Pocket Treasures

pocket-with-pen

One by one, I pull out the items I’ve collected through the day.

 I know that if these pockets of mine could speak, they’d sure have a lot to say.

I’ve found a little girl’s comb, a safety pin, and the picture someone drew, making me grin.

pocket-collage-comb

There’s a rubber band, a paper airplane, and the grocery receipt still wet from the rain.

pocket-collage-rubber-band

I’ve got a broken pencil, a spool of thread, and the needle I used to sew

that button on in red.

pocket-collage-pencil

There’s a Band-Aid wrapper, a crayon that’s blue, a couple of Legos, and a lace from a shoe.

I’ve got some unused tissues, a cap for a pen, and a book of matches

that belongs in the den.

There are a half-dozen pennies, a sticker that’s “cool,”

And a couple of markers from the project due for school.

pocket-collage-pen

Throughout the house as I’ve been cleaning, tidying, and dusting,

I’ve picked up this stuff — sometimes smiling, sometimes fussing.

I look at my treasures lying there on the chair,

And I know I’m far richer than a body can tell.

For the treasures that  I’ve stashed there, before I’ve gone on my way,

Are reminders to me that life has been good today.

Sometimes days are plum crazy and time slips by in a whirl,

As I look back, it truly seems that life is just one big blur.

Yet emptying my pockets, I must confess,

Is a guarantee that I’ll see how much I am blessed.

That’s because I have another set of pockets.  And these – I treasure even more.

They’re filled with intangible memories that no one can take from me, for sure.

pocket-eyes-on-shoulder

There’s the gentle memory of brown eyes nestled close to me,

And a little hand patting my back when no one else can see.

I recall those blue eyes sparkling when the sight word test says “Great!”

And I smile because, for once, a kid got up early instead of late.

pocket-children-in-field

I treasure hearing laughter rippling in the afternoon sun,

And watching big brother help sister’s chores getting done.

There’s the sense of satisfaction when my kids don’t know I’ve seen,

And they chose to say, “I’m sorry,” before I needed to intervene.

I clasp the memory of the secret whispered in my ear,

“I love you so much, Mama!” where no one else can hear.

pocket-holding-hands

I hold the quiet, gentle knowledge that commitment will be strong;

Though marriage sometimes isn’t easy, I know I’ll always belong.

There’s the warmth and tender feeling lingering through me all day long,

From the hug and kiss he gave me before he put his work clothes on.

There’s the knowledge and experience that accumulates with years

Of a God who really loves me and can handle all my fears.

pocket-leaves

There’s delight in candles burning, the fragrance of the new-mown lawn,

Leaves a-turning, breezes blowing, and the crimson light at dawn.

When the day is drizzly gloomy, when the night seems frigid cold,

I find purpose in my pockets and the treasures that I hold.

When I’m tempted to look around me, to fret and to complain,

There’s meaning in recalling, not what I’ve lost, but all that I have gained.

I clutch the promise of tomorrow: treasures that can’t be bought or sold.

I reach into my pockets and grasp my riches, worth more than gold.

pocket-brother-sister

This article was first published in October 1999 and later printed in the book  Southside Glimmerswhich is available here.  I published this in this blog almost six years ago.

Our kids are grown and gone, but when they come home we still find things around the house that remind us

of all that we have!

 

Just Come Home

hospitality

homeThis is the story I was told:  A young man had made some poor choices. He was at the end of his rope and knew he had failed himself, his parents, and the commitment he made to his God years before. Sure, he’d had good intentions and he had been sincere. Life happened; he made wrong choices; he had fallen and now he wondered if there was any way to get back up and start over again.

One evening  as he sat down in the middle of the mess where he was living, he called his folks. He wasn’t sure that he really wanted them to know his dilemma, but he didn’t know where else to go or what else to do.

Heartbroken, they listened as the phone lines carried his words of failure, defeat, and hopelessness.

At the end of his tired explanation, they said three words.

Those words gave him hope and belonging.

          “Just come home.”

He was their child, their son. All they wanted him to do was come home.

What is it about just coming home that brings healing and restoration?  What is it about coming home that gives life and re-birth and hope?

They had given him wings, and now it was time to go back to his roots.

He needed to remember that he belonged.

That’s how the Father is with us. When we have been so wrong, when we have failed Him or others, all He asks of us is what those parents asked of their son: just come home.

It’s what the father of the prodigal son wanted most of all for his son: just come home.

It’s what any parent wants for a wayward child or a lost one who is out of the fold: just come home.

It’s what our Heavenly Father wants for us most of all: just come home.

I’ve been there. I might not have been eating the husks fed to the pigs, but I’ve been away. I’ve needed to just come home. Sometimes the wandering begins because of hurt, anger, or grief. We distance ourselves from those who caused the pain; we distance ourselves from God who allowed the pain to happen.

home

Before we even know what’s happening, we’ve drifted away from home, away from safety, away from the harbor. We don’t recognize what happened to cause us to become distant from our safe harbor. It happens so subtly that sometimes we’re drifting far from the shore before we realize we’re treading dangerous waters. That’s when it’s time to just come home.

It’s the best place to be, and the best place to go when we’ve wandered, failed, and messed up completely.

If you’re in a place far from home; if you’ve wasted your time, your energy, your money, and your life; if you’ve spent until you’re penniless, just go home.

The lights of Home are still on, begging you to come in. There’s a welcome there – just for you. There is love and forgiveness waiting at Home.

Just come home.

come home

 

 

Why My House is Not a Hotel

house

house

Our kids had their own ideas of how to run a household. The main idea seemed to be that they should have plenty of fun and little work to do. It was always somebody else’s turn to do a job or a chore, and just like their father, some of them would have made some pretty good lawyers (the not-crooked kind, that is.)

That’s when I’d pull out one of my lines, “This is a house, not a hotel!”

Sometimes I’d say, “I’m the mom, not the maid.”

Or, “I’m a mother, not an octopus!”

In hotels, you get room service. You don’t have to change the sheets on your bed or even make it, for that matter.  Somehow when you leave your room, it magically gets cleaned up and put back into pristine order. You can order food and have it served to you in your room, vegging on the bed in front of a TV and watching all the latest shows and news.  You can go to the restaurant inside the hotel (or any other restaurant, for that matter) and order whatever you want while someone else fixes it, serves it, and cleans up after you.

house

That’s not how it is in a house or a home. We don’t have maids at our house, and we don’t do room service (unless a kid is sick, of course). Anything that happens is done by our non-paid, child-labor offspring. Food doesn’t just show up on a table at mealtimes without the help of those offspring, and cleanup doesn’t happen unless those-same-offspring pitch in and help.

I confess that too many times, I ended up acting like the maid in a hotel or the waitress in a restaurant, allowing my kids to be waited on instead of helping them learn to serve. When I realized we needed help or this ship was going down, I came up with a lifesaver plan, and you can read about it here.

One of my greatest weaknesses was wanting things to be done now and not being willing to wait until a deliberately-slow-poking-kid completed a task. (Oh, they knew how to work that to their advantage!) I was guilty of just going ahead and doing it so it would be done. I should have come up with deadlines and consequences for missed deadlines. A maid in a motel has to have the room ready for the next guest by a certain time and, if she’s constantly delinquent, she will lose her job, which is a privilege. Kids can learn to make deadlines too, even if it’s something as simple as having a bedroom in order before eating breakfast. Yet, they’re not going to do that without prodding from the adults in their lives.

It’s one thing to serve your family. It’s something else becoming their servant. Make sure you understand – and practice – that difference.

In time, I got better at delegating and following through. In time, my kids learned to know what I meant when I reminded them that I was not their maid or an octopus.

You can, too. Remember that one of your tasks as a parent to help your kids become responsible adults. One of the best ways to do that is to remember that your house is a home – and not a Hotel.

house

Don’t just be their maid, a chef, or a laundress. You can still serve your family while you help your kids learn to serve others. Don’t try to be all things to your family. Help them learn to be responsible in increments and according to their age and capability.

Don’t enable selfishness and laziness by doing things for your kids that they can do themselves.

While it’s fun to vacation in a hotel, that’s not the real world. While it’s fun to relax and enjoy being lazy, that’s not the real world. The real world is a house filled with people who make a home; the real world helps raise kids into being responsible adults. I can think of no better place to start than in your own home.

pinterest house

 

The Art of Being a Mother – Part I of 7:

Maintenance

The Artist and Her Studio

I had one of those rare days when I could sit back and look at my clean, organized house – my studio.  (For all of about 15 minutes, of course).  I rather liked the way it looked, and I sat back and inhaled  the quiet – while it lasted, which wasn’t for very long.

Just once, I mused, I wish some would show up unannounced when my house looks like this.  

That was not likely to happen.  With four boys and two girls, you might think my house would stay clean long enough for that unexpected guest.  It rarely happened.

Because you see, my home was really just a studio.  When an artist’s studio is spotless with every palette and brush clean and in its place, you know the artist is either on vacation or has died.

Moms don’t get vacations from being moms. A perfectly ordered house isn’t my idea of a good way to raise kids. That left me with one option: a never-completely-tidy house.

I have a friend whose husband is an artist, and I’ve seen his studio.  Frankly, I have no idea how he can even find anything in there. However, he knows where things are – and his creations are wonderful.

After seeing his creations in the midst of that unkempt studio, it was plain to me that I needed to view my home as my studio. Just like my artist-friend, my studio was usually unkempt. That’s because, inside our castle, we were building lives.

If you’re a mom, that’s what you are doing: building lives.  Your studio is just the place where you are building little people who will grow up to become adults who can change their world.

As a mom, you’re an artist.

As an artist, you have a studio. It’s your home.

Designing Your Studio

There is really no standard way to design your studio.  You fix it the way it works for you.

For goodness sake, don’t try to be like somebody else.  Figure out the kind of artwork you enjoy and the kind that you do best, then do it well.

Don’t compete with other moms, and don’t compare.  (Did you know that scripture says if you compare yourself with others, you’re unwise?)    You really do want to be wise, don’t you?  Don’t compare yourself and your studio with others.  It’s certainly okay to observe other moms and get tips from them; just remember not to try to copy something that isn’t you.

Your studio is your home.  It’s where you create and build and dream and plan.  It’s where you live.

As a mom, you can complete your studio without being consumed by it.  That means your house is a place to function, and not a place to be perfected.

Your works of art are the little people in your home.

You are crafting their character and fine-tuning their gifting. In the daily grind of life, you are teaching by how you live.  Use your home as a backdrop for your most important works of art and not as a showcase for unrealistic dreams.

In your studio, make room for prayer.  

Allow your kids to hear you pray, and pray with them. Let them experience conversations with God in the security of your studio.

In your studio, make room for praise.

Make certain they hear you praising God – and giving credit to Him and to others.  When adults are affirming, kids will become affirming also.  When you affirm your kids, they will feel validated in who they are.

In your studio, proclaim what is truth.

Children do not come to us with  instructions or as finished products. They need teaching, discipline, and training. We are the ones shouldered with that responsibility. Our home is the best place to begin teaching truth.  Simply do it in the daily of life. Model it by being truthful yourself.  When children see their parents lie, they think that’s the way to do life. They  want to model what we do.  So model truth.

In your studio, create a haven from evil.

Our kids are surrounded by influences that can be negative.  Consider these: movies, entertainment, language, social media, literature, and attitudes.  Make sure there is a safe shelter in your studio by having parameters.  Our kids can’t decipher that on their own.  They need borders so they can be safe.  Set up fences – not to keep them from ever going out, but to keep evil influences from coming in.

In your studio, provide a base for service.

Involve your kids in the practice of giving, serving, visiting, and helping others – without any payment.  If you’re serious about this, you can find a way.  When our kids were small, we visited nursing homes with them regularly and allowed them to sing for the residents – even songs that were made up on the spot.  The older folks loved it and our kids got a lot of accolades even when their songs didn’t really make sense. Send them over to help a neighbor rake leaves or put Christmas decorations in the attic for them. Find an elderly person in your neighborhood who can use some help, and then fill that need.  There are so many needy people around us, and if we want to  help our kids learn to be servants, we need to let us watch and help us serve.  Go find the needy people and serve in the name of Jesus. One evening a group of our youth was asked to help clean up a house after a renter had vacated.  The owner was overseas doing mission work, and we were left to clean out the closets in a house that was deplorable.  They weren’t too happy about the mess

Send them over to help a neighbor rake leaves or put his Christmas decorations in the attic. Find an elderly person in your neighborhood who can use some help, and then fill that need.  There are so many needy people around us. If we want to  help our kids learn to be servants, we need to let them watch and help us serve.  Go find the needy people and serve in the name of Jesus. One evening a group of our youth was asked to help clean up a house after a renter had vacated.  The owner was overseas doing mission work, and we were left to clean out the closets in a house that was deplorable.  They weren’t too happy about the mess

Go find the needy people and serve in the name of Jesus. One evening a group of our youth was asked to help clean up a house after a renter had vacated.  The owner was overseas doing mission work, and we were left to clean out the closets in a house that was deplorable.  They weren’t too happy about the mess or the odor. I told the kids they were being missionaries because they were helping a missionary who was telling people about Jesus in the Ukraine.  Since when did Jesus say that serving would be fun? Our kids need to learn that, and guess who gets to teach them?!

Your home is your studio.

Create it in such a way that your children will want to be there.  Design  it so that your children can blossom and create, dream and build, imagine and explore.  Watch them flourish!

One bittersweet day they’ll be gone, and your nest will be empty.

For now, develop your studio and use it as it is meant to be:  a haven and a training ground for little arrows.  One day you will send those arrows out.  Use your studio to help make certain those arrows will fly straight and strong.

As they leave, you will know that the time spent in your studio was worth every splotch and speckle in your heart and in your studio-home.

Pinterest Art Part I

 

Three Things a Mom Can Do When Her World is Spinning Out of Control

who is in charge

control spinning top 2

I remember those days when my world was spinning out of control. Oh, how I remember those days!

I learned a few things (the hard way).

Those older women telling me, “Enjoy them now because they grow up so fast!” were not encouraging to me on those I-am-so-weary days.

What helped me most was the time my husband wrapped his arms around me, looked me in the eyes and said, “Figure out what upsets you, then figure out how to fix it. You don’t need to keep spinning your wheels. Figure it out, then fix it.”

So I did. Some days I hit the jackpot and other days I failed. Big time.

There is hope.When you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anything done, there are some things you can do to make life easier and more bearable, today. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there, done that.

control hands just meSee the Bigger

The picture, that is.

Don’t get so caught up in the smaller pieces of your life’s puzzle that you fail to see what the picture is really about.

Life is about people and relationships.

It’s not about stuff and schedules.

  • Be realistic. Recognize that you can’t be all things to all people, even if they are your little people.
  • Remember this: that your little ones really don’t care if the toilet hasn’t been cleaned – even though you do. (And my kids can tell you that I really, really like a clean toilet.) Kids don’t care if their bedroom curtains match the décor. They just want to be cared for, loved, and understood. They just want to be important to you.
  • Realize you are making memories. What kind of memories are you making? Will they remember that the house was always immaculate or that you had time to play with them and let them help you in the kitchen? [Can I tell you that I hope none of my kids is reading this – because I know there were days when the house mattered more to me than the kids.]??
  • Recognize that you can make the memories and still make them mind. You can even have a tidy house, but not all the time.

Just don’t lose sight of the Bigger.

When you compete or compare yourself with other moms or your own mother, you are losing sight of the Bigger.

When you focus on your house instead of their hearts, you are losing sight of the Bigger.

When you remember that building a home is the greatest investment of your time, you will be living the Bigger.

control boom 2Pinpoint Triggers

Figure out the Trigger moments in your day, then FIX them. This isn’t controlling others; it is the opposite of being out of control.

Ask yourself: How did I get from there (calm) to here? (explosion).

What are the times of day that are most difficult?  List them. Then figure out the cause behind that Trigger.

  •  If your Trigger point is morning and getting-ready-for-school or work, ask yourself (or your kids): what can I do to make mornings better? Is it an earlier beginning? Is it having better planning the night before? There’s a way to fix it, and once you figure that out, you’ll be on your way to de-booming that time of day.
  • Is your Trigger point the time when the kids come home from school and the baby is fussy or the toddler feels left out and is getting into everything?  Ask yourself: What makes that moment the Trigger point? What can I do to alleviate the tension?  Ask yourself:  what do I do to add to the tension? What can I change so the tension decreases?  What frustrates me about this? Why does it frustrate me? Figure it out, take the right steps, and you will be de-booming!
  • Is your Trigger point when you’re helping with homework or folding laundry and you still don’t know what you’re doing for supper? Ask yourself: could I have folded the laundry earlier?  Should I have planned my menu and started preparing my meal in the morning instead of waiting until now? Am I trying to juggle too many things at that moment? Go ahead and make a plan.  Deboom!
  • Is Your Trigger point a teen who somehow manages to argue her way into getting what she wants.  Ask yourself: what do I do that makes her think it’s okay to argue with me? Take the steps necessary to squelch the arguments: deal out consequences, etc.  Next time, you’ll be prepared and your teen won’t have anything on you!
  • Choose some things that will help you alleviate Trigger Points. Decide before noon what your menu will be for supper.  Pick up some neat toys or coloring books or “homework” books your preschoolers can work on while the older kids are doing homework. Fix a light snack that will tide everybody over until dinnertime: graham crackers, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery with raisins), or cheese with crackers. A bag of popcorn can be a treat. If an older child needs to read for a certain time for homework, let him read to a younger one. You’re killing two birds with one stone. You know your kids and your family. You’re the greatest resource, and you can figure it out! Go ahead. Deboom.

control geese flyingDevelop Your Kilter

In case you don’t know what that means, here’s the definition: good condition; working order or alignment.

You need a plan. It doesn’t matter so much what your plan is or how you work your plan, but you need a plan.

You can change your plan mid-stream and you can re-work it the following week, but you need a plan.

We’ve heard the saying, “Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” That’s why you need a plan.

  • Ask yourself: how much should/can/do I want to accomplish in one day? Be realistic.
  • Make a list. It can be in your head, on your phone, or written down in a planning book, but make that list.
  • Prioritize your list:  (A) Things that MUST get done today (a doctor’s appointment, mopping a floor because your feet are sticking to it) (B) Things that should get done today barring an emergency.  (C) Things you’d like to do today, but really can wait until tomorrow.
  • Start with the most difficult or the one thing you least want to do. Putting it on your list is a guaranteed way to get ‘er done. When I “don’t feel like” returning that item to the store or writing that Thank You note, it gets done much sooner if I put it on my list. Getting it out of the way makes you feel better right away. Make that list, and then start with the one thing that just can’t wait or the one you dread the most.  Is it vacuuming? Cleaning the bathrooms? Cleaning out the freezer? Put it at the top of the list and then do it. Save the most fun item for last.
  • Cross things off your list once they are done. (I used to add things to my list after I’d done them, just so I could cross them off! ) Complete the “must do” items on your list and then reward yourself.  What will it be? Calling a friend long-distance?  Reading a chapter in a book? A milkshake at McDonald’s?  A piece of chocolate? A nap? Time on the computer?
  • At the end of the day, move all your incomplete items to the list for tomorrow.
  • Don’t Procrastinate. If the same project keeps getting moved to the list for the next day, move it to the top and don’t do anything else until you can cross it off your list.

control order hearts

We become frustrated when we try to do more than anybody should fit into a day.When we make plans that aren’t realistic, we fail to remember that little ones are not robots. Things will happen that will throw a  kink into our best-laid plans.

When that happens, pause for a while and look at the Bigger.

Don’t let that kink send you into a Trigger.

Rework your Kilter and keep your eye on the Bigger.

You can do this.  Stop the spiral.  Things don’t  need to be out of control.

Find a Kilter.

Be in command of your Triggers.

And above all else, remember the Bigger.

control hands with teddy bear

 

Pintrest THREE THINGS A MOM CAN DO