Waiting for the Bell

Ringing, dinging, buzzing, singing.  We are a noisy bunch of folks these days.

It’s a wonder that we can focus on anything with all of the chirping, whistling, humming and vibrating that’s going on around us.  Most of us are answering our phones in the checkout lines, drive thru lanes, on date nights and even in church.  We’re pouring out our hearts in waiting rooms, school rooms, break rooms and even bathrooms.  (Puh-LEASE!)  We scramble to answer our phones while we’re driving, groping frantically through our purses and consoles.  We carefully position our phones on the steering wheel so that we can even text while speeding down the road at 60 miles per hour, seemingly forgetting that we cannot control everything.  We interrupt friends, ignore children, tune out spouses and neglect to thank the folks who hold open our doors, wave us ahead of them at the 4-way stop and bag our groceries.  Many of us even try to maintain two conversations at the same time, confusing a multitude of people around us.

And yet we keep on doing it.

What is wrong with us that we think we are so important?  What makes us live as though we truly believe that the world will stop spinning if we ignore the bells?  How can we justify putting other people in danger for the sake of a text?  How can what is happening on social media trump precious time spent with our children at the park or extended family on holidays or even our evenings with our spouses?

We’ve got some priority issues, folks.

The number of people who have liked our status does not determine our worth.

The continual chirping of our phones does not dictate how much we are needed.

The world will not spontaneously combust if we silence our phones while driving.

Unless the good Lord wills otherwise, the sun will still rise if we leave our phones on the kitchen counter through the night.  (We’d probably sleep better, too!)

We have got to discipline ourselves to tune out of some things for the sole purpose of tuning into the important things.  We have got to unplug from the little things so that we have the energy to plug into the big things.

We simply must recognize the difference between a distraction and a priority. 

When we choose to heed the chirp of our phones over the well-being of the people around us, we are allowing our legacy to be compromised.  We must be intentional about our investment in those we love if we want to have a positive lasting legacy.  Boundaries are a good thing.  It’s time to set some for ourselves.

 

Garlic Breath

Dave often stops by the grocery on his way home from work if I need anything.  I’m usually in the midst of supper preparation when he gets home, so one of the kids gets assigned the task of putting away the groceries.

I’ve been smelling something in the mud room/pantry area for the last several days that reminded me of horrible garlic breath.  I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I dug a little deeper this morning and found a grocery bag with a full bag of onions and a bag with two garlic bulbs.  One of the bulbs of garlic is complete mush and SERIOUSLY foul-smelling.

Remember the Family Circus comic’s “Not Me”?  Well, he lives here, too.

Now to air out my mud room!

Surprise Baby

Last Monday evening, my oldest daughter came in from doing the barn chores with a surprise.  We had a new baby.  One that we didn’t know was coming.

I had been trying to get my hens to actually hatch a clutch of eggs for the better part of three years to no avail.  Either the hens would try to set on their eggs during one of our rooster-less seasons or the hens wouldn’t be in the mood to brood when we knew the eggs were being fertilized or the hens didn’t like the new fun, safe brooding area I made for them and revolted or the rooster wasn’t manning up to the challenge of doing the deed.  Whatever the reason, it was always a 100% failure, and both man and bird seemed a bit stressed out by my meddling.

So, I called it quits two months ago.

We now have a baby.

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One of our black Australorps sneakily laid her egg in a corner on the floor of the coop.  We never saw the egg to gather it because she was setting on it.  We just thought she was being anti-social or wanted to be in out of the almost-continual rain over the course of the chick’s three-week gestational period.  Completely devoid of any human intervention, this young momma hen hatched a perfect, fluffy chick.

I know there is a lesson in here for me somewhere.

Ladies and gentleman, I think it’s time for me to leave well enough alone.  (I think I just heard an “Amen!” from my husband.)

God’s totally got things under control.  He hears my heart.  He knows my strengths as well as my weaknesses, and He knows what is best.  My meddling really, really, really doesn’t help matters.  In fact, it might just stress people out.

Safety

I soooooo wish this world was a safer place for my kiddos.

From the crap people post on Facebook to the remarkable number of people driving down the road while staring at their phones, I often feel like I want to gather my chicks and live life in our own little bubble.

I understand that “cutting the apron strings” is normal, and believe me!  I want this process to happen.  I also just want my kids to be safe.  I want everyone else to treasure them like I do.  I want people to think before they speak (or post).  I want them to drive with their eyes on the road.  I want them to understand that they are being watched and that their example makes an impact.

We are all teachers.  We all have the choice of whether we want to encourage or to discourage.

Entertaining the world is not our primary responsibility.  Getting attention should never be our top priority.

We are leaving a legacy to the world.  What legacy will we choose to leave?  Anger?  Rudeness?  Chaos?  Crisis?

Lord, help me to leave a legacy that honors You–one of peace.  Joy.  Kindness.  Forgiveness.  Gentleness.

Help me also to remember that the safe places aren’t always where You shine the brightest.  You are a refuge in every situation.

Thank You, Jesus.

roses

 

An Empty Room

My mom and stepdad are moving, and my little family and I recently went up to help.  We did all of the usual moving tasks–sorting, packing, hauling, loading, unloading.  It was all totally routine.  I was on an organizational mission, and we were quickly getting things checked off my list.

Until everyone left me alone.

My mom and stepdad are making this change for good reasons.  They are choosing to downsize–to simplify their lives.  After caring for 20 acres and a big house and huge barn for more than 25 years, they are relocating to less than an acre and a much smaller ranch-style house.  They have decided to move on their own terms instead of possibly being forced into moving some day due to circumstances beyond their control.  There is wisdom and freedom in their decision, and I am proud to see them move out of their comfort zone to realize their goals.  So many people live their lives, paralyzed by the fear of the unknown.  Change, especially in certain seasons of life, can be a scary thing.

Knowing all of this, and being one of their biggest cheerleaders along the way, I was completely caught off-guard by the waves of emotion that came over me last weekend.  As everyone left on various moving errands, I volunteered to stay behind to sort and pack in my old bedroom.  I came across so many memories of times in that house–all of which were good memories.  I remembered friends from high school spending the night,  prayerful preparation for mission trips, coming home on spring break from college to discover that my mom had hidden Easter eggs for me to find, doing my hair for my wedding, putting my sleeping firstborn in the pack ‘n’ play for her first overnight at Grammy’s, reading Popcorn and Basil Brush Gets a Medal to my little ones, just like my mom read to me.  Memory after happy memory overwhelmed me and I wept as I sorted through old photos and Christmas decorations, handmade cards from my kids and dusty softball trophies.  So many good times are associated with that house.

I am thankful for the season we have had in that house.  It has served our family well, and I will always remember it with fondness  However, the real focus of my affection will forever belong to the people who have loved within its walls.  We are in no way perfect.  We have our disagreements, our hurts, our insecurities and a maybe a few skeletons tucked away.  We have made mistakes like everyone else, and we have been sometimes slow to swallow our pride and to make amends.  But, we have loved each other.  Unfailingly.  Imperfectly.  Unconditionally.

The house is not what makes a home.  It is the people who live there.  I am so thankful for my mom and stepdad who have opened the doors of that house to me and to the people I love for decades.  They have made that house a place of rest, of laughter, of celebration and of peace for so many.  I pray that the young family that moves in experiences even more joy and love and security within its walls than we have.

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As I carried out the last box, I took a look around my old room.  There was nothing left for me in it.  Everything I truly loved was moving on.  That room was just a symbol of something much more lasting than a house.  It was a symbol of the love I had experienced within its walls.

 

 

Family Night

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I am married to a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Believe me, this has its drawbacks.  For one thing, he is almost always right.  This can be…unsettling…if I ever wanted him to bow to my unreasonable demands.  Fortunately, I don’t make unreasonable demands.

The other problem comes in that he knows the futility of arguing, and sometimes I just want to indulge in a good argument!  Selfish, really, that he won’t oblige me in this.

Other than that, though, the Counselor’s knowledge and passion for healthy families mostly comes in handy.  For instance, we are currently living with three teenagers.  In spite of the natural trials borne out of this season of life, these young people are relatively well-adjusted, highly capable and mostly pleasant (probably because they’ve grown up with free counseling).  The perspective of a godly man who has worked with people in resolving personal crises–as well as worked through a few crises of his own–is beneficial.

Fairly early in our parenting, Counselor Dave and I determined that we would guard our time together as a family.  We would control our schedules and not allow our schedules to control us.  Over the years, this has required us to make a number of healthy, family-building decisions, some much easier to make than others.   One of the fun, easy decisions we made, following Dave’s lead, was to institute a Family Night.

Initially, we prompted each child, then ages two, four and seven, to suggest a few outdoor and a few indoor things that they really liked to do here at home.  Their suggestions included things like building with Lincoln Logs, watching a family-friendly movie, playing Blind Man’s Bluff and baking cookies.  Dave and I added our own suggestions, and we put all of the ideas into a jar to be drawn out for Sunday Family Nights.

Now that the kids are older, we rotate through the family, each person getting to choose weather-appropriate activities for their turn.  I usually prepare a fun, informal supper, like nachos, burgers or tacos and we quit whatever projects we’re working on by about 5:30 each Sunday evening.  It is a rare exception that we are on the computer or even take a phone call or return a text once Family Night begins.  If a Family Night falls on Mother’s Day or a birthday, then the honored person gets to choose the activity–or sometimes everyone else chooses an extra-special activity for the honored person.

I confess that not everyone is always thrilled with the chosen activity for the night (including myself).  There have been driveway face-plants from bike rides, split lips from Pickle, complaints about Croquet, unending games of Monopoly, cries of “Not fair!” when Daddy vetoes a movie option in favor of an outdoor activity when the weather is nice.  Our Family Nights have not created a perfect family; however, they have created opportunity for intentional time together to build relationships.  Families are the foundation of every society.  If our society is broken, we are reaping the consequences of our families being broken.

Whatever you choose to do this Mother’s Day weekend, I encourage you to make it a family-building activity.  Invest in the people you love.  Guard your time.  Put away your phone.  Plug in to one another.  You may not have family in the area, and you may not have children, but you still have people around you that can be blessed by what you have to offer.  Maybe you know of a broken family that could use a little building.  Maybe now is the time to reach out.

 

Time to Plant

Ahhhh…planting season already.

Sometimes, in my brain, it sounds more like, “Awww…planting season…already”.

Other times, it resembles more of an, “Aaaaaaack!  Planting season!!  Already!”

Regardless of my current personal feelings on the situation, it is, indeed, time to plant in the State of Indiana.

Sigh.

We began putting in cool-weather crops a couple of weeks ago.  We followed up with a second planting of many of them today–beets, sugar snaps, radishes, leafy greens.  We also planted candy onions, kale, turnips, parsnips and kohlrabi.  A rainbow of seed potatoes were put in a week ago, and our rhubarb is coming up nicely.  The broccoli plants my husband started will be ready for the dirt in a week or so.  We should be able to sample our first little harvest of this season’s asparagus tonight.

I struggle to comprehend that it is once again time to plant the produce that it seems like I just finished putting up for winter.  I seem to have lost an entire month…or two.

Lately, I am increasingly aware of how quickly each day passes.  Weeks that used to seem to meander along are now gone in what seems like moments.  I am trying to hold on to the routine, the mundane, the essence of what our life here at home has always seemed to be while still embracing the changes that teenage children bring.

I’ll be honest:  I miss my little ones.  I miss their simplicity and wonder and snuggles.  I miss bedtime stories and tickle times and three meals together each and every day.  I don’t resent the changes that have come with having older children, and I do not wish things were different, but I genuinely miss those days of sticky fingers and blowing bubbles and three sweet kids being scrubbed in the tub.

I am so thankful that I was able to spend my days at home with them.  I wouldn’t change that for the world.  However, if I could do it all over again, I would choose to be even more present in the moment.  I would choose even more long, lazy walks, even more times together bundled up in the snow, more times looking into their eyes and telling them who God has created them to be.  I’d let go of more of the lesser things and hold more tightly to the greater.  I’d play more.  Cherish more.  Ask more.  Pretend more.

Listen more.

I’d commit to less outside of their world and do more in it.

I have never felt like I sacrificed myself when I chose to stay home with my kids.  Instead, I feel like I have been impacted in such a life-altering, faith-building, comfort-zone-stretching way that I am better for my investment in their lives.  They have softened me and challenged me and clarified for me in a way nothing else ever could.  I am seeing glimpses of the harvest in my children, and I am pleased and humbled.  They each shine in their own beautiful way even as they continue to learn and grow and navigate this garden of life.

I am so thankful that I took the time to sow when the soil was ready.  Lord, help me to tend to their fertile hearts with the fruits of Your Spirit.