Thursday, May 21, 2015

to my team: it's not the critic who counts.

{buren foster photography}
my club coach used to always tell us that he would rather we play well and lose than play poorly and win. he said he would be very proud of us if we played well against a good team even if we came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

that's how i feel tonight, ladies. we coaches are so incredibly proud of you.

you showed up tonight. you came to play, and you played your tails off. you left all of yourselves out there on that field, and we couldn't have asked for anything more than what you gave.

you are a great team, and you proved it tonight. i know that it stinks to end the season with a loss. i hate that we don't have any more practices to talk about all the things we did well, and to keep improving as a team.

so even though i know that many of you will not ever read this, there are a few things i want to tell you.

firstly, you ladies have grown so much this season. you kept your heads up tonight, and you kept fighting until the final whistle. you stayed mentally tough for the entire game. through the ups and downs of the scoreboard. through the physical play. through every second of every minute you showed up, and you stayed focused, and you played your hearts out. the season may be over, but tonight you did everything we could've asked of you.

{via pinterest}

secondly, failing to win this game does not make you failures. too often we think that making one mistake defines everything. tonight we got unlucky. we came out on the wrong end of a 50/50 game. sometimes that happens in life. sometimes things don't work out how you thought they would. sometimes things don't work out how you thought they should. life's not fair, but God is good.

you ladies stepped up and took a risk. cheesy as it sounds you showed incredible courage tonight. we knew it would be a tough game. the last time we played them proved that to us. but you came to play anyway. you knew that you could play with them despite last time. you knew you might lose, but you played to win anyway. and that takes undeniable courage.

you will be better off in life if you get out of your comfort zone and do difficult things. you will be better off if you keep trying anyway even when it seems futile. you may come up short again and again and again, but you only really fail if you stop getting up again.

every day my kids do something at some point to remind me why i love being their mom. today you reminded me why i love being a coach. today you reminded me why i love this game so much.

i love you ladies.
thank you for giving me the chance to coach you.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

the pull of the rain

we sit on the front porch watching the rain fall. it was coming down in buckets, but now has slowed to steady. keane watches the rain. adele watches keane. he soon gets bored of watching the rain and starts playing with the pinecones he had left on the porch. then he moves to the stairs.

"want my hood up, mommy"
"are you going out into the rain?"
"yes. you come too."
"let me get my jacket, okay?"

i give adele to her daddy, and hand in hand we step out into the rain. one black hood. one small navy one.

we watch the waterfall in the storm drain. we walk along the path towards the pool. then he finds a small puddle, and the splashing begins. small splashes at first. then his excitement grows. he finds every puddle he can.

we look at the water rushing in the creek. he runs over the bridges. he looks up at the sky and spins; rain falls on his face, and he smiles.

then he looks at me - "lub you buddy"
"lub you buddy"
"i love you too"

"watch me go, mommy. run, run, watch me run, mommy"
"i'm watching, baby."

i watch my little guy find sticks. i watch him crouch down and splash with his hands. i watch his little hood move as he explores the wet world.

my jeans get heavier as the water falls harder and soaks them through. his navy blue jacket slowly turns an inky blue-black as the water falls. but he wants to play. he wants to stay, to explore and discover.

he walks through the water flowing to the storm drain, kicking his little legs to get as wet as possible. the lights on his shoes only work about every other step now, but he doesn't care.

he watches the water flow down driveways; he squishes his feet in the puddles in the grass. he cries when i tell him it's time to go inside.

i carry him to the porch and we strip him down to his diaper and wrap him in a beach towel. he sits with daddy and adele, now content with his time outside.

i feel better too. soaked to the bone, but better. it does the soul good to play in the rain.
i'm not sure why i ever stopped.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

remind me

some days i need a reminder. okay, most days.

most days i need a reminder that this stage of life will pass. i also thoroughly enjoy large chunks of my days, but those times when you're getting ready for church in the morning and you have to put your 2 ½ year old in time-out three times and it takes you at least 2 ½ times as long to get ready as it would if you didn't have to stop what you're doing every time you get started again in order to make him stop throwing things, or bumping his head into you when you're trying to correct him, or dropping things on the floor that should not be dropped on the floor... or you know any sort of example you want to throw in there... not that this happened this morning or anything. not that this same son was up until 11 pm last night stealthily sneaking out of his room and into the hallway - playing "dead" every time you came into the the hallway to check and see what he was doing. and after finally falling asleep waking up a full 30 minutes earlier than normal this morning.

not that his little sister took a while to fall asleep last night, and then woke up bright-eyed at 1:15 and didn't go back to sleep until at least 1:45. no, she would never do that. she loves sleep.

some days they kill me with their cuteness, and other days it just feels like they want to kill me. parenting can be a tough gig with enough sleep, but without it, well, let's just say some days i want to curl up into a ball and cry.

i'm just trying to be honest, guys.

i don't regret my choice to stay home with my kids. and it was a choice for me. i know it's not a choice everyone can make, but it was for me. and i'm not upset i made it.

sometimes i'm just worn out.

i'm worn out from the constancy of the beautiful little people who need my attention. i'm worn out because i feel like no matter how hard i try, i screw it up time and time again. i'm worn out because i'm afraid that no matter how hard i try to instill the important lessons into their lives they will somehow evade my attempts and turn out to be those kids who cause people to look at them and say "you know what - it comes back to the parents. why didn't their parents teach them that?"

that's the truth. that's my fear. i fear that even though i chose to stay home with them, and be with them they still will not learn how to be mature, responsible members of society.

and so i need to let go, time and time again. i need to trust that God can work through me and my many flaws and problems and issues and imperfections. that nothing is impossible with him and through him, and he wants me at the center of his will even more than i want to be there.

and i need that reminder all. the. time.

i screw this thing up so much more than i care to admit. so i need to remember how big God is.

but i also need to remember that i am made in HIS image. i have more worth than i often remember and realize and give myself credit for because i am made in his image.

i am created by God. created in his image. i am his image-bearer.

and far too often i go around berating myself and coming down on myself and telling myself that i am too flawed to be worthy.

i am beyond flawed. but he calls me worthy.

i am a flawed person. i am a flawed parent. i have so many insecurities. i try to "find myself" in things that cannot show me who i am. i try to strive without ceasing in hopes that i will stumble upon something to make me worthy.

but this life cannot give that. "the good life" cannot give that. only Jesus can give that. only a love beyond any that this world has ever known can give true peace and wholeness and rest.

i recently remembered a quote from a camp i attended when i was in high school: God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. he wants to make you like Jesus.

no matter where you are it is not too far for him to reach. you are not too far gone.
and thankfully, neither am i.

no matter who you are, you are created in the image of God.
and so am i.

and if you're anything like me - you can use a look in the mirror with that reminder on your lips.

much love, friends

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

adventures in parenting

{via some e cards}

i feel like this should be the title of my life right now: adventures in parenting. life is exhausting as of late. on top of normal "having two very young children" stuff we've recently lost a family friend, and had to say goodbye to bexley - our dog of eight years.  and i've felt more than a little bit worn down and saddened and stuck.

our kids are wonderful beautiful blessings, and they make life extremely challenging right now. some days i feel like i'm floundering. i'm not exactly sinking and i'm not exactly swimming.

our house has been a bit of a disaster lately. since soccer season has gotten into full swing it seems that there is simply not enough time to do everything anymore. many days i feel as though i'm just scraping by in terms of sleep, and my emotional and spiritual well-being. i'm doing just enough to not completely fall apart.

it's not that i'm not thankful. i am very thankful for my husband and my kids and the fact that we have a roof over our heads that has more than enough space for our family. what i struggle with is the balance. i do not like to feel like days are happening to me, and lately i have felt that way time and time again.

both of our kids are exploring and discovering new things every day. keane has adventured further and further into autonomy. his new favorite thing is to tell me to "shut up" and clap his hands at me. yes, i'm that parent who used to get so frustrated with the dog barking at things of no consequence that in my exasperated state i would sometimes tell bexley to "shut up." and that is what keane picked up on. and that is what he says back to me whenever he doesn't get his way.

we are so very broken.

and our little girl is the sweetest, happiest little creature on the face of the earth. but she doesn't like to sleep. this is partially due to her personality and partially due to the fact that we have not been as rigorous with getting her on a super set schedule now that i have to juggle keane's schedule too.

most days i feel like a failure of a parent. and since i'm a stay-at-home-mom and parenting is my only "job" on my most dramatic days i also feel like a failure at life. it kind of seems like most people around me are doing this whole thing a heck of a lot better than i am, but when i step back i wonder if that is simply because i see all of my life, and just pieces of others' lives.

we live in a culture that prizes authenticity, but hates vulnerability. on my most vulnerable days this makes it tough to believe i'm doing much well.

living with a baby and a toddler can quickly send you from one extreme to the other. euphoria somehow leads to total meltdown.

adele now decides that she likes something, and if she's holding said thing - one of keane's fruit strips for instance - and you take it away from her, say to give her brother the fruit strip out of the package, she flips right on out on you despite the fact that she had been giving you a two-toothed-widest-you've-ever-seen smile not three seconds earlier.

keane gets something in his mind, and even if the answer is "not right now, you need to wait a minute and be patient" he somehow hears "never ever ever" and goes into flip out mode, usually complete with a "shut up" and rounded out with a timeout.

of course it goes the other way too. he could be flipping out about something and you ask if he wants to go play in the water, or go outside, or if he wants to do some other fun activity and he's immediately 100% fine. ah, two year olds.

i know that much of this is a "time of life" thing. that this too shall pass, and i will miss it. when i step back, i remember those things. sometimes i just get so caught up with what is right in front of my face that i forget. i get stuck in the toughness of it and miss the gems.

yesterday keane and i were outside before his nap time. he likes digging in the dirt with sticks right now - he usually pretends he's mixing something up and making cupcakes or cookies. while he dug in the dirt the stick he was using to dig broke. and i said "uh oh, it broke." and he said "it's still good." and it reminded me that he really is listening all the time. he really does take it all in even when i think otherwise.

you see keane doesn't like it when his food "breaks." bananas in particular tend to break on him, and he doesn't like that. so my go-to response when his food breaks is "that's okay though, it still tastes good."

and yesterday he reminded me in his two year old way that just because something else breaks it doesn't mean it can't be useful or good.

of course soon after that he decided to drive his car around the backyard, and this is how that went:
keane gets in his car and closes the door.
"buh-bye mommy"
not two seconds later he stops the car, opens the door, and says "shoot" as he's getting out.
"shoot, i forgot sometin"
"what did you forget?"
"backpack. i forgot my backpack."

do you think maybe i forget things on a regular basis??

my kids both keep me honest in their own ways. it's extremely humbling to have your qualities paraded back to you right in front of your face. it's a lot harder to ignore your bad habits when you see them in someone else. especially when that person is a tiny human who mostly learns from you.

of course my absolute favorite keane-ism right now is what happens when i tell him it's nap time.
"it's nap time keane."
"no. NO. not nap time. it's not nap time. it's morning time. it's MORNING time."
haha. he's pretty good at re-framing the argument.

i hope you have a great tuesday! mine is better thanks to adele sleeping through the night the last two nights. it's a little early to call it a consistent thing, but we will certainly take it!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

dear vicki,

i cannot fully express the impact you have had on my life and the lives of so many others. i remember  hanging out with you at the middle school laser tag event when madi was in seventh grade. it was the first event i attended with the middle school youth after being hired at church, and you were one of the first people to learn that i'd been hired.

i remember many many women's bible studies with you and cynthia. i remember how often you reminded us "it's a heart issue." i think of that all the time, even now. i remember many youth events at your house, and the blessing of your family as i got to work with your three youngest kids.

i remember how happy i was for you and mason when i found out you were moving to utah, and how sad i was for me. in a strange way i feel sort of that way now. i'm happy that you will soon get to live in the light of God's perfect glory. i'm sad for those of us whom you're leaving for now. i'm sad for your family whom i love so much, and for everyone else you loved so well - myself included.

you are such a gem, and my heart is full as i think of you walking into glory, made fully perfect and whole.

i've had hillsong's "you hold me now" stuck in my head since last night.

on that day when i see
all that you have for me
when i see you face to face
there surrounded by your grace
all my fears swept away
in the light of your embrace
where your love is all i need
and forever i am free

where the streets are made of gold
in your presence healed and whole
let the songs of heaven
rise to you alone

no weeping no hurt or pain
no suffering, you hold me now
you hold me now
no darkness no sick or lame
no hiding you hold me now
you hold me now

in this life i will stand
through my joy and my pain
knowing there's a greater day
there's a hope that never fails
where your name is lifted high
and forever praises rise
for the glory of your name
i'm believing for the day

where the wars and violence cease
all creation lives in peace
let the songs of heaven
rise to you alone

for eternity
all my heart will give
all the glory to your name

and i am so very thankful for the wholeness you will soon experience. i am so very thankful for the blessing you've been on my life. for the many things you've taught me about marriage and parenting and loving people well.

your love for jesus always showed through. your openness about your life was an example to me of courage and vulnerability.

this morning in yoga class my teacher talked about gripping so hard to things that weren't ours to begin with. she had no idea how much that struck me.

you belong to God. he created you, he has sustained you, and now he calls you home. we "grip" you because we love you and we want you to be here a while longer. but you're not ours to begin with - you are his. 

and so, all i can say is thank you. thank you for allowing yourself to be a conduit of God's hope and love to those around you. thank you for your willingness to speak truth. thank you for your boldness. thank you for your courage. thank you for your vulnerability. thank you for your friendship.

i am so thankful for you. so thankful for all of those things you taught me. and despite the sadness it brings for those of us still here, i am beyond thankful that you will soon be healed and whole.

so much love to you.


Monday, March 9, 2015

6 months and then some

looking back over the last few months i realized that while i took adele's monthly photos i never posted them all on here.

despite the fact that it has been over a week since she officially turned 6 months, i still don't fully believe it. i don't believe it has already been that long. granted that probably has a little bit to do with the fact that we go to bed each night wondering how she'll do. she has slept the whole way through the night without interruption for three of the last four nights, but she was up for an hour in the middle of the night the other time. oh well. it'll happen eventually.

she has been reaching for things for a while now, and is currently working on her sitting skills. lately she has started randomly bouncing - all on her own. one of us will be holding her, and she'll just start bouncing. it's like she has more energy than she knows what to do with, and she has to get it out somehow.

here's our smiley girl:

she's definitely growing up! granted she's tiny, but somehow she's still getting so big. and we'll leave it at that because now she's also awake.

happy monday!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

who knows?

{found via pinterest}

that phrase - who knows? - sticks in my head right now because once again snowfall drifts down from our charlotte skies, and despite the fact that we were supposed to have over a week of soccer practice under our belt at this point [but only have a day], it's looking more and more like we won't get much time on the field this week either. {sidenote: in case you can't tell, i started this post last week...}

who knows what will happen?

who knows is such a loaded phrase, not just for me, but especially for me. "who knows" is such a true statement. we don't really know what's going to happen. that's why there are so many aphorisms about planning: "the best laid plans..."; "if you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans." 

but "who knows?" also makes me immediately think of something else every single time i hear it. in a split second i get transported back to my freshman year of college. to the very first semester - the very first week that i was on campus.

playing soccer meant that i was on campus before everyone else, and going to a christian school meant that we had a team theme each year based on a bible verse. my freshman year the verse was esther 4:14 - "for if you remain silent at this time relief and deliverance for the jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" [niv]

the whole theme of the season was "who knows?" who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this. who knows what will happen?

that season kicked off a great two years for the soccer program at grove city. my freshman year was the first time in school history that the women's soccer team went to the ncaa tournament. the following year we went on a 15 game win streak, and went back to the tournament for the second time in school history.

all because we, as a team, took to heart that idea. 
who knows what can happen? who knows but that you are in the exact place you're in because you now have the ability or authority or position to do something, or to speak something that you couldn't otherwise.

we cannot see everything all at once. we live in a linear world. and sometimes that's scary. 
but God is sovereign. 

and that's the thing - he knows, even when we don't.

it's like another saying i heard a few years ago: i don't know what the future holds, but i know who holds it.
sometimes we walk through fun and exciting things, or do something that has never been done before, all because we have the audacity to believe that God is God and if we listen to what he's asking us to do he can bring things together that we couldn't possibly know or predict.

of course that doesn't mean that we don't do anything. we still have to put in the work. [yes, there are times when you put in the work and it still doesn't seem to get you anywhere, but at least then you're not left wondering what would've happened differently if you had.]

we miss that piece though. we don't want to put in the work. we want to have everything handed to us without needing to work for it. we don't want to do the hard thing simply because it's hard. too often i don't recognize that life isn't easy for anyone. the grass always looks greener on the other side because too often i'm looking on the other side, wanting the easy way out. in that moment of wanting something else i don't realize that even if i trade in my grass for that greener grass over there i still have to water the grass eventually, or it won't be green anymore.

no one really has it easy even if it looks like they do. we all have different struggles - some are bigger than others because they involve struggling for things necessary for life - but we all struggle. and we all think that others out there don't struggle. we've become so obsessed with our façade that authenticity has become refreshing.

too often i subconsciously think things are supposed to be easy, but most things in life worth having take a ton of work - despite what our culture tells us.
a good marriage? it's not just flowers and sunshine all the time. it takes intentional work. [despite the theme of many a rom-com]
parenting? hardest thing i've ever done. beyond worth it, but tough day in and day out.
building a business? having a successful career? staying in shape? becoming well-versed in any discipline? most things in life take work.

peter and i were talking last week about the "overnight" success story that actually took 10 years of work. businesses and products pop up [seemingly] out of nowhere all the time. they make us think that they truly came out of nowhere, but in reality those businesses or products had been in the works for a long time.

we want to take the easy way out, but there's not an easy way to accomplish many things. we're fooled by the end product. we missed the process and mistakenly think that there was none.

we live in an immediate gratification society, and we've started thinking that everything should happen immediately.

there are so many tangents spinning through my mind right now because there are so many ways to apply this in my own life.

i want to make changes, but changes don't just happen because i want them to happen. i have actually stepped up in some aspects and taken steps to make changes. i've started making changes to small things, but those often trip me up more than the big things.

for instance: i've started waking up earlier to get a few things accomplished before the kiddos get up. this "extra time" has allowed me time to write far more often than i could before. writing more has caused more reflection, and has helped me come to a few important realizations about my own life at this stage.

i'm at this stage at this time because God put me here. i say that with 100% clarity because it took us so much longer than we hoped to have kids. if it had only been up to me our kids would be older at this stage in the game. but they're not. and there is a reason for that.

who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?

God can use anything. do i trust him enough to walk with him even when life doesn't make sense? do i trust that he wants me at the center of his will even more than i want to be there?