Monday, September 27, 2010

It's a day for a cozy sweater, chicken pot pie, and a nice coffee beverage (preferably pumpkin spiced something or other). It's a day for reading in a big comfy chair, and catching up with friends. Although it's a rainy Monday, the new chill in the air smells like fall, and brings with it the promise of new beginnings and new energy. I'm looking forward to visits to the pumpkin patch, baking bread, and taking lots of pictures of the kids on our short hikes, surrounded by the fallen leaves. I'm reminded that our world is beautiful, as is my life, even in all of its chaos and uncertainty. Even in my frustrations and busyness, fall reminds me to slow down and savor each quickly passing moment.

(by the way, the photo is from last fall...the leaves are just now beginning to turn)

Friday, September 24, 2010

I failed this morning. I rolled into work late after juggling with John the seemingly endless tasks of getting the kids ready to roll to preschool. I thought I was prepared the night before--I had packed Brady's healthy snack for fruit break (careful to avoid nuts and processed foods for his healthy allergy-sensitive class) and Maryn's lunch (heavy on the processed food Lunchable that she picked out at the grocery store, and therefore knew she'd eat as she's had a cold and has been eating less). I made granola (slightly burned but still tasty) for our breakfast, cleaned up, and did laundry so the kids would have clean, mulch and sand-free clothes. This morning, after breakfast struggles, brushed teeth, dressing, cleaning, packing bags, potty time, and an activity to tide over the whining, they were finally off in the car. I cleaned up (again), started a crockpot meal for lunch, checked email, talked to a friend, and finally made it in to work. My cell rang immediately, and it was Brady's preschool teacher. Apparently, I had mixed up the lunchboxes, leaving Brady with the highly coveted (yet not allowed) Lunchable, and poor Maryn with a measly pear for lunch (which wasn't even cut up). So I had to go switch out lunchboxes, rushing to make it before Maryn's 10:30 lunch slot (yes, really).

So my first thought was not how much I had accomplished, of course, but what a failure I was. I can (kind of) laugh about it now, but I've felt that this preschool is kind of out of our league in some ways, and to send in a Lunchable kind of feels like the unforgiveable sin. Now they KNOW we sometimes allow our children to eat bad processed foods (the horror!) And poor Brady, stuck with a Lunchable he wanted to eat, but couldn't, and a container of flavored applesauce that he had already told me he didn't like, must of thought he was being punished for something he hadn't even done. I know it's ridculous, but it just goes to show the kind of pressure I (needlessly) place on myself.

The up side is that I unexpectedly got to see both my sweet babies at preschool today. I snuck a peek at Brady playing with friends outside at the sand and water table (after leaving a back-up snack with his teacher), and I surprised Maryn by staying for lunch (brunch??) with her. I'm sure Brady will have questions for me later about why I sent him the wrong lunch, but it will be a good lesson for both of us that Mommy makes mistakes...and that's okay. I don't need to be perfect, just as I don't expect him to be.

I just read an article about the value of failure and how we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. So I guess I'm just learning. Maybe I'll learn how to be a little easier on myself.

As a reminder to myself, I'll post a picture of my sweet girl for whom (at least most of the time and particularly at the moment) I can do no wrong:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm big on ideas. I have notebooks full of promising potential projects and folders full of ideas for every area of my life: Bible studies, new work programs, recipes, kids' craft projects, travel itineraries, and lists of books I'd like to read and classes I'd love to take. The picture shows just a selection of projects "in the works" from my desk (and this doesn't include my various to-do list files and notes). I think I've even influenced my kids, whose favorite new phrase is, "I have a good idea, Mommy!"

I'm not lacking in direction(s) or interest, but my follow through is a little rusty. When I think of actually implementing any of these ideas, I get overwhelmed by the possibilities and the inertia of laziness takes over. It's so much easier to stay in the comfort and security of the status quo, even when I'm fighting against it. I wish I could have a job where I could just brainstorm ideas. I think I'd be a champ at that. Does such a thing exist? But I guess there isn't a lot of growth for me in that.

I think the sheer vastness of my generated ideas does not point to my creativity, but to my feelings of being stuck. I can come up with all kinds of thoughts on getting unstuck, but I still have to take that leap of faith from here into the great unknown. Although I don't enjoy feeling stuck, the discomfort is at least a familiar place to dwell for the moment. I'm praying that I will have the courage to take the steps I need and that the right ideas will "stick" (in a good way this time) and lead to areas of growth for myself and those whom I serve.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peace to you

Did you know that today is World Peace Day? I probably would have overlooked it, but my son goes to a peaceable school, and when I went to pick him up today, they had decorated the fence outside with paper windmills and a sign that said "Imagine Whirled Peace".

Peace. What a difficult concept to even grasp in our fragmented, broken world. It's hard to even find personal peace when our minds and hearts get overburdened with all the chaos of life. Recently, I devoted a lot of time trying to develop a "peace project" at work that would hopefully help our at-risk youth and the staff who work with them find better ways of communicating and mediating conflicts. In my proposals to various groups, almost everyone agreed with the need for such a program, but I was told in a myriad of ways exactly why a peacemaking program would not work.

If peace is so important, why don't we have it? Why don't we work for it? I know the task seems insurmountable, but wouldn't one small step be better than none at all? What is the core problem? To me, it seems tied to our lack of community in our American culture. We are so segregated, so quick to isolate ourselves, so independent that we can hardly look at our neighbors, much less know them or care about their needs. And when we insulate ourselves from others, it's easy to judge them as "different" or "outsiders", the typical "us vs. them". It becomes a competition to get our needs the expense of others. Fear drives us to keep to ourselves and create barriers, and peace cannot live where people are divided.

I'm no better at this than anyone else. But I've started to think and worry about it more, particularly as my kids are growing up. I worry about sending them into "real" school. I get frustrated with situations in the world...and in my inability to change them (and my own inaction). I am infuriated when Christians perpetrate divisions and hate instead of sharing the peace of Christ. And yet my own hatred isn't breaking down any barriers either.

Oh God, may we be people of peace. May your peace live in our hearts and show us all the way.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "in-betwina" times

There's a joke going around our house these days (prepare yourself--it was created by a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old):

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Betwina who?
(and the two jokesters collapse in laughter)

Wanting to figure out what was so funny (and who Betwina is), we discovered they were trying to say "Katrina", who, apparently, is a character on the tv show "Oswald". The name itself (and their inability to say it) became the punchline. After about a million and a half repetitions one day, I turned to John and said, "Betwina you and me, I'm a little tired of this joke!" So my clever husband suggested the title for this post.

I spend a lot of my life anticipating what is to come. You know, that magical time when the demands of life slow down and I have free time to relax and enjoy life. Surprisingly, that time never seems to come! I know that part of it is my own unrelenting drive to get everything done and to do it all to a standard that often leaves me frazzled, exhausted, and somewhat crazy. It also sets me up to wish my life away in a sense. Instead of appreciating the beauty of my life now, I dream of a day when the kids are a little older, a little more self-sufficient, and my schedule has a lot more flexibility. And yet, I realize that when I get to that point, I will miss my sweet little babies who so desparately wanted my time and attention.

So much of life is spent in the "in-betwina" times. In the church calendar, this is appropriately named "Ordinary Time" (the seasons after Epiphany and Pentecost, or time that is not Advent, Lent, Easter, or Christmas). When we look too far ahead to the momentous occasions (or developmental milestones), we miss the joy of the daily journey. Although the daily tasks can be onerous and unending, this is the stuff of life; messy, exhausting, miraculous life.

Living life in the moment and truly appreciating how blessed and fleeting it is can be a spiritual practice in itself. This is one I aim to practice more these days.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I have wanted to write a blog for sometime, but everytime I sit down to do it, I stare at the blank page and wonder how I can fill it with something creative and original. I spend so much time crafting things in my head, and then dismissing them as not ________enough (fill in the blank with creative, smart, clever, etc). In this age of Facebook, I feel like I need to create my image in a way that will lead to more "like"s. But even before Facebook there was the need to be "perfect" even when I was frantically and unsucessfully scrambling to pick up all the pieces.

I had to post this particular profile picture, even as I ruefully smiled at how tired I look, because that's where I am right now. While my life is blessed in so many ways, I still struggle to appreciate the good without anticipating or overemphasizing the bad. And yet there is so much hope in much that I want to express, experience, and discover.

So this foray into blogging is an attempt at a spiritual discipline for me, one that I have anxiously avoided. To be real. To admit my struggles as I live out my faith. To not try to "spin" things in a way that will bring me favor, but hopefully, to connect with others on the journey and learn to see the beauty in all I encounter.

Will you join me on the journey?