On Fridays, I cry.

On Fridays, I cry.

Saturday through Thursday, I pretend nothing is wrong. I put a smile on my face, I go about my day, I keep it together.

But on Fridays, after my husband goes to work and the kids are at school, I’m all alone. I start out thinking that this Friday might be different, that I won’t need to cry. But then I realize that there is this place in my heart that has been swelling all week. There’s a bit of a guard there, so if anything pricks it, the guard doesn’t let it in. That surfaces sometimes as disinterest or busyness. Or withdrawal. Don’t let that fool you, that’s to cover up what’s really going on. Inside, my mind is overwhelmed with just sadness. But if it’s not Friday, I don’t pause long enough to think about it.

But on Fridays, I think about it. I think about how much I miss her. I smell her sweatshirt that I have hidden in my closet in my bedroom. I look at her picture, and I hold it tight. I think about all the lost moments and the unsaid words. And I cry.

It’s been a little over three months since I lost my Nana. For all intents and purposes, my mother. She raised me when my own mother wouldn’t. She took me and loved me and called me her own. And now she’s gone.

So on Fridays, I cry.

So many people expect you to quickly pick up the broken pieces of your heart after you lose someone. There seems to be an acceptable time of grieving, to be sad, and then it’s time to move on. Except that’s not how grief works. It’s like being at the ocean, only you have no idea when the next wave is coming. At first, they are quick and crashing and close together. Until they aren’t. Then, when you think the water is calm, and you can breathe a little, you get slammed with a wave so huge you get knocked down. And it takes you a couple minutes to catch your breath.

So on Fridays, I cry.

I wish there was a timeline. Some way to mark my calendar and plan ahead so I knew to be alone, or carry tissues, or to at least prepare myself. But instead there are faint warnings that come in the form of my daughter giving me a look that reminds me so much of her. Or a box that had been unopened but holds something of hers. Or a piece of clothing that I forgot she gave me. Or a book, unread, that was a birthday gift from her. Some days, those things don’t bother me. In fact, they remind me of her and they make me happy to have those memories to hold close to my heart. In those moments I love to share stories or recipes or habits that I picked up over the years. But then there are the other days. The days that, out of nowhere, there is a feeling of being pressed down so hard and so quick that you feel the wind being sucked right out of you.

So on Fridays, I cry.

I don’t think it will be like this forever. I think eventually, Fridays will be happy again. Eventually I will be able to think about her and smile instead of cry. Just not today. Today is Friday. And today, I’m going to cry.

Let me ask you a question…..

ppl.jpeg

Let me ask you a question….. Do you wholeheartedly believe that God likes you? (I don’t mean LOVES you….because theologically God can’t do otherwise… He IS love)….. And not when you clean yourself up, or go to church, or eliminate traces of ugliness, but right now. In this moment. Right Here. Today. With all your faults and weaknesses and shortcomings and failures. He LIKES you! A lot! Luke 1:78-79 says “because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Have you ever lived in a place of darkness? I have. This verse talks about how when we are dwelling, living in that dark place, God’s compassion comes into that darkness, like the dawn, to shine light into the dark places and guide us back onto the road. I am so incredibly thankful for that. The realization that God is Just, but still offers mercy, brings me to tears. It is BECAUSE He is Just, that we can see how rich His compassion is towards us. He sees our weakness. He knows that thing that we do that we hide from everyone else. He remembers that we are mere dust. Yet, like a father who tends to His children, He tenderly and compassionately draws us to Himself. How can you resist that kind of love?

What if……

10259183_10204034303919814_684931512117642904_o

 

What if…..

What if today is the day that God is planning on using you to do something incredible?
What if today is the day that your miracle is coming?
What if today is the day that all the things you have been working for are falling into place, and all you have to do is show up?
And what if today is the day you decide to give up? To speak death instead of life.

Doubt. Fear. Chaos. Ignorance.

The decision is yours. Walk in obedience, or chain yourself with your own words.

An expectant heart faces the day, despite what it looks like, and claims the victory that is already theirs.

A doubting heart looks at the day, and sees it with their own eyes instead of God’s.

Which one are you? The reality is, you have more control than you think you do. You could be the only thing standing in the way between God and your miracle. The missing links?

Faith. Expectation. Believing God when He makes a promise.

There is power in your words. Your attitude. Your thoughts.

Surrendering.

It could be the greatest act of war that wins the battle.

 

Lessons from the Laundry Pile

It’s gone.  I lost it.  Yes, it is thinning.  The color is faded.  There is a jelly stain on the left shoulder.  There is even a small hole where I snagged it on the raspberry bush that I was trying to plant at dusk that one day when it was warm and everyone was in bed.  The hem is unraveling.  But I still kept it. And now it’s gone.  It’s official: I lost my super mommy cape in the laundry pile.

That laundry pile has a mind of its own.  It has become my nemesis.  My husband bought me two shiny new red weapons to fight the monster, but that was only a temporary fix.  Now I have to fight the monster just to get to the weapons!  It seems to grow every day.  The very sight of it conjures up thoughts of defeat, and surrender follows soon thereafter.  I have tried attacking it with coffee.  That works for a day or so, but then it comes back.

A good friend of mine once said that doing laundry was a lot like stringing beads on a string with no knot on the end.  I must have an extra long string.

As I looked at that pile today, I realize that there is no one else in this house of five that is able to do the laundry.  My husband works long hours so the task rests on my shoulders.  Sometimes this causes resentment.  But today it’s a blessing.  I am the mom.  I am not a perfect mom, but I am THEIR mom.  As I start the never-ending chore, I realize that I am not just doing the laundry, but I am loving my family by serving them.  Muddy socks are from the cold day that we ran from the deck to the trampoline.  Tiny wet panties are from potty training.  The smock with paint on it is from an art project we did to decorate our windows.  A t-shirt with watermelon juice on it is from a picnic lunch in the park.  As I realize this, I reminisce over all the moments this dirty laundry represents.  They are parts of my day that I would not trade for anything.  They are the moments that I have gotten to experience with my kids.

When I was a young mom with only one child, it was very easy to keep up the appearance of the perfect house, the perfect career, the perfect mom, the perfect social calendar.  With two kids, it was a little more challenging but still manageable.  With three, it’s a losing battle.  My house is not dirty by any means, but on a typical day, it is a mess.  There are markers and Play-Doh on the table.  There are blankets and Barbies on the floor.  There are crumbs and sticky spots on the counters.  But there is music in the air.  There is laughter, and love, and happy moments.  Moments with my kids that I will NEVER get back.  Moments to teach them about baby birds, and baking, and mixing paint to make new colors.  My house might not be cleaned up everyday until 9:00 at night, but if you come over during the day, you will feel welcome.  You will feel connected.  You will feel accepted.  I have learned that I am not Super Mom.  Now instead of trying to do everything, I try to do the important things.  For me, that means spending the time that I can with the ones that I love most- teaching, growing, learning together.  You can always expect me to be blowing bubbles or coloring with my kids while they are still little.  You can expect to come over and step over the piles of toys, brush the markers aside, and join me for some coffee and homemade banana bread.  You can expect that I will have time for you.  I won’t even care if you forget your cape.  Just don’t expect the laundry to be done.

Keeping it Real

messy-life-2

This… Is the inside of my van.

It… Is… A… Mess.

No matter how often I clean it, it always ends up like this.

And you know what?

It… Is… Okay.

Its been cold. I have three small children. I am very busy.

There are days that I could have made the choice to bundle up and go clean it.

Instead…

I made hot chocolate and cookies.

Or painted.

Or had a dance party.

Instead of having guilt every time I open the door…

I made a decision today to be joyful for the moments I had with my children that I will never get back.

The moments that were not wasted.

One of these days I will (or I might) clean my van… while they’re at school and I am home alone… (maybe).

But Today…

I’m going to build a snowman.

Preschool Series: Loving them Like Jesus

footwashingAva

Loving them Like Jesus: Footwashing

Worship: (include bubbles and instruments and scarves)

Oh, How I love Jesus

Jesus is My Superhero

How Great is Our God

Prayer: Have a child pray to open up our time together

Welcome: Tell children you are glad to see them and ask them for a few minutes how their week was (we have the kids sit on carpet squares)

Review Last Week’s Lesson with a few questions (a piece of candy for those who remember the details)

Reminder of the Rules:

Scripture Reference: John 13:1-17

Bible Lesson: Today we are looking at the story of Jesus, washing the disciples feet. In the story, it is just before the Passover meal, and He was getting ready to leave them. The word says that “He loved them to the end.” The disciples had reservation about Jesus washing their feet, but Jesus told them “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Although this is a small portion of scripture, unpacking it for preschoolers is a big thing. We tell the story in a couple of ways.

  1. Read it: from a child appropriate bible. I like the Jesus Storybook Bible, the Fire Bible for Kids, or the Veggietales Bible.
  2. Act it: Have a Few Kids represent characters from the story and retell it using the children
  3. Color it: Have the kids color a coloring page from the story
  4. Group it: Break the kids into small groups. Take one group to the footwashing station, one to a playdoh station, one to a snack station. Rotating the groups will cut down on behavior problems.
  5. Do it: Prepare ahead of time: Several cans of shaving cream, 2 flat buckets, tarp, towels:

Lay a tarp out on the floor. On top of the tarp lay out two flat buckets side by side. Fill one with shaving cream and one with warm water. Make sure to have towels or paper towels available to dry off.

Explain to the kids that you are going to wash their feet like Jesus did with the disciples. As you roll up their pants and help them in, talk about the texture of the soap, how it feels, and how it gets all over them. As you help them step into the water, wash the soap off of them. Talk about how Jesus washed the disciples feet just like you are doing. Then talk about how Jesus washes all the yucky stuff off of us (sin) if we ask Him. He helps wash our hearts, just like we are washing our feet. Make sure to look into the child’s eyes, and communicate love with your tone of voice as well as your words.

When all is done, regroup the kids and talk to them about how it felt to have their teacher wash their feet. Talk about how it must have felt for the disciples to have Jesus wash their feet.

Closing Prayer: Ask the kids, “Who wants Jesus to wash all the yucky stuff from their hearts?” and invite them to ask Jesus into their hearts.