Monday, August 7, 2017

Look up

I had the rare moment last week to spend some one on one time with my oldest child. We were driving and sharing a delicious peach shake, passing it back and forth from front seat to back. The windows were down as we sang along to the radio until we came to a red light. And then my simple, quiet seven year old son looked at the driver next to us and said something so profound, "Mommy, why does everyone always stare into their phones. It's not like the whole world is in there.  They need to look up more."

We are going through life at such a rapid pace that I think as adults we don't notice it much, but if we take a moment to peer through the eyes of a child, it must look odd.  Sunsets, trees, old buildings, people and living in one of the most beautiful places in the world and so many are staring into a screen looking for fulfillment to jump out of a device.  We can't even sit at a stoplight taking in the view around us without so many feeling that pull to check text messages, email or some form of social media.  It hit me, convicted me and has stuck with me so much.

My kids are growing rapidly and I don't want snapshots posted to Facebook to ever overtake the feelings those memories give me when I close my eyes and can put myself right back into a place in the past where their smiles melted my heart or their cuddles made me feel right at home.  I don't want anyone to feel like they own my time and that their email demands time over what is happening around the supper table.  I hate the thought of my husband and I sitting side by side silently as we scroll through the lives of others and ignore the beauty our life provides.  

One thing I have gotten my kids to do is when we try a new or particularly delicious food, we close our eyes and try to distinguish the flavors and ingredients without our eyes. I want them to create a life filled with more knowledge from their own senses than from what the world is throwing at them. I want them to have the freedom that seems so rare to others as the world is becoming slaves to technology.  This week let's all take the time to appreciate the beauty around us, breathe in slowly, smells the roses and spend more time just looking up.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Something it seems only we have...

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and randomly ended up here in Hartsville for a summer in 2003. It seemed everyone I talked to here was so interested in getting out of dodge and checking out places like where I am from. For me, I felt like I had hit the jackpot in this two stoplight town.  I dreaded the end of that summer and having to leave this place.

I spent the next few years in Illinois working and starting college, all the while dreaming of Tennessee. What tugged at my heart the most? Those stars. Nowhere I had traveled had a sky quite like the one over Trousdale County.  It is the kind of sky that you look up and forget the rest of the world because you are so transfixed in that moment.

That sky drew me back in 2007 when I moved to Lebanon to finish my degree and while most of my friends at Cumberland University graduated and moved closer to wherever home was for them, I fell in love with my future husband and we both decided that after graduation, our life would continue in Tennessee.  We lived close to the school on a five year plan that turned into longer, busting our tails to make our dreams come true.  What was that dream? A humble country home on a piece of land under that sky that captivated us.

Here we have been for a year now with dreams having become reality.  As I write this, the moon is full and clear surrounded by a countless amount of stars that don't seem to be the same ones shining even just a city over.  The bugs and frogs are performing an orchestra and the air is rejuvenating my lungs after a busy day. This place is a slice of heaven on Earth. I know that you can find beauty anywhere you look for it, but I truly believe we don't have to look far at all for those of us who call Hartsville our home.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What you don't see...

We live so much of our lives behind a screen: posting the best, taking twenty shots before one looks just right, able to edit our words to turn out just right when in real life we babble nonsense all the time wishing we could use that edit button over our mouths. 
People have told me how perfect my family is, my marriage is, my life is. And I feel guilty because if that is what people are seeing through their phone screens, I feel like what I am portraying is a lie. Let me tell you what you don't see. Mamas I know so many of you can relate. 
What you see is a woman who seems to do it all and keep a smile on her face.
What you don't see is someone who feels like the clown in a circus, spinning so many plates and trying not to let one drop. Someone who gives every single ounce of herself to her family and still lays her head on the pillow at night feeling guilty for not mustering up 110% that day. Who feels like criticizing eyes are around every corner waiting for her next failure. 
What you see is a woman who some days feels like the most beautiful creature on earth, empowered by the fact that I carried three lives in my own body, that my breasts hold the power to nourish my child with everything she needs and that I can keep up with my three children with energy to spare.  But what you don't see is a girl who is consumed sometimes with not eating "too much", who walks into a workout class knowing I have the stamina to far outdo most women in there but still immediately recognizes that I am the biggest one compared to the tiny frames surrounding me. The one who spends countless amount of moments cursing herself because all of the clean eating and working out isn't making a large dent in the scale and will never fully believe her husband when he tells her she is the most beautiful woman he has ever laid eyes on.
What you see is a quiet, well-behaved child who stays to himself and loves his mama with all of his heart.
What you don't see is a mother who dies inside every time her boy isn't able to do things other kids can, can't comprehend the world like everyone else and struggles at things that should come easy. A mom who has to hide her face in the front seat of the car and sob in her jacket when her firstborn tells her the neighborhood kids called him dumb or different. A mother who spends hours meal-planning, researching and working with her son so he can learn and feel and behave to the best of his ability.
  What you see is a super intelligent child with a vigor for life like no other.
What you don't see is a boy who comprehends the world like an adult should, not a child. Who wakes up screaming from nightmares on the regular and cries for orphans and prays for the homeless daily.  A boy who can't sit still and who's behavior has sent his parents to the point of praying face-down on his floor so just reaching their hands out: one covering him in prayer and one reaching up toward God asking for answers for his obedience.
 And a beautiful baby girl who has brought so much joy into the world. But who has also brought much fear- raising girls is scary stuff in a world driven by sex and power and what feels like predators lurking around every corner. A girl whose Mama prays to raise into a powerful, loving, Christ-filled woman who knows who she is and forever remains her best friend.
And finally, what you see is two people who love each other fiercely, who can joke through the hard times when they want to wring each other's necks and who are best friends.
What you don't see is a couple who are working so hard to pay down student loans that some days they see each other for a total of 15 minutes, trying to keep love alive through text messages and brief phone conversations. Two people who had a rough first few years that probably could have easily ended in divorce but they kept putting it in God's hands and praying for better until it came true. Two people who have broken each other's hearts countless times but have chosen forgiveness each time and have busted their tails to be in the relationship they are in today. 
When we moved into our new home, the neighbor kids drove me nuts. They are far more "worldly" and know way more language and things than I am ready for my kids to know. They can be mean and ugly and I got to the point that I was banning them from our yard. But it hit me- I decided to love them anyways and see where it went from there. And I have seen big things happen from inviting them into our lives, our church events, our homes. Huge things. 
And just recently it hit me- yes it's easy to love on children but why am I not doing this with adults too? We all have junk, big time stuff that we hide behind our pretty poses and status updates and fake smiles. We quickly judge and make up our mind. We don't take the time to get to the root of who a person is and just easily write them off. 
I was working with a group of about 20 elementary age students the other day and I asked them, "Who in here is struggling with something that no one else knows about right now?". Every single one of them shot a hand up in the air. These are little kids. I am guessing us adults can take most of those problems and multiply them by ten to equal our own. 
So do I write all this for you to understand me better? No I want you to understand every person better. What you see is NEVER what you get. Let's step out of our comfort zones and be vulnerable. Let's open up and be real and let others do the same. And when we are all big, messy, honest, broken pieces-let's love each other big time and watch our shattered selves slowly mend back together. I have watched 2016 be filled with more hate and greed and judgment than my heart could handle. Let's fix it. Let's outdo all that hate with love so big our world can't contain it. 
Who's with me?