Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Blessing of Mercy

My little girl has seen me cry way too many times today.   Embarrassed to admit that.  It has been sort of an emotional roller coaster kind of day for me.  Partly mother nature's fault; partly a bit of discouraging (or at least unexpected) news; partly just the third day with Daddy out of town.  I was awakened in the middle of the night twice last night.  And, just when I finished home school reading with my boys today and thought, I can lie down on the couch for a few quiet minutes while the girls are still napping, guess who came down the stairs?  Yep, both of my cute little princesses!

I needed a bit of a break today, but that's not realistic right now.  And, I'm sure there are those of you who could do much better than me at this, or at least those who believe you can.  But, unless you have 4 children and home school 2 of them while your husband is out of town, with no family in town offering to can't truly relate.  The truth is, I cannot truly or completely relate to another mom's situation or circumstances either!  And, I can usually handle my own circumstances just fine...usually!  Today, however, there were quite a few bouts of tears.  I can't always run away and hide when the faucets are turned on either.  If I could have, I would have!  I try to focus on the positive things; I was recounting everything for which I'm thankful.  But, the tears still came a few times.  And my sweet little Ella was a witness to them.

What amazes me about her is...  Wait a minute!  There's so much that amazes me about that girl!  She is so loving and tender-hearted, expressive, compassionate, and understanding.  Let me try to relay to you some of the sweet things she said to me today.  At one point, I walked downstairs after vacuuming and she had seen a few tears escape my eyes.  She followed me downstairs and asked, "Do you want to be alone when you are sad?"  I talked to her a little bit and although I said "yes, sometimes," she sat nearby--fully aware that her presence was helpful, despite my answer.  She gave me several hugs and kisses.  After dinner, she and I spent a while talking and I'm sure she could sense my feelings of disappointment in myself; I'm sure of this because of what she said to me.  Out of nowhere she told me (in my ear so softly), "I still love you mom."  More tears!  Then she said to me, "It's okay mom, we're still best friends."  She kept coming back in the kitchen while I was cleaning up after dinner to give me a hug, or tell me a story, or ask if I was okay.

I hope that you believe that I didn't want to allow my tears to be so visible.  I didn't want to appear like an emotional basket-case to any of my children today.  I want to be strong for them.  I want to maintain an atmosphere of joy and peace.  Not so sure that I came close to succeeding in any of that today.  In fact, I spent the better half of the day beating myself up for what felt to me like failing miserably as a mom. 

Here is the thing about moms that we cannot change no matter how badly we feel we should.  We are going to reveal who we are and what is really going on to our children when we would rather hide it.  Moms are visible to their children.  And I think that more times than not, no matter how much our children are ready to jump into Daddy's arms, they are acutely aware of what is going on with Mommy.  I know that I was as a child.  And I suppose it doesn't directly harm any of us to see another person sad, hurting, or struggling.  How else do we develop compassion?  So, as much as I truly wanted to hide those tears and put on a happy face, I didn't have one to put on...  I'm sure I will tomorrow!  But my little 4 year old has simply amazed me today!  She has blessed me more than I can explain.  So, as much as I have felt like an utter failure as a mom today, she has indirectly reminded me that I am not.  Somehow, I have had a hand (at least a small one) in helping this little girl begin to grow into who God intends for her to be.  We named her Ella because it is a derivative of "Eleanor" and means "mercy."  Wow!  She knows how to give that!  And the red hair she has is a dead give-away that I have had to extend mercy to her many times over also.  But, she has blessed me today more than words can tell. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Extraordinary in the Midst of the Ordinary!

Many people around me have given voice lately to the idea of finding joy in the simple things.  I have also been reflecting on this.  In fact, I think I've decided that if my life as a wife and a mom had a title, it would be Finding the Magic in the Mundane.  Or, I could call it Enjoying the Every Day; The Sanctity in the Simple; Beautiful Moments in the Midst of the Busy.  Okay, you get the idea.  I could come up with quite a few catchy little phrases; that's because I really have made this my aim.  And, even when it hasn't been my aim, it has certainly been God's gift to me....over and over and over!  Maybe you can relate.

Several weekends ago, my husband and I took a weekend to go away and celebrate our 12 year anniversary.  This was so significant for us because not only do we rarely (and I mean rarely) get this kind of an opportunity, but we also find it difficult to have date nights.  We had the most wonderful weekend together.  God blessed us with gorgeous weather both days we were at the lake:  we took bike rides, enjoyed slow walks, ate good food, and had so much fun together.  It was everything it should have been and more!  I am truly blessed and thankful for our time away.

But here is what amazes me about life...and about God's love towards us.  The following weekend we headed to visit my family in Cincinnati.  It had been a few months since we had made the trip and we always enjoy the family time.  I brought my tennis shoes and necessary clothes for morning walks since I have made my physical health a priority.  That Saturday morning I headed outdoors for an early morning walk while the kids were spending time with their Daddy and Papa.  As I walked around my parents' neighborhood, I began noticing all of the trees and changing leaves.  I love fall; it's my favorite season!  The more I looked around, the more I noticed that it truly was the most perfect, crisp, pure, and absolutely beautiful fall day I'd ever seen!  The more I looked around, the more in awe I was!  I couldn't stop myself from smiling and before I knew it I was in tears.  Then, I couldn't stop myself from thanking God for his goodness and praising Him for His beauty! 

You must believe me when I say that my parents' neighborhood is certainly nice, but doesn't even compare in beauty to the gorgeous view of the lake we enjoyed the previous weekend.  And, as I shared earlier, I had the most wonderful time at the lake with my husband.  However, the thing about God is that He can show up so purposefully in our lives whenever and wherever He so chooses!  He can show up on a beautiful fall morning in an average suburban neighborhood and cause you to feel as if you are truly standing on holy ground!  He can do it for whomever He wants and however He sees fit.  I'm not sure if anyone else in that neighborhood experienced anything close to what I did that morning, but I was so moved by God's majesty!  I felt as if I had received a personal love letter from God!  Even  as I remember that morning walk I can still recall how I felt--and feel it all over again!  No one and nothing can ever take that experience away from me.  It was just a regular morning walk on an ordinary day....and it turned extraordinary without warning. 

I think this is what I am learning all the time.  Extraordinary moments can show up unexpectedly in our lives in the midst of ordinary events and circumstances!  The key, at least for me, is to acknowledge these moments and purpose to remember them.  We give these experiences life when we thank God for them and choose to acknowledge how special they are.  How amazing that we can build for ourselves a reservoir of spectacular and awe-inspiring memories to reflect on whenever we want!  Extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary!  Lord, help me to never take that for granted!