challenges


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I’m sick, head in the toilet sick, and it’s Halloween (costumes to finish and can you find this and I can’t find that) and then the basement floods. A pressure valve thingee that got stuck and blew the top of the pump and water gushing everywhere. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the laundry mountain hadn’t been covering the drain hole.

I wake from restless morning napping to a strange sound and when I venture downstairs to check, it’s like stepping into a swimming pool. Call for the boys and frantically phone the husband. And if I’m being honest, I may have said dammit within hearing distance of my kids. Maybe twice.

It’s all a blur of turning valves and flicking switches until the water stops running and what’s left is the mopping up.

I sit on the stairs and I just want to cry. It’s such a mess and I’m so sick and I’ve been shouting get this and do that at the boys and I honestly think I might not make the day. It all feels like one giant mom fail. Not gracious at all.

It’s a small prayer, an SOS really.

Redeem this, Father. Help me.

I tell the boys to do their best with the shop vac and the towels, and I go up to my bed.

By evening I’ve turned the corner. I’m thinking I’ll get up and make pancakes for supper, and I’m thinking about the whole thing. The mess of the day.

I remember my prayer and I know there are many others with so much more to bear. Women all over the world with the weight of family on their shoulders. Some for whom just putting food on the table is a constant concern. Some battling daily with struggles of illness or finances or marriage. Some who just this spring dealt with flooding and displacement and worry about what to do next. My day’s troubles pale in the light of his answer. He does redeem.

My redeemed day looks different.

It’s a teenaged boy who willing helps his foster brother get his breakfast and catch his bus, packing lunch and homework and Halloween costume. And who then brings me tea.

It’s two boys who work hard all day to empty and dry a basement. Who say, we’ve got this Mom, when I tell them I have to go to bed.

It’s a friend who picks up my son to go trick-or-treating in town, so he won’t miss the fun. And two boys who take a ten-year-old treating after they’ve worked hard all day. And a husband who comes home and heads straight to the basement to fix the water problem.

It’s family, making their own lunches and bringing the sick mom ginger ale. And sitting together after supper. And graciously saying, I don’t even remember, when I apologize for the shouting.

Maybe it wasn’t a mom fail day after all?

Maybe, on second glance, it was a mom win.

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I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in Saskatchewan, it’s cold. Like, bitter cold. This old house of mine is full of creaks and groans as she fends off the icy winds and tries to keep us all warm inside. Poor goats and other outside animals. I wish I could bring them all into the house on a day like today.

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Mondays can be a challenge at the best of times. Especially when Monday follows the kind of fun-filled weekend that we just had. Friends visiting, extra food, late nights… and then Monday with all the ordinary it brings with it. The getting up and getting going and the orientation.

Sometimes, Mondays are a bit much, don’t you think?

But, cold as it is and weary as I might be, I’ve determined not to let the Monday blues overwhelm. Maybe you are finding similar ways to overcome?

1. Start with the necessary and the familiar.

Today, I got up and made my husband a lunch and visited with him for a few moments over breakfast. I let the children sleep in a little, and I made a bit of a plan for the day. I tidied the kitchen and put the kettle on to make hot drinks for the boys, and I answered a few online messages.

2. Add some inspiration.

When the boys got up, we had breakfast and hot tea, and talked about the fun weekend we’d had. I read some and we discussed some and I shared the plan I’d made. Chores, school work, and such. I reminded them of the Presidential Inauguration going on to the south of us, and the fact that our American friends were also celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Which led to watching some of the inauguration online, which led to some cool conversations. The symbolism of such a coincidence was not lost on my boys.

3. Do something practical.

Muffins. I tried out a new gluten-free muffin recipe while the boys were doing their school work.

4. Be quiet.

I said no to background music today. I said no to extra noise and overstimulation. Tyson just walked into the room and commented on the quiet day. I like it, he said. I needed a quiet day. That’s my boy.

5. Be thankful.

It might be cold outside, but we are warm inside. The house might need some work after the weekend, but we were blessed to share our home with friends. We might be a little weary, but its the weariness of having spent good times with good people. We are blessed.

May you find blessings this day, this week, as you navigate whatever is happening in your little corner of the world. If you are feeling challenged, know that you are not alone. I’ve been there, and I’m thinking about you.

It’s been a week, and if we were living scripture, these past days would be read in Lamentations.

The book written after the fall of Jerusalem and the pillaging and the destruction of the temple.  The book read each year on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. The book that weeps. The book whose name in Hebrew means, How?

How can such a thing happen?

It’s been a week, and there have been funerals and memorials and deep, deep sadness. There have been words flung about, some with questions and some with answers. And some, simply, despairing.

I find myself sitting, just sitting, and mourning this tragedy. I mourn with the families whose children’s Christmas gifts will go unopened. I mourn with mothers and fathers of babies lost. I mourn with those who loved these teachers. Who shared their lives with these people and who will forever live with the wound carved by this day and by those missing.

And I mourn for a mother, her life taken in her own home by her own child’s hand. A child who went on to do… this. And I ache a mother’s ache.

I search a bit and I find Sandy Hook on the map. A stretch of land reaching out toward New York like a crooked finger, beaches and historic homes and… a lighthouse. A landmark featured on tourist brochures and t-shirts, and somehow this means something to me.

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In this darkness, light.

This is my prayer. That each of us, as we lament, as we sit in sadness with those who have lost so much, will find ways to shine a light.

Shine a light into a world that seems at times so perversely dark. Shine with kind words, open hands, generosity, sweetness, beauty.

Shine a light with love.

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A few months ago I discovered a blogger/writer whose work has challenged me more than anyone has in many years. His name is Jeff Goins and a few weeks ago I took his writing course.

I haven’t taken many courses since college. I tried an online thing (that I didn’t finish) about ten years ago. I’ve been blogging for about five years. I’ve written the odd thing over the years that I’ve sent in and had published. But it’s all been dabbling. Sticking a toe in and pulling it back out again.

I started reading Jeff’s blog, subscribed to his newsletter, and purchased his book. And I decided that he was the real deal. A deeply spiritual man who was interested in helping other writers write better. Engage better. Share their work better.

Jeff raised the writing bar for me, so when he offered a writing course a few weeks ago, I signed up for it. Now he’s offering it again, and because I respect him and because I gained so much from the course, I’m recommending it to you.

If you’d like to check this out, go here and read more about it. (This is an affiliate link, which means if you end up deciding to register and pay for the course, I receive a few bucks because I shared this with you. But I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t believe in it and use it myself.)

If you are interested in raising your own writing bar, think about taking Jeff’s course. If you do, I’ll see you there, because there was so much valuable content in it, I’m going to take it again!

Registration closes today. Join me?

 

I’m thinking this morning, this cold and snowy Remembrance Day morning, of the family of a thirty-four-year-old mom. We were at her memorial service yesterday, Lyndon and Carter and I. Her son is eleven, the same age as Carter and a friend of his. And Lyndon works with her dad.

We’ve been thinking of this family so much these past weeks. Carter has prayed for them and continues to pray for them at every opportunity. And he always says the same thing.

Please be with this family. Help them to soldier on.

This is the theme of Remembrance Day for me, this year.

Sometimes life is sweet and carefree.

Sometimes life is sweet and difficult.

And sometimes its just plain hard, and the best you can do is soldier on.

At his mom’s memorial, Carter’s little friend gave a small speech. He shared the ordinary of his mom – that she was always late, that she loved to dress nice and look nice. And then he, with childish eloquence, stated,

“I didn’t think it would be over by the time I was eleven. I didn’t expect that. You don’t want to be me, that’s for sure.”

These are the words haunting me this morning, as I get ready for a Sunday of Remembrance. As we prepare to participate in the ceremony in town with the laying of the wreaths and the quoting of the poems and the bugle call at 11:11, and as we spend time later at church remembering the one who died for us all, and as we spend the afternoon at a farewell for special friends who are moving away.

These words remind me that life is uncertain and often full of loss and pain. That sometimes, it doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Today, these words remind me that we must all, in our own ways, soldier on.

All the men are away for the weekend. Just me this morning, and Buddy (the dog), and the chores that need to be done. This morning I discover that when it comes to chores, Buddy is not much help.

As I’m waking up this morning I remember that before he left, Lyndon reminded me that we are almost out of chicken feed. He has an old water heater in the chicken pen that he keeps the stuff in, so I am hopeful there will be enough to get me through the morning. How much do eighty chickens and ten turkeys eat, after all?

As I leave the house, I grab the scrap pail to take out to the birds. Might as well; I’m going that way. I stop to let Buddy off his lead. He jumps up and knocks the pail out of my hand, scattering banana peels and leftover porridge all over the grass. He scarfs down his now-claimed breakfast, and rushes through the gate into the pasture, where the goats are standing and looking at me.

Who are you, they seem to be asking, and what have you done with the guy who knows what he’s doing?

Buddy begins a game of chase-the-goats, and I continue on to the chicken pen. When I take the lid off the feed container, I see some grain at the bottom. I tip the container on its side and practically crawl inside it to reach the feed. The chickens and turkeys are swarming, like horror show swarming, and clucking and making this strange growling sound that I’m sure means, come on guys, there’s a hundred of us and only one of her, we can take her. I’m expecting to be pecked to death at any moment and my family will come home on Sunday afternoon and find me dead in the chicken pen with my head in the feed pail.

Thankfully, against all odds, I manage to scratch out some feed and scatter it for the complaining birds, and turn around to see goats in the pen.

Oops, forgot to close the door.

Now there’s a goats vs chickens vs turkeys war breaking our. I call Buddy to try to help me herd the goats out of the pen. He just looks at me. I try pushing a goat or two, but for every one I push away, another rushes over to fill her spot. The chickens and turkeys are frantic as they watch their food disappear.

I whisper a promise to the birds that I will return later with more food, and leave them to it. I fill the pails and my shoes with water, check for eggs, and finally (whew!) I’m done.

Buddy walks back to the house with me, and begs to come inside. He’s not really supposed to, but, bad mommy that I am, I let him. He crashes on the living room floor, exhausted.

Poor puppy, he worked so hard.

Colton brought the first egg to the house. Finally, those hens are starting to do what they are meant to do. From the day we brought them home as helpless one-day-old chicks, we’ve been waiting. Feeding them and watering them and watching over them. And now, it begins.

I took a picture of the first egg. But I didn’t take a picture of the second one.

Dad wrote an interesting post last week. He talked about all those kids starting their first days of school. He talked about beginnings, about learning, about teaching. About flying.

There’s only one first day of school each year.

Like Dad mentioned in his post last week, I also oohed and awwed over the sweet first day of school pictures posted on Facebook and blogs a few weeks ago. I loved seeing the cuteness of small children hefting huge backpacks. Standing on their lawns or by the school bus. I loved the homeschool first-day pictures of children seated around their kitchen tables, stacks of sharpened pencils waiting. Ready to begin. Ready, as Dad said, to learn to fly.

I didn’t see any second-day-of-school pictures.

There’s only one first day of school each year, and it’s right and wonderful and joyful to celebrate it and to document it. But the beginning quickly turns into the middle and the middle can sometimes be a challenge.

The middle calls for commitment. It’s the daily grind, the doing it over and over, the day after day after day. The middle is where the learning to fly happens, with all its bumps and stumbles.

So, all you mommas out there. All you wonderful, amazing, hard-working, grace-giving women who do this mommy thing morning after morning, busy day after busy day … know that you are cared for and loved and prayed over today. From my messy middle to your messy middle, we are all in this thing together.

You are all awesome.

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