Monday, June 24, 2013

When Boys Become Men

I'm losing my babies. Time is slipping away before my eyes, running through my fingers as I try to hang on tighter.  I'm watching my little boys become men, day by day.

My oldest - my firstborn, who I watched and guarded so carefully - is now watching out for me. He checks my tires. He cooks dinner. He encourages me. A few months ago, as I prepared to take a hard test with very high stakes, he left this for me on the refrigerator:

He started youth group this summer.  Youth.  Already.  It doesn't seem possible.  Wasn't it just a few days ago when I held that tiny newborn in my arms - a new mom, holding a new life, falling head over heels in love.  Can we just rewind a little?

My youngest is too big for me to pick up anymore. He writes in cursive and reads massive amounts about dinosaurs.  My preemie who fought so hard for every breath those first few days of life will now fight for breath through his laughter as he tells jokes or watches his favorite movie, calling out, "Mom, this is just too funny!"

I look around at the shoes lying in the floor - they are now bigger than my own.  Tears fill my eyes. Can we slow this down?  Time is passing by much too fast.  In six years, my oldest will graduate - my baby will follow him just three years later.  I feel this crazy twist of emotions - pride and delight as I see the men they are becoming, as I watch their strengths and talents and passions emerging; sadness that all too quickly, they will be all grown up and our home will become an empty nest.

I got my first taste of what that will be like when they went to camp last week.  It marked the longest time I've ever been away from my boys - four nights.  The house was so empty without them.  There were a little homesick, but they came back with stories of ziplining, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, amazing chapel services - and the highlight of it all, Top Shot champion Dustin Ellermann teaching them to shoot.  They had adventures of their own, and they loved it.  It was a week that proved they are growing up.

No one told me that motherhood is such a mixed up mess of joy and fear.  My heart fills with pride at the men my boys are becoming - and breaks because it's happening much too quickly.  The hardest part of parenting is the letting go.  It's a thousand little moments leading up to the ultimate moment of turning them loose in the world and praying that they make the right choices, that what we've done is enough.

I can't rely on myself to prepare them for life.  No matter how much my husband and I teach them, no matter how many church services we take them to or how many family devotions we read, so much about their lives is out of our hands.  I have to let them go and place them in God's hands.

Do you have a verse that you cling to for your children?  This is mine.  What a perfect reminder this week, as I review one of my favorite verses with Hide His Word.  He knows them far better than I do.  He has plans for them - good plans.  They are in His hands, hands that are so much bigger than my own.  Letting go is never easy - but I know they will be safe in their Father's hands.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Life is all about changes.  Nothing stays the same for long.  But change is hard - even good change - and there's a part of us that wants to fight it.  No one likes the struggle that comes with transitions.

I'm in a transition period myself.   A few days ago, I mailed in my application packet for my dental hygiene license.  I've graduated.  I've passed both my regional and national tests. It's a done deal, except for a little paperwork and red tape.  In a few weeks, I'll get my license in the mail, and I will officially be an RDH.  For the first time in my life, I will have a career, not just a part-time job.  I can't wait to start this new phase in my life.

But I'm not quite there yet.  Technically, anyway.  I can't touch a patient until I get my license.  I'm still working my office job until my license comes in.  In a few weeks, everything will change - but for now, I'm caught somewhere in between.

I've also reached a transition period with my writing.  I can now spend more time focusing on writing.  I have ideas for magazine articles, blog posts, stories, and more, and I'm working on creating a schedule and trying to sit down daily to write.  I'm trying to move writing from something I do for fun to something I take seriously.  It's my dream, it's what I love, but it, too, requires a transition.

I have to admit, this whole process of change hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be.  I imagined that once I finished school, I would easily slip into a calm, "normal" life where balance came naturally.  How could it not after having such a huge load taken off my plate?  What I found instead were all the things I pushed aside to get through school now clamoring for my attention - fitness, ministry, home projects, and more.  Finding a workable schedule and sticking with it has proved to be a challenge, one that I'm still working on.

So what do you do when you're in-between two realities, moving from old to new?  You stay faithful.  You keep working hard.  I'm still working at my job at an insurance office.  I'm slowly working on my home, catching up on all the things I didn't have time to do during college, planning so that hopefully things will run smoothly once I start my new job.  I'm working my way into a new fitness routine and slowly changing my eating habits.  I'm jotting down ideas and developing them slowly, working from my laptop and my new iPad mini to create blog posts and articles.  I'm emailing my critique group and my writers group for feedback and advice.  I'm keeping an ear out for job openings and professional connections.  I'm trying to weave what seems to be a thousand little pieces of my life into something that works.

Change is natural and normal, but it's not easy.  I'm growing - and I'm having some growing pains to prove it.  My life is morphing into something new and better.  For now, though, I'm hanging on through the transition.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Comfort Food: Cheesy Potato Soup

I'm a Southern girl, and in the South, we love good old fashioned comfort food.  When I'm having a bad day or when I'm not feeling good, a bowl full of warm soup is the perfect pick me up.  Of course, you don't really need an excuse to make a big pot of good soup.

Cheesy potato soup is one of my family's favorite meals.  I got the original recipe years ago, and I worked on it for a few months, tweaking it a little each time I made it.  We had it this weekend, for the first time in months.  (According my oldest, now that I'm done with college, "We're having real food for the first time in a year - or three.")

It's super easy - peeling the potatoes is the hardest part!

·         8 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

·         1 small onion

·         3 stalks celery

·         5 cups water

·         5 teaspoons salt, divided

·         1 stick butter

·         4 cups milk

·         1/4 cup flour

·         1/2 teaspoon pepper

·         1 teaspoon dry mustard

·         1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce

·         1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

·         1/2 pound Velveeta


1.       Finely chop onion and celery; add potatoes and put in water with half of the salt; boil until tender.

2.       In a separate pan, combine butter, milk, flour, pepper, dry mustard, and the rest of the salt; heat until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.

3.       Shred or thinly slice Velveeta and add to butter/milk mixture, stirring until melted.

4.       Combine cheese/milk/butter mixture with potatoes.
Add tomato sauce and Worcestershire, and heat through.  Serve with thick slices of French bread or homemade bread.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Coming Soon...

I've been linking up pretty often this year with Holley Gerth's blog, sharing my God-sized dreams.  Well, here is a tiny little piece of a God-sized dream beginning to come true...

A few months ago, I won a small flash fiction contest held by one of my favorite authors, Steven James.  I just hoped I could possibly get a spot in the top ten.  I never expected to win!  I was so excited to receive an autographed copy of his newest book - and publication in Splickety Magazine, a new flash fiction magazine.  Yesterday I got on Facebook and found a message letting me know that my entry will be published in July's issue!

Yes, it's only 130 characters.  Yes, it's small.  But it represents something big - a dream bigger than myself.  A tiny crack into a real world that before now has only lived in my imagination.  I've blogged for years.  I've guest posted on some pretty big blogs.  But I've never had anything published, in print, with my name on it - and I never even dreamed that the first thing I would see my name on would be fiction.  I spent so much time telling myself I could never do this.  Now I'm proving myself wrong.  I'm scared to death, and too excited to think!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Messy Faith

My morning time with God isn't pretty.  I have notebooks and journals spread out all over the couch.  My messenger bag hangs open.  Sharpie pens and colored pencils roll around amid notebook paper and printouts of maps or reading schedules.  My Kindle and iPhone are hidden somewhere under a journal or stack of pages.  And there I sit, in the middle of it all, wrapped up in my big ol' fuzzy blanket.  It's a mess.

But it works beautifully.  I lose losing myself in Bible study, prayer, and journaling during those early morning hours while everyone else sleeps.  I love digging deep and letting God's Word seep into my heart.  I love sitting, quietly listening, until God speaks to me.  I love my early mornings with just me and God...and coffee.  Always coffee.

If you want to know the truth, my faith is like that, too.  It's messy.  I'm all over the place.  I'm up and down, victorious one minute, struggling for air the next.  So often, I'm right in the middle of a big mess, trying to find peace in the midst of chaos.  And every time I look, I find God - right there in the middle of it all, with me, just waiting for me to reach for Him.  He's in the middle of the mess.  Even when life isn't pretty, He takes my tiny bit of faith, and makes it something beautiful.