Grief and the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But when you’ve lost a loved one, grief can grip even the jolliest of moods.

Here’s my story:

There we were, circled up to give thanks just as we did seven years ago. The turkey was carved by the oven with care, in hopes that our family soon would be there.

But this year two special seats were empty at our table. As my dad led a short devotional about the source of our Thanksgiving, my eyes started to blur.

How can I be overcome with thanksgiving and sadness at the same time? Like paper clips strung together, memories flashed one by one through my mind and a few tears slipped down my cheek.

The strong man’s hand I used to hold, and the meek woman’s hand that would hold me were missing.

My grandparents.

Please finish reading this story over at East Texas Moms Blog.… and discover how you can grieve with hope this Christmas!

Confessions from a Closet Adrenaline Junkie

I have a confession to make: I am a closet adrenaline junkie.

What I mean is, I’m not the jump-out-of-a-perfectly-good-airplane, bungee jumping, parasailing, Evel Knievel, live-life-on-the-edge kind of person. Those are obvious adrenaline junkies.

My addiction to adrenaline is a little more subtle. It shows up in how fast I can get something done and do it perfectly, without forgetting something like a key ingredient.

One of my favorite games to play (and ironically my kid’s least favorite to play against me) is a cup stacking game.

It has a deck of cards and 5 different colored cups – red, yellow, green, blue, black.

Each card has a different design pattern.

So to play, you turn over a card and everyone stacks their cups in corresponding order to match the card. The first person to do it hits the bell and if the order is correct, wins the round.

 

I don’t love a lot of games, but oh my goodness, I love this game! The volume and chaos it produces in our house is equivalent to a spoons game. I’ll let you picture that for a minute.

Recently, I’ve realized that this game describes most of my days. Subconsciously, when I wake up, I flip over a card. My goal by the end of the day is to stack all the “cups” or to-do’s of my day to match the picture in my head – as fast as possible. And when I do, I proudly ring the bell, hoping everyone sees my feat and congratulates me with cheers and high fives.

The rest of this story is over at the East Texas Mom’s Blog….I hope you’ll click over and finish reading!

Don’t Let Anything Steal Your Joy!

Has something ever stolen your joy?

A few weeks ago I woke up unable to move my shoulder. Actually I could move it, but when I did, an electrical current shot through my toes. So I decided not to move it.

I guess it means I’m not as young as I once was when I sleep wrong and separate my shoulder! Literally. That’s what happened.

For two weeks I couldn’t put deodorant on, turn on the light switch, sleep, put my socks on, hug my kids, push a grocery cart or type at the computer unless I had a hundred pillows bunched up in a certain way.

Ok maybe not 100 pillows. But it was honestly one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through – above having 3 C-sections.

I wanted to put my arm in a sling to keep it still all day, but the chiropractor who adjusted my shoulder back in place told me I had to keep it moving. He said Don’t keep it still! All the muscles and tendons were in protection mode and basically signaling to my brain Nobody move! I had to override that impulse and stretch those muscles and tendons out.

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A Water Slide Called Motherhood

I see metaphors everywhere. Kinda like the movie The 6th sense, but instead of seeing dead people, I see metaphors.

The latest one I’ve been pondering on came from the water park. My kids and I were going to ride one more slide before calling it a day. We walked over to grab a tube, my feet burning on the hot concrete, and my daughter said, “Can we each get our own this time?” “Sure!” I said, happy to go alone and just carry a single tube up the endless stairs.

As we walked to the slide, I watched my kids run ahead of me, each carrying their own tube. On the way up I passed a kid maybe 13 years old hauling a two-man raft for his little sister. “Do you need any help?” I asked, drawing closer, because I actually had an extra hand… “No thank you. I’m fine.” He answered.

water park

I never thought of motherhood like carrying tubes at a water park, but there are some parallels.

Birth through 2 years is full of feedings, diaper changes, naps and hold me mommy. As moms, we carry the tube. All day. And we appreciate it when other people ask to help.

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When it Feels Like No One is Listening

Over the sound of running water and clanking dishes in the kitchen, I could hear my children discussing something as they cleaned up dinner. Their tone told me something was being debated.

My husband and I paused the conversation we were having in the other room to listen in and decide whether we needed to intervene or let them work it out.

We didn’t know the specifics of what they were arguing about but the tone told us most of the story. Our youngest had started to explain something, but he didn’t tell the details exactly right. So his sister helped him be a little more accurate. But that still didn’t suffice for the oldest brother, who then edited the story again to his specifications.  Well, that in turn left Zach, who started the whole thing, feeling frustrated and deflated. It was like he needed to defend himself, his story and his right to tell his story his way.

All this from a tone.

Through my son and this situation, I recognized a fear I can struggle with.

It’s the fear of not being heard. Or of being heard but misunderstood.

To read the rest of this post, click HERE. 

 

Does Your Marriage Ever Feel Out of Balance? Here’s 1 Simple Way to Bring it Back into Rhythm

We were on our way to visit my parents in Arkansas. All five of us were loaded in the van, suitcases stacked high in the back, pillows on the floor, happy to finally be on the road. However, when we hit 60 mph the van started making a loud noise, followed by a more than usual vibration.

Adam silenced the conversation and had me place my foot at different spots on the floor board trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. It seemed to coordinate with the tire rotations.

About 30 minutes later the sound and noise was still there, so we looked up a tire shop in the area and pulled in. Hopefully our tires were just out of balance and we’d be back on the road in no time.

As we carefully pulled in the shop (Adam does that better than me!), the music was blaring Green Day, It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right. I hope you have the time of your life…

I’m walking down memory lane in my head and quietly mouthing the words to myself, when my son interrupts – Didn’t Tim Hawkins sing that song?

My reminiscent bubble popped as reality sank back in. “Probably,” I responded with a smile. “Let’s see!” I say as I take out my phone to ask trusty Google if Tim Hawkins remade the popular song.

A few minutes later, his theory was confirmed and we shook the car laughing so hard.

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Would Someone Please Turn On the Light?

The shower water was already running when I realized I forgot to grab my clothes. Opening the dresser, I reached towards the pile where my night shirts are stacked, looking for a particular shirt. The room was dark, and at first glance I didn’t see it.

I squinted my eyes and fingered though the stack again, but still couldn’t find it. Next I pulled the stack of shirts out, thinking somehow it got shoved in the corner. Still didn’t see it. Frustrated now because I’m wasting hot water, I walked to the light switch and flicked on the lights. Lo and behold, there was my shirt hiding in plain sight.

Good grief I thought to myself. Why didn’t I do that in the first place?

Well, because I thought I knew where it was and didn’t think I needed the light!

Trying to laugh, I hollered to my husband in the other room “Hey, just a piece of advice: when you’re looking for something, it helps to turn on the light!”

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Has Anyone Seen My Keys?

The other day we were late to leave the house and my husband could not find his truck keys. He knew he had seen them, even had them in his hand that very morning. We checked everywhere, every cabinet, drawer, basket, dirty pair of pants, his usual pocket….and…nothing!

After going back through all of those areas again, he decided to check his truck. One pull on the handle told him it was locked. Hoping he didn’t lock the keys in the truck, he cupped his hands to peer through the window at the ignition. No keys there.

Pondering what to do next, he instinctively stuck his hands in his pockets. That’s when he felt it. In his left pocket was a familiar metallic, key-shaped object pressing against his hand. Embarrassed, he pulled it out and yep, it was his truck key!

We are creatures of habit. Adam’s habit is to put his keys in his right pant pocket. When it wasn’t there, he panicked and didn’t know where they could be! He checked his right pocket a dozen times. But because he is such a strong creature of habit it didn’t dawn on him to simply check the other pocket.

I laughed at my husband’s lost keys but I so easily do this in my walk with Christ.

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The Rock that Wouldn’t Budge

While hiking side by side with my husband along a trail in Arkansas, the sight of this tree caused me to stop.

Do you see the rock in the middle of the tree? Do you see how the tree has grown around the rock?

I imagine that tree spent many days praying for God to remove that rock. “It’s in my way,” it whined. “I was here first!” It pleaded. “Please tell it to leave so I can grow.”

But God said No. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Taking the Lord’s answer, the tree decided to stop sulking and instead keep growing, despite the rock in its way. And now years later, this is the result: A firmly planted and mature tree with a rock in the center.

I have many rocks in my life – burdens I’ve prayed for God to remove. Financial stress, relational strain, homeschool woes, fears and shameful memories. Some of these He has removed – to the glory and praise of His Great Name!

But others, He has left.

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2 Situations You Should Never Apologize For

Last week I wrote a story about my husband apologizing to our son. Apologies are good and as the story shared, help restore relationships. But I started thinking, that sometimes we apologize for things we shouldn’t.

On Easter weekend, my husband and I rented a cabin in the woods, just the two of us. One morning we walked the trails nearby and passed a family hiking the opposite way. As we got closer we overheard the mom say to her daughter, “Only say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong and really need to apologize for it. You don’t have to say I’m sorry to everything.”

Then, seconds later as our paths literally crossed she said to us, “Oh I’m sorry, let us scoot out of your way.”  Adam and I chuckled. I wonder where the little girl learned to say I’m sorry so often!

It’s easier to say I’m sorry when you accidentally bump into someone in a crowded store than it is when you’ve done something hurtful and need to apologize to restore the relationship. But at the same time, parenting and relationships are hard, and we often, like the mom said apologize for the wrong things.

So in honor of those who make too many apologies (me included!), here are 2 situations we should never apologize for.

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