Finding the Meaning, Joy and Purpose…

…in the chaos and the crazy

Lucky 13…

This is my 13th written post on the blog this month.  I’ve posted a few images, and though I guess they ‘count’ as posts for the #Write31Days challenge, I don’t consider them as ‘real’ posts.I actually didn’t realize I had written that many posts, it feels like I haven’t written that much.  A little more than every 2 days for an average isn’t bad…not what I had hoped for, but especially since my series is about Letting Go of distractions and perfectionism, I think I’m growing in one area, and digressing in another.  I’ll let you choose which is which. 😉

I am proud of myself for not beating myself up for not writing every day.  That’s huge for me!!!  And I’m doubly proud of myself for not giving up entirely since I didn’t stick with my original plan to write and post every day.  I unfortunately have a tendency to go with a ‘all or nothing’ approach to commitments.  And since I ‘blew’ it early on by not writing and posting every day, my default would be to give up.  But I haven’t, and for that I say…

GO ME!!

This month has been unusually busy, so the distractions have been many.  But have they been good!!!

First we had our ‘oldest son’ come visit us.  When he was in college, he spent a lot of time with our family, and even lived with us for part of a summer.  He’s currently raising support to move to Turkey to spread the Gospel.  Hopefully he’ll guest post someday here.  It was so wonderful to see him.  Our boys hadn’t seen him since we moved to Michigan 5 years ago, and me and Hubs hadn’t seen him for 2 years.  What a blessing it is to see how on fire he is for the Lord.  I cannot wait to hear how lives are transformed as he tells the story of Jesus to people who haven’t yet heard.

IMG_0132  All my boys together again!!!!!

(of course his visit included football!)

Then my parents came to visit for a week.  It is always wonderful to spend time with them.  I love that they are both retired and take the time to come to visit us a few times a year.

Imagine that…

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 …more football!

Did I mention that Mr. Football got moved up to practice with the Varsity team for playoffs?  We all might be a tad bit excited and crazy proud of him!  This Friday he will be on the sidelines (I don’t dare hope he’ll actually get in for a play!) dressed in a varsity uniform.  Proud Momma moment!!!  And if/when they win..he’ll be able to letter.  Pretty awesome for a freshman!!!  What a great way to show kids that hard work pays off.

So for our 3rd and final (I sure hope;) distraction of the month…comes this guy!!!!

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IMG_0261 Named after this guy!

Yes..I evidently needed to add some more chaos and crazy into our lives by adopting this cutie.  But with crazy and chaos comes meaning, joy and purpose, and I’m thankful for the joy he brings and the ability to give a sweet little stray pup a loving family.  The more the merrier!  I hope that showing our boys there’s ‘always room for one more’ whether a college student, visiting family members, or furry friend, will give them purpose and meaning in their lives.

May we love because He first loved us.

And may we always have room in our hearts, our homes, our lives, for one more.

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My Epiphany…or My DUH Moment… You Choose…

hugging

Maybe you’ve realized this…and maybe I’m really dense…but after writing Thank You For Being There…

I had a lightbulb moment…

Not all distractions are bad!!!

Well DUH!

I am sometimes amazed at how the simplest things are hidden in my mind.

Taking care of my son that night while he had a migraine (and ironically I had a horrible headache) was the last thing on my to do list that night.  And I guess, in reality, I could’ve not laid with him, held the puke bucket, prayed relentlessly, rubbed his back, or tried to comfort him.  But in the amazing blessing of the way God has made me…not ‘being there’ for him wasn’t even a choice for me.  It never crossed my mind.

I was both encouraged and saddened to hear from a friend after she read that post, that she wished her mom would’ve comforted her when she was a child like I did for Monkey Boy that night.  I truly can’t imagine not ‘being there’ for one of my kids in a situation like that.  I know that she has changed that cycle in her family, and I thank God for that.

God has blessed me with so many beautiful distractions.

And when I don’t give that hug, that smile, that word of encouragement, a moment of time to really listen,  the person who would receive it isn’t the only one missing out.  I miss out too.  I miss out on the joy and purpose that God has given me…to enjoy those He has placed in my life, to love them well and most importantly, to point them to Him.

May I not miss another beautiful God-given distraction in the midst of my chaos and crazy…and may I love my distractions well.

What God-given distractions do you need to give more attention, more love?
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Thank You For Being There…

Last night, Monkey Boy had another migraine. Terrible, horrible, no good very bad day kind of migraine. And it started right as I had a horrible headache kicking in. And had just walked in the door from a very long day and evening. So away to his bed we went…yellow barf bowl in hand… And minutes after getting to his room, it was already in use. I had a dreadful feeling that t it was going to be a long night. And, sadly, I wasn’t wrong. Thrashing in pain, crying, throwing covers off, begging for the pain to stop, puking…this was our night. And if you knew my sweet, sweet boy, you would know that all of these things are so out of character. He has actually begged to die during migraines before.

You can imagine how this tears into my momma heart. I would do anything to make him feel better…but I just can’t. For some reason, the medicine wasn’t working, and most of my ways of trying to calm him down weren’t working. At one point, while I was trying to give him another dose of his migraine meds (a tiny little pill), he threw his arms around, elbowing me and sending the tiny pill flying…in the dark onto his bed. Thankfully I felt around and found it quickly.

He did have periods of time when he would quiet and rest rather peacefully. At one point, I thought it had finally passed, and I started to roll over to get up out of the bed. The sweet thing grabbed my hand. No words were needed to tell me he still needed me to stay with him.

holding hands

I continued to lay with him, my mind reeling with things I could be, should be doing, like sleeping. I finally dozed off after midnight, and when I woke up at 1:15 and he was sleeping soundly, I decided it was safe to climb into my own bed. I was so tired, I even contemplated going to bed in my clothes. The thought of sleeping in jeans instead of comfy pajama pants changed my mind.

The next morning, I roused myself begrudgingly out of bed and straight to the coffee pot. I somehow made it through getting Mr Football fed breakfast and off to school…though I think I was sleepwalking.

And when it was time for him to get up…here comes Monkey Boy practically bounding into the kitchen! I asked how he was feeling and he said ‘good!’

Really??? This boy who was so manic, writhing in pain hours before was good?
And then, my precious boy did something I will never forget. He wrapped his arms around me, hugged me tight and simply said, “Thank you for being there.”
I’ve never heard him say a thank you like this…and as he said it, my heart melted. For a ‘words of affirmation’ girl like me, he couldn’t have said or done anything better. Those simple words were a gift to me. They told me that he appreciated me, loved me, recognized my sacrifice to support him through an emotional night, and most of all, that when he knew he needed to be comforted, he could count on me.
Sometimes the simplest words, the simplest deeds, can be the most meaningful. I am so thankful for a boy who is so generous with his words that he makes a weary, struggling momma feel like she’s not screwing everything up. Like maybe some of what she does really does matter (even if deep down she knows it does) and she is appreciated for who she is and all she does.

Who can you tell “Thank you for being there” today?  I promise you both will be blessed if you tell them!!

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This is a picture of my silly Monkey Boy the morning after his migraine.  Isn’t he adorably crazy?

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Just Focus…

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For Emily…

parking lot
This spring a 9-year-old girl in our school district was hit and killed in the parking lot of her school at drop off.  The driver was her mom.  Her mom.  It is believed that she was trying, for whatever reason, to get back into the car, as the mom pulled away.

I.  Can’t.  Imagine.

What made it ironic in my life, it that the day before was my youngest’s 9th birthday.
I’m a mom.  I drop off my kids and my ‘little kids’ that I nanny at school often.  I have a 9-year-old.  It hit close to home.
I wonder what their morning was like that Monday.  4 more days of school, then off for more than a week for Spring Break.
Was Emily excited?  Did her or her mom make mention of the last Monday of school before break?  Was their morning calm or rushed?  Did they eat breakfast together?  Was Mom distracted that morning?  Already thinking about what waited for her at work?  Had she worked the night before and she was rushing home to get some sleep?  Did they say goodbye to each other as she hopped out of the car?  Did they say “I love you”….one more time?  Was she simply distracted as she pulled away, not realizing her sweet girl was trying to get back in the car?
When I heard the horrible news, I almost vomited.  It hit me in the gut.  And then I thought…how could a parent go on after this?  How does a school heal?  How do friends, classmates, witnesses, move on?
Prayer.  Grace.  Jesus.  That’s it.  That’s all.  And that’s more than enough.  Nothing else can heal your heart after tragedy like this.

Nothing.

Each morning after Emily’s death, I make extra sure that no matter the craziness of the morning, no matter if my boy (or me) is grumpy, and especially if less than kind words have been spoken (guilty!!!) there is one more “I love you”, one more hug, one more kiss.
And each time I drop a child off at school, I wait, just a few more seconds, until I see them safely walking away from the car on the sidewalk. Shamefully, I didn’t always take that extra second before.  And a lot of other parents didn’t either.  But the difference in all parents dropping off kids is noticeable, thankfully.

And as my tiny passenger jumps out, they hear “I love you!  Make it a great day!”

They don’t hear my whispered prayer for Emily’s family.  They don’t hear my prayer that parents will take the extra second to ensure their child is a safe distance from the car before they pull away.  They don’t hear my prayer that every parent will say “I love you!” as they send their child out into the world for the day.  They don’t hear my prayer that God will put a hedge of protection around them and keep them safe.

But Jesus does, and He’s the only one that needs to.

May He keep our kids safe, may He show them His love, and may He heal everyone affected by Emily’s death.

Because only He can.

News Coverage of Accident

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Giving Up…

give up

Did you miss me?

I sure hope you did…because I missed you!  But I have a great excuse reason!  This weekend we had ‘family’ in town.  Actually, it was my oldest son, Joshua, …by ‘adoption’!  (were you thinking I had a big secret I was keeping from you? 😉  Years ago, when we were still living in Pennsylvania, we had the opportunity and blessing to spend time with a great group of college students from Valley Forge Christian College.  The group helped run the children’s ministries at our church.  We loved these kids…like our own.  They hung out at our house, babysat our kids (for free laundry services;), dog sat, house sat, and hopefully, found our home as a safe place to escape their small campus.  A place they felt loved, valued, and appreciated.  Thinking back, I bet they didn’t feel those things as strongly as I would’ve liked.  The busyness of life, working fulltime, 3 little kids, running a home, distracted me from focusing on my priorities the way I wish I could’ve at the time.  I wish I had been so much more intentional with my time, my talents, my words, my attention.  I wish I had done more to invest in this group of young people God placed in our lives.

Enough about my regrets…

But in the next few days, I’m going to be sharing more about the visit we had with our ‘son’.  He is preparing to go to Turkey to be a missionary for the next 3 years.  3 years!!!  Turkey!!!  He’s amazing, God is amazing…I want to tell you so much more about him.  And brag on God and how He has called our precious loved one to share the Gospel on the Silk Road.  Maybe I’ll ask him to write a post to share his vision and call with you. 😉

So what does all that have to do with why I haven’t posted in days?

We were blessed to have Josh stay with us for a few days.  Before he came, I naively thought I could keep up my writing with him here.  Silly me…I should know myself better than that!  So I didn’t write…I didn’t post anything…and now I struggle to get back into the routine of writing.  I have started, and stopped so many things.  Countless projects, crafts, weight loss plans, exercise regimens, cleaning programs, get organized plans…the list goes on…and on…and on.  I think you get the point.

So as I’ve gotten out of the routine of writing and posting, my natural ‘go to’ personality response is…’You didn’t keep up with it…great job Melissa, another thing you tried, and failed at. Surprise, surprise.   You should know this is where you’d find yourself.  You don’t finish anything you start.’

Harsh…and true.  And I have a feeling a lot of you can relate to that inner dialog…a little too well.

So…here’s what I’m going to change to dialog to:

“Yup, you stopped writing…for a FEW DAYS!  It’s not the end of the world.  There’s no one telling you that you can’t ever write again.  You’re not kicked out of the #Write31Days group.  So put on your big girl panties, pull up your brave girl boots, and KEEP GOING!  There is NOTHING stopping you!  You’ve got this girl!!!”

And as I remind myself of these words, I will find freedom from the perfectionism trying to distract me from what God has called me to do in this season of my life:  Share His love, His word, His encouragement with whoever He brings to read these words that He helps me craft.  If it’s one person, one thousand, one million, I just desire to be faithful to Him as I share my perspective on the life, this side of eternity, that He has blessed me with.

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I Wish We Could Do This More Often…

Come to me

His words pierced my heart.

I sat, for just a few spare, stolen moments, in my favorite chair with the best 9-year-old in the world snuggled in my lap.  My arms were wrapped tightly around him.

“I love you.  I wish we could do this more often.”

And I told him how much I wish we could too…started to talk about how if he’d just do his morning routine like he’s supposed to…and then I caught myself.  Don’t let the distractions and perfection get in the way of this moment. Let them go.

So I just sat for a moment, savoring his body melting into mine.  Trying to breathe in the moment and memorize it forever.  How big he’s getting, but how childlike he still is.  How he still loves to hold my hand or curl up in my lap.  I know from having my two other, older boys, before long, he won’t fit in my lap.  He won’t want to be wrapped in my arms.

And then God placed a thought in my mind.  I wish we could have more moments like this.  My arms wrapped around you, just being together for a quiet moment.  I wish we could do this more often.

Oh how that cut me to the core.  So convicting.  And so loving.  Only my Father can point out such painful truth with such enduring, gentle love.  And make it feel like a love song, instead of condemnation.  Only He can use the whispers of a child to remind me of all I need to let go, and why.  To have quiet moments wrapped in His arms.  My soul aches for this…and my To Do list says no.  My distractions scream no. My battle with perfection hollers no.  But He says YES. 

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

And I know, that in the moment I come to Him, weary and burdened, tired and groggy, joyful and energized, sad and sorrowful, distracted and battling, He will give me rest.  And He will wrap His arms around me, and take in the moment.  Think of me fondly.  And sing His love over me.

And I couldn’t want anything more.

 

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Perfection…

MIchael J Fox

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A Completely Ordinary, Amazing Day

Yesterday I had such an amazing day.  It was completely ordinary.  A ‘textbook’ Monday.

And then it happened…

God gave me the opportunity to be a blessing.  And I took it. 15 minutes of my time to run an errand was a huge help to a teacher that needed some classroom supplies.

Then He gave me another opportunity…in the form of a Diet Coke.  And I took it. 5 minutes and $1.06 put a smile on a new friend’s face.  She’s battling a battle that I know little about…but God knows it all.  And He told me to go buy her a Diet Coke.  So I did.

Once, I was asked by a person, once by my Father.

And through my distractions, my chaos and my crazy…I knew I should say yes.  And I did.

There are so many times I get a whisper from Him, but I ignore it.  I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone…’put myself out there’.  And I miss out.  On blessing that person, and on blessing myself.  Does God love me less when I ignore His whisper?  Absolutely not.  Does He love me more when I obey His whisper?  Absolutely not.

My obedience, or lack of it, does not change how my Father loves me.  But when I ignore Him, or when I say no to Him, I miss out.  I miss out on the communion with Him that I experience when I obey.  I miss out on feeling His love wash over me.  I miss out on the joy He has waiting for me.

I miss out when I say no.

And in His beautiful grace, He had a number of people today reach out to me to share how my writing is encouraging them. I even had a friend text me from work to tell me how deeply my words affected her.  Comments on the blog…FB messages.  God placed words of encouragement on other people’s hearts.  And they said yes.  And I was blessed.  And I hope they were too.

Now please hear me on this…I am NOT saying that because I obeyed God, He then blessed me by having people encourage me. There’s no equation at work here (I do for God=He does for me). I believe with every fiber of my being that very likely, He would’ve had those same people share those same words with me today whether I said yes or no to His requests.

But oh how sweet, was it for me to bless others today.  To put a real smile on a face that has worry written all over it.  To see the look of relief on a stressed out face.   To know I encouraged a friend with too much on her plate.  And literally…as I type this…for one of my precious boys to come to me and say thank you for telling him how I noticed he’s working harder in school and complimenting him on his progress.

I’m crying happy tears as I type because of the way that I feel so loved, so blessed, so full of joy.  My purpose..it was fulfilled today.  Today was an amazing day.  And it was completely ordinary.  Except, that it wasn’t.  And I wouldn’t want it to have been any other way.

I hope my week, my month, my years…my life  are filled with completely ordinary, amazing days.  I couldn’t hope for more.

Has the #Write31Days challenge taken a lot of my time…yes it has.  But  ignoring the many distractions of my life and mind  to take time to not only notice the needs of the people in my life but to meet them the best I can…that’s progress,  And maybe, just maybe…God is using all this to bring me full circle.

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When the Crazy Kicks In

Fran Bates
Shortly after I felt the nudge from God on my topic for the #Write31Days, Letting Go of Distractions and Perfectionism, I borrowed a few CD’s from our library.  One of them was Francesca Battistelli’s “If We’re Honest”.  The second song, When the Crazy Kicks In made my jaw drop.  If I were to write (or better yet have written by a musician) a theme song for this series…perhaps for my life…THIS is the song it should be!!!  The words resonated so strongly for me that I actually toyed with changing the name of my blog, my series…pretty much every decision I had made about this crazy endeavor of writing.
Here’s a section of the song:
When The Crazy Kicks In By Francesca Battistelli
  • Here I go tiptoeing to the kitchen
    And don’t you know, crash goes the coffee cup
    My only chance to be still and listen
    Lord, don’t let, don’t let the kids wake up
    A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day
  • Oh, come meet me in this moment
    Before it all gets going
    These plates start to spin
    When the crazy kicks in
    A circus of distractions
    It’s just about to happen
    I’ll be ready when
    When the crazy kicks in

WHEN THE CRAZY KICKS IN…

I think that starts the second I wake up…and doesn’t stop until I drift off to sleep…

A CIRCUS OF DISTRACTION…

I think that starts the second I wake up…and doesn’t stop until I drift off to sleep…

Is there a theme here?

I think there is…and not only does Francesca explain the problem, she shares the solution. (my kids know how happy this makes me…I’m constantly asking them for solutions to the ‘problems’ aka complaining, they share with me…I realize this is an area I wish I had realized to focus on more as they were little…it’s so easy to just solve their problems for them when they’re little instead of teach them to problem solve.  Mommy fail! 😉

 “A little time with You, the only way to get me through the day”

Really…that’s all it takes.  A little time…with Him.  Maybe your schedule, in this season, only allows you a few minutes in the morning before the crazy kicks in kids wake up.  Maybe you’re in a season where the  plates start to spin before you even wake up, and your alarm clock is a crying baby.  Or a cranky teenager.  And that little time in the morning shrinks away.

Can I suggest something?  Throughout your day…just stop, take a deep breath…and whisper “Jesus”.  And He will meet you in that moment.  Right then, right there…because He’s already there, whether you realize it or not.  He just wants you to meet Him there.  Notice Him.

In the chaos of the laundry (thank you Lord that we are blessed with clothes to wear and the resources to clean them) grass stains (thank you Lord that my kids are healthy and strong to run and play.  And when they fell and got this grass stain, they got back up, and did it all over again.  Thank you that they have a safe place to play in the fresh air.) meal prep (thank you Lord that we have food to feed our family) and cleaning the house (thank you Lord that we have a place to call home, protect us from the elements and keep us safe) we can breathe a little prayer of thanks to the Lord who gives us the Meaning, Joy and Purpose in all of our chaos and crazy.

And He WILL meet you… and help you…and love you…and sustain you…and help you with your spinning plates

I promise you, my friend.

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