you fling yourself too quickly out of the school doors into the summer break that awaits you, I hope you’ll take a moment and hear this important message.
Very simply: thank you.

Thank you for taking time to get to know your students’ personalities and interests, and sitting and listening to what they have to say.  You heard knock-knock jokes from the little ones, you heard all about an older student’s winter formal dress.  You went out of your way to pay attention to them and they noticed.

Thank you for keeping change in your desk drawer for the child in tears without lunch money.

Thank you for thinking outside of the box to reach your students, for incorporating technology when it’s easier to hand out a packet, for integrating art and music into your literacy instruction, for making a lesson come to life on the basketball court.  Thank you for going out of your way to be an excellent educator and fostering an environment that produces thinkers and learners.

Thank you for remembering that a standardized test score is a number on a piece of paper that cannot fully measure the growth of that English Language Learner.

Thank you for going to that student’s soccer game and hugging their sweaty neck afterward.  They’ll remember that, you know.

Thank you for keeping your chill while you deal with PENCILS.
“Can I borrow a pencil?” No.
“Can I sharpen my pencil?” No.
“Can I write in colored pencil?” No.
“Can I click my mechanical pencil a hundred times?” No.
“I forgot my pencil.” No.
“Can I take notes with this 2mm long pencil that has both ends sharpened?” WHAT. JUST NO.

Thank you for remembering that your students- whether 5 years old or 15- are still children.  As they grow and figure out the world around them, your influence will stay with them for years to come.

Thank you for keeping a straight face during your reading group when you received the handwritten note saying, “I was trying to fart and I pooped on my self can I get new pants from the office.”  Teacher, you deserve your summer.

Thank you for wearing all the hats of an educator: counselor, nurse, life coach, housekeeper, judge and jury, public relations manager, cheerleader, advocate, policeman, historian, technology troubleshooter, coach, and friend. You should be making a gazillion dollars, but you don’t need me to tell you that.  You already know.

 

When you look back on this school year, it could be easy to remember the heated conference you had with a parent or the kid who flipped over a desk or the IEP meeting that lasted until dusk.  Make the effort to also remember the parent who fought tears explaining what you’ve meant to their family.  Remember the kid who would barely talk at the beginning of the school year and bravely gave an entire PowerPoint presentation in May.  And remember those lessons that you knocked out of the ball park, observing students as they make connections and ask meaningful questions.

May your summer break include a lunch break that lasts longer than 20 minutes and quality time with friends and family without a broken pencil in sight.

You certainly deserve it.

Slow Clap For Teachers

9 Insights About Motherhood For My Pre-Baby Self

Dear Pre-Baby Self,
You’ve heard that life is going to change when you have kids and you think you understand. Well, that’s cute.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not prepared at all. I know what life will be like on the other side. Your new normal will be challenging and special and perfect and busy. Listen closely and take notes.9 Insights About Motherhood

  1. “Wheels on the Bus” is about to be your heartbeat song.
    You will officially know everything that happens on that bus, just like you also know all the animals that live on Old MacDonald’s farm. Even some jungle animals will make cameos on the farm if that means your child will not cry in her car seat for six minutes. (What? The song is about animals, not ecosystems and habitats. Maybe Old MacDonald really wanted a gorilla on his farm.)
  2. In addition to having a child, you will gain another new roommate named Bacterial Colonies.
    You will think your house is relatively clean until your little one starts shuffling around with tufts of pet hair pulled out of the carpet and leaving sippy cups of milk in the play kitchen, only to be found days later. Food will be heartily flung to the floor from the high chair and unless you invest in a dog or a Roomba, it may live there for awhile, at least until company comes.
  3. Motherhood is a delicate balance between dying to self and making time for yourself.
    You will realize that you can’t be the center of your universe anymore. There are little feet that need shoes, little bellies that need filling, and little cries that need soothing. You are going to tend to everybody, but make sure you get a cut of that TLC too, starting with a pedicure with a girlfriend.
  4. You will soon understand there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is commonly used as a torture tactic.
    Lean in, Pre-Baby Self. You’ve already heard that in the beginning you won’t get much sleep and it’s true. But I need to prepare you now for the things you will do while sleep deprived including, but not limited to: discover a dirty diaper under all the covers at the foot of your bed, try to cradle and rock your cat, and put DVDs in the freezer. One day the baby will actually start sleeping through the night! This will last until Daylight Savings when you get to wake up at oh-dark-thirty and start sleep training all over again.
  5. Invest in a U-Haul. You will need it for all the baby gear that accompanies a weekend trip.
    When you plan a weekend away, it will seem necessary to pack every baby shower present and furniture item that your child owns. If you want to drive down the highway with an inflatable duck tub crammed across your lap, then buy the minivan. But if you want to travel comfortably with all sixteen hundred lovey blankets, then go with the U-Haul.
  6. It takes a village to raise a mom. Be brave and accept help from your village.
    Let me just say Pre-Baby Self, you are going to be such an awesome Mom. You will work really hard and dole out kisses, Band-Aids, and snuggles. You might feel frustrated when you don’t know all the parenting answers or feel helpless if you experience Postpartum Depression, but you have a whole crew of people who love you and your family. Be willing to let them into your world.
  7. Many tasks of motherhood require speed and stealth: Opening and closing the diaper pail is one of them.
    It won’t take long for you to realize that leaving the diaper pail open for longer than 0.001 of a second unleashes the underworld. Change the diaper, dispose of the diaper- open, close, done. Be quick about it. Trust me on this.
  8. Your pre-baby body and post-baby body are not friends on Facebook and they probably never will be. And that’s okay.
    You will have moments where you look down at your new belly button, turn on Boyz II Men, and sing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. You’ll work out, you’ll eat healthy, and still- everything will sit differently than it used to. Bathing suit season will get you all hot and bothered, but you know what? You rearranged your organs to grow and birth the most precious human. Treat those stretch marks with respect… they actually tell a beautiful story.
  9. The love for your child will be very real- deep and strong and even a little overwhelming in the very best way.
    You will look at these little people that you’re raising and ache because the love you feel is so powerful. Sure, you will have moments made of utter chaos, but even after the hard days, you’ll still tiptoe into their room at night and think to yourself, “That child just about killed me today. But I couldn’t love her any more.”

Pre-Baby Self, we both know you don’t have a clue what you’re getting into. Soak up every moment with your babies. You won’t believe how quickly the time will pass. For now, though: travel, sleep in, binge watch Netflix, eat out, pee by yourself. These days are numbered, but truly, the best is yet to come.