An Orlando Moms Blog Post…

Hello friends! (Especially email friends.) Today I’m over at Orlando Moms Blog sharing one of the major struggles I had as a new momma with my son and my daughter. So if you’re comfortable with reading all things breastfeeding, feel free to click on over here. I hope that it will be an encouragement to any new mom or cheerleader of a new mom…

(But since some of my readers are former students, you may just want to skip this one…love you guys! *wink*)

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When You Need a Cure For Withering

We drove to the ballet studio, chatting away. In a moment my wedding dress filled our girl talk. Your little girl wedding dreams glowing on your face. As you stepped out of the car, and I watched you walk away, I had one thought.

Just one.

Please, my beautiful girl. Please don’t wither.

You don’t understand what I mean. I know. But I’m serious about this, this speaking of important things. I want to clutch you by the shoulders, look deep into those brown eyes that unmask your stories, and tell you straight—don’t wither.

Daily, I’m a witness to the withering. Young teenage girls shrinking into themselves. Drawing their souls deeper, wearing only the shell of who they once were.

When you were three, one of my great joys was to watch you dance. You danced everywhere you went. You paid no attention to those watching. A praise song would fill the church while you danced the aisles. The sweet matriarchs would nod their angel-white hair and smile as you twirled, your dress spinning, light shining.

You’re eleven now. Mighty, strong. Intelligent, kind, beautiful. You stand on the edge of a precipice—teetering, inching closer to the years that will define and shape your life in unimaginable ways.

The other night you asked me to lay in bed with you—to snuggle. You tucked your head in my shoulder with a book in your hand. You read as I pulled fingers through the silk of your hair. I soaked in your presence, your beautiful heart, your brilliant light.

My heart was so full.

You wondered what I was doing as you turned pages. I was praying, baby girl. Praying you wouldn’t wither.

Praying you wouldn’t shrink away from the amazing human at your essence. Because it sometimes happens. As women we can forget who we really are. There is a point in our lives when we being to worry.

We wither because we worry. Worry the world may laugh.

We become afraid and allow that fear to guide our decisions, our actions, our dreams. Because if we’re too smart, the boys won’t flirt with us. If we’re too bold, other girls may exclude us. If we like sports too much. If we’re too pretty. If we’re not pretty enough. If we wear the wrong clothes. If. If. If…

My precious girl? We can if our way into an empty shell. We can if our way into a weakened spirit who no longer dances because the world is watching. And that woman? That girl? She holds no joy in her heart because she no longer lives as the one she was created to be.

And I watch this every day. Girls trying so hard. I watch their giggles, their flirtations, their masks. I keep watching when they turn away and the crowd is gone.

I watch them when the mask is removed.

Their eyes don’t sparkle. Their lips turn down. And their shoulders sag from the burden they carry. The burden of withering. The burden of loosing themselves.

It breaks my heart.

Because our God did not create us for withering.

My darling? You don’t have to dance down aisles.

But you do need to stand tall.

The cure for withering? Standing tall in your Creator. Know there is only One to please. He is the God who fashioned you, created you, perfected you.

If you allow it? The world will only ever stomp the words “You’re not enough” into your soul.

But Jesus? He’s there whispering You’re always enough because I made you so.

You’re always enough because He made you so.

Listen to His voice when the world flings fear and hurls hate at all you’re meant to be. Because it will. And you’ll want to wither and shrink and hide away from the pain the world digs deep into your heart.

You’ll be tempted to become the world’s version of yourself. It’s easier. It shields you from pain. But you will never be happy. Because the world’s version of you? It’s all gray and lackluster.

No brilliance will ever shine from that you.

But when you stand tall in Him?

You become a prism, angled to reflect His glorious light—more dazzling than the world can begin to handle.

Tomorrow I will paint your nails. You will dress fancy and slip on sparkly shoes. We will curl your hair, and I may even let you wear lip gloss. Your Daddy, your first Prince Charming, will open the car door and escort you to your last Father-Daughter dance.

Your last before your wedding.

I will stand in the driveway, a tear in the corner of my eye, wishing the days were slower and the years even longer. Praying my beautiful girl, who twirls through life, will refuse to wither.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY-300x300Linking up with my friend, Suzie Eller and learning to Live Free. I’d love for you to visit her community here. You will be blessed and encouraged.

God-sized Dreams

Posted in Beauty, Joy, Motherhood | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Not My Jesus

Something different. A spoken word. Because I want you to hear my heart…

A very special thank you to my good friend, James Wells and my former student, Alex Bernson and Savannah Hedglin for giving up their time and talents to bring this poem to life. You have my deepest gratitude.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Love, Relationship with God | Tagged , | 4 Comments

When Love is More Than Butterflies

I wore my aunt’s veil as I walked down the church aisle at a tender twenty-two. I stared into the eyes of a man who took my face in his gentle hands as he kissed his bride.

My husband is Prince Charming. He is. But he’s not perfect. Neither am I. While he does bring me my cream-no-sugar coffee every morning, our relationship is not without its struggles.

Yeah. So Valentine’s Day has us all swoony over red roses and candle lit dinners. But love? It’s so much more…Sharing my thoughts on true romance with The Moms Magazine today. Come on over and hear my heart?

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Because Life With ADHD? Hard.

Having ADHD doesn’t faze me—most days. I don’t even think about it—most days. It’s part of me. Part of my fabric, my tapestry.

But some days? It just sucks.

There are days it can drag me deep down into the abyss of anxiety and depression. Because it does that. Did you know that’s how it often manifests itself in adults? So. Yeah.

The source of my darkest days boils down to brain synapses that don’t move fast enough in a life that moves in the world of smartphones and WiFi.

The movie Up? Not on my top ten list. But that dog? And the SQUIRREL moments? Genius.

It exactly describes my life. Which is sometimes no laughing matter.

I’m late for everything. All the time. “Get up earlier. Plan ahead. Try organizing a bit more.” All of those things. Even when I can accomplish those tasks, it doesn’t matter. I’m still late. It’s embarrassing.

ADHD adults don’t get special accommodations at work.

My brain stutters. I can be in the middle of a conversation and completely forget what I was talking about. I know. Mommy-brain. But it’s like mommy-brain that I’ve had since before kids, and it won’t go away as they get older.

So there’s that.

I’ve probably checked my phone, Internet, and looked up from my computer thirty times since I sat down 30 minutes ago to begin typing.

I’m at Starbucks wondering what the older woman sitting in front of me does for a living because she looks to be in her 60s with incredibly sassy heals, fabulous scarf, and color coordinating tights. I mean. She’s got more fashion sense than my right foot.

See? Right now I’m trying to drown out the sound of the people next to me and loud buzzing of the espresso machine. Did I mention funky music?

Wow. Colorful spandex just walked in.

Why not write from home? Because, believe it or not, the distractions are way worse. Mommy, mommy, mommy. And the load of laundry I washed yesterday needing to be rewashed. Look. There’s some dust. Let me take care of that. You mean kids have to eat dinner?

Squirrels? They’re constant.

Procrastination is the hardest to deal with. Did you know I have rolls of film that have never been developed? I think the last roll was from over twelve years ago. A wedding I was in—the bride and groom are no longer married.

Rolls of Film

See…I told ya…

 

Right now I’m wondering if you’re as in love with Humans of New York as I am? Because his photography and view of humanity is nothing short of inspiring.

See…

Then there’s having to accomplish projects and long-term tasks

Can’t keep my eyes off a sweet momma and her baby sleeping up on her shoulder. Are you confused yet? Try living in this brain for a while. It’ll flat wear. you. out.

Because it never stops. Never.

I think I just checked Facebook for the bazillionth time.

Living with ADHD is hard. Sometimes I medicate. Sometimes I don’t. It really just depends on how fast I’m spiraling through the pressures of normal life. It depends on whether or not my coping skills are worn out. It depends on whether I want to feel normal or feel like myself.

Today’s post? A little, okay—a lot, wonky. But maybe you can relate? Or maybe you know someone who has ADHD. Maybe it’s your own son or daughter. Maybe my ramblings today give you just a glimpse?

Like I said. Most days are awesome. I’m even grateful for this ability to see the world in such a different way.

But some days? It gets the best of me.

Sassy shoe woman just left, and I’m late to pick up my son from basketball.

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When Our Dreams Meet Reality

I listened as the two high school seniors began to talk about college plans. Their talk turned to questions. Dorm or Apartment? Financial aide? Majors? Waves of nostalgia flowed through my memory bank as I recounted intense life changes during those years.

The two kids-not-kids listened. While excitement crinkled at their eyes, nervousness edged at the corner of their mouths.

I saw my eighteen-year-old self staring at me from their anxious eyes—the eyes of those preparing to enter the real world, though I’m not sure college is a solid example of the world and all of it’s realness.

But I remember how real it felt.

Who am I going to be? How will my life turn out?

These are the questions the two students weren’t asking out loud, but they were still asking.

They’re the questions I remember asking myself as I watched my parents drive away from my dorm that first day in August over 20 years ago. Who am I going to be? What will the portrait of my life look like?

If I’m honest, I’m still asking those questions.

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I look back at that kid I used to be with all her dreams, ambitions, goals and wonder if she’d be happy with where she is today.

Because sometimes our dreams are realized in ways we never expect. Sometimes our dreams come in shapes that fit a different part of our stain-glassed windows. Sometimes our dreams lay shattered on the floor of reality.

Life will always look different than we imagine, but that doesn’t mean life’s not beautiful.

Did you hear those words whisper in your heart?

Hear them again.

Life will always look different than we imagine, but that doesn’t mean life’s not beautiful.

Here is what I know to be true. When we say yes to God, when we say yes to the little steps, the little decisions, the little moments He asks of us, beauty will break through like light filtered in the colors of a stain-glassed masterpiece.

I went to college a whole lot unsure. But I had ideas of dreams. Ideas that included marrying a pastor or missionary that would love me forever, making enough money to stay at home when I had children, changing lives in the world through politics or law or something like that, becoming a famous writer of the fiction sort, and doing long-term mission work in Africa.

Big dreams.

Ask me which came true.

All of them.

And none of them.

While Prince Charming isn’t a pastor or missionary, he does love me forever. Turns out, I’m the one with the seminary degree thanks to his unending support.

I did stay home with my daughter for three years and my son for five months. I still want to just be home. It’s still a dream. But our family does earn enough to meet our needs. And for that? Grateful.

I’m not in politics or law but I diplomatically argue my point every day in classrooms of teenagers, praying I make a difference in their lives—in their world.

While I’m not famous and don’t write fiction, I do have a tiny corner of the blogging world where my voice can be heard. For each of your reading souls? I’m beyond indebted you take the time to listen.

Africa. The word written across my heart at ten. I’m not living there, but I’ve traveled to the continent of my dreams twice and fallen in love with its people. I also was asked to write English curriculum for orphanages now using my lessons in ten Rafiki Training Villages throughout Africa.

My point? My dreams at 18 look very different from the reality of my today. But my dreams are still there—changed, honed, perfected.

The art of stain-glass mesmerizes me. Each piece of glass broken and snapped in two, to fit just right. To fit perfectly into the greater masterpiece of our lives being created by the hands of the Master Artist.

It’s painful, often doesn’t make sense up close. But when we step back and look at the work of our lives as a whole, we see the beautiful portrait we are. Even if those lives look nothing like the dreams of our childhood.

Because in the end? What we really dream of is a beautiful life.

And my 18-year-old self? She’d be smiling today.

She is smiling today.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Relationship with God | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Lessons My Students Teach

It was a few days ago. The question had been floating in and out of my thoughts, never really landing. When my thinker was all thought out, I did the only thing I could.

I messaged a former student. Nestled snug in a dorm room somewhere on the campus of my college alma mater, he got back to me sometime in the middle of the night while I was fast asleep.

His answer? Genius. I knew it would be. He’d been smarter than me even as an 8th grader in my English class, a philosopher even then.

Our exchange has reminded me of the powerful truth of being a teacher.

I am often the student.

That’s the way of it for educators, if we allow it.

When we stand with hearts flung wide open in front of students long enough, when we see humanity stare back into our eyes day after day, when we listen to the words not being spoken, we can learn.

Because there are lessons my students teach. Collectively. Individually. They teach me every day.

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Oh, how I’ve learned some powerful lessons.

My call is to love—not judge. All humans need a space to belong, a safe space. We all cry the words Just love me, accept me for who I am…And when a student feels accepted? His light burns bright.

Every voice matters. Every one. When you know your voice matters you know you matter. And in this life? Knowing you matter? Earth quaking. Soul shifting. Life changing.

Choosing battles is a necessity and choosing grace can win a war. One will never gain ground in a shouting match with a teenager. Or with anyone else. Shouting viewpoints never changes minds or hearts.

Words have power. My words have power. Like a fire, they can provide warmth needed to survive or they can ravage leaving only a burnt down soul. Saying the wrong thing and seeing the hurt in my students’ eyes? One time is a time too many.

I can be wrong. And I need to say so.

Because wisdom has nothing to do with age. My students? They see straight through ignorance. Admitting what I don’t know is powerful.

Different theologies and philosophies can respect each other. Though I love Jesus, many students I’ve taught don’t. But the wealth of knowledge and understanding I absorb just from hearing their hearts is far better than only listening to what I agree with.

Racism and discrimination is still very real. Having a beautiful black student stand in front of his classmates to give a speech against racism that recounts just one of many racial slurs that had been poured over him? The tears on my cheeks were from eyes opened wide to his authentic struggle and the struggle of countless others.

The beauty of a soul comes in every shape, size, and color. When our nation stops paying lip service to this ideal? Only then will we heal.

The best lessons are always unplanned—unscripted. Always.

No one wants to fail. I’ve looked into the eyes of one who has stopped trying. Begged and pleaded. Grasped and held tight. But staring back are the hollow eyes of one who already calls himself a failure. It breaks my heart. Every time. Because no child dreams of failure on the playground.

Giving up is not an option. For any teacher. Ever. If we can stop just one more kid from giving up… If we can pound determination into just one more student… If we can inspire just one more life to keep trying…

There is always hope.

Because the next generation is beautiful. Their creative ideas and thirst for understanding is inspiring. Their gifts and talents and intellect have nothing to do with some test-crazed world ranking. No. They have the power to change this world.

They do.

I believe in this next generation.

Not because of who I am. But because of who they are.

May I never stop learning.

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Communicating With Your Child’s Teacher

Do you ever wonder how to approach your child’s teacher? You have questions. Maybe it’s curriculum. Maybe it’s grades. Maybe you feel your child has been treated unjustly. Maybe you wish to encourage.

I’m a teacher. I’m a momma too. When I feel something is going on at school that’s not in the best interest of my child? My momma-bear can rear her ugly head quicker than she can down a mocha Frappuccino.

There are horrible teachers in this world. But more often than not, incredible, loving teachers exist as well. Good teachers are always out for the best interest of their students.

Always.

Communicating effectively with your child’s teacher is paramount to have a successful school experience for your little ones. The following suggestions may help create the healthy dialogue needed.

Privileged to be sharing some parent/teacher communication tips with The Moms Magazine. I’d love for you to click on over there and check it out!

 

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Choosing Right Now

When I was a little girl, my sister and I would visit my grandma and granddaddy’s house. It wasn’t large. It wasn’t fancy. It didn’t have closets teeming with toys for us to play with. In reality, we were often bored.

But that’s not what I remember most.

I remember the way Grandma would pinch my nose between her knuckles of bone and loose skin, calling me her, “little stinker” with her sugary smile and warm, endless hugs.

I remember Grandma’s tiny mouse of a kitchen. So tiny she kept her mom’s-away-eat-whatever-you-want snacks in her oven. But the dinners and deserts she cooked? I can’t even…She showed me how love and serving were wrapped tight together with no space in between.

I remember playing checkers with Granddaddy. He never let me win once. Not ever. And I never beat him. Not ever. He challenged me. Taught me it was okay to lose if you’ve given it your best.

I remember the small grove of citrus trees Granddaddy planted behind his house. I can still see his strong hands with fingertip wrinkles as he pulled oranges from the branches and stood in the grass peeling them in one large, long peel, cutting chunks for my sister and me to eat. With juice dripping from our chins, he taught us the beauty of hard work and a quiet soul.

I remember love.

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And I wonder.

Wonder what kind of legacy I’m leaving my own children.

Wonder after the wrapping paper and bows have been cleared away. After the flurry of Santa and his reindeer have flown back to the North Pole. After gift cards and Christmas money are gone.

I wonder if my kids will understand what matters in this one life we’ve been given. Or am I simply raising two more soldiers in the army of the entitled.

Because honestly? They got a ridiculous amount of gifts for Christmas.

But did they get a ridiculous amount of me?

And that’s the real question. The gut-punching reality of this crazy life.

I’m distracted by the busy, the urgent, the to-dos. I forget to look my children in the eyes and see them—see their hearts. There are days I miss their joys, their needs because I’m chained to my own definition of the needs-to-get-done.

Do my children get enough of me? Or do they get the thin-stretched-out-exhausted-shreds of what’s left over?

The irony? My son is sitting beside me right now, trying to show me his Power Ranger riding on his white-stuffed lion, but all I can think is how much I need to finish writing this piece…

That’s me. I’m that mom.

It’s hard. But I always have a choice.

I never felt ignored or put aside by my Grandparents. Not ever. They were always present, always looking me in the eyes, always listening.

I want to do the same.

The Grandparent relationship is different and my parents now fill that beautiful, loving role with my children. But I can do better.

I can close the computer. Put down the phone. Ignore the email.

Being present is a choice.

A choice I want to make.

Because my Court Jester is still here, asking me what I’m writing about…

Posted in Beautiful Life, Motherhood | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Why Mommas Need Each Other

Last night I sat at dinner with an incredible group of blogging mommas. Intelligent. Hard-working. Funny. Strong. Beautiful. As we enjoyed delicious offerings the stories swirled.

We talked about everything and our children were always part of the conversation.

Their education. Their bodily functions. Their emotions. Our emotions. Our successes. Our #MomFails. The technological world they live in. We live in. And how do we parent that?!

Somehow, on a crazy whim, armadillos even made their way to our table talk. I’m still not sure how.

And then, as the food had long been cleared from the table and our conversation slowed, we admitted the hard. We confessed this parenting journey is not for the faint. We looked deeply into the eyes of our sisters and acknowledged how wrenching this mom-life really is.

Wrenching because of the wondering.

The wondering…

Will our children will be okay?
Will they walk this big-wide world with courage and intelligence?
Will they ever learn to go to sleep without holding our hands?
How will exposure to the harsh realities of the world affect our children?
Will they follow the leader or will they be the leader?
Are we pushing too hard? Not hard enough?
Will potty training ever end?
Are we raising entitled children that only take or children who give to this world?
Should they go to public school? Private? Homeschool?
Will they navigate the Internet wisely?
What if I get it wrong?

We spend so much of our momma lives in the wondering. It often takes us to the edge, to the places where worry wreaks havoc, and we begin to believe we got it all wrong, leaving our children in therapy—forever.

But last night, I left dinner feeling less alone.

Because every momma knows the deep wonderings—the longings for our children to thrive in this world. That’s why we so desperately need each other. Why we must cling to each other with white-tight knuckles. Our survival depends on it.

Because sometimes it is only another momma that can talk me off the ledge.

Only another momma understands the secrets our hearts never speak. Only another momma has ever really been there—ever really witnessed the sheer terror potty training and adolescence and senior graduation can bring to our tender-strong feminine hearts.

We need each other.

We don’t need judgment and criticism for the different choices we make. Because while we know the burdens of motherhood, we will never walk in the shoes of any other but our own.

From breastfeeding to co-sleeping. From schooling choices to diet. From political views to religious convictions, we must pull back from our harsh words and realize, we need each other.

The deeper I’m entrenched in motherhood, the more I realize how much I rely on my momma friends and those who have already raised steady, grounded children. Those are the moms I sit beside just to drink their words of wisdom—because I may teach teens, but I’ve never mothered one.

I also want to whisper soft into the ears of new mommas. Because I have been there. I do know that pain and joy wrapped together in the life miracle.

The longer I’m a momma, the more I’m convinced it takes the village. The collective voices of feminine wisdom mentoring, guiding, loving each other through motherhood.

Singing words of encouragement into the souls of our sisters.

You’re enough.

You matter.

Your job is important.

You’re important.

You’re strong.

You’ve got what it takes.

You were made for your children.

You’re a good mom.

This is why we need each other. We can clutch hands around our children together and remind ourselves God created the woman because no one else on earth could nurture and guide and embrace in the way we can.

The beauty of motherhood is reflected in our children, yes. But it is also reflected in us. When we look into the eyes of another momma, we see our own beauty shining—showing the world our calling matters.

This is why mommas need each other.

A few amazing women (and our children) from my village...

A few amazing women (and our children) from my village…

Posted in Beautiful Life, Friendship, Motherhood | Tagged , , | 2 Comments