I Can Do All Things…

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SchoolBlog1Transitions are never easy. Change will always come. I have found that new beginnings are usually scary. From a mother’s viewpoint? It is my job to be the buffer, the wind in the sails and the soft place to land when it gets a little rough. Sounds like easy/peasy job description huh? Well.. this year I learned some things.. about her and about myself. It “ain’t always that easy”

We began a new journey… one that was anticipated with smiles, and shopping, and all the things that we had gotten away from in the past five years of homeschooling. There were clothes to buy, lunch totes and backpacks.. and the endless list of school supplies. I think we had more on hand from the previous school years than most office supply stores – major “score” for this Momma.

I had taken the first day of school pictures, even during our home school years so I would have them for her scrapbook. Looking at these now, with her huge smile? serves as a reminder. No matter how much encouragement I poured into this girl of mine? Life has a way of knocking the breath out of you..it is here where we are taught the hardest of lessons.

During the first few days? I’m just going to be real here. I had a new realization of the term.. throwing her to the wolves. I felt like the biggest failure as a Momma. I had encouraged her that everything would be okay, it would be a hard transition but it would be fine. What my reality was… it wasn’t. I would love to tell you that this smiling sweet girl returned to me the way she left that morning. She didn’t. These words still haunt me and leave my heart in shreds .. “Please, Momma.. please don’t make me go back.” – I drove her again the next day. and the next.

Let me say this before I move forward. I do not regret one single year that I spent homeschooling. It was the best thing for us as a family. It doesn’t work for everyone. If I could have changed anything? it would have been to transition her during the middle school years – maybe.  Academically? wow. She just continued to flourish. Her yearly testing proved for the majority of subjects, we were above and beyond our target. And no, she was not an anti-social kid..a weird home school kid..or an introvert. (Don’t even get me started on that one…Momma claws are coming out even as I type) My goal was for her to learn, not just academically, but as a student that knew what compassion entailed, being unselfish toward others and growing in her a root system that would be the basis to handle the “real world” – this part? was important and for the most part..the roots have taken hold..and still growing.

What I failed to teach as her Momma were these truths:

1. People are often unkind, cruel and selfish.

2. Hurt people… Hurt people…it can make people mean.

3. Not everyone is aware of the Golden Rule.

4. Life is almost always unfair.

5. Friends and family will cause your deepest of hurts.

What I continue to tell her is this… Be Kind Anyway. Offer Grace when it is not deserved. And no matter what? You are who God says you are. Be that girl. Stand up for the right thing, even when it is uncomfortable. Show compassion to those that need it most…even when it is not the popular choice. Don’t hold grudges, even when it is easier than forgiving.. that boundaries are healthy. Look for good in every bad situation.

Can I tell you that through all of the transitions? We were blessed with good teachers..and I did not take that positive for granted. Little by little, every day she learned what a hard job they had. Not everyone respected what she saw them battling on the front lines of a classroom. – empathy. check.

Fall soon disappeared and winter break was on the horizon. I could at least see some light at the end of the semester tunnel. Winter break would be here..her grades were good.. and we could regroup. That’s just what we did.

SchoolBlog1 (5)Looking back? I think it was the longest “winter” for us. Dark days, cold winds blew across my heart as a Momma. There were nights that I barely slept, my pillow stayed soggy and my knees learned what “real” prayer time consisted of. It was hard. Her Daddy would just tell me the same thing I told her repeatedly..It’s going to be okay. What I learned through these dark first days? I learned how to hang on to what her Pa always told her. “I can do all things through Christ that Strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13. I had to be determined in my own mind, that yes, it would be okay. eventually, although on the inside I was angry- just being honest. I was angry that we live in a world where people treated one another without regards to their feelings. I was angry that I could not “fix this” or shelter her from the ugliness of real life. Of course, my world didn’t change, and for the most part neither have the people in it? but what did change was me. I became diligent and real.

There have been many friends of mine and hers that have proven themselves over and over to the both of us. I would say “I just don’t know?” and they would say.. “yes, yes you do!” – they told me it would be okay. I am thankful that she has had some others at school that shown her kindness. They have no clue what a lifeline that had become.

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So with every accomplishment? we celebrated.. You better believe it. Another semester down.. another one to go. Winter was disappearing and Spring was on the horizon. “I can do all things” we repeated to one another. Often times I would tell her it would be okay.. I promise.. only to hear her words “but how do you know.. you just keep saying that?”

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I reminded her that I could say it now.. because I believed it, mainly because I believed in her…and I definitely have learned that God keeps His promises even more than Mommas do.

Spring would be busy with a drivers’ course and horse shows. Doing the one thing she loved proved to be another lifeline, another outlet that made all seem right in her world. So she rode, and slowly I watched the smiling girl in the picture, on the first day of ninth grade start to reappear.

SchoolBlog1 (6)I began to make new rules for after school pickup. Before anything else? I asked for one positive thing about her day.. just one. After that, she was afforded her rant about the other. Some days it was like playing Russian roulette on the drive home. Slowly, the sweet girl that I had thrown to the wolves, had managed around those wolves and her rants became less. Not all of the days were good, they varied, just as they do in this thing we call life, but when the drive home was filled with laughter and “awesome” days..I can tell you that this Momma’s eyes filled with tears on those too. Happy ones that you learn to cherish.

SchoolBlog1 (8)She’s had some broken and bent wings this year, but all in all? my girl still has them. She’s going to fly. My love for her will always give her roots.. to help her find those wings.

Next year, she will enter not as the new kid.. but as a Sophmore. Will it be easy? I don’t expect it to be. It’s change…transitions. But one thing I do know? She will be fine. I will continue to tell her the good things.. and be the soft place to land during the bad. She’s got a Momma’s promise on that one. I may need to get some knee pads somewhere along the way…but God is faithful in all things. always.

We are going to enjoy every minute of summer vacation… every sleep in morning.. and late night girl time. I have no doubt that she will develop lifelong friendships in the years to come, and look back realizing that every trial has something to teach us, every new experience only broadens her wingspan.

In the meantime? bring on summer…..we’ve been waiting for you.

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I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

 

 

 

 

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Promises that are Kept

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jeanetteblog2Promises…. we make them all during our lives, some are well-meaning that never come to fruition – others we spend our years making sure that we keep them.

As children, my cousin and I made promises to each other. We promised that no matter what? we would always remain close. This is a promise that has been kept. Only a year apart, we grew up more like sisters than cousins, that hasn’t changed.

When we visited during holidays and summers? we always begged for just one more day…. a few more hours….and always left one another crying – and our mothers crying too. We just wanted to be together, just like our mothers did as well. We grew up in different states, but only a couple of hours drive away. Sometimes it seemed like we were thousands of miles apart. Kids don’t recognize miles, only the separation.

We made plans to travel together when we were adults (we were going to work for Delta Airlines) Our menu would be whatever we wanted to eat, and would always be night owls. Life was going to be easy/peasy. Little girls with big dreams. Well,  as it goes? Real life happened.

After marriages and children… our distance only widened. Phone calls and brief visits were never enough but that is how it had to be. We suffered through expected and unexpected losses of both of our parents, hard life stuff… but we still tried to keep our promises of remaining close. Life hasn’t changed that part.

One of our biggest promises to keep would be this – One day, we would be by the ocean together. She had never seen it in all of her forty-something years. She saw it through my pictures and emails.. and even a phone call to hear the waves in the background. I would often describe how awesome it was, how peaceful and how vast the skyline appeared, but it wasn’t the same.

269In 2014, she had the chance to go to the beach with one of her great friends. Finally, she would see it for the first time. Happiness for her was an understatement and just like I had always known? she fell in love with the sand and salt air just as I had at the age of 16. Yet, our promise of being together on the same beach was still waiting to be kept.

Hearing the news that she would be returning to the ocean again this year was even more exciting since it would be on the North Carolina coastline…my beach. This time, she was keeping a promise to her three grandchildren to experience it for the first time. So, I made plans to make the little two-hour drive to be with them for a couple of days during their vacation. I wanted to take pictures more than I ever have, to capture the moment for them as a family. Her daughter had captured this one.. precious!

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I can’t tell you how fast those two days went by..it was quick, but in a sense? time stood still. Childhood promises had dissolved into an amazing reality for the both of us. Forty some years of a promise kept…the kind of happy that will always be a treasured moment.

Topsail42We now add to our bond, the love of the ocean together… smelling the salt air, sand castles with her grands and long walks on the beach and of course, there was coffee on the screened porch and many moments that I fought back tears of happy, promises kept? you better believe it.Topsail58Long after shaking the sand from our belongings upon returning home, we brought back some parts of the beach to our homes, but now? a part of our souls will always remain there – together, a promise kept at last.

I had once sent a quote from my sea glass book to her… but now she fully understands.. why we will always connected by the sea.

My Favorite Find (excerpt from Sea Glass Hunter’s Handbook by C.S. Lambert

 First I smell that smell and am overcome with a sensation of elation. Like a tight faucet turned open, everything floods from me. I scan the view, take a deep breath, and inevitably utter, “God, I love it here.” I stride quickly to where the sand is still wet from the previous tide and then, then I am gone. There is no thinking, just being. I have no awareness of myself. If I am searching for glass, it is rote, with no more or no less consciousness than a jellyfish searching for sustenance….. I am reduced to nothing, but part of everything. I am home, I am free, I am one with the sea.

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Tending the Garden of My Heart

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GardenBlog5 The season is here, time for plowing and seeding. We wait until the temperatures and signs are compatible for the growing season. There is a lot of work to be done! Physical strains and muscles get used that have been dormant for most of the winter. Why do we even bother? we can always buy produce at the local farmers’ market or grocery store. It is surely much easier to purchase garden items than to grow our own.

We garden because we know that the end result will be the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor. We are sure of what has been placed on this food leaving out harsh chemicals that are used on store-bought items. Gardening is somewhat of a hobby for my farmer, but also one that will be passed onto our daughter. She will know how to raise her own food if she chooses.

GardenBlog2The work begins with plowing, the smell of the tractor fumes fill the air and we know that although running the tractor is the easy part? Well, the rest? not so much. It takes time, lots of it. There will be seeds harvested from last years’ crop, new seeds purchased and then the planting can begin. It is a slow, and sometimes painstaking process, yet it is done because we know that there will be a harvest and hopefully a good one.

So I begin to ponder on the work, turning over the harsh soil, loosening the clumps of hardened dirt. The ground has been dormant for most of the winter. My thoughts also turn towards the places in my heart that have done the same. Dormant… still. I know there are things that need to be weeded in order for something better to grow.

GardenBlog3 I am reminded of Matthew 13.. “The Parable of the Sower”  more specifically.. the parable of the “weeds” which goes as follows:

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

How many times do we sow the good seeds, neglect them and while we are “sleeping” the weeds come in and take over? It ties up the harvest until it chokes the good out of everything you planted in the beginning.

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Before we even realize it? when we look for the good plantings, we notice more and more weeds. Much like gathering our hurts, offenses and stones (words) that we carefully place in our wheelbarrows, dragging them around every single day. It gets heavy! Finally, you realize you need to just empty the heavy stuff and make your load a little lighter.

Thus, comes the hardest part of tending the garden. Pulling weeds, tossing out the things that are preventing a good crop. Choking back my thoughts? I pick up the gardening hoe.. at first the motions are easy, careful. When the plants are secure, I move to the wider spaces of just plain old weeds. I chop with more fierceness. These ugly weeds are ruining everything good. (my thoughts are in a tailspin) Enough! I begin to use the tool with a determination that surprises my own self. No, I tell myself…. and my thoughts, “you cannot stay here” To be quite honest? the thought actually came to me “why can’t we just burn up all of these weeds.. torch it?” just as I often do with my hurts… burn it to the ground and forget it. There is that nudge that just says, no – just do the work. you’ll see.

Some of the things that I uncovered were not ugly weeds, but good plantings that I had failed to see, ones that were being choked out…buried deep. The good roots remained once I cleared the tangled webs of grass. When the roots are established with the good? I know that there is always hope to uncover that good. It just takes a lot of toil and tears.

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In reading the Parable of the Sower? I realize that there will be things that come along that are way beyond my control. Too much rain, not enough rain… storms. Yet, I know that I have done the work, prepared the garden for a good harvest. I will continue to make adjustments, take precaution with the new plantings. My final assignment of the evening was to “stake the tomato plants” (trust me, I do not do the majority of the gardening – my farmer toils harder than I ever do)

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Tying each one to the stake prevents them from falling over from the heaviness of the stalk, tossed from harsh winds. I couldn’t help but think about the process of binding up my heart with tools I already have…Faith, Hope… Love. It’s all I know to do. When the storms come? I’m sure there will be damage, but hoping it will be less because of the preparation, there will still be good left to harvest.

GardenBlog1So I wait… patiently. Every new sunrise gives a new day..another chance to work the Garden of My Heart. There is still so much to do. It is sometimes exhausting but I know that the end result will be something more than the evidence of a barren plowed field.

If by chance you are afforded to do your own garden? Tend it with care and adjust with the seasons. Learn while you can and accept the Grace that is given to you each day.

Lastly, I offered a particular passage to my daughter this week.. who knew that I was preaching to myself. I will continue to work on the good things, weeding out the bad – and with any luck at all? this garden will learn to produce more harvest than weeds.

Philippians 4:8The Message (MSG)

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.