Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Happy post Easter, friends! Is your house filled with plastic eggs everywhere too? I probably would care if there wasn't candy for me to quality control but I kind of enjoy that job :)

This was a vivid Holy Week for me. All the pain and hope wrapped so tightly within I couldn't identify where one stopped and the other began. I cried at Maundy Thursday. CRIED. I've never cried on Maundy Thursday but you never know how the Spirit will strike. Apparently my focus on the great exchange in Good Friday/Easter lost on me the beautiful invitation to just meet in the darkness and commune. Needless to say, when my pastor I've come to love like a sister blessed me and our senior pastor walked the aisle, personalizing the love of our Savior who knows we are going to struggle and still invites us to the table I was mush. MUSH I tell you. 

Before we get to the funny I just want to pass along this post if it's been a challenging life year for you, too. She writes:
"I want sacred to mean soft, comforting, beautiful, and light. Yet suffering seems to be wrapped up and woven into sacred. I continue to find the holy concealed within the hard, despite my deepest desire to the contrary."
And to that I say, "Amen." Life is messy but God is there. If you have a personal prayer request as you are reading today, I invite you to share in the comments or privately message me. We're a better people when we kneel together.

As Real Mom Confessions go, let's start with some Easter.

Easter Eggs. Providing yearly headaches to parents everywhere. My husband asked me, "How many should we do?" and my response was, "How miserable do you want to be?" At least one always cracks. There are always tears. It is so much rosier than in our heads than in reality. Dying eggs and misery go hand-in-hand.

March Madness. There are have been way to many crazy close games. It isn't good for my blood pressure. Usually my hubby and I don't watch much college basketball during the year but once March Madness hits the five of us fill out brackets and we're all in. The words, "Girls, don't make a mess please. There's some very intense basketball happening now. I can't parent." actually came out of my mouth.

Side note: Shout out to my alma mater, Augustana University, who are the division 2 national champions! GO VIKINGS!

"Charlie, die." *insert all my little loves laughing* This is a very unfortunate quote when your kids are in a different room brushing their teeth. Teachers, if any of them write about their mom telling  their dad to die I was, in fact, handing him a singular dice to a board game we'd just finished playing as a family and volunteered to pick up so that we could move the bedtime train along. I was NOT threatening my man.

Fishnets. The dance recital is coming up and I'm super pumped to be part of the alumni dance. We're dancing to "One" from a chorus line, which I last danced to in 1994ish. Before some of the alumni were born but who's paying attention, really? :) I'll be dawning fishnets for the first time in my life. If Jesus returns before May 13, you'll know why. Save the people :) Being a part of this group is so much fun. Let your kids see you do things you love, mamas. It's good for them. Fishnets, costumes, smiles and all, we're going to rock it when we take the stage :)

In my last Real Mom Confessions I let you all know about the Planted with Hope giveaway. Congrats to Pat Love. Summer reading is coming your way!

Have a great week and know that all privately shared prayer requests will be kept confidential and prayed over.

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

Since I last left you with Real Mom Confessions the musical went splendid. The little ones sang and danced their hearts out. A surprise visitor came and put a smile on Hannah's face. An older student from the former musical got up, walked to me, and gave me a hug, putting an extra smile on mine. I was reminded that while these musicals are fun they are about so much more than perfectly executed moves and extra time with a great music teacher who just laughs with me when I don't check my child's bag to even know what kind of costume she wears. They're added opportunity to let kids know that I believe in them and am proud of them. That's a win in and of itself.

This parenting gig is difficult work, isn't it? I met with a friend at the new Einstein Bagel/Caribou joint. I love that Jesus says where two or more are gathered there He is too. With this friend coffee table chats always feel like holy ground. We cry. Laugh. Be real. It's good for the soul and I'm so thankful for her. As we spoke, I shared of boundaries I'm considering loosening because it feels right and yet nothing feels easy. No matter how much praying, Bible reading, and book consulting you do, each day is a bit of a crapshoot and we do our best with the time/situation we are in. So, if you're raising kids, give yourself a break and try and laugh at the plot twists. We're all doing our best.

Here ends the meaningful moments of real mom confessions. Just get yourself some people to have these moments with.

Now let's laugh.

Silly Clothes Day. Ava had silly clothes day at school. We can all give gratitude for this agreed upon outfit



because I nixed her PUBLICLY announced plan to wear her underwear OUTSIDE her clothes. At preschool. In a church. Just, no, cutie patootie. Then, when it turned out to be a super nice day, I let her PLAY AT THE PARK LIKE THIS. Please note the facial expressions. They crack me up now. Consult me in another 9 years and I'll let you know if I still feel that way.

Church Email. After talking with one of our pastors on Sunday he requested that Charlie and I send him + a few others from church a video to preview.  You'll recall that my man thinks he's super hilarious, giving himself names in my phone that I'm too dumb to change. That resulted in the end of the email reading like this



Emmmmmkay then.

Barbie Spy Squad. This was our Friday night family movie pick. Now I'm going to be honest with you all. I actually like most Barbie movies. Princess Charm School is especially good. I prefer these to some of the other kid variety movies. BUT, this was an hour and a half of my life I would be sad I couldn't recoup if it didn't involve toddler snuggles the whole time. It is like they tried to marry some kind of Spy Kids intensity with Barbie froofroo and it just didn't work. I was NOT sad to see it end. Let's hurry that one back to the Redbox. Before that thought even completed itself in my mind, my hubby says, "Do you guys want to watch that movie again?"
Me: Do you dislike life?

Daylight Savings Time. FLAT OUT DISASTER. How about in your house? Charlie and I had friends over the night before and the kids thought it was "unfair" they had to go to bed before our company left. They even made a drawing board chronicling how so that we'd be well aware. Because we are so interesting (who knew?), they didn't actually fall asleep before our friends left. Then church came. EARLIER. 8:45am was ACTUALLY 7:45am. Jesus be near because we are going to need added patience and grace. The kids were up on time, of course, because... why not?!?! We dressed, did hair, looked cute, and made our way out the door. But, as we left church the kids were already whining and I didn't have the bandwidth for it because I was tired too."You kids need a nap!" (which they did not take.) Such a lovely thing to be barking at your kids while STILL ON WORSHIP PROPERTY. Fast forward to Monday. I hit snooze because getting up felt brutal. Then, I went downstairs and presented like, "I let you girls sleep as late as possible so you could get good rest and now I need you to hurry and dress while I make your breakfast. What would you like?" Insert June Cleaver smile. Flat out lie. Can we just do away with this nonsense already???

I leave you with this incase you struggled, too.



AMEN.

xx Melissa

PS- There probably will not be a Real Mom Confessions next week with Holy Week. When I'm back on the 30th I'll be announcing the winner of my Tricia Goyer Planted With Hope giveaway. If you haven't entered yet, hop on over and do so right now. Who couldn't use a good book about friendship, community, love, and hope?!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

4 Ways Your Healthy Friendships Bless Your Kids: A Guest Post & Book Giveaway from Tricia Goyer

When I first signed with Books & Such literary agency I had no idea how God would bless me with new friendships. Tricia Goyer is one of those people. Not only is she a successful author, but she has a heart of gold and we "get" each other. Her life is lived is for Christ. She is a mom who prayerfully wishes the best for her children. She has good days and bad days and often we find ourselves working at the same odd hours of the night to get writing accomplished because we've been "mom" all day :)  
I'm so excited to have Tricia here today to share. I know you're going to love her. AND, she has a new book out entitled Planted With Hope that she's letting me give away to one of you! You'll find the book description and entry details below. 
Thank you, Tricia, for your message and for making someone's day with this heartwarming read!   




I say the same thing every time my kids are about to meet one of my friends: “Oh, you're just going to love her!” Because of my work as a writer, many of my friends are also writers, and they are scattered all over the US (and world!). We meet up with friends on road trips, and sometimes my friends visit and stay in our home. Having healthy relationships with my friends is important—not only for me, but for my kids. Here's why:


1. My friendships are a model for my kids. From my friendships my kids learn how to treat friends, how one should be treated, and how to grow relationships in healthy ways. Kids do what we do, not do what we say. If we want our kids to have healthy friendships, we need to model them! Friendship is a skill that is learned, and the best place for your kids to learn it is from YOU. When you are trustworthy, caring, and honest with your friends, you children will learn to be those things, too.


2. My friendships become my kids' friendships. In many cases my friends become my kids' friends, too, as my children grow. My friends usually have great stories to share, and they have great advice. My 23-year-old daughter has great relationships with many of my friends … and I love it because I know that if they share a story or a bit of advice it will be helpful and godly.


3. My friendships give insight into myself. Every time my kids meet one of my friends they walk away knowing me a little better too. When I'm with my friends I'm Tricia, not just Mom. They see different sides of me, and they hear stories about me, too. My kids love learning more about me, and they discover things I'd never think of sharing.


4. My friendships impact my life and my work—and my kids benefit. My most recent novel Planted with Hope is set in Pinecraft, Florida, where the Amish go for vacation. I was blessed to take my family to Pinecraft twice for research and we were able to spend time with my Amish-Mennonite friend Sherry Gore. Pinecraft a beautiful place, and it was fun being able to write about it, but even more importantly Sherry is a beautiful person. What I didn’t realize when I first built a friendship with Sherry is that my kids would benefit. I’m seeing that more and more each day. Any part of my life that impacts me also impacts my kids—and friendships are part of that!


How about you? How do your friendships benefit your kids?


Connect with Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A bestselling author, Tricia has published 55+ books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. Tricia is also on the blogging team at TheBetterMom.com, FortheFamily.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites.

Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR.

Blog: www.TriciaGoyer.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/AuthorTriciaGoyer


About Planted with Hope: 

My newest book is Planted by Hope. It’s the second book in the Pinecraft Pie Shop series. Here’s a short description:

When Hope Miller is offered the plot of land behind the Me, Myself, and Pie shop to start a garden, she jumps at the chance. Finally—some space away from her four sisters! But everyone in town seems to have an opinion about what she should grow and how she should grow it. When the widower schoolteacher, Jonas Sutter, asks if his students at the Amish school can help turn the plot into a community garden, Hope only halfheartedly agrees, wondering if she will ever get the peace and quiet she craves. And will she get anything to grow?

The stories of friendship, community, and unexpected love within these pages will plant real seeds of hope within your heart.

To enter to win Planted with Hope giveaway simply leave a comment below. You can also tweet a link to this blog post and/or share it on Facebook for additional entries but be sure to leave a separate comment for each of those shares. This creates a maximum of three entry possibilities per person. Random.org will be used to select the winner. Please make sure your email is attached to your profile or include your email in your comments so that I am able to reach you. Entries will be accepted through 9pm on Tuesday, March 29. I will include the winning name in my True Mom Confessions post on March 30, 2016.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

I don't know how it is already Wednesday again. Has anyone else just had a whirlwind of a week? Last week I hung out with tons of cute kids at the dance studio teaching Dr. Seuss Read Across America field trips. This week - tomorrow to be more specific - is the grades one through three musical at my girls' school that I choreographed. Every day I've been blessed to hang out with some pretty special little friends who have so much spark and so much enthusiasm that I celebrate with them and then come home and promptly put on my PJs and robe. :)  I can't wait to cheer them on in their big show Thursday.....with a coffee in hand.

On to real mom confessions.

1) Gift with kid scissors. I so treasure precious friendships and I LOVE surprises. After having a conversation with my friend, Sami, I bought her a little something that would make her laugh + matter "big picture." However, when I went to wrap the gift my scissors had wandered off. So, this was my solution-



As you can imagine, it looked super classy. Also, now that I'm looking at this picture I realize that I spelled scissors wrong on the note, which is the kind of thing liable to put an author in the fetal position. Oy vey!

2) Falling in dog poop. We've finally had some beautiful days. Grace came in the house yelling, "Mom, I fell in dog poop." Her wiggly fingers looking of filth. Me: "Ew. Gross. Get away from me." Because that is how every good mom responds, right? Then, my girl, normally the more serious one, goes, "Just kidding" and laughs uncontrollably. I suddenly didn't care that I handled myself so poorly. DID. NOT.

3) Wednesday church. I let my kids go to church last Wednesday night dressed as Thing 1, Things 2, and in pajamas. I figured that would be a confession and thought it would end there. I was wrong. The pastor decided to do an interactive sermon. It was amazing, drawing even the little kids into the "big people" message. Question two was about heaven and what you hope it will be like/include. Ava's answer was pumpkin spice cheesecake. Now, as her mom, I can fully appreciate this. I myself said I imagine heaven to be all glory and healing so I just hope it also contains and endless buffet of chocolate and cheesecake. Clearly she has good taste. However, when the pastor asked about answers and I saw her little arm worming its way into the air while people shouted out good "churchy" answers you better believe this mama whipped her arm down, whispering into her ear, "Since you got to answer on question one let's make sure other people get a turn." She called my bluff and when the service got done she marched herself right to the pastor and told on me. Excellent. Since then she's taken every opportunity to let anyone who might care know the same. Let it go, baby girl, let. It. Go.

4) Dancing + cleaning. I don't like to clean. I'm not ashamed to say it. In fact, I wouldn't want a bigger house because I wouldn't want more square footage to dust. The wood floor, though, could care less if I like to sweep or not. It must be done. When doing so, I always listen to music. And, the other day, "All The Single Ladies" came on in a random shuffle (don't judge), inducing a full on solo dance party. With my broom. In front of the window.

Oops.

If the neighbors saw, just, whatever. Mary Poppins says, "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and - snap- the job's a game!"

She's on to something.

Dance like nobody's watching, friends!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

It's been a while since I've brought you Real Mom Confessions and I can't believe how many of you have asked and told me you love them. It's good to know all our houses qualify a crazy circus and we find good company in each other.

Let's get going-

1) Hannah's snow gear. I'm SO. OVER. WINTER. We had this nice little spring tease and then BAM a snow storm. Not cool, God, not cool. Needless to say, we had to pull out the winter snow gear again, which was met with awesome eye rolls. Hannah's snow pants have multiple rips in them and stuffing literally fall out. Whatever man, deal. This mom is NOT buying new snow gear at this stage of the game. Since Hannah wrote something in school that says, "Mom and dad, I'd like more clothes because I'm a fashionista" you can imagine how happy this makes her.

2) Refusing to sleep. I love sleep. Like love it and don't get enough of it. My kids have opportunity and resist. My brain cannot make sense of this. Sometimes I wonder how they can be mine. On Sunday, Grace was spacing off, nearly asleep at the lunch table, and I say, "Do you want lay down and take a rest." Her reply? "I'm not tired. I'm lazily looking  through my eyes." WHAAAAAT?!

3) The school musical. The grades one through three musical is in full swing and I'm once again choreographing. I'm sure the music teacher preferred the fall version of me to the spring version because apparently brain function is on the decline. Not only did I have the wrong time in my phone calendar one day, but my child, who has a part in this musical that I have been at school for nearly every day so should therefore be on top of, needs to have her costume to school and I never even opened up her backpack last weekend to find out what she needs. Sorry, Jill! My man is making a quick run to Justice today for the solid green shirt. Our garden spider will be set and have her stuff in the music room tomorrow with one day to spare.


4) Jen Hatmaker's 4 stages of road trip management. We hit stage 2, "Irritated Intervention," TWO blocks from home on our way to CHURCH. It went something like this.
Hannah: I want to watch a movie
Ava: I want to listen to Jesus music
Me: When I was a kid (My man pulls an eye roll so big he can see his brain), we didn't have movies in our vehicles and we survived.
Kids continue to disagree.

Charlie: We'll decide. We bought this van.
WORD
My resolve? Play this Jen Hatmaker piece THrOUGh the van for the kids to hear.


Isn't that precious?!😉 Then I was all like, "Now let's all get our worship on!" 

Is this not SPOT on, mamas?

xx Melissa

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance

I quickly created the schedule to accommodate our busy life.

I didn’t even realize that I set father/daughter class on the anniversary of my own dad’s death.

I told myself I was going to be fine. And, to be honest, I usually am okay on that calendar date. Yes, my mind temporarily transports back to the ICU room where I held his hand, told him all that I loved about him, that I would live for Jesus, and how I would make my life count. But, it stops there with a smile of thanks for a man I was lucky enough to call dad.

Then the signups began. Middle school girls dreaming of this living moment with their fathers. There would be sparkly dresses and beautifully done hair and their own reasons for why this occasion held significance. I knew that it would be I who felt most blessed to be a part of this moment – I always do – but, on this day, more so.

Unexpected tears blurried my eyes and I began to wonder if God trusted me a little bit more than perhaps He should.

Memories were jarred. The dust shook off still frame images of moments with my father and I could see so clearly again. His hands wrapping curlers in my hair for church when my mom was at work. The super soaker fight we had in the house (sorry, mom). Him putting a puzzle together.

Puzzles.


I didn’t want to lose my dad. Hardship was nowhere on the calendar I’d created for my life.

It never is for us, is it?

And, I realized that in the brush of my life I cried out to Jesus with an honest heart but I subconsciously held some of my heartache against God. I pinned blame and effectively erected a dam from the Lord’s free flowing mercy.

God wasn’t ruining my life. He was collecting my tears (Psalm 56:8).
God wasn’t abandoning me. He was covering me with His feathers so that I might have refuge (Psalm 91:4).
God didn’t expect me to find way on my own. He gifted me opportunity to simply be and do all the fighting for me (Exodus 14:14).

Ultimately we all choose to be at war with our story or accept it into our DNA and have it make a difference.

I pick up every piece. I love you, my child.

Heart work freed me. Chains I didn’t even realize held me in bondage were broken. I newly tasted the sweetness of God's character and pinpointed His faithfulness.

Sweet joy!

I drove to the dance studio excited and overwhelmed at the privilege of being chosen to orchestrate this evening even though I was so underserving. New snapshots to be taken in the mind’s eye for these father-daughter pairs would stand the test of time, bringing smiles to their faces long after the night was done.

And when the class was over, I opened a king sized rolos (candy my dad always hid from me because he loved them so much) and a Diet Coke before God said, “Come dance with me.”

I turned the music on



And twirled with arms raised high under the glow of the mirror ball lights, my shirt collecting countless tears in movement that was prayer of gratitude more heartfelt any words I’ve ever spoken.

This timing of this class had bigger purpose. It was for those enrolled. It was for me.

The pieces have been put together and THIS is something beautiful.



Our experiences are held in His hands, friends. And He uses even the most unworthy of us to help create an eternal masterpiece.

It was a time to dance in every way.

PS- If you skipped over the song video, make sure you listen to it now. Your day will be better for it :)
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