Later hater!

9:12 AMHeather

Listen.  I'm in a season here where I am being challenged and growing and learning and having brutal epiphanies about how God wants me to change and stretch.  Sorta like my poor girl who left this morning in tears because her new expanders are doing their job.  Her mouth is sore and she can't chew and all that metal on her palette feels weird.  She's also finding it to be a magnet for food getting caught.  And it's just hard.  That's a bit like how I feel today.  God is expanding my ideas of obedience and surrender, challenging me to do more.  He's stretching me to be more disciplined and give more and be willing.  For what?  I'm not totally sure yet.  And, while I know the end result will be fab and wonderful and unexpected, the process is hard.

So, today I just need a happy.  You know how when the days are hard and you need a little pick-me-up?  Maybe your mothering is a battleground with a stubborn child and you need to figure out a way to just have a laugh together to get you through.  That's my heart today.  I need a little laugh together with you.  Because I know I've been dragging you along for some tough stuff.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about pet peeves.  And honestly, that's not so hard for me.  I'm more of a glass half-empty kind of girl naturally.  Gotta work hard at the optimism.  Today, I say to my sorry complaining self, "Later, hater!"  Today is nothing but love.  Things I love.  Blessings to count.  Like the song I always choice as a girl on Sunday night Singspirations at church..."count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your blessings, see what God has done."  Here you are, bloggy friends.

1.  A really good book.  Nothing like snuggling in with a great book.  The kind that you think about all day and can't wait to dive back in.  Let me tell you about an AWESOME book.  I mean, on my top 5 list of all time.  I laughed.  (Out loud--and felt the need to read these hilarious excerpts to my man as he was trying to read him some Tom Clancy at bedtime).  And I cried.  Because she gets me.  She really gets me.  I'm talking about Big Mama (AKA Melanie Shankle) of  The Big Mama Blog.  Her book Sparkly Green Earrings tells it like it is when it comes to motherhood.  With honesty and humor, she expresses what my heart can't articulate about the incredible journey of being a mom.  Mamas--you gotta read it.  Talk about heart warming!  I finished last night, and I just want to go buy a copy for every mom I know--along with a lovely pair of sparkly green earrings to constantly remind us of our mission. 

2.  Tazo Chai Soy Latte, no water, extra hot--Are you all impressed with how bilingual I amYes, I speak English.  And Starbucks.  This little cup of happiness and joy was first introduced to me by my cousin, Melinda.  Who was formerly a Starbucks barista.  Once, when she was visiting from Canada, she went with my aunt for a Starbucks run.  I had woken up that day feeling awful. So, I asked Melinda to choose something yummy and soothing.  And, boy, did she deliver!  No cup of hotness on a congested stuffy headed day has ever tasted so good.  I think it was like the first meal I eat after having to do a liquid diet for a medical exam.  It is just so delicious and satisfying.  My man immediately put the details in his phone, exactly as Melinda instructed him so he can order this.  Because he could see the pure elation this drink brought me.  I love me a cup of chai latte because it reminds me of my precious Canadian family.  And it feels so comforting.  It's a fabulous treat between dinner and bedtime, as I unwind from the day.  I've even figured out how to replicate it at home.  You can buy the boxed Tazo Chai at the grocery store.  I fill a mug about 2/3 full of vanilla soy milk.  Add in about 1/3 of Tazo Chai.  For my microwave, it's about 1 minute and 35 seconds.  Stir and enjoy!  It's like liquid gingerbreadTwo words, folks.  YUM.  MY.

3.  Meal time with Friends--When I was a little girl living in Hawaii, our family usually went to lunch after church on Sundays with our good friends, the Weltys.  That's just what you did on Sundays.  We did Sunday School and church.  Then went to lunch.  It was usually Taco Bell.  We were fancy that way.  I can remember how annoyed I got because all those grown-ups did was talk and talk and talk.  I loved playing with my friends and hanging out.  But geez louise, the parentals could drag the whole thing on and on.  Of course, this usually meant my mandatory Sunday afternoon nap was shorter--the longer we dwadled at Taco Bell.  Now that I'm the grown up, I've totally taken on the tradition.  NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, quite satisfies my soul and social outlet like lingering after a meal with good friends, engaged in conversation.  I don't really care where we are--even the very rare visit to Taco Bell.  Cotton Patch Cafe or Jason's Deli--or my favorite--my own dining room.  And, yes, the tables have turned.  Because we drive our own children mad when they ask when we'll ever be done talking.  HA!  It's the circle of life, children.  You'll do it to your own kids.  Be forewarned.  

I can remember one particular Sunday, before our dear friends moved to China.  We'd just survived the near death of our newly adopted dog and we enjoyed a good meal, if I do say so myself.  Somehow three hours later, I realized I'd just poured out my entire life story.  They were so interested and kind and engaged in my pitiful tale.  It was better than any therapy session.  Way cheaper too, and not as awkward.  What dear friends!  Obviously, I'm passing this love on because one of our children has recently expressed how important our "Sunday lunch with friends" tradition is to them.  Ah!  I've secured the "lingering over dinner with long talks" curse for the coming generations.  [insert evil laugh]

4. Joining my husband in making our kids crazy-- I'm seeing a running theme here.  Being the boring longwinded adult and now I'm saying making my kids crazy.  Really, I love my children.  I do.  It's just that sometimes my man and I love to drive them a little batty.  It's best to explain by giving an example.  One day, a child who should remain nameless began singing Don't Stop Believing.  Chris and I joined in, wholeheartedly and loudly and way off key.  This caused a look of astonishment, followed by the, "how do YOU know this song?"  As if we could not possibly be that cool--you know, to have heard it from the Bedtime Stories movie.  We just laughed and said, "Listen here, you didn't discover that song.  Ain't nothing new here.  That song is from when we were young!  Back in the stone ages."  We promptly returned to our singing and the said child walked away with rolling eyes.  Nothing is quite so fun as our shared history and inside jokes when we quote movies or burst into song or break into laughter from something the kids don't get at all.  It reminds us of our long history--that it was just us before them.  And that it will be just us again some day.  See?  It's a good thing for the family.  To drive our kids crazy.

5.  Inside family jokes and laughter--Okay, now I'll let the kids join in the fun.  Our family LOVES Tim Hawkins.  I mean, loves.  We have all his DVD's and watching them has become a road trip tradition.  Except we have to remind one particular child to not recite the entire DVD.  Because he loves to quote what Tim is about to say.  Anyway, at the most random times, we, as a family, will be reminded of one of Tim Hawkins' jokes and laugh together.  Please, please...don't be offended when we you see us suppressing giggles at church while singing Better is One Day.   Truly--better is one day in His courts.  But, in our heads, we are all hearing Tim Hawkins' parody.  We also share a love of hilarious YouTube videos.  You know--ain't nobody got time for that.  Love us some Sweet Brown.  Or, beautiful nail.  Just one.  One of our favorite family vacation memories came at the end of a long, hard day traveling.  Everyone was at each other's throats as we traveled with my husband to a conference in San Antonio.  So, he had an idea to turn the tide.  He popped up the big screen for his presentation and the projector and hooked it up to the lap top.  And we laughed hysterically at the Angelah Johnson stand-up show we found on Netflix.  Nothing solidifies family identity quite like any sentence that begins with, "remember that one time when...?"  Or being able to just look at each other and say one word or sing one phrase that brings you both to laughterGood times.  Good times. (name that SNL skit for extra credit)

6.  Glimpses into my children's strengths--I don't know about you, but sometimes I wonder if anything I do in parenting is sinking in.  Are they listening?  Will they ever grow up to be responsible, caring, wonderful adults as I dream they will?  And just about when I'm ready to throw in the towel, I get a glimpse.  These are moments I've begun to pray for.  When my generally self-absorbed children (which I know is a natural state of childhood) are suddenly caught being giving and generous and helpful. When my oldest patiently engages in a very circular phone conversation with his 96 year old great grandmother who has Alzheimer's.  Or my middle son "tucks me in" and brings me a cup of tea during a migraine.  Or my youngest cheerfully offers to make the cake for me to take to Life Group so I don't have to.  Listen--these are not daily occurrences.  My kids are kids.  They make mistakes and they tune me out and I can go days wondering if there's any progress being made at all.  Have I messed this whole mothering thing up?  And I've found that just about at the end of the rope, God usually shows up to give me a glimpse into their strengths and their character and give me a hope that I've not completely failed as a mom.  When I stand next to my children during worship at church and see them engaged in praising their Creator.  When my sons actually play a game together without fighting.  Or ask each other to join them to watch a favorite show and they proceed to laugh together for thirty minutes.  Yes, indeed.  I need to ask for eyes to see these moments.  I need to relish every sweet compliment received about my kids and pass these on directly.  My kids need me to remind them of who they really are, underneath all that immature selfishness and childish foolishness. 

7.  Soft clothes days--My in-laws use the term "soft clothes" to talk about getting comfy when they get home from work.  You know--your jammies or yoga pants or sweatpants.  I love an entire day in my soft clothes with no agenda, no where to be, no pressing task list.  We all run at the speed of life.  Don't we need a break?  Don't we need to slow down?  It rarely happens without intention.  And I'm getting better about realizing how I'd rather snuggle in after car pool and avoid evening activities, especially during the winter months.  Or, arranging our calendar so that we have a slower weekend following a weekend of travel or busy schedules.   Personally, I feel I should warn you.  If you drop by my house anytime after 6, you're likely to find me in jammies.  And, truly, I hope you'll feel free to show up in your own soft clothes.  Come in and stay awhile.  We can linger over a meal or watch some Tim Hawkins.  Because better is Hyundai than a Ford...

And that, my bloggy friends, is all I got.  Maybe I'm taking this study of Jen Hatmaker's "7" a little too seriously. 7.  That's my offering to you today.  I hope on this rainy cold day (at least here in Dallas) that you stop and consider those little "happys" in your life.  Make room for them.  Plan them.  Schedule them.  Be intentional.  When you're facing a rough season or hard week, by all means, you must find a happy.  Jesus went away to a quiet place when he needed a break during his ministry on earth.  I'd like to think he changed into his soft clothes and sat back with a good book (perhaps his Father's words) and let his mind linger on all the joys and blessings he'd received. 

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