I turned around and he was gone

JCP-8406We had just enjoyed a delicious dinner on the most beautiful day you’ve ever seen.

Realizing we needed a few things at the store, Chris said that he would go and I could take the boys to the car. I gladly accepted as the grocery store triggers my OCD like nothing else.

One minute both boys were with me and the next, I turned around and didn’t see my oldest son anywhere.

He loves to hide and scare me when I walk by so thinking that’s what he was doing, I handed everything to my sister-in-law and walked a few steps down the sidewalk expecting to see him behind the big column.

Saying his name as I turned the corner, I braced myself for the “BOO!” I was in for, but he wasn’t there. I said his name again, only this time with more emotion. I looked down the alley to the right and in front of me. I scanned the parking lot for creepy vans with no windows and scary looking people.

My heart was pounding as I headed towards the grocery store entrance, it was crowded and I pushed my way through mumbling, “I’m looking for my son. Please…excuse me…I can’t find my son. What the hell is wrong with everyone? Get out of my way!

The thoughts flooded my mind. You know, the horrible thoughts that no mother ever wants to think could happen to her child. The ones that make your stomach twist into knots and send the acid up into your throat until you taste it on the back of your tongue.

Just then I looked to my right and saw Chris standing in the check out line. As I moved a step closer, there he was. He turned and met my eyes and I was furious and scared. I leaned down, holding onto his shoulder and in a not so loving way I said, “Don’t you EVER do that to me again! You scared me! You. scared. me! Don’t you see what a nervous wreck I am?!” (At this point, now that I knew he was safe, it became all about me.) Then came the tears…for both of us.

Chris knew not to say I was overreacting. Instead he was consoling our son saying, “It’s okay. Mommy was scared. She didn’t know where you were.” I responded with, “He should cry! He scared me!”

The adrenaline was pumping and I wasn’t calming down anytime soon. The lady in front of us was now looking at our son with concern in her eyes. I wanted to tell her to mind her own business. She didn’t understand the torment endured over the course of the last 3 minutes.

The three of us walked out of the store together and climbed into the car.

I was relieved and angry, sad and grateful all at the same time.

The car ride home was quiet. When we got back to the house, unloaded the car and walked to the front door, my little boy turned around to me and said, “I’m sorry I scared you mom. I didn’t mean to.”
“I know you didn’t darling. I’m sorry I made you cry.”

And that was that. I think I will have calmed down by tomorrow. Sheesh.

Talk to me. Tell me you would overreact if this happened to you. Or has it happened to you? How did you handle it? Did you use your meanest mommy voice like I did?

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The Monster in my Mouth

This is how my day started…Breakfastbecause there were blueberries in the bread.

Really?!” was my response. I began mumbling under my breath about all the children, right here in our city, who would love to have bread with blueberries in it…

I always told myself that I would never guilt my children into eating with the phrase, “There are starving children in… (you fill in the blank)” (Did you happen to catch the two key words in the sentence before last? Always and Never) These two words will make a liar out of you quicker than anything else.

I have and I do tell my children about the child who doesn’t eat dinner before bed and only has breakfast when he’s able to eat in the cafeteria before school. I think it’s important that they know right outside our door is a world of struggle unparalleled by anything their minds can conceive.

However, maybe breakfast after dragging said child out of the warm bed he was, only moments ago, fast asleep in, isn’t the time to lecture him. Maybe if I considered that this is my child whom;
A. Likes to sleep in. (he’s like waking a hibernating bear)
B. Avoids change at all cost. (the never before served blueberry bread)
and
C. Has no problem skipping breakfast all together if he doesn’t feel like eating. (why put an empty stomach in front of taking a stand?)
I would have been wiser in my approach.

In the same way that I don’t want to nag my husband, I don’t want to nag my children. I want to respect and appreciate their different temperaments without catering to their outbursts.

Jud Wilhite said something in a recent message that struck me right in the heart. So much so that I made it into a pretty little instagram saying.
patienceMy lack of patience has always been a glaring character defect and I know better than to pray for patience! But when I view it as the difference between my grace and my wrath it takes on a whole new meaning.

More times than I want to admit, my children are met by the monster in my mouth. My words are harsh and my temper short. I can say with all truth, 99% of the time it’s not the boys who provoked the monster, it’s my lack of time management or lack of sleep or lack of coffee.

It’s an area where I am lacking (and I know it) rising to the surface and lashing out at the nearest target. Even so, I am learning because of all the grace that has been shown me, that “a bad moment does not a bad mama make.” I cannot press this upon your heart enough. Children are quick to forgive. We must be quick to admit fault.

I’m not justifying rants or misdirected anger. I’m saying that when I unleash my untamed words on my children, there is always room for an, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

The days when I am able to catch and reel in my spoken thoughts before they are released for others to hear are evidence of my progress. Some days I fail and in those moments I will recognize them for what they are, moments.

So…there it is…just one shade of my ugly. It’s all about progress (attainable), not perfection (unattainable).

How important to you are the times right after waking and right before sleeping?

 

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10 Things I’ve learned being a Mom of Boys

Silly faced boys

  1. They have one level of volume LOUD.
  2. They eat… constantly.
  3. They will find dirt where no dirt has ever been found.
  4. They wear cleats in the house.
  5. They run everywhere they go.
  6. They have an inhuman burst of energy around 7:30 p.m. and it’s best to let them get it out before attempting bedtime.
  7. They are surprisingly sensitive.
  8. They laugh at anything that involves “potty words.”
  9. They are incredibly curious, making everything an adventure.
  10. They love their mama.
    < I CANT STOP AT TEN! THERE ARE TOO MANY MORE. >
  11. They potty train successfully when allowed to hit a target (preferably outside… like on a tree or off the deck. Yep, I’m that mom)
  12. They will wake up on the weekend an hour before the sun comes up, but you will not be able to drag them out of bed for school.
  13. They have to be reminded multiple times a day to, lift the toilet seat, put the toilet seat down, flush the toilet, wash their hands…with soap, and to keep their pants on.
  14. They smell like wet puppies after playing outside. Whether it be for 5 minutes or 2 hours.
  15. They consider anytime a good time to get dirty.
  16. They don’t understand why I would ever want to have privacy.
  17. They give real hugs. Not the ones where you barely connect. The ones that squeeze all your breath out.
  18. They use any opportunity to be naked. The less clothes, the better.
  19. They take everything apart (including jewelry, lingerie drawers and large purses) in order to put it back together so they understand how it works (even if it doesn’t go back together.)
  20. They crave love, affection, encouragement, admiration and security as much as any of us girls do, they just don’t show it or need it expressed in the same way.
  21. They need the freedom to be boys.

Y’all, I grew up with sisters. We had curling irons and a different brush for every hairstyle, rollers and special conditioner. We had makeup and purses, dresses and patent leather mary janes (only to be worn on Sunday.)

I came into this journey of mothering boys with no prior knowledge of how often they were going to use the word poop and think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. I entered into this commitment of motherhood never realizing that I would be considered the one with odd body parts.

Bella was my only one for 8 years and I have to be honest, nothing could have prepared My Bellame for the reality that is raising two boys to be productive members of society.

It is incredibly challenging, always an adventure, hours of laughter, many conversations that I don’t know the answers to, lot’s of prayer, goodnight kisses on the forehead, holding little hands while walking down the stairs, several, “I’m sorry for yellingconfessions, stock in Costco sized clorox wipes, a much larger grocery budget and a constant sense of wonder.Dahlias as big asIt now makes perfect sense to me why Chris has 2 first aid kits in our house and 1 in each car. I didn’t understand it at first, now I am so grateful for his prior knowledge of skinned knees, bumped heads and random cuts laden with dirt. I’m thankful for his preparedness for the unexpected.


I’m okay saying, “Go ask your dad.” when the boys come to me with questions about body parts I don’t have. Father and Sons

I’m okay letting them know that I don’t have all the answers.

As long as they know they are loved.
As long as they know they are enough.
As long as they know their Creator.

The days when they pull their hand from mine when walking down the sidewalk because they need to run, will be okay.

The afternoons they come in from soccer practice, cleats packed with mud and track it on my hardwood floor, will be worth it. (That’s what the vacuum is for… and swiffer… and mops.)

When I’m doing my daily round of toilet cleaning, I thank God for these little men that He is trusting me to raise.

Pure JoyI love being a mom to boys.

It’s never a dull moment. (Which is great! I bore easily.)
It’s always an adventure. (Who wants to sit around not living life anyway?)
It’s incredibly challenging. (I. Love. A. Challenge.)
It’s simple. (Have snacks EVERYWHERE you go.)
It’s immeasurably rewarding.

Okay moms of boys, sisters of brothers, wives who had no prior exposure to behind the scenes with boys, what did I leave out?

To my Beautiful Children

My Loves

It’s no secret that I have wrestled demons in the past. One of them being body image. As I read posts on social media raising awareness this week about eating disorders (ED), I cannot help but be grateful. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in the depths of my illness. In an effort to help others and avoid ever going back to that place, I cannot forget what that desperation and skewed sense of self felt like.

My body put up with 12 long years of abuse. Starvation, binging, purging, excessive use of diuretics, substances…many things that would cause bewilderment one day when looking back.

My relationship with food is still not one to be envied. It’s rather dysfunctional and requires much work on a daily basis. As with everything in my life, it’s about progress, not perfection. Someone once told me, “Even if everyday you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still one step further than you would be.”

If you remember nothing else from these writings, please remember this, “Let go of perfection. It will ruin you.”

I bring you into this conversation to acknowledge the times when I will say silly things like,
“I wish my thighs still fit in those jeans.”
Or,
“I remember when my stomach was flat and toned…before babies”
Or,
“I don’t even tan the same after having children.”
And any number of other things that are disrespectful to this body that has housed me for over 30 years.

It’s true that I am a mere version of my former self. It’s true that my thighs are thicker, my belly softer, my arms looser, my backside…well, let’s just say, things don’t sit where they used to. It’s also true that pregnancy, nursing, lack of sleep, unnecessary worry, baby carriers, and bending over cribs as slowly as possibly in an effort not to wake you after finally rocking you to sleep, had something to do with it. Those are the beautiful reasons for my transformation. The not so beautiful and less mentioned reasons are the results of my lack of discipline in the areas of exercise, eating junk food, staying up too late, not enough water, and various other things.

My Darlings, when I look at you I know that you are my greatest investment.

When I stand naked and vulnerable in front of the mirror, surveying my body, familiarizing myself with the curves, lines and dimples that have claimed permanent residence on my frame, I run my finger along my cesarean scar reminding myself that just beneath the surface of this scar is a womb that cradled you until my arms would. Just below that layer is a vessel for life. How could I ever regret that?! When I turn sideways and see the pooch that has become a constant companion, I stand up a little straighter and remember how far my belly skin stretched as you grew into a living, breathing, human being. When shopping for the “perfect” fitting bra that eludes me, I am reminded that these breasts sustained three lives! How can I be upset by the inconvenience that I feel they sometimes cause me?

Depending on when you’re reading this, that last paragraph might make you cringe. I get it! I almost didn’t type it! But I’m not going to be a host for shame anymore. I’m not going to sit quietly while other women feel isolated in their thinking. I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me that I’m not okay the way I am.

The truth is my loves, I am more than okay. I’m fantastic. I’m better than I have ever been. This beautiful body has done more good than I ever would have given it credit for. After years of mistreatment by its tenant, it has been very forgiving.

If there was only one thing that I could tell you about body image it would be this, “When looking, thinking about and caring for your physique, remember to be grateful for its functions. There will always be something you wish you could change. Always. Why not focus on the miracle that is life? I think you will discover that you have everything you need to be an exceptional version of yourself.

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I’m Coming Home…

Video

I have talked with many of you since seeing the movie “Lone Survivor.” It has changed me and I plan to write about it very soon.

I watched this video today that shows families reactions to soldiers coming home. Again, I wept. Shouldn’t we all weep knowing that these men and women spend months, sometimes years away from their loved ones and risk their lives for our freedom? The same freedom that so many of us see as free.

Darlins’, we need all be weeping.

 

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Standing on the Yellow Line

The other day I was driving down a road I have driven down everyday (at least once) for the last 5 years. I always glance to my right and say to the boys, “How many ducks can you count on the water?”

This day was no different. We all looked out the window at the pond. The fog was sitting just on top of the water’s surface. The boys debated over the number of ducks they saw as we drove on to school.

I dropped them off and instead of going the usual route home, I mixed it up a bit and went back the same way I came. (I’m wild and crazy like that sometimes.) As I drove past the same lake I was surprised by how much the view had changed in such a short time. The transformation was remarkable.

I debated pulling over and quickly realized that the photographer in me could not resist capturing this moment, freezing it in pixels and sharing it with you while shouting at the top of my lungs, “LOOK! THERE HE IS!!! HE KNOWS MY NAME! HE CARES! HE SEES ME!”

I pulled over by the baseball fields across the street. All I had on hand was my phone and I wanted to get as much of the splendor in the frame as possible. I walked to the yellow line in the road…in my bare feet, pajama pants, over-sized t-shirt and no bra. (I tell you this detail because normally it would be the one thing that would keep me from getting out of my car and stepping onto a public street during peak carpool hours.) I couldn’t help myself. I raised my phone and attempted to freeze time. (For those of you judging me for going bra-less in the carpool line, what can I say, I’m a risk taker.)

As I lowered my arms and turned to walk back to my car (that was illegally parked) I realized that traffic was stopped both ways. There were only a couple of cars on either side, and I justified my temporary traffic jam by rationalizing that my seemingly asinine behavior may be the only thing that allowed them to pause long enough to see the beauty of the sunrise. (At least they got a good laugh at the lady on the yellow line, still in the clothes she had slept in the night before, with her “camera phone”)

This is what I saw…
SunriseFriends, may I just tell you, this picture does not even begin to do the scene justice.

That’s what beauty does.
It shows up in the most ordinary places…when we’re not ready…when we don’t have make-up or heels on and all we have is the camera on our phone. For me, it shows up around the time I am wrestling with God. Around the time I am asking him to show me who he is and what I am to him. It happens when I am questioning my faith and what I know, in my soul, to be true.

I don’t know what giant you are facing in your life right now and you don’t know mine, but one thing that is true for both of us is the vastness of possibilities that come with faith in our Creator.

The same God who decided which colors he would use in the sunrise this morning hears my pleas and petitions. He accepts my praise and thanksgiving. And just when I need it most, he renews my weary mind and sets meaning to the phrase, “It is well with my soul.”

What about you? When was the last time you were captivated by astounding beauty in the everyday? Did you stop long enough to recognize, acknowledge and relish it?  

Miley and Me

Well after days of nothing but ridicule and criticism we can all agree that Miley Cyrus has received as much or more attention than her PR agents planned for. Quite honestly, I believe that they are the ones laughing.

You’ve heard the saying, “Negative attention is still attention.”

I saw only clips of her performance, but it was enough to get the picture. After realizing that I didn’t even know she had so drastically changed her appearance, or come out with a new song, it was clear that though her marketing team may not be working for longevity, they are rather genius.

Every time I scroll through Twitter (she reportedly received more than 300,000 tweets per minute during her performance), turn on the news or radio or google anything, I am bombarded with the comments, still shots and derision aimed at Miley. She’s everywhere and those of you complaining of her openly risqué behavior and wanting to guard your children from her influence, are the very ones promoting it.

Why do we care so much? Why can’t we move on? We have experienced the shock factor from many artists, athletes, actors and actress’. We sure do love a “train wreck” as was stated several times in social media. Then it hit me. The people responding to this with such disdain come from 3 different places…

ReligionHide your husbands and sons! Look away! Don’t be tempted to look on the sinner lest you be influenced and driven to stumble!

Stop using God as a reason to verbally dismantle someone who His son died for. I don’t think He’s cool with that.

Jealousy – (I would pair gossip and drama in this category too) Well I would (i.e. could) never look like that, sing like that, feel free enough to express myself like that, so it must be wrong!

The green-eyed monster is a tricky one! Look out! All the while you’re going along with the flow not realizing that it is you acting the part of the foolish one.

JudgementLook at her, up there, grinding on that married man! I’m sure her parents are really proud! It’s disgusting!

Careful! Be ever so careful when pointing out and enhancing another’s seemingly bad decision. Tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe next year, something you are keeping in the dark will come out into the light and you will think back to the moment you said hurtful things about someone else out of your lack of willingness to understand their circumstances.

Miley and I have many similarities. I’m not a celebrity or millionaire. I don’t know what it’s like to be unable to walk into the nearest grocery store without being mobbed by paparazzi. I could never pull off the outfits she wears. That being said, if I looked the way she does there’s no telling what I would proudly accentuate myself with?

However, everyday I ask the world around me through my words, behavior and responses to things, “Do I matter?” “Am I good enough?” “Do you like me?” “Can I make it in this life where everyone is disposable (or so it seems)?

* I retweeted a picture yesterday of Will Smith with his family and their reaction in the audience during Miley’s performance. Will SmithI wish I had thought through that a little more.

Reason being, if my insides were viewable from my outsides, I would receive the same reaction. Maybe your thought life is as pure as the driven snow, but mine is not.

Whether it’s road rage, envy, disappointment, you name it, I am constantly praying throughout the day, “God, please direct my thinking.” I have burned this image of the audience into my brain as to easily access it in my memory when I am thinking or acting ridiculous.

Jesus doesn’t play the shame game. So why do we? I wore shame far too long before I exchanged it for forgiveness and grace. I thank God everyday that social media wasn’t what it is today when I was going through my time of “discovering myself.” My life would be very different.

For those of you saying, “I will never tell my daughter that Hannah Montana is Miley Cyrus.” I think you’re just silly. We all forge a path. Some of us walk in the steps that others have made while some create new tracks. Mistakes, well, it’s all part of the journey.

I don’t know Miley’s definition of mistake, but she leaves no room for question that she is no longer a child and wishes not to be treated like a child.Miley then
Miley now

If you ask me, we all have a little bit of Miley going on. It may not be visible on the outside, but it’s no less there.

all media was taken from my good friend Google
* The picture of Will Smith and his family’s reaction to Miley’s performance was later corrected as their reaction to Lady Gaga’s performance, as you can see in the bottom right corner. This is a wonderful example of how cut away shots can be paired and used with anything.