Look Up

At the end of a crazy week, Matt and I found a few hours to get away. Heading down to the beach, we were surprised to find the parking lot not only full of cars but people sitting and standing all around. We thought maybe something was happening on the pier until we noticed the common factor. Their phones. Every single person was looking down at their phones. Every one. I was so confused until Matt said that maybe they were playing Pokémon Go or something similar (This is NOT a commentary for or against the game).

We walked through the crowd out onto the pier where the sun was glistening off the water, and the waves were hitting the beach. Hot and windy, it was my favorite time to be near the water and I was loving every minute of it. Eventually, there was a steady stream of people walking towards the end of the pier.  A mom and dad passed us, a little girl on her daddy’s shoulders. The sun was hitting her bouncing curls just right as she pointed at the seagulls and chatted away. Only they weren’t listening. They barely looked up except to make sure they were walking the right way.

And then I got mad. And judgmental. So mad that I wanted to yell at them, LOOK UP!

 Don’t you see what you’re missing?

 Look up!

That scene stuck with me, only instead of telling those people, I felt convicted MYSELF. How many times have I missed the beauty around me, either in creation or in the faces of my loved ones, because I was distracted by something less important? DSC_0039

Will you join me today? In the midst of lists, and work, and even fun things, let’s look up. Be present to see, really see, the faces and beauty around us.


If Mama ain’t Happy, ain’t Nobody Happy

Usually someone has an attitude
Usually someone has an attitude

Isn’t that how the saying goes? We were in a hurry to get out the door, and I was stressed. We’re always in a hurry because I don’t do well with time management. I got up late because I’m trying to catch up on lost sleep from the past 4 months after our baby was born. The rest of the morning had me running around gathering things for the diaper bag, changing diapers, and making sure everyone was fed and dressed. Chaos and loudness were happening all around me. My volcano finally erupted. After I threw up with words all over my kids, I tried to calm down and just give in to the fact that we weren’t going to be early and maybe not even on time. I took a few deep breaths and resolved to talk quietly even if the lava was still bubbling inside of me.

Then it happened. Recently it so often does. One of my children mirrored my attitude and gave it back to me. I couldn’t correct him because I know I had created the frustration. Immediately I knew I had just witnessed my house falling down all around me. Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” When I thought to myself, “I just tore my house down,” I was filled with dread but also hope at the same time.

I knew I had made the wrong decision moments before, but I felt that God had pointed it out to me so I could correct it by responding a different way in the next few minutes. As I said, the lava was still bubbling. I remember talking very quietly and slowly as I fought my toddler’s kicking legs while trying to diaper him. As the baby cried and another child voiced their frustration, I raised my voice to say, “I’m trying really hard right now to not lose my temper. I’m choosing to take deep breaths, but believe me, I want to scream and yell, and if you continue to add to this bad attitude that’s in our house right now, I will.” Hey, at least I was being honest and showing my kids how to fight their feelings and thoughts, right?

Now let’s get back to the feeling of hope. God had shown me what just happened but that my house didn’t have to remain in shambles. After the “ouch” that came with correction, my next thought was, “His mercies are new every morning.” As long as my kids are living in my home, I have the opportunity to practice reacting with peace and calmness to the chaos they or myself bring to our home. Just because I tore my house down in that moment doesn’t mean I can’t choose to rebuild, even if I have to start over a million times. In Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued, she coined a phrase that has been a lifesaver to me; “Imperfect Progress.” If I’m making steps in the right direction in between each step backward, I’m still moving forward; I’m still working at building my house.

Can I encourage you to not give up? No matter how many times you’ve lost it with words, thoughts, or attitudes, He offers a gentle reminder to make the decision to change course and start building again. Then when you have joy in your heart and see joy in your home you can smile, because you know that, “if Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.”



Walking among the tombstones

My mother thinks it’s creepy, how I love to walk through the cemetery. Just a short walk from my house, as soon as I enter the gate, I am stricken with the sheer magnitude of it. Rows and rows of beautiful headstones, graced with menorahs or the star of David, stand dwarfed under towering trees. The winding path beckons us to walk and wonder at the lives lived here before us.

 I bring my littles here so they can ride their bikes safely. As they race in front of me, I can see the tips of their helmets over the tops of the headstones, the neon green spikes of a dinosaur mohawk ensures me that the littlest is within earshot. These two are so full of life as they race and laugh, playing police officers or clone troopers, unaffected by the sorrow that surrounds them. Full of life, full of potential, living in the very moment they are given. My mind wanders between the never completed to do list awaiting me at home, the worries over situations that family or friends may be facing, and even regrets from yesterday. How quickly I can become overwhelmed or question if I’m doing it right. But as I walk further in, I am reminded of how fragile life is, how we are only given this one life to make a difference. I want my memories to be a gift, not a burden filled with regrets. I have to let the list and the worries go for now, to enjoy the moment, to learn from the headstones, to watch my boys live without hesitation. I laugh as the littlest rides to me, pushing up his helmet higher so I can see straight into those big hazel eyes, and tells me I’m under arrest for walking too slowly. I treasure the moment when his older brother comes along to walk in step with me, for just a few minutes, to talk about the beloved fathers, mothers, and children laid to rest among us. We are sad together for the families whose loved ones are gone, remembered in the engravings in the stone. We talk about how our lives matter. We talk about making a difference, showing God’s love to the world around us. And then he tells me he loves me, and races up to join his brother in capturing the bad guys.

I don’t know about you, but I need this reminder quite often. It brings me perspective and thankfulness for the chances I still have before me, to let the past go and live in the moments we have now. You should try it, a walk among the tombstones. Just go during the day….way less creepy.