Love in the time of Corona

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone” Hebrews 12:14

We are starting our seventh week in quarantine. It’s very odd how quickly we adapt to a “new normal.” I was not one of the people racing out to get toilet paper, bread or milk. Even though I’m a dramatic person, I don’t like drama or sensationalism for the sake or riling people up. I do think we are in this together and #stayhome is #savinglives so I’m all for that. I know people who have had the virus and I know people that have died from it…it’s very sobering. When I start to get upset that yet another gray hair is showing or my piggies are begging to pampered in a pedicure chair, I’m reminded that there are far bigger problems facing us as a nation right now and I need to get over myself and dial it back down.

Maybe it’s not ok to admit this, but I’m enjoying our time in quarantine. We have NO schedule. I gave up wearing a watch weeks ago. We sleep when we want, get up when we want. Our family is enjoying the slow pace of life and I couldn’t be happier about these stolen weeks spent with my favorite people (even though most days I’m coaxing my three teenage sons from their rooms with home cooked meals, or cookies…they respond to cookies). The boys have been helpful, relatively clean and we have had a good time! Connor is headed off to college in the fall and I feel like this extra time with him has been the greatest blessing! There’s no fighting…it’s like we are the Musketeers! All for one and one for all! When I listen to my boys tell jokes, stories or laugh together-there is no sweeter sound on this planet.

Am I allowed to feel happy during this time? I’m going to say yes and take the win! My husband and I love being together…I mean….we LOVE it! If we are both home, we are together. We like the same shows, we each think the other is hilarious, and this time with him to slow down, walk the dog every day, talk about our hopes and dreams is such a gift! I treasure this time together that’s not dictated by schedules and the demands of a busy life.

I’m knitting a pandemic afghan, reading books and doing my part for the economy via online shopping. I cook five nights a week and support local restaurants the other two nights. I’ve learned a TON about digital content and how to reach my sweet children in my ministry via Facebook and remote ways to stay connected. I’ve watched tutorials on make-up tips for women over 40, started a lifestyle plan to shed some lbs and get better mental focus and energy, and I’ve written my next book. I feel creative in this time because I’ve had some space from “normal” and being “abnormal” with my routine has been creatively freeing.

There are things I miss but that’s not this post. That’s not what today is about. Today is about love in the time of Corona and saying it’s ok to find joy in this time. I don’t know how much longer life will look like this. I’m grateful for our health and safety and continue to pray for those around us and who are on the front lines. For now, I’m off to try a meatball sub recipe for dinner…and tomorrow is Taco Tuesday.

 

I’m the Meanest Mom

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

There is nothing I love more than celebrating the freedoms that our country is founded on. “We the people” is close to my heart and NOW is a time for “we the people” to come together to fight the Coronavirus. I believe in social distancing, flattening the curve, allowing those who are elderly or have a weakened immune systems to enter grocery stores early to get supplies without risk of danger to their health. I have extreme gratitude and mad respect for those who are risking their health to help those that need it. My heart goes out to parents who are struggling with the new found job of “teacher.” My oldest son was born three months after 9/11 and will potentially graduate from high school virtually among the Pandemic of 2020. I understand that we are a nation (world) of people who are frightened, unsure, worried….

I am prepared to deal with these emotions in my home, with my friends, in my ministry. I am a very strong person and I can take a lot! I’ve got you! I’m best at yelling out the battle cry and cheering us on as “we the people” hunker down and fight this thing! All for one and one for all!

What I have been unprepared for, what has me the most upset…is the reaction of my fourteen year old son, Cooper. He is beside himself that this has ruined his social life including friends, sleep overs, shooting hoops and eating out. Today, our beach vacation for spring break was cancelled. The beach is closed because people are making wise decisions and doing their part to prevent the spread of this virus. His first questions was whether or not I was going to allow him to hang out with his friends and “ease up” on this social distancing thing? In complete and total transparency with you reader, my initial reaction was anger. I could feel it bubbling up inside me. Has this kid watched the news? Listened to his teachers? Participated in ANY conversation that involves a social conscience in the last two weeks??? I’m sure that read all over my face as I tried to remain calm and keep my voice even. I had to remind him again that, although we don’t know what the future hold, we have to practice social distancing not for him but for the benefit of others.

Easily, one of my top ten favorite movies of all time is Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan. I grew up with a “trekkie” and will go to the mat all day to defend the “original” Star Trek’s and no one is a better captain than James T. Kirk! My dad would have us watch all the original reruns and poo-pooed the Next Generation and so on. Dad is definitely a purist when it comes to that stuff. No remakes…nothing beats the original! At the end of the movie, Spock goes into this containment area to prevent the death of those on the ship who are facing nuclear disaster. The only problem??? Self sacrifice. As I watch through bleary tears every. single. time. I see Spock as he’s dying in the chamber and Kirk runs to him and asks “why?” Spock says “the needs of the many outweigh the needs or the few…or the one.” Spock then makes the Vulcan sign and Kirk responds in kind and that’s how Spock dies (sorry if this spoiled the movie if you haven’t seen it).

Not that I’m asking Cooper to be a Hollywood statistic, give me the Vulcan sign and call it a day BUT I do want him to THINK OF THE NEEDS OF THE MANY!!! I want him to think of his grandparents, the seasoned saints at our church. I have a weakened immune system…I would like him to think of me. It’s exhausting telling him “no” all day everyday but “no” is what he will hear. No, we will not endanger those around us. No, we will not think of ourselves before others in this crisis. No, we will not forget to do good and sacrifice for others, because it is what God has commanded us to do.

This is a season of hard, uncertainty and valuable life lessons. My goal is to raise thoughtful, socially aware children. My big three for parenting are 1. identity in Christ 2. Be Kind 3. Leave the world better than when you found it. Social distancing falls into the third category and it’s that simple. So, I’ll grab my broom and witches hat and continue to be the meanest mom because (just maybe) there’s a lesson in there and my prayer is that he will listen and obey.

Book recommendation for those who feel anxious: Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

Movie recommendation for those who like awesome movies: Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan

 

 

 

 

 

Faith over Fear

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phillipians 4:6-8)

I’ve been asked to speak to a MOPS group tomorrow and the topic is “Faith over Fear Parenting.” What I really want to do is tell these beautiful, sweet young moms who are nursing their little darlings that still smell good (ahhhhhh is there anything better than new baby smell????) that this is the easiest it will ever be…drop the mic…and move on with my day! They haven’t entered into school (bullies), sports (cuts), academics (what do you mean a “C” was your best work???), hygiene (deodorant does a body good), driving (I don’t even have the words), interest in the opposite sex (that was a fun talk…not) and preparing to send said darling baby to college because he’s now at 18 year old adult man because you once blinked and that’s how fast the time has gone.

I won’t do that because no matter what I say or what anyone would have said to me, it’s hard to imagine when you’re in the trenches of motherhood that it will truly go that fast. When carseats were tough and you had to go to the fire station because you didn’t trust your own instincts that baby Scooter was truly safe. I remember being convinced that Connor would be a bilingual baby so I started labeling everything in Spanish and English…nothing prepares you for the disappointment of your pediatrician  sending you to First Steps because forget Spanish…he’s not even speaking English…

The worry, the anxiety, the stress, that “Am I good enough” is enough to drive a woman over the edge. If it weren’t for one critically important thing. You are never alone. Not for a minute and it’s not the baby pulling at you or your toddler watching you go to the bathroom. It’s not your husband or your friends (although NEVER underestimate the power of your girlfriends). You’ve got a Heavenly Father that always on your side! In the worst of times…he is there. When you fall, he is there. Your biggest cheerleader? Again, it’s God. My advice to these wonderful moms is to be so reliant on God that he’s your first thought when you wake up and your last thought as your head hits the pillow. Yes, struggles, tragedy, exhaustion, depression, surprise, wonder, absolute delight, storms, pain, joy….they are all part of parenting. It’s the ultimate ride in your favorite amusement park. God is beside you, sometimes carrying you, every step of the way. Fear is a sense of danger. This is reality. Your children could be put in a fearful situation. Don’t do that!! When we get bogged down by anxiety that’s the “what if” game and homey don’t have time to play that game. It’s dangerous, worry has no place in your life and take it to God. He’s the creator of the world…he’s big enough to handle your problems and help Junior out too.

I would never diminish the relentless job of parenting and we are all in this together. I want to encourage you to be a light for those around you. Some of us are struggling and the struggle is REAL. Be a friend, get a tribe, don’t to this alone. And above all, do not judge other women or other parents. I saw something on Facebook recently that said “Motherhood is like eyeliner. We are all just winging it!” True that!

Parenting an Adult???

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Well it’s happened. My baby, my firstborn turned 18 in December. Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short. I think when you’re in the throws of parenting toddlers it’s hard to imagine that the years are short because the days are hella long. But now, as we are in his Senior year of high school, he’s 18 and heading off to college in the fall, I think about that phrase a lot and it’s so true.

Three weeks before Connor turned 18 he sat me down and announced that there was no way he could finish all the merit badges he needed to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. He has been a scout since he was six years old, completed the mandatory Eagle project and when he told me this I sobbed my brains out. I have listened to the wise advice of  parents who had gone before me….the ones who told me there were valuable lessons in letting your child fail. I absolutely believed this until it came to the failure of my son. The fact that he had come so far….to climb the rope and slide back down without ringing the bell…was NOT okay!!! I contacted the Scout Master and by the Grace of God, he rallied the  troops and these amazing men came alongside my son and dragged him over the finish line. He had his board of review on his 18th birthday and passed. We are now planning his Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.

I realize that I’m less important to him in the mundane day to day living. I’m painfully aware that he wants my opinions and views less and less. I’ve heard “I’m an adult now” more times than I can count. While I appreciate and accept his autonomy as he finds his way in this world I want Connor to know that I’m always there for him. I’ll always be his biggest cheerleader and right or wrong I’ll drag him across that finish line myself when I think he needs the “W.”

A new year, a new decade, change…growing pains for both of us and I learn to let go and he learns to fly. By the way…we were playing a game last night at a family birthday party and you had to name your biggest accomplishment. He said his was getting his Eagle Scout. #proudmama

The “Last” First Day​

Psalm 121:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Well, it’s arrived. The moment I’ve dreaded since sending my oldest to Kindergarten. Today was Connor’s last first day of school. He has started his senior year of high school. I’ve said many times that Connor gets a lot of the fearful parts of my parenting. As my oldest, everything is new and terrifying for me. I have prayed so many times for a “Parenting in the Age of Social Media” manual but one has yet to appear. I hate the cliche “the days are long but the years are short…” and I hate that cliche for being so darn true! I blinked and now this man/boy is staring back at me. He has his own thoughts, opinions and feelings and several times I’ve found myself staring at him and asking “Who is this person?” As I reflect on this life that I birthed and poured into I feel scared and proud and happy and anxious….but mostly I feel not ready. Read that carefully I AM NOT READY. But as I have found this to be true with almost all of my parenting life, this isn’t about me. Connor IS ready. Connor is confident, smart, funny, a dreamer, a leader, a great son, friend, brother, and follower of Christ. There are times he drives me crazy but mostly I am so proud of him. I like him. I would choose him as a friend. He is prepared.

A few thoughts I want to get down as I know this year is going to fly by much faster than I want it to. It’s my first last day too and I want all my sons to know…

  1. Know your worth! It’s NOT what anyone at Carmel High School says it is. Your identity is in Christ! Place your trust in Him!
  2. Look for the joy in little things!
  3. Be grateful.
  4. Be humble.
  5. Be kind (I’ll say it again because it’s so important, be kind).
  6. You can do anything you set your mind to.
  7. Take care of your body. Don’t do stupid stuff with it!
  8. Look for opportunities to grow spiritually.
  9. Your family loves you know matter what.
  10. I am so proud of you. You are ready! Follow your dreams and fly!

“Lord, I pray a hedge of protection over my sons. I ask that you are a constant presence in their lives and that you make that presence known. I pray they are uncomfortable with sin and I pray they always get caught. Shine your light through them and use them to advance your kingdom. Your will be done.” Amen

 

Summer Schedule

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:1

Since 2012 summer has represented a very bittersweet season to me. I love when, to quote Alice Cooper, “school’s out for summer.” I long for those lazy days and sleeping in and swimming and all the carefree fun associated with vacation time. I have never been the mom counting down until the first day of school, end of Christmas break or wondering when the kids were going to be out of my house. I LOVE having a loud house with my three teenage boys running around, pushing, fighting and laughing. They are such typical “boys” and I wouldn’t have my house any other way. As I sit here, I’m entirely sure that collectively they are responsible for each gray hair I have colored on my head every five weeks. 🙂 It hasn’t all been roses and unicorns, but I love being a mom and I love being their mom. I daily navigate a world of testosterone that rivals that of a fraternity house but again, I am so grateful that God gave me these three children. I know it’s not very PC in today’s day and age but what I really wanted to always be (yes, my answer is still the same at 44 years old) is a mom.

I refer to myself as divorced, not by choice. For the sake of my children, the details pertaining to this circumstance will not be on the internet. We got divorced in 2012 and that’s when my thoughts of carefree summers changed. According to the law, we now had the “summer schedule” which is a 50/50 split in parenting time. In the absolute most plain English I can use…I hate it. The boys are with me most of the time during the school year so this 50/50 split in the summer is drastic, awful and again, I hate it. I miss them terribly. To my ex-husband’s credit, when the boys were younger, I would only go about four days max without seeing them. I think he knew it was very hard on me and tried to accommodate my broken heart. I really appreciate that about him. Last summer, we started a week on/week off schedule. And while I think this is easier for the boys, I still hate it…every single stinking second of it. Have I mentioned that I hate it? As June approaches and people are renewing their pool memberships and updating their summer wardrobe…I’m dreading the “Summer Schedule.” I realize that many divorced people have a 50/50 split all the time. I get it. You may think I’m lucky that I only split the summer… but, for me this is very difficult. It represents scars from surviving divorce and I know that it’s not supposed to be this way. I’m supposed to be there. All the time. I didn’t give birth to these three precious children to be reduced to a “summer schedule.”

Seven summers later, where is God in all of this? Where can I find hope and faith when there are parts of my heart that still break when I know what’s coming for three months? How does God use this pain to help others? I can honestly say this was the first summer I didn’t spend the month of May riddled with anxiety and sleepless nights imagining worse-case scenarios while the boys are with their dad. I spent more time mentally preparing for how I was going to use my free time to meaningfully engage with my sweet husband (celebrating FIVE years of marriage next month) and incredible friends. I spent more time at the pool this summer reading and floating and being in the moment. I spent LESS time feeling guilty….why is mom guilt the worst? I choose to be happy and content this summer. I read the bible more and studied God’s word more and truly thought about what it meant to live that out. I let my kids figure some things out on their own and manage their own feelings and expectations. I guess we are all growing up. In the end, I know that it all works out. I know that God is always victorious and to those who love him, all things work for good. I also that he has a plan and it’s for me because God is always for ME and God is good! I have chosen to believe in his truth and that is how I have managed the stinking summer schedule.

Yay for me!

p.s. I only have one more week to go until we back on our regular schedule….Yippee!!!

 

 

 

Words don’t have Power…Say what?

“Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4

I am not a cool parent. My kids have curfews, chores, rules, and responsibilities. I offer an abundance of love, grace, mercy, choices, and autonomy. The autonomy part is what’s currently coming back to haunt me. I’ve done my best to not only talk about Jesus but to show Jesus to my children. They have grown up going to church, youth group, camp, VBS, we pray, we openly talk about salvation and Christianity, we discuss other religions and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Now reader, with all that going on you might assume my home is the epitome of good Christian values and morals and my darling obedient children fall in line with a simple glance from me. Sigh…deep deep sigh. If only that were true. I am raising teenage boys (3 of them) and they are forming values and opinions that are of their own volition. One such belief recently came from my oldest son, Connor. He’s 17, smart, funny, handsome, loves Jesus and Kayne, and is quite a good rapper and can drop a sick (or is it psik or sic) beat (see…NOT cool).

Connor has a sound cloud account where he makes and mixes music to share with the world. He doesn’t want me listening to unless he sends me a song. I have tried to respect his art/music while also talking about an electronic footprint and things that colleges and future employers will have access too. AND let’s not forget WWJD. This weekend he has been asked to perform live and I told him I would love to go and support him! That’s what moms do…we support!! He said that I was absolutely NOT allowed to go because wouldn’t be sharing lyrics that would make me proud. As my feathers start to ruffle and my blood begins to boil (because I’ve been working for 17 years to ensure that he is the very essence of Christian virtue) he follows up with that it’s no big deal because “words don’t have power.”

This thinking could not be further from the truth! Words are the ultimate use of power. They can build people up…spread kind words like confetti! Go ahead and make someone’s day! Cute outfit? Share it! Love someone’s haircut or smile or shoes? Shout it from the rooftop! Words that build people up are the ultimate FREE gift. It costs you nothing to be kind and say something to lift someone up!

They can also be used as the ultimate destroyer and a source of deep pain that can never be taken back. Words are precious and should be used with prayerful consideration and strong conscious thought as to what is being put into this world.

So, my sweet boy, my son, my light…words DO have power. I pray that you will use them wisely and you will be the bubbling brook that God wants you to be. You have so much talent and God has truly blessed you. You make me proud every day! Use your words for good because you have so much good in you…share it! I love you!! XOXO Mom