You Know You’re a Soccer Mom When…

Just for fun…

You know you’re a “soccer Mom” when

  • … someone asks how old your kid is and you answer a number with a “u” in front of it.
  • … you go to a Broadway play and check the program for “half-time.”
  • … your “back-to-soccer” pictures trump the “back-to-school” pictures.
  • … your “new car smell” only lasts until the first practice.
  • … you have witnessed true exorcism of devilish entrails when an opposing parent is self-diagnosed as “smarter than the referee’s call.”
  • … your child has a perfected British accent from watching games before he was 5.
  • … church runs over the normal time, and you wonder how much “stoppage time” was added.
  • … “upper 90” has nothing to do with being old.
  • … you give your kid yellow and red cards for punishment in the house. (Yellow might mean time out, but red means Dad is getting involved.)
  • … you call the baseball umpire a “ref.” (I love to watch my baseball-playing nephews!)
  • … football players seem overdressed. (Though I still love to watch football!)
  • … you can’t remember a Mother’s Day that you didn’t celebrate from the sidelines.
  • … you go to Florida to run into your Michigan friends, now that you live in North Carolina. (Because the soccer worlds always collide.)
  • … your kid has more daily multi-cultural experiences than the UN.
  • … the words “Classic,” “Select,” “Challenge,” and “Recreation” rank like school grades.
  • … you spend more on soccer uniforms and equipment than college.
  • … “Nutmeg” is not a spice. (Thanks, Jodi, for that suggestion on Facebook!)

 

… And some days you wish there were some overtime sessions in motherhood, so it would last a little longer – with stoppage time.

Blessed to be a Soccer Mom,

Terri

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Waiting for the Other Shoe

Dear Lindsey

He got in the car and said, “Has anybody seen my other shoe?”  We were on our way to church for our bi-weekly geography class with other homeschoolers.

“You got in the car wearing only one shoe?!” I said, changing my mood from fun Miss Frizzle to Miss Frazzled as we rushed down the road, trying to gain the minutes we had lost by leaving late.

“NO. I was carrying TWO shoes when I go into the car, but now ONE is gone! Christine!” he blamed his sister for not looking hard enough.

Seeing her reading in the front seat, I got her attention: “Christine, if you lost your own shoe, you would appreciate others helping to look. Please look.”

She looked under and around her seat; no black tennis shoe with neon orange laces was found, so she returned to reading.

We got to church. Still no shoe.

We got out of the car and my son slithered over the tops and under the seats, contorting his body to every nook and cranny of the vehicle, but still no shoe.

“Well you will just have to wear your socks to class today. It’s OK – homeschoolers are used to it,” I joked.

As we walked from the parking lot, many of their friends were in the church yard kicking a soccer ball.  Next to the door, there were two Crocs (shoes) waiting for their owner to claim them before re-entering the building.

“Look! One of those soccer kids took off his shoes! You can wear them and see how long it takes him to notice!” I jested – hoping to improve my son’s mood before we got into the building.

That’s when he surprised me the most….

THERE’S MY CROCSI WAS WONDERING WHERE I HAD LEFT THEM!” He ran crocs-at-church and put on the shoes that were sitting outside of the church’s backdoor…. presumably for the past two weeks since our last geography class when we had used that entrance.

I can’t say I have ever gone to a church with shoes on and gone home without them.  I started to ask questions as to how exactly that happened and decided it was best just to laugh, because I was going to anyway!

I asked J.R. if I could share this story on my blog. (I don’t like to publish things that my kids would not want to be shared.) He said, “I guess, if you think it would help someone.” (Ha! So sweet!)

I asked him how he thought it could help someone… or if it was just a story that would make us laugh – which is what the three of us were doing when we saw the Crocs.

He said, “Well you could tell people that sometimes when you think you lost something, God is just saving it for the right time.”

Perfect.

  • When you lose that house you wanted because of someone else’s offer: wait – God might have the perfect one waiting in the perfect timing.
  • When you lose the opportunity to be on that team because you are not big enough:  wait – God might have the perfect team on hold for the perfect time.
  • When you lose that job you thought you would have forever:  just wait – God might have the perfect job (or one you lost before) to offer at the time when you need it most.

Or when you lose your shoe – just know that God might have another complete pair waiting for you to find at just the right place and just the right time.

Feel free to start a comment below with “when you lose” if you have a time when God gave you your other “shoe” at just the perfect time.

Blessings,

Terri (and J.R.)

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

P.S. In case you were wondering: When we arrived home after class, his other shoe was found lying in the foyer where he must have dropped it en route to the car.

found-shoe

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My Mom

Dear Lindsey,

My mother has passed from this life to her new home in heaven.  Though I will miss her, I am grateful she is out of her failing body, out of pain, and in a peace I cannot imagine – such a contrast to the sickness in this world!

As a tribute to Mom, I thought I would tell some of my “Mom” stories.  I originally wrote them in the letter, “Shout Out to Moms,” written for the week of Mother’s Day, 2012.  In that letter, I added a daily “mom” to whom I was “shouting out.” Some were friends, some strangers, and some relatives. I saved my mom for last.

However, just this past spring, Mom called me and said, “I just read that letter you wrote about a shout out to moms! That was so sweet of you to write!” She thought I had just written it! She had never seen my 2012 shout out! That made me laugh, since I had of course sent her the specific link back then, but at 76-years-old, she admittedly was not the most tech-savvy.  In God’s perfect timing, she read the shout out as one of her last readings.

In my parting words to her in hospice this week, I said, “Mom, I love being a mother – and I am sure much of it is because of the mother you were. Thank you.”  She is worthy of a shout out!  Here is the tribute, quoted from “Shout Out to Moms!” published in May, 2012:

Lastly, and of course most importantly to me, I would love to shout about my own mom, Sue Estes. An amazing cook, she defined volunteer work by cooking for 80 children every Wednesday night at the church where I grew up in Carlisle, PA. She knows food is a love language, and she is fluent in it! Famous for her pies, she would make an entire pie for every person who attended our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Hospitality was her natural gift. I don’t mean the pinky-in-the-air matching place-settings, (which she had!) but I mean the door was open to whoever walked in, and they would feel welcome to live there, anytime. Her freezer and cupboard were full “just in case” someone stopped in “unexpectedly.” She expected it.

Mom and Me

Jesus said, “What you have done for the least of these, my brethren, you have done for me.” My mother served “Jesus” on more than one occasion. Once there was a bad car accident on the highway near our neighborhood. We children heard the collision and ran to the fence to see. My mother followed through with more than rubber-necking. I don’t know if she jumped the fence, or jumped in the car and followed the ambulance, but I do know that the family that was far from home on vacation was hospitalized and released at different times from each other. My mother offered our home to the father and children while they waited for the other children and mother to be released from the hospital. In my memory it was months, but knowing how children’s brains work, I guess it was probably a week that this family “moved in” with us, with bandaged wounds showing, as they awaited the mother’s medical clearance.Mom had a dream to be a nurse, but when she was a teen, she came upon a bad car accident and fainted. Because of the experience, she “chickened out” from nursing school. The dream never faded, even after her courage had. Years later, when my oldest brother graduated from high school (and her youngest of four was in 4th grade), my mom tenaciously picked herself up by the bootstraps and went to college, 45 minutes from home, full time. She graduated from college as an R.N. the same week as her oldest child.

I don’t know if it is possible to identify, much less quantify someone’s greatest trait, but Mom surpasses the world’s standards when it comes to being flexible and conforming to circumstances that change. She has been babysitting for me and ended up voluntarily taking on other people’s kids when their sitter didn’t show up. Once on family vacation, when our car ran off the road on the way back from a remote fishing lake in Canada, embedding in sand and needing a tow truck, she immediately got all of the fish out and started lining them up on the ground to make a photo shoot out of the time we had to kill. What would have been a stressful, bad memory turned into fun. (Although, we did laugh AT her sometimes, I think she knew deep down we enjoyed it.)

In 2008, when I had to make the call to let my parents know I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I really think Mom was in the car before I hung up – ready to make the 1600miles drive to be by my side…for a doctor’s appointment. Wild horses had to hold her back until a few weeks after surgery, when I really needed someone flexible enough to let me try some steps back into life, but take over when I got exhausted.

“Shouting out!” about her kids has never been held back by my mom. She would tell a complete stranger in Walmart or Wendys (the two places I specifically remember witnessing!) all about her children and grandchildren’s accomplishments. She is president of fan clubs for 4 adult-children and 12 grandchildren [and a 2014 great-grandchild] ! I love you, Mom!

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J.R. (at 3-yrs-old) summed it up best when he asked, “Who is God’s mommy?”  I told him God did not have a mommy, and he exasperatedly replied, “Oh, He must be so sad!”

God truly blessed us when He gave us mothers.

In love and thankfulness for Mom,

Terri Brady

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Version 2

Sue Estes 1939 – 2015

Obituary: Estes, Sue

ESTES, Sue — Age 76, of Aurora, CO, entered heaven on August 14, 2015. Sue, also known as “Sudie,” “Mom,” “Grammy,” “Mimi,” and “GG,” will be missed. Her piano-playing reached the hearts of the listeners. Her tenacity led her to finish a college degree (as a Registered Nurse) at age forty-five. She added her own touch to geriatric nursing, in the form of piano playing and homemade pies for the residents of the nursing home where she worked. She will likely be most remembered for the “open door” policy of her home, which always included desserts! Much of Sue’s active adult life was spent in the throes of motherhood and serving at church in Carlisle, PA, before retiring with her husband, moving to Colorado.

Her life will be celebrated with a service, followed by finger food and “Dessert with Sue,” featuring Sue’s recipes on Saturday, October 10th, 2015 at 11am, at 2nd Presbyterian Church, 528 Garland Dr., Carlisle, PA. Black tie attire will not be allowed.

Sue is survived by Ron, her husband of 55 years, and children: Larry D. Estes (& Julie), Timothy R. Estes (& Lori), Terri M. Brady (& Chris) as well as Sue’s brother, Charles (and Mary Jo) and brother-in-law, Edward E. Seitz (of the late June R. (Hodge) Seitz). She is preceded in death by her beloved son, Michael E. Estes (deceased Jan. 2014). She was loved by many, including twelve grandchildren, one great-grandchild and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of the following:

  • Porter Hospice Foundation, (where Sue and family received excellent care following her stroke) 1391 Speer Blvd., Suite 600, Denver, CO 80204 or online at Porter Hospice Donation
  • 2nd Presbyterian Church Kitchen Renovation. Checks to: “2nd Presbyterian Church” 528 Garland Dr, Carlisle, PA 17013. Write “In memory of Sue Estes” on the memo line, or give online at 2nd Presbyterian Church Donations.

Rowena Sue (Hodge) Estes was the youngest of five, born February 15, 1939, the daughter of the late Joseph C. Hodge and Annie P. Hodge. She was a 1957 graduate of Talladega High School, in Talladega, AL and attended University of Montevallo. She married Ronald L. Estes on April 3, 1960 and was a 1984 graduate of Harrisburg Area Community College. Together, they resided in Festus, MO; Penn Hills, PA; Carlisle, PA; Ft. Collins, CO and Aurora, CO until the present.

I Miss When They…

Dear Lindsey,

“Class of 2015.”

That seemed like “Jetsons” time of the future when I first heard that my child would be in the “Class of 2015”. But like the “Party of 1999,” it came and went. My son left for college Monday and we are down to five seats at the dinner table. Sniff. Sniff.

For those of you who had babies in 2015, your child will be somewhere around the class of 2033. I almost named this letter, “To the mothers of the class of 2033.”  Doesn’t that sound SO much in the future?!! It is. But I want to tell you, like so many mothers before me told me, it will be here sooner than you think!

I could pontificate for hours on that alone, but I thought instead I would just throw out some random thoughts about having young kids. I had it listed as “Ten Notes to Young Moms,” but the number kept changing, so I am just leaving it as is: unsolicited advice:

(If you are an “old mother” like me, feel free to attach comments below with your “unsolicited advice to young mothers”!)

  • Be silly. You will miss the silly days! Push the grocery cart and make “Vrooming” sounds while your kids “drive” and almost crash into the lettuce! Make hungry monster sounds while the sock monster gobbles up those little feet, getting them dressed for the day. Have the goose in your pocket (your hand in the shape of a goose’s beak) “goose” them up the stairs when it’s time for PJ’s. Let your little princess do your hair, or your prince carry your suitcase. You may look silly to everybody except the ones who matter. You will be amazed how a little “vrooming” takes away your own stress in life. I miss that!
  • Be happy. Kids’ peace comes from your peace. Our mouths can feed our minds. Make your mouth speak happy thoughts to your mind and to your kids’ minds. It seems like happiness would be easy when surrounded by youth, but alas, the enemy seems to thrive by stealing smiles from moms. Happiness is a choice – Make it!

Video: Excitement of bringing home baby #3 (Christine) and the “toddler buzz” about it!

  • Slow down. Life gets so busy. I know you want them to excel in all areas. I know you want them to be geniuses. I know you want them to play instruments, do sports, become leaders. Don’t sacrifice their childhood on the altar of your goalsetting. There will be time. I promise. There will be time when they are so busy, you will be the one wishing to slow down. Enjoy their youth and allow them to get serious about things when they are the ones driving it. I miss lying in the front yard looking at clouds and pretending they are animals.
  • Blow bubbles. I used to be afraid that some moment would slip by and I would miss my chance to teach something important. I didn’t want to miss a teachable moment. I think my pendulum swung too far. Some moments are meant for just soaking in. Stop and blow bubbles. I miss that.
  • Don’t be so embarrassed; other people love your imperfect kids! When I drove to my friend’s house, whom I hadn’t seen in a year, her toddlers, age 3 and 4 greeted me in the driveway. The older stopped abruptly when I opened my car door, and said in a disgusted tone, “You don’t look like Mr. Brady!”

Oh my! My heart laughed! How I missed having toddlers! I missed the times when they got the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” reversed! I missed their fresh look on old things! Your toddlers (when behaving) do not need an apology! You may be surprised what a blessing they are to those who no longer have toddlers! Let them bless!

  • If you want to relate to your teenagers, relate to your toddlers. Relationships aren’t made overnight, though one night can break them. Out-of-control teens can grow from seeds of out-of-control toddlers. Enemy teens grow from seeds of ignored toddlers. Spend time with them doing what they love.

photo: Casey’s yearbook page this past year:

  • Be eternally focused. It is easy to get mixed up in the exhaustion of daily diapers, meals and activities and forget what really matters. Pray aloud when an ambulance goes by with lights on. Do your kids know you trust God to get through your day? Do they know you are a sinner in need of a Savior? (My kids are still shocked at that one! haha!) Do you show them the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc Gal 5:22) because you love the Lord, or because a purple dinosaur said that they were neat for a family? Ask them often what they are thankful for – and live in a way that shows them how thankful you are.
  • Make “me” time a priority. What you are full of is what comes out if you are squeezed! Like putting your oxygen mask on before attempting to assist your children, be sure you have your “me” time. Without working out, or reading my Bible, I am full of stuff that I wouldn’t want to “squeeze” on anybody! So I have had to make it a priority in my day!
  • Be careful with “me” time. I tread on this lightly, but “me” time is addicting. Some think pedicures are a right; a toddler-less hair appointment is a given; a girls’-night-out is part of some unwritten contract. They are not.

Motherhood is a selfless act of living, and often it means many “me times” are given up for a season, because priorities shift. But don’t grow weary (Gal 6:9-10), the season will pass.

I remember when my second child was two-years-old and we had a gym membership. At home, my husband and I had decided we would be a reading family, and rarely allowed our kids to watch movies or television.  Now with my “me” time, I was enjoying trying to get back into pre-baby shape, spending time daily at the gym, since childcare was “free”. Oh the joy of a one-hour class and the subsequent kid-free shower and blow-dry!! However, the “free childcare” was zombie transformation.  My kids sat like zombies in front of the gym’s television, showing whatever brainless cartoon happened to be on for the hour of my class, while the worker sat behind them, busy on her phone. I quickly realized it wasn’t worth the price of giving up these precious morning hours with my kids. I ended up changing my mid-morning “me” time to make it (super) early morning “me” time at the gym (so kids would be in bed – not brainless in front of the TV), but oh my what a blessing! By the time the kids were ready for their day, I was ready for my kids! And they weren’t cartoon zombies!

  • Love your spouse. Maybe this should have been first on the list, since it comes as the first priority above the kids. Kids feel security when they see security between Mom and Dad. I have heard moms say, “I would jump in front of a speeding bus to save my kids! That’s how much I love them.” I am glad you are willing to let yourself die to save them by jumping in front of a moving vehicle, but you are more likely to be called to “let yourself die” by dying to self in interaction with your husband…to save your kids. Stop being your husband’s opponent. Stop thinking bad thoughts about him. Stop dreaming of a perfect man who doesn’t live in your house. You want to save your kids? Then be sure you are doing your best to save your marriage.* Talk positively about their dad behind his back! Tell them about your real-live superhero! Sit next to him at the table or at church. Don’t let the kids get between you in seating or in life. Have date nights and make it a big deal to the kids that you are going out with their dad! But it shouldn’t take a date night to create a happily-ever-after in the bedroom. Make a great marriage. Their future marriages depend on yours.
  • Tell/Show your kids you love them.  Kids hear “I love you” when you tell others that you love your kids. Talk positively about your kids to others in front of them and behind their backs! I am not saying you should brag, but stop the complaining! If someone compliments them, say, “thank you.” Or “She has been working at that,” or something that encourages your child to continue the good behavior. Resist the urge to block the compliment with negative that will shout louder than the positive, like, “She has good manners for you, but I wish she would treat her brother that way!”  You may think you are being humble, but your kids are taking the chinks in their armor because of your words.
  • Teach them to love and respect parents and siblings. You are raising future spouses. I recently had to stop my ten-year-old, riding on his older brother’s shoulders, from trying to rip his sister’s head off while they were playing “chicken fights” in the pool. “But Mom!” my daughter contested from her perch on her other older brother’s shoulders, “Why did you stop him?! I like it!”

Easy answer: “Because I am raising a future husband, and that is not how he should treat his future wife.”

  • Put your phone down. (and be sure they do too.) I know it is a fight. I fight
    Casey Brady - graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    Casey Brady – graduation 2015 (with the cutest photobomb by one of our family friends!)

    myself on it. But you will never regret having screens off!

  • Date them. Without distraction. My kids have enjoyed the Mom dates. OK, maybe it was just the donuts they enjoyed, but I like to think they enjoyed the conversation and fun one-on-one games at the donut shop. Intimacy of one-on-one conversation is important to any relationship, but especially when children are in a house full of kids who are usually splitting the mom time! I have heard that kids spell love, “T-I-M-E.” It is amazing how a little one-on-one always improves a toddler’s behavior.
  • Enjoy the season (and know the next season will be great too!) In the words of Dr. Robert Smith Jr, “Don’t waste Chapter 8 because you are too focused on chapter 9.” God planned every season of motherhood with a purpose. Even potty-training! Even colicky babies! My 4th baby was such a cryer; I often worried I would wish his babyhood away, because I was so anxious for the crying to stop. I almost looked so much at “Chapter 9” that I missed out on “Chapter 8” with him – and my other kids.
  • Remember, “This too shall pass.” I remember times when I thought I would never make it through the day, much less through their toddlerhood, or childhood. It seemed like I would never be able to stop the car, and get out without waiting for someone to find the shoe that they had miraculously lost in the 3 minute drive to the store. I thought I would never make it through a meal without cleaning up a spill (or four!), or finish a phone call without having to cut it short because of some escalating calamity. But it is passing all too quickly. Now I beg my kids to go to the store with me. I definitely never imagined THAT when they were young! haha!…

 

I wonder if I could get them all to ride in the cart and say, “vroom!” now??!

Casey at college this past Monday:

IMG_9572

In 2033, you will look back and think, “Wow. It went so fast!” just like all the rest of the “old” mothers. If you look back and say, “I miss when they…,” more than “I wish I had…,”  I think you did it right.

In love,

Terri Brady

  • *  When I talk about “saving your kids by saving your marriage,” my heart breaks for those who are in the midst of the struggle. I feel like it is torturous on so many – especially those who are divorced due to unrepentant infidelity or abuse – my heart and prayers go out to you. May God guide you through and make your kids strong in Him! But for those who are truly just not “dying to self,” and instead battling the things I mention, my statement remains. I pray you have guidance and courage to die to self to save your marriage. God is bigger than the struggle!

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Chin Ups (Via Humorous Teens)

Dear Lindsey,

As heavy as life can get, I love it when a lighter side keeps my chin up.

While Christine and I were away visiting Mom in a Colorado hospital following her stroke, and Chris was speaking at Life Leadership’s Summer Convention in Wisconsin, the three boys were left at home to their own devices. (“devices” ha! I guess I could intend that pun, since their humor used their phones 🙂 )

Since the older two have a schedule of soccer workouts and work, I decided to have a nanny stay the nights, but she kept her job working days elsewhere.  She was sweet enough to text the boys (age 18 and 15) during the day to be sure everything was ok. (She probably was making sure they were taking care of JR (age 10)  too!)

Here is how the exchange went. {For those of you who are not familiar with this phone screen, the “GROUP” is Casey (age 18), Nate (age 15), and Lydia (the nanny), so they can all see each other’s replies, even though none are in the same location. This is Casey’s phone screen, so his words are the ones in BLUE.}

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I am grateful they have a sense of humor, and especially grateful Lydia does too!

In fun,

Terri

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If You Give a Sanguine a Marker, She Might Change the World!

C text room wreck

“Everything looks like junk to me and treasure to her!” my husband vented in a text to me, while he was trying to help my daughter finish packing her room for our move across town. Our family’s recent move put us all into fights and flights – where personality differences are most evident.

Bedroom door decor

Bedroom door decor

A flurry of creative design, my sanguine daughter’s bedroom is a sight to behold. I pray daily that I will see God’s design in that “butterfly”, and allow it to fly, while teaching her (age eleven) the necessities of being a future wife and mother who lives on THIS earth, even if her mind lives elsewhere. Today, I found cut up toilet paper inserts, decorated with cupcake papers to create perfect little owls. She also took two advertisement magazines I thought I had discarded and cut them apart to mix and match. The clothing models looked like they were ready to take a rest in Pottery Barn magazine’s color-coordinated beds. Where does she come up with this?!! Look out, world, if she ever finds Pinterest!

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine's ad.

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine’s ad.

So how was she supposed to pack her room? How could she part with toilet paper inserts, advertisement magazines, coffee cans and the rest of what she must have absconded from the recycle bin in the garage?! She told me her room was “completely packed,” so I went to inspect. I found one gigantic box in the middle of her floor, full of those “recyclable treasures,” but not one stitch of clothing was packed; her bed was still made; the toothbrush must have seemed optional along with her school books, because nothing was packed except the “treasures.”

My choleric son (age fourteen), however, was “done packing” exactly oneIMG_5417 half -hour after I had asked him to start. The hallway outside of his room was lined with trash bags, labeled, “throw away.” I think he wanted to save six or seven shirts, and the rest he didn’t think worthy of unpacking in the new house, (or giving as hand-me-downs to his younger brother which I always do) so he wanted them out of his way – choleric style. DONE! (I pray A LOT for his future wife, LOL! And, I filed the clothes away as hand-me-downs.)

Today’s story of my butterfly’s latest flight began because during the packing weeks, she found the brand new markers – black, blue and red – and the way Miss Kristen (who was helping us pack) was using them to label every box as she packed. My daughter wanted to be where there were people – not in her room where she was supposed to be packing; so Butterfly began drawing on the boxes. She was thrilled to have markers with ink (since they hadn’t been lost, and nobody had left the caps off…yet) and she wrote …and wrote….and wrote. I didn’t stop her, because honestly, I knew that if she were with Kristen or me where we were packing, she wasn’t somewhere confiscating the bubblewrap for future crafts.

Butterfly’s writing on the boxes was a little different than Miss Kristen’s or mine. Ours said simply,

“FROM: old living room.

TO: new family room.

CONTENTS: photo albums.”

Butterfly’s messages were more like

“Smile! God is with you!”

“Turn that frown upside down!”

“The sun will come out tomorrow! Look up!”

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I was amused with her continuously encouraging words and wondered who she thought would read them. (Though I was reading them…and they had blessed me already!)

That’s when I noticed her younger brother had picked up on the trend. He drew big smiley faces, or cartoons with talking bubbles, making the readers (including me!) laugh.

IMG_5459

IMG_5454Miss Kristen was uplifted as she packed books…thousands of books…into boxes, each one being decorated as soon as it received its closing tape.

“Who are you writing those messages to?” I asked my daughter as she fluttered from one box to the next.

“Well, aren’t people going to move these boxes?” she asked.

“Yes, we will have movers,” I said.

“Yep, then I think they are the ones who will read it. But really, whoever God wants to read them!” she said with delight as she saw another room full of boxes she had not yet decorated.

I continued working, huffing a little on the inside, debating whether I should force her into aIMG_5451 working mode, instead of a coloring mode, but grateful for her joyous spirit. As a mother, it seems like a constant debate for me: when do I let my task-oriented personality reign, and when should I let them flutter in their own personalities?

Moving day arrived, and our house was covered with the most artistic moving boxes imaginable. The men quickly filled the house, moving box after box onto the truck. Day one was New Year’s Eve, originally planned to move only the piano, but boxes went onto the truck…rode for four miles and then were mixed up and taken by different hands off of the truck. I wondered if the men noticed the messages.

By the time the movers resumed January 2nd, it was an entirely new crew of men. This next crew loaded the truck again with boxes. As darkness fell, they drove four miles and unloaded the same boxes…different hands touching each one.

An underestimation of truck size caused need for yet another day of moving, so another IMG_5453set of men arrived on the third day to load and unload more boxes… and the messages they carried.   As they walked by me in the foyer of the new house, the movers asked me to confirm the destination room of each box they held. I giggled at my 9-yr-old’s jokes on the side of the box, “Two movers walked into a …oops! Watch where you are going!”

Next was the unpacking – as more hands made the work light, and boxes were unpacked one by one. Even I – who had been looking at boxes for weeks – was amused by each of the boxes’ messages. SMILE! Kept going through my head.

When the boxes were unpacked, they were broken down and stacked in enormous piles in the garage. We offered them on Craigslist, and takers came within a couple of hours. The first was moving to Boston. The second was putting their house in storage while they rented, deciding if it would work out to retire in Florida. The third couple was starry eyed about moving to Oregon to start life together. Their dreadlocks and tattoos would probably not have been my daughter’s usual circle of influence, but they took her decorated boxes.

As I walked away from loading the last of the empty boxes into someone else’s car, I was IMG_5456in awe of my daughter’s God-given ability to encourage; she had no selfish ambition in her coloring (although she definitely received joy in the giving process). She has often said her goal is to “Spread Smiles” with her life.

If you give Christine a marker…

She might write some words…

Which will make her brother write…

Which will make her mother smile…

And Miss Kristen will smile…

And the movers who load the first truck will smile…

Which will make their wives smile when they get home…

The boxes will make the other workers smile while they unload the truck…

The unpackers of the boxes will smile while piling the now empty boxes into the garage, where…

More people will smile while they load the boxes into their cars…

Where the boxes will ride to another house to be packed…

And then their movers will smile while they load the boxes onto a new truck…

Where the boxes will ride to Oregon…or Boston…or eventually Florida…

Where the boxes will be unloaded by smiling workers,…

And unpacked by a family in a new place, where hopefully they are reading the words and smiling…

at the influence of a smiling 11-yr-old girl in North Carolina.

 

If you give a sanguine a marker, she just might change the world!

IMG_5457

 

Smiles,

Terri

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Electronics Addiction: Another Leading Cause of “Busyness”

Dear Lindsey,

It is astounding that the same tools that multiply efficiency of time can steal it in equal magnitude.  I would say that life would be better if electricity were never used, but wouldn’t that make me a hypocrite as I type on my word-processor and you read on your computer?

Kevin DeYoung, in his book,  Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, lists several diagnoses causing busyness:

  • Trying to look good, instead of actually doing good. (and its close cousins: pride, Unknownpeople pleasing and perfectionism),
  • Trying to do more than what God expects me to do.
  • Not setting priorities…even in serving others.
  • “Kinderarchy”:  Freaking out about my kids.
  • Being addicted to technology.
  • Not resting enough.

Electronics Addiction

My last letter talked about overparenting and freaking out about my kids, but this one is more about freaking out over me….being addicted to technology.

Yes, I could say that the kids are the ones with the electronics problem. I took six teenagers for ten hours in a car last month, and I think I could count on my fingers the number of words they said to each other….with their mouths, anyway. It seems we are raising a silent generation – as their thumbs type the words (even while sitting next to each other in a car!) that we once verbalized.  I find it ironic though, that every time I want to say, “Put the phone down,” (which is an acceptable request in our house – any time) I have to stop myself from using my own phone first.

gadget-addictionDo I really think I am so “needed” that I cannot go a few hours without seeing if someone needs me on my phone? Do I think my children cannot survive minutes of my errand-running without having me on an electronic leash, able to be tugged at their beck and call?

Gone are the neighborly days in which I grew up, since neighbors are not as “used.”  When my brother, Tim, hit a baseball in the backyard that rearranged my brother Mike’s nose to be firmly planted into his eye, the neighbor (“my second mother,” we called her) came running with a role of paper towels before the injured one had even stopped running (and screaming). Those kind of neighborly bonding moments are gone! Why is it that broken noses in backyard baseball seem so much healthier than Snap Chat, video games and DISH? 🙂

When email first began its trend, I remember putting a tag at the end of my emails, “I check email on Friday afternoons only, so please be patient in awaiting a reply.”

WHAT?!

How did that ever work? Now, it seems perfectly legitimate for a coach to email a change in my kids’ 5:30 practice at 4:30!  Everyone assumes you are on the leash!  I had fourteen emails today, regarding soccer alone. Heaven forbid my family’s biannual dentist appointments come around, because – since I am the secretary and personal chauffeur of my four children – I get ten emails (two per child, and myself) reminding me, outside of the five identical texts and five automated phone calls… all to tell me about one appointment I had already put into my calendar six months prior – when the appointment was booked.  You’d think they are afraid that my family is so “busy,” we will forget the appointment!  And sometimes, we do.

Unknown-2My brain has become so accustomed to the fast pace of multi-tasking, that I can hardly sit for sixty seconds at a red light, without habitually grabbing my phone to check the few buzzes I missed since the last light. I mean, really: if I accidentally leave the house without my phone, I am shocked at how many times I reach for it (and notice only because it is not there). The old days of talking to the lady behind me in line have diminished into a world of looking at the top of her head, while she does the Smart Phone Slouch, as if sending approval for me to assume the same stance.

It has been proven that endorphins are released and produce a “high” when the phone buzzes or computer indicates, “You’ve got mail!”  It makes a subliminal desire for the same high if we go minutes without getting it.  (That must be why I miss my phone if I am without it for a nano-second.)

Last week, a baby whined in her car seat in a waiting room images-2where I sat. The mom typed away on her phone to who-knows-who while the little cry got a little more forceful.  I chuckled to myself, while I checked my own phone to see if my father in Colorado had taken his turn on Words with Friends. It is striking how a phone can eliminate the 1600 miles between my father and me… and yet distance the mom from her baby in the same room!

“We are now more wired than ever. Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the study participants reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of [some] users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation.” (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/when-technology-addiction-takes-over-your-life)

It’s no wonder I feel so BUSY!

I would like to say I am going to commit to go back in time, and start square dancing in the barn with neighbors! Haha! I would first have to buy a barn and introduce myself to my neighbors – who might run from me if I were talking about square dancing!

Really, my goal is to utilize electronics to run life, not let electronics’ use run my life.

I want to keep electronics as tools I control – not the other way around, despite how difficult that is to actually live.

Unknown-3Maybe people who have the “phone basket” by the front door have good family dinners? Maybe those people who take forever to get back to me on email or text are actually living with the people in their house, and I should applaud it? Maybe it’s ok if my kid doesn’t have his own email to check at age seven?  After all, once the message-checking begins, it doesn’t end…forever!

“I had to apologize to God today, because I turned on my phone before reading my Bible,” a friend sharpened me as iron sharpens iron when she made this passing statement. How many times have quiet times, exercise, or my kids’ smiles been missed when I thought I needed to check “just one more thing” online?  I lightly enjoy Twitter and Facebook: I love hearing who had a baby, finding a tribute in memory of my friend, Jackie Lewis,  or seeing how many “liked” or “re-tweeted” my son’s April Fool’s joke on me. But the hourglass doesn’t stop dropping sand when I get distracted looking at the other threads completely unrelated to the priorities for my day!

images-3My husband has (brilliantly I might add) limited electronics’ use by our kids. It is easier to say “no” when they are four, than to try and backtrack on use when they are fourteen. If Google and Facebook limit the youngest age to be thirteen, it should at least flag more-conservative-than-the-Internet parents that maybe we should wait at least that long for them to get accounts.  (Besides, what is being taught when even parents use a fake birthdate to get their kid “around” the age rules?)  Really, our kids will have their own electronic leashes soon enough.  There is no right-of-passage back into childhood, so it is probably wise if parents choose to protect it.  Kids have the rest of their lives to live with the “electronic leash,” so there’s no harm in having “tween” years without its yoke!

We are affecting the next generation.

My 13-yr-old and I were discussing “maturity” and what it means, as I look for more symptoms of it in him. At one point, he answered, “It seems that ‘maturity’ means you check your phone more, and are more involved with emails.” He was serious in his observation of those “mature” older brothers and friends around him.

My daughter recently wrote an article for a magazine she created. Her random “creative writing,” had a point that was clear, especially since she (at age ten) is only on the outside of the electronic world, looking in.  Although I cannot say everyone can logistically apply her “one month” program, I thought it a fitting way to end this letter. (See her article, “Family Fun” below.)

Electronically your friend,

Terri

Romans 12:2:And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

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Family Fun

By Christine Brady

“Uh…a duck?” said Nate. The whole family laughed. Trivial Pursuit always had us giggling at the funny questions…and answers. Our family takes one month away from phones, iPods and computers. No e-mailing, texting or calling people…just family time. Nowadays, families need more time together…electronics are drawing them apart.

People who are always texting and e-mailing never really stop to look around them- to stare at the pretty clouds or to listen to the birds chirp sweetly.  My older brother got a FaceBook account and for a while, even he was distracted from the beautiful weather! Without phones and iPods, you would really appreciate the world around you.

Family time is very important. We learn to laugh, have fun, and we can forget bad things.  I think our family is the happiest of all when they take a month away from phones, iPods, computers and video games. For instance once I had a HORRIBLE ear infection that lasted from March to July.  July was our Un-plugged month, and I got distracted from my ear infection. Instead of hurting, my ear infection DISAPPEARED!!!! Family time is definitely important.

Families need more time together, and happier memories to look back at. I am encouraging YOU to take a month off electronics, as a test and see what happens. Do you want YOUR family laughing together? Simply take out electronics for a while! Trivial Pursuit is on its way…and so is lot of family fun!

“Overparenting:” a Leading Cause of Busyness

Dear Lindsey,

I have been meaning to write for weeks, but I have been…umm…busy!

In his book, Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung lists several diagnoses causing busyness:

      • Trying to look good, instead of actually doing good. (and its close cousins: pride, people pleasing and perfectionism),
      • Trying to do more than what God expects me to do.
      • Not setting priorities…even in serving others.
      • “Kinderarchy”:  Freaking out about my kids
      • Being addicted to technology
      • Not resting enough

The Kindergarchy chapter hit too close to home for me, as I find myself SO wrapped up with my children’s (now ages 16, 13, 10 and 8) schedules. Kindergarchy could probably be defined as overparenting, and I dance with it daily. I want what’s best for my kids. I don’t take lightly the responsibility of raising them for the glory of the Lord, and sometimes (as said in my last Letter), my attempts at “better” have only left me more flustered or frustrated, and not the kind of mom I want to be for my children.

But sometimes, it is simply “overparenting” that causes us to be overbusy.

For Our Kids

At a recent neighborhood event, one mom said her chief regret in raising her kids was their playing travel soccer. Not knowing that I was the proverbial travel-soccer mom, she was simply lamenting how busy she had been when her kids were young, just rushing from one city to the next for… soccer.

I took her words straight to my heart. Will I regret being a soccer mom? It was a great moment of reflection for me, as I aligned my priorities and analyzed my busyness.

I believe the busyness  of “Kinderarchy” to which Kevin DeYoung refers in his book could be summarized by:

  1. Our kids are doing too much.
  2. We’re doing too much for our kids.
  3. We think our kids’ future lies too much in our responsibility.

Kids today have opportunities that didn’t exist in our youth – much less our parents’. My parents were both raised on farms. After starting his day milking cows at 4am, before feeding the hogs, or getting ice from the pond in the valley to carry to the icebox (yep…pre-refrigeration), then walking uphill (both ways, barefoot…in the snow) to the one-room-schoolhouse in Kansas, my father hardly came home to ask if he could join the travel soccer team!  But my dad grew up to be pretty awesome, and I wouldn’t mind if any of my kids turned out just like him!

Since I don’t have cows to milk, hogs nor an icebox, we have time for activities outside of those! But that doesn’t mean we need all of the activities that are offered. As my neighbor aptly pointed out, travel soccer is time-consuming! Our kids only have one childhood, and I only get one shot at providing for its growth toward excellence. For two of my boys, it has been travel soccer. They have dreams of going big in the sport, and my telling them, “Your chances are slim,” would only solidify that in their minds – for not only soccer, but also any other dream they chase. When they put the mental toughness, physical training, and immense effort into their goals, Chris and I want to reciprocate –even if it means sacrificing some time for travel soccer.

However, if I were about to invest a percentage of my income in something, the investment would be prayed about and researched regarding: return on investment, ability to reach goals, cost to invest, comparison to competitor investments, etc. Investments in time should be considered under the same scrutiny.

Too often, I hear of people getting tutoring for their 6-yr-old, or putting their 4-yr-old in travel-hockey, or paying big bucks for swim-lessons for the 6-month-old, without considering if the outcome is really worth the investment of time and money. (Yes, I did some of that!) Our kids could end up being pushed right out of the activity that was intended for their good. In my busyness case, I get burnt out of the motherhood I was intending for God’s good. Sometimes our kids are simply doing too much.

For Our Kids

Other times, we are busy because we are doing too much for our kids.  For example, I overheard a woman behind me at a high school sporting event talking about a history project her son (a junior in high school) was doing. She was exasperated at the amount of work it entailed. She didn’t know when he could possibly get it all done. She wasn’t quite sure what the teacher wanted, and whether the entire project was due on such-and-such date, or whether that was just the draft. Wondering if it was biographical, or if it could be an opinionated project, she debated into her friend’s ear on whether the project should be during World War I, or maybe during the aftermath.  She talked and talked… and talked. Then, she turned to her friend and said, “How is your son going to get it done?!”

“Oh, I don’t know what he’s doing for that class. That’s up to him,” her friend replied.

If I had been sipping a drink at that moment, it would have been one of those – spray the back of the head of the person sitting in front of me on the bleachers – moments. It was funny to me, that while one woman was giving a discourse on the project, debating the intricacies of the due dates, pondering the eras about which to write and discussing her stress level on the sidelines, the other simply said, “That’s not my job; it’s my son’s class.”

Can’t we see that doing too much for our children not only hinders their ability to handle responsibility, but also creates “freaked out” moms who look too busy for the very kids they are trying to help?

But being a mom who holds the “It’s not my job; it’s his job,” mentality risks a multitude of embarrassing moments, because our pride is on the line when we allow our children to fail. When they don’t complete a project, I can be embarrassed – but it is worth the short-term embarrassment for the long-term lessons he learns. Failing to bring his soccer equipment at age eight makes less failures at age sixteen.  Doing it for our children instead, only takes away their opportunity to learn the lesson.  Whether it is because he forgot part of the soccer uniform, didn’t get the intricacies of the history assignment or in some other way missed the bar, I know failure can be the best teacher for the future.  Imagine if instead of nagging with a soccer checklist every time, I trusted that he had it. (Once he forgets a cleat, it is never done again.) What if instead of bugging a teacher for assignment details, we let the “to-do list” be in his head instead of ours?  We would be left to focus on our own to-do list – to be a mom!

Doing too much for them – only makes me busy and takes away from their ability to gain responsibility.

For “Our”? Kids 

Lastly, and definitely my favorite point of the Kindergarchy chapter, we often think our kids’ future lies too much in our responsibility.  We try to be the perfect parents: feeding the perfect meals every meal, running to tutors, lessons, leagues, and friends to make the perfect combination of fertilizer for the garden where our children grow.

But we have less to do with their growth than we think. Don’t we believe God knitted them together before they were born? (Ps 139:13) Don’t we know that God has a plan for them to prosper, not to harm them? (Jer 29:11) Can’t we  trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding?  (Prov 3:5)

One of my favorite lines from the Crazy Busy book was this:

“There are ways to screw up kids for life but thankfully the Happy Meal is not one of them.” (p. 73)

Ha! He is not saying, “Give up on feeding them healthy food;” he is saying we would be better if we stopped freaking out!

Usurping God’s Role

I try to avoid using these Letters to brag about my kids; I really do. But this lesson I recently learned is too good to skip, although the ending shows I am a bit proud of my daughter (age ten).

Let me begin with this:  admittedly, I often suffer with the “I stink at being a mom,” syndrome. It’s a sinful, self-centered, lacking-of-faith and lacking-of-gratitude “sin-drome” that requires my refocus on God and His wondrous gifts.  One particular day, I was having those negative “I am a failure” thoughts about my mothering my daughter. Her hair was messy…as usual. Her room was too. With the sweetest heart in the world, she runs around loving on everyone, and leaves a path of evidential mess in every room she touches. Her brothers have called her the “tornado,” because you always know where she has been.

And then it happened.

The violin lessons paid off….NOT.

The soccer league she left tried to recruit her back…NOT.

The gymnastics lessons she had when she was seven saved her life…NOPE.

I unwrapped my birthday present and it was this:

turtle

THAT is a turtle.

I cannot draw a turtle. (You never want to be my partner in Pictionary.)  I cannot describe shading, much less do it with watercolors.

My daughter created that artwork, because, thank God, she was not in a sports league to follow her brothers. She was not in gymnastics because it was what the neighbors were doing. She drew that because she was not too busy to notice the details of a creature, capture them with her God-given eye and express it as a gift of love to me.

She made the painting, because God knows her more than I do, and He gave her talents to use for His glory, not mine.  I think He can make her the best she can be if I let go enough of who I think she should be.  Maybe for her to be the best daughter she can be, her mom needs to be the best daughter (of God) she can be, instead of being the freaked-out-lunatic parent trying to make perfect children.

So if I am letting go of “Kindergarchy,” then what do I consider to be most important for being a good mom?

Be a good me.

    • They need to see my trust in Jesus… for my life and theirs.
    • They need to see my love for their father, (yes – my husband)…and his love for me.
    • They need to see me sane.

The busyness disease can leave “freaked out” parents eclipsing what is most important for their children’s future.

No amount of “perfect parenting,” vegan dieting-without-Happy-Meals, travel-soccer momming, music lessons, sports leagues, or homework-“helping” can make up for a lacking in me. Too much busyness can take the life of any priorities in a heartbeat, taking our beating hearts along with it.

Delight yourself in the Lord (Ps 37:4)…and let the busyness drown like the Wicked Witch of the West melting under a bucket of water*.

In love,

Terri Brady

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* reference: Wizard of Oz

Letters to Lindsey is now available in book form.

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A Disease Called Busyness

Dear Lindsey,

Having lunch with my 13-yr-old last week, I asked him a question of where he wanted to be in five years. What kind of person was he aiming to become?  Did he have goals for himself?

His answer surprised me, since he said that he wanted to be more like his older brother:

“Everyone likes Casey.  My [12-yr-old] friend, Zarec, said it best: ‘The reason Casey is so much fun is because he seems like he is really having fun when he is with you!’ Most teenagers aren’t like that. I guess I want people to feel that fun from me.”

He wasn’t envying his brother, but admiring a trait he’d like to emulate. I like it when my kids think. I don’t know if he realized that his thinking convicted me, but I realized how “not fun” I live some days of my life.

The culprit?

A Disease called Busyness.

I think it is amusing when I ask my kids a question like, “How many times have you flossed this week?” and my eight-year-old will say, “I haven’t had time.”

Haha!! If you don’t have time when you are eight?…

Don’t we each feel that way though – whatever we are doing seems important enough to feel BUSY?

As an engineer (before motherhood), I

  • drove 50 miles each way to work
  • worked in three plant locations involving travel
  • volunteered at church directing the children’s choir
  • sang in the adult choir, and filled in as accompanist at times
  • taught piano lessons on the side
  • picked up kids who needed a ride to church
  • played on a softball team 30 minutes from my house (part way to work)
  • played in a county band
  • made meals from scratch
  • worked out every day
  • flossed my teeth 🙂
  • stayed involved in elections, attended weddings and baby showers, traveled to out-of-state family, practiced instruments and other things that happened on a non-daily routine

I am sure you could make this list for yourself.

“It is not enough to be industrious, so too are the ants,” said Henry David Thoreau, “but what are you industrious about?”

For me, I have LOVED to be busy my whole life.   In highschool, my mother would continuously say (to my back as I was leaving the house), “You are burning the candle at both ends; it cannot last!”

I wore it like a badge.

My highschool yearbook looked like I was trying to be Jan Brady (or was it Marsha?) with all of my activities: Shakespeare Club, high school musical, jazz band, church plays, babysitting, softball teams, marching band, (county, district and state bands), Science Fair competitions, indoor drumline, National Honor Society, nursing home visitation, and winter ski club.

I could have sung the Veggie Tales song to any friend who asked for time, “I’m busy busy! Frightfully busy! You’ve no idea what I’ve got to do!”

But there are so many pitfalls to busyness!  A book, Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung inspired the following:

Pitfalls of BusynessPitfall3

  1. Makes us lose sight of direction.
  2. Robs our happiness.
  3. Masks our growing further from whom we were meant to be.

1.  Busyness makes us lose sight of  the direction we intended.

I like to list those activities of my engineering days, because it is clearly eclectic, and pointless for where I am today.  What was my goal?  We have twenty-four hours in our checking account to spend, 365 days a year. We cannot add to that number in any way. My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Romberger, taught me a valuable lesson on busyness, when she had us actually keep an account ledger of our time. We took a lined piece of paper, and labeled each line with fifteen-minute intervals of time. Then for one week, we were supposed to stop every fifteen minutes and write down what we were doing. I remember being shocked – even at that young age – of things which I had no intention of doing that took my time! (Maybe I should do this today? I cannot figure out what happened to my 11am to 2pm yesterday!!!) If we could look back at our account ledger for the last six months of time, we would likely be able to predict where we will be in five years!  Our hourly account ledger tells where we are headed. Does it have the direction we intended? It is “what we are industrious about” that matters.

2.  Busyness robs our happiness.

OffCliffRecently I had a day when I got miserably tired. You know the kind? Once my daughter, exhausted and teary at age seven said, “I am so tired, my heart has been at the edge of a cliff, and it just went over. Wah hah hah”– That kind of tired.

.

.

When my heart, “went over the edge,” I analyzed the day I had had:

  • I had gotten up early for a good workout and Bible time,
  • Then went to have coffee with a friend in need, arriving a little late.
  • I came home shortly and did some homeschooling work with the kids, then let them work on their own assignments while I
  • Volunteered playing piano at the high school where my oldest son attends.
  • I came home and paid the cleaning lady quickly before leaving in a hurry,
  • To drive my daughter to homeschool youth theatre practice, while eating lunch out of my lap.
  • I volunteered with music for that group for 2 hours
  • I came home in time to say hello to my teens before dropping them at the soccer carpool.
  • Making the family dinner took a little longer than expected, so I didn’t get to sit down.
  • I ate dinner from my lap while driving to an evening orchestra practice at church which I had been looking forward to.
  • I came home and the younger kids wanted me to read to them before bed, but
    • It was late
      • And I was tired.
        • Chris wanted to tell me about his ideas, and spend quality husband/wife time, but my body had had it!

I felt like saying, “Do you know the kind of day I have had?!!!”

Then I actually thought about the kind of day I had had:

  • I had started with exercise and quiet time in prayer.
  • I had spent time with my kids.
  • I had given of my time and talents in volunteer work.
  • I had played in an orchestra at church – a kind of worship for me, cleansing of my soul, once a week when my schedule allows.
  • I had eaten healthy – even from my lap – since I had prepared the meals.

That day would have been called “rest” back in my engineering days (and most of my “normal days” now), but clearly, the happiness had been robbed.

I ended too tired to read to my kids.

Volunteering had become a chore when it affected my meals!

Any of these events taken separately would have been a blessing, but all together, they were a strain.

A thief came in to rob my happiness through the door of my calendar.

The sad part is that most people have busyness robbing their happiness and they do not recognize the cause, only its effect.

3.  Busyness masks our decay.  

If we are not growing right, we are growing wrong!! There is no staying the same.

Growth in a specific direction takes specific intent for growth.   Growth in a bad direction takes no work at all.

If I want to be a healthy weight, it takes massive intent and work.

If I want to gain weight, it’s a piece of cake! (Pun intended! 🙂 )

Growing in a right direction requires tending to the calendar, not just riding along in an “unattended car”Keeping ourselves busy disguises itself as productivity, when in actuality it is often masking decay.

I believe this decay due to busyness is very evident in marriages:

Nobody plans for a marriage to decline to a status of “acquaintance management,” but lack of HappyCakeplanning is the root of the rot.   Personal busyness usually does not involve the spouse…who frankly has his/her own reason to be busy, leading him/her in different directions.  Our busyness often is exclusive of those who are closest to us, leaving what matters most in our hearts, out of our mind while we RUSH – often trying to serve the very ones we ignore. While we think we are working to get things done, things are becoming undone within us…as individuals and in our relationships.

Rest is not the antithesis of productivity.

“Tending” to our growth, personally or professionally, means we know when we need rest, too.  Rest can actually halt the decay cycle.  My husband wrote a whole book on the importance of rest! (Maybe I should rest from writing and read it again!  He says, “Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.” A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation.)  Rest allows time to think. Unscheduled time allows planning for the future.

If we have every minute filled with who we are, it will be difficult to find time to become who we are meant to be!

Leave space!!  Just because there is a blank in the calendar does not mean it needs to be filled!  (Okay, I am screaming, “Preach it, sister!” to myself in my head – because I am SO preaching to myself. I suppose I better close this letter before my “self” starts answering.)

One last note: According to author Bryan Caplan, secondhand stress is a leading complaint among kids.  In an “Ask the Children” survey, researcher Ellen Galinsky interviewed more than 1000 kids in grades 3-12, asking, “If you were granted one wish to change the way that your mother’s/father’s work affects your life, what would that wish be?”  Who could have guessed the kids’ answer would have involved their parents’ attitude?! When asked to “grade” their parents for “appreciating me for who I am, “ or “making me feel loved,” or even, “attending important events in my life,” the parents scored well. But “controlling his/her temper when I do something that makes him/her angry” got the worst marks on the parents’ report card! They feel our stress!

Okay, I do not remember that lady interviewing my kids, but wow! She might have been here. It’s not that I “blow up” at my kids. I have even worked on many systems to avoid the repetitive nagging. But, I often wonder if my kids are going to say my most commonly said word was, “hurry!”

I don’t want them to remember me as the “hurry!” mom. I want them to feel the fun I have with them.  I want them to remember me as the mom who loves them and who loves Jesus, and who stresses only in things eternal. I think my infliction with the Disease called Busyness may be masking my most important message…to my kids, to my husband and to myself.

To be continued,

Terri

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Letters to Lindsey is now available in book form.  61pdoweizhL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Real Moms: “When the Last Goldfish Dies”

Dear Lindsey,

After ice skating for a while, I decided I could sit back with my book while I watched my kids through the glass. The Tuesday family skate brought less than ten kids that morning.

I sat in the viewing area with my book, while other moms enjoyed fellowship and coffee. I overheard one mom say to another, “I am going to have a party when that last goldfish dies!”

I chuckled to myself, since we had the amazing longevity-gifted goldfish Chris at fairat our house, too, and I completely understood what she was saying! We had won the fish at the State Fair.  These three fish with an average life of one day, were going on their second YEAR at the Brady house – living in Tupperware, since I had given the fish tank away to a neighbor literally days before that State Fair. 

The plastic home of these carnival fish lived in our basement homeschool area and always pleaded for cleaning. Always.  It seemed that although the kids had begged to keep them, no one ever remembered we had them – except me – when I smelled them.

I get it ! I mean, when that last goldfish dies:

  • No more working to keep the tank (or Tupperware) clean!
  • No more rocks, filters, lights or food to replace!
  • No more badgering kids to finish responsibilities!

As luck would have it, weeks after the overheard goldfish comment, one of our Fair goldfish was found in a not-so-fair state, floating on the top of the water. That night, a second fish was moving slowly, looking awfully buoyant, and dead by morning.

The third fish was gone within twenty-four hours, confirming that something must have happened to the water (which ironically, was clean this time).

goldfish2

(My husband wants me to tell you that he is innocent. Really.)

The mourning process in my kids was shocking to me.

Life appreciates after it is gone.

These ignored fish, suddenly had value now that they were gone, the same way the man in the casket always seems to have so many “best friends.”

“I miss him!” my eight-year-old cried, assigning gender to one who had no name or gender – that we had identified anyway.  “I loved him so much.”

It felt completely silly to me, and I hid my smile,

“The worst part is that he doesn’t even go to heaven! It would be so much better, if I at least knew he was theeeeerrrrrrrrreee.” He cried, and I hugged him on the stairs where we stood, not remembering if we were going up or down.

His body shook in my arms, which made me hold more tightly. It was funny how much I didn’t care about the fish, but a tear left my eye, as I felt my son’s pain. To him, it was real, and that’s what mattered to me.

“Should we have a funeral?” I asked, finally, wiping my tear before he could see it.  I couldn’t believe I was offering, but honestly, I felt like he had an emotion – and even though I did not share that emotion – I might help him work through it.

“What do you do at a funeral?” he asked, and I secretly thanked God that he hadn’t had a lot of exposure to death.

“It’s a time when we give our respects. We tell God thank you for giving us memories, like a celebration of the life. Sometimes people tell stories of the happy memories with the one who died.”

“Yeah, Let’s do that,” he said, as a calm overtook him.

He and his sister immediately began making “invitations” to the funeral, created a casket out of a paper cup, and dug a hole next to the fishpond in the back yard.

funeral announcment

JRCM fish funeral

The three of us met at the pond, buried the treasure, and thanked God for giving us memories with the fish. We sang Amazing Grace, since I suppose even fish-death reminds us of the amazing grace of eternal life given to my children and me.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those “cool” moms as seen on TV. You know the ones? They wear their skinny jeans while they feed the kids chocolate chip cookies and milk and sit and discuss their school day. Their teens run in with all of their friends, (because the mom is so cool, surely any teen would want to hang out with her), and gobble up the pizza pockets and Sunny D. (That’s the way “cool moms” say “Sunny Delight.”)

But where are the “real” moms in those commercials?

Real Moms

A real mom is sitting in the bathroom, and the ENTIRE family is standing outside of the bathroom door asking “URGENT” questions like,

“What are we having for dinner?”

“Have you seen my book?”

“Doesn’t HE  have to put the dishes away today, because I already did it TWO TIMES YESTERDAY!!”

A real mom doesn’t realize till dinner that her shirt has been on inside-out all day.

Real moms have library books that they have paid for three times, thinking one day they’ll find it.

Real moms lose socks in every load.

Real moms go to the store for milk, and come home with seven things…and no milk.

Real moms fit four little people (preferably her kids) with her in one bathroom stall in the airport.

Real moms know what the code for “lost toddler” is on the Kohls intercom. (Thank you, Kohls, for handling us real moms.)

Real moms wonder if their hair can last one more day unwashed without attracting a social worker’s inspection.

Real moms know evolution can’t be true or else she’d have seven arms by now.

Real moms have the super power of finding things in the fridge that aren’t even at eye level.

Real moms can listen to the conversation behind them while talking to the one in front of them.

Real moms know how to hide the green beans under the bananas on the baby food spoon, can distinguish their baby’s cry in a nursery full of screamers and recognize the meaning behind every cry: hungry, hurt, or trying to get brother into trouble.

Real moms stop and blow bubbles.

A real mom has Good Night Moon memorized, even if her youngest child is eight.

Real moms know how to read aloud in characters’ voices in bedtime stories.

Real moms spend hours…or days…distraught over their children’s behavior.

Real moms leave knee prints in the carpet.

Real moms live life at the speed of their slowest child – even the special needs one.

Real moms hurt when their children hurt.

Real moms are sad when their kids leave for college…or kindergarten.

Real moms sometimes fall in bed at night, not fitting into their skinny jeans, second-guessing their every word to their kids that day, and wondering if tomorrow will be any different.

Real moms have days when they think they will party when the last goldfish dies.

And real moms shed a tear when it does.

Because when the last goldfish dies

It means the child has grown up a bit

“Back-scratching times” are almost done.

Bedtime stories are about to be silent.

The misspellings on the funeral invitations may almost be over.

Childhood appreciates after it is gone.

When the last goldfish dies, so does a little bit of childhood; and I suppose it is buried alongside a little bit of the “real mom-hood” that goes with it.

Gotta go!

–   back to being a real mom,

Terri

fish grave

Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

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