Here.

Hey.

I’m Here.

Again.

It’s been a long while.

But I’m back. I’m here.

You may (or may not) have been wondering where I’ve been. Did I abandon my blog I began so many years ago? (2011!) Did I forget how to write? Do I have nothing more to say? HA! On the contrary… For starters, the last 2 months I have primarily been a bus driver. I take our 3 children to their 3 different schools every. single. day. Monday – Friday. My mornings and afternoons are consumed by the school drop off and pick up routine. As well as the after school activities routine of pick up and drop off to soccer, cross country and dance practices. I’m not complaining. Simply stating the facts of my life.

Here.

As I eventually make my way thru the labyrinth of streets in our community, to my daughters high school, I most often send her a text to let her know when I am waiting in the pick up line, saying ‘Here.’ Which could realistically translate into various texts: ‘I’m waiting for you. I’m in the pick up line. Come outside now. Are you ready to go home? I’m here to pick you up and take you home. This line is long and annoying. Come outside so we can leave. Please get me out of this line…’ But for our oldest, most of the time a simple message of ‘Here’ is well received and she makes her way rather quickly to the car and we make our way home. Stat.

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Here.

This is my life in this season. Here. Kids, I’m here for you. Husband, I’m here for you. Friends, I’m here for you. Church, I’m here for you. I love that I am able to be Here. I am so grateful to be Here. Here is where I want to be. Present. Available. Accessible. Here.

The best part of being Here is modeling my life after my relationship with God. He is here. He is always here. With me. With you. Present. Available. Accessible to all of us. Here.

Things can change in an instant. Losses emerge. Comfort uprooted. Unforseen circumstances. Uncontrollable changes.

But I can still remain here. And God is and always will be Here. Regardless. No take-backs. Always faithful. He will always, always send the text saying Here. Never late. Never leaving us without. Never forgetting us. He is Here. Every. Single. Time.

So. I’m here. And there is waaaaay more I need to share. I hope you will stick with me and jump back into the journey>>> Whether you are new here, or have been here before, jump on. Alongside us, via this vehicle of a blog on the internet. I can guarantee one thing, it will be never be boring.

Give me a shout if you’re Here! Big hug, Big kiss, Little hug, Little kiss 🙂 XO xo

In Him, Leslie

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All I really wanted this Christmas…

As Christmas day quickly approached a few weeks ago, my house was filled with shrieking, jumping, and count-downing [yes – that is a word, I declare]. The month of December was literally laughing in my face as it slid on by without a hint of showing mercy and slowing down. Our house filled with shrieks, jumps and countdowns expressed by my children – yes… and also, by me.

I was throwing a fit of anticipation, resisting the temptation to be suckered into Christmas anxiety. I was the one shrieking, declaring – I will not lose my cool this Christmas! I was the one jumping, staking my claim – this would be the Christmas I would enjoy every moment of! I was the one count-downing, sweating as each day passed more quickly than the last – with more to do and less time to finish … Christmas.

Finish … Christmas?! What the heck is wrong with this statement???

As December 25th drew near, I almost lost all I really wanted for Christmas. It was subtle, and it crept in momentarily… I was the one setting ridiculous impossible enjoy – every – moment of Christmas goals for our family. I was the one losing myself in the chaos of my mind wrapped up in thoughts of presents, coupons, sales, mailing and wrapping packages, decorating the house, cleaning the house, and planning the meals… I was the one having an anxiety attack in Target, pacing the aisles, waiting… for our eldest daughter to pick out elf pajamas she absolutely had to wear for the Christmas party she was hosting with her friends.

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She does look pretty darn cute as an elf 😉

Snap. That’s when it happened. In the Target aisle.

“I can’t do this anymore! I won’t do this anymore!”

I stopped the madness and took the kids outside of Target. “Let’s go back to the car, pick up the reusable bags I left in the trunk, and start over.”

Okay mom.

They understood. They saw me unraveling and helped me pull it back together. We went to the car, picked up the reusable bags, went back into Target and all I really wanted for Christmas wasn’t lost anymore. I found it – again.

Wonder. The Wonder of Moments. Joy-filled Moments. The Wonder of laughter, peace, simplicity, enjoying each other, being fully present together. (Even while shopping at Target.)

The next day, after the Target panic attack, I went to my women’s Bible study. Just a week shy of Christmas day, naturally the conversation turned to the potential –and sometimes inevitable– stress of Christmas. Why do we always put this pressure on ourselves? To create the “perfect” Christmas? Why do we put ourselves thru this year after year? *One friend described Christmas as an orgasm that never happens. Another friend piped in – I don’t want to fake it! HA! We were rolling in laughter – yes, at our women’s Bible study. Because the truth is this – There’s this pressure to have a grand, unforgettable, life-changing Christmas experience, and sometimes it just. doesn’t. happen.

All I want for Christmas is to be wrapped up in The Wonder of Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us.

Every Christmas, the dreaded gingerbread house taunts me. I suck at making them. The kids have made them at school, and I’m at home, praising the Lord I didn’t have to. It is always a chore. But this year the kids are being homeschooled, and Trader Joes came to our rescue! We decided to buy a Gingerbread House kit from TJ’s and the kids were excited about it. Whew. I stopped sweating over that stress. Every time we went into TJ’s to pick up groceries, the kids would ask – can we get our Gingerbread House this time? No – next time.

Until the next time they were out of Gingerbread Houses!!! Noooooo!!! Say it isn’t Soooooo!!! 

I briefly freaked out and calmed down, and said “Kids, I will get you a Gingerbread House kit if it’s the last thing I do!!!” I scrambled and called the next Trader Joes closest to us, desperation in my voice – “Do you have anymore Gingerbread Houses in stock? Ummm… let me check. (pause – panicked – moments – waiting). Yes, we have TWO left! Okay-can you put it on hold for me? We’ll be there in the morning to pick it up.”

The next day, we went to pick it up and the TJ’s associate I had spoken to went to the back to find it. He came back – ma’am I’m sorry, it was sold. I had your name on it, but someone must have sold the last TWO we had. I almost started crying… no – not really… but he could see the disappointment in my face and the kids. “Is this a gift?” He asked. “No, my kids and I were going to put it together for fun.” …you know, making Christmas memories that could be destroyed and possibly ruined forever if we don’t build a Gingerbread House together!!! “Well, we do have a few left we were planning to donate because the boxes were damaged slightly. If you don’t mind.” What?! Do we mind?! No way!! This is the Best. News. Ever!!! So the associate came back a few moments later with the perfect Gingerbread House box kit just for us. The best part – it was free 🙂 Thank you Trader Joes!!!

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After all the fuss, we had a blast making it, but it didn’t taste very good. Similar to cardboard with sugar on top. Oh well, it was all worth it – no doubt 😉

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All I wanted for Christmas was to lose myself in the Wonder of it all. The first time Jesus came to earth. The first Christmas as a baby. As Emmanuel God with us. God coming as a child. The Wonder! I want to be wrapped up in the child-like Wonder of it all. Now Christmas has come and gone and the New Year is in full swing. Yet nothing about Jesus has changed. He has been, still is and always will be Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us! He is with me. I can forever be wrapped up and lost in His Wonder. And that’s all I want for Christmas ~ and every day in between.

What did you want this Christmas? Did you lose yourself in His Wonder or in stress and anxiety? Please share – don’t be shy – we’ve all been there!

In Him, Leslie

*I hope you won’t be offended – all stories necessary for the authenticity of this post!

Let the little children… interrupt.

Let the little children… interrupt. 

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For to such, belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.

The tug on your shirt… they brush against your leg, they press up close, practically up your butt… you know your child is there, waiting patiently to tell you the next chapter their imagination just unfolded… or they say to you, ‘Mommy, watch this! Did you see what I just did? …Mommy, are you watching? Mommy, did you hear me?’ but you are talking… maybe you are ready to listen, maybe not… maybe it’s an important conversation you are in… maybe not.

Growing up, maybe you heard from your parents or other adults, “Be quiet – don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking… or… kids should be seen – not heard.” At times, I’ve observed parents say to their children, “Don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking…” or something similar… and it struck me – I rarely say that to mine. (((gasp))) I must be a horrible mom.

Either my kids must have impecable manners – and never interrupt… or my kids must have no manners – and must not have any respect for adults.

Adults always have something wonderful to say… well, sometimes.  Adults are always full of wisdom… well, sometimes. Kids should always be ‘shooshed’ when an adult is speaking… well, sometimes. Kids should never interrupt an adult. Well… no.

I love talking about world issues and injustice. I love talking about Jesus or whatever you believe in… I’ll have a good healthy go-round about beliefs anytime, but I can grow bored in other adult conversation rather quickly… oh really, your vacuum broke and you had to decide which model of Dyson to purchase… oh wow, your shopping spree included five new cardigans you don’t need… oh no, your 4,000 square house is too small… that’s rough. oh I’m sorry, your refrigerator stopped working and your ice cream spoiled… It happens. At this point in adult conversations, I zone out.  There’s not much else to say…

I am an advocate for manners, and kids listening to their parents, not being rude, and not developing a habit of interrupting adults… however, at times our children need to be heard and we are too busy talking and not listening.

Children need to be heard. We need to give them a voice, and their voices need to be validated.

In Matthew 18:1-4 The disciples question Jesus, “‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly I say to you (adults), unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Later in Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus speaks to a crowd of adults, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Adults, let’s be frank. We need to shut up sometimes. We need to stop talking… and listen… to each other, and to our children. I am guilty of being a parent who doesn’t listen well… and I’ve also grown as an adult, who is a better listener.

Adults, we need to listen now – when our children are saying things that don’t. even. make. sense. Telling us the stories unlocked from inside their imagination. They need to know we are listening to the nonsense they are saying and become engaged in the conversation with them. I long to hear their stories of roller skating dinosaurs, unicorn super heroes and all the details of the worm they found while digging in the yard and named “Wormy”… Engaging in these conversations are teachable moments.  In the freedom to tell stories, they also learn to listen to each others stories, and grow in their ability to communicate.

“I love my mom because she listens to me.” My oldest is a conversational vault. Only certain keys, turned at the right time, in the right place, unlock certain places in her heart. I never know when she will open up the treasure of her thoughts. I need to be ready listen to her, even when I’m tired, and she’s ready to have a deep discussion about poverty and the future of our planet an hour past her bedtime.

When we listen, we will hear some of the best wisdom and truth comes from the mouths of babes. Recently, our 4 year old was telling me, “I know why you like God… because He made me the way I am… and because He made our family… and that’s all I fink.” 🙂

Last week, the kids were discussing the ultra-serious life-altering decision of …what they will be when they grow up. Salem tells his sisters, “I’m gonna be whatever God calls me to be when I grow up.” Yep.

Are we always hearing spiritual wisdom out of the mouths of the babes at our house? Um…no.  We have our share of burping, farting and booger stories.  We have our share of long detailed stories about dora and boots, Legos and little boy, Barbie and Cupcake Diaries, and we have long drawn out times of drama, crying, yelling, wailing and gnashing of teeth … okay, not really that last part.

Listen between the crazy stories … even if you can’t understand what your 2 year old is saying.

Listen between the silliness … there is always room for more laughter! Old people need to laugh more.

Listen between the seriousness … you never know when the vault might be unlocked for the treasure to be heard.

***

What do you think? Are kids given too little or too much of a voice today?

Thanks for reading, sharing and joining us on this journey! In Him, Leslie

Seeing without Pictures

These are my random thoughts from Tuesday, March 4th ~ read at your own risk.

It is 1am. I have recently consumed a pot of coffee and several tablespoons of sugar biscuits in the form of monkey bread, so there is no telling what might funnel out of my mind and onto the keyboard. I should probably go to bed, because in approximately 8 hours, 10 women and their children will walk up my front steps, knock on my front door and enter my home. How do I know this? Am I physic? No. I have Bible study at my house tomorrow… err… today.

Alas, I am not going to bed yet. I am writing what you are now reading. This was the only time for me to write. Earlier today, I opened up my trusty ol’ Mac. Apple. Tosh. laptop. We’ve been in each others lives for 10 years now… we’ve shared many memories, stories and photos. It’s been a good relationship overall, but today my Mac failed me. The screen was black. I was growing anxious. I really wanted to write this morning… About my thoughts from Monday, because my Tuesday thoughts hadn’t happened yet… So I re-started, I tried, I prayed, I cried… and darkness. The screen was still black. I knew this day was coming. The dinosaur Macbook was going to expire sooner or later.

I stared at a black screen. Wishing, hoping, praying it would come back to life. Panicking over the memories stored on its hard drive, I grew increasingly frustrated as the moments ticked by. I only care about my photos. Nothing else on the laptop matters. We talked with the Apple store and there is a good chance they can recover the data. There’s still hope. Yet I was past the point of recovering from my anxiety. I was so caught up in recovering the past. I must have my photos, to preserve the memories! My mind swirled with thoughts of frustration and anxiety. There was nothing I could do to change the black screen. I was wasting time fretting, worrying over saving the past, while ignoring the memories to be made right in front of me.

My youngest daughter was playing happily in our living room, while her brother and sister were in school, and I was internally freaking out, sitting a few feet from her. What’s wrong with this picture?! Me. I was missing a myriad of moments to be cherished with her. I was missing her hugs. her questions. her stories. her laughter. her toothless smile. My heart was convicted. The cloud of anguish over (possibly – hopefully not) losing our family photos lifted. The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to close the black screen and let. it. go.

So I did. We played and talked and ate lunch together. We created memories. I didn’t need to take a picture to be saved on my phone, transferred to my laptop, or uploaded onto social media. My heart preserved the moment. 

I really really really -did I say really- hope our photos will be recovered. I love taking pictures. I love looking at old photos. The kids and I love looking at pictures from when ‘they were babies’. They are still -and always will- be my babies. Everyday I have to hold them is a gift. I don’t want to miss these gifts, because I am staring at a screen.

There are still future stories I hope to capture in photos to be saved and shared. In the meantime, I am coming out from behind the dark screen, into the light, where I can see. I can see without pictures. My children before me. My husband beside me. My friends around me. My life ahead of me. I see. And I really need to go to bed now, so I can see the women who are coming to my house for Bible study in the morning. After they leave, I will definitely be taking a nap. Amen.

the mom who *wishes* for snow days

Hey there.

I’m the mom who wished (and prayed) for 1 (or 2 – even better!) more snow days.

Yes. It’s true.

Christmas break went by way too fast and I wasn’t ready for school to begin.

Then, much to my surprise (and happiness!) an Polar Vortex Arctic Blast or something visited us folks here in Ohio 🙂 Yipee! The kids were able to stay home 2 extra days 🙂 On Wednesday, they went back to school.

Weren’t you ready (over joyed, even?) for them to return to school?

Nope. I was still wishing for one -or 2- more…

Just a few days ago we returned from 2000 miles of travel on the open road marked by dirt, asphalt, rocks flying and gritty gas stations lined along the highway, littered with beer billboards and porn shops. Road trips are never dull, when you’re in a race you didn’t know you were in with impatient cars in the next lane over – oh W O W buddy – you can flash your headlights signaling I’m in-your-way because I’m only going 2 miles over the 75 mph speed limit to let me know you can drive 3miles faster than me. You are profoundly talented! I didn’t realize we were racing.

While all that racing was happening around us, we had a sick boy puking the entire 18 hours from Oklahoma to home. He was puking , I was driving, Adam was sermonizing (putting the finishing touches on his sermon while trying to assist our sick son). We pulled in to our driveway at 4am in good shape, safe and sound. Only to return to our dogs little present she left all over our daughters bedroom floor. Sure. We’ll stay up a few more hours to clean that up, shuffle the kids beds around, get them back to sleep and zzzz…. It was interesting.

So yes. we’ve had plenty of family time, but it still wasn’t enough. It never is. On the open road I was struck (again) with the fact that it is never enough (like wishing time would stand still) never enough. We only have a short time with our kids -as kids- parenting, fully engaged in their young lives overwhelming them with our deepest love and listening ears.

Wednesday they went back to school and I didn’t get my *wish* of 1 -or 2- more snow days. Salem was convinced he would be going in to 2nd grade. <no, you have to finish first grade, first :)>. His teacher kept saying “See you next year!” before the Christmas break, so he thought that meant he was moving up to 2nd grade.

Don’t grow up too fast, buddy…

Life goes too fast. There will be others speeding past you, flashing their lights at you, challenging you to go with the faster flow, or get out of the way.

Slow down. Hold the moments. Keep *wishing* for more snow days.

In Him, Leslie

***I recently posted this on my blog http://www.halfwrittenrecords.com The kids have had several more snow days  & school delays since writing this. My *wish* has come true again… and again!