Category Archives: Life Lessons

Holding Space

Today I sat with someone who had experienced a devastating death in their family.  It isn’t my story to tell, but I had a few thoughts about it that I think are okay for me to share.

My hubby and I were just talking Sunday, before we knew of this friend’s loss, about food and how we take it to people when there is a death.  We often hear how this or that culture shows their love through food, but honestly, I think all cultures do.  Food is so central to life that it is the first thing that comes to mind when there is joy or sorrow.  My hubby pointed out how often the person who is grieving is not at all interested in food, but it is what we do, food is made, a plate is given, again and again no matter if the person has an appetite or not.

It’s what we know, it is at the core of our beings.

And suddenly, a few hours after this conversation, I was in that place of saying, “I want to bring a meal for them” when I found out about a loss.  In my offer, I found myself sitting with this family as they grieved today.  Turns out, in this particular culture, friends and family bring meals for three days and sit with the bereaved.  So I went with two other friends and brought my paultry offering of a casserole and brownies.  We ate, talked and just were, we held space.

I particularly just held space. I don’t understand the language of those I was with very much and I understand even less of the particular dialect of the mourners.  So I sat.

Today was day three, so the official time of sitting with the family is completed.  Grieving of course with not stop, really not for a lifetime, but for these three days, people came, people sat.  People held space for those who had lost someone they loved so very much.

Next time someone you know experiences a death in their family or circle of friends, pause, sit, hold space with them.  They will never forget it and you will be forever changed.


If Just For A Moment

Over the last many months, I have made some amazing new friends.  Their stories are not mine to tell, so I will keep this vague and likely short, but I have a thought.

My friends are from all over the world.  Their stories are both different and the same.  But they share, to one degree or another, a native tongue.

And I am trying to learn it.

Now please don’t think they’ve come here expecting everyone to cater to them and they will never learn English.  No, that is not the case.  They are all on their journey of learning English and most of our time together is spent using my native tongue, not theirs.

But I love them.  And I want them to know that love to the marrow of their bones.  So I am learning a phrase here or there with every visit, deliberately and intentionally.

It is good and it is fun and it is hard.  I am proud to say I could tell you two of those three adjectives in their mother tongue, but that is not my point.

My point is, they are shocked and amazed I am trying to learn their language.  I feel like my attempts are feeble, but they tell me my knowledge is growing quickly.  And it is fun to be able to catch a word here or there in their conversations around me, my joy is huge when I can remember a word when I want to use it or I get to help someone outside of my groups of friends with my little bit of knowledge.  And the laughs we have at my attempts to get my mouth to mimic the sounds that come so naturally to them.  Oh, the laughs.

It is all worth it.  It is all worth it if for just one moment I can be that American bridging the gap with their native tongue as we blend our lives together.  It is all worth it if for just one moment our hearts can meet over that shared syllable or two.

Every single day life around them is telling them they HAVE to join my world–for this moment, I want to join theirs.

The Ads Again

I think I pay too much attention to random things.  Okay, okay, I know I pay too much attention to random things.  One thing that gets me is radio commercials.  I can totally tune out a tv commercial, by never watching tv, but the radio has to be on for me to function.  It is like air to me.  But the dumb commercials.   You’ve already heard my thoughts on the exercise/antidepressant commercial, now for the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) commercial.

This commercial brings up lots of memories, wonderful memories.  Really.  Stick with me here.

I was exposed to a component of COPD as a kid.  My neighbor had Emphysema.  She had never smoked a day in her life, yet there she was, dependent on oxygen.

Cora was probably in her 60s when I met her.  She lived a few doors down from us in her white house that looked like a barn.

I headed down there once or twice a week to buy a dozen of her farm-fresh chicken eggs.  And she would chat with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being an only child and I had great neighbor friends that I played with, but I was always looking for new company…and Cora was one of my victims.

She always bought wrapping paper from me when I came around selling it in order to earn some prize or another.  She helped me (okay, she basically did) with a sewing project that was well beyond my non-existent skills, she sold my mom her old secretary desk that sat proudly in my room until I went to college, she explained to me that the ice cream man, (Schwan’s) who finally extended his route to our part of the road, would have the ice cream my mom let me order that day and I wouldn’t have to wait another two weeks until he came again.  She let me just show up and chat with her for hours.  We would sit and watch soap operas, which my mom did not allow me to watch, and I would chat and chat at the commercial breaks.

I loved Cora very much.  I was so sad when she passed away when I was in late elementary school–I am not exactly sure how old I was when she passed away.  I missed her daily for a long time.  I just couldn’t believe my friend was gone.  My mom decided I was too young to go to the funeral, but I understood my friend was gone.  I sat and sat at her old desk.

And I still think of my friend often–anytime I hear one of the COPD commercials or when another friend posts on Facebook about their chickens (what is up with everybody getting chickens?!).

Cora is just one of the marvelous memories I have from growing up.  I hope my girls will look back as fondly at the memories we make amidst holidays, electronics, new puppies and the like!


Upon Holding Your Son

Oh my friend, I have so much to say to you, so much in my heart, but I am so afraid it will come out all wrong.

Today, I held a miracle.  Your new baby.  Yes, I know all babies are miracles, I send three to bed in my own home every night, but yours, oh yours.  He is a miracle.

I believe all babies are prayed for–as you know I pray for all babies I know about—but 10 years, not all are special enough to get 10 years of prayers.  I almost cried while holding him this morning, I am crying now, at having held the answer to 10 years of prayers today.

God is so faithful.  In the darkest moments, the hardest struggle, God is so faithful.

As someone said on your Facebook today, motherhood looks good on you.  God created you for this role–the good days, the hard days, He created you for all of it.

There is very little, if any, advice you need.  And you are wise enough to ask when you have questions.  You may not have worn the formal cloak of motherhood for long, but you taught me something today and for that I thank you.  You taught me to give my moment to moment concerns to God–as we talked about checking to see if they breathing, something mothers for generations have done and anguished over, you reminded me we can give even that to God.  I needed that reminder.  Thank you.

I know there is no advice I NEED to give you, but there is something on my heart.  You will, and probably have, heard a lot to enjoy this time because it goes so fast.  I took that so much to heart that I cried when they lifted Caitlyn up on my chest for the very first time; up until this point, she had been all mine.  But now, now people would expect me to share her and expect me to groom her to grow up and leave me.  I had my first panic attack about her growing  up and leaving me when she was 8 weeks old.  I was standing in the store, my first time away from her, hyperventilating because she was already so old.

It really didn’t get better from there.  I spent the next four years growing and having babies.  And having people tell me to enjoy this time because they grow so fast.  I was comfortable in my role as a mama of young, young babies.  I felt like I could handle it.  But what about what came next.  That brought only terror.

I loved being a nursing, cloth diapering mama.

What if I didn’t love what came next?

Thing is, what came next, was coming, was here…and I still loved it.  I slowly loosened my grip on what I saw myself as good at and put my eyes on my children and who they were…and I let myself breathe.

Yes, those early days went quickly–how else do you explain that I am days from my first baby turning 10 and my youngest baby turning 6?  But the thing is–these ages are amazing too.

My girls like to take walks with me.  They seek me out to tell me about their day.  Each one has embraced homeschooling with me.

Each of my amazing girls have interests of their own–Caitlyn loves to craft and do.  Sue is my social butterfly.  She loves people and cuddles.  Patrice is a talker who knows her own mind like nobodys business.  Caitlyn learns like I do, Sue takes in info like  her daddy, and Patrice is still learning how to best absorb her studies.  Each of them blesses my heart in how they learn about and follow after God.  My heart bursts to hear them sing about the Lord, tell me their AWANA lessons, and pray for others.  The hardest part of their spiritual walk for me is following the Lords’ leading to pray for Him to send one of them to Asia for His kingdom.  I still want to keep them close but He is teaching me to let them grow.

My heart cry for you and I as mothers, is to take joy and comfort in watching them grow.   Yes, the early days go quickly–but they are amazing and the days that come after them are just as, if not more, amazing–and the Lord has given us a front row seat.  We are standing right in front of the canvas of their lives watching the Lord choose the colors as He paints His masterpiece in our beloved children.

That is truly amazing.


The girls have started asking me for an allowance.  I tend to agree at age almost 8 (as in this month) and 9, they are old enough to get an allowance.

But I have a few questions.

When did you start giving your kids allowances?  Was it a set amount?  Did they get it no matter what or did they get it based on doing their chores?  (I kind of like the idea of putting the chores on a bulletin board with a dollar each and if they do the chore, they get the dollar–ownership in the process).  Can I be so nosey to ask how much your kids get?  Did/does it go up as they age?

I would love to hear your thoughts on allowances.

Thank you,

Giving the World

Hubby and I went to Disney World for our honeymoon just over 10 years ago.  We covered Disney to our satisfaction.

2015-01-07 14.07.33He stated he was good for a lifetime.

Then Caitlyn.

We were still in the hospital when he looked at our little bundle and said, “I could go back to Disney [with her].”

And maybe some day we will.  Maybe we won’t.  It may be one of those things we have to give up to have me homeschooling our girls.  And I know they will be fine if we never step foot in the Magic Kingdom.

Patrice came out today and asked “Can we go to Disney World for just one (pudgy finger and all) day?”  My heart cracked.  “Someday baby, hopefully someday.”  And I started to feel bad for myself.  And my girls.

Then my brain woke up a bit.  I remembered our lesson from Bible today. We are studying Bangladesh right now.   Bangladesh is considered the 196th poorest country (out of a list of 226) in the world.  The people there aren’t looking for a trip to Disney or even a remodeled house–they are looking for a house and food and, you know, when they dream big, to go to the doctor when they need to.  They are looking to fill their basic needs.  As many of us are.

This isn’t one of those, wake up people and stop being so selfish, posts.  It’s not.  It’s just my thoughts today.  Do I hope to take my girls to Disney some day?  Absolutely.  Sooner rather than later, I hope.  I also hope to be able to help those whose needs are even greater than my own.  Mine seem great, and in many ways are, but I want to give.  I want to  bless.  I want to reach out.  I want to support.  So many people, so many places.

What is a Charitable project or organization that is near and dear to your heart?

Still Words

Life currently gives me the honor and privilege to be home with my children full-time.  There are days that are a little more challenging than others, but overall, it is beautiful.

I love my girls can wake up slowly in the morning.  Our day does not begin with rushing and yelling like it did when I was working outside the home.  Yes, there are mornings that are still rough, but they aren’t the norm.  I love that I am the one to kiss their boo boos and feed them treats they shouldn’t have, the good and bad habits of being the mama.

About 98% of the time, I am home with my girls.  I see them, they see me.

I thought, when we began homeschooling last year, that they would grow tired of me by the end of the week.  They never did.  I still can’t believe it.  They still want to be WITH ME at the end of the week!!!!!!

I might desire a little breathing room by Friday night, but they are not inclined to give it.  I am making my peace with constant interaction 🙂

Recently, I realized something else.  I am, as I said, with my girls the vast majority of the time.  I can count how many days I spent away from them in the last year.  I would think they would run out of things to tell me, but they never do.

Our house is about 1000 square feet, but you would think it was a 100 times bigger when you hear them fill me in on everything they have done while out of my sight.  Imagine, if you will, what happens when I actually leave the house!  If I go grocery shopping, my oldest texts me while my middle one calls me.  Carving out time for a run gets me the third degree–how long will I be gone, where I am I going, which route am I doing, can they go.

Most of the time I just cave and let one or the other of the older girls join me on my route.  Today, I went alone.  I was gone 30 minutes and 30 seconds.  I went out to join the girls and daddy at the campfire and had three girls vying for my lap.  I laughed, and hugged them to me.

Yes, there are times, I desperately desire to be alone, but truth be told, I know they won’t always run to tell me ever.single.solitary moment of their lives.  Someday I’ll be the mama waiting by the phone for my grown girls to call me.

For now, I try to get the breathing room any sane person sometimes needs, but when I come home, they are all welcome, no matter how big they’ve gotten, to perch on my lap and tell me ALL that I missed.

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I just might need it all to keep me company while I wait for calls and texts when these days have passed.

*Truth in advertising, I plan to stay home tomorrow while the rest of the family goes to a picnic so I can get some time to sit in a chair all along! 🙂

Girls Going to Costco

Wednesday, the girls and I made a “quick” trip to Costco, which begs the question, is there such a thing as a quick trip to Costco?  All was going well.  For the first 20 steps into the store.

As we walked, Caitlyn saw a huge stuffed bear.  Like 53 inches tall stuffed bear.  You know, only 4 inches shorter than her mother tall bear.

Next to that, was a bin of Pillow Chums (think Pillow Pets on growth hormones).  The one right on top of that big cardboard box of chums?  A brightly colored, beautiful unicorn.  For $16.99.

Now, for those who have ever talked to Sue, or simply been in the same county as Sue, you now there is a serious love of unicorns in her heart.  She saw that beautiful chum and I heard her heart skip a beat.  And truly, this mama wanted to buy it for her on the spot.  But there aren’t any gift giving holidays or big accomplishments to justify suck a LARGE purchase (and I couldn’t exactly smuggle it out for a future occasion), so away we walked.  With a seriously sad, sad face.

Then her face brightened.  What if she spent her own money on it?  “We’ll see,” says the mama, futilely hoping she will forget the bed sized unicorn.  She, who fights every moment of chore doing, started asking for tasks as soon as we got home.  She had almost enough, but needed just a few dollars more.

She folded baskets of laundry and cleaned her sisters’ room.  She had enough.

Much to mama’s chagrin.

The older girls have discovered the joy of being able to spend their own money on things.  I love that they are beginning to grasp the concept of buying things, but worry they don’t quite understand that if you spend your money, it is gone.  I try to limit shopping to the dollar bins at the store, or better yet, the dollar store.

I know how much I hate buyers’ remorse, and really dread them feeling it.  Caitlyn has had a taste of it, thankfully from a little dollar store purchase.  I hated to see Sue spend all of her money on the unicorn, but I can be very confident she will not regret it, which makes the process a bit easier.

Such was not the case with Caitlyn.  That huge bear she saw that started this whole deal?  $29.95.  And when she looked, she discovered she did indeed have enough money for the purchase.  The speed bump in this process?  She’s really not that in to stuffed animals and has never expressed a desire for a teddy bear of any size.  Don’t get me wrong, I think a 53 inch teddy bear is cool, but just not really her thing.

I stressed over it some.  I know my daughter and did not want her to set herself up for disappointment.  I talked to hubby about it and we agreed we had basically given Sue permission, but saw red flags all over Caitlyn’s purchase.  I found a quick minute and talked to her about it.

“You know if you buy this, it will be ALL your money.  And once you spend it is gone.  I’m a little worried you will be bummed in a few days that you spent all of it on a teddy bear.  You really aren’t a big stuffed animal person.”


“See, mama and daddy can be pretty okay with Sue buying the unicorn because EVERYBODY knows she is crazy about them.  But you, you really seem to enjoy things you DO,  Or things that are ‘real.'”


“You love your rainbow loom and roller blades and bike, you like to do and move and create.  What if we look at other things they might have at Costco or we went to another store that has more of your kind of thing?”

“Yeah, I think I will look around.”

We started at the teddy bear, since it was right next to the unicorn.  Not only did Caitlyn reject the big one, she poo-poo’d the smaller sizes they had as well.  We headed to other parts of the store, and found some great drawing/coloring items, fun origami books and she even considered a movie, but in the end…she spent nary a nickel.

And mama breathed a sigh of relief.

Sue, proudly paid for her unicorn and Patrice her monkey (she is deeply devoted to monkeys).*

Again, mama thankfully saw Caitlyn walk out empty handed.

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Daddy and I have decided it is now time to introduce the budget.  I am sure the allowance they get will seem like a bonanza…until we show them the envelopes–one for giving, one for saving and one for spending.  That might slow them up a bit.  But, I still remember the happiness and satisfaction I got from seeing an electric pencil sharpener–it had a kitten with glasses on it and said, “I’m too smart to study and too cute to care”–saving my money and being able to purchase it.  Many, many years later.  I hope they will learn quickly and be able to find the same satisfaction of saving for something and purchasing it.  Here’s hoping they will not only learn about money, but also (Sue) to take care of the things that matter to them.

What was the first thing you ever saved up your money to buy?  Did that teach you lifelong good money habits?  Are you a saver or a spender now?

*To clarify, Patrice used one of her dollars to pay for the monkey, the rest was taken care of.  She is starting, younger than her sisters, but still, just starting to have any concept of money, at all.

Life Lessons–New Medication Style

Linking up with Rach for Life Lessons

The last couple weeks have been unique until themselves.  After my latest downturn, the doctor and I decided to up one of my medications.

1.  I was already dealing with some side effects from it, but was feeling some better on it.

2.  I was prepared for more side effects, or so I thought.

3.  I’ve been on powerful medications with strong side effects before.

4.  Nothing could surprise me when it comes to medications, or so I thought.

5.  I was wrong.

6.  If it weren’t for friends encouraging me, I would not have made it through a very rough 5 days as my body adjusted.

7.  I was so restless I was pretty sure I was coming out of my skin.

8.  I sat and cried a big ugly cry at my desk at work.

9.  I hid in the bathroom and waited for the emotional hailstorms to pass.

10.  I made it to the other side.

11.  How I feel right now was totally worth the side effects.  This is the clearest I have been able to think since before my pregnancy with Patrice.

12.  I am forever indebted to several people for getting me through the medication adjustment.

And somewhat related,

13.  Hugs make a great day, perfect.

What I Know to be True–Life Lessons

This week has been a little down.  Is it because I was expecting it and brought it on myself?  I don’t know, but it is what it is.

I think today is a good day to say what I KNOW to be true, not what I feel.

1.  I know this down week is better than many of the up weeks I have had while dealing with postpartum depression.

2.  I know God loves me and that I am His precious child.

3.  I know I have the support of those around me.

4.  I know tomorrow, or for that matter later today, has the potential to be much better than right now.

5.  I know I am doing all that I can to get well.  I even remembered to ask God to be part of the healing process today.

6.  I know that my children love me.

7.  I know that I am doing the very best for them that I can, as a mother and as an example.

8.  I know that my husband loves me like crazy.

9.  I know he’s committed for the long-haul.

10.  I know that I am giving my best at work and am seeing benefits and improvement.

What do you know this week, because of, or inspite of your circumstances?

Linking up with Rach at Life Ever Since.