Leftovers

One evening we decided to take a family walk around our neighborhood.  So all 7 of us, (yes, we’ve become one of those families that includes our dog in the number count) hit the sidewalks to go “exploring” or better known to  mom as “getting out of the house!!”.   The kids were running to keep up with the dog and chattering away.  My husband and I walked behind the brood, making sure no one was running out into the street or messing with someone’s lawn ornaments.  He took my hand and I realized something… when was the last time we held hands??  It actually felt kinda strange.  I’m used to hands in mine that are much smaller and usually pulling me in another direction.  But a hand larger than mine, simply holding mine because they wanted to… what’s this??

As we walked I asked him, “Do you ever feel like we’re just…. “eh” as a couple?  Cause sometimes I feel like I’m so busy wrangling the kids, keeping the house together, I don’t have anything left for anyone else.”  His response, “Yeah, I do.  Let’s face it, we are getting each others leftovers right now.”… I have to honest.  I had two reactions to this response.  First I was frustrated that that’s how it is right now.  Second, I was relieved that I’m not the only one feeling this way.  It was almost like, “Hey, I’m not the only one that’s totally overwhelmed with parenthood and can’t seem to find any energy beyond that!”

It’s amazing to me that ANYONE keeps a marriage together after raising kids!  They take so much out of you!  Life can be full of conversations that start but never get completed because a fight needs broken up,  quiet times that are interrupted by that child coming down the stairs who SHOULD be sleeping,  the date nights that don’t happen because you can’t find a sitter… the list goes on!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband!  But sometimes I can go an entire day or more and not have a complete conversation with him… we wave at each other over the dinner table, bump into each other in the middle of the night or find ourselves prisoners in a mini van with 4 monsters (we created, mind you) in the back!

Like everything, I’m guessing it’s a season.. a time in our life when this is just how it is.  A time when you just pull up your boot straps and keep at it.  Taking those small moments to look at each other and say, ‘What the heck? Are you as exhausted as I am?”…  A wink across the table, holding hands on a walk, a text that says, ‘I love you”,… small things that somehow have a BIG impact in a life overdosed on the every day stuff.  This is the approach I’m taking.  We don’t have money or energy for the BIG stuff unfortunately… But I think we’ll be ok.  I can imagine that  in the next season of life, we’ll look at each other and say, “Hey, you look familiar to me, wanna go out on a date?”… 😉

Who is God?

We all have those people in our lives we don’t know all that well, but we have an idea of who they are based on others opinions, what we see from the outside or what’s we’ve decided on them based on our own ideas.  I know most times, when I get to know them, my first opinion was wrong.  I realize I didn’t know them as well as I thought.

So lately, I’ve been questioning who God is.  There have been some really tragic, hard stuff happening around me and it leaves me wondering where’s God in all this.  Yeah, we all know bad stuff happens in life but some people, it seems like they get MORE than their share!  So how does this go with who I know God to be?  How could a family lose 3 kids in a car accident? How could a husband and wife lose their brand new baby? How can a wife and her 3 little kids lose their husband/ daddy in an instant?  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  And it messes with my head, “Maybe I’m next!  When is that bomb going to drop?”  How can a loving God allow this stuff to happen?  Why would he allow this to happen?

Who is God really?  Maybe my knowledge of God’s character is not really based on who he is.  Maybe it’s based on what I’ve learned in church, what I’ve heard other people say or what my OWN idea of who I think God should be.  What if my idea of God is not who he really is. What if I only have a small picture of him when he’s SO much more than I ever imagined?  Who is God?

In an effort to remedy this issue, my first thought was, “There’s got to be a book out there that deals with this issue!!”.. Of course there’s a book out there!  It’s called the BIBLE!  (Christian education at it’s finest!..lol) His character is ALL through that book.  His story of who he is, was and will be.  It’s all in there!  So that’s where I’m going.  I’m starting there.  And asking God to show me who he is.  To break down all the preconceived ideas, to show me the truth.   I want to know who God is and I want HIM to show me. He’s promised to reveal who he is when we search.  I’m relying on that promise.   Am I excited about this? Yes!  Am I nervous about what I’ll find? Yes! Will I find that I didn’t really know who God was? Sadly, most likely, yes…  But I’m tired of relying on what I know.  I want to see Him though HIS eyes.   And I want his words to reveal to me who he really is, was and will be.

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:13 ~The Message.

Guard your Heart and Mind

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last couple years.  Life has a way of bringing out stuff you need to learn.  One thing I’ve found is that I feel things very deeply.  When I hear about something tragic, sad, awful.. I feel it on a very personal level, even if I don’t know who the people are it happened to.  I immerse myself in it and it consumes my thoughts, feelings.. everything.  I find myself depressed and disengaged in my own life.

For a long time, I couldn’t put a name to it.  I just thought I obsessed about stuff, which on a certain level,  I do.   A good friend said to me, “Jodi, there’s nothing wrong with you, you just feel things very deeply.”   It was like a light bulb went on.  YES that explains it perfectly!!  So now what? How do I keep myself from going down this path of emotional empathy?  Some people can see, hear about things and shut it off… I can’t… I’ve never been able to.

There was a lady I knew through a friend whose son was dying of cancer.  She would send email updates and we had been praying for him for a while.  I asked my friend if she had gotten email updates lately and she said yes.  So I wondered why I hadn’t been getting them.  She said, “I didn’t forward them to you.  I know your tender heart wouldn’t  need to be filled with those details.”  Again, a light bulb moment.  It was ok if I don’t know the details.   It doesn’t make me any less concerned, empathetic, loving.. whatever.  It makes me smart.  I KNOW myself, I know what I can handle and what I can’t.

Last Friday’s events were horrific.  I heard the news on the radio in the afternoon and I just cried.  Having 3 Elementary school age kids (4th, 2nd and Kindergarten), it really struck home.  Picking them up from school was emotional.   My mind couldn’t comprehend such an awful act.  I knew I was going to have to really protect my heart and mind with this.  I could really emotionally go down hill very fast.  So I limited watching internet updates on it.  I didn’t watch TV specials about it.  I can’t.  I won’t.  If for a minute I let my mind be consumed, I’ll be wrapped in a well of deep empathetic grief.   Does my heart  ache when I think about it… absolutely.  I don’t know any mom who ISN’T effected.  But I know my limits, I know what I can handle.  And my responsibility to myself and my family is to guard my heart and mind so that I can engage in the life God’s gifted ME with.  We pray for the families.  As mom’s we mourn with them.  But it’s ok if we disengage ourselves from the details.  Yes, it really is ok.  In fact as a mom, I think it’s essential. And with God’s help, I’m doing my best to remain engaged in my own life while still grieving with mom’s all around the world.

Proverbs 4.23 “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”  The Message Bible

Ode to the evil washed jeans…

There are some things in life I will NEVER understand.  Regardless of how old I get or how much life experience I have.  It never ceases to amaze me how in 24 hours a woman’s body and a pair of jeans can change so drastically.  Let me explain.

So one day, I’m wearing a pair of jeans and they fit very nicely, almost a little roomy.   I’m feeling all cute and having a fabulous “skinny’ day (which my 5ft. 1 inch frame will NEVER actually allow).   Yeah, my self confidence it doing pretty good too… it’s a good day.

Next day comes.. and the jeans have been washed (yes washing jeans is the terminator of feeling skinny).  So I take that awesome feeling in those jeans and put them on again… WAIT a minute.  Are these the same jeans? Yep.   What the heck happened?  I mean, I know they’ve been washed but seriously?? Those comfy jeans have turned into something I have to stretch out before I wear.  You know that stretching/ pulling on the waist band before they go on, just to try to give it that extra stretch.   My husband saw me doing this one time and said, “What the heck are you doing?  Are you trying to rip apart your jeans?”  Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do (eye roll)… men!… move along honey, nothing to see here!

So what  about those times when said jeans HAVEN’T been washed and they are tighter the next day!  What’s up with that?  Yeah, yeah, water retention, gas, ovulation… blah, blah, blah!  It’s infuriating! I can just imagine when God created woman he said, “Ok, here’s how it’s going to go.  I know  they will naturally struggle with body image, so let’s just make it more interesting and make their body change on a daily basis.”..lol… Sometimes I think my body changes just to make me mad!  On a day I really need to feel skinny it rebels and it looks like I’m smuggling something in my waistband!

Now I have people saying to me, “Jodi, you’ve had 4 kids.  You look great for having 4 kids!”… what the heck kind of compliment is THAT??? lol… what is says to me is, “You don’t look great, but you DO look great for having your body change to the size of a small blimp, 4 times”… LOL!

So back to the jeans… I sit here today, wearing those washed jeans.  And YES, I did stretch out the waistband before putting them on!  So today isn’t a  feeling skinny kinda day… I think I’m ok with that…. for now.  Besides, I can always fall back on telling myself, “Hey, you look good for having 4 kids!”… LOL   Today I’ve decided to be the one to rebel on my body by wearing my washed, I’m smuggling something in my waistband,  “skinny” jeans with pride… or until they get too uncomfortable and I run to the warm friendship of my yoga pants.. 😉  Now, Yoga pants…………

Pursuit of What?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pursuit of excellence.  Excellence with my kids, excellence in my home (keeping it clean enough to live in), excellence in church related things, excellence in sports… the list goes on. What does it really mean to pursue excellence?  What does the end result look like? Is there even an end result? As I’ve spent time thinking, I’ve realized several things.

First, your definition of excellence and my definition  can be very different.  For example.  You may come to my house, look at my definition of excellence  and think, ‘Oh wow, that’s not what I’d consider clean to be.”  But does that make my excellence any less than yours?   I don’t believe so, it’s just different.  Why is different bad? It shouldn’t be.   It should be exactly what it is… different.  Now does that mean I should just sit back and not try to better myself and my “excellence”? NO.  That’s why it’s called the PURSUIT of excellence.  Which brings me to my second point.

When did the pursuit of excellence become more about the excellence than the actual pursuit of it?  When I think back on certain situations in my life, it was the learning and growing THROUGH those situations that impacted my life the most.  It’s the pursuit that brings about maturity, understanding, wisdom…. If you skip the pursuit and try to get straight to the excellence, you’ve missed something.  I think about my son playing soccer.  They have lost every game so far.. lost BADLY.  Now, as a parent, that bugs me.   I want my kid to experience winning!  However, I’ve also learned that he can pursue excellence through this losing time.  He’s learning that you have to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it.  How to work hard just because you HAVE to.  And to do your best No Matter What.  Is he pursuing excellence? Absolutely!  Does it FEEL excellent? Not at all.  But it rarely does when you focus more on the process than the product.

Thirdly, does the pursuit of excellence leave casualties in my wake?  Sometimes I get so frustrated about my house being messed up or things everywhere that I do leave casualties all over the place.  My kids come home and ‘home’ doesn’t feel like a place where they can relax, grab a blanket and watch some TV… why?  Because they become too concerned about messing mom’s house up…. yeah, this happens way too much!  My pursuit of my definition of excellence in my house leaves my kids feeling not relaxed in their own home.  Now let me be clear.  I believe there is a time for cleaning up and not letting kids go crazy all over the place.  I just go too far the other way and need to let loose.  Or as my sister-in-law says, “It will clean up.”  She’s good at this, I see the mess and all I think about it the cleanup!..lol.  If my pursuit of excellence leaves hurt people, hurt feelings, then perhaps I’m focusing on the excellence and not the journey to get there.

So where does this leave me? I haven’t, by far, discovered the answers to all of this.  But I do believe the beginning of change is acknowledging where you fall short.  And while I may get it wrong more than I get it right, I’m pursuing to be excellent in my PURSUIT of excellence..lol… Because how lonely is it to have supposedly achieved “excellence” but be alone on my pedestal???  I’d rather have my feet on the  ground, hashing it out with everyone else! 🙂