No, not Mother’s Day. That’s another one altogether.
Today is the day I celebrate my own Mama.
My sister posted this picture yesterday, and I have to say I don’t remember ever seeing it before. It’s grainy and blurry and not the best lighting and … I love it! I do remember Mama making that blouse, and that fuzzy sweater. And I remember her smile.
And somehow this photo reminds me of how huggable she was, especially when she was wearing that fuzzy sweater.
Mom would have been 76 yesterday, and we would have found some way to celebrate across the miles. For the past six years it has been my practice to find a free day on or around her birthday to spend doing the things that she would enjoy. It’s a tradition a friend shared with me shortly after we lost Mama that has brought so much healing. A few tears too, but mostly healing.
So today will be spent in the sewing room sewing, creating, altering a few recently thrifted treasures, listening to soft jazz and sipping coffee. And though there may be a few random tears here and there, it’s okay. Because it all blends together to become a beautiful day of remembering, celebrating and choosing gratitude for her life lived well.
For those of you who are walking through your own griefs, I pray that your days too may soon be filled with healing tears and sweet memories.
Well over a year ago several women came to our house one evening for a monthly meeting. We had lots to plan and discuss and we figured that would be best completed over dinner.
When Doris arrived with her hot dish to add to the collection, she was using a pretty little crocheted hot pad that she had made in a bright turquoise yarn. She set her dish on the stovetop, handed me the hot pad and informed me that it was mine in a matter-of-fact sort of way. She apologized that it was too small and how the next one she made was going to be a little bigger, though she may decide to stick with the same type of yarn.
I love that cheery little hot pad. Yes, it’s smaller than most of mine, but sometimes the others are actually a little too big.
Honestly what I love most about it is that she made it for me. That and the way she handed it to me so humbly with no fanfare whatsoever. It’s the same way she cared for her husband for years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
It’s simply how she relates to others.
Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Always looking to see how she can be an encouragement to others.
And not to gain the admiration of others, or even to feel better about herself.
She apologized because she wasn’t exactly pleased with the pattern she had used. But that wasn’t the important part, and she knew it. She knew well that the important part was in loving on someone else, however inadequate that gift seemed on her end. Because on the receiving end of it, it was way beyond adequate.
What a beautiful reminder that little hot pad is for me…
A reminder that it’s the small kindnesses that matter.
A reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect or extravagant to matter.
A reminder that it’s not about me, but others.
A reminder that it’s always worth it to give, even if we may never comprehend the value of the gift from our own humble context.
A reminder that we shouldn’t be the one deciding against a small kindness because we may not see it’s vast beauty in the life of another. That’s not our job.
Our job is to extend kindness, because it’s the right thing to do.
Check back Wednesday for a quick project to extend a little kindness to a hostess the next time an opportunity arises.
As a mom, it’s really just a matter of time before someone asks you that question. Come to think of it, the mom thing may not be part of the equation at all. Granted, the title definitely adds another whole slew of activities and responsibilities to our day, but that may not be it either. My single friends have had the same questions asked of them. So maybe it’s a chick thing.
Whatever it is, we sure do seem to have a lot going on. Like most of us, I’ve been both the asker and the askee, yes I realize it’s not a real word and I’m okay with that. I think when I’m the asker it comes from a bit of amazement at how someone, usually another woman I admire, seems to accomplish so many things so well. The simultaneous question in my mind being, “Why can’t I be like her?”
And when I’m the askee, , there’s usually a 2-step reaction. For about half a second it’s flattering, then I just have to completely crack up. And before you know it I’ve responded with something like, “I don’t. Just ask my family.” It’s pretty tough to hide the ugly reality from our families. They do live with us!
You see, on this issue, we’re much quicker to extend grace to others than to ourselves. We don’t expect others to be able to do everything, even if their priority list is arranged in a different order than ours. And even it that means the one thing we care about doesn’t make their cut. But extending that same sort of grace to ourselves? That’s another story.
When it comes to me and my ever running collection of lists, yes lists with an “s” – on keep and evernote and google drive… Well then the grace doesn’t always flow so easily. I know I can’t do it all, but somewhere deep down I still cling tightly to the expectation that I should. Silly, I know. But that’s the mental debate I face on this one.
I’m slowly learning that I can only work from the written priority list. That’s the one I jot down as I evaluate my morning / day / week. I need to stick with that one. But, alas, there’s also an unwritten one that tries to hijack the prayed over, thought through and jotted down list. Funny thing about the unwritten list – there may be multiple entries, but somehow the only number that show up is “1”. It’s a set-up for failure. Let’s just not go there, y’all!
So, to answer a readers question, here’s how I’ve found time to do some of the projects that have occupied the past few months – it was simply the priority for that day. Which means other things were left undone. Like cleaning out the fridge.
That big container of potato soup on the bottom shelf? It’s 10 days old. T-E-N days, people! I thought about taking care of it the other day, but honestly, I was afraid of the smell that would assault me when I cracked open the lid. So I did the prudent thing and let it sit for a few days longer, because everyone knows it won’t smell near as bad then, right?
Fortunately, the fridge cleaning adventure, because we all know the word adventure makes it sound more exciting than a chore … that happened the other day.
For those of us needing a little grace for the week? Here’s a little gift for you. And me. Trust me, I’ll have to scroll through these pics again, and breathe and remind myself it’s not about everything it’s about the priorities…
Eventually what needs to be done will. And what doesn’t will eventually take it’s rightful place on the priority list.
Or not… It’s all good.
My advice, learned the hard way..
Let’s just agree to ditch the superhero capes.
Love on the people we’ve been given.
Just follow one list. The written one.
The rest of it will eventually take care of itself.
And in the meantime, you don’t have to add the guilt of being stressed out to your list.
Instead you get to enjoy the moment.
How about you? What advice would you add to this life of lists?
That dark day when Christ chose to go to the cross. Out of obedience to the Father. Out of love for us. Out of God’s plan for relationship.
With us. Us whose live’s have been marred by sin. Us who too frequently still choose a sin path in the day to day. Us who are so very unworthy of rescuing, much less redeeming.
It’s the day of Christ’s crucifixion. A day of excruciating physical, emotional and spiritual pain for Him.
I read recently that our word excruciating is based in the Latin root for cross. Crucifixion and excruciating come from the same root word. They would simply have to.
I’ve read the accounts. You know the ones, written by a doctor detailing all that Christ physically endured that day. It brings me to tears just trying to comprehend it, just for me.
I find myself wanting to soak in the gravity of this day, this act that He endured. Somehow, it’s only in beginning to grasp it’s weight that I can even begin to fully understand the impact it has on the purpose of my own days.
But instead this past week has included several moments of cutting words and actions by others. Words that have sought to correct or inform by way of humiliation and shame. I’ve been seeking to process these words and moments as Christ would have me. And I’m realizing that as much as I want to understand and even identify with what Christ went through on my behalf, truth is … I really don’t.
I really don’t want to experience the shame that others tried to heap upon Him throughout His earthly ministry.
When I’m brutally honest with myself, I’m really not all that interested in humility, when it’s on someone else’s terms. I’m more up for choosing to be humble … but only in my own ways, and my time and my controlled situations. Having humiliation throw at me, well that’s another story. And somehow I can walk away from those situations thinking I just may need to set someone straight, in the nicest way of course, because everyone knows the way they just behaved was wrong.
And then I realize, I’ve missed the whole point. I’m not sure humility really is all that humble when it’s displayed in my chosen and tightly controlled setting. Somehow it can only be truly seen in those surprising moments, the ones when we feel attacked.
As Christ shared His final Passover meal with His disciples, He got up and proceeded to wash their feet. Him, their Master, their Savior, their Lord. He stooped to wash their feet. Their filthy dirty feet covered with layers of Jerusalem dirt. Him, in the place of the servant – seeing, loving and honoring those who followed Him.
Suddenly everything is crystal clear. This humbling, this loving others, this honoring others … it’s not about me. It never has been. Just like Christ going to the cross is about others – those he came to redeem.
Our humbling, loving and honoring others is about them, not about us. It’s not about what we may or may not deserve, or what should or shouldn’t happen in a certain situation. It’s about others.
And the only way that can happen is because of Christ and His work on the cross and in our hearts. I’m fully aware that I don’t have it in me, not in my own flesh and blood to be humble, loving or honoring.
But Christ in me, because of His death and resurrection, that is what this life is all about. There are so many opportunities ahead for me to identify with Christ and His sacrifice.
Oh Lord, open my eyes to see them for what they are. And by Your grace, live through me so that others can experience Your love, Your forgiveness and Your honor.
And this? This is how a Friday, so riddled with humiliation and excruciating pain and sacrifice can be a Good Friday after all.
Some are more soft-spoken, bringing only well-measured words. Then there are the more spontaneous and boisterous. I’ve often thought it preferable to be counted in the former group, but truth is I’m the latter.
Whichever group you may fall into, the important thing is what we do with the voice we’ve been given. Maybe it’s a spoken or written word of encouragement for another in a tough spot. The beauty of our words is that we never really see their full impact.
Years ago my dad preached a sermon about balcony people. It has long been a family favorite. His point was that we all have a mix of cellar people and balcony people in our lives. Cellar people burden us with heavy words bringing shame and brokenness, while balcony people speak words of encouragement and healing. I do hope your life has been filled with more of the balcony people. That is what dad was calling us to all those years ago.
One thing these balcony people have in common is that their own journey is rarely perfect. But they’ve been redeemed. Every single one of them. Some in more seemingly dramatic ways than others. Their other commonality is a willingness to share their redemption with others.
It takes a bit of courage, this sharing of our voice. It can be a scary thing. Yet, it’s in the hearing of one soul’s brave voice that we are awakened to the healing redemption that may still be waiting in our own story.
Bottom line … it matters what we do with the voice we’ve been given.
Our family has been blessed these past five years to get to know Jonathan, a young man who, along with his family, have chosen to use their voices to encourage others. Sometimes it’s been to make us laugh hysterically with crazy comments, trust me, there have been plenty of those. Then other times it’s been his leading our church family in worship of our Redeemer.
Yeah, he’s young. He’s only 16, but what a story. And it’s only just begun. There are so many chapters yet to be written.
We’ve rejoiced in seeing how the redeeming has come in the midst of his “less than perfect” circumstances. As can often be the case, it’s the “less than perfect” that has actually brought him to this point. And now, we can hardly wait to see what lies ahead on his journey.
Join us, will you, as we tune in to this season and catch the rest of his story as he shares this gift of The Voice he’s been given. We’ve already decided it’s quite worth a little rearranging of our Monday evenings and we don’t want to miss a chance to be some of his balcony people!
Using The Voice we’ve been given … we really can’t ask for much more. And you never know, your voice could make all the difference in someone else’s journey.
You can follow Jonathan’s journey on facebook @ Jonathan Hutcherson, on instagram @ jhutcherson and twitter @jonhutch. I’m sure his sweet Mama will have some updates on her blog too @ beneathmyheart.net. And expect a good bit of posting and tweeting from those of us in the Bluegrass. We’re all pretty proud of this guy and the path laid out before him.
There’s just something exciting about a new chapter. Whether the previous one ended well or not so much, the possibilities of a new adventure can be quite exciting. A little scary sometimes too, but always new.
That’s where I am.
That’s another entire post in the works.
It’s quite a familiar chapter, and yet, quite new at the same time. This hanging out with cool kids is very familiar, it’s the fact that they don’t call me Mama that’s all new.
I’m sure there will be tough days mixed in with lots of sweet ones. Some longer days and others that are entirely too short. And that’s just fine with me. It’s all part of life.
Though the last chapter as part of the “my pleasure” mom squad had it’s perks and beauty, I couldn’t be more excited about the flow of the days ahead.
Here’s to adding a little “Mary Poppins” to my story.
And though I don’t exactly have a magic umbrella or carpet bag, this Amy Butler Cosmo Bag I stitched up years ago should work just fine. Plenty of room in here to bring along a bit of wonder for the days ahead.
I used to be pretty good at multi-tasking. Let’s face it, I didn’t really have many options. Who does, right?
There are seasons when options seem quite minimal. Fortunately, they are just that … seasons. That is if we choose to make them so.
Sometimes it’s harder for us to learn than others. And other times, age and life catch up to us, and we begin to realize this multi-tasking may not necessarily be the ongoing badge of honor that we’ve made it out to be.
These past few weeks have been ones of multi-tasking with random items to do under each of several headings. My mind doesn’t switch as instantaneously as it once did.
And here’s the thing about that. It just may be my friend. I’m starting to believe it’s a blessing in disguise. This only really being able to give my full attention to one thing at a time.
So on those days that begin with a 3-hour training session, a really good one I might add, and flow right into dinner prep and hours of sewing instruction with a handful of women, followed by finishing up a blog project and subsequent post, just in time to fall into bed waaaaaay past my usual time…
On those days when the multi-tasking simply can’t be avoided…
On those days, it’s a glorious thing to be fully present in the moment. And, the fact that this season of my life demands this sort of single-minded, fully present sort of attention is something for which I’m quite grateful.
The day’s calendar may well require entirely too many tasks for my liking, but this focusing on the one I’m square in the middle of is something I’m enjoying more with each passing day.
It’s not that I’m picky. Or trendy. Or that I have such amazing restraint and discipline. Though I will say that “watching my girlish figure” is more of an issue in this second half-century of days. But none of these are the reason I eat such an odd diet.
It’s the migraines. Sigh. This food allergy and eating outside the box thing has been a journey of years, I’ve honestly lost track of how many at this point.
There’s a list. Well, technically there are two lists. The first list is made up of those foods that can bring on the headache within a matter of minutes, rendering any semblance of reasonable thinking useless for the remainder of the day, and maybe the next too.
The second list are those foods that are acceptable in smaller doses. That is until too much of said food tips the scales and then hello, migraine. It’s kind of like a game of Jenga in that each of these foods may or may not be the one that brings the tower crashing down. I enjoy playing games. But I prefer the other version of Jenga – the one with the real blocks of wood. It’s just less painful.
That being said, breakfast has always been my favorite meal. Regardless of the time of day, I’m a firm believer that breakfast is always a good idea. So what’s a breakfast-loving girl to do when the first list includes such things as gluten, dairy, eggs and corn? Add to that the second list with it’s rice, refined sugars and a number of other yummy items.
Well then you’re pretty much left with the choice of eating way outside the box or fasting, and the fasting thing can bring on it’s own migraine. Having traveled to several countries in the past ten years, I’ve seen that the breakfast fare looks more similar to the dinner fare throughout the world. I read once that having dedicated breakfast foods is a rather American thing. Yet, one more thing to love about this country of ours, right?
This little malady has forced a paradigm shift for me when it comes to breakfast. Yeah, it can be a pain because the number of foods I can grab in a hurry are few and far between. But it has forced some creativity, and I actually feel better and have more energy when I stick to whole foods and a mostly Paleo menu.
One of my absolute favorite breakfasts is roasted sweet potatoes and sausage. I chunk up the sweet potatoes and toss them in a bag with coconut oil, salt, cinnamon and cloves and roast them for about an hour. They freeze well, and when I want to heat them I toss them in a cast iron skillet to brown with some crumbled sausage. My favorite sausage recipe is from the book Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield (also a favorite cookbook). Before I knew I was allergic to eggs I enjoyed topping this combination with a crispy around the edges over-medium egg. My teenagers even ask for this for breakfast. Seriously!
I’ve also been known to have a burger, pork chop or fish and green beans for breakfast. And once you work past grieving that a deep dish Chicago style pizza is no longer in your future, a butterflied and pounded chicken breast pizza crust actually isn’t such a bad option.
So if you’re one of those who made some sort of resolution about losing weight or eating healthier or taking better care of yourself … or if you’re just someone with a hearty sense of adventure, then let me invite you to give it a try. Live on the edge and have some dinner food for breakfast. It feels a bit weird at first, but I have to say it’s pretty awesome to get up from the breakfast table knowing that you’ve already tallied at least two of your daily veggies. And you can kiss that mid-morning slump goodbye too.
If you already eat a paleo or food-allergy diet then by all means, share your best tips and ideas in the comments for the rest of us. And if you do decide to live on the edge and try this different approach to breakfast for one day, then let us know what you think. Yes, even if it’s something you never want to do again. Ever.