Monday, October 8, 2018

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Last night, on the drive home from a lovely wedding, my husband said this to me:

"I was looking at you tonight, and you looked so beautiful".

I told him thank you and pondered his words.  I was so appreciative to hear them: I never take for granted those kinds of affirmations.  I try always to take those declarations to heart  -- not because my husband doesn't say them often enough, but because I know that with each compliment, he is showing his love for me.  

Last night in particular I was thinking about beauty.  I am not beautiful by worldly standards, but my husband thinks I am.  And why is that?

I thought about it as we drove home, and realized I could apply the same thought to how I see my husband. Objectively, he is a handsome man (I know I can't exactly be objective, but I KNOW this to be an objective truth! :).  Yet as I was thinking about his face, I realized how beautiful it is to me.  You might look at him and notice he is good-looking, but I get to see so much more.  I see his lovely features and easy smile but I also see our shared history:  I see our children, our years together, all our moments - both the good and the bad.  In his beautiful face I see our commitment to each other, the marriage that sustains our love.  I see him as the selfless father he is, giving and giving to our family, no matter his exhaustion level.  I see in his face his deep desire to lead the people of his flock to Christ, and his commitment to truth.  I see his integrity, his honesty and his wisdom.  I also see his weaknesses and areas of struggle, and I love him all the more for them.   

Through the window of his face and physical body, I see who he is.  And many of his close friends could say the same of him to some degree.  But I am grateful and blessed to see more.  To look into his face and see things that no one else is able to see.  God gifted me this man, and through him I am able to see true beauty. Through him and our marriage, I am able to see a little glimpse into heaven.  

And it's beautiful.

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Week in Pictures

A visual sum up of my week:

Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" with my preschoolers!  We've been learning about the color blue in preschool, and this week we watched a little snippet of an old favorite series of mine - Baby Einstein. My children cut their teeth on Baby Einstein, and watching the 2-minute segment of Baby Van Gogh instantly took me back to those years!  My little preschoolers were mesmerized by the images as we talked about the color blue.  Then, after seeing the Van Gogh painting in the video, we went on a field trip down the hallway to see the real thing hanging on our school wall.  Later, we painted our own version of the painting.  They loved exploring the color blue!

My experience with Hello Fresh.  After some research (mostly via Facebook, not gonna lie), I decided to use the coupon I had and try Hello Fresh.  I spent $11 to get two two-serving dinners - not too bad.  However, when the package arrived, the ice packs were completely thawed, and the meat was cool at best.  The picture above shows one of the brown bags filled with ingredients, which broke apart as I pulled it out of the box.  Everything was damp with condensation.  I had to pitch all refrigerated items.  I contacted the company right away, and they gave me a credit for another shipment.  I still have to pay shipping for the new shipment, so I am debating trying them again. The good news? We did get a teeny tiny bottle of white rice vinegar out of the deal, so there's that.

A different take on the beautiful Proverbs 31 passage.  I love Proverbs 31, and I aspire to be that kind of woman (though my children have yet to rise up and call me blessed), so I have mixed feelings about this little spoof.   It completely sums me up, but it feels a little too irreverent to me.

Readers!  Yes, my dear friends, I have to admit that I have succumbed to reading glasses.  I have had them for less than 24 hours and they have changed my world.  I am not even kidding. I had no idea that my phone, medicine bottles, the computer and book pages could be so crisp and clear!  It is seriously unbelievable.  I have had a lot of trouble with my eyes this year, and to have a success like this makes my day!  $9.99 at Walgreens for the win!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Growing Pains

I recently ran across a list of words my youngest mispronounced when she was very little.  And oh - my heart was transported back to that little girl -- the one who asked hundreds of questions every day, the one who gave me a heartfelt blessing each night. . .the one who talked to popcorn at Target.

How quickly the time is passing with little K.  She is growing into a lovely little lady, a third grader who loves to read and learn about robotics and sing and dance.  She is a joy to all around her, and I love the kind heart we see blossoming in her.

But as I read over this little list, my heart ached a bit for the sweet little one she once was.

Wash Mouth - Mouthwash
Scunscreen - sunscreen
Cupcapes - cupcakes
Glubs - gloves
Kineapple - pineapple
Christmas presidents - christmas presents
Oktoberfestible - Oktoberfest
Dentister - dentist

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
Winnie the Pooh

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Golden Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary last week.  A few stats:

18,250 days together

2 beloved daughters

8 adored grandchildren

3 houses

1 hometown

lots of laughter

many sorrows shared

plenty of compromises

much love and grace

Fifty years is a long time to be married to a person. When you're married that long, every moment isn't always full of roses and rainbows -- sometimes there is hurt, anger and frustration.  But in a solid marriage, with Christ at its center, those moments are overcome with a firm commitment to the vows they made to each other and to God.  And in the case of my parents, nothing could be truer.  Through hard times and good, happy and sad days, their marriage remained strong and sure, rooted in Christ.  

I am grateful for the example they have shown me, and I pray God grants them many more years together.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Communion of Saints

Several years ago, I blogged the following here, on the Sisters of Katie Luther blog.  I was talking to my daughter about my dear grandma, and the communion of saints that unifies us. I have always found the communion of saints beautiful and comforting.
My eldest girl left for college two weeks ago today. I'm doing better than I expected, but I still miss her very much.  I miss sharing our days together - both the exciting and mundane details. While we are still so very well connected via text and FaceTime,  it just isn't quite the same while she's away.  But the very first Sunday she was away, I asked her this: "Did you have communion at church this morning?" And she said she did.  What a joy to know that though we are miles apart, we are united together in Christ through his body and blood.  Such knowledge does this mamma's soul good.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. . .
“Riddley, Riddley, Ree!  I see something you don’t see, and the color of it is. . .”  My five-year-old daughter loves to play this old family game, passed along for a few generations.  I recall playing it with my beloved grandma, as she sat under the hair dryer in my childhood kitchen.  
After being told where the game originated, my little daughter has begun asking me about my grandma, who passed away when I was pregnant with her older sister in 2000.
“Tell me about your grandma”, she says often.
And I begin with great memories. . .she loved Coke, ham sandwiches, and shopping.  She was widowed young and reinvented her life by becoming a real estate agent.  She adored her family, took pictures of everyone all the time, and said “Hello, love”, when we talked on the phone.
But above all else, she loved her Savior.  She had a faith that emanated from her very being.  Everyone who knew her knew that she put Christ first in her life.  Her constant prayer was for unbelieving family and friends to come to know her Lord.  She was an amazing witness and example of faith in action.
And as I cuddle in bed with my sweet babe, recounting all these things, perhaps not surprisingly, we came upon the beauty of the communion of saints.  Explaining the communion of saints to a five-year-old, child genius as she is (I’m her mother, I get to think that!) is no small undertaking.  I proceeded carefully, traveling along something like this:
“Do you know how Mommy and Daddy and your brother and sister take communion every Sunday?  We take communion together, and we also take communion with all the people at church that Sunday, right?”
She agreed, so I continued.  “Well, you know that your grandparents and aunts and uncles take communion every Sunday, too, right?  Even though they are far away, we are communing with them, because we all believe that Jesus is present in the bread and wine.  So, we are not actually standing next to them, but we are still communing with them.”
She nodded again, so I took the final leap.   “It is the same thing with all the people who went to heaven in Jesus.  Though we are not standing together, we are united in Jesus’ gift of His body and blood.  Each time we take communion, we are together with all believers!”
I’m not sure just what she retained, but the seeds were planted.  What a glorious gift, this sacrament!  Together with all believers, it binds us to Him and strengthens us for our journey here on earth.  Praise God for His holy sustenance!
Yet she on earth has unionWith God, the Three in One,And mystic sweet communionWith those whose rest is won.O blessed heav’nly chorus!Lord, save us by your graceThat we, like saints before us,May see You face to face. 
The Church’s One FoundationLSB 644

Monday, August 27, 2018

Thoughts on College from an Adjusting Mamma

It has occurred.  What I have expected and dreaded for over 18 years actually happened.  My sweet young adult daughter actually went away to college.  And while we've been prepping for it for awhile now, it still feels a little surreal.  Some of my thoughts about the last several days.

  • Leaving her at college was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Acknowledging that fact to myself made me realize that I have had a pretty wonderful life!  But truly my friends, as the hour approached for us to leave, my heart felt as though it was being ripped from chest, and I wondered if I could really do it.  I knew though, even then, that this was the best thing for her, and that she would flourish there.  So we said our teary goodbyes and I cried all the way home.  
  • My daughter is amazing! After a very long and watery school day for me on Friday (I have some amazing co-workers - more on that below), I finally made it home, where I could have a cathartic cry.  But my spirits were lifted exponentially when my daughter face timed me and was cheerful and chipper and had had a good day.  While the ache of missing her is still something fierce, I felt ever so much better knowing she was adjusting.  Also in the amazing category, re:my girl, she had to go downtown today to get some paperwork filled out for her job, and she did it!  She and her sweet roommate took public transit down and back and got it taken care of.  I would never have had the courage to do it three days into college, but she tackled it head on and got 'er done. I was so very proud of her.
  • Technology is the goods.  I DO NOT know how my parents and I did this moving-to-college thing without it.  I only called home twice a week!  My daughter and I have been texting multiple times a day, FaceTiming and calling when needed.  Technology has made the transition so very much easier.  I am unbelievably thankful I am sending my kids to college with these options at our fingertips.  She feels so much nearer because of all of these connections!
  • My husband is awesome.  He has held me while I sobbed, counseled me through my emotions, and listened to me lament.  He is also patient while I recount multiple text conversations with our daughter and sometimes repeat myself :(  He is missing her terribly too, but is able to help me through my sorrow at her absence.
  • My coworkers, friends and family are fabulous!  As I mentioned above, I cried a little  a TON on Friday.  It felt like at every turn, I was weeping.  It was driving me crazy, but I couldn't seem to hold it together whenever someone hugged me or asked about my girl.  But my coworkers were so kind and thoughtful, and loved me through it.  I am so thankful for them!  I also received countless texts from friends and family who were checking in on me, knowing this task was going to be so very hard.  I received a little gift of chocolate and coke zero from one sweet friend (which brought me to tears - I told you I cried all day!), and hugs and love from so many others.  I am so grateful for these friends!
All in all, my girl seems to be adjusting well, and I am doing okay because I know she is where God wants her to be.  I still feel a bit like my leg has been cut off, but perhaps that ache will ease with time. If not, I will learn to manage it, I suppose.  At the end of the day on Thursday, there was a service for all the parents and students, and at the end we sang (I say "we" loosely - I cried through the whole hymn and couldn't sing a word) the hymn below.  How comforting these words are to our aching hearts - our daughter is never alone!

Go, my children, with my blessing, Never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you; You are my own.
In my love's baptismal river
I have made you mine forever.
Go, my children, with my blessing - You are my own.

Go, my children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure.
Here you learned how much I love you, What I can cure.
Here you heard my dear Son's story;
Here you touched him, saw his glory.
Go, my children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure.

Go, my children, fed and nourished, Closer to me;
Grow in love and love by serving, Joyful and free.
Here my Spirit's power filled you;
Here his tender comfort stilled you.
Go, my children, fed and nourished, Joyful and free.

I the Lord will bless and keep you And give you peace;
I the Lord will smile upon you And give you peace;
I the Lord will be your Father,
Savior, Comforter, and Brother.
Go, my children; I will keep you And give you peace.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The New Normal

18 years and 5 months ago, I had a little baby.  Our first!  She was a beautiful pink-cheeked angel and she stole our hearts.  She was our pride and joy and as we got used to what I called our new normal, I found it shocking how fiercely I loved her.  Her every move, emotion, and need became my primary focus, and I knew I had been right when I thought motherhood would be my calling.  Being her mommy (and her daddy's wife!), was the vocation I had longed to fulfill my whole life.  

As she grew, we added her siblings one by one, and life was good.  Oh, of course there were many moments of frustration, sadness, exhaustion and anxiety.  But my over-arching emotion toward motherhood was the same:  this was my calling.

And here I am, this week.  In four short days, my husband and I will be delivering that sweet baby to her first year of college.  I'm not quite sure how we got to this place so quickly.  The years have flown by, and my heart hasn't really had time to catch up.  But the time has come, whether my heart feels ready or not, and we must embark on this new adventure:  parenting a young adult from afar.  

I look at her, and I see the great things she is going to do, both in college and beyond.  She is ready to spread her wings and be on her own, learning and growing and blossoming.  She might be a little homesick and have some growing pains herself, but she is prepared to handle it all.  She is mature and rooted in her faith, and she is going to do great things, I feel sure of it.  

But remember my heart?  It's having internal conflict all the day long.  I want this for her (going away to college is absolutely the best choice for her), yet my heart just isn't quite ready at the same time.  I'm simultaneously thrilled for her and aching for what will change. While she isn't leaving forever (to my great joy I realized that she'll be home 1/3 of the year!), Thursday marks a definite change in what we've known for 18 years and 5 months - our girl being with us in our home, sharing her everyday life with us.  And that's a little hard to get used to.

So I'm praying for so many things:  for her to flourish and succeed and have an amazing college experience; for her to stay safe and healthy; for her faith to deepen and grow;  for her to meet new friends and have new adventures; for her to learn so many new things and grow even more in her excitement for teaching little ones; and finally, for all of us still here in our house - that we can adjust to our new normal with as much grace and peace as we can, knowing that while she isn't under our roof, she is still being held under God's wings.