Change …

Since the start of autumn/fall happened on the 23rd, I thought it was appropriate to talk about change. It’s not just the leaves in MN changing, many people I know are going through life changes too. It reminds me that we are all in different stages of our seasons. We might be letting go, or saying goodbye, or changing, or welcoming something new.

A friend with a new job and a move across the country…

A sister who dropped off her youngest daughter at college and is now an empty nester…

A family who laid their 12 year old son to rest after a battle with cancer…

A friend who holds a fundraiser in honor of his late wife, and helps others with financial burdens…

A friend who navigates the medical terms, the stress and the anxiety of a child with autism & epilepsy…

A husband who deals with the anniversary of the loss of his mother …

A niece who prepares to move away this winter…

A friend who reads the statistics of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer…

So many people are going through big changes or have significant reminders of big life changes. What do you do? What do you say? How can you help? We worry about saying the wrong thing. We hold back because we want to do the right thing. What’s worse than possibly saying the wrong thing? Silence. Nothingness. I remember being surprised when some friends of mine were silent during my cancer. A friend whose nephew died by suicide said the same thing – people leaving hurt the worst.

Friends, we all go through change. Some of it we didn’t ask for. It’s how we grow. It’s how we learn. It’s how we move forward. Sometimes the change is messy and hurtful and sometimes it’s exciting and wonderful. If you know of someone going through a change, you don’t need to fix it or make it better, you just need to be there for them. Let them know you care, however seems appropriate…Send them a card, support their fundraiser, let them cry on your shoulder, laugh with them, make them a care package, pray for them, cheer for them… just love them.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May the fall season remind us that letting go can be beautiful, and spring will come again.

Speak kindly…

After spending part of a Wednesday night in the ER with our oldest son, I have some thoughts to reflect upon. He had complained of chest pain/pressure before, but it always went away and wasn’t accompanied by other symptoms. That night, his face was red and his left arm bothered him. Hmmm, I’m not messing with heart issues, so we made a trip to the ER. I knew the walk-in wouldn’t have the ability to run the tests we needed, and we already met the insurance deductible after his brother’s skiing/broken leg this past winter. I could see the worry in his eyes… “What if I have a heart attack? I’m too young.” I tried not to convey the worry in mine. He’s had a couple of brushes with death, and I’m not ready for him to go.

The ER treated both of us with compassion. They explained what they were doing. They showed him his heart beats on the screen and how his flipped down and had some pauses. They turned the ultrasound screen towards him so he could see his heart and lungs. (“Want to see your liver? Here is your kidney!”) They showed him the EKG print out. They explained what the blood work was for and what the blood looked like (and that they normally draw a couple of extra in case the doctors request additional tests.) As they explained what an ectopic atrial rhythm is, I could see his fear lessen. As they talked about cardiology consults and possible next steps, I could see him relax. He was seen and heard, and not ignored.

I did get the question about why we waited so long to come in. Well, he had no other symptoms to go with it. Also, I don’t see him 24/7, so I don’t know how often this happened. The questions made me feel like a bad mom. It made me doubt myself. I had to focus on the fact that I did bring him in.

Thursday morning, I was very tired. I went to work as normal, but wasn’t very focused. Then we went to the regular Dr on Friday to get a referral. More questions, “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” It takes the wind out of me. It makes me feel less than as a mom. Then (at work) to get questions or hear comments about being gone for the appointment makes me feel less than as an employee.

Always speak kindly. Don’t assume you know the story.

The woman who looks tired? She may have stayed up all night worrying about her kids. She may have just a heard a diagnosis she can’t wrap her head around. She may have spent time in the hospital with her father. She might be wondering how to hold it all together. She may be struggling with infertility, too scared to share her story. She may feel the weight of financial burdens. She may be struggling with anxiety and depression, wondering why she can’t just be grateful. She may have had a tough conversation with her kids.

The woman who has missed a lot of work? She may be going to counseling. She may be taking her child to counseling. She may have gone to her doctor appointment, only to hear “try again next month.” She may be having radiation treatments that leave her so exhausted, but she shows back up to work anyway because she’s scared of losing her job. She may have a sick kid and have nobody else to watch him.

At one time in my life, these were my real scenarios. Not all at once, but sometimes more than one at a time. The list could go on and on. My point is, we all need to speak with more kindness & less judgement. More “how are you doing?” and less “where were you?” Truth be told, most of the time, I feel like I’m failing…Treading water and almost out of breath. It’s like a balancing act on a teeter totter while juggling – we all have our own version. If I spend more time at work, I feel like a bad mom. If I spend more time with my family, I feel like a bad employee. If I spend more time for myself, I feel like a bad spouse. Too many “hats” … too many roles… only one me.

I’m stretched thin, but I’m getting heavier. I know I’m not alone. I know there are other moms out there with the same balancing act. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to have a crappy day. I know one day I will sit in my empty house and wish for the busy that I have now. Until then, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Speak kindly to others, you never know what burdens lie on their heart.

Do you have an internal crowing competition?

Mid-May, we added 10 chickens to our farm. At the time, we weren’t sure if they were hens or roosters. We were still learning about chickens, but I knew I wanted to have some.

Fast forward to August, when two of our chickens started “cock-a-doodle-doing.” My husband wasn’t impressed & quickly offered to get rid of them (because he thought they would bother the neighbors). We live in the country and the state park is across the road from us, so we really only have one house close by. Turns out, we have 4 roosters. Two of them crow more than the others. In fact, they have a bit of a competition to see who can crow the most or the loudest (we aren’t sure which, they didn’t say.) We’ll see if the video works…

In this video, Cluck Norris starts out first. Teriyaki follows. The tan one is Cluck Norris. The brown one is Teriyaki (whom I’ve written about before… turns out is a “roo” and now likes that to be known to everyone.)

My chickens sure have taught me a lot of things. I’m thankful to have let them into our lives. I was talking with a mentor the other day and I said, “I feel like there are two parts to me: 1) Organized, planning, in control side 2) Creative, free, baking/painting/sewing side. They are kind of like my roosters, crowing in competition to see who gets noticed.” She said, “They are both sides of you. Both your organized and your creative sides make you unique.” Wow. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Instead of one trait being better or worse, they both work together to make me who I am.

Sadly, we don’t need 4 roosters for 6 hens (we don’t really need any, but Col.Sanders and Hawk don’t crow). We are giving Cluck Norris and Teriyaki to a family who will let them free range on their farm. They will have new adventures ahead of them. I will miss their personalities, but I’m thankful for all they have taught me.

Cluck Norris

Teriyaki (first one to go for a walk with the chicken harness.)

I will miss the way they run over to the fence to see if I have treats. I will miss the strange clucks and noises they make. I’m interested to see if the two remaining Roos change in personality. Will any of the hens miss them? (Probably not, Ha Ha)

Do you have an internal crowing competition? Do you struggle with which side is better or worse? Which side can be seen and which one you feel like you need to hide? I encourage you to honor and embrace both sides. It makes you a unique individual. Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May both sides of you crow with glee. Just don’t wake the neighbors up at 5am!

Like sands through the hourglass…

How many of you said, “So are the Days of our Lives?” Ha ha. Yeah, I used to watch that soap opera. I think if I tuned in now, they would still have the same story line.

Tuesday marks the start of school in most MN towns. Usually the Tuesday after Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. This year we will have a 7th grader and a junior. As we were making a quick trip back to Rollag, to the Western MN Steam Threshers Reunion, my husband said, “This will be less and less, you know.” (I pretended I didn’t know what he was talking about.) “This, the making memories stuff.” Yeah, I know. Like sands through the hourglass, it just goes faster and faster. Our job isn’t to keep them at home forever though. Our job is to prepare them to be on their own. They might not remember every camping trip or adventure we went on, but hopefully they will have a general sense of having a good childhood. And hopefully, they will be prepared to be independent adults.

We’ve been blessed with good kids. Not perfect kids, but good kids. They’ve made our job a little easier. We’ve still had plenty of roller coaster moments. Highs and lows that I’m not fully prepared to share (mainly because of the impact it may have on the boys.) Hopefully we’ve given them a foundation of faith and family. Hopefully they know that we will love them through it, whatever that may be. I’ll be their biggest cheerleader but will also give them “the mom look” if they’re being inappropriate. We just hope we’re not messing them up. Do all parents wonder this? Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s a common thing or if it’s just my over-active imagination. My boys probably don’t cook as much as they should or independently start laundry. They do fold clothes and mow and can build a campfire with some birch bark and a match.

If you have kids or grandkids heading back to school, say a prayer with me. “Dear Lord, please watch over our kids. Help them to be kind and patient. Help them to look out for others. Help them to listen and learn. Please be with the teachers and support staff as they try to guide and teach them. Keep them safe. Amen.”

Here we go, only one more “first day of school” picture with all three of these guys. Love you!

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Instead of wishing the time would slow down, let’s be thankful it’s still moving forward. We can do this!