Yes. Yes they are along with your “summer reading” book. Maybe you would like to read some of that?
No? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought.
Doesn’t every mom need an extra pair of their children’s athletic socks in their purse? I am also carrying 18 or so football discount cards that need sold/delivered, school supply lists, a bag of trail mix, coupons I never remember to use, and a fistful of receipts that you never know if you might need. But, not one writing utensil. My purse has become the equivalent of a new mother’s diaper bag except for teenagers. I have been a mom for almost 17 years. Where does time go? We just seem to morph from one stage to the next and they keep coming faster and faster and it’s hard to keep your feet underneath you.
Today is our 12th first day of school and this morning the only back to school tears belong to me. Maybe it is because the dog has explosive diarrhea (sorry if this is oversharing) or maybe it’s because of this.
This is the first year that I am not the one do the back to school driving. I am so over this. And before the day has even begun I received a text about a forgotten book from one kid and another with a question about the proper homeroom from the other. We are batting 1000 already.
Maybe it’s because I am masochistic (like my love for the movies Steel Magnolias and Beaches) but I have watched this video year after year (multiple times already this morning) and every time it makes my heart hurt a little more…I just need to feel all the feels today. And eat more double chocolate butter braid. Yes, definitely more butter braid.
I want more first days, a lot more. I know they are mine for just a moment, but they are yours for eternity. Keep them safe God, and if you would, just fill in the gaps with the things I forgot to say because I was too busy or too distracted. That would be great. That would be really, really, great.
Wishing you all a wonderful day no matter where this back to school season finds you.
This week, some of us experienced our first teary-Kindergarten-first-day (maybe their tears, maybe yours.) Some of us experienced Senior-year-last-first day and then there are a whole bunch of us that fall somewhere in between or outside of those back-to-school lines. But, we all survived the first week! Ok, so I will concede that while our actual survival was never in question the upheaval of a sudden schedule to conform to after 3 months of “free-styling it” can be a little rough on even the best of us.
Back to school is always a transition, and the calendar can become a to-do list nightmare, not to mention the very real reminder of the passing of time. Navigating these waters can be tricky and today I want to offer some encouragement from Mary Ann Morgan.
When we moved to our little farm 15 years ago, I was a busy homeschool mom with three children under my wings.
My life was wonderfully hectic. Katie was twelve, Annie was ten, and Johnny was seven. I was happy as the nucleus of our home, with life swirling round and round about me.
Then, one by one, my birdies did what I had been teaching them to do all along.
They flew away.
I felt lost, and not just a little. I could not find my bearings.
I was trying to find my place in this world again.
When we see calendars not so much as rows of boxes of things we have to do — but as boxes that we get to unwrap — the present moment always becomes a gift.
The idea that I could continually unwrap gifts (that otherwise felt fleeting) just by writing them down and giving thanks for them was transformational for me.
I am grateful for:
glistening water from the garden hose, summer lights hanging dreamily from a tree, blue porches and red swings, ripe tomatoes on the sill, children snuggling chickens, a butterfly warming her wings among Black-Eyed Susans, fuzzy bumble bees satiated and sleepy, summer puddles where heaven meets earth.
And on and on it goes.
I could feel my heart shifting from a sense of emptiness into a deep gratitude. The places I felt were barren were actually brimming with life.
It didn’t come overnight, but it did come with practice and the more I practiced the more I benefited.
I sometimes find myself held captive by grief and anxiety as I navigate the waters of these awkward transitions. Counting graces always helps me to find my way home into worship. Once I can get onto the path of worship, my feet will carry me into the arms of God
I may not always know my place in this world. Things are ever changing.
But in counting gifts I can always find my place in God.
In His heart.
He alone holds me as He continues to enfold me in His love.
Enjoy your weekend! May your heart be filled with gratitude and the beauty in the everyday gifts as we roll on into this next school year. May you find yourself enfolded in His love.
I want to remember today. I want to pluck this ordinary morning memory of trying to rouse sleepy kids, of packing lunches and searching for missing shoes and belts, and breakfasts grabbed on the go and just put it away for later. I want to remember the promised prayers for what their day held, for the anxieties that worry their hearts. I want to remember the way they looked on their way to the bus with their backpacks and lunchboxes and sports bags because this is what makes up life. Day after day, like building blocks, moment after moment of the ordinary that creates a life. That’s what I want to remember. I want to be able to tuck these ordinary moments away in my pocket to be pulled out on a day when the everyday doesn’t look like this anymore. I want this for me…
I have recently found myself struggling to remember the days when these big kids were babies, trying to remember how we filled our then seemingly endless hours. How many times we would laugh at something they said or did and say, “We should write that down” but never did and the moment passed leaving us with vague recollections of everyday moments.
How many prayers have we seen answered, the big and the small? How many times has God shown up, in the chaos, in the crisis, in the mundane, in the everyday? It’s not the numbers that are important, it’s just remembering the reality of the realness in it on the days when we feel alone and find it so hard to believe, for us, for our children, for our families.
As I see how fast my babies have grown my heart becomes full and overwhelmed and I want them to know their stories from their mother’s heart. But more than that, I want them to know the prayers I have prayed. I want them to see and remember, on the days when jaded adult views cloud their vision, that God has proven himself over and over to them as a very real and loving Father. I want this for my kids…
And this suddenly got real for me, real like a sucker punch to the gut, as I read these words from Elisa Pulliam, “Although I have journals scribbled full with pleas and petitions to the Lord, there aren’t enough of those pages filled up with prayers for my children. I think I’ve pushed praying for my children aside because their needs feel so easily met by me at the moment. In light of other circumstances we’ve faced, like family tensions, life-changing decisions, and health crises too many to count, my children are doing just fine. Fine is fine. But for how long? Their lives will only get more “un-fine” as they grow up which is why they need their momma praying for them on purpose…now.”
“So, as I turn to face the next decade of being a mother, I want to invest my time in bringing more than passing pleas to the Lord I want to pause long enough to reflect on their needs and pray for them the way I’d want to be prayed for by others. I want to give to the Lord what I see in their personalities that need His touch. I want to talk to God about the struggles they face and the fears they feel. I want to hand over to their Maker my concerns about their relationships. I want to yield to the Lord His plans for their lives and get out of the way of the story He is writing.”
Today, I begin. I begin praying with a purpose and recording their stories. Today, I am going to stop beating myself up for not starting earlier and while I don’t know exactly what the end product is going to look like I am not going to get caught up in that. I am just going to look to right now, to the things that I am thankful for, prayerful over, or laugh about and I am going to share my heart with them for a day when they will need to remember. And I am going to do this, one step at a time.
Maybe you will be compelled to join me, for a child, for a friend, or maybe you need to begin to see more of God in your everyday just for you. Maybe you need to become more purposeful in prayer and in building yourrelationship with God. Let’s do this together! Make today your day.
This is a campaign that I feel like starting this year. I want to JUST SAY NO! No, you can’t have my kids back yet. No, we are not going to be doing homework while the sun shines outside. No, I am sorry, we just aren’t ready to check back into reality yet. I need to have them for just a little bit longer. Summer isn’t over yet, in fact, the weather is just now starting to feel like it’s arrived. The fun hasn’t all been had!
The back-to-school grumblings have been voiced by us all but the only tears this year have been mine. Another season of change lies ahead and the pieces of my babies that belonged to me becomes less and less every year and the letting go is so hard.
Can someone please tell me when this happened? A whole decade has passed since our first, 1st day of school.
Change…this is where our journey is going to begin and I would love to have you join me. This has been building in my heart over the last couple of weeks, “Project Choice” with ideas like Thankful Boxes and Everyday Letters. It’s about trying to find your place again if you’ve lost your bearings. It’s about sharing, and remembering, everyday life. It’s about searching for something bigger than just comfortable.
But for this morning, before I clean up from our disjointed, first-day-back-trying-to-get-out-the-door-on-time-mess, I am going to take a moment and linger over these pictures and first day memories for a little bit. Mamas, it happens so fast, so just hold on.
And, because this is one of my favorites, every word of it ringing true in my heart…grab a tissue (or the whole box)
I know it’s been a long time…too long. Let me bring you up to speed on what I have been mixed up in. Oh September, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1.) Birthdays – 7 of them that we celebrated to be precise. Including a slumber party for my now 12 year old daughter and 5 of her nearest and dearest where the conversation swung from ISIS, to music, to “Did you see what she did/wore/fill in the blank” and back again in the blink of an eye around the breakfast table. (Breakfast is one of my favorite times for conversation with my kids and their friends. Maybe it’s because they aren’t quite awake yet or aren’t in a hurry to go off and do “things” but I have found that if I feed them good food they will hang around and keep eating and keep talking and you can learn a lot! And they never fail to make me laugh!)
2.) Sporting events – which means practices, and feeding the team, and ticket taking, and ticket selling, and lots of cheering, and even more prayers blasted heavenward for protection. (Thankfully our only ER trip has been on a Sunday afternoon for an infected cut that looked pretty nasty and had gone from 0 to oozing and disgusting in the span of 36 hours.) Then there is a little job I got my husband and myself into this year called Visiting Locker Room Ambassadors. Trust me, not as fancy as the title sounds. In all of this I am considering buying an RV and living in the parking lot at the football field. It would make life much simpler.
3.) Travel – I spent the end of August and beginning of September getting ready for my trip to New York where I made some wonderful new friends and had the opportunity for some real “life” conversations. This was a mid-week trip which meant all the members of my household realized how much “behind-the scenes” work goes on that they were unaware of and yet even out-of-state I was the go-to middle man coordinating rides and pick-up times, and last minute changes of plans.
4.) Homework, Homecoming, and House Renovation – Back to school…back to homework. All I will say is that sometimes a new teacher’s expectations of their students aren’t quite realistic. We are struggling through the work load and learning great life lessons while we do it (says the mom confidently out loud even when she don’t always agree with it in her head.) Then there was the first homecoming and the flowers and new dress clothes (to coordinate with a specific dress color) and the honor of being the freshman attendant and the stress of which group to go with and the parties…which brings me to the house renovations.
“Have a homecoming party” mom says. “We’ll reno the back room in the basement” mom says. “It’ll be great” mom says. So I watch a few hours of HGTV and suddenly I am an expert and have my husband and son removing load-bearing walls and installing header beams and we were all pulling crazy hours in the underworld of our home. (There were only a few tense moments and sleepless nights when my husband was convinced our house was caving in…the things he does for love!) The furniture delivery guys just got the couch “slightly” stuck in the doorway and had to develop a Plan B (Pivot! Pivot! for my fellow Friends fans) but the basement was finished (enough) in time and my house was full (and loud) and we loved it! (And I think the kids did too.)
The month of September was packed full of craziness, and great experiences, and as always lots of fun. But because of that I have all of these thoughts filling my head, bouncing around off of each other and I can only hope that as they begin to pour out I can make them make some logical sense. (I kind of feel like my head is a balloon that is filled too full and about to burst.)
Here is a taste of some of what is going on up there and headed to you in the coming days…
I am loving getting older (yes, crazy) but I am finally confident in me for the sake of me and not anyone else. CS Lewis said, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” Love that!
In New York I talked a lot about moments and I want to share some of that with you too. When you think about your life what are you really thinking about? What defines our lives? It’s the moments…the snapshots of memories that are framed like pictures in our minds. These are the building block of our triumphs and our tragedies. Some of my most treasured moments have occurred in the everyday. Moments also frame the pain that leave us breathless and forever changed. I have learned that God’s most gracious gifts are delivered to us exactly in these moments. Steve Maraboli said, “Sometimes it’s the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose and love back into your life.” YES! Who isn’t searching for purpose and love?!
And then, I am a fan of the big gesture. I have shared that before. Go big or go home. I have big dreams, big plans. God has been teaching me a lot about the small lately though and I am beginning to understand on a deeper level Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” “Infinitely more” to me means huge, big things happening here in the infinitely more place, but I am learning that God is a fan of the small. The small is what, through His mighty power, turns into something big, and chances are we don’t even have a clue. The words of Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold come to mind. “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for…the masses.” Christ left the ninety-nine for the one. So I will challenge you as I find myself challenged to embrace the small.
Here is where this week finds me…struggling. This is back to school week and while I hear so many moms singing the praises of back to school I am being drug along, trying to dig my heels in, all the while screaming, “STOP!” No other time of year so poignantly accentuates the passing of time and this year marks both firsts and lasts in our house. The first year of high school and the last year of elementary. I am taking this harder than any other milestone to date, birthdays included. Why? Because I feel like I am running out of time and I’m not done yet!
We have made it through the bickering, he’s-touching-me, she-started-it years. The years I thought would never end have suddenly disappeared and now the floodgates have opened and the days are flying by. Our babies have turned into these really cool people who I love being with. Not just because I am their mom and I have to, but because I like them. Their passions are developing and are contagious, the “why” questions are so much deeper, and harder to answer, but spur conversation and debate and I have always loved a good argument. (Right dad and mom?) Now I have children who are giving me a run for my money. And we’re having fun, big-kid fun, road-trip fun, card night fun, crazy, laughing, singing Zac Brown Band and Lynard Skinnard, and sometimes even Journey, at the top of our lungs fun…and my heart is aching because I know how fast this is happening and I am helpless to stop it. I just want to hang out here for awhile. I am discovering that this is parenting at its best and worst and I love it and I hate it. There are days when I don’t think my heart is big enough to hold it all. And that is where I am. And that is why I am struggling.
The world is a twisted, messed up, broken place and hard as I try I can’t protect them from it but we are striving to give them the tools to thrive within it. Not only do I want them to be the light on the hilltop, I want them to want it too.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14,16 NLT)
But so often that means saying no when everyone is saying yes, or yes when everyone else is saying no. It’s counter-cultural and attention-grabbing during a time in their lives when everyone is seeking to be invisible or homogenous. And that’s scary…
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10, 11 NLT)
My mom passed down this advice to me which was once given to her…”You think your kids need you when they are little, and they do, but they need you so much more when they are older.” And I am seeing that more and more everyday.
As parents, I truly believe one of the best legacies we can leave our children is prayer. Pray with them, pray over them, pray for them. Pray like it’s your job, because it is. Just pray! They will see it, hear it, and learn it, even when they are pretending otherwise. And I can promise you will feel better afterwards. We are not meant to be in this alone. Through prayer, we invite God into the fray with us. And I know there are days I need all the help I can get, like today.
I shared this Back To School Prayer last year and find it no less true this year. This is a portion of my prayer as I send my growing-up-too-fast kids back to school.
I want more first days, a lot more. I know they are mine for just a moment, but they are yours, God, for eternity. Keep them safe God, and if you would, just fill in the gaps with the things I forgot to say because I was too busy or too distracted. That would be great. That would be really, really, great.
We all know someone who is going back to school, be it a child or a teacher. Would you join me in praying for them?
Today is a bittersweet day. It is our back to school day. The time with our children is fleeting and I was so touched by this video (I sat with tears rolling as I watched it) that I had to share it. This is my heart. This is my story. This is for all the moms, dads, grandparents, anyone who has uttered some form of these words offered up in the video.
“I want more first days, a lot more. I know they are mine for just a moment but they are yours, God, for eternity. Keep them safe God and if you would just fill in the gaps with the things I forgot to say because I was too busy or too distracted. That would be great. That would be really, really, great.”
Happy first day…
Cease Striving…Be still…Know God (Ps 46:10) Sounds peaceful, right? Peace-filled is more accurate. "Still" has little to do with activity and everything to do with state of mind. Welcome to my crazy life!