Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

And we're back. Shedding the perfection we put forward on social media and calling life like it is.

So what real mom confessions do I have this week?

1.  Well, first I went to bible study having prepared the wrong chapter. I was so proud of myself. I had the chapter read. I even wrote additional discussion questions for our group that came to mind as I was reading. When I entered the coffee shop, I sat my stuff down and pulled out my papers like a good little student of the Word. My friends said, "Did you write questions?" To which I replied, "Yep" and read off my first one only to hear them echo "That was last week's chapter." WHAT?! Apparently in missing a week when my hubby was out of town I got completely thrown off. Awesome. Don't be jealous that I can't bring my talents to your group :)

2.  Ava introduced us to her mad face.

Isn't that precious? I have to admit, it totally cracked me up.  The reason for her disdain was not wanting to eat her supper and this is how the conversation went down.

Me: What are you doing?
Ava: It's my mad face.
{My man and I are trying not to laugh because....funny!}
My man: Why are you mad?
Ava: Because I don't like supper.
Me: It's new. How would you know if you like it?
Ava: I just know.
Me: Can you see your eyebrows?
Her: Yes

Everyone around the table, Ava included, started laughing at that point and she decided her supper was worth a try. Much to her surprise, she liked it and licked the plate clean.

3.  I got kicked in the eye ball socket while sleeping. HARD. Apparently the tiny tot who introduced us to her mad face also decided to come into mommy and daddy's bed and she is a CRAZY sleeper. I was pretty sure that I sustained permanent eye damage. In fact, I feared a totally blood shot eye or blindness. Thankfully I experienced neither, but I did decide to gift myself sleeping happiness by leaving my own bed to sleep alone in hers. I don't care what the parenting books say. I wasn't about to wake that sleeping giant.

4.  Grace is in the midst of standardized testing. I asked her if she had any requests. She wanted donuts for breakfast. I'm pretty sure it doesn't meet the "healthy breakfast" suggestion from the school, but I called it carb loading for a mental race win. Framing is everything.

I had her eat a banana with it, but that was to clear my conscience.

5.  Hannah was full of news to share and my ears needed a moment.

Me: Hannah, stop talking.
Hannah: Mom, my voice gives me value.
Me: No, God gives you value. Always.

No matter what snafoos happened in your house this week, friends, remember that you are valued, loved, and cherished because of who He made you to be. This is good news. Especially for those of us who show up to Bible Study ill-prepared. :)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Last week I was reminded when we shed the Pinterest perfect facade every mama breathes a little more comfortably. Bad moments don't make us bad mamas. And, sometimes it is those very moments that add to the spice of life.
If you had a rough week don't worry, I really struggled to trim my list for this post. Just sayin' :)

1. My kids struggle with toothpaste. Especially the tiny tot. 

I submit to you photo evidence. Now, some mothers might see this and throw the toilet paper away, but I am cheap fiscally responsible. So, I went into the living room where all my blessings were playing and said, "This is mostly good. I'm going to rip off the end square and put it on the holder. Before you wipe be sure to check your angle so minty fresh only touches places of the body it is supposed to."

2. My children apparently think I'm super old. While in the car Grace says, "Oh my gosh, it's from like the 1980s when color was not allowed." To which Hannah replied, "Ya, black and white." Excuse me, WHAT?! I should probably send their lunch box love notes in hieroglyphics. It might be more fitting for my age.

3. I am not above using the bathroom for refuge and when the kids were fighting I sent my man this text.

Also, Siri was listening about as well as my kids. Don't want to listen, Siri, want.

4. Ava got food in her hair before church on Sunday. Time did not allow for a wash so I did what any resourceful mother of girls would do. That's right. I pulled it back into a twisted bun to hide the evidence. It worked perfectly, looked adorable, AND I know it will work for the dance recital so, you know, every cloud has a silver lining.

5. My man is awesome at remembering the anniversary of everything. While it is endearing, it is also annoying if you look totally clueless about a special date with your loved one. Last year, he says to me, "You know what day it is?" I gave him a blank stare. "The anniversary of the day I asked you out." Of course it is. And when I left his side I set an annual reminder in my phone to look like I remembered forevermore. The problem is, when you forget about it and ask your spouse to sync the Twins schedule into your phone calendar, you might get busted.

Oops. Charlie, I never remember this calendar date as well as you but I'll always remember the Holy Commotion trip where you asked me out. Happy 19 years of couplehood. I wouldn't want to do this funny, exhausted, blessed life with anyone else. 

How did your week go?

Linking up with Anna at Girl with Blog.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

WONDERing What to Read for National Library Week?

I’ve got your answer.

It’s a story about a boy, Auggie, with multiple facial deformities. Until the story begins, he has been kept out of traditional schools by his parents, primarily for fear of how he will be treated.

Auggie is never pictured so readers can only draw a picture in their mind of what they think he might look like based on story clues.

“I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” R.J. Palacio

The books begins from his point of view. Then it jumps around to hear from his sister, his classmates, and others whose lives are also affected by him. The chapters are small one to a few page snippets.

I love that that the struggle to handle bullying and difference is real in this book, but we can still choose kind.

His sister is honest about not wanting him to come see her play because since entering high school no one has associated her with her special needs brother. Her parents struggle with how to give their very smart boy wings while still wanting to protect him from pain is powerfully felt. Friends, who begin the year we find out asked to be nice to him, evolve into loving Auggie on their own for his humor, and intelligence, and joy he adds to their life, and the reader gets to feel that emotional transformation.

As you read, these points of view mingle into wrestling with how to live life with integrity when the world is confusing and hurtful. And physical deformity or not, that is something we ALL face.

Grace told me to read this book because her art teacher was reading it to them. Just typing that makes me cry because what a special lady to gift her students with a life-changing message on her own will. Perhaps my favorite part was Grace telling me her art teacher cried while reading it to them, showing them that hurt and struggle are real for adults too.

When Auggie starts mainstream school in 5th grade at Beecher Prep his teacher gives them a precept each month to think about. October's was “YOUR DEEDS ARE YOUR MONUMENTS” and Auggie writes this-

I was hooked.

When the school year is done we, the readers, take a seat at graduation. While there, Mr. Tushman, the middle school director quotes Henry Ward Beecher: “Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength…He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts.”

Challenge and tribulation are part of the human experience. It is inescapable. But do we respond by blending in or do we choose to stand out? Do we join the bully-er or do we risk “cool” to extend love and become special in our own way?

This book is one every upper elementary school child right on up through the ages should read.

It’s the best book I’ve read yet this year.

And as the school draws near an end, I will draw on Mr. Tushman’s words with my kids.

We all should.

Be brave. Choose kindness.

Read this book.

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XX Melissa
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Alright, friends, let's be honest. We often put our best foot forward on social media but it is often a skewed perception of reality. Life is messy, and less than perfect, and frustrating, and funny. That is why I love that my friend Anna is doing a #realmomconfessions link up. Community in our mess. I'm in. Here is a sneak peak inside our crazy real this week:

1. Let's just start with my favorite. My oldest daughter, Grace, was part of a doctorate student's study on what makes students her age feel good. When asked about her family she said, "My mom is kind of like the dog. She likes to take naps." Ummmm.....WHAT?! Lucky for her her mom could not speak because I don't remember the last time I took a nap on any day other than Sunday. So, here I am creating a mother/daughter dance program for special time together that gets national attention and staying up till early AM hours to get my stuff done so that I can be present with and help her during the day but I am like the dog. I'm not bitter. Not at all.

2. Easter. Can we just be honest and say that dying Easter eggs is always much rosier in our heads than the experience is in reality? Not only is there the angst in the wait until the egg is bright enough, but there is the don't touch your siblings eggs, make sure everyone has a same amount, and, dear Lord, please be careful when taking them out! Those little dipper things are flimsy junk. Certainly the $1.99  paid for my kit could afford me something a little stronger than that! Twenty five percent of our eggs ended up cracked and joy was lost to sadness before we even made it to the embellishments. I tried to tell Grace she could imagine the cracked eggs to represent Jesus' power. "Nothing can keep Him down. He breaks through it all."

She didn't buy it.

3. I woke up yesterday excited for last night. Somehow watching 19 Kids feels more relaxing than taking care of my three and I actually thought, "I need to get these 3 to bed so I can watch '19 Kids.'" This is messed up, right?

4. My man is a comic. He suggested I change his name in my phone to "My Man" so I tried. Only I have multiple contacts for him in my phone because I don't know how to merge them into one so whenever he called it said, "My man or Charlie Nesdahl." That does NOT look good. Since he is phone savvy, I asked him to merge all my contacts appropriately together.  And he thought it would be funny to change his name.

It is. Until you are at the dance studio and your 7 year old says, "Mom, what does hunky mean?" or you are sending an email near the principal and she sees, "My Hunky Man."

Nesdahl's keeping it classy :)

What funny real-life messy beautiful happened in your house this week?

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

I Don't Want to Miss the Dance

At the beginning of the year I set out to be Brave. A friend of mine even suggested a hashtag and I adopted #BeBrave2015 in all its cuteness.

The only hang up is that I don’t feel brave. Like ever.

So, when it was time to exercise my first brave action of the year – making the mother/daughter dance experience I created live – I hedged.

“What if no one signs up?,” I worried aloud to one studio owner.

My heart was to bridge togetherness in a culture that thrives on busyness, dreaming that meaty conversations built into a time of fun would foster deeper relationships. For mothers it would carve out one-on-one time with their girls and give guided help in some of the most important topics their girls are facing, For the girls, there would be joy, enhanced self esteem, and a greater understanding for what their mother loves about them and dreams for them. The minutes and conversations now translating into keeping her mom her go-to girl in the future. A healthy win for everybody.

If people sign up.

Not even ten minutes later I got a call that a pair had already signed up. A mother with no dance experience currently in the throws of breast cancer treatment wanting special time with her girl. I cried. I can be good at that :) 

My first group is a lovely set of five pairs. Each signed up for different reasons. Most, including the girls, have no dance experience.

I started the journey with them having no idea what to expect for outcomes. To design the class and look forward to it with my own daughter was one thing.

To know how it strikes the observer and those participating is quite another. The local newspaper came and Jill Callison wrote what will forever be a treasure. She even admitted to tears as she watched. The photographer captured in imagery the closeness Jill’s words perfectly articulated. And, as if that wasn’t enough to overwhelm, Dance Studio Life, which every studio owner in the nation accesses, picked up the story, highlighting it across the country.

As we’ve danced and chatted, mom participants have shared with me. Therese went through a 12 hour radiation and said, “All I could think was tomorrow I get to dance with Corissa.” Another found out about a family situation and helped her daughter through it based on a discussion sheet. One, whose girl has been struggling with feeling beautiful, was still teary and heart full days later. The girls shared too. One crying in hearing her mom’s insecurities because she felt understood. One telling me she decided to give her BFF necklace to her mom after a day’s talk rather than a friend. The dance floor rose a backdrop for honesty and transformation. And their tears when talking with the reporter? Well, it did me in. {Let the record show there are lots of smiles and laughs too}

“You’re changing lives,” one of the studio owners said.

I only see myself as being used as a vessel. I’m flabbergasted, grateful, excited, and humbly blessed. This first group and crazy experience has left a mark on my life that has me anxious to see how it works in the lives of my Meaningful Movements class this summer, as well as the expanded version, Precious Movements, for moms with their toddler girls.

I am a simple girl with hope for a better future. I do the every day activities we all do – try to stay on top of the laundry piles, feed my kids something semi-decent, and sign the Friday folder work. This whole concept came to me in the shower, where I do my best thinking because nobody is yelling “mom” at me.

So dance to the songs in your head, friends. Allow this chicken who would rather build up others than step out herself encourage you to try that which you feel passionate about. Might it flop? Yes. But it could mushroom into something more than you dare ever imagine.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

You're Worth More than Gold

The world is good at trying to tell us what we are not.

Not pretty enough.

Not smart enough.

Not friends with the right people.

Not wearing the “in” fashion.

You name it and someone has an opinion about it. Most often times, someone with loose lips far too willing to share.

This condition starts as a child and follows us right into adulthood. So the question becomes, how will I respond?

Britt Nicole to the rescue-

 Image credit Pinterest

We use music like therapy in our household. Lyrics carry inside...

To finish please visit MODSquad here...

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Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Live When Your Spirit Needs Resuscitation

It was 15 years ago today. The call came just hours after a nurse told me to leave because my dad would be okay and it changed everything. I threw on this obnoxious, loud wind jacket I always rolled my eyes when he wore, entered his room, and said everything I knew to say in the moment. I was a young girl saying goodbye to my dad. He was only 47.

I closed the glass door and heard his friend say, “I didn’t tell him I appreciated him,” and I vowed not to make that my story. In the moment where many things changed about me, some things changed in me. Things that I think have made me a better person even though I would never choose what I lived.

Including my faith.

I struggled to put it nicely, sucker-punched by a life I never saw coming.

What kind of loving God would let this be my story?,” I asked of my religion professor who came to my home.

People came because they loved and my heart was a ping pong ball vacillating between wanting presence and shutting my bedroom door on all in my space. Wearing my heart on my sleeve in tough moments isn’t my gift. I was confused. My “God of love” that had always meant everything to me didn’t congeal with my life turned upside down. Numb, I put on a nice girl face because that is what I was. A nice girl.

My friend Heather saw right through my unspoken struggle, walking through my door and handing me bubble bath. Permission to get away. Permission, I discovered, to have it out with God.

I can’t tell you how many bubble baths I took in the dark by the light of a small candle flame. It felt like my world- a small flicker in consuming darkness. Gushes of tears melded into the water so that I couldn’t tell where they started and the water ended.

I let anger burn hot. I dared ask my God the hard questions that my put-together self never previously said aloud. I felt all the feels that nice girls and pretty put-together Christians never speak of in our “confident” life.

And my spirit started to breathe again.

Maybe you are reading this and your life has been turned upside down. Maybe you feel in the dark and you are wondering how you are supposed to live a solid faith in what can feel a shaky world. And to you I say this, solid faith isn’t pretty. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite.

The Word says, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16:33) a less than lovely promise that we Christians don’t get to side step no matter how much we’d like to believe the faith life is insulation from misery.

Faith is made real when we are real through it.

If I believe in a God that knows the number of hairs on my head, then certainly He knows all I am thinking and feeling. The real and only question, then, is if I admit to it. If I’m bold enough to offer the ugly to God. And while we can feel this makes a “bad Christian,” I would argue that it, in fact, makes us a better one. Because void words grow distant but honesty draws us nearer. This is true in all our human relationships so why would we think it any different with God?

He is big enough to cushion all your stuff. And, when you share it with Him, you feel the second part of the verse, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This isn’t felt in the pretty, put-together moments. It’s in your sloppy tears and venomous words when you realize He still pulls you onto His lap and whispers, “I love you and I am with you.” With you in your sadness. With you in your anger. With you in your darkness just helping you breathe.

Confident faith isn’t knowing all the words. That is memorization. Confident faith is trusting you are loved through your brokenness. It’s real relationship.

One day you will see God in things like bubble bath. You will look back stronger with greater ability to love in the tough spaces of life. But for now, breathe out honesty. It’ll look a lot like a roller coaster ride of emotions from minute to minute. Sometimes you will like yourself and sometimes you won’t like the taste of your thoughts. But as you open your spirit, you give God access to work in and through you, resuscitating you back to life. And the living faith that emerges? It will be one that carries you through all the feels.

This is the messy beautiful of life. The life-giving faith that restores.

Be real, friends. He will revive you. :)

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. 1 Timothy 4:17

XO Melissa

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