Supper Club

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I read a book recently by Jen Hatmaker called “For the Love”. In it, she talks about how getting together face to face gets harder and harder as we all get married, raise kids, separate, reconnect….just life. But, it’s important. So, her idea was to start a Supper Club. In her book, they get babysitters and make fancy food. Each home would rotate the sole responsibility of hosting and the others could just come and enjoy. I, on the other hand,  thought it would be a great idea to set up a “Supper Club with Kids”. A few friends with kids of similar ages. A few friends who would like to connect without struggling to find a sitter. Oh, and everyone bring something! So, I planned.

There are few things I enjoy more than hosting friends. The kids were excited and so was I. I was energized and all smiles buying groceries, practically skipping down the aisles at the store, picking out ingredients for new hamburger and black bean burger recipes. I straightened up the house and had the music up loud anticipating my house FULL of friends and their beloved littles. My “master plan” was that the kids would entertain themselves while us grown-ups could talk and play games.

By 6:30, I had 13 kids and 8 adults at my house. Within the first hour, we had a hair catastrophe that led to 2 hours of trying to untangle, a clogged toilet, a rug that was ruined by nail polish, a teething toddler in tears, a broken scooter, and a broken toy golf club.

To quote Will Smith in Hitch, “I saw that going differently in my mind”, nailed it.

I went to bed frustrated and sad that my plan had been thwarted. But, I woke up thankful for grace. Thankful that we can see now more than ever that we are all in this parenting thing together. That even when our big plans turn into pipe dreams, there is love and understanding and togetherness. Even if our togetherness just increases our sympathy for one another, the togetherness is worth it. With all that, do you know what the kids said first thing this morning? “When can we do that again? That was so fun!” Of course, they did.

One of our dear friends and mentors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently. The news broke yesterday. We all discussed it last night and feel heartbroken for her and her family. She’s much too young and loved and respected and….there is just no good explanation. As is so true for way too many heartaches in this world. The sad news breaking made me even more grateful to be getting together with friends. You really do never know what will happen tomorrow. Who it will happen to. Or, when your own time on this earth is up.

So….let’s love today. Let’s laugh when we can. Let’s get together when we can. Let’s engage in each other’s lives. Let’s welcome new people. Let’s reconnect with old friends. Let’s encourage each other as parents. It makes me even more eager for the “Ultimate Supper Club” in heaven. Where there will be no more sad news, tangled hair, painful gums, broken toys, or plumbing issues whatsoever. Just the joy and relief of togetherness. Forever.

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Christmas Wreath

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This has always been my personal favorite Christmas decoration. It hangs on my laundry room door.

I pull it out in late November and it grows over time. The pictures come in slowly so I wonder if it will actually fill up and it always has, always does. This year there are fewer cards than in years past. I am well aware that that is not at all for lack of love or friends, only a surplus of technology. We all see most of each other’s faces and children on social media these days. So much so, that cards may see pointless. I know they are an added stress this time of year, I didn’t send them out last year in attempts to cut myself some slack.

I appreciate them, I know the sacrifice, the struggle for the right picture, the hassle of accumulating addresses, the foreign trip to the post office for stamps, the mad rush of the Christmas to-do list. I know this all very well. But, still, it’s my favorite decoration. I’m admiring it this morning and cherishing it. I know each year in this technology age it will get sparser and sparser. But, I’ll continue to put it up each November, watch, and wait.

My Christmas wreath may not grow over the years anymore, but I am thankful. I am thankful for the friends that do. I think of you all. I pray for you all. I love you. From my heart to yours…

Everybody Falls!

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I was inspired by a recent roller skating party with my nine year old. I left her younger sister with my mom so I could really focus on skating with her and teaching her. As much as I loved skating as a kid, I was certain she would, if she would just keep trying…

She got a quarter of the way around the rink clinging to the side rails before she decided she wanted to use a trainer like the other kids. These trainers look like walkers for beginner skaters. We didn’t have them growing up, but they are really helpful in learning to balance and lean forward. She hobbled along slowly. All she could see in her periphery were smaller kids zooming past her. I just kept encouraging her, proud that she was giving it a real go this time and so thankful I could focus all my attention on her when she needed it most. I wondered what else I could do to help her, but I soon realized all I could do was watch, encourage, and be there to help her up when she fell. I couldn’t “make” her skate well. She would have to keep going and put the effort in. She would have to learn at her own pace.

About half way around the rink, she lost her balance and fell HARD right on her tail bone. She looked up at me with big tears in her eyes from pain, anger, and utter embarrassment. As I helped her to her feet she told me she quit and wasn’t cut out for it. I felt so sorry for her and told her to look around at all the others falling. She said “No one’s falling but me!” I followed up with “Not true baby, look around. Watch.” So she did. Sure enough three skaters hit the ground in the few seconds I got her to look up. And, they all got back up and kept skating.

Just then, one of her classmates came up to check on her. She said “My parents gave me the best advice. It’s ok if you fall, just don’t quit. Keep skating. Everyone falls. Even grown-ups!” I loved her encouragement and joy. Abby kept skating, slowly but surely. My heart swelled with love and pride as she fell again and got back up…..again. She wanted to keep skating and even hinted at the idea of having her next birthday party there. What a refreshing change! She worked up the courage to skate once around the rink without her trainer, but still felt more comfortable with it. I told her that’s what the trainer is for, to lean on. Use it.

I think our praying friends are like trainers, they are there to be leaned on and they want to be. They help us balance and keep us moving forward. They help us up when we fall and look around for us when they do. They aren’t there to skate for us, they can’t. But, they are there to lean on.

Everybody learns at a different pace. Some are timid, some are aggressive, some are naturals, but we are all humbled as our rear ends hit the ground. Some don’t skate anymore because of age or past injury. Some continue to skate as long as they can (that would be me). But, everyone falls. Even the best skiers and skaters still fall. It’s part of learning and it’s part of the sport. Such is life.

 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (CEV)

We all get frustrated when we fall and feel embarrassed when it’s a fall in public, or worse in front of our peers. But remember, everyone falls. And, remember your trainers. Use them. That’s what God gave them to you for.

And, now back to an all skate…

Just Like Me…

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I spent last weekend with a group of friends who also happen to be mommies…..just like me. We have 13 kids between the six of us, and somehow we all managed to get a weekend away! It was bliss. We got to share freely without needing to kid censor our conversations. We also had the privilege of completing our sentences. Needless to say, there was lots of head nodding going on. It’s so refreshing to have friends you can be real with.

We thoroughly enjoyed two fancy dinners, sipped hot coffee in the morning, relaxed, and even closed our eyes by the pool. We talked about dating, marriage, pregnancy, labor, and sex. The stuff we all deal with and don’t normally have the chance or courage to bounce off others in a transparent way. The stuff that reminds us how much we are alike deep down in our souls. The way God created us. To love, endure, persist, relate, and connect.

Our time together also reminded me how much we all crave a closeness to our Creator. The One who made us this way. The One who knows us best. Even better than we know each other or ourselves, He knows us. I imagined Him looking down and smiling at all of us as we laughed and enjoyed our time away. All the while, He protected our children. The same children He so graciously gave to each of us. The same children that teach us more than we have ever known about love. The same children who our hearts ache for on our way home. The same children that we are sending to school next week with bittersweet feelings. The same children who have humbled us and helped us appreciate things (like a weekend away and girlfriends) more than ever before.

I have no doubt this weekend recharged us as mommies, friends, women. The more time you spend with someone who is different than you, the more you realize how very little different they are. We all want to be the best wives, moms, friends, and daughters we can be. We aren’t perfect, so to have friends that can say “I see your issue, and I raise you mine” is priceless. Let’s continue to be real and love each other through them….just like Jesus does.

Accountability?

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Who are you accountable to? A few people pop into my mind…my boss, my kids and when I was married, my husband. Do you ever think about the fact that we are all accountable to God? At the end of time, we will be face to face with Him. Not these other people who we try to live and do right for. What about Him? Ultimately, it comes down to Him and me.

This fact actually helps me with forgiveness when I struggle. We will be held accountable by God Himself for our actions and reactions. How we live and what we do is seen whether we choose to think about it or not. Confession isn’t for God, it’s for us. Newsflash! He already knows. He’s God. And, He loves us anyway. Just get real with Him. Be real with your weakness, ask forgiveness, make amends, and move on….loved.

Knowing we are loved leads to a desire to obey. It rarely works the other way around. “Why should I do what you want me to do? And , if I do, it’s only because you’re forcing me”. We want to please those who truly love us as a way to honor them. We want to show our love, not just say it. We all know anyone can say “I love you”, the truth comes in the actions that follow and/or precede this term. Love is sacrifice. Love is patient and kind. Love perseveres and honors truth. Love never fails. We don’t have to be loved in return to love. We can choose to love anyway through our thoughts and prayers and let them be, if necessary.

As we go through our days and make our choices, remember who we are ultimately accountable to. I could trust a man who knows he’s accountable to Almighty God, not just me. If he is aware and seeking to honor God in his own life daily, I could trust him with mine. Neither one of us would be perfect, but we would both know that our actions towards each other are accountable to God and that would keep us on the same page. That’s a blessing and that’s being equally yoked. Once again, God knows best.

One of my dear friends gave me a book yesterday and on the inside cover she wrote a beautiful note. She signed with “Your accountability partner”. She didn’t know I was writing about accountability. She didn’t know I desired an accountability partner. But, God did. Her gift and love has been a blessing to me. I’m thankful for friends who lean on and look to God for accountability in their lives. They can help me with mine.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. –Proverbs 27:17

Let us continue to help each other, love each other, and look to God for our accountability. He knows best and loves us the most.

 

Out With the Old…

out with the old

…..and in with the new. The new year is fast approaching and it always feels like a fresh slate. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned this past year. Each experience and leap of faith has strengthened me and reined in my focus. The holidays this year were tough for me. Just emotional. I cried tears of joy, sadness, sentiment….all true. There is truth in tears. I came to the conclusion that the heaping dose of emotion was because Christmas highlights families. When our families are broken in any way and most of ours are either by death, divorce, or estrangement, the feelings associated with the brokenness are also highlighted. God’s design was for us all to be together in peace, harmony, and love. When this isn’t the case, our souls understandably grieve.

The more we love, the more we grieve the loss of love. I found myself leaning on the Everlasting Arms more than ever and asking for a real life squeeze. I also found myself relishing in my blessings more than I had before. Getting emotional over my girls getting older and their Christmas lists changing…I found myself in tears over the birth of Jesus and wondering what more I could give to Him and others because of His gift. I know Jesus rescued me. He’s been with me every day whether I’ve felt it or not. In the physical loneliness, He is still there. Protecting me. All this I know in my brain. At certain times, like the holidays, our hearts are harder to convince. And, He knows that. He’s still there.

I’ve spoken to several friends who were also struggling or know someone who is during this season. The compassion and stories we shared, felt like a special gift. Coming together, relating, listening, and welcoming honesty is so healing. Having a safe place to share our feelings is priceless. Because we all have them. Our feelings make us human, our actions show our strength.

Take your feelings to God first. Get them out and be honest with Him. I’m so thankful that He welcomes our neediness. He craves it. Needing Him is how He created us. He longs to comfort and fulfill us. This is also His design. Then, cherish the friends you can share and be honest with. Cherish the ones who love you on your worst days. Cherish the friends who pray for you, cry with you, send you scriptures, and point you to the Jesus. They truly love you and want to spend eternity with you. We usually can’t fix each other’s deepest issues, but we can point each other to the One who can.

Regardless of our relationship status, we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. OUT with the old ways of trying to fill it, mask it, cover it, or deny it. And IN with the only way to live and love in this broken world….and that is with the love and strength of Jesus. Living in His strength all things ARE possible. Family members can reunite, siblings can bury the hatchet, new families can form, and healing can take place. A fresh slate is a beautiful thing and heaven is on the horizon. In with the new…

What’s it all about?

This is a blog about the love we crave. It’s about the love between mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives. We all crave it. What happens when we fall short? What about when they fall short? My prayer is that this blog will help us all learn how to love each other better, how to stand up for ourselves in a healthy way, and how to let God love on us as never before.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)