Faith of many kinds…

When I was in high school, I won a 4-H public speaking competition. I went on to the districts and to state … and won. Instead of a trophy or a ribbon, I won a trip to Israel. This was not too long after the 1991 scud missile attack. It was a 10 day long trip. I was the North Dakota representative, there was a girl from Minnesota and a girl from South Dakota. We would travel with a male chaperone from Minnesota and meet up with an Israeli host family. We came from different faith backgrounds: Lutheran, Catholic and Mormon. It was an amazing trip of a lifetime. We toured much of the country (it is very small). We went to the Lebanese border, ate lunch by the Sea of Galilee, touched the Wailing Wall, stood on the Mount of Olives, swam in the Dead Sea, saw the scrolls, stayed at a Kibbutz, walked in Jerusalem, toured their Parliment building… it was a full trip. And my parents let me go!!! They let a 17 year old girl fly across the globe with strangers. As a parent of a teen, that freaks me out. What faith they had in me, the 4-H council and these strangers! I love my parents deeply and I know they wouldn’t have sent me if they thought I would be in danger. We were very safe on our trip. Our host knew what areas were safe and what to avoid. The people that I was traveling with were nice people. This was before the age of cell phones. We didn’t have much contact the entire 10 days… my mommy heart now knows it must have been the longest 10 days of my mom’s life. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to go.

Faith (noun) complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Also: a strong belief in God or the doctrines of a religion.

I just sent our oldest son for Texas for a week with his church group. 12 kids total and 3 chaperones will spend a week doing service work, attending conferences and getting to sightsee a little. They are supposed to limit their cell phone use and just be present in the moment. It’s only the first full day for them. Other than knowing that he arrived in Texas and it’s hot there, I don’t know much else. I sent him with some cash, a VISA card and lots of faith – of both kinds. There will be 30,000 kids at the convention. I have no doubt it will be an amazing experience for him. I didn’t go on the Lutheran youth trip when I was in high school because it was around the time of my Israel trip noted above. I hope he has stories to tell when he gets back and that his faith grows as a result of the trip. Slowly, I am learning to have faith that we’ve given our sons a firm foundation. I’m learning to let go.

I bought myself some flowers this week for my desk to remind me of the beauty all around. It was also a little bit to cheer me up and take my mind off of the fear of letting my son travel and to just have faith. Wherever you’re at on your journey, I hope you will take a leap of faith, have faith in others & in yourself and grow your faith (whatever that may be.) You are enough. You are always enough. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

When an oil change does more than change the oil…

I went to get my oil changed over lunch today. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. When I arrived, there was a little girl in the waiting area, and her mom was talking to someone about brakes. She was going to color a rainbow (to keep her busy while her mom talked). “Mom, Mom, Mom…. what color comes next? Yellow???” The mother was ignoring her. I’m not judging, I’ve been there. 1,000 questions from your 4 year old and you’re just trying to figure out something with your vehicle. “Mom, mom, mommy…. what color is next?” This went on for a while. The mother went to an office to talk about a different car, and the girl stayed coloring in the lobby. She struck up a conversation. “What color comes after yellow?” “Green,” I told her. “It’s like the rainbow on your skirt.” She was wearing a cute little skirt with rainbow colors and sparkly silver sandals. She came and sat down by me, not scared at all. She told me who she was coloring the picture for, what their dogs names were, about gymnastics & fairs and rainbows. And my heart just smiled. I put my phone down and had a conversation with a little girl who just wanted to be heard. And seen (she showed me some “tricks” she could do). She brushed away her brown hair from her face and her eyes lit up. She would sometimes run over and ask her mom a clarifying question, “what was the name of the ride I like at the fair?”… then she’d skip back over to me and finish her story.

When they were getting ready to leave, I reminded her to take her picture. She told her mom that she had been talking to this girl, and smiled at me. I’m not called a girl much anymore. At 44, I’m usually referred to as “ma’am or miss.” I told her to have a great day and she skipped out the door. She was a reminder today to listen to little kids. I know it can get annoying at times, but they don’t stay 4 for long. One day, her mom will pick her up for the last time. One day, she will be more worried about boys than rainbows. Some of my “one days” have come and gone and my sons are growing taller than me. I won’t get that time back. Regrets or not, I can’t undo the past. I can listen more going forward. I can try to spend more time with them and not rush.

The oil change today changed my perspective. The little rainbow girl will stay in my head & remind me to have more fun and to listen. Whatever journey you’re on, I hope you’re able to impact the life of a child. Whether it’s your kid, your grandkids, a neighbor kid, or a little girl at a car dealership… take 15 minutes. Listen to their magical story and it might just change your day.

The birds & the bears…

I realized it’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post. I’ve started several, but something silly happened. I noticed that my blog was read around the world. Literally – people from other countries were reading my blogs. And as cool and humbling as that was, it scared me. I don’t really like to “be seen.” Since then, I’ve been taking some writing classes and some self development type classes. I realized now is the time to step forward. So here I am again 😉.

The necklace above is one I bought for myself. Someone once told me that my spirit animal is a bear. Whether or not you believe in that kind of thing doesn’t really matter to me – I thought it was cool & appropriate. I am fiercely protective of my two “cubs”… but not only them… I’m protective of those I’m close to. Make fun of my kid? Mama bear comes out. Make my sister sad? Mama bear again. Make my friend cry? Yep, Mama bear. The bear holding the fish was at our house when we bought it. We thought of getting rid of it, but I think it needs to stay. It’s a reminder to me of my strength. It also reminds me that I need to be aware of my mama bear and sometimes back off. I can’t rush in to save the day. I can’t beat up the bully or take revenge on a mean person. Sometimes people need to wade their way through their own battles and learn to find their inner bear. It’s really difficult though. My controlling nature and desire for my loved ones to be happy makes it hard to keep the bear silent. Instead, I just need to tell them, “I’m here for you.” I think they know if they ever really needed my mama bear side, it would be there.

These two pictures are of a cardinal bird Mom in our shrub & of the nest itself. She guarded the eggs for quite a while. We didn’t touch them – we just observed. Then one day there was an egg missing. Two days later, the other egg was missing. We assume it was the red squirrel, but we can’t be sure. What does this have to do with anything? My own nest was partially empty this week. Our oldest son was at FFA camp, and I felt “off.” School is out and summer activities have begun. We are working a lot on our farm to get things planted and nurtured and watered…. but something was missing. Work went on for me as normal and our youngest had band camp & golf lesson, but something was missing. I felt like that mama bird must have felt when her first egg was gone. Luckily, mine returns today.

I realized part of the reason it bothered me was because I couldn’t control what was happening. He was only 2 hrs away, but I didn’t know what he was up to. I didn’t know if he was behaving, or brushing his teeth or being kind to others. Whew. Control. Something I will need to keep working on. Keep letting him explore and experience, while keeping my mama bird & mama bear off to the sideline.

On your journey of enough, I hope you have a mama bear friend… but I also hope you find the one inside of you. It’s there. I wish you peace and awareness and acceptance. You are enough. You’ve always been enough.