Monday, November 14, 2011

Why I have an eye twitch and other things I’ve learned


Life always manages to surprise me a little.  I had sort of written off this little blog and now suddenly I find myself with posts running through my head.  When that happens I always find that those posts will take over my thoughts…unless I write them down. 

As I said in my last post I was on a new journey…the one to discover the real me.  I wanted to share with you what I’ve discovered so far. 

  • I love to write.  However I’m most comfortable when I have an editor- because while I love to write, it was not my college major. That’s why I’ve spent so much time focusing on writing for this magazine instead of for this blog.  My editor always catches my written gaffs.
  • I also love to organize and I love to live in an organized space.  However I am not willing to identify myself as one who is always organized because I’m not. Plus being a person who is always organized doesn’t sound very fun.    I’d rather my dining room chairs be used as forts than insisting that they be sitting empty at the table. 
  • I have time management issues.  If I write down (IN PEN) all the things I need to get done in a day I am more likely to do them.  Otherwise I may spend my entire day on pinterest or playing Angry Birds.  Neither one of those things is very productive. 
  • I still haven’t determined if I’m an introvert or an extrovert.  I love to meet new people, but big groups scare me to death.  
  • I have a better daily attitude when I start the day with God.  Otherwise I have a tendency towards negativity and pessimism.  Two traits I’m not very fond of.
  • I’m a fair weather athlete.  I love to train for races in the spring and the summer.  As soon as the leaves start to fall I’d prefer to stay up late and sleep in a little longer. 
  • I am a stubborn person.  Despite my preference to sleep longer when it’s cold I make myself get up three or four days a week to train.  Unfortunately that means I get less sleep.  
  • I get an eye twitch when I don’t get enough sleep. 

Well that’s all for now.  I have a new friend to introduce to you soon…so stay tuned!

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Journeys


Before I begin I have to say that I have not completely given up on the idea of interviewing real authentic mothers.  That has simply been put on hold for a few months.  I felt the need to slow down, pull back and say no to more things than I said yes to.  I hope to get back to the regularly scheduled programming soon…but for now…well, you’ll see... 


Every now and again a book shapes my life significantly.  Actually it usually turns out that it is a series of books, each book with unique topic but always reinforcing some singular message.

Three years ago I was frazzled, frustrated and downright exhausted.  I was looking for answers.  Thoughts on how other moms managed to live their lives without yelling at their kids too much, forgetting to put the milk away on a regular basis and, most importantly, without waiting with excitement for bedtime.  

Shortly before Mothers Day I picked up a book.  A book about mothering…and though filled with a number of great ideas on things to do, that book spoke one important message to me.  Read your Bible every day.  Hmmm…

After finishing that book I checked out another.  It had been recommended by a friend.  Another compilation of fantastic ideas, thoughts on beauty but with the same important message.  Read you Bible every day. 

Would you believe the third book I checked out that summer had the exact same message? 

That summer I began a journey.  One I have never regretted.  That journey led me very unexpectedly to becoming the Women’s Retreat coordinator for my church.  It was a job I felt unqualified and unprepared for.  However I knew without a doubt that God had called me to that position.  And so I made myself available.  God can do amazing things when our only qualification is availability. 

But as often happens my life became too hectic, too cluttered and much too chaotic.  And so I started my slow journey back to quieting things down.  For some reason that journey always begins with a book.

This summer I have read some fantastic books.  They covered an array of topics from girls with tattoos to answers to skeptics questions on God.  However I am sensing one message in my reading; 

Slow down, and just be who God created me to be. 

How does one do that?  How do I slow down when I have three children, two of whom are in elementary school?  How do I slow down when I have commitments outside of being a mom?  How do I slow down when my whole being feels programmed to GO GO GO?

Last week I spent two days without kids, without responsibilities and without appointments.  I was in a strange city, staying in a strange room.  My husband was there but working.  So I had all day every day to do what I wanted, when I wanted.  It was easy to remember what I loved in those moments.  I read, I walked a lot, I exercised.  I ate yummy food-at a place that I got to choose.  I caught a glimpse of who I am, outside of being a mother. 

But then I came home.  I was met with laundry, dishes, a cluttered home and a party to organize.  The responsibilities of being a wife, a mother, a friend and all of the other roles I play met me full force.  So how do I remain true to myself-the one who is a mother, but not only a mother-how do I accomplish that?

I have, in the past, found an identity in my job, in being a scrap booker, in being crafty, in being an athlete, and now in being a mother.  But none of those titles truly defines me.  Not really.  So who am I?

Timothy Keller, in his book The Reason for God, defines sin as “the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God.  Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him. 

Sin isn’t breaking the “divine rules” says Keller.  It’s the making of good things into ultimate things.  I do that ALL.THE.TIME.  I do that when I identify myself solely by what I do.  Yes I am a triathlete, but that is not all that I am.  If my identity is wrapped up in being a fast runner I am setting myself up for failure.  There will always be someone faster than I am.  Trust me it’s not that difficult.  If I base my identity on having a clean home, I am once again setting myself up for failure.  Because there will be a time when my home is not perfect (once again it’s not that difficult to imagine) and someone will stop in and see my disaster and I will be a failure. 

So who am I?  What makes me uniquely me?  And once I figure that out, how do I remain true to that person AND still meet the needs of all my other roles?

A new journey…one that I am sure I won’t regret.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Some Perspective


I can’t believe I haven’t written in such a long time.  Old habits die hard I suppose.  I could provide a lot of reasons (or excuses) but I’m not a fan of excuses so we’ll just go with starting fresh. 

In the last few months my youngest child has dropped my wedding ring and diamond down the overflow drain in our bathroom sink, broken the window control button in a fairly new car and spilled more things than I care to think about.  He’s also ripped apart the pages of a book meant to be a baby gift.  While I must admit my initial reaction to all of the above wasn’t exactly calm (in the case of the wedding ring it was simply WHAT DID YOU DO? …to which he cried), somehow in the midst of the crisis I was able to gain some perspective. 

Thankfully the perspective came before any yelling or crying or punishments. 

The little stinker is just like me. 

When I was younger (I have no recollection of exact age but I do know I was younger than 8) I pulled the front of the television set apart.  I wanted to see what was inside.  I thought there were little people in there.  I wanted to see them.  Maybe meet them, make friends with them.  Any way you look at it, I left that television set useless.  We didn’t get a new one for years.  I am sure that my older brothers still curse me for the years we went without television. 

But I was curious, and so I explored that curiosity.   My little guy is doing the exact same thing.  He put the ring in the circular hole at the back of the sink because he wanted to see if it fit.  Pulled the window control button off because he wanted to see if he could put the window down when the car was off.  Ripped a brand new book apart because he wanted to see how the hippopotamus head moved.  I have no good explanation for the spills so perhaps we need to learn a few boundaries there. 

Anyway, the bottom line is that if I don’t help him explore his curiosity I’ll squash it.  I would rather have 100 ripped books than damage his inquisitive nature.  

I am so very thankful that in the midst of the chaos of 3 year old mayhem I heard the still small voice reminding me of my past mistakes.  I was able to gain a little perspective. 

So I’ll foster that inquisitive mind.  Maybe help him take a few things apart-teach the little guy how things work.  Maybe one day he’ll use that inquisitive brain for big things.  Things I can’t even imagine.  Who knows.  But if the choice is between helping him or hindering him…this mother is going to help. 

Oh…and I’ll put my rings up where he can’t reach them…just in caseSmile

Friday, March 11, 2011


You remember when I posted about my friend Elaine?  No…oh right…it’s been a long time since I posted that.  It’s also been a long time since I’ve done a post of any kind. 

Well in true Authentic Mom fashion, life got out of balance.  I have been a little preoccupied with a Women’s Retreat of late-as in planning a retreat for 60 women.  The location was gorgeous, set on a mountain ranch- surrounded by evergreens and snow.   It was a fabulous retreat on relationships and it was a wonderful weekend away.  Now that I’m home and less preoccupied I have every intention of interviewing more fabulous moms and writing more posts. 

In the mean time I wanted to share a few tools I’ve come across, and it all circles back to my post about Elaine.  In that post Elaine’s advice was to allow my kids to feel consequences earlier in life and to give them more responsibility.  The issue is: How do I know what they’re ready for? 

Thanks to the wonderful world of the interweb I’ve found a few lists and I’m going to share them with you.

This first list if VERY comprehensive.  If you’re looking for something less overwhelming to start, you may want to try this list from Positive Parenting Solutions. 

Jobs for Kids

So while I’m no longer preoccupied with women’s retreats I am going to be busy for the next few weeks.  I’ll be training my little cherubs how to do their assigned tasks.  It may be more work now, but I have a feeling in the long run I’ll be glad I did it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My friend Karen is the tall six foot blonde woman that most women would love to hate… if they didn’t know her. But to know Karen is to love her. She’s fun and full of energy and hilarious! You simply cannot help but love her. clip_image001

I met Karen when I was in college. We were both spending a semester in Chicago. She was one of my four roommates in a two bedroom apartment near downtown. We had a blast. The first photo in this post was taken during one of Karen’s renditions of the many musicals she loved. While she has matured somewhat since then I hope she is passing on her love for musicals to her children.

We don’t live remotely close to one another any more but Karen is someone I want to stay in touch with. She is the mother to three young children. Her oldest is five, her youngest is three months. She is real and easily shared both her joys and her pitfalls in parenting. During our short conversation I got so busy chatting and catching up that sometimes I forgot that we were doing an interview…and Karen made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in a while, mostly because I could so easily relate to her challenges.

In all of my conversations with mothers I’ve asked them what the biggest challenge of parenting has been. When I asked Karen this question she was honest and hilarious all at the same time.

“Potty training was the hardest time so far. I turned into a monster. If I never have to relive those days in my life I will be so glad. But it was all me! I had expectations, because my son had all girl friends. And they were all training at 2 or 2 1/2. Boys are different.

I was reading a list of the top 25 things you should not do when potty training your kid, and I think I did 24 of them. Just shy of beating my child- that was the one thing I did not do.”

I could easily relate. My children are all potty trained but I wish I had done it differently; been more patient, pushed them less. I would definitely have described myself as a monster during that period, and I hated it. I love that Karen was willing to share this with me. It was so good to laugh about it with her, to know that I was not alone.

We shared stores of how our second and third kids got a mom who was a lot more relaxed.

With my first I did everything by the book. I remember when he was three months old and he was doing something and my husband and I are screaming at each other “WELL WHAT DOES THE BOOK SAY?”

Her advice to new mom’s is “Take pieces from books and work with what works for you. With my second I took on the mentality of “what would I do if this was 1920?” if I didn’t have the internet and didn’t have all of my friends at my beck and call. I’m going to use my God given motherly instinct. If the baby is crying…FEED it. You don’t have to wait three hours because a book says wait three hours. The baby is freaking hungry-FEED THE BABY!”

Karen may be the mom of young children, but she also had some really sage advice, the kind of stuff you might hear from a seasoned veteran.

My single most important piece of advice is to get involved in a mom’s group-dealing with other women. Get yourself out of the house. Just hang out with other women.

When my oldest was between four months and nine months I got really sad. I didn’t have my identity as a working woman. I was now a stay at home mom. I didn’t have my family around. I was all alone and all of my friends were not mothers. They were all career women. For the first little bit I was in the honeymoon stage. I loved my life. At about four months in it was suddenly “what do we do now?” You can only read so many books to a four month old. I got so sad, I just wanted to move home. Right around nine months, I met a girl from church and she was starting a mom’s group. So I started with this mom’s group and my life really turned on it’s head- just having other mom’s to hang out with. Now I had a new identity.

When Karen and I talked we both shared how much we loved getting to know women whose children were older, or getting to know couples who’ve been married longer than we have. There is less competition within those ranks and more support. However after reflecting on my conversation with Karen I realized that having good relationships with women whose children are in the same stage is also incredibly important. It is with these women that we can share battle stories and compare wounds and joys. As Karen said “Motherhood should be telling war stories with each other so you can help each other get through it. How else would you?”

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Secret

I’ve been meaning to spill about this secret since my post about Joanna.  I talked about it in the beginning of that post…you know the one that ate me up from the inside?  But this was not an easy post to write.  I find the topic terrifying.  I also didn’t want to take this post lightly…and so it has taken me a very long time to write. But here goes--my secret:

The only thing worse than something bad happening to you as a child is not talking about what happened to you as a child.  That’s my belief anyway. 

From the age of about three until eight I was molested by my best friends father.  I didn’t tell my parents, or anyone else for that matter. I didn’t tell anyone.  I don’t know why I didn’t tell anyone.  I just didn’t.  

I was determined that I would die with my secret.  I lay in bed at night planning how I would keep the secret.  I thought that perhaps I might need to leave a note, to be read after I died, explaining why I would never talk about my childhood.  The final reveal would come after I had grown old and died.  I suppose I was a planner…even back then :)

By the time I was 13 I was ready for the world to stop so I could get off.  I wasn’t ready to do anything to make it stop, I just wished that it would. 

I was 15 when I realized that if I continued on my current path I would end up in trouble.  

When I was 16 I was ready to talk, I just didn’t know how to start.  I wished that someone would notice that something was wrong with me and ask.  No one ever did. 

My friend Joanna said that the only reason we stop living the lie is when living with the lie is worse than stopping it.  At 17 I wanted to stop living the lie.

So I started to talk and I’ve never looked back. 

There’s something about shining a light in a dark place that makes what is there a whole lot less scary or powerful.  Every time I told someone what happened to me I grew stronger.   That is what truth can do.  Sometimes the thought of being truthful is scary and terrifying, but when we shine a light into those dark corners…whatever is in there suddenly loses it’s power.  

I don’t define myself by what happened to me, because it no longer controls me.  It is a piece of my history, along with many other things.  My secret has shaped me.   It has shaped me as a person and as a parent.  But it doesn’t control me.  I don’t think about it at night.  I don’t even think about it every day.  I can go weeks, even months without ever considering what happened to me as a child.  That is only possible because I stopped fearing it and started talking about it.  I exposed the wound, and by doing so I allowed it to heal.  

I cannot take credit for getting to this place.  I have no explanation for why I was not truly suicidal, or why I didn’t develop an eating disorder or become an alcoholic, or so many other things that are often associated with victims of child abuse.  I do know that somewhere, during those dark nights, I felt that God loved me.  I knew that He had a plan.  That plan involved me staying here, and growing up.  And so I have.  And somewhere along the way He healed my broken heart.  He made me feel loved and beloved and He has given me so much more than I ever imagined possible. 

And that truth isn’t scary at all.   

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Holly is one of my village people. Not THE Village People, just my village people. We have been a part of one another's lives for years. She has encouraged me when I was a new wife, a new mom and once again as the mother of elementary and preschoolers. She has loved on my kids and encouraged them too. That’s what I mean by village people. We are interwoven in one another’s lives. As I think it is meant to be.

Holly is funny and is forever making me laugh. She is genuine and fun and, while she would never believe it, a great mentor for me as a mom. I say that she would never believe it because Holly is beyond humble.

She has two children, one in college, the other in high school. She is married and considers her spouse a great parenting partner. “We are definitely a team, my husband and I. We balance each other out.”

Holly was such an encouragement when my kids were babies. She always knew the right thing to say. Now I know that it was because the hardest time for her as a parent was when her kids were infants.

It was a really big switch for me. Going from a corporate setting, working with mostly men, getting tons of accolades . To drop out of that and suddenly I’m making lunch for my husband and I was like “Did you LOVE your lunch?, wanting know every day “How was the sandwich?” That adjustment was really hard.

When you get your identity from what you do, instead of who you are. That makes it hard. I didn’t really learn or understand about being God’s beloved until later. That was part of why the infant stage was so hard.

Her advice to new mom’s is “Be near your parents…someone who could come over” I really wish you could hear her, because that statement was both funny and so true.

It was a concept I had difficulty with when my children were little…letting them go. I thought that somehow if I let someone else care for them SOMETHING would go wrong. I don’t know what, but something.

It has been good for me to build my group of villagers. People whom I trust, who both encourage me and who can take over for me once in a while. I’m so glad to know that Holly is a part of it. Partly because of her wisdom and partly because she makes me laugh.

It’s also very possible that the reason I identify so readily with Holly is that we’re both closet micromanagers. “My biggest challenge is to not micromanage my kids, to give them space to do what they can do by themselves.”

I struggle with this too, although Holly’s struggles are more about big life choices than mine. One of my biggest struggles is whether or not to put the tooth paste on my kids toothbrush. Giving them that responsibility means that I wipe toothpaste off the sink, counter, door and downstairs carpet (wait, how did that get there?) later on. It’s a daily struggle for me.

Which is why it’s so encouraging for me to know that despite her micromanaging challenges Holly has a great relationship with her kids.

They can tell me anything. I’m really approachable and compassionate. I always have advice but they can really tell me anything…As far as I know! At least I think they do.

It’s good to be a part of her village too. To watch her kids grow up, and to laugh about our challenges together.