"The people who are the most successful hear the most 'no's'." That is something I read recently in a collection of excerpts about writing. In other words, the people who are the most successful are those who keep going and keep trying, even when they have been turned down, turned away, and failed in their mission.
Yesterday morning my husband went outside and came back in to inform me that only two of our twelve tomatoes had survived the night. I immediately threw my hands up in the air and informed him that we shouldn't have a garden. It wouldn't work. I have no idea what I am doing and I do not want to expend my time and energy on it. I could tell by his reaction that he was surprised and disappointed. Giving up is not how I usually deal with failure.
But I was feeling pretty defeated. I realized I had planted our tomatoes too early a couple weeks ago when they started to outgrow the little pots and there was still frost on the ground. Yet I was determined to go forward. So we plotted the garden, tilled it, and stuck the baby tomato plants in the ground Saturday afternoon. And, of course, just like most our well-wishing, good-meaning neighbors had warned us, all of them froze except the two that had been covered by ice chests instead of buckets that night.
My husband's surprise and disappointment in my poor attitude made me pause and recognize something. I actually, truthfully, did not want to do any gardening. My heart was prepared to give up at the first failure or even the first sign of failing. How silly. This garden is only a few months of commitment to a healthy way of living. I mean, there is nothing more wholesome than working up a sweat, outdoors, while you grow vegetables.
I walked outside to inspect the damage and gaze upon ten deceased plants that I had carefully watered and tended for the last few weeks.
We all hate failure. Sometimes, when we really love something, like I love writing, we are excited to put in the hard work. We are too determined to be defined by failures and we have already told ourselves that no matter what we are going to pick ourselves off the ground and keep going.
I have thrown in the towel about a lot of things in life, but perhaps for all of those things I never prepared my mind and heart to keep going beyond the failures.
So, here I go. I'm going to garden. Even if this year is an epic failure, I will learn and try again. And again. Gardening is something healthy and wholesome to add to my family's life and I am going to make it happen. So there.
Perhaps the best gardener is the one who has killed the most plants.
Is there something you wished you had not given up? Maybe the key to success is to be ready to fail and to keep going anyways.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
"Cheeses loves me. This I know..." We were in the dairy section at Albertsons when Adela started singing her favorite Sunday School song, Jesus Loves Me. The other customers around me smiled. A few chuckled. I tried to hide my grimace.
It was official. Adela had no idea what that song meant.
Teaching my children about their Heavenly Father has been a struggle for me. I have came at it from different directions. I've read articles. I've tried online helpers and coloring sheets. The problem was that none of it interested my three-year-old. If anything it left her more frustrated than she was thirty minutes before when she was happily allowed to play with her toy horses in peace. But, there have been other avenues that touched her heart. For my little girl, praying with her, talking with her about the things God made, and singing, that sticks to her mind and soul.
The combination of her young age and her personality no doubt hinders the logical lesson-plan approach that I started. It made me wonder if their are any other mothers concerned about the spiritual progress of their little ones. So, if you, like me, worry about this, here are some pointers I have picked up on this journey.
1. Let it happen naturally. A friend of mine told me to take Adela for a walk and tell her about the animals God made. Adela loved it. She nodded her head sagely and perkily repeated the animal names and God's role in their lives. In a way, I think it made God feel more concrete to her, more part of her world.
2. Keep God in Conversation. God is part of every aspect of our lives. Why not keep Him included when we talk about life with our family? Goodness, this has actually helped my own attitude as I talk to my girls about God and the little things we are doing everyday. For example, my daughter asked me why I was eating cottage cheese and veggies again and I told her it was because God wants me to take care of my body.
3. Keep Singing. Those kid songs really stick with them and little ones generally love music. When I get tired of singing "Joy, joy, joy" a dozen times, I will put Pandora on to Contemporary Christian Music. I would rather fill my family's heads and hearts with this than anything else.
4. Make a big deal out of Big days. Christmas and Easter are precious days of remembrance. Today we made and decorated cupcakes. It was a lot of fun with Adela and Micaela's friends already visiting for the day. As we worked we talked about what Easter meant and why it was such an important day.
5. Get Family Involved. Let grandparents, aunts, uncles, and etc. know that teaching your child about God is important to you and that you would love for them to be part of that. Having examples in their lives of loved ones who value their Heavenly Father will have a powerful impact.
So, as our weekend begins, I hope you feel encouraged that we have many opportunities to share our friendship with Jesus with our children.
Easter is such a beautiful day to remember how each and every one of us were given a precious gift: Salvation for those who believe. What an amazing thing to be able to celebrate with our family.
Start children off on the way they should go,
I've been prepping for this Orthopedic visit for weeks. I've thought about what to say. I've worried about what the specialist would see or notice in Micaela. I've strategically decided how to convince the doctor that we needed the braces immediately.
Micaela's therapists have all been very concerned about her weak and crooked ankles and I trust these professionals who have big hearts and want the best for my little girl. So, I wasn't going to walk out of that clinic without getting her fitted for braces.
There was a long line. The waiting room was full of anxious parents and hurting children. But my thoughts were all centered on Micaela and our own problems. We checked in and then I scurried over to a corner, wanting privacy and more time to prepare. I sat down, handed Micaela a toy in the stroller and leaned back. Next to me a lady softly rocked a tiny bundle.
I paused. The jet black strands of a sleepy newborn's hair peeked out of a soft green blanket. I couldn't help it. My vison got misty and I leaned out just enough to catch of glimpse of her closed eyes and button nose.
The lady smiled at my sigh and before I knew it, we were talking. She was holding her four-day-old granddaughter, and it was that perfect newborn who was there to see the orthopedic specialist. The grandmother's face was peaceful and loving. The nurse called her next before we could talk more.
And the day went on.
Pediatric clinics are places of very mixed emotions. I was compelled to smile at a precious little girl with down-syndrome as she giggled through ten verses of "Old McDonald" while simultaneously understanding the strained patience of her tired-looking mother. A young boy wiggled in his seat as he waited to have his broken arm casted--a bundle of pain and nervous energy. The receptionist tried to smile and apologize as a family complained about a delay.
Suddenly, Micaela's ankles did not seem like the grand catastrophe I have created them to be. God woke me out of my silly feeling of solitude. He reminded me that I never have the right to withdraw my love from those around me, no matter what I am going through. I should never be focusing on how much I need someone to smile at me or reassure me, instead I should open my heart.
Micaela and I left the clinic with great news about her muscle control and development and we got her casted for braces. I am pleased with the day, but I was surprised at the lesson God handed to me. I had no idea my heart had been so closed off. I have been allowing my own problems to hide God's light from others.
So, I take a deep breath and ask God to open my eyes and my heart so that next time I am ready to be full of His love.
Goodness, but the world is full of pain, isn't it? Yet we, with God's strength, can bring light, hope, and love to the world.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
On Husbands and Wives
Sunday morning is a day to celebrate pajamas for a few extra hours. To drink another cup of coffee and enjoy some family time. But yesterday I think my family and I were the only ones in the state that had no idea it was Daily Lights Savings change. When I picked up the phone and blinked disbelieving at the numbers we had barely an hour to get everyone bathed, in church clothes, and packed for visiting my husbands family.
I lost it. Like a General sure that all my troops are destined to go missing in action, I started to give orders and run around in a frenzy of pink girls' dresses, bubble baths, and coffee mugs. With absolute certainty I knew that I was the most un-fun person in my house.
And yet fifty-five minutes later we were stuffed in the car, on our way to church. My husband leaned over, kissed my lips, and goofily said, "Good morning!" He had no hard feelings and had worked hard to get us to church. I let out a sigh of relief and smiled. Just when I think I couldn't love him more...
Marriage is much different than I ever imagined. Like so many other women, I had to trade in some fantasies and accept reality.
I didn't get Prince Charming. I got a steady, honest cowboy.
I never had a castle, but everywhere I am with him is home.
I don't get flowers as much as I get support and affirmation.
I don't get candlelit dinners as much as I get laughter and hugs.
While our relationship might come up short in romance it is abundant in understanding, friendship, and a deep love.
My husband keeps me going when my emotions tear me down. My husband keeps me believing in dreams even when life get hard.
I think that a truth that has upheld my quality of life is that my husband is my other half, deserving of all the love, attention, and caring that I would want him to bestow on me. It is the most precious symbiotic relationship on the planet. When he hurts, I hurt. When I smile, he holds my hand.
To all the women out their with great husbands in your life, here is to the men we are proud to call OURS, the men God knew would partner us on our journey through life and make it so much better than if we were alone.
Love you, Jovani.
“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
"I'm sorry, but it seems we have a scheduling conflict," the voice on the other end of the line threw my heart into a nervous pitter-patter. I looked down at my planner and gritted my teeth as I accepted the next possible appointment available and then politely said goodbye.
My stomach sank as my mind assessed the damage. Promises were going to be broken. Meetings would be missed. Others would be rescheduled. Phone calls and texts would have to be made. I hate disappointing others. But Micaela's ankles growing increasingly crooked is a priority and she has to see the Orthopedic Specialist. My heart softly reminds me that I am doing what is right, that putting our children first in these situations is simply the way it has to be, but it still makes my heart cry with disappointment. And worse, my mind keeps trying to find a way to keep other commitments or make up broken promises.
I know I am being a good mom, but sometimes it makes me feel like a failure of everything else.
God, why is there so much conflict with motherhood? Why can't I fill my life with a few other things and be able to follow through on them? Don't You want me to do all those things too?
I looked over the breakfast bar where Adela was building with legos and Micaela grabbing up the blocks to chew on them, and repeated the question. Is my focus really supposed to be primarily on these little ones?
The answer came softly. Their lives begin here.
I breathed deeply when I felt the rightness of that commitment. I am committed to all the teaching, guiding, disciplining, and loving that goes with being a mother to my girls. And right now that takes up a lot of time and has to be a priority. I can choose to put less time and energy into it, but then I will never be able to go back in time and give them everything they needed from their mother during these early years.
Conflict. I want to reach out, be active in my community, be part of my world. Those are good things. But nobody else can be my girls' mom right now.
There are thousands, millions, of moms in these shoes of mine, wondering if they are doing enough, wondering if being a mom is supposed to take up this much time and present conflicts as they try to be more. Take heart. Our contribution to the world is irreplaceable. But it is also has to be right there, with our family, when they need us.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
Elk, baby calves, giggling, and smothered burritos--it was one of those days. Last week my husband and I packed up the girls and spent the day together...like a "normal" family. Jovani had an appointment and afterwards we checked our little herd of cows. Something about leaving the house, leaving behind Micaela's therapy literature, leaving behind Adela's timeout zone, and leaving behind our usual routine felt so nice. It was just my little family and I enjoying each other's company.
We saw four elk taking a stroll through pastures.
We saw the most beautiful heifer just born that week.
We ate a good meal. We laughed. We appreciated each other.
It was fun seeing Micaela's eyes go wide as we fed the cows. Adela's world was made round when she saw the elk (she just knew they were Santa's Reindeer). And Jovani and I agreed that our life is pretty wonderful.
Goodness, we all need days like that. Days without pre-mandated duties that take precedence over simply living and going with the flow.
Isn't it amazing, that in a life full of bills, doctors, job searching, and deadlines we can be so thoroughly and intimately blessed by our Heavenly Father?
There is some sort of tree near our house, some sort of nut tree, that went into full frothy blooms this week. Beautiful. But as each pink flower formed my eyes grew itchy and my nose became a drippy mess.
Goodness. I detest allergies. Spring means buying Benadryl and Kleenex in bulk. Wouldn't it be nice if we could pick what we were allergic to?
I would become allergic to over-eating and bad attitudes if I was allowed to pick. Instead the bad attitude and snacking scaled up with my epic sneezes and antihistamine dopiness. I've had the perfect excuse to procrastinate and become uninterested in life.
But God knew what was coming and prevented me from wallowing in self pity. This same week when I rubbed my eyes raw was full for therapy sessions for Micaela, babysitting for the neighbors, Bible Study, and doctor appointments. I just had to keep trooping along. Well, what else would you expect from our clever Heavenly Father? He prevented me for making poor decisions based on physical discomfort and trained me how to keep doing His will under pressure.
I shake my head and smile. That is why when it rains, it pours. God is just pushing us along to be better than we were yesterday, even if that means we must endure what feels unfair and unjust.
So, the next time life rains on your parade, just smile and shake your head. Obviously your Heavenly Father is just pushing you. He pushes you because He has faith in you and loves you very much.
Thank you, God for loving me enough to prod and push me into something better. I appreciate it. Still, if I could pick what I was allergic to...
Happy Allergy Season!
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
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"...and God was already there with me."