Monday, April 21, 2014

Define "Hot"

Hudson and Jon are going on a field trip next week.  They're hiking one of the local trails with the rest of the first grade.  In fact, one of the main reasons Jon decided to be a parent volunteer is because they're hiking one of the trails he helped build during his stint as a Trail Crew Worker.

As we sat around the dinner table talking about the field trip, Jon and I were trying to remember how old he was the summer he worked for the Parks & Open Lands Department.

"I was eighteen that summer," he said.  But I reminded him that the summer he was eighteen, he was traveling back and forth to Estes Park to work as a photographer in one of their old fashioned, western shops.  The kind where women put on saloon dresses, are handed pistols and empty jugs of whiskey, and are positioned on the bar or in front of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" posters.

"You were nineteen during the Trail Crew," I explained.  "You were blondest, the tannest, and in the best shape that summer. You were hot!"

Devyn groaned into her dinner, "Grooooosss!" The youngest two laughed, completely unaware but thinking it was hysterical.  And Hudson thoughtfully chewed his bite, swallowed, and asked, "When Mom says 'hot', does she mean like when someone is sweaty hot?  Or like when someone whistles at someone else?"

I burst out laughing, while Jon choked on his pasta.  I winked at Hudson, "I mean the kind when you whistle."  This prompted more groans from Devyn, and more choking from Jon.  What's the point of parenting if you can't gross out your children every once in a while?  Besides, sixteen years later, I still think he's pretty hot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What I Learned During My Fast

40 days.  40 days without Instagram and Facebook, and I’m left with a number of various thoughts about social media and myself.  Some of those thoughts are better left unsaid, things that are better learned in a personal experience.  So to that I say, if you’ve ever considered doing a social media fast, I highly recommend it.  It brings a lot of things into hyper-focus.

I'm not going to lie, it was so incredibly hard at first.  The number of times I reached for my phone to check notifications or post a picture is embarrassing.  I also realized that I tend to think in a 140 characters or less.  For real.  Quick, fleeting thoughts that could easily be a caption or status.  Yikes.

And while I cheated from time to time, mostly to check on my mom and sisters, I still believe I can call the fast a success.  Not because I have super-human self-control (bwahahaha!) but because I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned and apply some much-needed changes.  Any time something is learned its never wasted time, in my humble opinion.

Here’s what I learned during my fast:

  • I am a very social creature, and do enjoy sharing my life with family and friends.  I just don’t ever see that going away.
  • I am WAAAAAAY more productive when there is no social media to distract me.  In fact, I wondered at one time if I should fake my housewifely incompetence so Jon couldn’t blame social media for my lack of housekeeping skills.  But I was busted regardless.
  • I really need to be more intentional about the relationships I have in the day-to-day.  Yes, I love my online friends and I’ve developed some amazing relationships online, but my efforts in my daily interactions is sorely lacking.
  • Instagram has become my blogging kryptonite.  I’ve rediscovered my love of blogging, and the whole family said hooray!
  • I am so thankful for Instagram and the time capsule that’s at my fingertips.  I’m sad that I missed out on so many fun celebrations and events during this fast.

Here’s what I accomplished during my fast:

  • I caught up on all four and half seasons of Parenthood and was able to watch the last four episodes at the same times as the rest of the world.  (Can I just say that the Joel and Julia storyline drove me bonkers this season?!  Poor Amy had to put up with a lot of ranting via text.)
  • I played waaaaay too many levels of Candy Crush.
  • I started training for the Color Vibe next month, then stopped when I realized its still too cold to run. I'm a wimp.
  • I rearranged furniture in several rooms and realized that I actually might have a knack for housewifely duties after all.  I really love our living room space now, its so much more open.
  • I started our plants for our garden and also realized a new-found love of gardening.  I even managed to keep more than a few plants alive.  Who knew?!
  • I read 8+ books.  All fiction, all for the fun of it.
  • Laundry was actually folded and put away within two to three days.  Instead of the usual week or two it usually takes me.
  • I had numerous coffee and play dates, I caught up with old friends, made new friends, started a weekly prayer time with Mandy (more on this later), and a monthly date with Kamma Lynn.  It felt so good to reconnect!
  • I bought more summer dresses for the girls than I should probably admit.
  • And more…

I discovered by the end of this time that I no longer missed social media.  I’m not even joking.  BUT… I also know that doesn’t translate very well to real life.  I don’t want to be militant and legalistic about my time online, because that leads to a bunch of rules and sets the stage for failure.  But I can honestly say that I’m more aware than I have been in months years.  And really, if awareness is the only thing I take away from this, then yes, I can call it a success.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Dying

And this is why I love Wednesdays.  The memories they’re creating with cousins is priceless.  However, I’m not going to lie, dying Easter eggs with 6 little ones is not for the patiently-challenged.  Ha!  And my mom and sister really out-did themselves with the Rice Krispy egg baskets.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Though she be but little…

There’s just something about summer, little girls, and sundresses.  And this little girl, in particular, has stolen my heart. 

She is the baby, and knows it.  She is a spitfire, fierce and sure… sure of what she wants and sure that she’ll get it.  Not a matter of if, but when.  She is loud and gregarious, emotive and theatrical.  She demands to be heard, and makes it clear that even if she’s the baby, she will hold her own.  She is a big personality in a little body, with the emotions and faces and body gestures to go with it. 

She loves fiercely and that love is deeply reciprocated.  She is both the instigator and the soother, the protected and the warrior.  She is the girliest of my girls, both in dress and in mannerisms.  But no sooner will I find my heels under her bed, will she burst into a running tackle to take down a sibling.   She is sassy, loving, hysterically funny, and keeps us on our toes.  Often times, we must bite down on our cheeks to keep from laughing mid-discipline.

Our lives would be so boring without her.

IMG_20140415_145406820Though she be but little, she is fierce. –William Shakespeare

Sunday, April 13, 2014

4 Pieces of a Whole

Sometimes a moment just hits you right between the eyes.  I had such a moment on Wednesday.

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Wednesdays are sacred days to me.  Every Wednesday, Christine and I meet at Mom and Dad’s to hang out.  While Mom takes Elliana and Reagan to BSF with her, she and I get to hang out together with the younger Littles.  We catch up, we talk current events (seriously), we reconnect, we encourage each other, and listen and referee the chaos.  It’s a weekly ritual and one I’m desperately going to miss next year when both Elliana and Reagan begin kindergarten.

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But this past Wednesday we were not alone.  Both Allison and Courtney decided to surprise us and joined us for Mother-Daughter-Sister time.  First Alli showed up, then Courtney.  And when Courtney walked in, there was an audible click.  We were together, and all was right with the world again.

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Many don’t understand how four sisters could be so close, and I’ve tried explaining it before.  But sometimes, some things just can’t be explained.  And while I certainly don’t believe in soul mates, these ladies could easily fit into that role.  They have my past, and are my present and future.  They have driven me crazy, they enrage me like no one else can, they are my best friends and my worst nitpickers.  They know me inside and out, and vice versa.

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And with our weekly tradition coming to an end… with Courtney getting ready to set off on a new adventure… I just need them to know how very much they mean to me.  Its amazing how different we all are, yet so much the same.  Four pieces of a whole.

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Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.

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sisters are... clothes borrowers, fit throwers, cover stealers, secret keepers, an enemy, a friend, a conversation without end, sassy, bossy, silly, fussy, pretty & sweet, dress up, mess up, get punished, fights over nothing, sharer of dreams, a headache, a pain, a princess, a brat, she ruined my clothes, i love her, i miss her, i tease her, she is my family and that means more to me.

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My sisters remind me, by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty and goodness exist in the world, and that no matter what, there are and always will be people loving people through thick and thin.

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Sisters don't need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs - that can undermine any tale you're telling.

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Behind every little sister there's a big sister standing behind her holding a bat saying, 'You wanna say that again?!'

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Ultimate Blackmail

Well, folks, we have it.  The ultimate blackmail that will be used against Hudson and future girlfriends until the end of time.  But seriously, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  While watching Frozen the other night (that freaking movie has taken over our home), Hudson broke out into song.  It was the best thing ever!

Hudson, as your mother, I sincerely apologize for any future embarrassment.  But my love, this is precious and I will always treasure this video.

PS  Ignore the piles of laundry in the background.  Laundry is my nemesis.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Forgiveness and Freedom

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Lately, God and I have been playing the same game over and over again.  It goes something like this…

God: “Um, Child?  That load sure looks heavy.  Are you sure I can’t carry it for you?”


I look over my shoulder to see this huge bag of rocks on my back.  “Oh, yeah, sure!  Please take it!  I didn’t realize how much this was weighing me down!  Whew!  That feels so good!  I had no idea what a heavy burden I was carrying.”


We continue on in companionable silence.  But suddenly I feel my hands start to itch and I ask God to stop a moment.


“Can I just look in the bag again, God?  There’s one or two things I’d like to look at again.”  We pause while God waits for me to do my thing.  “See, God?” I ask, as I pull out the biggest and heaviest rock.  “See, I just need to hold on to this one.  It needs to stay close to me.  It really hurt and I’ll feel better if I carry it.”


I get a look from God, but He says nothing.  And we continue on our way.


But every few steps, I make us stop while I pull out another rock to hold because I just NEED to hold it.  I need to feel its weight in my hands, it’s a familiar weight, and it makes me feel better to have it close by.  And soon enough, one-by-one, each rock is taken back out and is once again hefted on my shoulders.


Until God reminds me that He’s there, and better equipped to carry my burdens for me.  Then we start all over again.


These past eight months have been some of the hardest I’ve traveled in a while.  The hurt, the feelings of betrayal, the anger, the hits my self-esteem has taken, I have carried them around like a badge of honor.  I’ve held onto them with a tight grip.  Quite honestly, I have felt justified in my decision to hold onto these feelings. 

I’m currently in two different bible studies.  We’re still working through Beth Moore’s “Believing God” study in my biweekly group, and Beth Moore’s Revelation study in my weekly group.  I’ve been talking about this theme of moving on, and I hear you God, over and out.  It is time to MOVE ON.  Got it!  But the other prevailing theme is forgiveness, and that too has been intertwined within the two studies.

A few weeks ago, Beth Moore made the point that we can only hold onto one thing with everything we have; we can either hold onto God, or we can hold onto unforgiveness.  We can’t do both.  It was a bulls-eye, right to my heart.  And in that moment I realized something… I didn’t want to forgive.  I confessed it to friends, and when I should have felt shame in saying those words out loud, I didn’t.  My heart was so hardened by unforgiveness, that I didn’t care.  Warning bells started ringing.

As I confessed to friends that my heart was angry and bitter and hard, I asked for prayers that God would work on my attitude.  There it was, the first chink in the wall around my heart.  I was ASKING for God to turn my heart back towards Him.

A couple of weeks later, we were reading through our notes in bible study and Beth Moore pointed out a play on words.  There’s a word that’s used in both Revelation 2:4 and Matthew 6:12, ἀφίημι or apheimi.  In Revelations, the primary definition is “abandon” and in Matthew the context is “forgive”.  Don’t ask me why this stuck out to me because when I recount the story to friends, I get a distinct “huh?” look.  But this spoke to me in such a way that I knew it was time to move on AND time to forgive.  In forgiveness, I’ve decided to abandon my right to feel justified in my anger.  I’m choosing to forsake my feelings of bitterness and resentment.  I’m choosing to move forward.  I was reminded that forgiveness is an action that is done over and over again.  It’s a day-to-day, sometimes an hour-by-hour, decision.

Some days I am more successful than others.  Other times, I can feel the anger and bitterness sneak in to take root, but then I’m reminded of something.  I have done far worse things in my lifetime, things that have been forgiven by close family and friends and by my heavenly Father.  If they can forgive those actions, then surely I can move forward and forgive these actions.

As I’ve studied up on forgiveness, I’m reminded that forgiveness is many things, but it is not…

  • Waiting for an apology.  I may never hear the words “I’m sorry” and I have to be ok with that.  I had to ask myself if I could forgive without the apology, and thankfully (though at times, bitterly), my answer is yes.  My forgiveness cannot be contingent on what I may or may not hear.  Forgiveness is based solely on MY action, not theirs.

  • Forgetting.  I have come to despise the term “forgive and forget” because well, its not humanly possible.  Words hurt, betrayals hurt.  But I’m sure that in like a death, time will heal.  I may not forget the hurt, but I can pray that time will dull the pain.
     
  • Reconciliation.  Forgiveness requires the work of one party, reconciliation requires the work of two.  In order for there to be reconciliation, two parties must come to the table, both admitting fault, both seeking forgiveness, and both being willing to repair or rebuild the relationship.  I can’t control their actions, any more than they can control mine.  I can only be responsible for my response to God’s command to forgive.

I have come to the realization that the only one suffering in my decision to not forgive, was me.  I allowed my heart to produce bitterness, I allowed my heart to grow cold, I allowed my heart to become hard.  It was as though I woke from a fog, wiped the sleep from my eyes, and realized I no longer wanted to be that person.  I understand the work I have ahead of myself, but at least I’ve taken steps in the right direction.


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