Pause

It was one of those work days.

The kind that leaves you depleted physically and mentally.

The second to last turn made, less than five minutes before the end of one portion of the day and home to the next, but there I sat. The school bus and its flashing lights standing in the way of home.

Quickly calculating alternative routes and realizing none, I stewed.

This would set me back. Ten minutes now lost when I could be multitasking-prepping meals, answering work emails, trying hard to maintain eye contact with little girls sharing stories.

It was then that he appeared, the little boy, lunchbox in hand, backpack slung over the shoulders, bounding off the bus and up the drive.

He was home.

A few seconds later another stop, two little girls hopping off, running up the grassy slope.

The front door to the farmhouse opens. A little sister dances out. I didn’t need the car windows down to hear the squeals, the delight as playmates returned home.

Similar scenes repeated several more times.

Watching and waiting, my frustration whittling away to nothing.

I hadn’t realized the working women needed a pause, a moment to transition to Momma.

Someone else had and now the moments sitting behind the bus were preparing me for the moments yet to come.

Car in garage, ignition turned off, I was ready for home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday letter #1

Dear Sydney,

You are 11!

This year has been a joy. I’ve enjoyed every second, learning about who you are, what makes you tick.

The learning isn’t over. We get to spend the rest of our lives figuring each other out.

What I have discovered is that you are one hardworking, young woman.

Your dedication to schoolwork is incredible.

You have boundless energy. How do you manage to spend hours jumping on the trampoline after school and never get tired?

You’re motivated to try new things and you have a bit of wanderlust. I can’t wait to share that with you. There are places I want you to see and places I want us to discover as a family.

I love how you always offer to do Zoey’s hair in the morning,

the way you appreciate order,

how you put up with my stories,

and your newfound love of Kevin Henkes books.

But mostly I just love having this front row seat, watching you grow.

Thanks for hanging out with me this year, for putting up with me through all the transitions of the last 12 months and for making your daddy who he is today. No doubt Syd, you as the first-born played a special part in making him the man he is.

I love you so much.

I look forward to your new year.

Happiest of birthday’s beautiful girl.

Love,

Heather

P.S. of course you get your own birthday song. I promise I’m not going anywhere. Just hold on, this is home.

 

 

 

 

 

Brave

She’s made a choice.

Leaving behind the safety net of dear friends and familiar public school classmates, she has chosen to pursue a Catholic High School education.

She will know no one.

Last Saturday, I took her for placement testing.

The principal cheerfully greeted the soon to be incoming freshman.

I overheard his conversation with a mom. She was inquiring about the morning. Peppering him with questions about how long testing would take, where her son would be when it was over and when they would get results.

I prayed that God would help me hold it together long enough to not do the same.

Helicopter parenting born from a desire to exercise control; to calm my heavy heart filled with worries for my girl. If I just knew the rundown of everything then maybe the anxiety would subside.

Instead we walked into the cafeteria filled with boys and girls chatting at tables. Not a parent in sight.

She mouthed I love you and I walked away.

She glows when she talks about her new school and that day, after hours of testing, a smile firmly plastered on her face.

This bravery was born in her and I am so proud.

Catholic education is extremely important for me. Unlike most Catholic teenagers, I was not born in this faith, I was baptized and received my first holy communion in the Lutheran church. When I was around 11 I went to church with my best friend, who is Catholic, and I completely fell in love. The first ever homily I heard was about Christmas being a season, not just two days. We always take for granted the presents we get and the amazing food eaten, but we really need to remember that once our family goes home and we run out of leftovers we are still celebrating Jesus’s sacrifices for us. That homily has always stuck with me and it fired my love for God.

I went home that Sunday and asked my mom what she thought about being Catholic. At first she just brushed it off, her dad was a Lutheran minister so she had never thought about leaving the faith. After many weeks of pressing she finally gave in and took me to another service. My mother quickly realized that this was where we were supposed to be, signed us up for RCIA, and before we knew it we were officially Catholic. It will be two years in the church this Easter and this is probably the best decision my family has ever made. I have lifelong friends, my mom met my stepdad, and now we are an amazing family of 8.

     I should have been happy, but about November of this year I just was not fully satisfied with my education. My mom and I started looking around at different possibilities and went to the Bishop Watterson open house, where both of us immediately fell in love. Catholic education is amazing because I can fully follow the path God has set for me, and have people helping me along the way. I know that everyone at the school shares my religious beliefs, will answer my many questions about faith, and help me know how I can make a difference through being Catholic. I will be prepared for the real world, where I am asked to defend my faith, and have the ability to evangelize the words of Jesus Christ to those around me. It makes me excited to think about praying with my team before a game, volunteering side-by-side with my peers, and having fun with my classmates on retreats. I believe a Catholic education is where God is calling me and I can not wait to see what doors open up through this amazing opportunity.

 

Home

“It’s just a house”, Sid reminds me.

People make a place a home, not the walls or windows.

Yet these walls provided shelter, these windows light.

As the boxes are packed and a new house takes shape, I am reminded of the blessings of the place we leave behind.

A house that had been purchased to raise a family of five.

It rather quickly became a shelter for four.

Straddling the world of what was and what is, a daily, tangible reminder of possibility.

I could raise these girls here.

I could pay the mortgage, change the air filter, mulch the beds, clean the house and still dance in the kitchen.

Late nights spent sitting on the cool tile of the bathroom floor, holding back little girls hair as sickness overwhelmed them. I could parent alone.

Days listening to the sounds of laughter as my children played with their neighborhood friends. I could find joy in the moments of my day.

Evenings, after girls were tucked safely in bed, when a knock on the door meant a visit from my own dear neighborhood friend. A chance to connect over a glass of wine and the knowledge that I was safe. I could share my fears wrapped in the cocoon of this house with those who sought the best for me.

On February 23 we will say good bye to what was.

A new world of possibility exsists in a place where a family of eight will take up residence.

He and I will now do this together. Maya Angelou quote about home via Hurray Kimmay Blog

Family

I can’t recall why all six had to be at the doctor’s office that day when only Molly was in for a visit. But a few weeks ago as I sat in my office at work, a text from Matthew stopped me mid sentence. A few words about the appointment taking longer then expected, a comment about how well the girls were enduring the wait and then this image

We stumble over one another quite often.

Meals can be burdensome with taste buds of eight taunting us with their differences.

Most mornings we debate the benefits of a sugary cereal breakfast that they will eat versus a warm plate of food no one will touch.

We still can’t quite seem to get an evening routine down.

But here, in this picture, is the image of what we strive for.

Bored out of their minds, leaning on one another and technology, they are a family, they look like the sisters God intended them to be.

 

 

 

11

Dear Audrey Hope,

Tomorrow you are 11.

You are light and love and everything good in this world.

At school pick up the other day Miss Amy said to me “Your Audrey is confident. She knows who she is.”

I couldn’t have said it any better. You have such a sureness of self.

You love cuddles and warm vanilla milk,

books and fireplaces,

the history channel and stuffed animals.

You care deeply for those who cross your path.

You are a story-teller, a truth seeker and a beautiful child of God.

Everyday you teach me. It’s been that way from the start.

I am incredibly blessed to have this front row seat watching you become more of who you were always meant to be.

This year will be full of more change-

middle school, a new house and a new big, loud family.

I have no doubt you will live this year with zeal, passion and yes more confidence.

Happy new year my girl. Happiest of birthday’s.

God bless and keep you safe.

Love,

Your Momma

This year’s birthday song just about says it all. I’ll be right here baby girl.

Raise them up

I’ve been their tour guide for the first piece of the journey.

My job to try to point out the potholes as they toddled.

They are now beginning the walk away.

I’m not going anywhere, at least I have no plans to, but the road ahead feels much more pilgrimage then it does all-inclusive guided tour.

Their own trails to blaze, their own words to write.

Adventures to be had with and without me.

The desire for this year is that they know themselves in a way I didn’t.

And that they and their new companions on this journey are led by the gentle promptings of God.

Happy 2018. Happy trails.

 

 

 

To Blend

People often inquire now how the “blending” is going?

It’s simultaneously beautiful and hard I confess.

Grace doled out on a daily basis from husband to wife, girl to girl, stepparent to stepchild.

Like my races, some miles punctured with highs and others with lows, I find the hours of my days stretching out in the same manner.

The secret sauce I am finding is in the surrender.

If I recognize that so much of this transition cannot be controlled, if I lead with love, our new family thrives.

Nothing worth having comes easy my papa would tell me. How right he was.

 

 

 

Imperfect

Here’s the deal, this woman,

this one here,

in the white dress and big smile-

I’ll let you in on a secret.

She’s broken.

She fails daily.

She at times finds it hard to breathe.

She’s been a less than perfect ex-wife.

She’s struggled with forgiveness.

She is an impatient mom.

She willingly admits these faults now because she is a recovering perfectionist.

In the recovery she has learned that the only way to slay the dragon is to acknowledge it and to name it.

You see the chase to perfect has eaten her soul at times.

It’s driven her body to revolt with shingles and kept her awake at night struggling to make her home look just as perfect as she hoped her heart would feel.

But perfect is an illusion.

It always leaves you wanting more.

What she craves is the joy that is born from the brokenness, from the failing.

So today, when she fails at work, at mothering, at being a wife, she will pause and remind herself that this life is much sweeter when she loves herself as her father loves her.

With or without that white dress and the big smile, full of imperfections, she will rest in his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

To Float

It was in this moment I knew, what she meant when she told me to float.

Here, in this church, pews lined with those who had been cheering us on, I felt myself float.

And as we vowed to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, a rush of our heavenly father’s love enveloped us.

A love I thought I needed to earn; one that couldn’t possibly be meant for this broken, sometimes bitter, woman.

But, yet I stood with this man, too impossibly good for words to describe, in front of six ecstatic girls pledging to walk with him forever. The father’s love for us palpable.

It happened because I said yes.

When feelings lay heavy on my heart to become Catholic, I said yes.

When he whispered in my ear that if a relationship was of his design, it demanded more, I let the old fall away and said yes to the new.

When my daughters said it was time for Momma to fall in love, I said yes to the trying which lead to those three new precious souls running into my arms and the subsequent yes to all that loving.

And when he called me to float down that aisle to the man in the gray suit who was pledging to become one with me, I listened.

I said yes.

And I floated.