Tag Archive | working mom

The Scrapbook of My Heart

time shadowTime … where does it go?

The most valuable commodity that we have been given as human beings is the gift of time: … of minutes … of hours … of days.

It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to my senior year of high school and now I am a grandmother.  When did that happen?!

When did I graduate from playing with Barbie dolls and practicing piano to being a wife … and then a mother … and now a grandmother?  When did that happen?!

When did my raucous, noisy, messy nest get so empty?  When did that happen … tell me when.

It happened in a thousand yesterdays that are filled with the memories of cherished friendships … bittersweet good-byes … the echoes of laughter … and the daily reminders of what is truly important in life.

The scrapbook of my heart is filled with a collage of moments too precious to verbalize and too valuable to calculate by earthly economic currency.

As I flip through the intangible pages of the days that have been given to me, I realize that some days were wasted with impatience and disappointment.  When the endowment of an ordinary day is shadowed by human frustration or disillusionment it becomes refuse and leaves a putrid odor rather than a glorious fragrance.

I have wasted time being angry at a person made in the image of God. I have thrown away days being depressed due to situations and events over which I had absolutely no control.  Who do I think I am?!

I have frittered away days spent in the worry of an unpredictable tragedy that never  actually happened and in the fear of the shadow ghosts of weakness.  What a colossal waste!

I have misused the treasure of an extraordinary day by spewing the venom of my heart on the lives of people whom I love dearly.  I am ashamed.

The untold wealth in this cherished peek into the past thankfully also holds the abundance of all that has been meaningful in my life.

I am amazed that I was given the delight of raising 5 little lives for the Kingdom of God!  After so many years of barrenness and infertility … of standing in faith and begging God for more … He opened the windows of heaven and blew joy in my direction.

I loved every minute of peanut butter and jelly kisses … of paper dolls and birthday cakes … of choo-choo trains and baseball games.  Those were the best days … the days that mattered eternally … the pieces of gold in my life.

little heart

Is there a gift this side of heaven so priceless as the moment when two little arms are wrapped around your neck … or your legs … or your heart?!  Career promotions, enormous retirement accounts and academic pedigree become tawdry and bargain basement exchanges for the heavenly inheritance of the living human beings given to our parental charge.

carol and mom
Carol Engagement pic

I have loved being best friends with my mom. How I wish that you could know her!  A woman of excellence and humor!  A woman who prays and believes and prays some more.  A woman who celebrates life with gusto and grace!

I loved falling in love with Craig and realizing that he was “the one”.  I’ll never forget our first kiss that came with a marriage proposal.  He has always been a man of honor … a man whom I could trust … and a man after God’s own heart.  What have I ever done to deserve this man whose heart is pure gold?

And then … the gift of girlfriends.  Truly a fortune so rare and precious that it could fill the vaults of banks too numerous to count!

Time … where does it go?  Oh!  How I want to live well the rest of the days that have been given to me by the calendar of heaven’s bounty.

There are days in the photo album of my mind and heart that are as yet blank … unfilled.  They are waiting for memories … for moments … for people … and for blessings.

It is up to me how I fill these quickly turning pages of life.  It is up to me whether the photos are taken in the brilliance of a technicolor and vibrant existence … or from the only gray and black perspective of blame, discontent and frustration.

I determine to spend my days encouraging people and writing thank you notes.

I determine to invest the rest of my days believing for the best and not giving in to disillusionment or despair.  A very wise man once told me, “It’s more fun to believe!”

I determine to lavish in the laughter of children, to wade in the gift of extraordinary friends and to drown in the beauty of creation.

I determine to be kind to cantankerous and fractious people.  When I have been loving and generous in the face of personal cruelty and gossip, I have created a day that God Himself would applaud!

Life is too dear and much too fleeting to waste the glory of one ordinary day. I will not waste this life.  Not one day.  Not one hour.  Not one minute.

I will pray for miracles and I will also look for the opportunity to be someone else’s miracle.

Scrapbook of my heart blog pic 1

I now understand that tomorrow’s memories are being created today.  The choices and memories that I craft today will fill the pages of the scrapbook of my life in all the tomorrows yet to come.

And so, I resolve, this day, to splash extravagantly in the joy of His presence.  I resolve, this day, to be heaven’s gift to the world in which I have been placed for only a moment.Scrapbook of my heart blog pic 2Scrapbook of my heart blog pic 3

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100TH BLOG POST! – A Note to the 12 Year Old Me…and You

100th postThis is my 100th blog! Who knew that my thoughts, opinions, feelings and prayers were significant enough to fill 100 blogs?! God knew … He knows everything that is in my heart. I believe that He is actually in the process of going for the treasure in me and you … after all … He is the One Who put it there in the first place.

In honor of my 100th blog … I wanted to share something significant and impactful. I have pondered many possible topics … a few inconsequential meanderings … and several themes that you would quickly forget. And so … this is where I have landed … If I could talk to the 12 year old in you … and in me … this is what I wish someone would have told me when I was 12. I want to save you from some of my ridiculous mistakes and to challenge you to be more than you are.

And so … to the 12 year old Carol …

1 – It really is more important to be kind than to be pretty.  People will forget how you dressed for a certain occasion, what color eye shadow you wear and how often you get your hair cut. But they will never forget your heart. They will long remember and be impacted by your genuine kindness and friendship.

2 – Don’t date in high school … it is a total waste of time. Focus on things in high school other than the opposite sex. Develop Godly relationships with other girls. Reach out to girls who are being bullied and be their friend. Go on missions trips. Teach Sunday School. But please don’t give your heart to a string of hormonally charged males who care more about how you look than who you are. Wait for the right man at the right time. He is worth the wait … trust me … I know.

3 – Practice the piano or take gymnastics lessons... Keep playing soccer and writing in your journal. Take ballet and learn to give speeches. So often when the teenage years and hormones hit, girls become distracted from their childhood dreams.  Don’t allow your dreams or the disciplines of your little girl years to become lost in the foolishness of parties, social media and dating.

4 – Keep in touch with your childhood and high school friends. That sweet Girl Scout song holds a lifetime of truth in it, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” There is absolutely nothing like going out for lunch with someone who has known you since you were 8 or 10 or 12.

5 – Hold your babies … they grow up so quickly. Someday you really will meet the man of your dreams … and you really will have babies together … and you really will be a mom. When that day comes, remember that the bonding process that takes place during the newborn days is more valuable than a beautiful nursery, designer clothes or a full night’s sleep. Rock your babies … sing to them … hold them … snuggle them …pray over them. These really are the most precious moments of your entire life.

6 – Increase your vocabulary. Listen to the words that other people use and make a list of the words that are unfamiliar to you. Look up the meanings of the words and try to incorporate them into your daily speech. Sign up for “Word of the Day” from dictionary.com and challenge yourself to use that word in a conversation. There is nothing quite as captivating as a vocabulary that is not peppered with slang but is filled with the beauty of interesting words and enriching phrases.

7 – Don’t just read the twaddle of the day. Travel to England between the pages of “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”. Experience other times and places through the magic of great literature. Go to the Civil War in “Gone with the Wind” and through the pages of “Little Women”. The passport of your mind is too valuable to stay merely in one country and in one time period. Linger over a cup of tea with Ruth Graham in her biography, “A Portrait of Ruth” and travel to China with Amy Carmichael in “God’s Missionary”.  The world is so much bigger than your little corner of it … so envelop yourself in meaningful literature that will enlarge your capacity to dream. Trust me … I know.

8 – Listen more than you talk.  Women have a horrible habit of talking more than listening. Don’t be that girl. Ask questions of others and then truly care about their answers. Don’t feel that you have to say everything you think, feel and believe but be someone else’s safe place.

9 – Don’t always drive on the interstate … take back roads as often as you can.  Arriving at your chosen destination in the shortest possible time is not nearly as important as seeing the beauty along the way. Stop at an old bookstore … buy lemonade from a child … walk through an old cemetery and read the tombstones … linger over a well-tended garden.

10 – Respect your parents in every season of life. Listen to their wisdom and never discount their input. You really don’t know better than your parents. The world and your peers will tell you to mock them, tolerate them, disobey them, ignore them and sass them. God calls girls from every generation and every historical juncture to honor them. I don’t think that you have a better idea than God.

11 – Please dress modestly. Please!! Your body is not a show and tell stage for the world to gawk at! Your body was not meant to be paraded for every boy to see what you have been given. Pieces of your underwear should never be easily seen under your shirt, skirt, or shorts. You may think that jeans with rips around your private areas are stylish … they are not. They are seductive. You can be stylish without being sexy. I dare you! Try to do it! Be a young woman of virtue who refuses to cave into the culture. Have a backbone when it comes to how you dress … be lovely and not lascivious. (This is a word that you are going to have to look up! See #6 and follow the instructions there! You can do it … this is a word that you do not want used to describe you!)

12 – And please … don’t gossip! Don’t be a drama queen! The circumstances and events that you are going through today will quickly pass. Pray your way through every situation and allow God to give you peace. When you talk about others … let it always be in a kind and encouraging way. When others are gossiping … think of something good to say about the victim of their verbal abuse. Your words hold power and with your words you either wound someone or encourage someone.  Who do you want to be?

13 – Remind yourself on a daily basis that it really does pay to serve God. He has better plans for you than you can even imagine.

14 – Choose Godly friends who dress modestly, obey their parents and refuse to gossip or be drama queens. Your life will be better for it.

15 – Read your Bible every day.  Connect your soul to eternity through this one simple, yet life-altering, choice. You can never underestimate the power of reading a Psalm a day … a Proverb a day … or about the life of Jesus Christ every day. If you desire to be the very best version of “you” imaginable … you will read your Bible.

There are days that I wish I could be 12 years old again and anchor myself to these solid principles that somehow alluded me the first time around. However, we all only get to do life one time. We all only have one chance to be 12 … and 16 … and 23 … and 37 … and 45 … and 58. And so today I will hunker down once again into the important stuff in life and be the very best version of “me” possible. While my feet yet remain on the soil of planet earth, of worldly culture and of a civilization that touts compromise, I will maintain my focus on all that is glorious and eternal.

Happy 100th blog to me and to you! And to all of us … who are no longer 12 … let’s fill the rest of our days with all of our hearts set on that which is noble and pure.

“Finally, sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,  if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

100th post Girls Rule

If I Could Do It All Over Again

sarah and famOne of my dearest life-time friends, Sarah, is about to give birth this week to her third baby. Three world changing children known as Emma, Ethan and little no-name boy. (Sarah and Mike have sworn this new little baby boy’s name to great secrecy.  She won’t even tell me! Imagine that!!) Three new little lives in just barely over 4 years.

emma and ethan

Sarah is one of my heroines.

Because of Sarah, I have been thinking about those years when my house was an absolute mess and yet my heart was filled to overflowing with gratitude and love. I have been remembering the years when the laundry never ended, dirty dishes filled the sink and peanut butter and jelly crusts were all I ever ate for lunch.

Do you remember those days?  After my third baby was born, I counted it a successful day if I was out of my pajamas by 4 p.m.  I realized during those never-ending, noisy years that a long soak in a bubble bath was in some ways better than a trip to Hawaii.

In honor of Sarah and all of those other brave young moms who have chosen to walk the very brave road of large families, here is some advice from the heart of a mom who gave birth to 5 and wishes that she could do it all over again!

1 – Read books to your children.

pretty baby and mother read the booksStart reading to them from the day you bring them home from the hospital. Read “Pat the Bunny”, “I’ll Love You Forever”, “Good Night, Moon”, and the Bible.  Even though they may not understand the meaning of the words … they will understand the love and cadence in your voice.   As they grow into toddlers and pre-schoolers, read “The Little Engine that Could”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, “Amelia Bedelia” and the Bible.

When they are school age and beginning to read on their own, continue to make family story time a well-loved tradition and read to them. Read “Caddie Woodlawn”, “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, “Little House on the Prairie”, “Tom Sawyer” and the Bible.

At every age and every stage, read them biographies of men and women who weren’t afraid to dream big dreams and to live a life of resounding importance. Read them the biographies of missionaries, athletes, scientists and musicians.

And … at every age and every stage … read them the Bible.  A child can never read too many books.

 2 – Play music in your home.

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Start playing music to them from the day that you bring them home from the hospital.  Play the classics of Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin.  Play the great hymns of the faith that thousands have sung before this little life ever began.  Play worship music that is impacting this generation. Play the worship music that impacted your early years. Play the worship music that impacted your parents and grandparents.  Play Broadway Show tunes and musicals.  Play your favorite music.  A child can never listen to too much music.


3 – Hold your babies.

You never spoil a baby with love.  Rock them and sing to them.  Quote the word over them as you quiet them in the middle of the night.  It is no small thing to be given a gift from heaven … treat your tiny blessing with heavenly care.  Also … may I just say … never underestimate the impact that holding and rocking our babies will have during the teen-age years. But I will get to that later.  Trust me when I say you can never hold a baby too much.

baby hand

4 – Make a list of priorities. What matters the most to you?

A clean house or 3 home-cooked, gourmet meals every day?  Going for a jog or reading a book all by yourself in the evening?  Laundry that is done timely and folded when it comes out of the dryer or a beautiful garden outside your windows?

You can’t do it all … so set your priorities and stick to them.

Don’t ever feel guilty about everything that you aren’t able to do during this season but know that you are doing the most important things in life.

I remember one day when my highly successful, beautifully dressed mother walked into my zoo of a house filled with children. There were toys everywhere, the floor was sticky and the dishes hadn’t been done in days. That’s right … I said, “days”.  I was sitting in the middle of the family room floor reading books to my three boys when she walked in. I looked at her and said, “Mom, I am so sorry that my house looks like this.” She sat down on the couch, started folding the mountain of laundry and said, “That’s o.k., honey, you are doing the important things in life.”

At the end of every long, busy day, remind yourself, “That’s o.k., Sarah, you are doing the important things in life.”

Your children can never have too much of you. You are all that matters to them.

5 – Make sure that there is a lot of laughter in your home.

Serve green mashed potatoes on St. Patricks Day.  Serve hamburgers for breakfast and french toast for supper on April Fool’s Day. Read a joke every night at the dinner table. Bennet Cerf’s Book of Riddles was always our favorite.

Blow bubbles in the summertime and catch them on the tip of your nose.  Giggle together over the simple, delightful things in life. Don’t make your home such a serious place that it lacks the healing power of joy and gladness.  There can never be too much laughter in a home!

6 – Teach your children to pray.

child-prayingTeach your little ones that God really does listen when one of His children talks to Him.   Teach your babies that there is nothing too small to talk to God about. You can ask Him to heal your pets, give you a friend, help Daddy at work and help sister with her homework.

When you teach your children to pray, also teach them to trust God with the outcome. Let them know that God is loving and good and kind and we can trust our frail lives in His trust-worthy hands.  Teach your children that sometimes God says, “No,” … sometimes He says,  “Yes,” … and sometimes He says, “Have patience.”

A child can never pray too much, ask God for too much or trust enough!

7 – Teach your children to dream.

Teach your children to imagine and to dream!  Encourage their little imaginations to go vagabond as they conjure up days of safaris and castles and expeditions into outer space.  Talk to their imaginary friends as if they were truly a part of your family. What fun!  If you can cultivate a culture of dreams when they are little … then … when they are grown … they will refuse to limit themselves with mediocrity.  Say things to them like,

“If you can’t do it … no one can do it!”

“I believe in you!”

“God has great plans for your life!”

“You are here for purpose and destiny!”

“You are an Esther … a David … a Paul … a Moses … a Deborah!”

When they are grown, your children will know that they had a mom who believed in them then … and now.  A child can never have too many dreams.

8 – Know that the investment you are making today will reap a harvest of blessings and solid relationship in the future.

Do you want to know what I believe, Sarah?

I believe that when you hold your babies during these busy, frazzled, too-muchto-do, I-need-some-time-to-myself, would-everybody-please-leave-me-alone-and-let-mesleep-years … that you are planting a lovely garden of relationship with this little one that will be harvested during the teen and young adult years.

When a mom holds a baby, it layers the baby’s life with a security that can be developed in no other way.  When a mom holds a toddler, it chases away unreasonable fears and builds a foundation of trust that no teen-age hormones can erode.  When a mom snuggles with an infant, for no other reason than just because I love you and want you, it builds a garrison of strength around that baby’s heart that no weapon of the culture can penetrate.

So as you hold little “what’s his name”, Sarah, know that someday he will grow up. You only have 18 short years with him.

18 summers … 18 birthday cakes … 18 Christmas Eves that will fly away in a mere blink of time.  Read to him … sing to him … prioritize him … laugh with him … pray with Him … dream with him … hold him.

Sarah … read him the Bible and … please … give him a great name!  🙂

 

UPDATE – July 28, 2013

sarah and babySarah delivered a beautiful, healthy 8 lbs. 1 oz. little boy on July 28th!  And she gave him a GREAT name…  Everett Patrick (Everett means – “Courageous and unending praise!”)

You Are Raising Today the Ones Who Will Change History Tomorrow

Last week I read an article in the Huffington Post that deeply troubled me.  You can read the article here “Grown and Flown”  written by Lisa Endlich Heffernan.

I wrote a reply to her article that has generated a lot of conversation on Huffington Post.  You can read my reply Here  as well as my entire blog post HERE.

fjordTruthfully, in retrospect, what troubled me about Lisa’s article was the fact that she has chosen to live in a place of long-term regret.  I believe that as a healthy woman, it is important that when one looks back over one’s life what is most easily and vibrantly seen are those things that stir up gratitude and thankfulness.  And so my heart breaks for Lisa and for the sadness that fills her soul simply because she chose to stay at home with her children.

I know that the conflicting opinions between stay at home moms and working moms create a volatile issue among women today and truly it is not in my heart to make anyone feel guilty over their parenting choices.  I chose to stay home and I am glad that I did.  The sacrifice that my husband and I made financially still impacts our lives during our empty nest years and I turned down many prestigious and exciting career opportunities.  But if I had it to do over, I would do it again.  And again and again and again.

However, I am also wise enough to know that not many women are able to stay at home all day every day while their children are growing up. 

My heart breaks for single moms who would love to stay home but can’t.

My heart breaks for women whose husbands are underemployed or have lost their jobs and so these women must leave their children under the care of others for 40 or more hours a week.

My heart aches for young widows who must provide food on the table, medical insurance and the monthly mortgage payments alone.

Unfortunately, we live in a two-income world and in order for a family to have any financial latitude or stability at all, many women are forced to work outside the home.

I know all of these things … and this is what I want to say from the heart of a mother whose children are now healthy adults pursuing with passion and focus the dreams that are within their magnificent hearts.

Spend as much time with your children as you can.  If you must work outside the home, then give up other things that would take you away from quality and quantity of time with your children.  Rather than going to the gym 5 nights a week … go during your lunch hour so that the evening hours are times of reading books, playing games and snuggling.  Rather than going to Weight-Watchers, book club and making coffee dates with friends, have people in your home and make it a family night.

time shadow           

Always remember that love to a child is spelled T-I-M-E.

            If at all possible, during the pre-school years, work only part-time or not at all.  Habits are developed, character is set, self-esteem is created and home values are established during the important pre-school years.  No one will do the job that you, the mother, will do.  No one can take your place … not a daycare … not a nanny … and not even a wonderful grandmother.  Do not underestimate the importance of a leisurely morning of homemade pancakes, followed by an hour of reading books and snuggling on the couch and then time spent together making messy crafts and singing silly songs.  These years will never come again so wring the joy and purpose out of each one.

            If you must work due to extenuating circumstances, don’t spend one day in guilt but joyfully give everything you have and everything you pretty baby and mother read the booksare to your children when you are together.  Make every week-end a time of celebration and love.  This does not necessarily mean spending wads of money. Your meaningful and delightful time together can include making cookies, going for walks, doing crafts, reading books, going to the library, planting a summer garden, blowing bubbles, making snow angels, counting the stars and a thousand other activities that just say, “We’re together!”

            Re-evaluate your spending habits and financial goals to see if you can lessen the hours spent away from home.  If you are working in order to go to Disney World, buy a boat or live in the lap of luxury … think again.  Your kids want you more than they want designer clothes, $1,000 birthday parties or colossal Christmases.  They want you.

            When you are together, try to lay aside the computer, your phone, the iPad and anything else that makes your child feel unimportant in your life.  Focus on your child’s dear face, their precious and creative words, the inflection in their sweet voices and the heart they are offering to you, their mom.  Today’s e-mail, twitter and Facebook posts are rubbish in comparison to the soul of your growing child.

Whether you work 40 hours a week at a prestigious job, 20 hours a week at a mediocre job or stay at home all day long, know that the gift of parenting is unequalled in importance or in prestige.  Remind yourself that your career does not equal self esteem, your income does not define your importancemother with children sits on the grass and the demands of a boss are not nearly as important as birthday parties, ball games and ballet recitals.  Make choices based upon long-term investment in your family rather than the short-term clamor of today.  When you are with your children during those precious hours, whether long or short, give them your whole heart and attention.

            Parenting is not easy but it is worth it!  When my children were small, I used to love to mow the grass.  I would beg Craig, my husband, to let me mow our acre yard every week from April – November.  He would stay inside with the children and I would sweat with delight as I pushed our lawn mower through the weeds and grass that filled our yard.  I have figured out in these latter years, that the reason I loved mowing the lawn so much is because I saw immediate results.  I could look behind me and see exactly where I had been and the difference that my sweat and woman-power had made.  Parenting is not like that.  As a mother, you sweat, push, walk, pull, talk, encourage, scold, exhort and rarely see an immediate result.  However, in the long haul of parenting, you are making a difference.

You are today raising the ones who will change history tomorrow.

You are raising the dreamers, the doers, and the doctors of the next generation.  You are raising presidents, authors, pastors, thinkers, mothers and worship leaders.  You are raising men and women who will live on in history because of your impact.

You are fixing the mistakes of our generation by raising the next with honor and integrity.

You are splashing a dark and ruined world with the miraculous legacy  fashioned by a stable home and of parents who were engaged in the lives of those whom they treasured the most.

Whether you work 40 hours a week or have been given the delightful opportunity to be a stay at home mom, value the lives of those whom you have created by an act of love.  Their lives will never develop well without you and you will never become the person you were meant to be without them.