Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sometimes When We are Teaching Our Kids...

...They are also teaching us.

We had one of those experiences in our house this month.



I signed Sam up for Little League machine pitch baseball this fall so he could really learn how to play.  Our experience with baseball has been minimal so I thought fall ball might be good exposure to the game.  My visions of Sunday afternoon games followed by celebratory ice cream turned out to be episodes of frustration that ended in weekly tears.  Sam is the smallest and youngest kid on the team with the least baseball experience.


After 3 weeks of leaving the game with a child in tears because he couldn't hit the ball, I was ready to call it quits.  My mother heart could not bear to see my baby so sad and because of something I encouraged him to do!  Every time I wanted to say "let's call it quits," my gut would stop me.


So Trent took him to the batting cages and started working with him.  Then came another Sunday and he struck out again.   It was so hard seeing him that frustrated and sad.  Then came game #5 and guess what happened.  My boy got a hit! The entire bleachers for our team started yelling because these parents had watched with us for 4 weeks as Sam walked away from home plate with his head in his hands.  So rightfully so they celebrated with us when he got a hit.


It was so cute.  He jumped up and down with his hands in the air when he got to first base and then to top it off, the coach gave him the game ball for his achievement.  Something changed that day.  My seemingly defeated child learned that hard things are worth working for and that the joy in the moment of achievement often erases the memories of weeks of disappointment.



We have had 2 more games since then and he has had multiple hits in each of them.  Sam learned the value of hard work this season and I learned something too.  Sometimes my mother heart wants to hover over my kids and pull them out of hard situations so they don't get hurt.  But if I do, I rob them of a very valuable lesson that God may be trying to teach them to prepare them for life away from me.

Oh parenting is so hard but yet so rewarding.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

It Happens To Me Too (and I am A photographer)

There may be a misconception out there that the children of photographers always pose perfectly for family pictures.  I know I have wondered that when I look at the pictures of some of my favorite photographer's families.  Well, I am writing today to clear up the myth.  The picture below may be a decent one but you need to know it took A LOT of work and few failed efforts.

So last week I had a free photography day.  I was caught up on my editing and decided it was a great day to take our fall family pictures.  I came home from work at 1:00, picked out and ironed everyone's outfits, took on a last minute bunting project, completed homework, recruited shutter clicking assistance, made dinner, and had the car loaded and ready to go by 5:30.  Oh and I had the brilliant idea to bring the dog along for this one. :)



What you don't see in the above image is that my kids argued most of the afternoon, my oldest decided that while we were dressing was a good time to convert his golf cart to an emergency vehicle, my husband was receiving multiple ministry calls, and all while I was trying to race the sun and get everyone to my chosen (pre-scouted) location.



The first thing we discovered when we arrived to my "perfect" spot was that the ground was covered in sticker weeds.  Both the dog and my highly sensitive child were none to pleased with me and we had not even started.  The rest probably looked a lot like memories you have of family picture experiences.  One kid wouldn't stop acting silly, one was overstimulated by the dog, and every time I looked back in my viewfinder to see what I had just snapped, all I could see was 10 pounds more than I remembered from my last glance in the mirror.    Of course, the dog did not pose as I had hoped either.  The sun set quicker then I could do everything I had planned and the evening ended with me pondering if this type of experience was why most fathers dislike family portrait day.


I had packed a tee pee, Jenga, and pumpkin to paint and we DIDN'T GET TO ANY OF IT.  So I gave my kids 48 hours to recover, found a new (sticker free) field, and went for round 2.   Feel free to laugh at my failed bunting below.  Instead of taking the time to secure each triangle, I mistakingly trusted that they would stay in place.  Not so much.



I was so glad we played Jenga because it really brings out the personalities of my kids.  Ruthie the expressive dare devil.


Sam the pensive one.



And Jack playing it safe by taking his from the top.  Love that kid. :)


We also painted our pumpkin and yes it all washed out of Ruthie's Matilda Jane dress. 


In the end I got what I wanted, a family picture for the Christmas card and some action shots of my kids at this stage.  It wasn't without great effort, a few failed plans, and much frustration though.   So if you go this fall for family pictures and wonder what it is like for the photographer when she photographs her family, you can rest assured it is probably a lot like what you are experiencing in that very moment. 


Friday, October 19, 2012

If You're A Mom, You're A Track Star- Part 2


Okay so in Part 1 of this series I shared my theory that the life of a mom often feels like a track meet where we are competing in several events and basically running ourselves ragged.  You can see that post HERE

In part 1, we talked about what motivates us to say, "Yes" too much.  Today I would like to talk about how we combat that mindset and live a life that is driven by calling and not by other motivations such as fear of disappointing someone or finding our significance in the wrong place.

The Solution Wearing Ourselves Out in the Track Meet of Life?

1. Combat your motivator head-on.   One of my motivators is that I feel lost when I don't have anything to do so by saying yes to more, I feel my need to be busy and feel significant in that business.  So on Monday instead of editing and cleaning before going to work at my PT job, I cashed in a year and half old massage gift card.  Can I tell you that it took everything in me not to take my computer in case I had to wait?  So my encouragement to you is find your motivator and then actively do the opposite.

2. Seek God in the track meet.  
Ps 27:8- My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
 Your face, Lord, I will seek. 

He is a lot of places-
         *He is the announcer calling you to prepare for the race.

         * He is your shoes- the support you need to run the race, our foundation

         *He is your inhaler to rescue you and give you life when we don’t have what it takes on our own 

         *He is the parent who picks you up at the finish line when you have lost or been hurt in the event

         * He is in the stands, not to just watch but to visit with you when you set your race aside to commune with Him; We can be so busy running every race that we don’t step off the track to enjoy life and hear from God.  Some of my favorite track meet memories didn’t take place on the track but in the field and the stands between the events.

        *He is your coach to say "this is not the race for you" so you don’t find yourself a sprinter signed up for the discus throw or maybe to say that bar is high enough now save yourself for the next event and cheer on your teammates.

3.  Lay down the perception of perfection which causes us to put our resources places other than what matters.  I honestly do this by actively confessing my faults to those around me.  People don't put me on a pedestal because they know me too well.  The good news is, if they know the real me and they stick around, they are worth knowing in return.   
         
4. Eliminate the competition.  I did not say eliminate the competitor, but the competition itself.   Our lives should be lived with one another, not against each other.  We start the comparison curse at an early age and pass it on to our daughters.  Let's put an end to it now and then maybe our kids won't end up as twisted as we are.   Good news, MY significance is not found in YOUR shortcomings.   It is found in who I am in Christ and how I walk out commandments like "love your neighbor."  

5. Determine who the task serves or doesn't serve.  I learned this great little trick at a parenting conference.  When considering a task, evaluate it in light of your key relationships- yourself, your spouse, your kids, and God.   If the task stands to hinder any of those relationships (by taking you away in a key time, etc) or does not help any of them, the answer is simple- Don't Do It!    

6. Get rid of the pizza before the race.  What I mean by that is that we need to get rid of that thing that seems like a good idea at the time but when it comes down to it, it sucks the life out of us when we are pursuing what matters.  This might be something different for all of us but could look like Pinterest, Facebook, baseball, hunting, extra hours at work, or a critical spirit.   





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wondrous Wednesday

The beautiful sunrise from an upstairs window in my house yesterday.


Monday, October 15, 2012

If You're a Mom, You're a Track Star - Part 1

I ran track for a year in high school and I wasn't any good at it, but somehow I am still running in track events today.  No, not the kind that I ran in high school, but the ones of life. 

Let me explain. 


I believe that a mother's life often looks like a track meet.



 Let’s see, there is...         
         *The 100 yd dash to a meaningful day. 
         *The marathon to a good marriage. 
         *The 4x4 relay to obedient kids.  That one is run with your spouse and the grandparents; so if it doesn’t go well, you can blame one of the other 3 legs. :)
         *The hurdles to have a pinterest quality home where I usually end up just tripping over them.  
         *The triple jump for success at work  (one jump for each role).  
         *The shot put to biblical knowledge where we throw verses, stories, videos, and practical lessons at our kids in hopes that they will catch and absorb some sense of biblical truth in their upbringing if we don’t knock them down with all of it first.
         *The high jump to involvement at our kids school where you get to raise the bar with each added title - room mom, PTA _______, carnival ________, copy room coordinator, class video maker, book fair volunteer, Friday reader, …
         *The pole vault (looks a lot like the high jump but can go even higher) of church involvement where you get a raise for activity of Sunday school teacher, office volunteer, AWANA worker, women’s ministry coordinator, Sunday greeter, hospitality committee, small group leader, …

And I am sure there are more! 

I don't know about you but when I become a track star, I run into 2 key things in the meet.

First, I find myself competing in every event and sometimes trying to compete in two at the same time. Second, instead of participating in the meet along side my fellow moms and believers, I find myself running against them.  

I didn't enter the race as a check it off competition, but somehow it becomes that on its own.

So Why Do We Do This?????

I think we do this for a number of different reasons:

1. Some of us think that God is like the point score or trophy at the end of the meet.   We subconsciously believe our way to Him is through good achievement and outrunning the person in the lane beside us.  So we run like crazy hoping to earn as much of God's approval as possible. 

 2. Some of us are addicted to the applause in the stands and it is never enough.  I see this one all over Facebook where we post every achievement while waiting for the comments to tell us "good job."

3. Some of us feel like no matter how good we do, it will never be enough and so we just keep on trying and pushing until we are gasping for air at the end of the track and ready to walk away from all of it altogether.  If this sounds a bit extreme to you, I can tell you it is very real.  I have had those days where I was ready to quit every job and live on a piece of land in the hills.  The problem is when we can't quit and run away, we run towards other things that numb us like alcohol, infidelity, shopping, etc. 

4. Some of us don't know how NOT to be busy.  This is a curse of the women in my family.  My mother was an overachiever,  my sister is an overachiever, and I too find my identity sometimes in my doing.  When I am caught up with free time on my hands, I am lost.  This is not good. 

5. Some of us are people pleasers.  I have a sweet friend like this.  Those around her know that if you need help with something, you can always ask her because she can't say no.  For that reason, I try not to ask for anything but others do and it sends her running in too many directions. 

6. Some of us feel like we have something to prove as though being a mom is not enough.  We are smart, college-educated women with good life experience and we feel like if we aren't putting that to use that somehow we are wasting it.   Don't hear this as a knock on working moms.  I have 2 jobs and am right there with you.  I think the key is to work if you feel called to it or if you need to in order to care for your family.  We don't have to work or say yes to the next race in order to prove our intelligence or worth.  

Are you a track star?  Do you see yourself in one of these 6 motivators to compete and do more?   When I evaluate the track meet, it helps me to sit with my motivations for a little while before I embrace the solution.  I have some "what's next" solutions for us but I am going to post those in a few days after we have pondered why we do what we do.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Photography Website



I have been a bad blogger here lately because I have been working hard on a new photography website!  Please go check it out and let me know if you have any recommendations.

Thanks!  You can link to it HERE 





Friday, October 5, 2012

That Old Rocking Chair

There is a rocking chair that I have moved from house to house with me and have never actually set out because it is missing a support piece in front.  Most people would have thrown it away by now, but I couldn't.  You see, it was my mom's rocking chair so it is a sentimental thing.


I have been thinking lately about all of the things my mom should have done in what should have been her lifetime, but she never got to do.   She never got to travel like we do today and she had no concept of things like laptop computers, starbucks, and cell phones, but she should have.  


She never saw her children get married and she never met her grandchildren.  I can't help but wonder what she would have thought about a grandchild from China.  I wonder how she might have loved and spoiled her. 


When I told Ruthie that we were going to take some pictures in my mom's old rocking chair, she asked which mom.  She has no concept of my birth mother but only of those who filled that role for me later in life.


I wish she knew the woman who used to sit in that chair.  My sister says she remembers my mom, dressed in her green robe, rocking me or sewing there.  I wish I could remember more.


I thought this photo-op was an interesting picture of what once was and what never got to be.
When we finished, I hung the old rocker back on my garage wall for another day.



As for Ruthie, she didn't mind the shoot because it meant she also got to play with bubbles.



And I must add she looked pretty darn cute in her new Matilda Jane pants- something else I am sure my mother would have loved.




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wondrous Wednesday

This weeks Wondrous Wednesday was more about precious moments than a particular sighting.
Trent and I took Ruthie to a doctor's appointment last week and needed to eat lunch quickly before getting to our next stop.  We just happened to stumble on this picnic table along the lake and had the sweetest 30 minutes together eating and feeding the birds.   I am grateful to serve a God who loves me enough to slip precious, unexpected moments like this into my day.