The long days of {a mother’s} summer

Thoughts on a world full of tragedy

School took place from late August until the end of May, but summer was when you got your education.

It was July of 1994 and we were free.  A two-wheeled Huffy gave my brother and I all the freedom we could ever need.  We’d bike down 2 streets and knock at the door of my brother’s friend, then zigzag on to the next house, our numbers growing each time.

An empty acre of grass beckoned — for 2 hours I was one of the boys.  Sitting in deep centerfield, I alternated between catching fly balls and picking weeds.  We’d stop at home and rummage through Dad’s change jar for dimes so we could buy ourselves a nutritious lunch of Jo-Jos from the corner market- 10 cents a piece.

Those were the glory days.  We owned our time and felt as though we owned the world, nevermind we had $12.87 in our piggy banks and ate Ritz crackers as though they were a staple of survival.

We knew nothing but living life.  


It is 22 years later and the Ohio humidity hasn’t changed one bit.  I’m now the proud owner of two vehicles, 4 bikes and enough Chinese plastic in my garage that know that while I may not own the world, I certainly own enough of it’s junk.

The news is heavy again.

Before I’ve had my toast, my newsfeed reminds me these are dark days.  There is hate and violence and death.  How long, Oh Lord?

I’m not the little sister anymore, I’m the mom to a little girl and her two older brothers.  And while the day-to-day parenting doesn’t change, the times feel like they have.

Maybe the incidents of violence have not increased, but the 24-hour news reminds us everyday of the sad state of our hearts.

Orlando.  Nice.  Dallas.  Minneapolis.

The kids are engrossed with Teletubbies so I take my coffee up the stairs and turn on the TV in my bedroom.  I’m not ready for my children to know these things– to hear the manner in which so many lives were lost.

The truth- Motherhood changes your perspective.  Men that were killed, those are your husband.  How do you explain this to your children? An 11-year old run over by a truck?  How do you wrap your head around the sick soul that ended the lives of 10 children?  Mothers weep for the mothers who have lost a piece of their heart.

Olen cape

It’s 4 pm and the baby is up from her nap and we’re in the backyard.  It is the heat of the day.  The blondie’s cheeks turn a bright shade of red.

I watch him swing higher and higher.  He’s learned how to get himself started, to pump his legs.  His t-shirt cape flaps in the wind.  He is 4 years old, but just like his momma once felt, he knows he owns the world.

I pray, “Oh God, help me to focus on this moment.  The joy.  The element of carefree.”

My nature is the nurture them in tighter.  To hold on.  To stay in and hide them from the bad that can happen.

Are my children worried?  Do they know?  Do we change our outlook when we step away from social media and Dateline and the “Summer of Chaos” and instead look at the summer through the eyes of our children?

My children trust in us (their parents) for their safety and then fully enjoy their life.  I too, can trust my Heavenly Father and then go forth.  Be free.  If I’m living for heaven and not for today, I have nothing to fear- for myself or my children.

The long days of summer just got a little sweeter.

Grace for the Thursday morning

I come down the stairs amid a 6:45 am haze.  The littlest has woken me up the same way she did yesterday- with her blood curdling there’s-a-serial-killer-in-my-bedroom scream.  We grab her monkey and blankie and fight through hour #35 of this week- just me and the kids.

I can’t do it.

I look at the pile of dirty dishes.  My to-do list litters my desk with a pile of uncut coupons and unpaid bills.

I’m weary again.

Joy escapes me and the weariness, and loneliness hits again.  It comes in waves.  On a quiet day I can tread the water and serve the meals and wipe bottoms- with smiles.  On rough days my tone is angry. my voice speaks of rush, and I lack the grace for my kids that I so want them to see in me.  I’m the worst role model.

I remember the words a former client said when I talked to him about working from home:

“You don’t want to be one of those women that just stays at home and decides which kind of cookies to bake.”


I push the toaster handle down and pour the water  in the back of coffee pot.  Dora the Explorer skips from Spanish to English in the background.

I set my devotional and Bible on the dining room table.

“God, is there more than this?”

How do I serve You and serve them and find peace and fulfillment in this?

blog cover Thursday

My favorite Psalm is without a doubt, Psalm 139 which says,

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

By Thursday morning in the life of a stay-at-home-mom, you begin to feel invisible.  Maybe a little lonely.  Mostly a little insane.  The work is mundane, exhausting, and mostly thankless.  While you’re working, you receive the praise of clients and co-workers, but at-home, kids are sometimes our worst critics – “I don’t LIKE that vegetable! I don’t WANT to go there.”

While others may not see my efforts or praise my ability to tame a toddler during a diaper change (ahh), GOD SEES ME.  He loves me.  He’s there when I sit (do I even do that anymore?) and he’s there when I rise (even to screams)!  He keeps me when I’m ready to JUST GIVE UP.  I can rest without the praise of men when I know The One who is above all knows my heart and my need.  Just like he knitted each child in my womb (v. 13, For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb); he hems me.  He’s still molding and forming.  His eye has not left me. 

His grace is there.  For the Thursday morning.  Or the Monday evening.  Or, say it ain’t so, 8:45 am on Sunday.

HE will bring me through.

Making a Eulogy List, not a Bucket List

I recently went to the Memorial Service of a friend’s grandpa.  Now, I had only met his grandpa one time, but after hearing the speeches at this service, I could have given a short synopsis of this man’s servant heart and his love for God and family.

The eulogy is like the window into the true heart of a person.  You won’t hear about the size of their home or the 37 cruises they took, but you WILL probably hear about the time they saved a friend or influenced a young child.

There’s been some talk on the web about creating a Eulogy List v. a Bucket List, ever since David Brooks wrote this editorial for the NY Times.  In it he said:

“We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.”

This is fascinating, yet concerning.  I know how to keep a clean home and feed my children healthy meals, but are those the issues I want people to talk about at my funeral?  Or maybe I can drive like Richard Petty (that’s what Mr. YT says) or talk as fast as the Hot Wheels dude, but those aren’t really the traits I want talked about when I’m lying dead in front of the speaker.

While I definitely think it’s important to make goals and have dreams, and I myself have a list of places I’d like to go before my time on earth expires, I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Bucket List is unimportant because it’s all about ME while the eulogy list is of most important because it’s about what I did or the positive influence that I left.



My grandma passed away almost 2 years ago and I was able to write a eulogy for her funeral.  The thing that kept coming back to me as I wrote was how much she valued her time with me.  Her face lit up when I came through her door.  She was genuinely happy to see me and eager to sit and listen.  Her name was Martha, but she had a Mary heart…she unknowingly blessed me with the gift of her time.  When anyone was at her home, they were the #1 attraction and her actions reflected that.

I’m not sure I do well at giving people my undivided attention.  I know I’m easily distracted by my phone and the things on my agenda.  If I died today, I’m not sure people would be running to the church podium to talk about my gift of time.

There’s many other things that wonder if I’m really generous enough with:

my faith

my money

the legacy of my children (i.e. knowing that they have the values that Mr. YT and I stand for).

I guess a Eulogy List can be considered an Intentional Life list.  When you list the values your family has, and then are intentional with all time based upon that list, it’s much easier to know that you’re living the best way you know how.  If you want to be intentional with making eye contact and focusing on your children, you’re going to have to turn off the TV or put down the cleaning list and instead play a board game or throw a baseball (<- a sermon to myself).

There will always be seasons of life.  And I’m definitely not as guru on time management, let that be known. Your values for your eulogy list may not be mine.  I value Christ and so I deeply hope that my faith impacted another!

I do know that I need to get away from the “what am I doing for me?” mentality that so permeates our country and consider more of “what helps others?  What is my contribution here?” thinking.

Even though I love to travel and write about travel, my #1 treasure is people.  I guess I know the start to my Eulogy List…

What do you think?  Do you have a Eulogy List or a Bucket List? Are you more apt to make a Eulogy List now?

For your continued reading

My grandma’s Bible was full of her sermon notes and underlines and highlights.  It is a treasured book to our family as we see her heart through the notes and markings that she made.  Here is a blog about being intentional with the Bible you leave behind!  I love this idea – and I would have more fun doing this than a scrapbook.