Thursday, December 31, 2009

looking forward

I caught a rerun of Oprah the other day where she interviewed Stephanie Nielson. A mom of four, she was in a horrible plane crash in 2008 that left her with third and fourth-degree burns on over 80% of her body. Her story is amazing and heartbreaking and so inspiring. I immediately sought out her blog and have spent every free minute reading it.

She has inspired me to be more present with my children. I realize how often I say the words, "In a minute" to Eli. He plays wonderfully by himself, so it's easy to sit nearby and work on the computer, clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, and pay the bills while he plays. I am ashamed of how often I treat moments with my kids as chores instead of privileges. After spending time in Stephanie's world, I realize what a blessing it is to be able to pick up my children and snuggle them, to bathe them, to prepare their lunches, to take them to Target, to read books with them. All of the mundane, repetitive tasks of the day take on new significance in the light of someone else's struggle. I am determined to be more "in the moment" with them - play trucks and bake cookies with Eli, play peek-a-boo and read board books with Lucas. In the blink of an eye, my babies will be gone. I want to hold on while I can.

Stephanie's blog has also challenged me to treat my homemaking as an act of service. I love being a stay-at-home-mom, and in theory, I love being a homemaker. I have grand ideas for organizing and cleaning and cooking and baking and sewing and crafting... and almost never have the follow through. I want to create a haven for my family, a home full of order and traditions and freshly baked bread. I want my children to look back and remember how mom made homemade pizza every Friday and gingerbread houses at Christmastime; how we tended to our family garden together and built forts in the living room; how she kept our home neat and organized and running efficiently; how she did everything with a special touch, just to show us how much she cared about us.

I encourage you to visit Stephanie's blog here: Be inspired.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

looking backward

I love the turn of a new year. No matter the circumstances on December 31, on January 1 I feel newly full of hope and promise for the months ahead. This being a milestone year (the end of the no-name decade), I have to take a moment to reflect on the journey of the Oh-Ohs. The single-digits? The "aughts?" Anyway, here are the highlights and lowlights of the past decade:

College graduation.
Never mind that I would never actually use the degree;
it was still a great achievement.

Married my bestest buddy and my first and only true love.
Ten years later, he's still the guy who makes my heart happy.

Idaho, Indiana, Oregon. All of them home.

What do you do when you realize
that the picture you had in your head five years ago
doesn't look anything like the reality you face?
To say that we have struggled is an understatement.
This I do know: God's grace is sufficient. God sustains. Always.

An embarrassingly short teaching career, but those two-and-a-half years
spent shaping the minds of first graders brought me so much joy and fulfillment.

I miss the classroom. I hope to go back there one day.

Ben and I both lost our last remaining grandparent in this decade.
So strange how an entire generation can disappear.
Then everything shifts, whether you're ready for it or not.

Suddenly, our parents are the elderly and we're the grownups.
We still feel like kids.

Oh, my babies. My precious little boys.
I'm constantly astonished by how much I love them.
Being a mother has brought me unspeakable joy.

What can I say about the goodness of the Lord?
I have been overwhelmed by His loving, merciful,
unshakeable presence on the brightest days and darkest nights.
I have learned how to long for and allow for
Him to rule and reign in my heart and in my home.
He is with me.
He is unchanging.
He wants me to dream big dreams.
He delights in me.

Oh... how He loves me so.