Signs

God is never silent. For some reason, I either catch a beautiful sunset or rainbow when I’m struggling.

I do not believe in signs from God. Well… let me be more specific. I specifically do not believe in asking God to show signs. God is loud in His own way…in my child’s laugh, the sound of the rain, my older two children talking when my son is home from college, a song at church that moves my soul… He has His own way of showing up.

God is visible. He is visible in the sunset, the promise in a rainbow, a foggy cow field, the photos of my family on my phone, a sunrise, flowers, and butterflies.

At my son’s preschool before I head into work. This view reminds me to not be anxious about my day, but that God is in control.

He is tangible. God is tangible in the tears we sometimes cry, the helping hand from a friend, intercession by prayer warriors, and many more ways to count.

God is love. He is who he says He is. His Word is true. That is more than any sign I will ever need.

I like to think of sun rays as God touching the Earth.

Rocking Chairs

In the corner of the den sits a rocking chair. Seemingly out of place, it’s original home was in my little boy’s room. It is the place I sang “Over the Rainbow” as I had sung it when he was in utero. This rocking chair saw many first stories, the “boon”(moon) out the window as my little baby called it, and too many snuggles to count.

But now he is too big to sit with me in it. So I held him on his bed tonight and rocked him close to me. He was “trying” me earlier, and we both needed a hug. He melted into me the same, but just a little heavier and with twice the curls as he had in the rocking chair which seemed just like yesterday.

Image: Google

There is a rocking chair in the corner of the attic, its reeded seat falling in from rocking two other babies so many years ago. My oldest with the colic and soft, fuzzy head against my neck… we spent many an hour there. He is a future accountant playing college baseball. I have to swallow hard as I write that. My pretty baby girl who would rock if there was a book to be read, resting her olive cheek on me. She is a senior dreaming of college days ahead.

These rocking chairs seem to mock me, reminding me that the years never stop. Sometimes they are more gentle and make me smile at memories that seem fuzzy at times, and at others, could easily be just yesterday. Should be yesterday. The years went by so fast…. I wish I would have slowed down more. The quiet part of the evening is the loudest in my memories and I can almost hear the creak of the rocking chairs as I rock my little ones to sleep.

Lanes

This is the type of lane I prefer…

“Awesome.” I think to myself. “That looks really fun.” I feel a catch in my throat as I look at the pictures of several women having fun on a beach trip. I am a little surprised and disappointed in myself. Here I am a capable, professional, grown woman. I feel as though I should be past all the social inferences… but, obviously, I still have some work to do. These women are not mean people. They are professionals, moms, wives…and have found good company with each other. I can neither fault them or be upset at them for that. As a wise man once said (my dad, more specifically), “It is what it is.”

It is my humble opinion that God places certain people in our lives at certain times for a specific purpose. Some people are there a short time and some are there for the long haul. There are just some groups of which we are not meant to be a part…. and I refer to this as “staying in our lanes.” This is so much harder in reality. Social media is a place where we shine our brightest and where others’ lives seem to shine even more brightly than our own.

Another way we tend to get out of our lanes is by comparing our lives to others’. There is a beautiful lady I know. She is always put together and her hair is never out of place. I am pretty sure she has a never-ending wardrobe. I have yet to see her get her feathers ruffled. Beautiful, put together, calm… all the things I aspire to be but fall short of so many times…it is hard not for me to compare my own shortcomings to her seemingly successful life. But God did not give me her life. And when I question my OWN worth, I am, once again, not staying in MY lane.

When we focus on being better, doing better, learning new things… and putting ourselves out there, the right people will see that. Be the best version of who God made you to be. Enjoy the ride and stay in your lane.

He Sees

Image: Google

This morning I woke up and could just tell. Aside from the migraine, there was just an undercurrent of an unsettling feeling. You know what I mean…you just know that it is going that be one of “those” days. And I know in a cerebral sense that we can decide to have a good day, but I also know that “stuffing”emotions is not a healthy practice, either. Instead of sunshine and rainbows (and a somewhat clean house), you wake up to a messy kitchen, piles of laundry, and overcast skies… both literally and figuratively.

Have you ever taken a walk outside when the weather is a pleasant temperature and the beeeze is blowing? Through some weird turn of events, this seems to also line up with my family meeting my expectations, bills being promptly paid with money left in the account, and the house looking picked up (with my favorite candle going). All seems right with the world, and I whisper a prayer of gratitude. It is in these moments that I feel God’s presence. See, a clean house, completed checklist in my planner, and good weather give me a false sense of control. Notice I said “false.” We are never really in control, are we? And this is part of my struggle…maybe yours, as well.

So what happens when there seems to be a cloud hovering over us like the little boy in Charlie Brown? Where is God when when life’s sunshine seems to stay hidden behind clouds of anxiety, disappointment, hardship? He sometimes seems far away or silent. This is where we have to reach deep down and find a bit of faith.

I am not one to just open my Bible haphazardly. But I do believe God meets us in our need. And this was the daily verse on my Bible app today. It could not have come at a better time, to be honest. On the outside, I am a wife, mom, friend, and teacher. But a closer look would garner the fact that I struggle with many things. And we ALL do. We just hide it well. But HE sees.

Your struggle with depression… He sees.

The anxiety attacks … He sees.

Your rejection from others when you try to fit in…. He sees.

The striving you do to please everyone… He sees.

Shame from the past…He sees.

Self-condemnation…He sees.

Never-ending housework…He sees.

The stack of bills…He sees.

And He hurts for you. But He is there, nonetheless…even when you do not feel it. See, He never said that feelings were a requirement, only that you have the faith to try. Sit with Him. Pour out your heart. He has grace and mercy waiting for you. He sees you. He hears you, too.

Sand on the Floor

We live where most people would refer to as “out.” In other words, getting here is not usually an accident and one would need a fairly good reason to drive out this way. We have a church, two gas stations, a caution light, and a brand new Dollar General (we are actually quite proud to have it). Other than that, the typical conveniences such as shopping trips and doctor visits are always planned ahead of time. So imagine how surprising it has been since the pandemic that my house seems to be a gathering place for young people.

Any day of the week during the summer, holidays, or weekends, the side entrance of our house is littered with an assortment of tennis shoes, slides, and flips flops… all belonging to teenage and college students. It is a respectful albeit unsuccessful attempt on their part at keeping the floors clean in the house. I have begun to recognize some of these shoes. There are always my daughter’s Birkenstock’s, my older son’s tennis shoes, and a vast array of sizes and styles from various friends. It is a sign of normalcy that was not present just one short year ago. Basically, the more vehicles in the driveway there are, the more shoes will be at our door.

All in a day’s work…

Tonight as I was walking in the house, tiny grains of sand kept sticking to my feet… sand that had been on my kids’ feet, their friends’ feet, and just from our comings and goings in general. And I was grateful. Grateful for family. Grateful for friends. Grateful for normalcy. And I am grateful for the cars in the driveway, the sound of laughter in our house, and even the sand that is on the floor.

All the Time

Children can teach us about the nature of God if we listen.

My youngest son has a habit of telling me he loves me multiple times within just several minutes. At first, I thought maybe he did not think I heard him. But after several more weeks of this happening, I came to realize that he needs reassurance. Little guy is my shadow. He is energetic, intelligent, fun…did I say energetic?🤣 And just like other children his age, sometimes he does not listen well. It comes with the territory, I suppose, but we are trying to “train him up” in the way he should go. And in his sensitive little heart, discipline does not necessarily feel like love.

“Mommy?” he asks. “Do you love me all the time?” “Yes, precious. All the time.” “How about when I don’t listen? “I still love you.” “Will you love me when I grow up?” “I will love you forever.” “But you love me when you’re not at home?” “I love and miss you when I’m not at home.” “Mama?” “Yes?” “I just love you sooo much!” “I love you, too.”

Image: Google

Sometimes love is hard, though, and I started thinking today about how fallible I am as a parent. Impatient. Selfish at times. Tired. But God loves me anyway. He loves me when I do not listen to His voice. He loves me when I do not spend time with him in prayer… and He misses me. He loves me so much that He sent His son to be the perfect example of love on the cross. And when I feel the heaviness of trying to be an example of love for my children (and coming short at times), he STILL loves me. He loves me. Forever.

Mother’s Day is a Start

The 11th Commandment: Thou shall not interrupt mom in the bathroom.

I could not make this up if I tried. And I literally dried off as soon as I could to write this. I was putting on pajama pants over half/dried legs and shaking my head while trying not to cry…. from laughing. I don’t know. Maybe I am angry. Maybe I just feel inspired. MAYBE I am in shock. One of my favorite days is Mother’s Day. I selfishly like it because no one asks me what we are having for supper. However, all other days are a free for all. I could have the flu and two broken legs on my birthday and someone will ask for supper. Why can’t moms get other days off, too?

We all know the jokes and memes about children following their mothers to the bathroom all the time. A few days ago, my husband and teenage daughter were home and I was “trying” (no pun intended) to use the bathroom, Little Guy needed something and came to me TWICE instead of my husband and daughter because we all know a 48 year old former athlete and high school cheerleader cannot open a fruit snack… only mommies sitting on the potty can do that.

Image: Google (this needs the added hand from a husband)

Why was I shocked then when my Little Guy opened the bathroom door faster than I could turn on the shower? Here is why:

“Mommy.”

“Why are you in here?” I asked .

“What you doing, mommy?”

“You know I’m taking a shower. Go in the den with Daddy.”

He left at this point… then, BAM!

He walked back in the bathroom again with his daddy (my husband, but I say “his daddy” when I’m irritated). My husband needed to know where my cell phone was, what my passcode was to get into the phone, and where my email app was in the phone. I begrudgingly supplied the aforementioned information. Well, Mr. Former Athlete Honor Student could not for the life of him figure this out and preceded to HAND ME THE PHONE. What’s that? Yes, I was still in the shower.

I helped find what my husband was looking for and my expression told him that I was less than happy. He quickly whisked away our little guy into the den. It was equal parts irritating and funny! And even though Mother’s Day is over, I think every day should be Mother’s Day. At the very least, let us moms take a shower uninterrupted. Oh, and pick up dinner, too. Thanks!

Battles

Image: Google

Several years ago, a nice lady told me I seem to have it all together….. but no one lately has said this to me. I am fine with that. If I had it all together then I would be under pressure to keep it together and the cycle never ends, does it? How many times have you scrolled social media or just observed another woman at work or in the store and thought to yourself “She does it all, manages it all… has it all…her house is probably clean, her marriage is perfect, and her emotions stay in check (I am an emotional person, so I always think this).”

You would be mistaken.

See, you are only aware of your own Goliath. I can absolutely assure you she has one, too… and maybe several.

But she hides hers behind a glossy social media page.

She smiles and pretends her Goliath doesn’t exist. She lives in denial.

She cries out at night for God to fight her Goliath for her.

And maybe her army is bigger.

Maybe her Goliath is not as big as yours.

I faced my own Goliath last week. One has lots of conversations with God while sitting alone waiting on the radiologist to walk in. Admittedly, I have medical anxiety for personal reasons, but I think any woman would be hard-pressed not to be anxious in this situation. I do not make deals with God. However, I sat and prayed (and cried) that He would be with me whatever the case may be.

Everything turned out okay, but I realized that I seem to take two steps forward and three steps back anytime I am forced to face my anxiety. And this applies to everything in my life… whether it is working up the courage to write or just try to make conversation with a group of other women. My Goliath seems to follow me everywhere.

My Goliath. Anxiety.

Yours? Come on. You have one. And although you think “she” does not, you would be wrong.

Her Goliath might be a failing marriage that looks good on the outside….

The friends that turned their backs on her.

The devastating diagnosis.

Her empty arms in want of a child.

A wayward child.

Prayers that seem to stop at the ceiling.

And this is all the more reason to be kind. One never knows what battles are fought in private or how many tears break the quiet of night. Your Goliath is not unique. She has one, too. Maybe it is the same as yours. And even though she seems to have it together, looks can be deceiving. She may think you have it together, too.

Peanut Butter Nights

Yep. Living the dream.

This is good sleeping weather. Slightly windy and balmy, the weather is showing signs of rain. The sky in the front of the house is fairly clear, but gets progressively darker in the back yard leading down to the river. Today was fun. We had a preschool Easter hat parade, egg hunt, and party. I have had coffee, but my eyes still feel heavy. Dinner time is approaching.

As I make a peanut butter sandwich in the kitchen, my husband is warming up some type of frozen burrito meal. My younger two children have had the leftovers from a cheese pizza that we ate at school today. The only lights on are the den lamps and the television. Pete The Cat is on and my son tells me he wants magic glasses like Pete. The glasses evidently change the weather. I like the weather like it is….reminds me a little of summer nights when thunderstorms roll through (even though it is still cool right now).

This time last year, I was a “working stay at home mom”… or whatever that is called. But now I am in my classroom and more tired than usual. My family is very understanding and so sometimes dinner is simply leftovers or something easy. As I am making my sandwich, I ask my husband if he has ever eaten the peanut butter and jelly that is swirled in a jar; the conversation turns to childhood foods our mommas made and I suddenly miss my momma’s salmon croquet patties. I hope my children always have good memories of me.

We eat our smorgasbord of dinner selections and I am grateful for the simple things… family, home, quiet, and the sandwich is not half bad, either.

Distractions

I love you.

As I am sitting on the sofa, my little guy is watching his Kindle. Yes… we allow some daily screen time. He and I have played Candy Land, made brownies, and watered the ferns outside on the porch. The sun is out and I can hear boats going by occasionally on the river. It is a good day to reflect on the last couple of weeks. I am also washing the obligatory ten loads of laundry that seem to be my Achilles heel. So far this morning, I have heard a little (and sometimes loud) voice call my name many times. Par for the course as my husband is at work so I am the One In Charge, so to speak.

The morning did not start out so idyllic. I had every intention of going to church. Unfortunately, a pinched nerve led to a migraine. Little guy got up before the sun and immediately went into action mode. My house was a mess. We had navigated through two birthday parties, a scholarship program, and a ball in two weeks’ time. I knew that my “cup” was empty and, honestly, my patience, too. As I looked around at the laundry and the messy house, a realization hit me.

“I am not irritated at my son for needing me when I have so much to do. I am irritated at the distractions of housework and schoolwork for taking me away from my son.” All this time I assumed that the constant barrage of “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” had begun to wear on me when, actually, the pressure of being everything to everyone was the real distraction. So when the laundry is clean but unfolded, the closets still need to be organized, or lesson plans have to wait until he goes to bed, it will be okay. Distractions can wait. He is my priority.