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.
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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.

Jesica Swanson: Linger

photo-1421906375741-f6bda4abe433As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am

I want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?  A moment in time, designed to remind us to stop, to collectively take note in the chaos and come to the table. It’s almost like communion for all of America when we choose to point that thankfulness to heaven. It reminds us to breathe and give thanks, to linger in a spirit of gratitude.

A couple months ago I decided to throw out an initiation to some of my favorite women. I dubbed it a lazy girls night in. I threw some food in the crock-pot. People could come and go as they pleased. They could bring something to share, or not. It was merely a place to gather. Though I would have been content had no one been able to make it (introvert alert), I was so happy when people actually showed up.

We ate. We laughed. We visited. Some people left and some people lingered.

Of all the beautiful things my friend Samantha has taught me, perhaps lingering is one of the best. I am not a natural lingerer. I long for it, but my uptight, highly sensing self is always preoccupied. I think, “Am I overstaying my welcome? Should I leave now? I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be “that friend” that doesn’t know when to take a hint and head home.” But, when I watch Samantha, she never over stays her welcome, she never is a burden, but she lingers like a boss. She lingers well because she values quality time. She listens to people. She makes time for people.

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Maybe, I am starting to finally get it that the best stuff happens in the lingering. It is when the walls break down a little bit or the unrestrained laughter bursts forth. Perhaps, it’s because everyone is tired or because being in a room with only a handful of people breed’s safety. If you’ve stuck around to linger, it’s probably because of a genuine affection for the people left in the building.

That night at my house some cried, some listened, words of empathy came forward. Grace and encouragement flowed freely. No pat answers were given or problems solved, but in the lingering sisterhood forms. That night it was in my living room, but I’ve experienced the power of the linger in a parked car on a Monday night, around a bonfire, and after a MOPS night out. Every moment spent with someone is “money in the bank”* of your friendship, but the lingering seems to bring a more substantial deposit to the relationship.

As things get crazy and I feel that tug to be everywhere all the time, I am trying to hit pause this season. I’m trying to linger at the table with my God and with the people that I love the most. For some, those loved ones may be family, but for others who live further from relatives, it may be the friends that have become family. I want to make sure I am leaving margin in my life for the after party, because everyone truly knows that the after party is where it’s at. So, if you want to linger, come and linger with me. I have a special place in my heart for the lingerers.

*It was Shauna Niequist, at MomCon 2014, who taught me about “money in the bank”.

 

JesicaJesica Swanson is wife to Norse and mother to Boden & Isley. She’s a big fan of marriage, wholehearted friendships, and loud laughter. While still trying to figure out her marketable skill set, she spends her time goofing off in Montana and writing candidly about spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun books and music, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com .

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.

Who’s Got Your Back?

The other night was one of those nights. You know. Like it’s written in the stars or your fortune cookie:  your kids will misbehave today and so will youNothing works out right. It’s pure, cranky chaos.

It had been a long day and my husband was gone for the evening. I struggled through on my own. Cursing under my breath. Practicing deep breathing bCIMG0599etween screaming bouts. Matching my 10 year old snide comment for snide comment. Reacting with the same short fuse as my 5 year old and the indignation of my 8 year old. It wasn’t pretty. So as bedtime approached I made the rounds along each bed; apologizing, asking forgiveness, explaining that I’m not perfect and I know it and God help me, I’m working on it. Really, though the behavior leading up to this moment is certainly never ideal, the chance to model sincere regret and ask for forgiveness is golden. I mean, there’s got to be a flip-side, right?

Anyway, my kids usually make it so easy. They melt. The tension and bad mood that settled between their shoulder blades releases and I feel them go soft, give into my love, lean into my arms. I lean into them, smell their hair and hold on tight. This time, when I got to my daughter’s bed she took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said I just wish Papa were here. Oh, I bristled. I assumed she was referring to the classic Good Parent-Bad Parent dilemma (and we all know which side I was on). But then she explained.

It’s just that you need a Back-up Person, Mama. I just wish you could have had a Back-up Person tonight. Everyone needs a Back-up.

Then, she hugged me. She left me there, leaning over her bed, my mouth wide open in awe of the wisdom, love and empathy she showed to me in such an undeserving moment. She really nailed it this time.

Who is your Back-up Person? A husband, a partner, a mother, a best friend… It can be anyone ready to step in when you’ve had it up to here, when you are stuck in an ugly cycle and need a moment to breathe, to swim back up to the surface. It’s crucial in this mothering gig that someone has our backs. Hopefully we all have at least one person looking out for us. Ideally we have that village surrounding us with someone not only behind, but also on each side and in front of us. Let’s build that together for each other. Use MOPS this year as yet another way to have each other’s backs. Support each other, listen, encourage and laugh.

With your back covered you can face forward with confidence, go out into the world as mothers, as women, and flourish.

Ida

Ida Fischer is a Bigfork MOPS alumnus.  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.

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