Kayla Wells: Flourishing in the Spring

SplitShire_IMG_1308-768x512British moral philosopher, Bernard Williams, is credited with this saying, “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created spring.”  In most cultures spring, as a season, signifies a renewal and a hope for future. It is a sign that the world will flourish beyond the cold and harsh months of winter.

Spring is a gradual warming that overcomes the cold and slowly melts the snow. The sun is slowly, one day at a time, in the sky a little longer, allowing for new growth. Things which were dormant in order to survive, begin to slowly test their surroundings. Trees begin to bud. Flowers begin to rise above the ground. The thing about spring is that it is a gentle season. It is an in-between the harshness season. A season for small steps forward.

As I have been studying about the things which make life a pleasant thing, hope (or the spring) is the one thing that I keep coming back to. Thanks to Jesus there is hope. 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) says,”Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Spring, flourishing, becoming new, it’s all about knowing that we are gradually blooming into what we are meant to be. We must remember that life is not one single year. Life is not one gathering of 4 seasons, but years of season after season. Often some seasons are longer than others. Some periods are fun and filled with bright happiness, some are filled with closings and endings. Some are dark, cold, and bitter, but the spring comes over and over too, renewing us once again.

So, if you are in a dormant winter, take heart sisters. Spring is coming. It might look like tiny little buds, mere moments that are happy and shine a little more light than the day before. In my opinion, life is found not in the extreme seasons. For me it’s all about the spring. It’s all about allowing ourselves to rise in the Son.

 

 

Kayla

 

Kayla Wells is a member of Bigfork MOPS and former MOPS leader.  She is married to Dan and is a mom to three. You can find her at Mommy’s Soapbox.

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Ida Fischer: 100% Qualified

48URC0M7Y2There are always moments as a parent when your shortcomings and weaknesses seem to overshadow the good you do. And sometimes it feels like a child’s actions are meant purely to drive you over the edge, push you to your outer limits where patience and kind words seem very, very far away. It feels so hard to react in a way that builds up, that shows love, when you yourself are at your wit’s end. At moments like these you might pause, eyes wide in fear and awful revelation: ‘Oh (mild expletive). I’m a bad parent. I’m ruining my kid.’ But you aren’t. Really. You are absolutely and by all means the very best parent out there for your children and here’s why:

You put in the time.

It’s as simple as that. That adrenaline loaded moment of pure ecstasy when your wide awake new born gazes up into your eyes passes, or that euphoric moment when you hold your adoptive son or daughter for the first time, and then it starts: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of blood sweat and tears. Sure, you might return to work but mentally you are still 100% on duty. You are the one that gets to know every weird little tick and tendency. You can differentiate cries in the night. Cries of pain from cries of frustration or pleas for attention. You can see a fight between siblings brewing from a mile off. You know what kind of quiet you have to watch out for. You know exactly what your 2 year old is saying. You know more than you’d like to about their bowel movements. The list goes on and on.

Recently I got a call from the school nurse. My daughter, who had broken her leg, was juggling flags in PE class and, forgetting for a moment, jumped to catch one and came down on her broken leg. It hurt and she panicked, she was so terrified that she’d hurt it worse. The nurse sounded irritated when she called, my daughter had already been sitting in her office for 1/2 hour and wasn’t calming down; could I come get her. There was also blame; ‘she should know better, she shouldn’t be participating in the first place.’ When I arrived there she was, waiting for me in a chair by the front office looking small and scared. And oh, her eyes welled up and her lip quivered, ‘I want to go home with you.’

And I knew exactly what to do. I knew that it was more fear than pain. I knew her over-developed sense of responsibility was crushed and she felt like she’d messed up bad. I knew she didn’t need words from me – no more words – just my arms wrapped around her and my love flowing through her, accepting her. I felt her lean into me, we sat quietly for a moment then she picked up the book she’d been looking at. ‘Can I finish the book before I go back to class? It’s a funny one.’ And that was that. We finished the book, she took my hand and I walked her back to class.QIV7VQGW7K

When I came back by the office, I thanked the nurse for calling me and explained that she’d gone back to class. The nurse looked surprised, she’d given up. And that, my friends, is the power we have as moms. The power of knowing someone through and through. We truly can – and do- sweep in and save the day on a regular basis. Just like a super hero. So next time you are doubting yourself or your abilities as a parent, remember that beyond the innate love and connection that binds us to our kids, we’ve put in the time; enough hours to be considered an expert in the field. We’ve got battle wounds that have healed but left scars. We’ve sacrificed so much, and we’ve got heads so jam-packed full of knowledge of our children that other regular things (like remembering what you went upstairs for) slip our minds continually. But the things that truly matter are there for good.

Granted, it’s a steep learning curve but you are qualified, 100%, for this job. Don’t ever forget it.

Ida

Ida Fischer is a MOPS alumna.   She is married to Maarten and mother to Sam (10), Noa (8), and Mylo (5). She enjoys everything outdoors, reading, and spending time alone to paint. You can find her blog and artwork at Ida Fischer Art and Illustration.

Jan Roberson: Hurry Sickness

Have you ever heard the phrase “hurry sickness”? This one is fairly new to me. It is quite self-explanatory, isn’t it? We live in a culture that values people who can cram as much as possible into each of the hours of the day. The stress of this time/productivity kind of focus is making us sick as a society.

Time is money. Time is of the essence. Time is running out.

This mentality makes it hard to value time spent with little ones at home, “not getting much done”. The small and mundane and even relational things of our days can seem unimportant in the light of what our culture values, what we value.

J4BK7BI0ZJOnce when I was homeschooling our kids, we happened upon a cocoon on a bush in our yard. We had the gift of watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its shell. We sat in the grass for over an hour to watch this show. When the butterfly was fully out, it slowly walked over to a tree and fanned its wings for another hour. Now that is slow, but what a wonder to be able to see it!

In order to see this, someone had to be looking. The cocoon was not in plain sight, but it was visible. In order to see the butterfly, we had to stop and watch. We had to slow down and take notice.

On another day in summer, I sat with my kids in the hammock and the three of us listened to all the sounds we could possibly hear at that moment. How often do we sit and just listen? How many beautiful things might we miss in our day because we don’t really look or don’t really listen?

On many occasions there would be melt downs in our house (and not just me). When I considered the source of many of them, it could be traced to mom not really paying attention. I was focused on getting something done, I was not listening to the mounting frustration, or I was just plain not listening to the kids.

The good and peaceful times I remember with my kids are times of slowness, of talking and listening. What if we valued taking time to notice, to talk, to listen, to play, and to be very present in the moment? What would that look like? I believe that is one of the many blessings of being with little ones…they notice things that we don’t and they are almost impossible to rush. Kids seem to be naturally observant of their world and slow in order to take things in.

I think I would like to be more like one of these. I would stop and look at the shapes of clouds and the colors in the sky. I would stop and ask questions about how things work and wonder at wonderful things. I would notice the textures…shininess, roughness, sparkliness and marvel. I would be more attuned to the emotional atmosphere around me and wonder if you were happy or sad. I would hug and say “thank you” a lot.

Slowing down and really seeing gives us room to really breathe. It puts things in perspective. Is our time schedule really the center of the universe? Does that frustration really, really matter in the end?

I have been learning to slow down, to give myself margin, to not live my life all the way to the edge. And what have I gained from this slow down? Thankfulness. Really seeing and appreciating what is all around me causes me to be thankful for all that God has put into my life and into this world. What a gift!

 

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

Jan Roberson: Love is too Hard

SplitShire_IMG_1143.jpgI have written a very nice blog on marriage to follow up on our great marriage panel from our last MOPS meeting, but you are not going to see my nice blog.

My husband and I have not been spending much time together due to the fact that he has been working on getting a deck finished before the snow flies. And, due to the fact that work plus travel equals 52 hours a week for him. And, due to the fact that my 91 year old mom is living with us for a month as she makes the transition from her own home to a home for seniors. (Having a mom almost 30 years old than I makes me feel downright young!)

In the past week, I have found myself critiquing my husband. Why does he do that? Why does he have to do it that way? Why doesn’t he do this more? Why can’t he choose to spend more time with me? On and on. Little things start to tick me off.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Driving to church this morning we argued. Perfect. The list of offenses against him grows.

Love is not irritable. It keeps no record of wrongs.

I look around in church. Why can’t he be more like him? Why doesn’t he initiate more? Focus on the song, Jan, on the sermon.

Love is not envious, boastful, rude or proud. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

Love is too hard. How can I ever be all of that, especially when I am feeling so crabby?

For me, as a believer in Jesus, this is actually a good news Scripture. It feels like a condemnation at first. I am so very aware of what I am not in regards to my husband or anyone else for that matter. It seems impossible to be and do what love is…as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

This is good news because this is what God’s love is. It certainly doesn’t describe my love in the last week. It describes a powerful, constant, confident, overcoming love. The good news for me is that I get to tap into this powerful love; this love surrounds me, is in me and is mine for the asking. Lord, I am drowning in my own self-centeredness. I am focused on what’s wrong, the offenses…turn my eyes to You and let me soak in Your love. Let Your love move through me.

I cannot change my husband or anyone else. I know from experience that cajoling, nagging, and little jibes don’t work. What does work is a change in my own focus and working to change myself. What works is love.

I also know from experience that when I get negative like this, it usually is because we have not had time together, we have not made time to connect. Talking together and planning for time with each other goes a long way toward fixing the problem.

Again, from experience, my negativity tends to melt when I begin to list-on paper or in my head-all my husband’s good and positive traits (and there are many!). I go through in my mind and see all the things that he has been doing to make a great home. I remind myself how much he accepts and loves me for who I am with all my foibles and I want to do the same for him.

Marriage can be messy, because we are messy. But I have found that God is full of love and God is full of power. He delights to make Himself know in our messy lives and our messy world…if we but ask…

 

For a story of healing in a marriage, go to “Focus on the Family” website, broadcast date 10/8/2015. The recording artist, Plumb, shares her story of restoration in her shattered marriage.

 

If you are struggling in your marriage, the leadership at MOPS can help you find resources and we have a treasure of experience in our Mentors. Please let us know how we can help.

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

Kayla Wells: Cold Spaghetti and Ice Cream Soup

Since the school year has started these are actual thoughts that have run through my head:

“How many times can a cup of coffee with milk be reheated before it will make me sick?”

“How in the world do all 3 kids have only left shoes, on the exact same day, at the same time? ”

“Sweet Jesus, what made you think I had the patience for motherhood?”- This one was kindof a prayer. Sweat had begun to bead as the school bell rang and we were STILL TRYING TO GET IN THE CAR. (Yes, I can hear the bell from my house. Yes, we are almost always barely on time.)

As I sat down to draft ideas for this post and do some much needed paperwork, I took a bite of my lunch. I had been looking forward to it all day. My favorite, leftover spaghetti. Cold, it was still cold. I didn’t have what it took to get up and heat it, again, to eat it warm. Real motherhood is eating the cold spaghetti. It wasn’t half bad.
photo-1424593090902-a67b5ab57b89Later that night my husband and I tag teamed our kids. It still took an hour to get them all in bed at the same time and stop the madness of the day. As has become our custom (since, ya know, actual date nights are hilarious dreams) my husband brought out my favorite ice cream and his. Those Individual little cartons are our guilty pleasure. We sat down to watch Netflix.

Our house is built in such a way that when we open the door to our downstairs it completely blocks the hallway to the bedrooms. This allows us a little safeguarded privacy to watch something that doesn’t involve headache inducing cartoon voices or animation.

On this particular night it was now 8:30 PM. We should’ve been in the clear.

Then we heard it…

The creak of the door followed by little feet.

*Pause the show. Hide the ice cream!*

“Mommy, I gotta go potty.”

Let me tell ya friends, it’s a good thing they are so stinkin’ cute. She is 3, partially potty trained and by that I mean, she wears a pull-up because, although she has been using a toilet for over a year to poop, she REFUSES to pee on the toilet during the day.

But, at night…well, she has to pee on the potty… and here we go.

*8:45 PM, back in bed, TV on,  ice cream out. It’s a little melty, but doesn’t hurt my teeth as badly. Perfect, still time for an episode of our favorite show.*

Creeeeeeaaaaakkk

“Mommy, I can’t sleep because sis is making noise.”

Man, he is so cute in his undies and oversized shirt, with his worn puppy under his arm.

Carrying him back to bed I breathe in his little boy smell and I realize it’s barely there. That sweet baby smell is almost gone from my little boy. He is 5 now, reluctantly in kindergarten. I am both relieved and sad it went by so fast.

Goodnight tuck-ins and a “Hush now sis, brother needs to sleep.”

During this time my husband has paid some bills and packed the lunches. God, bless this man I married. Seriously, cutting meat into little squares and making sure that the bread looks “all the way like a heart” just might be the last straw!

*9pm. Barely enough time for 1 episode but, we can make it.*

The show starts up and I hear my frustrated 8 year old say, “KeEEEEndyllllllllllLLLLL, you need to be quiet. I am tired and you keep waking me up!”

Settting down my ice cream, again, I say a little prayer “God, let me be patient, and loving”

I go. I tuck 3 year old back in, find “pink owl” because “blue owl and nightimte owl are not my friend tonight”, diffuser , star lamp, and singing teddy all turned on. “Goodnight girls. sleep well. I will see you IN.THE.MORNING.” said firmly. Exit room

*9:17 PM. Ice cream soup.*

I have expensive ice cream soup and tears.

Because, I already ate cold spaghetti.

Because, I don’t remember where we were in the show anyway.

*mindless channel surfing for 20 minutes then bed*

Sleep.

Do it all again.

Except, no.

I realized that night that I can’t do it anymore. Not the way I had been.

Sometimes, being a mom is just really hard work. It’s going to be that way for a while, but recently I was reminded of how quickly that can change. Actually, I am often reminded. It is rare my oldest to wake and ask for me in the night. I miss her and her baby smell. There are pictures on my walls of friends who have lost children, or were never able to have them at all. There are pictures of children I desperatly love who live too far away for me to watch them grow. My children are a gift to me and although sometimes I struggle I want to choose to remember this gift.

My oldest is both my opponent and my team mate. She is my sparkle and my drama and very often my encouragement.

My son, he is most like me. Disorder makes him crazy. He would rather have his teeth pulled than be stuck in a crowd of strangers. He is also my rule follower and always willing hugger. He’s ready to get dirty for a reason and my adventure seeker.

My youngest is my gift of grace,  my sweet surprise. She is quirky with a personality full of contradicitons. Tutu-ed pirate or sparkling princess? She is the one who ALWAYS runs with open arms a huge smile. She is the one who says “Mom, you’re back!”, when I have been gone- for 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 days. She treats me like I am THE best thing in her world.

Moms: take heart. These children, be it 1 or 10 are a gift. Trust me. There are times that this mothering thing feels overwhelming. You are not alone in that. Not even a little.

Join with me to pray for peace this school year. For patient mamas and obedient kids. Pray that all of us, even our littlest can be Jesus for someone today.

Be proactive. I am doing this by making myself be a more organized mom. No more left shoe only mornings.

I want to leave you with this encouragement: you ARE the PERFECT mom for your kiddos. However you have come by them, however many you have- whether it be in your arms or in your heart – you were made for this. Go about this motherhood fiercely, with me.

Oh, and when you buy ice cream, buy 2. You never know when you might need a fresh carton.

 

Kayla

 

Kayla Wells is a member of Bigfork MOPS and former MOPS leader.  She is married to Dan and is a mom to three. You can find her at Mommy’s Soapbox.

A Fierce Flourishing

negativespace-14After several months of company, I am slowing reclaiming my house. I love having company in the summertime and celebrating the family or friendship ties that bring us together. Summer is wonderful (Despite the smoke!).

Recently, I saw a MOPS mom with her kids and she told me she couldn’t wait for MOPS to start. Really? That means summer is almost over and fall is coming. How quickly it all rushes by.

The theme this year at MOPS is “A Fierce Flourishing”. I love that and I hope you will go on MOPS.org to read more about the theme. In our first meeting in September, we will talk about that theme and what it means for our group in Bigfork this year.

As I thought about how I might work that theme out in my life, one word came to mind…intention. To flourish in my life means that I need to live my life intentionally, not just floating along with whatever happens (although that is sometimes good). To purposely choose how to live fully is to flourish.

I can flourish when I decide to choose to spend time in what is most important and not major in the minors. I can spend more time in deepening relationships and less in time-wasters. I can plan fun dates with my husband to celebrate who we are as a couple. I can spend more time being thankful and less being wishful.

Here is how this is stated in the MOPS literature for this year:

Embrace Rest. This is the year to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as a measure of worth. What if one of the most life-giving activities that will contribute to our flourishing is welcoming rhythms of rest and play into our lives?”

Notice goodness. Could it be possible that we don’t need new things, but rather new eyes to see what we already have…Noticing what is good gives us the gift of perspective and reminds us that the sacred is closer than we think.”
Celebrate Lavishly…Could it be that commemorating moments might help us to become more alive, to remember what is good and become masterful at recognizing it?”

“This is a fierce flourishing. It is a deep in your guts experience of gratitude and hope that compels you to raise your hands and dance freer than you ever have before. It is a fierce protection of your most important moments, an invitation to rest and an opportunity to enjoy the people who are right in front of you.” A Fierce Flourishing, pg. 5, 6.

11351492_10152807222557097_4427345129274860055_nThat sounds great, you say, but you don’t have a baby on your hip, a toddler whining on your leg, and work pressing in on you. No, I don’t. And I don’t think this theme is in any way meant to bypass or belittle the struggles of being a pre-school mom. It is hard, it is intense, and it is time-consuming and energy-draining to be a mom of little ones.

But perhaps this noticing, this celebrating, this resting even in small ways will be what infuses you with energy in your days. Being thankful, seeing beauty every day, and learning to rest are intentional choices we can make. We can’t always control all that goes on in our days, but we can choose our attitude and learn to see the good in a situation.

I am looking forward to learning all that I can in this next year, because flourishing is something I really want to do. I am looking forward to getting together to encourage one another to grow and thrive as women and as moms. Let’s make this our best year yet!   Love you, Jan