I recently read something I wrote about a year ago…it was about flying by the seat of my pants.  I had to laugh because NOTHING has changed in a year.  Pant-flying is still my major mode of movement.

Oh, I try to plan.  I’m a planner at heart.  Really want to be organized, get things done, check things off that list.  It just doesn’t happen very often.  I’m afraid I’m always ambushed by something.  For example, today I have two children home sick, and 3 more ready to arrive any minute.  In the meantime, one of my little girls has to have an emergency visit to the dentist, who I’m pretty sure probably feels as though he’s being stalked. Honestly, I think I’m there weekly.  There really should be some kind of frequent flyer card – maybe I can earn a free thing of dental floss – the real size.  Anyway, I had to laugh because I’m just simply not able to plan a day and have it be what I expected.  Now, if I was a person who liked surprises and enjoyed spontaneity ALL the time, this would be a fine way to live.  Unfortunately, I’m a real person who needs some known quantity and would like to actually accomplish a task in a reasonable amount of time. Spontaneity is all well and good for a movie night, but really as a way of life, not so great..

I think I must still need to learn the lesson of letting go — relaxing and enjoying the ride.  This roller coaster is a bit ridiculous if you ask me….up and down and around and around… and I really do hate going in circles.  As a single parent, our lives are so often about getting everything together…or maybe I should say holding everything together…or more accurately looking like we are holding everything together.  I can’t seem to figure out how to even look like it anymore.

Recently all my kids were home for spring break, which I absolutely loved!  It reminded me of all those wonderful homeschooling days – all my kiddos around me. Of course, we accomplished absolutely nothing that week which would have been an exceedingly bad homeschooling week. But it was considered by all to be an exceedingly wonderful week.

What a blessing to have nothing that we actually had to do…oh, that life could always be like that!  Well, maybe for a few more days than a week…I’m sure we’d get quite tired of doing nothing – although at the moment that is hard to imagine.

In order to survive as single parents with our sanity intact, I’m pretty sure we have to lower some expectations – expectations about what we can accomplish in 15 minutes, in an hour, in a day, in a week…well, you get the idea.  Maybe if I didn’t put so very many things on my to do list, I could finish a day not feeling like a complete failure.

I guess what I want to share is that there is a whole lot of grace in this life. My kids would much rather have me sit down and watch a movie with them than load the dishwasher.  (I know because they have told me.)  My kids would rather have family time than a perfect house —it’s hard to have good family time in a perfect house anyway!

There are lots of sayings about a messy house being a happy home.  I get the idea and to a point I agree, although I have to have some order.  I think the key is finding balance, understand priorities, and relaxing.  Relaxing our unreasonable expectations (maybe even some reasonable ones too), relaxing our hold on having everything in order, and relaxing with our children.  We, as single parents, just need to relax in general.  I know, I know…show me how, when, where and I’m there!

As much as I wish relaxing was a glass of sweet tea, a good book and a hammock…mine is more sitting on the grass watching my son play soccer, putting down the work project to watch a little girl ride her bike, or sharing the sofa with 3 children on movie night.  I believe that relaxing is an attitude.  It’s choosing not to stress about the stuff we can’t fix and maybe even the stuff that we can fix.  It’s choosing not to stress about the past, the present or the future because God’s got it.

Pant-flying is definitely the way to go!  Relax and let the wind take you where you need to go!  God is good and He knows how to fly pants really well!

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Strong Arms

Sitting by the sideline of my son’s soccer game, I had an interesting halftime conversation.  Another single mom friend and I were talking about how we miss being hugged, maybe I should say held.  I’m blessed to have many friends who will give me loving hugs.  But there is a big difference between sweet friends who hug you hello, goodbye and to comfort, and big, strong arms that hold you tight.

You know the hug I’m talking about?  The “I gotcha” hug.  The “I care” hug.  The “you’re special to me” hug.  I’m sure there are more descriptions we could come up with but basically they all have the same effect…the opportunity to rest for a moment in the strong, protective arms of another.  I miss it.

As single moms, we carry the burden of all our families’ issues in our arms…and granted our arms are growing stronger with each task before us.  But sometimes I’d love to lean into the arms of another.  To find some comfort there…to shed some tears on a shoulder…to allow someone else to strengthen me a bit.  It isn’t a romantic thing truly.  It’s just missing the comfort of strong arms wrapped around tired shoulders.

It stinks being single.  The most difficult time in my life was walked on a lonely road…still is.  There have been so many times I just want to fall into the arms of someone and beg them to take care of it all.  This is where I have to say that Jesus is enough.  I have to say it not because it is expected, but because it is true.  I can look back over the past 3 years and see that God has held and comforted me.  He most definitely has.

I don’t know if I would have or could have verbalized it… I mean said, right then and there, that Jesus was holding me tight. Because it’s in the looking back that I see it.  It’s in my journal entries that I sense it.

There are times when I’m simply a mess – when I’ve mushed my face in my pillow and I’m crying out to Him for comfort.  And quietly I’ll sense His presence and His peace surround me.  I find myself, quite unexpectedly, relaxing and resting in that comfort.

There are those times when something great happens and I really want to have a celebratory hug with someone…but I’ve discovered that all my kids together is a pretty strong hug!

But…sometimes I long for a real, solid set of arms around me.  Sometimes I want to let my tears flow hidden in the shelter of strong arms.  Sometimes after a weary day, I just want to lean heavily on someone.  What do I do then?

God is real and He is strong, but He doesn’t hold me like that…you know what I mean?  I don’t mean to sound fussy…I get it.  I believe that God gives us what we need.  I know He is enough.  I KNOW it.  He has proven it.  I guess this is one of those times that I just gotta step out in faith and ask God to hug me…”Jesus hold me, please.”  I believe that somehow or another at the end of the day I will feel held.  I will feel comforted.  I will feel strengthened and peaceful.

And maybe someday I’ll feel those big strong arms again…and maybe I’ll just have to wait until I’m greeted by the biggest, strongest arms of my Savior!  That’s definitely worth the wait.

The Sweetest Easter Candy

Saturday night as I stood doling out candy into colorful baskets, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”

Talk about setting myself up for defeat.  Basically, I was giving my kids candy so that over the next week I can spend most of my time saying, “No, honey, not until after lunch;” and “No sweetie, you’ve had enough candy today;” and “Please stop asking me for candy!” and “What are you chewing?  Did you ask Mommy if you could eat candy?”   Yeah, brilliant parenting.

I’ve heard some people say they let their children spend one day gorging themselves on candy and then they throw the rest away.  Sounds great in theory until they’re throwing up all over the white carpet.  Then I’ve heard parents say they give one candy a day until it’s all gone.  That’s a noble goal, but my kids are sneaky! One ain’t gonna cut it.

I’m thankful that God is better at parenting than I am.  I’m thankful that He didn’t fill my proverbial Easter basket with too much candy.  At times I think I might actually have too much candy in my life – candy I take for granted.  You know what I mean?  Five wonderful children, a lovely home, food on the table, a comfy bed, a cell phone, a computer, time to write a silly blog or two, warm bubble baths, pretty clothes, a car that runs, friends who love me, family who loves me, Chickfila every once in a while, great neighbors, wonderful church family, coffee dates with friends, a hot cup of tea and a thousand other little things.  I’m blessed by a lot of good jelly beans in my life.

Then there is the candy I like to sneak…the nasty stuff I should stay away from, but I just have to have a nibble.  I think the world offers us a lot of nasty candy.  It’s junk, in fact, it’s poisonous.  It makes us sick at heart and sick in the head.  It makes us forget the beauty of all God’s blessings – His good and perfect gifts.

Too often I forget how blessed I really am.   I think if I understood the sacrifice of Christ and what it truly means for me, I would be so grateful that I’d want nothing more.  It would be enough.  I wish I understood it that deeply.  I don’t think it’s wrong to want good gifts from God.  Unfortunately, it’s when those desires are all about me and based in discontent that they rob me of my joy.  Like my kids who are so used to getting candy that it’s no longer considered something special…just another “good” thing they expect.   They’re so busy wanting the next candy; they aren’t enjoying the one they’re currently chewing.

I can get so focused on what’s lacking in my life, I miss the joy of what I have.  God’s gifts are described as good and perfect.  Sometimes God’s definition of good is a bit different from mine.  And His perfect is long-range perfect and mine tends to be perfect for this second.  “But that would be so yummy right now!!  I know I’ll feel dreadful later but it’s worth it.”  It never is though.  God’s perfect is always perfect.  God’s good is very good.  Just like my candy issues with my children – they would eat them any time of day, ruin meals and end up with tummy aches.  It’s my job to make sure that the candy stays a good thing.  That it’s appreciated, enjoyed and has no ill-effects.

So I gave my hooligans candy and we’ve already had way too many battles of begging and sneaky snacks.  Even had one complain several times of tummy aches, although it doesn’t seem to slow down her desire to eat chocolate.  Golly, I see so much of myself in my children.

This Easter (and every day), I’m thankful for the reminder that I am truly blessed beyond measure.  And I’m praising God that I can never have too much of Jesus, the sweetest Easter candy ever.

The Big White Box

In my garage is a giant white box.  It’s an albatross of sorts.  It’s been sitting in there for months.  It’s my wedding dress, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what to do with it.  I got married in 1990 so it’s big and poufy – beautiful, but big and poufy nonetheless.  I doubt, unless fashion comes WAY back around, that any of my daughters will ask to wear it.  I don’t know if I’d want them to – I’m not superstitious but ugh.

I keep thinking that maybe I could donate it, but where?  My oldest daughter recommended making pillows with it – those would be some gaudy pillows to be sure!  I’ve thought about keeping some of the fabric – it’s gorgeous, but truly it’ll just end up in a box in the basement with all the other fabric I’m not going to do anything with for the next 15 years.  (The number of projects I’m saving for my empty-nest years is staggering!)

There is probably some interesting psychological issue for me keeping it in the garage, haphazardly thrown between the freezer and the bikes.  Keeping it is probably the bigger issue – not the throwing.  Throwing it anywhere including away would be more understandable in some ways.  What am I doing with this silly dress – or maybe I should ask, “What am I going to do with this silly dress?”

I have a box of wedding and marriage memorabilia in the basement.  It‘s full of those sweet things you keep from your wedding day and honeymoon.  There are love notes and cards – even ones I received during the months before my husband left.  I keep them because I want my children to see that we really loved each other.  I hope that’s a good idea.  The dress won’t fit in that box – otherwise I’d probably cram it in.

There are plenty of pictures of me in the dress.  That should suffice.  I guess I want that blasted dress to mean something it can’t anymore. My dress is just a picture of lost hopes and dreams.  Betrayal and lies.  Wow, that sounds like a made for TV movie, “The Wedding Dress”   “Lace and Satin turns to lies and scandal!!!!  Watch this weekend at 9 on Lifetime!!!”

I guess in some ways I’m blessed because I don’t look at it with any regret.  I’m thankful that I had 17+ joyful years of marriage.  There is something to be said for blissfully unaware.  Marriage wasn’t always easy or fun, but I loved being married – maybe that’s why I struggle with what to do with the wedding dress.  I don’t have bad memories – well, not until the end.  Ugh…and those memories were about someone very different than the man I walked towards down that church aisle.  God is so gracious to give me good memories and a pretty okay perspective about the present.  It is ALL Him!  I’m so thankful.  Otherwise, I’d probably have burned this dress in the middle of the cul-de-sac!

As I write this I’m realizing that it really doesn’t symbolize anything good or bad.  It’s just a dress I wore not anything more.  It was lovely and a joy to wear.  I’ll leave it at that.  Maybe there is some dear young bride who would enjoy my beautiful dress?  Maybe they can de-pouf it?

I suppose I have my answer. Clean-up day at our house is fast approaching.  I think I will add one more thing to the list.

#142  Find a good home for that big white box.