Spring always seems to bring feelings of hope – this year perhaps more than ever. There’s an excitement and vulnerability in feeling things start to change, but knowing it won’t always be quick or controllable. Life seems so miraculous in the spring after everything seemed so dead.
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’” Genesis 28:16
It was a hard winter. I kept finding myself bewildered about the time-warp that 2020 felt like. It seemed like it never happened in some ways, yet on the other side I was barely holding it together. I felt unmotivated, unuseful, and not good enough. I was living a just-get-through-one-day-at-a-time life, which is hard for me to give myself permission and forgiveness for. The steps forward were hard to do, and harder still since they seemed so small. I’d never quite struggled with feeling unworthy of the Lord so much, but this winter those thoughts crept in a lot.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” This quote brings a sense of peace. It usually reminds me that He’s there even when bad things happen. It strikes me more deeply lately.
I’ve noted that a default mindset around my spiritual “success” is sort of in terms of closer or farther from the Lord. When I feel I’ve been slacking in attention to Him, self-betterment, use, etc., I seek the strength and guidance to turn back toward Him again. It seems to me that there’s something really necessary about that way of thinking – about realizing that our choices and motivations are either for or against the Lord, and can’t really be somewhere in the middle. However, though we need to take responsibility for our efforts, the reality is that He is still there no matter how far we feel. No amount of failure will find us without Him.
Continue reading He Is Here
It was a very ordinary Sunday. A depressingly ordinary, grey, rainy day in Covid February. And yet I went to bed feeling uplifted and alight with a glow of gratitude for how blessed our life is. What made this possible?
I borrowed from a friend the brilliant idea of writing down daily gratitudes, and for the 28th of February, that meant 28 gratitudes. 28 gratitudes noted and written down throughout the day. And it pretty much felt like a magic trick. The simple, the everyday, the small moments, when noted altogether, somehow took on a surpassing sweetness. I found myself looking for the good moments, and in the end had to delete some of my previous items because I had well over 28!
Here is the list I came up with:
1. The baby only waking to eat once in the night (after several bad teething nights too!)
2. Getting back in bed for a sweet snuggle with husband and baby after feeding her at 7. We used to do this all the time with our first, but don’t have as many opportunities anymore.
3. Husband (Micah) taking all the kids and letting me sleep in past 9!
Continue reading I’m Grateful For
We aren’t a dog family. Rather, we weren’t a dog family – my husband has been clear that he is not fond of dogs, so that pretty much ruled it out for a long time. Twenty or so years into our marriage, our son – an only child of about 13 at the time – declared that he wanted a dog. My husband very logically told him, “If you’re willing to feed it, walk it, pick up after it, bathe it (etc etc), we can consider getting a dog.” This shut our son up right quick! He wanted a dog, but clearly not that badly.
I’d begged my own parents for a dog when I was 10, and we got one: she was wonderful, great, the most perfect dog ever! I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs, but with my husband not being so keen, I shelved that desire a long time ago. When our son started mentioning his interest, however, I started entertaining the idea…. realising full well that, if we did get a dog, I would be doing the lion’s share of the work; I had to be fully committed, if ‘we’ were going to get a dog.
As our son grew more and more attached to his computer and video game console, my husband and I tried to come up with ideas of non-screen activities that might draw him away from their siren-call. Even my non-dog-loving husband conceded that a dog might just be the companion that our boy needed. I’d go through cycles of allowing myself to get (inwardly) excited at the prospect, then talking myself down; getting excited, then talking myself down. Eventually I convinced myself, and my husband, that a dog was indeed the answer! I don’t think he believed that I’d actually follow through with it, but, short story long, here we are, a dog family of five months. Alfie is a mature six-year-old black Australian Kelpie Lab mix, rescued from a farm where his aging human wasn’t able to care properly for him, and he hasn’t got a mean bone in his strong, furry body. Even my husband concedes that he’s enjoying having him around more than he’d thought he would.
Continue reading Of Dog and Son
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 30-31
Every phase of raising children is a joy and a challenge at the same time: a time for us to grow as parents and people. Many of the lessons we are teaching our children have lessons for us as adults. Each phase allows our children to take one more step away from us and help them discover who they truly are separate from the family fold.
The teenage phase can be fraught with problems and challenges for both parents and teenagers. I often find myself trying to remember what I was like as a teenager, but can I really relate to where my own teenagers are at in this day and age?
My husband and I have felt hugely challenged in recent years, not just by our teenagers, but not helped by moving countries a few times and the emotional turmoil of teenage angst.
Reasons for the problems that have arisen between parents and teenagers vary greatly for each family since each situation is different. However, there are a few common areas I have found, when talking to friends in similar situations, where teenagers and parents find conflict.
Continue reading Raising Teenagers
Our teenagers want to control their own lives and not have parents telling them what to do. But keeping the balance between letting our children make their own choices and keeping them safe is like walking a very long tight rope.