What Makes You Brave… (raising the anxious child)

fear is a liar
“You, my brothers, were called to be free.” Galatians 5:13

 

It’s Halloween here in the United State Of America.  Happy ‘Boo Day’ to you!  We don’t do much to celebrate it here in our house.  I’m just lamenting the take down of all of these fall decorations.  And dusting.  And reorganizing.  Maybe tomorrow when I come out of my sugar coma…

Begger’s Night was last night.  That’s how we do it in the Midwest.  It was SO MUCH more fun as my sisters Molly and Erin and Molly’s boyfriend, Tucker, got to join us (dressed as giant M&M’s).  They have never been home for this festive occasion.  It rocked our night.  Made it.  I’m from Minnesota where we did things a little differently, but here in Iowa they call it Begger’s Night and do this candy thing the night before Halloween.  So Begger’s Night is where we go and beg for candy, tell jokes, and dress up as cute things, scary things, and everything in between.  I have been eating G’s candy, doing laundry, and drinking coffee all day.  It’s quite disgusting.  I really need to stop.  I’m blaming Karey.  4Gotten Treasures wasn’t open today (smile). We never buy candy in this house.  My kids aren’t used to having it around or eating it.  So here I am.  Doing it for them.  I mean, we all have to make sacrifices for our children, right? (smile)

My youngest LOVES Halloween.  He always has.  The first few years of his life he would cry — literally cry — when I took down the Halloween decorations (more like fallish décor with a few cute spiders and ghosts from Hallmark) — so we would put pumpkins on our Christmas tree — just to make the transition easier for him.  We have kept this tradition to this day — G puts his “puntins” on our tree.  It’s his thing.  I hope it’s always his thing.  I adore it.  His favorite movies are all Tim Burton cartoons — his first being “Coraline” when he was all of two.  It scared the crap out of my oldest.  And he’s watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” like “a fousand” times.  He has a Jack blanket — all black and skeletonny — with his name embroidered on it — from the Disney store — that he snuggles with.  He loves Jack.  And “The Book Of Life” that just came out not that long ago.  He found it fantastical.  The entire story is about death and All Saints Day.  He will tell everyone I cried at the end.  I thought it was fantastical too.  Maybe you think I should be worried about this little nugget of mine.  I’m not.  Here’s why…

G loves all of this stuff because it is straight up magical to him.  And he will tell you so.  It’s not scary.  It’s pure authentic uniqueness.  Halloween is a time to be other things.  To express sides of yourself that you may have been too scared to try on before.  And some of them might just be a little dark (this is the most loving and cuddliest and most empathetic kid you will ever meet in your lifetime — besides his older brother — smile). And we all have those sides to us too.  And Tim Burton’s films champion the creative underdog who isn’t just like everyone else.  He or she is the black sheep, the ridiculed misfit — who always comes to the conclusion that being themselves is the best way of doing things — despite what anyone else thinks or says.  And G loves all of this.  That, and his favorite color is orange.  The candy he’s not into so much.  I mean, his mom eats it all for goodness sakes.  I love my kid for this.  For all of it.  So yes, we have pumpkins on our Christmas tree.  And it’s pretty amazing.

My oldest is more of a Christmas kind of kid.  Both of my kids were scared to death of Santa Clause until they were too old for it to be cool to get pictures with the big guy.  I mean really, what is scarier — jack o lanterns or a giant guy with a long white beard in a red suite with ginormous black boots that says “HO HO HO” in a booming deep voice?!?!?!?!?  Smile.  Max loves that the world was saved on this day.  All of us.  A tiny, unassuming little baby — in the most unholy places — came to rescue us.  The Great I Am started as a small baby boy, in a manger, in a stable — and that the most awesome stories can have the most humble beginnings.  We talk about that so often in this house.  God’s great purpose for us all.  No matter how small we may feel or others may try to tell us we are, his divine purpose reigns.  And this great rescue, this freedom, this incredible and specific to us purpose all started with one baby boy — who was both man and God.  It’s rather mind and heart and soul blowing.  So yes, we crank up “A Baby Changes Everything” at least ten times a day during the Christmas season — not just for Max.  It’s one of my favorites too.

It’s pretty clear I love these two boys.  And that they have pretty big hearts.  It may appear they are very much alike, yet these two children of mine could not be any more different in their natures — which makes for some fun times in our house — some go to separate corners of the house times in our house — to Mommy has no more patience time in our house.  I have often joked that they are my yin and my yang.  They literally couldn’t be any more different.  Perhaps they are mirrors of their Mom and Dad.  Perhaps they are just who God made them to be…

However different they may be, they share a few similarities…  Along with big, beautiful hearts, they share anxiety.  I openly struggle with this myself.  I don’t think there is any reason for us to hide who we are.  I am who I am.  And I’m not ashamed of it.  Hiding and denying and covering things ups is what is ailing this world and making it even sicker.  I want my boys to understand that who I am, who everyone is, is exactly who they are meant to be.  There is good to be had, there are struggles to work through, and there is a mighty, mighty purpose for all of us.  We don’t have to stay stuck or sick — we are empowered in faith to be courageous and always move forward.  But broken is really okay.  As Leanard Cohen writes in his song, Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”.  And we are all a work in process.  The key is doing the work and admitting to the broken and owning who you are.  That all takes brave.  That all takes honesty.  That all takes giant, deep breaths and so much encouragement that we gain from each other and the Holy Sprit.  We are all meant for great things.  We are all amazing master pieces.  And this includes ALL of our pieces laid in the hands of the master.

own who you are

Of course, I lamented that their anxiety issues were all.my.fault and manifested all.because.of.me.  I hadn’t done a good enough job of letting them see that life goes on, being chill and relaxed, I had hovered too much, I had made them feel like they had to be perfect, I hadn’t prayed with them enough, read the Bible enough, let them know Jesus loved them enough, I hadn’t done ‘all the things enough’ to make them feel whole enough.  Because if I had, then they wouldn’t feel this monster.  It was all because of me.  That was my anxiety talking .  That was my fear, and fear is the biggest liar.

And I didn’t understand it.  My anxiety, OCD, PTSD and all of the other labels that I had ever had, stemmed from horrific things.  My boys did not have these occurrences in their little lives.  I had made damn sure that they were not ever exposed to any of that ugliness.  Maybe I had made sure too much? Maybe I loved them to smothering-ly? And my brain got back on the anxiety wheel again — obsessing over every thing I may have done wrong as a mother.  How in God’s name do hamsters find those freaking wheels fun?

But this wasn’t about me, it was about them.  It was about now.  And what do we do?  Because this world is going to be FULL of crap that isn’t right or good or just — that is going to freak your brain out and put you on that obsessive seizure wheel time and time again.  And my boys are sensitive enough to pick up on all of it.  ALL.OF.IT.  And while behavior disorders like oppositional defiance and other very real and hard things are easier for some people to understand and maybe even deal with rationally — anxiety is often met with a glib “just get over it” and “toughen up and just deal with it” attitude — without ever realizing the very real physical conditions and emotional roller coasters it is putting your child through.  Things like abdominal migraines and panic attacks are super fun.  Breathing issues, not wanting to go to school, being painfully shy, being afraid of germs, obsessing about certain things (that change from one thing to the next at any given moment), etc.  It’s exhausting for everyone.  But please, just.get.over.it.  If only.  Yet we can tolerate and give ginormous breath and width to so many other things — so much room.  But anxiety and sensitivity in boys?  Not so much.  Being loud and aggressive is more easily understood.  I’m so very thankful to the amazing teachers who have given my boys the time and heart it takes to get to know and understand them.  You are absolutely incredible and we truly love you.  They grow and learn so much because of you.  You are all PHENOMENAL!  I am also so very thankful to my boys for teaching me so much as I see this in so many of my four year olds.  It takes time to deal with anxiety.  It takes such a great deal of time.  It takes all of two seconds to be dismissive and label someone as weird or ‘a baby’.  We don’t all work the same way.  And it’s absolutely outrageous to me that this is still having to be explained to grown ups.

you are enough

We talk a great deal in this house — about everything — because communication is power.  The more we know, the more we understand — about each other and the world around us.  And we NEVER, EVER stop learning.  It’s important for my boys to know that their dad and I don’t know everything (I’m pretty sure they get this by now — smile).  And, more over, adults don’t know everything and aren’t always right.  That they can trust themselves and their feelings and what they know too.  They are capable.  They are smart.  They can trust themselves and God — they are mighty.  They are not insignificant just because they are children.  And I firmly believe when YOU feel significant, you treat others in the same manner.  It’s all about respect.  We can discuss ANYTHING they feel may be wrong or they have strange or unsure feelings about.  We don’t hide things.  We are honest and truthful about all of it.  I don’t know that I would be like this if it weren’t for my anxiety or things I’ve been through.  Sufficed to say, my kids are quite verbal.  So I often call this anxiety of ours our super power.  Because for all of it’s frustrations, it gives us many positive attributes too.  There is always something we can be thankful for in everything — even anxiety (smile)…

For one thing, we are more empathetic towards others.  The boys are the best at making cards, sticking up for people, putting themselves bravely in the way of bullies, loving and being kind — and may I just say one of my boys is thirteen (smile).  We don’t ever want anyone else to feel the way we do inside when that anxiety monster is attacking.  We want others to feel comfortable, loved, cared for, and just plain good.  It grows your heart.  You want to give.  In my boy’s case, all the time.  They are the.most.thoughtful.  They are so concerned for all of those around them.  Our prayers at night are so lengthy because they pray for everyone.  When we say “I’ll pray for you,” — sister, brother — we are praying for you! That anxiety, which may manifest itself in worry at times — then translates over to a closeness with God in prayer.  And THAT is all good.  We take it to the Lord.  Lay it at his feet.  And we try our very best to leave it there.

It makes us brave.  This sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  But anxiety helps us to be brave every single day — because, quite frankly, everything scares you.  So, we have to push through discomfort and muster brave and courage every waking morning to do the next right thing (thanks, Glennon– love you).  This may require more energy than the next person who doesn’t even have to think about being brave when they get out of bed every day and just thinks about how tired they are — but it puts us right in the moment, it connects us to the present, and it makes us focus.  Be brave.  Be courageous.  Because that’s what it takes.  Every.single.day.  Just to be.  And some people may look on that as a negative.  But wow, that can be one positive brain punch too.

love defines you

Because it’s all on how you look at it.  And we chose to look at it as God made us pretty amazingly.  He made us to shine like stars in the universe.  And we’ll just go ahead and praise him for it.  And it really doesn’t matter if no one else understands us or gets us.  Because he does.  And we’ll keep talking about it at home.  And this momma bear will keep fighting for her kids and your kids.  Because I believe we are all pretty awesome.  And it’s different perceptions and ways of seeing (and yes, even feeling) things that make this world the freaking amazing wonderland that it is.  And it’s when we lose those eyes of wonder that the magic is lost — the essence of who we are becomes convoluted.  We are all beautiful.  Because we are made in his image.  That’s not lost on this girl.  Ever.  I see him in my boys.  I see him every single day in their hearts.  Even in the anxious times.  Even in the times people roll their eyes, whisper, say rude things, are mean, bitter, and nasty because they don’t understand.  Oh, I see him.  And I smile and I know that what he created is so divine and good and we will continue to shine and love each other and everyone else around us.  And how very, very blessed we are.  And that makes this girl so crazy brave.

Love and peace and light.

And so much courage. ❤

Go rock your brave.

 

shine shine shine

 

 

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Minions, toilets, teeth, and water… (and how commonality is found in the strangest of places)

minion maddness july 2015 003

“(Love) doesn’t fly off the handle.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG

Patience, peace, calm…  It’s something I work hard at.  Because I have to.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  Anxiety does.  Panic does.  Let’s create the worst case scenario and amplify it times 1,273 does.  But peace, calm, patience?  That’s work.  But it’s something I HAVE to have in my home — like healthy food, essential oils, and comfy blankets and pillows.  It’s a necessity.  I want our home to be a safe haven, an easy place to breathe, a refuge in this crazy, chaos of a world.  No matter what storms rage around us, we have each other, we have a bigger God, and we can always have peace.  No.matter.what.  I want may kids to KNOW and FEEL this when they walk through our door.  And I want them to carry it with them when they leave — as an extension of the love and all the things they are taught in these walls.  And this peace, often, begins with me.  I mean, it starts with the Spirit ever moving in my heart — but it begins with me — in a house full of emotional, fly off the handle, often high energy and intense characters — it’s momma who brings the calm.  And some days, it’s a tough row to hoe, friends.  Just saying.  It’s heavy.

But I’m pretty good at carrying heavy things.  God made this girl scrappy like that.  I didn’t used to be.  I used to be the President of the ‘freak out, run around in circles, hyperventilate and throw your hands in the air’ club (which I still do occasionally) — but oddly, that never got me anywhere.  Except unhealthy, depressed, and wore unnecessary grooves in our flooring and in my heart.  So I breathe in and out — really big.  And I have mantras.  Turns out I need them.  And I just drop everything and talk to God.  Turns out he’s always listening.  And then I breathe some more.  And I know, that even if it’s not — it’s going to be okay.  And God is here, there, and already in tomorrow.  And we’ll do this together.  ALL of it.  Even the really crappy stuff.  Cause we’ve been there.  We’ve done that.  And it’s all good.  Even when it’s not.  And I say this to my house full of boys.  All.the.time.  Disaster isn’t disaster.  It’s doesn’t have to be our state of being.  It’s not who we are.  It doesn’t define us.  It’s a moment.  However freaking long it is, it’s a moment in time.  And it’s always, forever and always, how we deal with it — how we treat each other in those moments — that defines who we are, who we believe the other person to be, and what we believe this big ole world and our purpose in it is.  Big moments, little moments and all the ones in-between.  It’s how we react to all of those…

And when it rains, it often pours.  Like things kind of always seem to happen all at once, right?  My incredible husband has been laying in the way awesome flooring in our basement (or what ever the correct terminology is for that–it looks freaking fantastic).  Waterproof vinyl that looks like hardwood.  I love it.  It’s been lots of sweat and a back breaking process as he’s done it all by himself.  Absolutely amazing.  I can stand the bright gold and black of the Hawkeye man cave a bit more now.  Seriously.  Incredible.  And no monsoon was taking that away.  Nope.  We had another sump pump installed a couple weeks ago for this purpose (we have improper grading in the new houses behind us and get the brunt of that “it’s not my problem” from the city and builders and anyone else we’ve approached).  With the help of our awesome bucket carrying neighbors, my almost 13 year old who held a hose and hand held sump pump from the well to our bathtub in the basement, and lots of flipping muscle for hours — we made it.  Hallelujah! You feel that one the next morning.  We’re thinking of capitalizing on this as a workout routine of some sort.  Serious abs are worked.  Water.is.so.heavy.  Staying calm in this chaos again.  Not easy.  What IS easy is lashing out on each other — because you are so angry, freaked out, scared, just plain pissed the hell off, and that has to go somewhere, right??? Like, why couldn’t we have had a garage sale and gotten rid of half the crap down here so we wouldn’t have to be dumping totes of this junk to FILL with water and running crap upstairs?  That suddenly becomes someone’s fault.  Because for a second it might feel better to lash out and place some blame somewhere, anywhere — because no one else seems to have to take responsibility for the shit that happens every flipping time it rains a little harder than normal, right?  I mean, some people just sit and eat popcorn and watch TV and ENJOY these blessed storms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Until you realize that being angry solves nothing.  Pointing fingers and laying blame and getting all pissed off does zero in the realm of helping or solving any kind of problem.  In fact, in only dissolves and wastes precious energy that could be spent doing something productive or scrambling up positive energy and sending that out — mustering up a little peace.

I can absorb it.  The tirade — because I so get it.  I empathize with where it comes from.  I see me all over it.  And I understand that the words coming at me have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the really jacked up situation.  And, in my mind, there’s just no reason to jack it up anymore.  It is what it is.  It will be what it will be no matter what we say or what we do.  So why not do what ever we can to make it better?  Breathe deep, speak peace, and do everything we can to solve the problem.  It’s not being passive, by any means.  I think sometimes it takes way more energy and focus to be calm when everyone else is bouncing red, but once you start making it part of your normal — it just comes.  It truly does.  And people mistake it for giving up — when you don’t freak out and scream and yell and get all crazy.  I’m still moving, I’m still doing — I just refuse to take part in expending my energy in the futile zone of chaos.  Take deep breaths, and amazingly, thoughts become clearer — even above the loud.  It takes practice.  Lots of practice.  And you have to hold on to your space in this.  But then it just becomes part of you — and if I can teach my boys that — I’ll be one happy momma.  You have to deal with life’s storms, but you always have a choice in how you deal with them.

And bless little G’s heart — my little guy who finds the positive in everything — he thought we were having a party.  He was just so excited to see everyone who showed up to help and so happy to have people over.  His job was to hold the door open and then close it again as people came up and down the stairs with buckets to dump outside.  He was elated.  He can’t wait to have another “water party”.  He also got to stay up really late.  It was just awesome.  All.of.it.  He’s always my little ray of sunshine.  Couldn’t love that kid more.  And Max.  He worked so hard.  He kept reminding us that we were all okay.  And that was the important thing.  Because it was people who were important, not things.  He said this at least a million times.  And then he kept thanking us for all of our hard work.  Couldn’t love that kid anymore either.  But somehow, every day, I do…

The next day, Marty was off to work — not sure how he did that — I’m sure he was more than tired and very sore.  He proctors the bar exam for a week every summer.  And that morning, our toilet decided to go completely nuts on us.  I walked into water, literally, spraying from the lid of the toilet — and little G frantically yanking on my arm “I didn’t do it!  I didn’t do it!!!!!” as I walked into water all over the bathroom floor.  At this point, I was really effing tired of water.  Seriously.  I threw towels all over the floor and lifted the back compartment lid off the toilet — which was really genius on my part — as water proceeded to shoot strait into my face.  So many kinds of awesome.  What.the.hell.  So water is spraying, I’m using my finger to cover the little hole it’s coming from, fishing around the bottom of the tank as it’s filling to find something that may have fallen, and it won’t flush.  Sweet.  Connecting pieces here and there — just to make it stop spraying — and then just decided to shut the water off.  That’s the take away here.  The water can always be shut off.  I have no idea what happened.  All I know is that G didn’t do it.  I was breathing, didn’t want my husband to have to deal with this crap when he got home, and the problem solver in me decided to Google this and fix it so he wouldn’t have to.  I mean, how hard can it be?  None of the inner workings of anyone else’s toilet looked quite like ours on any of the Google videos, so I improvised and got a little creative.  Turns out those aren’t the most coveted qualities when it comes to plumbing.  The hubs had to purchase an entire new system for the inside of our commode.  I may have innovatively challenged something.  Just turn the water off if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Lesson learned, all in Zen.  Sometimes I can try too hard to be a little too helpful.  I see y’all nodding your heads…  (smile) Not.my.best.trait.

minion maddness july 2015 008
This is what it looks like after I try to fix a toilet. The entire inside had to be replaced. Thanks, husband. I missed our bathroom. You are amazing. I will steer clear of Google and plumbing issues from now on.

That night proved to hold one more little surprise for us.  G wanted some help brushing his teeth.  He had a big kancer sore on the gum line of the inside of his lip and he didn’t want to hurt it.  Just for back story purposes, this little guy has never lost a tooth — at all of seven and going into second grade — he feels like he is the ONLY boy his age on earth who has never lost a tooth.  While brushing, I noticed that he had a tooth shooting up behind — like FAR behind — another baby tooth.  Ug!  It looked so odd and awful, but I didn’t want to scare him — so I just said — “Hmmmmmmmmmmm, you have a dentist appointment to get your teeth cleaned next week, but Mommy might make a call to Dr. Jenny in the morning so we can check on this tooth here.”  Unfortunately, he knew ALL about tooth pulling from his good friend, Connor, who had to get lots of teeth pulled and had told G every bloody detail — so tears instantly flowed and it was a long night of calming anxiety.  Neither one of us slept — again.  Dental Professionals got us in at 8 a.m. the next day and Griff was such a brave and courageous boy.  Big needles, two long sticks with said needles, and the root on that thing was HUGE!  He didn’t cry and was the best and most calm patient.  I couldn’t believe how amazing he did!  He took deep breaths and wiggled his toes.  Dr. Jenny, as always, was fantastic, and let him pick out two prizes for being so incredible.  This momma took G to Target for a few extra prizes as well.  He picked a puzzle, a craft, and a science toy.  My G (smile).  That’s what brave looks like!  Noodles, his lovey Husky, came with us too for extra comfort.  My boys amaze me every.single.day.  On top of all of this, Griffyn was SO excited he had finally “lost” a tooth!!!!!!!!!!!  One heck of a first loss!  Dr. Jenny assured him that the ones he lost after this would be ever so much easier…  Love her.  And she’s a dentist (smile).

minion maddness july 2015 007
Griffyn left a note for the tooth fairy because he wanted to keep his tooth since it was his first. She was very obliging and left him a note, along with some fairy dust, and a $5.00 bill. That was one well earned first loss of a tooth!

And we needed a stress break from all of this water and tooth fun.  Summer is just speeding on by.  So we took the boys to see the Minions movie.  I love those little guys!  They are just authentic little Twinkies of odd quirky fun.  They simply want to please and love their little guts out.  We even ate junk food — egads!  We stopped at A&W first in Indianola — a must — the BEST chicken fingers and fries — according to my kids — and of course, root beer floats.  It was popcorn, Mike and Ike’s, and I even got to partake in some gluten free Milk Duds.  Good times.  I could not think of the last time I had been to a movie.  I guarantee it was Disney or Pixar, but it’s always a good time with the boys.  Minions did not disappoint.  Loved the Beetles and Monkees references!

And somehow, all of these week’s events seemed to roll together for me into one big “lesson” of sorts — the little yellow guys, toilets, basement, and tooth shenanigans.  Life is a big ball of chaos and crap sometimes — often times all at once — but it’s how we handle it — it’s the faith we act on (not just profess to have) — it’s how we are there for each other — that makes it what it is.  Rain, storms, sun, floods (toilette water in your face), things not happening in the succession that they are supposed to (darn shark teeth) — it’s going to happen.  And it’s all beautiful if we let.it.be.  And if it’s not particularly beautiful — we can at least find some kind or type of beauty in it.  We can find something redeemable, gem worthy, sustainable, of value — in everything.  A lesson (most often taught to me by my children), something to be thankful for, reminders of blessings, or something within yourself you forgot about — God reminding you who he created you to be (G found his braveness!  Max found his strength!).  There is value in absolutely everything.  Every.little.thing.  And maybe that’s why I like those little minions so much.  They see life through eyes (or eye) of wonder.  Everyone is a buddy.  And so I may or may not have gotten a little teary in that movie — I so did not cry.  G kept watching, however (smile)– said in whisper “Momma, are you crying?”.

The miracle of life lies in our perception of it.  We’re all given situations, things, people — it’s how we choose to see them — react, expend our energy — learn our lessons — or see that there is anything to be learned or gifts to be given to us in the first place.  There is wonder everywhere.  Even in the muck and mire.  Sometimes you just have to settle the rage, the storm in yourself still enough to see it, hear it, feel it and let it change you and grow you.  We all have such potential and capability to be such amazing vessels of light. Sometimes we get a little scared of all that shiny.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Embrace that.  It’s all good and it’s all you. You can.  You.can.do.and.be.so.much!

It is utterly amazing to me what simply taking a split second to take one deep, calm breath can do in a situation that seems utterly lost and helpless — when anxiety seems to be spiraling me out of control.  Then I stop — take another, and another — understanding the one that is in me is greater than this world — and the ultimate battle has already been won, dear God, it’s really over.  God’s got ALL of this.  My job, my mission — if I choose this day to except it — it to be my best me.  The most incredibly, fearfully and wonderfully made me he created me to be.  And to take that on with authenticity and an open heart and mind and spirit each and every single day?  Well that, that is one miraculous adventure and one hell of a ride —

that just might involve buckets, basements, toilets, unforeseen trips to the dentist, and Minions (smile).

Love your guts… (remember to stop every now and then and take a listen to yours) ❤

Namaste and so much peace…

To courage to be like little children…

“And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:3 

home

I was just recently sharing with a mommy friend how dear this verse is to me and how precious is this image in the Bible of Jesus with the little children—so incredibly dear to my heart.  There the  disciples were, just trying their best to take care of their Jesus—attempting to shoo the little ones away (those pesky little rugrats) who were clammering to get closer to this God man—who was so very tired after a long day of loving on all of his people–and Jesus says, no, let them stay, let them come to me—

and then he takes it there—he takes it all the way there—he takes it to eternity.  He says not only are they important, they are the MOST important—for it is hearts like this that we must emulate to enter that forever place.  This brings me to tears every time.  Every.single.time.  And I venture to think for those of us who have survived our childhoods, because we very well may not have–this image, this great love, this incredible gentleness and captured reverence is all the more precious.

What’s also so amazing about this verse is that the disciples were asking Jesus ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  I mean, we need to know the pecking order for the after life, right? And guess what Jesus says? “…whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whomever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.  But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matthew 18: 4-5 Children are big stuff to Jesus–clearly.  He goes on to say, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10.  Big stuff, little ones.  So while the disciples are, as it tells us in Luke, rebuking — Jesus is calling his children to him “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16.  AMAZING respect given to ones so small.

I love kids.  It’s why I do what I do.  After situations, some quite awful, have arisen throughout the decade and some plus years I’ve taught and been a paraeducator with preschool kids–I’ve often had friends ask me–why do you do it–and why do you go back?  (it’s clearly not for the paycheck — smile)  It’s really quite simple.  For the kids.  They are why I love my job.  And the bs that comes with it is never from them–it’s always the grown up set that creates that drama (we mess everything up, don’t we?  smile).  I couldn’t do anything else.  My passion is here.  They are they most important.  Period.  I can pretty much put up with any holy hell for them.  And this is where I belong.  Here.  With these all important beings.  Cause we’re teaching each other lots of stuff — every day — and they help me remember what my walk in this life is all about — everyday — and that being a grown up isn’t really where it’s at — nope, this kid thing — that’s where it’s at.  And along with the good Lord above, they keep my heart on track.

So the rest of you, go ahead and grow up.  I’m staying here.  Forever growing hearts and minds, forever wanting to know the “how” and “why” of something, forever having best friends, forever loving then getting mad then loving cause we love so unconditionally here, throwing the occasional tantrum then getting over it because it’s okay to feel our feelings and sometimes we forget to use our words but we’ll remember better next time–cause we’re learning–and we’re imperfect, but we’re also humble, so it’s okay if you forget every once in awhile too.  We forgive really easy.  And we are accepting of everyone.  Everyone.  Because we don’t know any different.  Our hearts just see people–and the potential for awesomeness and excitement and new experiences.  And little things make us happy.  Like, every.little.thing.  Frosting on cupcakes (forget the cupcake), sunshine, sticks, bugs, a sparkly new barrette (that may or may not make it till the end of the day), new crayons, markers, glue, holding someone’s hand, birthdays, paper crowns, paper anything, we’re just so enthusiastically thankful for all of it!  All.of.it.  Cause life is something to be celebrated, lived, wished upon and cherished–not gotten through.  We get to do this.  Every day.  We get to!  And there’s so much to learn, so much to do, and so many people to love and who love me.  So, I’m gonna hug you now–again.  Yup, this momma is going to be four forever.  It pretty much rocks.

And what does this mean in our faith, our walk?  For me, it means I must forever be humble–and the good Lord makes this pretty easy for this momma.  It doesn’t take but more than an hour or so for a reminder to this busy, frazzled girl to receive a heads up that I’m not perfect.  And I’ve come to enjoy laughing at these little things and have just relished breathing so much more.  Because these “stresses” we really just place on ourselves and we let others place on us.  Really.  Life goes on, and it doesn’t matter five minutes from now, and you are so much more than…  SO MUCH MORE.  So just stop, breathe and live.  I learned this all of last year, friends, and just started really living it.  Huge for this girl.  Huge.  And huge for my family as well.  So, I have come to embrace imperfection–while still expecting all good things from myself and trying my best–but not beating myself up for the silly things that don’t come out perfect.  I’d rather spend that extra time on my soul and my family.  And then I’m not so hard on other people as well.  As I judge myself a little more softly, I cut others much more slack.  Funny how that works.  In the words of Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”  I’m giving my best shot with what I’ve got right now and seeing that we really all are.  You need something, I’m here for you, sister.  I’ve got you, you’ve got me.  None of us need anyone screaming at us or pointing fingers in each other’s faces.  I’ve always maintained that no one has been ostracized or judged to heaven.  And I watch how my boys, how my preschoolers play–I mean, occasionally there’s a sharing problem and those problems are solved pretty quickly–but the thing is– they’ve got each other’s backs.  They’re tight.  They’re good.  And if someone needs a hug, well, you better believe someone is GETTING that hug (or two, or three).  They could care less if you’re wearing North Face, Under Armor, Ugg or Coach or you have something on from the Wal-Mart clearance rack or Goodwill.  It’s who you are.  And if you can’t cut out a perfect circle to make that “C” caterpillar?  Forget about it.  You’re still my best friend, and I love you anyway.  No judging.  Except for maybe who can run the fastest on the playground.  But they’ll forget about it two seconds after no one can breathe and everyone is rolling around on the ground and laughing and giggling–and again–hugging each other.  Yeah, humility, all inclusive acceptance, and less judging–or how about we throw that judging thing out all together and just leave it to God–you know, since He is perfect and doesn’t have a muddled heart?

And kids aren’t perfect–by a long shot–they have their issues just like crazy grown ups do.  In fact, there are some days mine make me want to roll up in a ball and rock in the fetal position (with the door shut, in my closet, for like a LONG time).  They can be very egocentric.  They eat too much candy.  They can be so very wrapped up IN THIS MOMENT that they can’t see past it and it’s FOREVER and LIFE IS OVER and it is RUINED and forever broken and …  just my kids (smile) ?  They can be needy, they can be such siphons of your time, your energy, your space, your body — and have NO perception of parameters or boundaries.  They have no filters, can be super sensitive, they throw fits, they have no sense of time and they want things now, now, and now (again, just mine?).  And yet, I think I just described myself (smile).  But in a way, some of these things can be positives too — we just live in a world that doesn’t have time for them — patience or a status quo that is bendy or roomy enough.  Having two very “feely” and sensitive boys who do things their own way, I’ve often been driven to a state of crazy (well, I blame my kids, but I’m there on my own quite a bit — smile) by a world who doesn’t “get” them.  But I so get them, and Jesus so gets them — and I know that’s all they need.  (and I’d insert that they’ve had amazing teachers that have been extremely instrumental in this whole “getting them” process as well) And part of that is that I think we expect kids to grow up so fast, to process into adults so quickly — assembly line style — we need them to do everything so simultaneously.  Who has time for kids that have these intense emotions, feelings and ways of seeing the world differently?  Not a lot of people.  Not a lot of hearts.  But Jesus did and Jesus does.  And this is what it also means for my walk, faith, and heart.  May we always be open to those kids, those people that don’t “fit in” to what everyone else perceives as “normal”.  Because, I hate to break it to you — but, there really is no such thing.  We’re all created exactly as we’re intended to be.  We all have a specific purpose to our creation.  Yes, some of us have bigger, huger that huge struggles we have to deal with and face, but we all are perfectly we.  And we are all okay.  Some of us just need to work harder or need lots (and the range of that ‘lots’ can run the gamut) of help, but we’re all his children.  No one is dispensable.  We all have value.  We all are miracles.  We all start off as little children–some of us are just dealt more challenging hands.  But the hands that hold us are the same.

It also means that it’s okay if I’m not always brave.  I’m still scared a lot.  I may always be scared a lot.  This kid will always need her heavenly father.  And that Holy Spirit?  He’s always in my heart–my divine–what makes me divine–is living inside of me.  Pretty amazing.  And he helps me be brave.  So very brave.  He helps me get up every day and try my best, my very best, to be the best child of God I can be, and to shine — no matter what –to shine even when I don’t feel like I can, or am even good enough to try.  Then sometimes he just helps me be brave enough to show up– and then he shines for me.  I may always feel like a scared little kid, and hey, that’s okay.  I’m still welcome into eternity.

It also means that I want my kids to be surrounded by light.  Darkness is everywhere.  I want them to be surrounded by light, and I want them to be equipped with the tools and strength to BE the light in that darkness.  It’s so important for me that they have that foundation.  Because there is going to be plenty out there to trip them up, plenty of people out there that will cause temptation — and I need to make sure that my walk and my heart are pure and steadfast examples for my boys.  Perfect?  No.  And I’m not about to cover those blemishes up–because I don’t want them to expect perfection from themselves.  I say sorry — a lot.  And when we pray together as a family, we ask God to help us be the parents God wants us to be for our boys with our boys.  They know we don’t have it all together.  They know we rely on God — they see us rely on God — and the best part?  They see God carry us and answer that prayer on a continuous basis.  They’ve seen this momma lose her temper, cry, not do perfect mommy things.  And I have had to ask my boys for their forgiveness.  I’ve had to ask if we can start days over and if I can try again.  I’ve had to ask for their grace.  And we hug, and forgive, and try again.  And they know that their Daddy and I will always do the same for them.  Always — and that their Jesus will too.  So, it’s not that I want the people and presences in their life to be perfect.  No, that’s not what I’m saying or asking.  But I want them to try to shine as examples for my boys — to try to do their best — to not keep on showing up as bad examples — to keep perpetuating sin — let’s call it for what it is.  When we mess up, we say ‘I’m sorry’.  We own it.  We try again.  We don’t keep repeating patterns that inadvertently — and not so inadvertently — show my kids that you think that behavior and pattern is okay with you.  This is my job as their momma.  Being their momma is a responsibility I take seriously.  My kids are extremely important to me.  They are extremely important to God as well.  I expect people to respect that, and if they can’t, we make space — we have to make boundaries.

God loves his children.  And we are all his children.  I love it when he calls us his children.  He is my father.  He is really the only father that has ever loved and nurtured this girl.  He wants so much for us–and has such incredible plans for all of us.  Having that childlike faith, that heart, thankfulness, enthusiasm, resilience, appreciation, excitement, hope, love, acceptance — that’s really what it’s all about.  I’m not saying that — he is (smile).  He wants us to be like that.  And think about how joyful kids are.  Really.  Even in the most dire and darkest of circumstances, they are so joyful.  Because in the midst of all of that–they know nothing else.  And they are so thankful for everything.  God wants us to have hearts like that — those are the kind of hearts that gain us entrance into the kingdom of heaven.  Not heavy, doom and gloom, brimstone, pointing fingers and angry raging hearts.  Childlike hearts.  And those excited child hearts that can’t wait to share what they just got for Christmas hearts (guess what I got?!?!?!?!, guess what I got?!?!?!?!?)?!?  Yup!  Those are the kind of hearts that share our Jesus too!  That joy, that excitement, that love!  We’re all in this together.  There’s no club.  No group, no membership.  Really, there’s not even a building.  He just wants your heart.  Your childlike heart.

Hold my hand, let’s walk home together, and pick up some extra besties along the way…

Love y’all.  ❤  Now this momma needs to run off and play with her kids.  By the looks of my kitchen table, it’s craft day (you’d be surprised what treasures you can make with toilet paper rolls (smile) )…

Peace and Namaste — and G just asked me if there is going to be a super, big, huge, HUBONGOUS playground in heaven…

(most likely with a super high twisty slide)

 

“When it’s dark, be the one who turns on the light.” — Joseph, age 9, Brooklyn, NY

 

 

 

Just breathe…

“I can not do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.”

Jana Stanfield

 hugs and baseball two

So glad to be back at work today!  And that blessing is NOT lost on this momma!  That I love my job.  That I MISS it when I’m sick.  That I don’t like to be away from it!  I missed my girls!  A nice transition back with no kids today.  Missed them a bunch too.  Can’t wait to see them all tomorrow.  It was difficult to follow doctor’s orders–although my body was not compliant with movement.  That part made it a little easier–smile.  Andrea likes to pull out the hospitalization threat too — she knows that gets me.  Love her to pieces, my awesome doc.  Another big blessing.

Still slow moving, but moving and so happy to be moving!  Had grand plans of getting some errands run after work tonight, but they were derailed by the reality of making it through the day.  Darn reality.  It just gets in the way of things sometimes.  Playing with the boys, doing some laundry (the ever present constant–gotta love that about laundry–it’s just so always there for you, isn’t it?), tidying up here and there, getting homework started–all these things I’ve missed out on the past few days.  Okay, so I haven’t really MISSED laundry…

And I just had been missing my kids.  Just love them.  Wow, these high doses of prednisone usually make me super crabby as all get out–but here I am, thanking God for everything and just so happy, thankful and feeling so blessed.  Pretty amazing.  Our kids, this life thing, even when we’re feeling crummy and crappy–there’s always some good, there’s always some thankful.  Really.  There always is…

And the jars of gnats we have all around the house.  You know, they really are — by far — the most disgusting yet exquisite Halloween decorations I have ever — like ever — had up in all the years I’ve been putting up these blessed things for the boys.  And the honey mixed with the apple cider vinegar gives off such a warm amber glow — convalesced with the black of the dead gnats collecting each day — lovely.  Too much?  Yes, can’t wait to throw all those heinous jars out.  Marty says I’m just too nice to them–the gnats, that is.  I should stop telling them good morning and good night and stop asking them about their day — then maybe they’ll leave.  Maybe he’s right.  I shouldn’t be so inclusive with them in our family.  Just a few left hanging around.  There’s a lesson in here somewhere.  Gnats and Zen.  I feel it.  I’m learning something.  Yet, I pray that God will get rid of them every night.  It’s at the end of my prayer list — you know, not the MOST important thing I pray for — definitely not a priority — one of those, ‘if He has time things’…

And kids.  Kids–aren’t they just awesome?  Reading on Glennon’s page about this kid named Tate.  Got tears, as I do often when I read something she’s written.  Go to Momastery.  Read it (wow, that sounded so first born bossy — but, I promise, it’ll make your heart grow!).  What a champion, what a hero, what an amazing, incredible kid!  Our kids.  They are super heros.  What they face every day.  How they shine every day!  Continuing to do the right thing, even when it isn’t cool — because there are ever so many things (like manners, respect, decency, loyalty, thoughtfulness, and consideration) that just aren’t “cool” anymore — or even common place.  Love them so much.  And yes, life — even in ALL the good stuff (because there is SO much of that too) is STILL a battle — a very real one — and we can’t take that reality away from them — or diminish that fight or minimalize that for them — but rather, let’s call attention (just like G has) to their bravery, to their honor, to their majestic souls — let’s call attention to that light and shine it wide and shine it far — for all the world to see — so that other kids (even us big ones) have the courage to be brave too.  Way to go, Tate!  The boys and I read your actions, because that kindness thing, that thoughtfulness thing, that love thing, that brave thing — those are all doing things — and it made us want to be better and do better too.  Thanks for inspiring us to be what we were put on this earth to be — lights of love despite the darkness that can be so very scary.  Thank you, brave boy.  Thank you. ❤

And I don’t know if you’ve heard about this MAJOR news yet, but it is ALL my little G has talked about since a centimeter of ground was dug.   Carlisle Elementary now has a Buddy Bench on it’s playground.  Yup.  A Buddy Bench — because, in the words of Griffyn, “Evvy buddy needs a buddy, Mom.”  And he is SUPER stoked about this bench.  Because no one should have to play alone if they don’t want to.  “Not evvah.”  So, if you need a friend to play with, you just go ahead, you sit on that bench, and buddies will come ask you to play.  “It’s yike magic!  And den, you don’t have to be sad.  You don’t have to be afwaid to ask someone–or even a yittle bit embawassed or scawed.  I dust yuv it.  It makes me SOOOOOOOOOOOO happy!”.  Beaming.  Ear to ear.  Hearts are saved.  Friends are loved.  And all is right with the world.  Buddy benches.  I’m thinking we need one of these on every single corner of this earth.  Pretty sure G’s on a mission to get that taken care of.

And my Max, gotta say, these past few months have been a little rough on this momma.  Emotions.  Twelve.  I think I’m ready for this.  I don’t know what I’m doing, but we’re going there.  I get a lot of “Mom, can I talk to you’s?” which is awesome.  Let’s NEVER stop that.  But life isn’t making sense.  It’s getting harder.  And he loves and he cares and his heart is SO big  — but no one “gets” it, you know?  And I SO know, big guy (literally, he’s going to pass his momma soon).  But you just keep loving and you just keep giving and you just keep shining because you are SO AMAZING — even if people think the good in you is stupid, the thoughtful in you is weak, and the light in you isn’t “acceptable”.  You know who you are.  And I’m so very PROUD that you do.  And it’s okay if you mess up, question, falter — have you seen your mother?  We love you, He loves you, and He’s always — we’ve always — got this.  Even when we don’t.  Even when life looks like one big mess of crazy yuck, it’s okay.  It’s really okay.  Because we are so much more than what is happening to us and around us and that power within us?  Huge, my darling boy.  Nothing can touch it.  You were made to be courageous.  It doesn’t mean you will never be scared.  But it means you can know that you will always be held.

And G reminds us, when we get so very deep, that we can always go and sit on the Buddy Bench…

So, this momma is thankful.  Thankful to be a momma.  Thankful to be the soul in this body — that may often be weak — but finds strength and courage in a power so much bigger and greater than that weakness.  Thankful for the lights that shine all around her.  So many lights.  So many treasures.  And I even got a little bit of yoga in this morning.  Shallower breaths, but as long as we’re still breathing, it’s an invitation to be the good.  If we can bring that to someone, if we can be that energy, that love, well then — we’ve done our little.  And that little — it’s enough.  And that little — can be so very big…

Much love, much peace, healing, light, and the happiness that comes not from circumstance — but from the choices we make by the deep and grateful breaths we take and by the passion and wisdom we entertain with our hearts…