Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Surround Yourself

I need people.  I need people around me who know more than I do and have experiences I don't have.  I need people around me who don't know something that I can teach them.

I am reminded every day just how much I need people.  All kinds of people.  The quiet ones, the loud ones, the funny ones and the serious ones.  I have things to learn and I have things to impart.

My church is a great example of this.  I could not survive without the community I have there.  It has taught me so much about how much people need people.

It encourages me not to isolate myself.  Sometimes I do that.  This post is a reminder to me and an encouragement to everyone to find your people.  Plug in.  Reach out.  You are an island.  Find your community and surround yourself. 

Who are your people?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sorry, Mrs. Stark!

I recently found my personal and school journals from the year I was seven.  The personal one is a blog entry (or nine) for another time.  My childhood was nutso and the journal was quite enlightening.  So was the school journal.  I happened to read it cover to cover on a day when homeschooling was wearing on me and the kids both, and I wondered if they were the most unmotivated students ever, and if I was the most exasperated teacher of all time.

Not so.  I would like to introduce you to seven year old, second grade me: Tory.  And my long-suffering teacher, Mrs. Stark (who I loved SO much).

So here it is.  My mea culpa.  I open myself up for flogging and offer forgiveness, patience and grace to my children.  They come by it honestly.

The task was to write an answer to a question she would write on the board, or a story based on a prompt.  There were rules about how much you had to write.  I apparently didn't know the rules or didn't care, because my writing was just THAT GOOD, a little went a long way.

I was asked to list my favorite hobbies.  After she had the nerve to point out that 'playing smell' is not a hobby, I hastily scribbled an & sign in between the two.  Because 'smell' is a legit pastime.

What am I thankful for? Not nearly enough, obviously.

I see the underlined 'new' here and the exclamation point and I think, "I probably drove Mrs. Stark to drinking."

Sometimes love just isn't enough. All of those songs were WRONG.

"Much more" seems to be a recurring theme.

See, here she tried to shame me into writing more.  It didn't work.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sometimes You Just Know

"I knew, like you know about a good melon."  -When Harry Met Sally

Sometimes I don't know if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Sometimes this applies to the small things "Did I really want a wild cherry Slurpee or did I want Coke?" and sometimes it is bigger, like "Should I live in Texas or somewhere that isn't so hot?" I work hard to think it through, and make a mental list of pros and cons and whys and why-nots.

Today, Philip asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up.  We had a long talk about it.  During the talk, I realized "These are the moments you know, and you realize THIS is what I am supposed to be doing.  And it doesn't take a lot of thought."

These moments sometimes happen once in a lifetime: "I know I want to marry this man."  "I know I want to be a Mom."  And then sometimes they happen once a year, once a month, three times a day, when we are reminded: "That's why I married him.  I knew I made a good choice."  or "I knew that being with my children is exactly what I am meant to do."

I posted the following on Facebook one day, another day when it was reaffirmed to me.  A day when in between the hustle and bustle of all we do, I had whispered a quick prayer, "Lord, please help me remember that You have called me and equipped me in these things I do." What came to me after is summed up here:

I love having my kids here with me. Some days it is really hard and I question my sanity but more often than not I am so glad we have made the choices we have and I know we are doing exactly what we should be doing, and I look at Gracie's little finger running below a line of text or see Philip curled up in a chair doing math, with his cheek resting on his fist,and I remember YES, this is beautiful. And it makes my heart smile.

Sometimes you have to stop thinking with your thinker, and Know with your Knower.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Mother's Day Is Hard

Sometimes, Mother's Day is tough.

I have sat in church year in and year out either holding everything in or sobbing uncontrollably as a list or poem is read, about all of the qualities of a Mom.

Others cry too, either because they couldn't have children, or their Mom has passed on, or they didn't experience the kind of mother listed, or because they can't be with their Mom, or because the list reminds them of their own feelings of inadequacy.

When you don't have a mother or a father or they have let you down, it can be so, so hard.

When you sit in church and think of all the ways you have messed up as a mom or a dad, that can be so, so hard.

But I was reminded today that no matter what it looks like here on Earth, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and protects us and takes us under His wings, and we are the apple of His eye, and He sees us as beautiful and smart and doesn't look at us and see all of our failings as parents ourselves.

I have also experienced that God fills the empty spaces, and heals the broken ones.  Some take more time than I would like, and I am probably hindering the progress somehow, and I will figure it out and keep moving towards healing and wholeness.

When I feel motherless, He reminds me of women He has placed in my life who have given me great examples to look up to, who love me and encourage me and guide me and correct me when I need it.

He sat me down today at just THE spot in church where I was directly in front of a fridge full of the smiling faces of my church family (used as an example today that we are God's children and just like we put our kids' achievements in a place of honor on the fridge, we are His delight and He is so ready to show everyone His children and His love for them).  He reminded me that these smiling faces have stepped in and filled the void for me and my husband and children so many times.

He uses our kids to show us lavish mercy and grace and goodness, because we are our harshest critics.  Sure, we disappoint them and make mistakes, and they see that, but they are so quick to forgive and are looking for all the ways you are an amazing parent, and they think you are the smartest, funniest, most beautiful person on the planet.  They see us more through God's eyes than we see ourselves.

God is a good parent, and He thinks good things about us, and He doesn't leave the empty or broken places that way for long.  That takes the sting out of a day that sometimes feels too hard.

For everyone who is hurting, I wish I could give you a hug.  Since I can't, I hope you feel understood and comforted today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Simplify, simplify, simplify

I had this word in my head for months.  It felt like a heartbeat and the urge was on repeat in my soul.

Then my Pastor made the statement "We need to get back to basics."  I don't remember anything else he said that morning (sorry) because it felt like that statement had been shouted at me and wouldn't leave me alone.

I had been spending some time in prayer on the subject of simplicity and I continued to do so.

I feel led to simplify in so many ways.  I don't have a huge outline of what this will mean for us, but I have taken some small steps.  Less stuff.  Fewer obligations that don't matter.  Making more of the ones that do.  Making instead of buying.  Fewer chemicals and crap entering our home and our bodies.

I can't wait to see what comes about as a result of this.  What can you simplify?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When It's All Just A Facade...

Have you ever known someone who seemed to have the perfect marriage, or to be the perfect parent, and then you find out down the road that things were not as they seemed?  Situations like this bring so many thoughts to mind.  First, we should make sure not to put people on pedestals.  People are people.  Nobody has the perfect marriage or is the perfect parent (be wary of people who claim either).  Second, were these people given an opportunity to have faults?  A safe place to go to get help with their problems?  What made this person feel the need to put on such a facade?

One of the more damaging things we can model for our children is being one person outside of the home and another at home.  This is not only deceptive and will cause resentment later, but it teaches our kids that who we are at the root is not good enough, and therefore we need to be someone else for others.

Sometimes my candor makes people uncomfortable.  I definitely don't want to make people feel that way, but I  also do not feel the need to act as though I have it all together all the time.  My faults don't go away by pretending they don't exist.  I often joke about areas of mine that need improvement.  And I probably won't stop because I do not believe that ignoring something makes it any less THERE.  When I feel the inability to address these things, it causes insecurity and isolation. For me, sharing is very freeing and is comfortable for me to do.  For others, not sharing is their authentic self and to overshare would be pretense and cause discomfort.  The danger comes, I think, when we feel the need to present everything as perfect.

I know in my own childhood experience, the more chaotic and dysfunctional my home life was, the more I was pressured to make things look amazing on the outside.

Children's pastors and teachers often joke that there are no family secrets and this is SO true.  Kids have a lot of  things to share that can be really embarrassing for parents.  But I have found this to be a source of comfort rather than shame or worry.  It has been reassuring to me that kids have a safe place to share what is on their hearts and minds, and more often than not, when it has been my own kids doing the talking, they needed to get things out.  There have been occasions though when I have needed to clarify a statement or two.  ;)

I am on a mission to be authentic, genuine and consistent.  I hope I succeed and my children learn to embrace this lifestyle also.