Five Minute Friday: Finish

It’s that time of the week again.  Time to team up with my tribe as we write together for five minutes (just five minutes) and hit “publish” without over editing or over thinking.  If you want to play along, you can find all the details here.  And now, let’s write!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activitiy under heaven.”  Ecc. 3:1

She tries to hold my hand, and I tell her she doesn’t have to.  Yes, we’re in an amusement park with thousands of other people and yes, she’s a bit on the small side, but it’s hot outside, really hot.  Both our hands are sweaty and gross, and sometimes Moms are just all touched out.  So I let go of her hand and we keep walking toward the next big roller coaster.

But 30 seconds later her hand is reaching for mine again, and I tell her it’s OK, you don’t have to hold my hand.  You’re a big girl now and I know you won’t get lost.  Her hand drops and then it’s back again a few seconds later.  Finally my “big” 10 year old girl says, “But I want to hold your hand. I like being close to you.”

When my kids were babies I was constantly reading up on the next stage of their lives.  Part of it was curiosity, part of it was wanting to know what to expect, and if I’m honest, part of it was anticipation.  I wanted to get on to the next thing.  Learning to sit up?  Check.  What’s next?  Maybe I can give her a head start. (and the Mama competition thing deserves a post of its very own)

But in my eagerness to move things along, I didn’t always fully appreciate the season they were in, and I didn’t always give them time to finish one stage before hurrying into a new one.

Lots of people write about enjoying your children where they are and slowing down to smell the roses, and those are easy words to write but they can be hard words to live out.  In a world that seems to be stuck on fast forward, where precociousness and speed are applauded, it goes against the flow to encourage your 10-year-old girls to play with dolls or watch Sofia the First (mine also likes Max and Ruby) or wear modest age-appropriate clothing.  Or maybe even hold your hand in public.

I don’t want this stage to end, and I especially don’t want it to end prematurely just because I’m in a hurry.  I hope she continues to want to hold my hand in public, even when it’s not comfortable for me because of the heat or whatever.  It’s worth the discomfort to know that she wants to be close to me.

Five Minute Friday: Bloom

I just love this community!  If you don’t already know, there’s an ah-mazing group of writers who link up every week here, at Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog, where we write for five minutes on the same one-word prompt.  It’s real and it’s raw, and you should check it out.

He called me and told me that his boss wanted to see him at 4:30, and it was a Friday afternoon.  My stomach sank like a stone in the river, hard and fast.  I used to be an HR Manager, and I knew what that meant, and it wasn’t a good thing.

I was right and for once in my life, I wasn’t happy about it.  And if I wasn’t happy, well, he was devastated.  So much of a man’s self-worth is wrapped up in their God-given instinct to provide for their families and to have this job jerked out from under him this way, the job that had moved us three hours away from family and friends and all we knew, it knocked us right off balance.

What do you do when it’s Friday night and your world has been turned upside down and you can’t do anything about it?  We decided to rent a movie, one some friends had recommended called “Facing the Giants”.  ANYthing to take our minds off the uncertainty.  Because what were we supposed to do?  We knew God moved us here because His hand was all over the circumstances.  My first instinct was to run back “home” to Tennessee, where we came from.  That’s where my family was, our church, our friends, and we hadn’t been gone even a year yet.

So we watched this movie, and the acting was terrible.  Awful!  But after a while we started paying attention to the message and we didn’t notice the less-than-Oscar-worthy acting.  In one scene, there is a gentleman who regularly comes into the local high school and prays over the students and staff there, walking through the halls and touching each locker.  One day he comes into the office of the school’s football coach, who is facing a similar job crisis to our own and tells the coach that God has a message for him.  In part, the message is this:  Until God moves you, you are to bloom where you are planted. 

We felt that message was meant for us too, and that unless and until God moved us, we needed to stay in South Carolina.  To make a long story short, God provided for us in a very God-like way, and we learned to trust Him more.  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Move: It’s a Done Deal

Since October of last year we’ve been planning to move.  We bought a house, we prepared our children as much as possible, we gave a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, we packed far too much junk and hauled it 6 hours north and tried to cram it into a house with 200 less square feet than the one we left.  And then two days later, we left on an airplane for a visit with family in Wisconsin.  Yes, I don’t know what we were thinking either.  We’ve started unpacking boxes but there are so. many. more left that they must be hiding in closets and multiplying like rabbits or wire clothes hangers.  And so many of these boxes are filled with things that I don’t know how to sort or where to place or even if we really need them anymore.  (I’m guessing we don’t but my inner packrat can’t chuck a whole box without at least looking to make sure something very important isn’t hiding amongst the old school workbooks and dried up ink pens and cords to things we don’t own anymore. )

This is my office right now:

IMG_3419It’s a decent sized space and I LOVE the orange color on the walls!  It’s not quite University of Tennessee Orange, but I can pretend.  My desk is facing the opposite wall so I don’t see those boxes unless I turn around, so I just don’t turn around.  Procrastinators of the world, unite!  Eventually.  When you feel like it.  (That needs to be on a t-shirt)

I have a different plan for our home this time around.  I lived in a house in South Carolina for 8 years, and I was hesitant to put any nails in the wall because “what if we need to sell it one day?”  I never added the backsplash I so desperately wanted behind my stove for the same reason.  But not this time.  This time I will turn our house into OUR HOME, a place that feels comfortable and welcoming, with all the personal touches I put off in the last house.  I will not strive for perfection, but will try to find the beauty in what is.

And the first project?  Ceiling fans!  I could not believe this house did not have them already.  Virginia is not blistering hot, but with all the bedrooms upstairs we could sure use some air movement up there.  Not to mention that I like to sleep with the noise of a fan and having one on the ceiling means I don’t need a boxy one taking up space in the floor.

So what about all the living, breathing beings that made the trip?  Well, one cat is doing fine but the other one does not agree with where we placed the litter boxes so he is staging a protest in the most unbecoming and frustrating manner.  My husband had been living here since March, so he’s just happy to have all his family under one roof again, although he’d be happier if all the boxes were emptied.   My youngest girl is settling in at her new gym and asking when her teammates can come home and play with her, plus she’s already made a friend down the street and they are together nearly every day.  My older one is getting back into fencing and we are looking into finding her a voice teacher.  Both of them are registered for school but still a little apprehensive about actually going to school this fall.

And me?  Well, I admit I had big plans wrapped up in this move.  I was going to set up my office and write.  I was going to blog, and start promoting my proofreading business and (gasp) try to see if I might even have a book in me.  And even though I knew that living in a new house in a new state would not make me a different person, there was a little bit of me that hoped it would spark something.  You know, the whole “new start” idea.  But there is nothing I can change about myself now that I couldn’t have done differently then, is there?  I’m not sure how I thought all the turmoil of moving would inspire me to all of a sudden be more productive, but there you go.  Now, when my kids go back to school in September, then maybe I’ll have time… (Procrastinators of the world… well, you know the drill)

I don’t expect the process of making friends to come quickly for me.  I’m a little shy at first, and I fully expect the “trying on” of friendships to go on a while, because you won’t always find the best fit right at the beginning.  It’s a lot like dating, really.  I left some truly amazing friends back in South Carolina, but if I had never left Tennessee, I would never have met them.  I know that will be true here too, that I will meet some wonderful friends and think about how I would have never met them if we hadn’t moved, and realize how much I would have missed in not knowing them.  But it will take time to find the kind of friends who will shop and have lunch with me or come over for dinner at a moment’s notice, pick up my kids from school for me, tell me the truth when I ask how they like my haircut, and go on vacation with me.  But God, in His wisdom, gave me a little head start by placing a few lovely local ladies in my path before I even moved here.  Trish and John brought us dinner and helped us unpack, and Hope (who I met online) showed up completely out of the blue to welcome us in person and bring us a lovely houseplant as a housewarming gift.  So far all the neighbors I have met are nice too.

So now we begin to settle in, which I see as basically a series of “firsts”.  First time having friends over for dinner, first July 4th, first birthday, first day of school, first Christmas.  This?  It’s all going to be just fine.  God got us here and I have to believe that He has it all in His control.

Just don’t ask me when I’m going to be finished unpacking boxes.  You probably won’t like my answer. :-)


Five Minute Friday: Release

It feels like years, not weeks, since I’ve participated in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, but here I am.  Seriously, it’s a gathering of some of the best writers on the web that you’ve never heard of.  Want to play along?  Find the information you need here.  And now, let’s go!


It feels like I’ve been holding my breath.  LIke I wasn’t even aware I was holding it until I let it out.  I’ve been saving up all the worries and dire predictions of doom and gloom, all the private agonies of what might be, holding onto them like lungsful of stale air, and I only just let them go.

Like my concerns about the moving company we chose. 

Like my desperate desire that my children find friends in our new town.  And that I do!

My worries that the kids would react badly, and I mean really temper-tantrum-throwing badly, to the move and I wouldn’t know what to do or say.

And then there are all the smaller ones, like where will I put everything?  And how can I find time to unpack boxes when I’m trying to wrangle kids and get to appointments?

But oh, the sweet release when I just let that breath out.  And strangely, I find that when I’m not holding in all the “old air”, I have space to breathe in something fresh and new.

Excitement for a new adventure and exploring our new area.

Delight in our new house and the potential in it.  I’m determined to make it a home.  (I’ve been reading The Nester’s book and I can’t wait to get started)

And best of all, the confidence of relying on a God who has it ALL in His hands.  He’s got this.  This move was His idea, and He has all the details under control.  No need to hold my breath waiting and worrying.  God’s got it.



Five Minute Friday: Hands

It’s (almost) Friday again, and that means it’s time to meet up with the most awesome, brave writers on the planet to write freely for five minutes.  No overthinking or overediting, just the flow of words onto the page/screen.  Come and play with us!  Find all the details here.

Isn’t it funny how so many things can be used for good or for evil?  She never thought too much about that though.  She was way too busy raising her children to sit and think deep thoughts for very long.

Busy trying to make a house into a home, and keep the family fed, and the clothes clean, and everyone’s teeth brushed.  There were a lot of “gotta-do’s” hammering down on her head and thrumming through her veins.  And sometimes those children could seem more like stumbling blocks than blessings.

And she’d catch herself getting frustrated, and sometimes that frustration would build up and build up until she found herself seeing red, and she’d use her hand to smack one of those children on the bottom.  Unless she missed, in which case it might be a thigh.  Later she might feel remorse for losing her temper and causing her children pain, but in the heat of the moment all she felt was release.  Shameful, but true.

But the day came when she reached for a child in love, to give a hug, and that child flinched away from her.  Flinched.  And she looked at her hands – the hands that had dried that child’s tears, changed its diapers, and soothed the fevers – and she saw that they were now something to be feared.  She wondered at the confusion this must have caused her children, never knowing if the touch of her hands held love or pain, and if they (and she) could be trusted. 

So she resolved to find a better way, and with God’s help, she did.  It took some time and a lot of prayer (and Mommy time-outs), but her children eventually learned that her hands could be trusted to guide them gently but firmly, instead of always inflicting pain. 

She also learned not to be ruled by her to-do list, but that’s a story for another day….

Move: The Final Countdown

Lying in wait in the corner of my bedroom.

Lying in wait in the corner of my bedroom.

(So are you hearing this song in your head now?  I am.)

It seems like this move has taken  This is how we planned it, though, because we believed it would be best for our girls to have as much time as possible to adjust to the idea AND so they could finish the school year here.  And, as is typical for me, I’ve lollygagged most of the time cushion away and now that we’re into the single digits (!!) away from moving, I start to feel the urgency catching up to me.

I’m not sure what possessed us to plan the move so that the final onslaught of packing and preparation happened during the first week of summer vacation for our girls, but here we are.  Why in the world did I think that I could manage packing AND the neverending waves of “I’m bored” simultaneously?

So for the past couple of weeks we’ve been packing boxes in hyperdrive and decluttering left and right.  Apparently we had a lot of stuff because despite all the packing and decluttering, it still seems like nothing is missing from the house.   And let’s not even talk about all the food that had to be thrown out because it had been buried in the back of the freezer.  Makes me ill just thinking about the waste.IMG_3191

But it seems that more than just the urgency to get things done has caught up to me.  The inevitable grief that comes from leaving behind what is known and comfortable is creeping in, too, running right alongside the anticipation of a new adventure while the two jockey for position.

Our girls are at tender ages for such a move, we know.  The younger one had a meltdown a couple of months ago but seems to have accepted what’s coming.  The older one is struggling a bit more.  She was nearly in tears before she even got to school on the last day.  Since then (a whopping five days ago) she seems to be walking around in a mood of waiting for the ax to fall.  Not exactly a barrel of monkeys, but not weeping and gnashing of teeth either.  I can deal with this, I believe.

I find myself counting the “lasts” though.  Last time I’ll wake up in my bed in this house on a Tuesday.  Last trip to our SC pediatrician.  Last trip to the local orthodontist.  Last service with our church.  Last time at our vet’s office.  Last visit to Zaxby’s and Krystal, neither of which exist up there.  Last blog post from SC.  There’s sadness, sure. We’ve made a lot of memories here.

But there’s also anticipation.  First trip to our new local library.  Finding our way to the girls’ new schools. Meeting new friends at the neighborhood pool.  Making our new house into a real home, one that fits our family and reflects our collective personality.   Discovering new favorite restaurants and coffee houses.  Visiting the Farmers’ Market.  Enjoying our newly acquired proximity to the beach.  The comfort of having the whole family under the same roof all the time.

The past seven months of divided family life have been a challenge for all of us. It seems like the girls and I would get adjusted to our way of doing things, and then Dad would come home for the weekend and things would change for a couple of days.  He missed a lot of their activities,especially the school things that tended to happen during the week.  He did his best to keep up via phone calls and Facetime, but it still wasn’t the same.  I was overwhelmed because I was working and being a single parent all week, and he was lonely and missing his family.  The irony does not escape me, as I am usually the one who is desperate for “alone time” – the very thing he detests, and he thrives on the togetherness that sometimes wears me out.  Our marriage relationship has suffered some too, but we married each other for better or for worse and if this is as “worse” as it gets, we can survive it.  In a way it will be fun to get to know each other again after these months of time apart.

So we continue moving forward (and Northward) this week, stumbling as we go, but still making slow progress.  Because we believe that God is behind this move and if He is for us, nothing can stand in our way.  And if He’s in it, that must mean that He has a plan for us in Virginia, and that will be the most exciting discovery of all.




The Power of Encouragement

I’m moving.  Yeah, I know I talk about it all the time but it’s a big deal to me.  I’m sure you’ll be glad when the move is done, then I can drone on about trying to get adjusted to our new town. :-)

Moving is hard, in so many ways.  First, there’s the physical aspect of packing and moving an entire household of goods into a new space, figuring out where everything should go.  Then there’s the emotional aspect of leaving what you know and heading out into the unknown, and that’s enough to set anyone on edge.  If there are children involved, you can multiply the emotional stress by twice the number of kids involved, because they stress a lot about movingAnd finally there’s the endless to-do list, which also includes the “lasts”:  last doctor visit, last day of school, last haircut, etc. before we leave.

When we moved here from Knoxville, we had some awesome friends and family who helped us through the process.  They were a physical presence who helped me with the kids, with sorting our belongings and all the detritus that comes with ending life in one town so you can start over in another.  One family even came with us when we moved and helped us put our new house in order.  Pretty awesome, huh?  And then they went home and we were left with telephone calls as our only contact.  (This was before the age of Facebook)  I felt isolated, and I couldn’t remember anymore how people made friends.  That sounds weird, but I had lived in one place for so long, I had kind of forgotten how it’s done.  I started to worry I’d be friendless forever.  I’m not, because God sent me friends at just the right time but there for a while I wondered.  (And now I’m leaving them – augh!)

And now here we are moving again.  But this time it’s a little different.  This time I have a cheering section, and they live in my computer.  I have found an online community that lifts me up in prayer and lifts my spirits when I start to think I can’t do it anymore.  When the fear of the unknown hits, they remind me that God is in this move, and He will provide.  They remind me that I’m going to be just fine, my kids are going to be just fine, and we will get through this.  They tell me that things might even be (gasp!) better for our family in the new place.  Somehow, just at the right time, I hear the sound of encouragement, and it keeps me going.

I cannot overstate the importance of a positive word when it feels like life is overwhelming.  It can be the difference between hope and hopelessness, courage and despair.  A simple “I believe in you” is a lifeline to someone drowning in fear.  The kindness of asking “how are you doing today?” and then listening to the answer is like water to a thirsty soul.  A note in the mail can be just the thing to refresh a weary outlook.

It doesn’t take a long time, and you may never know the importance of your phone call, or email, or card, or just a kind word.  But the other person does, and it matters