Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Night Owl

Years ago I can remember being at one of those home parties where you sit in a circle with a bunch of ladies, eating yummy food and all looking for something to buy to help the hostess earn some free stuff - you know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the hostess was what I would describe as a super woman. She was a mother of four, crafty, always doing for others, had a clean house, cute figure, loving personality. Somehow in the conversation it came up that she doesn't go to bed until 3am because she stayed up cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, etc.

The rest of us were in shock and proceeded to tell her that she couldn't maintain something like that. That eventually she was going to burn out. Another girlfriend and I talked about it later. We could see the wear and tear that it put on her.

That conversation came screaming into my mind this evening (this morning) because this is the fifth night that I have not been in bed before 2am. Most of the time is spent doing emails or projects or reading, but I have also been cleaning and doing laundry and doing dishes.

I know I can not maintain this routine. I am ready for a change in schedule. MOPS Convention, family reunion, camping (yes, I failed to avoid that this summer), visitors and SCHOOL! Hopefully these will turn my routine upside down and back to something more reasonable. If you see another post at 2am, call me on it and tell me to go to bed!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thank You for Your Sacrifice

Today I had the opportunity to represent MOPS at a pre-deployment event for the families of some of our service men and women. It was an all-day event where the men and women and their families were informed of everything they would need to know before they deployed, covering subjects like how get get your will and finances in order to the high rate of suicide (NOTE: in the Army alone soldiers are committing suicide at the rate of one per day). For seven hours I watched these families cling to each other, react to the information they were receiving, and try to process what the future may hold. The Army had several vendors there to offer aid to the soldiers and the families members that would be on their own, and MOPS was one of those.

MOPS motto this past year has been No Mom Alone, and this event opened my eyes to a group of moms that are very alone. I watched those women specifically look scared and unsure and determined and strong. I just wanted to invite all of them for dinner and take their children so they could go shopping by themselves or out to coffee with their girlfriends. But realistically, that was 140 family units...that's just not possible.

I know we hear a lot about how to be grateful for our soldiers and the sacrifice they make and how to send them care packages. I don't want to deter people from doing that, but remember for every service man or woman that is deployed there is at least one family member at home that is sacrificing as well! Mike doesn't travel much, but when he is gone I have a new perspective on what it would be like to be a single mom and it is hard. But to be a single mom for six months, nine months, twelve months at a time?? And add to the stress not being able to talk to your spouse at a moments notice or to be wondering if they are safe, knowing they are in harms is over-whelming just thinking about it.

So here is my challenge to myself and to you...

1. pray for the soldiers and their families

2. ask God to show you how you can help and be an encouragement

3. keep your eyes open for a family to "adopt"

Athena Hall, Area Developer for MOPS International is a military mom. Their family has been through one deployment and is about to go through another. In July/August 2010 issue of MomSense, Athena outlines how to help a mom during a deployment. Here are her suggestions:

1. Prepare and deliver a meal

2. Watch the children for a few hours every month or every week

3. Schedule a girl's night out with her

4. Don't complain about your husband to her

5. Invite them to share holidays with you...even the little ones like Halloween and 4th of July

6. Mow the lawn

7. Remember deployment lasts a long time...don't just be there in the first month

8. When he returns, celebrate and still be a friend.

Athena says it a much better and more humorous really should read the whole article and read more about her and her family!

I have a renew sense of awe and compassion for these families today. I pray that I still do in a week, a month, a year. I want today to change my attitude, not just effect me for a moment.

Thank you to our soldiers. And THANK YOU to their families for the sacrifice that you have made as well!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


We are home from a crazy trip to see my parents in Texas. And by we, I mean my wonderful husband, my six sweet children, and my fantastic mother-in-law - all together in the car for 4500 miles and 18 days! See, crazy trip!

Believe it or not we all arrived home still liking each other and all saying we had a great time and would do it 5 years...when we had time to forget how much we disliked being in the van for that long listening to small children declare they were "starving" and needed something picked up from the floor and constantly listening to Disney movies!

I found myself being very introspective on this trip. It could be that I was reading the new book for this MOPS year, Momology. It could be that we were visiting my family that we hadn't seen in three years. Or it could be that there was so much social interactions going on that I needed to retreat some. Whatever the reason was, I was focused more on the root of each activity, each relationship, each individual. It was really quite fascinating! And while I won't bore you with all of my thoughts, there was one theme that really stood out - hospitality.

We stayed with several people, met people for meals, and met people for activities. I noticed that each group of people welcomed us differently. I love this quote from Emilee Barnes, "Hospitality is so much more than entertaining - so much more than menus and decorating and putting on a show. It means setting aside time for planned fellowship." We had such wonderful fellowship with so many people! Fellowship - that perfectly defines what we enjoyed about this vacation.

Whether it was our time in the van (sometimes too much fellowship), time when my parents and all my siblings were together in place at the same time, time when we were reconnecting with friends, time when we were relaxing, time when we were learning a new skill, time when we were meeting new people, or even time when we were in hotels - it was ALL hospitality!

Each time of fellowship was different and it made me rethink how I do hospitality. Do I welcome others in a way that makes them feel welcome? Do I set aside time to fellowship with them or do I spend time being busy? Have I prepared (even for the uninvited guest) so that people feel important?

The difference in each time of fellowship also made me realize that there is no one "right way" to practice hospitality. While some invite people into their homes other celebrate that fellowship at a restaurant. While some people let kids play in the house, other create play spaces outside, and others suggest activities that aren't at their home so that the kids feel welcome too. God wants us to do what he created us to do, to use the talents he has given us, to share His love.

There are several times of hospitality that stand out in my mind.

We visited one family that lives in a sizable house and had beds for almost all of our family to sleep in. The had yummy meals planned, and we had great conversation while the kids played. It wasn't the size of their house, or the type of food we ate that made it so enjoyable. It was the conversation and the depth of the conversation. We cut through the "hows the weather?" to topics like "what happens when you don't trust your pastor?" or "how unique God made each of our kids". The atmosphere was relaxed and everyone pitched in to cook and clean - even the kids.

We visited another family and just relaxed. The kids swam or played with legos or were really loud and created a band. The parents reminisced about years ago and played games. Food was made, the kitchen was cleaned, laundry was even done. It was as if we were family.

We got to see all of my siblings at a casual restaurant - Joe's Crab Shack. The kind where the kids don't have to be silent and where you use your fingers to eat. My parent's hospitality was creating that opportunity and paying for the meal. They wanted the family time and they knew we needed to eat. It was a fun time and great memories.

When we arrived home, one friend had broken into our house and left us dinner on the counter, milk and eggs in the refrigerator and fruit in the fruit bowl. Then knew we had a need and they made our transition from vacation to "back home" welcoming.

All different experiences - all wonderful fellowship.

"May its doors be open to those in need, and its rooms be filled with kindness. May joy shine from its windows. And His presence never leave it." --Jewish home blessing