Changing Seasons

Mothering means lots of changing seasons.

Done correctly, it means there will be sleepless nights and hot tears on your pillow. It means lots of messy moments and endless challenges. It means robust celebrations and a million prayers.

In essence, the role of mother requires you to teach your kid not to require you anymore. It means your kids will grow up and leave you behind. And trust me, you will never be ready for that moment. 

The moment of separation.

When my boy completed his training as a fire fighter in Charleston, S.C., he called to tell me about the details of his graduation ceremony. He was so happy. It made the fact that he lived 1000 miles away almost worth it to know we’d finally be celebrating his dream of becoming a firefighter.

“Mom,” he continued excitedly, “The Chief will there to present my diploma personally. She’ll shake my hand and give me my official badge. I’m even allowed to ask someone to walk on the stage with me! It’s supposed to be a person of importance. A person who has helped me achieve my goal of becoming a firefighter.”

I waited for it. In my mind, I could see us walking across the stage, me beaming with pride and smiling as I pinned the DYKSTRA badge on his crisp blue uniform shirt.

He continued, “Mom, I asked Kym to walk with me. I’m going to marry her this summer and it seemed like the right choice. I didn’t think you’d care. You don’t care do you, Mom?” 

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Where Is God When You Need Him?

Are you in the wilderness?

Are you in a season of wondering if God cares about you or even sees you? Does it seem like He led you into a wilderness and forgot where he left you?

I feel like that a lot whenever I launch a new series of talks, a service, or book. I have a “moment” or two when it feels like I might have misread the signals God sent. That I am all alone and forgotten. That I will die out here in the wilderness.

Then God shows up in some extravagant way to reassure me that I am not forgotten at all. That’s what happened when Almida said she had a present for me. 

I need to tell you Almida is an interesting woman. Her wisdom, life experiences and prayers have been my life line for decades. Russian by birth, she escaped the Nazis by walking across Europe only to live in a refuge camp for months before getting a sponsor in the US. She made a living as a tailor until she married an entrepreneur who made a boatload of money as a building developer. Her husband, Willy, died at 41 in a plane crash leaving her devastated. Her grief was compounded when Willy’s business partner bankrupted the business, depleting her resources and retirement.

Almida is now 87, and resides in an assisted living facility. The pain in her hip is her constant companion, making an outing to any store a major ordeal. She’s frugal by necessity and was never a big believer in “good behavior” gifts. It wasn’t my birthday and Christmas was long gone, so I couldn’t imagine what gift she might have for me.

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Easter Good News

Easter Sunday is here and Lent is over!

Part of me is relieved that Lent is nearly over so I can resume the consumption of chocolate and binge watch television. You would think after 46 days the cravings would be gone, but they taunt me. I have repeatedly whispered, “God, I want to long for you like I long for chocolate and Netflix.”

The glorious discipline of Lent has brought me closer to God and has transformed some of my strongholds into mere indulgences. I have experienced God in powerful ways over the past 40-plus days.

But Lent isn’t about just overcoming temptations or even establishing new patterns. It’s to put me in the place where I anticipate the celebration of an an empty tomb. To synchronize my trust and faith with the RESURRECTION of Jesus. To really believe that because HE lives, I will live, too. 

More than get out of hell insurance.

Jesus’ resurrection has to be more than get-out-of-hell insurance. It has to be the assurance that all the things wrong in my life and in yours can be resurrected.

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Perfection is an Evil Taskmaster

Does perfection impede your progress and alienate you from others?

I used to work in an office with Griselda* who knew everything about everything. She scrutinized every single phone conversation I had, every document I created and every chart I filed – for my own good and the good of the office, of course.

And she didn’t just “supervise” her co-workers. One day, a single mom with two little kids came into the office. While the mom was doing her business, the children got curious and noisy in the waiting area. From her desk, Griselda sternly chastised them into cowering submission, mortifying the mom and the rest of us onlookers.

The cost of perfectionism.

I’m all about doing your best, but when perfection is the taskmaster, and you can’t measure up, it sucks the want-to right out of you. Being told by someone else (or yourself) you need to be perfect wears you out and keeps you from experiencing new things and new people. 

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You Don’t Have To Live In Isolation!

 

What is a blonde’s favorite color?
Glitter.

Why do blondes always smile during thunderstorms?
They think someone is taking their picture.

Judge Free Zones

These jokes make us chuckle because we can all relate to blonde jokes. Everyone has moments of silliness. But in real life, NO ONE wants to look too “blonde”. No one wants to be judged as foolish … or ignorant … or stupid. We all want to be accepted and appreciated.

In days gone by, several generations lived on the same property if not in the same house. The advantage to having such close proximity to family members of many generations is you were allowed to learn from one another. How to:

  • Make a house a home.
  • Prepare and preserve food.
  • Raise responsible children.
  • Handle husbands with respect.

You know what else you get to see in such close quarters?
Problems!
Flaws!
Mistakes!
Which in turn gives you permission to be imperfect.

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Choosing People Over Projects

Balancing life’s responsibilities can be challenging. When choosing between people and projects, know your decision will come with long term consequences.

I recently spent a three weeks in Florida, staying at my parents during the week and speaking on weekends. Conveniently, my Mom and Dad live about 30 miles from Mr. 4-Ever’s folks. Both sets of parents live in “Resorts”, which are really a fancy trailer parks, but some marketing genius figured out that resort sounds a lot better.

When Dave and I made this plan, I told myself that when I wasn’t at an event, I would write during the day, then play in the evenings.

Working vacation is an oxymoron.

I didn’t get much work done and as the days piled up and the projects collected dust, my guilt grew until I was downright crabby! I wasn’t enjoying myself, my holiday or my parents!

It’s not that I’m undisciplined or that all my work was done. It’s that people are more important to me that projects. When I have people in front of me, especially people I love, and more especially, old people I don’t see very often, I want to be with them. Fully engaged. Fully present. With them.

So, instead of writing new material, I’ve been listening to great stories from our parents. Instead of slaving over my laptop, I’ve been playing games and lingering over meals. Instead of locking myself away in an office, I’ve been walking beaches in wide brimmed hats. I’ve been all in. And, it’s been great.

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Does Striving For Perfection Drive You Bananas?

Going Bananas

Early in our marriage, Mr. 4-Ever made the mistake of mentioning how much he enjoyed another woman’s banana bread. Not to be outdone, I took it upon myself to make his life complete by creating my own perfect loaf of banana bread. I tried a dozen recipes, but none of them turned out well.

We ate a lot of really mediocre banana bread and threw an obscene amount of banana bread in the trash. No matter what I did, I could not get the bread to come out right.

I cried. I whined. I obsessed.

Finally, Dave told me that his appetite for banana bread had waned. He said as nicely as he could that my insane pursuit of perfecting banana bread was done and I needed to quit wasting my time and our money. 

Perfection steals your joy and your time!

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Do You Need To Say Yes to Less?

Almost everyone I know is busy and stressed. We are working harder than ever before and it’s taking it’s toll. God did not intend for us to live in a state of constant commotion.

How do you get your life and schedule back? Say yes to less. 

You ever eat at one of those swanky fondue restaurants? Mr. 4-Ever and I got to try one a while back. A $50.00 gift card had been tucked into a thank you card to us and thought we’d won the lottery. What a treat!

First, a bowl of melted cheese and a tray of bread cubes and small pieces of fruit was delivered along with those long pronged forks. We gobbled it all up. It was so good, I could have been done right then.

A salad bursting with flavor appeared next. You have to eat the greens to offset the barrel of cheese you just ate, right?

A pot of hot seasoned oil and a tray of raw meat and seafood followed the salad. One tiny bit at a time, we got full, but we didn’t stop because the bites were so small, we could easily fit one more tidbit in. And it was all SO GOOD! And we might never have this opportunity again!

When I was sure I could not eat one more thing …THERE WAS DESSERT!

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How Do You Measure Up To Perfection?

Do you miss the mark of perfection? 

I tease my friend Dee about her PPS – Pre Party Syndrome. She obsesses over every detail, but her parties are awesome and everyone wants to be invited to them because her home is beautiful, her food is delicious, her games are fun and her hospitality is over the top. Occasionally, she allows guests to contribute which is how I ended up with the assignment to bring my specialty – deviled eggs.

On the day of the party, my boiled eggs did not want cooperate with me. The shells stuck to the egg white like they’d been super-glued. Big hunks of egg came off with the shells leaving me with the ugliest looking things I’d seen since I tried to cut my own hair.

A Big Decision

I looked at those pitiful eggs and had a decision to make. Take ugly eggs to the party or take nothing. Everything in me wanted to trash the eggs and start over, but there was no time! The voice in my head chided, You can’t take those! They look awful! They are not worthy of a Dee party. She will be offended if you take them. No one will eat them anywat. Maybe you should stay home if that’s the best you can do!

Why is it so easy to let a little thing like ugly eggs undermine my value and make me believe my community will reject me – not my eggs, but me!?

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What Confession Is Good for Your Soul?

Sin is sneaky!

My son, Eli and I were at the Krispy Kreme drive-though, coupon in hand. We were moments away from warm, frosted donuts, but something was wrong with the coupon I was trying to use. I wanted chocolate frosted but the coupon was for glazed. I put up quite a fuss to get my donuts at a discount and succeeded.

Pulling away victorious, donuts in hand, my boy looked at me and said, “Mom, you were really mean to that lady.”

OUCH!  I sure was.

“Son, you are so right. Will you forgive me for talking to her like that?”
“Sure, mama, … can I have a donut?”

As he ate his circle of deliciousness, I silently asked God to forgive me for modeling behavior I would never tolerate from the young man next to me.  I thought that was done, but Holy Spirit laid his hand on my heart, prompting me to return and apologize to the girl at the Krispy Kreme.

With the store already disappearing in my rear view mirror and using the traffic zipping by at breakneck speeds, I justified why I couldn’t go back.

Holy Spirit wasn’t having any of it. For three days, He kept the pressure on till I couldn’t stand it anymore.

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