Friday, May 27, 2016

How to Love Your Less than Ideal Summer

Today is the last day of school! We are so excited! But we are also terrified.

The month of May, with all of it's tests and projects, field trips and field days, award ceremonies, class parties and recitals, has brought us to our knees- hugging a street sign while the hurricane winds of activity blew our hairdos to pieces and smacked our faces with unexpected reminders. 

When I forgot to bake that platter of cookies and chip in for another teacher's gift, I knew I was beaten. 

Please, God, bring us the sun!

The busy storm has finally relented. And so today, we stand on wobbly limbs and face the aftermath. We look to tomorrow with much hope and expectation. We have survived another school year. We breathe relieved... and then, we hold in another breath as we survey the summer landscape.


Our family will begin this summer with a trip to the mountains, and I will finally nail down any camp registrations I started to complete and never finished. I'll make tentative fun plans and then have a real talk with my ideal self:

Dearest Idealistic Momma,

You have been dreaming about slower, calmer mornings without lunch-packing and carpooling. 

But don't be surprised when THE KIDS WILL STILL WAKE UP EARLY, because in the summer, there is a much more exciting and motivating reason to leap out of their comforters: TV! iPads! Xbox!  "Woohoo! No school! We can do whatever we want!"

Also, the door-slamming will wake you up and THE CHILDREN WILL ARGUE before 7am. 

No one will make you coffee before you have to deal. It's all you. And then your kids will still be there. All. Day. Long. Without fail. 

But you also need a break. TAKE A BREAK, and don't feel guilty. If you don't, you may eat your own young and have even more regrets.

BE FLEXIBLE when you make your plans, because there will be hiccups- and not the cute ones- diaper blowouts, jellyfish stings, and milkshake spills in your freshly cleaned minivan. 

Sometimes, you'll just cancel said plans and call it "PJ Day."  That's okay too.

Life will not stop providing work just because it's the kids' summer vacation from school. Break the news lightly: there will be housecleaning and laundry and dishes and grocery trips. Our small charges can handle a lesson in responsibility. IT'S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES. It's sweeping the floor too. 

GET EXTRA FOOD, because they will want more too eat when they're bored, and the neighbor's son will pretend like he wants to play, but he's really sniffing out your snack stash. 

You'll need proof that your days haven't been a complete wash. Make a calendar of plans and memories, because at some point (probably in 2 weeks), you'll start thinking that this is the worst summer ever and that no one is having a good time and that you are wasting precious days!!! Hang up your calendar for June, July, and August, then LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE! Point to the evidence:
  • You took the kids to the pool thirty times! 
  • You made hand print molds, even though you hate arts and crafts! 
  • You let the kids stay up late and catch fireflies or watch fireworks after the baseball game! 
Remembering the sweet successes re-charges your summer spirit

Lastly, and just for fun, START A COUNTDOWN CALENDAR for the first day of school. What?!? *cue evil laughter* No, but seriously. I did this secretly with a friend last summer, so that every time we were having a crazy bad day, it made us laugh. The kids won't appreciate it, obviously. 

But it gave me an end goal. You can make a countdown calendar for anything fun: date nights, girls' weekends, or family vacations. There's an app for that! This is just to remind yourself that there's something to look forward to when you’re getting a little battle-weary. There is a season for everything.

Finally, CALL YOUR FRIENDS. Don't just be your kids' social secretary. Be your own. It will keep you sane. 

Also, misery loves company. 

Happy first day of summer,
Realistic Momma

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Learning to be Wild and Free

It's been exactly two years since I first heard Jess Connolly speak about being wild and free.  I remember taking all the notes and then going home to read and re-read John 10:10.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (NIV)."
"...I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way (NIRV)."
To be fully alive?  I wanted that!  But to enter into that kind of living, I needed to give myself permission to be fully who God made me to be. For myself, this means being creative, even when it doesn't bring me an extra income or a massive internet following.  It may not lead to a great career, but it brings me joy. It makes me come alive.

And I wonder if that is how we bring the light of Jesus into the world- by being fully alive.
"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving (MSG)."  -Colossians 2.6-7
On May 1, 2014, God used Jess Connolly to begin a spiritual work in me.  I return to that entry in my journal often, because the sweet truths unlocked my jail cell of a life living according to others' opinions.  That message empowers me, daily, to connect with Jesus in my own unique way.

Now, Jess, and her friend and Influence Network co-founder, Hayley Morgan, are sharing this song of freedom to everyone in their book, Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough. The title alone makes my heart leap! I joined the launch team and read the pages early, so I could selfishly renew what stirred in me two years ago.

Because for us to invite others to this freedom march, we have to believe it deeply ourselves.  We have to experience the goodness of God and how He sees us.
"And when you've tasted freedom? When you've walked away from defensive living, you can say good-bye to the heaviness of other's expectations. You can walk without crippling insecurity.  You can live with your imperfect self, knowing that you're covered in Christ (Morgan, chapter 12)."
Recently, I blogged about "Being Okay With Who I Am."  Settling our identity in Christ is what this book is similarly about.  While being "wild," is most likely not a term that we would classify as an acceptable female or Christian adjective, Jess and Hayley seek to redefine it as "unhindered by cultured norms (Connolly, chapter 9)." We have to stop looking around so much and comparing ourselves to others. We have to stop letting others determine how we should look or act or feel. Doesn't the Word tell us to "not conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2)?" 

We can be wild when we fix our eyes on Jesus and what He thinks of us.  He knows what we're made of, and He loves us. Period.  Right from the start, our Creator said that we were "good (Genesis 1:31)." In all of our different shapes, personalities, talents, circumstances, pasts, and even in our sins or weaknesses- we are unconditionally loved and accepted by our God.  Remember that "if Christ is in you...You're as loved by God as you'll ever be (Connolly, chapter 7)."

We aren't too much.  We don't need to be more or do more.
That's grace. And that's freedom. All we have to do is walk in these truths and live it out.

I strongly recommend that you read Jess and Hayley's new book. For yourself.  For your girlfriends. For your moms and your sisters.
You can order online or at most major bookstores (Amazon, Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, Books a Million, Faith Gateway).