Ladies, let me ask you,

do you ever feel like you are fighting to make the world see

that you are not simply a mindless body?

Like some days you have to explain–not just to random men,

but to your father, your brother, and even your husband–

that you have thoughts and hopes and feelings and dreams?

And that these don’t all revolve around children and dresses and pretty little trinkets?

And no, you don’t want to put on make up or fix your hair in perfectly formed ringlets.

All too soon those things will fade,

and so too will all the accolade.

The truth is that beneath the facade

is not something that will leave the masses awed–

no gentle soul or sweet long suffering hides here,

naught but the bitter weight of every tear.

A scream is burning away my heart,

and some days I want to tear the world apart.

If the clock keeps ticking away the empty time

I just might throw off all pretense of rhyme

and grammatical correctness and logical arguments,

and run off to the wild and spread my wings.

 

 

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Shutting up the”Should” with a Strategy

Have you ever approached life with the “should” method? It’s decidedly unuseful.

After returning home Friday from a business trip, I apparently didn’t have the energy to do the dishes. I’d set them in the sink or on the counter. Every time I walked in to the kitchen, I’d say “I should do the dishes.”

Didn’t happen until Monday, by which point the stack towered over me.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with postponing mundane things like housework, but I’m finding the more I throw around should, the less I actually accomplish. Including the things I actually want to do. Some of my usual should statements include:

  • I should write that down (hence my silence the past couple of weeks).
  • I should make that dessert.
  • I should lose weight.
  • I should make that DIY project.
  • I should volunteer for that.
  • I should wash the dishes, do the mopping. (Thank you, tiny mice.)

Well, I guess the list is rather endless. The problem is that there’s no action involved. No transformation. Once a task reaches the should-do list, I’ve found that I give it only a half-heated attempt, if I even try it at all.

Maybe I should rename the should-do list to the probably-won’t-do list… ehhh.

When my heart is silent and the only thing driving me is the internal urge to please someone, it shows. It shows in the way I kind of do it or don’t do it at all. Maybe I’m too scared to actually do it. I prefer living in that silent land of no applause, no apology. If what I do is mediocre, I won’t have to hide from the applause for a job well done or offer an apology for the mess I made. But, really, who cares?

My goal this summer is to silence the should by mapping out my strategy. When I hear myself starting to utter the dreaded s word, I’m going to define my expectations by asking some questions:

  • What is it?
  • Why should I do it?
  • When will I do it?
  • Who will help? Who will it help?
  • How will it be completed?

To the one who (I thought) broke my heart

Almost 10 years ago, I found pictures of you in a plastic tote.

tote; college students; storage

One of those 30 gallon ugly-blue ones that college students buy en masse for those summer moves back home.  Image

It was clear that you were attracted to him from the way you had your arms around him, that you wanted to be more than friends. Like a lionness spotting a competitor for the prey, I eyed you warily.  Continue reading

I’m still that girl

Life is change. Whether it’s going to college, getting married or getting out, having kids or losing one, or breaking an addiction, whenever we experience a life-altering transition we change. While we can’t go back to the way life was, we still remain who we are. Layers of complexity swirl into our personality.

I’m that little preschool-aged girl whose father said “you could go to college,” which coincided with a night mom read a few stories to me.

I’m that girl who doesn’t know her way around a closet. I surprise myself (and not in a good way).

I prefer a plate of spaghetti and sauce over pretty much anything else. Followed by a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a drizzle (who am I kidding, dump it on!) of hot fudge.

I prefer a long walk in the woods or a book and a chair to a night out.

I’d rather sit on the banks watching the ducks than interacting with my peers.

I don’t know my way in to — or out of — a conversation.

But I organize a shopping cart like it’s nobody’s business.

I’m that girl who fell in love even though she swore she never would.

And I watch through the blinds to see if it’s him turning down the street.

I’m that girl who keeps the door closed because the world is just too much sometimes.

And even though I still like being alone most of the time, I still want to be held.

 

Poetry Month: A Warrior’s Lament

The life it does burst and bloom

all around the silent tomb

to the west the grass is bathed in dew,

like us, unaware of impending doom.

 

The blade’s edge that we once knew,

and forever swore we would eschew,

now comes to spill their blood:

the reaper’s scythe to collect his due.

 

Thriving in the murkiest mud,

surviving the deepest flood…

Only a sharp cut will do,

to be the end of a yellow bud.

 

Let’s Get Real: Life Stinks Sometimes

Oh, let us count the ways:

  • neon blue highlighter on a white wall (seriously, nothing takes this off, I’m going to break out the white paint)
  • spending your bit of cash on that questionably-fresh bag of chips, which gets stuck on it’s way down
  • the husband’s out-of-town trips, be they through the week for business or a long weekend at the golf course
  • when all the best-laid, perfect-fit plans come crashing down because of one tertiary person’s stupid decision
  • that potential diagnosis spoken over you child but you have to wait months for assessment; and ironically it’s the one that your family of origin can’t seem to handle well
  • my constant failure to meet my own standards (the tub of blocks should be separated by brand for the love of all that is organized!)
  • and (drum roll, maestro!)… my bad attitude

Since connecting (after decades of being sheltered and self-imposed seclusion), I am realizing how messed up life is for everyone. God can still reveal wonderful truths to us in the mess but sometimes we don’t take the time to latch on to them. We continue to stumble through in the tried-and-untrue ways and feel the pressure. I’ve learned a couple of other things:

  • When our minds and hearts are in chaos, we must hand over those emotions to God or we risk causing more havoc when we share our woundedness with others.
  • We can’t pretend to be something we aren’t, but God… he can replace our jerkiness with joy.

Are you trying to handle situations and reactionary emotions or are you handing them over to God?

Most times I probably look like the person trying to shimmy the vending machine around to make the snacks fall out. And when I can’t get it to work out (and I never can), it’s a kick-the-stupid-thing kind of frustrating. When I don’t have answers or solutions, I remind myself (repeatedly) that God does and I should make space for the proper authority before I destroy something. And we just need to hang in there

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus ~Philippians 1:6b (NASB)

[Image source]

All that Glitters: 3 Easy Steps to Managing the Home

  1. Hire a cleaning service
  2. Schedule a visit from a home decluttering/organizing professional
  3. Find a personal assistant

Voilà! I have no idea if those will help because I haven’t tried them. When you’re living real life, professionals aren’t always in the budget. As you may have noticed, household management can be difficult.  I have tried to streamline the process through DIY organizing bins, checklists, meal plans, and schedules. It’s so much more fun to find or create and print and post the projects and spreadsheets than it is to keep up with them.

Like this cleaning schedule.  Inspired by someone else’s lovely chart, I created my own and posted it on the wall near the kitchen sink, you know, so I could determine what to do for the day while washing the morning dishes. It gained approval from visitors but let’s just say it’s no longer on the wall.

That’s why you’re not going to see many of these types of posts from me. I’m writing what I know (though I’m thinking of branching into up and coming sci-fi/dystopian parenthood scene). If something has worked long-term for me, I may share it, but it’s come about through a process of trial and error (like this list developed during my four years as a work from home mom, or WFHM (pronounced waf-um). And what I found to work may not in three-months’ time if a curve ball is thrown at schedule.

Let’s just stop self-flagellating with these lists. Yes, it’s tough to stop when someone is posting about how much their toddler’s behavior has improved after using a specific behavior chart (for a few days). Or when you see images of the sparking sinks and smiles. We think to ourselves “I want that.” That loving relationship. That clean house. That well-behaved child. That happiness. And we can be blinded to the beauty already in our lives.

We (and by “we” I mean “I”) have to remember that these are only the briefest of snapshots of cultivated scenes.

 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” ~Exodus 20:17 (NASB)

We don’t know what effort went into producing these charts and steps. For all we know, that poor woman was just pulling her hair out in frustration and hasn’t showered in a week. Or the only time she looked at her husband this week was during a counseling session. Or she’s so elated to find something that got her toddler to sleep for 30 minutes that she has to use that half hour to tell the world about it. Things are sometimes not what they seem…

All that glitters is not gold (a play on Tolkien’s “all that is gold does not glitter” from The Fellowship of the RingImage Source

But before this becomes a dirt-slinging session, let me get back to the point: We are not living our neighbors’ lives. Nor are they living ours.

But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. ~Galatians 6:4 (NASB)

We have to remember that it’s not necessarily the person but the source behind them. I know that any good that comes from my direction is a result of Christ.

why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? […] And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. ~Acts 3:11-16 (NASB)

A [Printable] Prayer for Your Sons

As a MOB (mother of boys), I seek God, I look for tips and encouragement, I need help! If you have spent more than a few minutes around a little boy, you know. You know all the wonderful things they can be. The (frequent and repetitive) questions. The antics. The climbing. The activeness of them. If you’re an introverted mom, well, they can be a lot to handle sometimes.

Recently, I ran across this article published years ago. I wrote down the prayer and set it on my dresser. You know those moments when you just want to lock yourself in your closet with some chocolate? Well, I’ve found that’s the perfect time to repeat that prayer and turn my tears to God. He’ll understand what you’re saying, despite the mouthful of chocolate.

You gave me this child, Lord. Again, for this new day, I’m giving him back to You. I’m available for anything You want me to do to join You in what You’re doing in his life, whether You ask me to speak up or remain silent, to apologize, to forgive, to sacrifice, or even change.

Amen

child

I didn’t sign up for this… life truths while living with little people

  • It’s not as easy as some people make it look.
  • The pace of life speeds up but you slow way down, as in you’re only getting half that load of laundry finished today.
  • You learn the meanings of the saying “Silence is Golden.”
  • No one’s going to know that you spent 30 minutes scrapping peanut butter off the front glass door (true story) but they’re sure going to notice if you don’t.
  • Speaking of smudges, expect everything that’s within 2-3 feet of floor level (depending on their reach) to be constantly smeared with, well, you probably don’t really want to go too deep into that…
  • And I’m pretty sure I’m staring at a spot of food on the ceiling. Apparently no place is too far out of reach.

AND

  • You have the opportunity to discover new facets of your own personality.
  • You start learning about what’s really important to you; for me it’s my faith and how much I really do need to turn to God because these tiny humans can drive you crazy.
  • You may even understand your parents a little better.
  • You discover how much you can really love another human, and at the same time be incredibly frustrated when they dump a box of cereal out on the couch (classic).