Finding one's self on Google Earth

31 May 2011

I've never really lived anywhere.

Ok, that's not entirely accurate. I have lived places, but my living there didn't really live a permanent, still discernible mark.

The house I spent my first few years of life is still there, but the apple tree and swingset are gone. The pink house I grew up in is still pink, but the tree swing was taken down, the bricked rose garden has long since died. The boy's first home no longer has hydrangeas out front, the wrought iron has been removed, and strange little gnomes now guard watch.

There is no evidence of our having called those places home, no hand prints, no marks on walls showing height achievements, no sign our family really ever existed there.

And then yesterday, a fluke. The man is on Google Earth looking up directions and decides to test the matrix. He pulls up our house in Ireland. You know, the carbon copy of every other house in the estate. Same colour, same shape, same door.

But there in the window, next to the front door, are my wellies. 
And to the side of the house lay the children's bikes.
The shade upstairs has been pulled up, showing the boy's toys lining the window sill.
Sitting out front are our potted plants, and in the window next to my wellies is our tiny hyacinth.

We lived there. It was real. It did happen. It was home. For two short years it was ours. And there, for all the world to see, is the evidence.

image courtesy Google Earth

As opposed to the bigger things

28 May 2011

I was gonna wait till tomorrow to link up with Gypsy Mama's Five Minute Fridays, but it just so happens that...
  • the kids are all in bed and 
  • it's not yet 9pm and 
  • the dishwasher has already been filled and started and 
  • I'm not going to go into our bedroom yet to survey the disaster there, 
so I think I've just about got five minutes to write, prompted and unedited, and share the bits with you.

Now if you yourself don't particularly feel inclined to partake in this exercise, that's totally ok. I get it and I get you and don't feel pressured to join in on this little bandwagon... (if I were to be brutally honest, I would say that I really despise the idea of being a Mommy Blogger (gasp!shock!horror!) and for this reason waited a long time to join the conversation of other Mommies and share in their journeys, though my anti-sentimental heart really wanted to) ...But if you've got something on your heart or a weight on your shoulders and five minutes of typing it out will relieve some of that pressure, I really encourage you to do so. I know that every week I have permission to spend five minutes writing, and if that's all I get, then that's really all I need.

Ok, so that took like eight minutes right there, and now I've got to start over again. So, without further ado...

On Forgetting...

Yesterday was the field trip. I remembered the permission slip. I remembered my child. I remembered to show up as I was chaperoning. But I forgot my lunch.

Today was the field day. I remembered to sign the husband up to help. I remembered to put play clothes on the boy. But I forgot to order the special "school field day" t-shirts every other student was wearing.

The sister and I made plans weeks ago to get haircuts. I forgot to make the appointment.

The girl was invited to a birthday party. I forgot to RSVP.

The wee lad is in need of cloth diapers. I forgot to wash them last night.

I am a frazzled mother, an unorganized person. I have grand ideas and schemes I hope to achieve, but I have a hard time actually remembering to make it happen. I have emails that go unanswered, phone calls unreturned, plans that need to be made...

I am trying to figure things out, to not procrastinate, to not forget (in truth, I think it's the procrastinating that leads to the forgetting). But I do think that it is maybe better to forget these little things, instead of forgetting the bigger ones. I hope I remember the latter, even at the - somewhat frequent - expense of the former.

a moment in time I don't ever want to forget

Fill me up

27 May 2011

After a few exhaustingly busy days, I'm feeling empty emotionally and physically. The wee kiddos are watching cartoons, we're all still in pjs, and I'm mindlessly surfing facebook and blogs while feeling completely devoid of energy, apart from the ability to click a mousepad with my index finger.

I'm amazed at how quickly this happens; mothering and planning and field-tripping, these seemingly natural and mostly normal activities that zap the body and mind.

I'm mildly amused by my ability to press the gas pedal without checking the gas gauge.

I'm frustrated at how quickly I empty myself without noticing the need to fill myself back up again.

I'm realizing that I've got to fill up first, or there will be nothing to give. Only an empty vessel, and empty vessels don't do much good of anything. Until they're filled again and again...

So come on, God. Let's fill 'er up. I want to overflow.


Meek in spirit

24 May 2011

I'm supposed to be at Starbucks. Sipping on a skinny vanilla latte, replying to emails, writing on this-here blog, and maybe partaking in a tiny dessert to celebrate the 40 lbs I've recently lost. But instead my legs feel unsteady and I'm not entirely sure I can get up out of this chair.

There's nothing really wrong with me. My body feels fine and good, and life is somewhat calm on this rainy-ish day, at least for me and my clan. But there are literal and figurative storms brewing, aftermaths of destruction just three hours south of here, and hearts broken from a child suddenly gone just across the neighbourhood.

This leaves me feeling weak and impoverished, meek in spirit, mourning with those who mourn who I don't even know, have never met, unable to serve or comfort. In a text last night to a friend who is close to one of these, I find myself typing, "any old verse or thought about God just isn't gonna cut it. Only He can break the darkness here..."

It was - and is - a hard day to know the mind of God. I hate those days, in all honesty.


Seasonal affective disorder, in five

20 May 2011

Yay Fridays!

It's raining, baby is sleeping, and I've got five minutes (I think!) to write down some prompted thoughts courtesy of TheGypsyMama and her Five Minute Fridays. If it's raining where you are, shove the kiddos in front of a cartoon for five minutes and give it a go. I promise, it won't ruin them... permanently, anyway.

When Seasons Change...


In Ireland, the only sure way I noticed the seasons change was by the placement of the sun in the sky. I knew winter was coming when I found myself squinting through my windows around dinnertime. I realized summer was on it's way when the boy woke me up hours before he needed to be dressed for school. The change in temperature was so casual, so incremental, that it held no clues for the seasons. It was all about the sun - or lack thereof.

Here, in Missouri, the seasons come quicker and heavier. The temp spikes early. The sun starts to burn a little. The grass turns green again (an anomoly here, as the grass is literally always greener in Ireland). The rain comes and the thunder booms. It is spring, nearly summer, and I love - LOVE - this time of year here in my homeland.

ok, so this is kansas actually - but you get the idea
And yet, I know there's still change ahead. Not just environmental change, but geography change, familial change, work change. This season our little five-person-unit is in is not meant to last forever, or very long, at all. It could be changing quicker than we realise, like summer coming to the midwest before we're ready for sweat on our brows. Or it could be longer, quieter, hardly noticeable, as we slowly see the sun rise higher and later into the day.

I don't know where this seasonal change will take us exactly, or when it will take place. But I feel it coming, I feel my body readying, and I can sense that the disorder that my life will soon become isn't really disorderly at all. This was how He made us: to change, and ebb, and flow with the seasons.

I hope I'm ready.


I'm that kind of mom

19 May 2011

Last Friday it hit me: I get to be that kind of mom.

The kind of mom who accompanies field trips. The kind of mom who makes treats to send to school for birthdays. The kind of mom who parades the grounds with six preschoolers on field day, jumping through literal hoops and tying shoelaces. The kind of mom who reads to rambunctious seven- and eight-year-olds for an hour. The kind of mom who can and does say, "Yeah, I'll do it. No problem"

Because right now, it isn't a problem. We are flexible, transitioning, practicing equally-shared-parenting (most of the time), and incubating this brief familial era, holding it close to our hearts and gratefully investing in its eternal value.

This time in our lives comes, too, with a fantastic perk: I get to be that kind of mom!

Twelve years ago when we jumped off that matrimonial high dive, I didn't envision this, wasn't sure I wanted this, and there are times when I wake up kinda don't feel like doing this... but for the moms who don't get to, or because of life's circumstances can't, I don't want to throw away this priceless gift.

Because, the truth is, I couldn't have known I needed this.


A deep breath, in five

15 May 2011

Only a day late, and a few words short, but here is my Five Minute Friday post linking up with GypsyMama.

Deep breath...

I hear him before I see him, the sing-song call,

"Mah-Meee, Mah-Meee, Mah-Meee."

I open my eyes to see the bedroom door swing wide and crash into the wall. Huffing and puffing, now,

"Mah-Meee, Mah-Meee, Mah-Meee."

He flings himself on the bed, swiftly and expertly, crawling on hands and knees for the first time in ages, across sheets and pillows and duvet. A smile, a giggle, a hug, a gentle whisper,

"Mommy. Mom..."

We lay there for a moment, so brief and still. We smile and laugh, and he hops off the bed as easily as he hopped on. He's on to the next adventure, all torso and chunky thighs, laughing and calling,

"Da-deee, Da-deee, Da-deee."

I take a deep breath and steady myself, because the baby is gone. He's gone and growing and going only in one direction: up. All I can do is breath and remember this one moment, before it's gone.

Go ahead and give it a go.


12 May 2011

  • I wake up more mornings feeling weary in not-well-doing than I do feeling well-doing in most anything.
  • My bed is just about the only thing in my house that gets cleaned up on a daily basis.
  • I have enormous shopper's remorse and guilt, nearly every day, over nearly every purchase.
  • I take everything too seriously.
  • I hate money, don't ever want to think about money, and wish I didn't have to constantly talk about money.
  • My most frequent prayer is, "Help me, Jesus."
  • I sometimes have very little patience for my sweet kiddos.
  • It's been 10 years since I've been paid for anything I've written.
  • I do most of my design work in MS Word.
  • There are five piles (and growing) of laundry in my little apartment waiting for the time - and the quarters - to be washed.
  • I don't believe motherhood to be my highest calling.
  • I passively aggresively pray for other people's attitude changes or improvements, but in all fairness, I also pray the same for myself on an hourly basis.
  • I always aim for perfection, but am nearly perfect at mediocrity.
  • I don't have the Jesus-following, unconditional loving, and grace-giving thing all figured out yet.

IMG_8383Just wanted to put some of these things down in writing because I think what moms are really good at is making it look like we've got it all together all the time. Usually, the writing that comes from the breath of my life is made up of months and years of tears and heartache and scribbling and questioning and searching and praying.

It's only after I've figured out a thing or two that I'm able and willing to share it with you. :)

So, thank you for joing me here. And put it in writing: What's your confession?

On not freaking out... maybe

09 May 2011

I'm finding myself in a not-so-unfamiliar place. The passage of time - the flipping of calendar pages towards a question mark date, destination and future - faster than I would like it to be. This is the place where I typically find myself freaking out.

But I'm not.

I'm not sure this is right. Is this peace? Is this trust? I don't know. I've never really been to this place, this not freaking out place, before. I don't recognize the peace part. I recognize all the other bits - the fluid plans, the what ifs, the ambiguity, the underlying tension of uncertainty - but I don't recognize the scenery, the slow-mo walk to the library, the prayers throughout the day that end in smiles instead of tears.

It's slightly unnerving. Shouldn't I be freaking out? Come June 1st our family of five will be without a vehicle. August 1st is the original deadline to move away again, which we prayerfully decided on over a year ago. In the fall our children will be starting school, but on which continent? And there's a substantial amount of financial support we need between now and the question mark then, that may or may not come later rather than sooner. Shouldn't I be a bit freaked wondering how it'll all come together? Shouldn't I be banging down God's door asking for the times and places and know-hows?

In a couple of months, my life will change substantially. Or maybe it won't. I might still sit and write at this dining room table we found on clearance three years ago and couldn't wait to sit at again. Still waiting some more and trusting some more. Or I might sit at someone else's table, in another country, in another rented house with someone else's furniture, having sold this table and that chair and those dishes we picked out for here but might not need for there. Still trusting and thankful and off on the next adventure.

But really, I don't know. I don't know at all. I have no idea where we'll be and when. If I think about it too much the anxiety does again start to raise, the pain in the chest becomes a little more acute. Or I can get up and fold the laundry, hug the kiddos and kiss the booboos. I can write the thank you notes and stamp the envelopes. I can order the prayer cards and meet the people.

I can pray the prayers, the prayers of "Yes, God. I know you, God. I trust that you've got this figured out, even when I don't have a clue. I'll wait on you, God." For the time and the place and the know-hows and the whys and the next thing and the next thing...

I'll wait on Him.

Motherhood attire, in five

07 May 2011

Motherhood should come with a pillow. A mobile one, at that. So when dinner is burned or skinned knees cannot be kissed away, I can lay my head down for a wee respite until my superheromom powers return.

Motherhood should come with a body double. My very own stunt woman who can run alongside the bike without training wheels, drive the school carpool while I'm resting on aforementioned pillow, and get up in the early morning hours to prepare the day.

Motherhood should come with a do-over. Anytime, anyday, when things go haywire, I can press stop and rewind.

Motherhood should come with a partner in crime. A man who not only holds onto your hand while you're holding for dear life during labour, but who spoons you at night when the tears fall from anxiety, who gently pushes you towards the mother he knows you will become, who walks in step with you and the children your love produced and smiles as he knows you as more than just mother.


Your turn now. Join us here at Gypsy Mama and let the world know what your five minutes have to say.

Like the three-toed sloth

06 May 2011

After I write something painfully personal, I always feel a little self-indulgent. Should I really have written that? Did I say too much? Is my life/experience/situation really all that rare/difficult/important? I hem and I haw and I chew down some fingernails, and sometimes, I submit.

Today you can find these mildly indulgent, overly confessional, and hopefully, familiar thoughts that also seem familiar to you, over at (in)courage. Here's a sneak preview:
We had a wedding, then a marriage, then a baby, then a family… all of it spread out over time, but passing me by in a blur, simply because I let it be that way. Living intentionally as a wife and mother was something I assumed would come naturally, like singing harmonies or delivering punch-lines at parties. And when it didn’t come naturally...
Visit me (us) over at (in)courage to read the rest!

Preaching a la social media

02 May 2011

‎"As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live." Ezekiel 33:1
"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice". Prov 24:17
Just a couple of the scripture bombs falling on Facebook today. I have mixed feelings about the Osama/death thing. Relief, thankfulness, concern, crippling humility...

On the one hand I celebrate God's justice, grateful for our troops who do dangerous and difficult things to protect us, and hopeful that those who suffered loss, injury or devastation on 9/11 can close the door a little more on this chapter of pain. But I'm also wondering about the nature of evil, enemies, and sin, I'm concerned for violence to beget more violence, and I'm wrestling with my own sinful thoughts, actions, or predispositions that initially placed me in the category "enemy of God" before I praised His name, and haunt me still as I struggle to walk a life following Him.

The thing is, I think these are great issues to wrestle with and discuss in a public forum. These are fantastic opportunities to share our fears, struggles, hopes. This is a time where we can admit to rejoicing in a little vengeance, while still questioning the mercy that's so unjustly offered to you and me and him. On the contrary, I don't think it's the time to drop a little biblical napalm on spiritual weaklings who haven't yet reached the righteous highground others claim to have found. It ignores valid emotions, belittling their journey with Christ.

Yes, let's confound people with our love for our enemies. But let us also admit to struggling to do so. A one-liner of contextually removed Truth confuses more than it confesses. Let's confess together the human difficulty we have in fully understanding the perfectly divine nature of both justness and mercy that lies in a most holy God. The same God who says "vengeance is mine." The same God who says, "wishing no man to perish."

I just cannot get it. But I do trust it.