Timing is everything

It happens every time. Without fail. I wanted to sleep in since we had been traveling for 14 hrs and I flopped down in my bed at 2 am. Zoe, who has a crazy internal clock…. Let me rephrase without passing judgement. Zoe has an incredible internal clock that this mom keeps trying to change. I love that she wakes at 6:59 am every weekday morning. Makes for a smooth daily routine to get her off to school. I sometimes whistle as I drop her off. Is that bad? Anyway, this incredible girl will wake at 6:59 even on weekends. And no matter where we travel to and with all the different times zones this girl has been exposed to, she doesn’t sleep in!

So, Zoe had a cat nap on the hour and half connecting flight from Atlanta landing us in Detroit at 12:08 am. Factor in waiting for luggage and a 45 min drive home, she got into her bed by 1:50 am. Me, just 10 mins behind her. She must sleep in today, I thought. I think I even audibly suggested that she can sleep in and hoped she got my subliminal messages as I knew she was asleep during the pj process. Five hours later, my daughter snuck down the hall at 7:39 am, hit all the creaks in the floor that triggered me to wake and she stomped (she can’t tiptoe) over to Scott’s side of the bed. Full on knowing you don’t come to moms side after full on disobeying. Sigh.

It’s Sunday morning. Church today. We leave at 8:45 for 9 am service. Are we going? Well, I wasn’t getting up yet. In my defense, my eyes wouldn’t let me.

‘Lord, forgive me, but I can’t go to church today. I have so much to do. Luckily, we have the option to live stream our service so I will just worship you that way today, ok?’

I make it down the stairs and head straight to my Keurig machine. I’m not a coffee freak but I had missed my Tim Hortons keurig pod coffee with two tablespoons of Italian sweet cream for over 6 days. You live for Starbucks or a pour over with fresh roasted beans from Kenya? This is my pleasure and I wasn’t speaking to my family until I got it. I knew they were plotting to go to church without me. I heard whispers of leaving mom home to rest. Oh no, I’m not carrying that guilt today. So I finish my coffee in silence, concurred with Scott that I was joining the family, got dressed and was ready to go.

Not sure if you ever feel like why you came to church on any given moment but I do regularly. I mean, I’ve been going to church my whole life. I never remembered skipping church unless I was very ill and I don’t recall when we, Scott and I, as a new family unit, even began questioning our presence in church but it happens from time to time. When I do get my sorry butt into my seat mid worship (because truth be told I don’t love corporate worship, so being late is ok with me) I said a silent prayer. I closed my eyes and confessed.

‘Lord, I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but forgive me again. I’m here and ready for a new word. I want to hear your voice. I want you to change my heart. I come before you humbled. I’m rotten and don’t deserve the goodness you give me daily. Speak to me’.

I may have opened my eyes only to notice the singer was still mid song and to feel more connected to God I continued to confess a little more. Maybe. Something like that.

Anyway, I got my cell phone out because yes, that’s what I do now. I’ve always been a church note taker but we dim the lights in our church. Pen and paper just doesn’t suffice. Besides, I’m a heathen and don’t even carry my Bible with me either so where will I put those said notes afterwards? Notes app is ready and fired every Sunday. I begin starting a blog about my failure as a mother. This blog may surface at a later date, but I’m trying to stick to God giving me a word. I just returned from a glorious vacation with Scott and Zoe to the self proclaimed, ‘happy island’ of Aruba. I’ve never been before and since I was missing the first snowfall back home I was delighted that my daily to do list involved sunscreen, sunbathing and eating the best burgers on the beach. Also, I wanted to experience happiness as the place suggests. However, traveling with our adored youngest, without adult siblings, meant that she would be bored. Sometimes, I feel like we are still new to the fact that we are basically raising an only child. Jacob and Blaire always amused themselves on our beach vacations. Dad is still good at this but I am not. ‘Just sit and rest’. ‘You cannot be hungry right now’. ‘Let’s stay in the pool and not go build sandcastles just yet’. Wow, selfish much? Embarrassed to say I was not the calm mom Zoe has proclaimed me to be in the past.

Back in church, God began speaking to me. Partly through my original thoughts and now mixing in the pastors thoughts. The service was on keeping the sabbath. Ok, laugh now. I mean I was going to stay home and finish some chores and skip church. Yes there’s the irony. More importantly I would have missed out on the following message, as the pastor put it;

DIVERT DAILY Get into Gods word John 15



I recharge by being alone. God couldn’t have planned my three days alone in Boston at a better time. I’m literally on a plane as I write, going to a health clinic to get my foot fixed (another blog). I was driving to the airport just over 24 hrs from the time I arrived from my ‘happy’ family vacay, ALL BY MYSELF! ( insert pulsating heart emoji). It’s a strange feeling but I look forward to it. After sharing my revelations and thoughts to Scott about needing time to recharge he was all for it. I mean he agreed to my selfishness and pushy attitude towards Zoe lately, first, then he agreed that I should schedule time away …. alone. Music to any moms ears, am I right?

Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world to do what I want. In fact, we usually find ourselves busying up our day serving and caring for others before ourselves. I’ve been working on this gig for a while now and I may have had a difficult reentry once Zoe came into our lives. Just the other day Zoe’s teacher was letting her third grade students know that a lot of their parents were taking time out of their busy schedules to volunteer at their class’ Halloween party. To my chagrin, ( I love using that phrase) Zoe, my daughter, my youngest who I do everything for and who is lovingly spoiled, shouts out, ‘No, my mom isn’t that busy’.

Well, if that isn’t reason enough to recharge and all the while get physical healing on my foot, my prayer for the next three days is,

‘Lord, make me fall in love with your word again. Make me sensitive to the needs of those around me and help me love like your son Jesus’.


Look and Live

Today is a perfect morning. I slept in until about 6:30 am. It’s Zoe’s last day of second grade and it’s Blaire’s 20th birthday! No more teens in the house (for a while anyway!) This week in June is always full of emotion in our household. I’m embarking on another birthday in two days and I’m still embracing them. One more year older but another year closer to God. My perfect morning also includes Scott napping on the couch after his morning run. Blaire is up and journaling and I’m sitting in my morning reading chair with my morning devotion and my new favorite book Look and Live. With the back screen door open I can hear the birds chirping and feel a wonderful cool summer breeze. Blue skies and sunny. Just like it was the day Blaire was born.

As I sit back and reflect on the day of her birth I also fast forward to where I had hoped she would be today. Blaire and I didn’t always see eye to eye when she was growing up, but that was her finding her independence. Sometimes, us moms try to get in the way of this and push back when we are afraid of where they might be headed. It’s easy for a mom to second guess her every move and decision when her kids are growing up. When do I let go? When do I step in? When do I tell her she’s wrong? When do I sit back and watch? I remember squeezing Blaire’s hand so tight while crossing a busy street because my little Miss Independent wanted to run everywhere. Blaire has stepped out, spoken out and stood out most of her life. She has exceded way more than our expectations.   Scott and I look in awe and thank God we could be apart of it. I hear parents worry about their kid’s futures all the time.  What will happen when they go to high school?  What will happen if we move?  How will they handle college?  We don’t know.  That’s the beauty of it.  Going through life’s milestones can be exhausting and I don’t just want to ‘go through’ life.  I want to take it in.  I want to enjoy it and I most definitely want to see God’s glory in everything.  I can’t say enough about the book I’m reading called, ‘Look and Live’. It excites me to move from mundane and lift my eyes.  Today I read, ‘ Father, your plans are better than my expectations.’  That’s my message to my kids.

When I think about my childhood it involves a lot of family. But I have been out of my parents house for 26 years now.  Blaire has been engaged for 26 days and I’m counting down the days I have with her and cherish it all. Days heading to the gym, after work movies, early morning runs and lunch dates. Blaire is beautiful inside and out and now I get to help plan a big day she has dreamed about her whole life.

So summer break officially begins today.  Birthdays, vacations, interacting with new and old friends. I don’t just want to entertain my kids or myself this summer. I want to encounter Jesus. Purposeful moments. Look and live.


The Added Touch

I have the privilege of teaching a bible study class to 4-5 year olds every Tuesday morning. My own children have been through this program and I love how the teaching it done. I’ve always wanted to be trained in this program and now I get to bring the book of John – real life stories about Jesus – to little kids. Jesus says bring the little children unto me so I know it’s a precious age and I understand the impact it makes. Jacob used to quote verses from this study at a young age. Blaire used to sing the hymns and Zoe learned discipline all from the way the program is designed.

Every other week I get to teach the story part of our structured morning. This week is my turn and I teach on John 13. The story of when Jesus washes his disciples feet. Not a glamorous passage. Feet aren’t lovely and even though I get pedicures regularly (bless my friend who does this kind of service) I don’t love to flaunt my feet. People are usually conscientious about that part of their anatomy (among many) and therefore definitely don’t enjoy people touching them. This is why this gesture was truly an act of love. See the disciples were reclined at the table and leaning close to Jesus for this special Passover meal. Unlike the classic last supper picture you see. Pretty sure all these ‘Fisherman friends’ and hard working men didn’t have the manners to keep their feet out of the way of another. I mean food was involved so I would guess politeness went out the window. But Jesus lovingly took the time to show His love for others. That’s the main truth I’m teaching the kids. People who love Jesus are to care for one another. Now one disciple did protest. Peter said, “no Lord, you shall never wash my feet.”  There’s another lesson there in Jesus’ response that I won’t get into.   Remember I’m teaching little ones so focusing on one main truth.  Also, let’s remember that not all His disciples were loving.  Jesus knows Judas is soon to betray Jesus and he lovingly washes his feet too. It’s not always easy to serve others, that’s for sure.
I love the part when it says Jesus dried their feet with a towel that was around this waist. This made me think of a car wash. This is something every kid loves. Going through the sudsy car wash and then the rinse cycle. But as a customer just getting the dirt off isn’t why I’m there. I want my car to shine so I only go to the car wash that has a person or two that dries the car off. They buff away the wet marks and my car looks like new again. That added touch is worth a couple of bucks to say thank you. Jesus, too, always gives us that added touch.
So I will bring a couple of dolls and wet ones. The kids can each wash the dolls feet and then dry them with a towel. A job well done. This week I want my 4-5 year olds to think of how they can go above and beyond in serving. Is it listening extra carefully? Is it loving their baby brother or sister or helping their mom with chores? What will I do this week? What’s the uncomfortable task God is asking you to do? I haven’t thought of one yet but I know if I sit here long enough in silence He will reveal one to me.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15.
Sing it to London Bridge for fun. That’s how the kids will learn it this week.

The airplane seat

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; sometimes this blog is for confession.  So I will confess away!  I’ve been traveling by plane a lot lately.  Sometimes I get the privilege of sitting next to someone who I can talk with but usually people I find aren’t chatty and so I put my earbuds in and don’t care where they live or where they are headed.  I revel in the peace and quiet and me time.

This past week I got to go on a business trip with Scott.  I know that  sounds boring except that it was to Vegas so … I went.  Since it was a last minute decision I was booked on a different flight there and back.  I rarely get to travel alone so I tried to enjoy every minute of it.   On my way home I had my earbuds in the whole time even during my layover in Denver.  I love music so I loved the perspective I got walking through the airport watching people with meaningful music playing.  Songs like Come Undone by Duran Duran and Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson.  Details in the Fabric by Jason Mraz and Blue Ocean Floor by Timberlake.   I will wait for you to find those on Spotify and play them to get into the same mood as I was just before I boarded my last flight home.  Ok, ready?

We rarely pay for seat selection.  It’s like $50 and I don’t have to have extra room so usually I don’t mind where I sit.  I tend to be assigned a seat over the wing so I can’t enjoy the view or in a row that I can’t recline but this time I was lucky enough to have the first row aisle seat (not first class).  I didn’t have carry on or luggage to pick up in Detroit since Scott took my bags on his flight so I was a free bird.  I was in the last boarding group and sat contently at my gate to waltz on last and take my coveted seat.  I pass the first class passengers and feeling no envy since I had a great seat awaiting me.  I walk up to 7C and to my horror find a five year old girl buckled and settled in 7C!  I stand there and her mother is in the middle seat next to her and sweetly asks if this is my seat.  Now remember I have my earbuds in and have a ‘I don’t care’ look on my face.  She says I could either sit in her seat in 10C or sit next to her daughter.  Wait! WTF? (what the frig is what you know I thought because I don’t swear)  I gave her a disgusted look and said nothing. I don’t remember but I may have rolled my eyes too.   I sauntered to my ‘third class’ seat and hated that she yanked the waltz right out of my step.  I didn’t look around much.  What I really wanted was to gain the approval for my behavior from every other passenger who also witnessed the injustice here.  The mother then had the gall to hand me a Starbucks card as a peace offering and said something like she does this all the time.  I either refused to hear a thank you or she didn’t offer me one but I dismissed the card like it was garbage.  I wanted to stand up and yell to everyone around me, ‘are you seeing this?  The nerve of this woman  to take my seat and play the ‘kid sympathy’ card.  ‘Unless that Starbucks card is worth $50 no thank you!!’  Yes, I wanted to yell that out.  I did not.  Instead I sulked and plotted what I would say to her as I disembarked this injustice flight. I texted Scott my idea and he texted two words, Love Does.  He was referring to a great book by Bob Goff and it’s our code to each other when we challenge each other to take the high road.  Advice not heeded.  Challenge unaccepted.  Not today.   Yes, that lead to my brush with daring and quite rude encounter with the chipper lady with her two children and no help husband.  I told her that I fly with kids all the time and I’ve never asked someone to take a worse seat and brushed by.  She said how rude and the husband sarcastically called after me with a ‘have a nice day!’.  Trust me I wanted to turn around and tell her that I would have if I was given the option to give up my seat.  That I paid for that seat and that they don’t know me.  They were in the wrong here not me!  I didn’t have to see them at the luggage pick up area.  I hurried my step and felt like an idiot.  What did that just do?  Whether I was wronged or not now my reputation is tarnished.  Even more so because anyone who reads this knows how selfish I acted.

The whole point to this is since that moment 48 hours ago, I still feel horrible.  We are coming up to Thanksgiving and I should have love and thankfulness in my heart.  The bitterness has kept me up and after 20 more scenarios that have played in my mind I finally, yes finally, gave it to God.  Why it took that long I will never know.  I had my bible in my purse and was going to do my bible study on the plane.  How wrong would that have been?  But on this Monday morning I do open my bible and I’m confronted with John 6 where Jesus is saddened by the followers that fall away and can’t take the heat of controversy that surrounds following Him.  I am a follower and did not win anyone over with how I acted two days ago.  But God is forgiving and loving and faithful.  I hear Him say to me this morning, ‘Come!’  With every new day He lavishes new mercies on me.  That’s where I see justice in this little episode of my life.   I don’t deserve it!  Nope!  Not this big baby, but he still says ‘Come!’.  It’s a crazy week but I’m getting on another plane in about 24 hours from now.  Flying to see my daughter at bible school.  The same place I wrestled as a teen with what it means to follow Jesus.  I knew I was imperfect then and still imperfect today but God gives me new opportunities to serve Him, share Him and worship Him.  So, that’s what I’m thankful for this year.  I’m praying for just the right airplane seat 5 times in 7 days.  Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, It is well with my soul and my new favorite, Thy Will will be my travel playlist this week.  Now go to Spotify and play those beautiful tunes and rejoice.

Bonding Hearts

Last night as I performed our bedtime rituals, Zoe got all serious on me.  I think I triggered it when I made mention of how different her room looks now.  We just recently took down all the pretty pink and yellow decor and replaced it with the color grey.  Yes, that new color that is gaining so much hype that will hopefully sell our house.  We have been planning for over a year to move.  We have tried before but this time it’s for real so new paint and carpet has left us with a shell of a house that no longer says that we live here.  Zoe has had to deal with a lot lately.  Her brother and sister moved out within a week of our biggest event; Jacob and Rachel’s wedding, and she has been left with two 46 year olds that love to go to bed around 8 o’clock  each night.  She has expressed how she doesn’t want to move but we tell her of all the new and exciting things that she can do in her new house and quickly move on to another topic.  This particular night was hard for me.  She didn’t cry but got a worried look on her face.  Zoe doesn’t cry much.  She cries over pain when I do her hair or when she falls down.  She doesn’t even cry when we leave her for over a week with loved ones to watch her.  She worries about school work when she doesn’t score an A but this was different.  On this night, this reaction pulled on my heart strings.

I have to tell you that when I first found out that we were matched with Zoe, then two years old,  over a conference call with Scott and our social worker I was overjoyed.  Truly I knew she was ours and couldn’t wait to lay eyes on her sweet little face.  Over the course of a few weeks we agonized over how long it was taking to get a court date in Ethiopia.  Then the disappointment of a postponed court date for over 14 months.  This was an emotion I had never experienced before and I’m sure all mom’s and dad’s who adopt have gone through this pain.  However, when we brought Zoe home it was difficult for me to bond with her.  She was a good little girl but fought me on just about everything I wanted her to do.  She didn’t want me to dress her or change her diaper.  She didn’t want to take her medicine or brush her teeth.  She didn’t want to go to bed or ever be alone so this was all very hard for me.  I was trying to love her unconditionally but her defiant behavior was not making it easy.  I was told early on in our decision to adopt that this was common.  Another mom shared with me how it was also difficult for her to bond with her adopted daughter.  I prayed every night and marveled at how quickly my older two children were accepting and loving and bonding with Zoe.  Even watching Scott with her put my feelings to shame and I just kept pushing them away.  Having Zoe home alone in this season of life is so good for me.  She is the only one I have to look after.  She has our attention but has grown to love her alone time and we give each other space.  Zoe loves her school and friends so naturally thoughts of all that changing is difficult.  I can only reach down through my own experience of moving when I was 12 years old and pull out stories of how I saw God get me through the scary and lonely feelings.  I hated the thought of leaving my school and friends and did not welcome the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new friends.  Funny that while having to walk through that experience it has made me thrive in situations where I have to meet new people.  Ironically enough this move it primarily for Zoe’s sake.  We are in a house that doesn’t have close neighbors around.  Yes the yard screams for a tree house and even though there is a tire swing, Zoe does not like playing out there alone.  We felt like a move to a neighborhood that is walking distance to her new school and with parks around where we can walk and bump into neighbors would be so good for our little social girl.  It’s hard to make decisions for our kids when they don’t see the benefits yet but I know God prefers it that way.  We don’t know for sure how this plan will end up but we have to cling to God and His promises.  He will never forsake us.  He is guiding us and that’s exactly where I have felt the most comfortable.  From the time we said yes to adoption up to now selling a wonderful home we will thrive wherever He leads us.

Being comfortable is often what we strive for yet I find that when I reach that comfortable pinnacle I begin to move on.  First, it begins in  my mind and then Scott and I pray about it.  I used to feel like I was quitting but it’s not that at all.  I believe, for me, its a time that causes me to ask God, “what’s next?”  Recently, studying John 5 I saw Jesus dealing with doubters.  When I’m not willing to say yes to God I’m doubting His power and my unbelief hinders me from experiencing His mind blowing plan for my life.

Moving might not seem like a mind blowing experience to some.  It’s just a house or neighborhood.  But every move we have made in 24 years has come with careful prayer and consideration on why? That way I can explain with complete honesty to Zoe that our actions are not our own.  He had a plan for her life before she was knitted in her mother’s womb.  She will grow up hearing stories about how her grandparents and great grandparents prayed for God to show up in big and little decisions.  That certainly helps me in knowing that I’m making the right move for my daughter.  I’m making the right move for her well being and I know that decision will help me bond with my daughter because just like God says to me, ‘I have your best intentions in mind when you follow me.’ With change comes new opportunities.  I can’t wait to see our reward.

It’s Times Like These

Embracing getting older takes practice. That’s for sure. Even though I love birthdays I remember a couple of birthdays where I shed a tear or two (or a thousand).
One in particular doesn’t bode well for my daughter, Blaire. She arrived into this world on her due date (thank you very much) but that meant it fell on two days before my 28th birthday. She cried a little more than my first born, Jacob, and so going home two days later was not good for me. I laid there in the hospital bed on the morning of my birthday and asked myself ‘how am I going to look after two little kids all day long?’ Well, you have to have a few years under your belt to appreciate that question. I believe all the mistakes I made back then are forgotten when you stand in front of two very capable and mature individuals. A 21 year old college grad not surprisingly ready to be married and move away from home. An 18 year old, confident, mature and caring individual who has decided that college might not be for her so a gap year at bible school will ground her beliefs. Both very different persons brought up in the same home and by the same parents. Pride fills my heart but not because of the work Scott or I have done. Honestly, I think you have to have lived about 46 years to know the person you are and how the heck did your kids grow up in a jaded world so well adjusted and equipped. I’m proud of the friends they chose. I’m proud of the choices they made in school both academically and socially. I’m proud of their confidence in their identity. Although at times that wavered through the ages of 13-16, they both came through with their strong believe in who Jesus is. Not for a moment do I think that all this just happened to a couple of ‘good’ kids. There was a lot of prayer by their parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. A legacy we have the privilege to call our family.  Years of prayer in Scotland by the Forbes clan and the Clode Welsh decent and fervent prayers in the deep south of the Hollingsworth clan. I believe this got my kids through rough patches and will continue to see them through into their future. Fully placing your faith in a God unseen is powerful and for that upbringing and teaching I’m grateful. This 46 year old shouldn’t freak out over the first time my 6 year old displays defiant behavior. Her trials of testing me and how far she can go is quite comical because she is dealing with a seasoned parent who has been through it all before. Do you think I was born yesterday Zoe? Then there is the fact that I’m one of the oldest moms among Zoe’s friends.  I thought I couldn’t relate to the young moms at the school. Being the youngest in my family causes me to be uncomfortable being the oldest in any situation. But take note young mom. I’ve been there and though I don’t claim I have the best answers for your kids and their situations I can lead you to at least five things that will get you through. Are you ready?
1. It’s ok if your kid is disappointed and cries.
In a world of kids getting everything their heart desires it seems mean if we say no. Trust me. They will get over it and forgive you. It builds character they will even respect you later on.
2. Say I’m sorry. I yelled and took things away out of anger and for no logical reason many times. I know my impatience didn’t scar my kids for life but I wasn’t being a good example. So saying sorry was humbling and real.
3. Don’t lie to your kids. I remember my kids asking me candid questions and some were uncomfortable and sometimes not age appropriate. Jacob asked me why I was picking up ‘medicine’ from the drive through pharmacy when I wasn’t prepared to explain my birth control pill. However, I told him what I figured he could understand at the time. Lying gets complicated to the kid who does remember everything their parent tells them. Explain that’s all the info they need to know right now. This also encourages the inquisitive mind to keep asking questions in the future. You want them to come to you for answers to the big questions so stay honest.
4. Share your past mistakes. Again this makes you a real person to your kids and they will relate to you better when they hear you screwed up too.  5.  Walk your kids through family decisions so they can see God answer prayer firsthand.  No kid wants to move or change up anything in their life.  Show them when you yourself doubt God and wrestle with Him.  Again, it’s real and they should see the struggle.
My Father said it best yesterday on his 85th birthday. He told all 23 of us (some were missing) that he couldn’t be more proud of his kids and grandkids who have chosen to go on for the Lord. He has always challenged us in this area and it was my biggest drive in life. He knows his time with us won’t be forever so he’s making up for all the non verbal I love you’s.  He tells us now and it makes me cry everytime we say goodbye.  Taking each day as a gift from God seems like the best way to approach life.  It’s times like these that approaching 46 years doesn’t make me feel old.  It makes me feel wise and ready to take on 40 more.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30 ESV