Monday, September 21, 2015

opening my eyes fully (or thirty-four can be hard)

Today I briefly vented on Facebook about a certain aspect of a phase of life we were in. It wasn't mean, and I received many "same here!" comments from my friends. And then I read this article about treating our children as our neighbors. I found myself pondering if complaining about this phase of life is treating my neighbor - my child - as I would want to be treated. I would be mortified if my mom or husband wrote, "Thirty-four is hard," because everyone would know they were talking about  me.

And yes, thirty-four can be hard. Just like two. And six. And sixteen. There are parts of every age that are hard or challenging or just new and different.

But what is a mom, especially a stay at home mom who homeschools and is with her children all of the time, supposed to do? A generation or two ago, I would have chatted with a neighbor friend in a similar phase of life or my own mom or mother-in-law would be nearby. But that is not the case for me or many of my friends. I think many of us, in matter if we are stay at home or working moms, feel like little islands. Even  with all of this technology to keep us connected, we still feel isolated and so we turn to Facebook as a mini-cry for help or seeking affirmation that we are doing a good job, that we are not alone in our mothering, that we are not screwing up our kids by telling them  for the fiftieth time they cannot try to swing like Tarzan from a piece of equipment at occupation therapy.

I don't have all the answers, but I want to try to do better at connecting and encouraging. I want to remind my friends with toddlers that many things get easier, and I want my friends with teenagers and grown children to remind me that things get easier. I want to see my friends with six year olds, really see them, and tell them they are not alone. I want to link arms with my friends with children with special needs and truly be in this together with them - whatever that may look like. I want to notice what my friends' kids are doing well - not just the trophy moments but the character moments - and specifically say the good thing I noticed. I want to pray for my friends who are weary with the same battles I am encountering.

Life is full at our house these days. School and work for the Hubs.  Activities for Bubby.  Therapies for Bugaboo. Volunteer ministries for me.  And the daily stuff like learning and playing and chores.  But I don't want things to get so full that I stop noticing my friends. And I don't want things to get so full I stop noticing and acknowledging the good my kids are doing.

Bubby helps to carry in groceries. He has a tender heart. He loves telling us about his day. He is a patient and kind big brother. He asks great questions.  Bugaboo perseveres when learning new skills. He prays for both real friends and animated ones. He loves saying, "Hi Dad!" when The Hubs walks in the door. He has made it through one month of Sunday morning services without having to go to the lobby.

Life is full. These ages and phases are hard some days. But every day there is so much good. I want to open my eyes fully and see it. Will you help me? Will you join me?

Monday, September 7, 2015

books I read in August

I managed to read a decent amount of books during the month of August, even as we got into the back-to-school swing of things.  Less Netflix, more books. That is the key, my friends. Here's what I stuck with this last month:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 
Quick and easy novel with quirky characters. I laughed quite a bit and couldn't help keeping track of all of the main character's quirks. Entertaining and fun as the main character, Ron, a genetics professor,  tries to help a bartender, Rosie, find her biological father.

When Fraser Met Billy by Louise Booth
There was a lot of this book I connected with. Louise's son, Fraser, has autism as well as muscle tone issues that made him have delayed motor skills. She writes on some of the struggles in their life as well as how life improved quite a bit when her son Fraser connected with the cat, Billy, whom they adopted from a rescue.  Some of the stories were really beautiful and amazing.  It wasn't the most well-written memoir I have ever read, but I was interested and connected enough to keep reading. I am not a cat person, but that might change if I could find a cat like Billy for Bug (and if I was not allergic. Achoo!)

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
I had never read this book before, even though I have read Charlotte's Web multiple times. I needed to preview it to see if/when I would read it to the boys. It is about a swan, Louis, who is born without a voice, and he learns to overcome it by playing the trumpet. To me, this story did not have the same magic Charlotte's Web has. I didn't like Louis being called defective, but the perseverance of Louis was inspiring as far as children's books go.  Much of the book had wonderful descriptions of nature - so I will probably read it to the boys in the next year or so as we are trying to do a lot of nature study in our schooling. I'm glad I read this book, but it has not earned a place on my favorite list of kiddie lit.

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty
I don't believe in hypnotism, but I really like Liane Moriarty's characters.  This is the third or fourth book I have read of hers, and I wanted to befriend both the hypnotist and the other main female character in the story.  This wasn't my favorite by this author, but it was another quick and fun read.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung
I went through this book with a class at church this summer. Kevin DeYoung is a Presbyterian pastor and also part of the Reformed/Gospel Coalition movement.  I found his book very straight-forward and kind. He addresses questions, concerns, and objections in a thoughtful manner. He is theologically conservative so his answers reflect that. I am theologically conservative so his answers made sense to me, but also didn't embarrass me. (There are a lot of crazy theologians out there on both sides of this issue/question.) 

Fear and Faith by Trillia J. Newbell
I first heard of Trillia Newbell when I watched the "A Time to Speak" panel about a year ago on race relations and the church.  I have read a few blog posts by Newbell, but this is the first book of hers that I have read.  She covered many of the areas we experience fear (failure, rejection, death of loved ones, etc) and then spent a lot of time on what to with these fears in terms of our faith.  My favorite quote from this book is: 
"When your fears tell you that you are alone, God whispers, 'I am your God.'...Your fears tell you that you have to be strong. God tells you, 'I will strengthen you.' Your fears will tell you that you will fall and fail. Your fears will tell you that you have to muster up the strength to be all that you think the Lord desires you to be, and that you must do it on your own. Your fears tell you that you don't measure up and never will. God tells you, 'I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.' Your fears will tell you to fear. God tells you, 'Do not be dismayed.'"