Mary Posts

Five Years Ago – Part Two

If you haven’t caught up on Part One or need a refresher, you can find it here.

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As we sat on the side of the road huddled together, we began to see more activity. The flashing blue and red lights seemed to grow, a fire truck came, one ambulance and then another arrived. All of the highway traffic had come to a complete standstill, the road a growing river of headlights.

Five Years Ago – Part One

Five Years Ago – Part One

PART ONE

May 12, 2010

It had been a wonderful trip. We had gone to San Diego to celebrate my aunt’s graduation from college, and celebrate we did! There was a big party, lots of late-night talking, and plenty of dancing and laughing. Honestly, when you get my mom and her four sisters (who are all best friends) together, there is bound to be some hilarity – someone even fell off the bed in a fit of hysterics. Seriously.

Living My Life Laughing

Living My Life Laughing

About a week and a half ago, I was driving 90 miles an hour to rush one of my friends to the hospital to be with her mom in her last few minutes of life. We made it with about 20 minutes to spare.

What followed for me was a few hours of sitting in the waiting room holding her three girls, rocking them back and forth as their confused tears flowed. As I fixed their hair, raided the waiting room kitchen for all the graham crackers we could find, and talked about their precious grandmother, their little hearts were full of questions and curiosity.

I Think I’m Coming up for Air

I Think I’m Coming up for Air

This weekend, I got a 90-minute massage.

I know.

Take a minute to be jealous, and then listen up because during my little slice of heaven, I had a revelation.

I’ll wait…

Ready?

During my massage, I was thinking back over the past few months. I’ve mentioned that I have sort of felt lost lately. In a funk maybe.

When I get a massage, it’s my time to think. No one is talking to me, no one is rushing me, no one needs anything from me. It’s such a place of rest and peace, and I usually use this time to have a little chat with Jesus.

Those chats are usually all over the map. Sometimes I work out some frustrations and ask some rough questions. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life.

This time, though, it was more like this pleading with Jesus to just show me where I am. What’s going on with me? Why am I in such a weird place?

And Jesus answered.

He showed me that something exciting has been happening lately.

I’ve been waking up.

Not just in the morning, because that still doesn’t quite happen as regularly or as quickly as I’d like.

But I’m waking back up to who I am as a person.

I’m pretty much out of the haze. Out of the insanity. Out of the physical exhaustion that is having babies.

Growing them, giving birth to them.

Feeding, clothing, carrying, changing tiny humans.

Teaching them the basics of speech, going potty, walking, eating.

Now we’re in a whole new phase. It’s a much more verbally and mentally engaging job, rather than physically challenging.

We all sleep all night.

Everyone is capable of peeing on their own.

Every member of our household is able to get dressed by themselves.

And as a result, something strange is happening.

I’m waking up.

Have you ever seen the movie “Blast from the Past”?

It’s been like that.

When I hunkered down in the bomb shelter of babyhood, it was the 1960’s, and when I finally surfaced decades later, it was a new age with all new customs, phrases, inventions, and styles of clothing.

Seriously, though.

When I went under, “selfie” wasn’t a word used in everyday conversation

Before I left civilization to become a mom, the first iPad had not even been released yet.

The country was in the beginning of a financial crisis that would send the country into a tailspin.

Harem pants were making a comeback.

The president of the United States was George W. Bush the day I went into labor, and the day I came home from the hospital, Barack Obama had moved into the White House.

You see?

Now that I’m starting to come up for air, it’s like I’m learning things all over again.

When Brendan Frasier’s character, Adam, surfaces from the bomb shelter where he was born in the 60’s, his first taste of the new world is a rough part of L.A.

He’s shell-shocked at first, but then, after fumbling around a little bit, he sees some more of life, and he starts to get his bearings.

I feel like in the last few months of realizing that I’m in a new phase of life, I’ve been in the shell-shocked stage. I’m looking at the world and realizing that it’s much different than when I left it what seems like decades ago.

I am different.

Yesterday during my massage, I realized that I’m finally ready to start finding my footing again.

I’ve been memorizing Galatians 6 this year as one of my New Year’s goals. My favorite version has been the version from The Message translation. One of my favorite things that it says is:

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This is where I have resolved to start today – making a careful exploration of who I am and the work I have been given. And then I want to sink myself into that.

I’ve come up for air.

I’m no longer drowning in parenthood. I’ve finally gained the strength and ability to swim.

Now it’s time to figure out who I am again. Who is this new woman I’m supposed to be?

She’s different than she used to be.

She’s more experienced, has more wisdom, and is more confident.

She’s seen battle, and she’s come out the other side stronger. She’s grown humans and now she gets to enjoy them.

She has new passions, new desires, and new things that break her heart.

She has a different purpose.

She is a Spartan.

 I’m realizing that in this new stage, I have a lot more time to be productive. I eat at the same time everyone else does. I can shower in peace. They play in the backyard on their own for quite a while before they need anything from me, and even then, it’s a brief request.

It’s time to start using that time to make a careful exploration of who I am.

It’s time to set Martha aside and let Mary have a turn.

I want to meet this new girl. Find out what she’s all about.

And then sink myself into that.

On Travel and Kids

On Travel and Kids

One of my very favorite things about Ty is that he loves to travel as much as I do. I absolutely love to travel. I like seeing all kinds of things, seeing friends, and meeting new people. Anywhere I am, I always want to see the sights and eat at the local spots.

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I love the airport, and I love road trips, so I am pretty much set to go anywhere. The airport {any airport}, is one of my favorite places to be. On the other hand, any excuse to take a road trip is fine for me!

Ty and I are pretty much the best team we can be when we travel. We know how each other travels, and we flow back and forth very effortlessly. We both know what the kids need, what needs to be where when, and we are great at entertaining each other along the way.

The boys are great at traveling, and they know the deal when it comes to sitting for long periods of time, waiting until we get there, and the freedom of getting there and getting to enjoy the trip.

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I am so so glad that he is just as committed as I am to bringing our kids all over with us. I am thrilled that he wants to show them the world like I do, and has been just as excited to instill in them a love of travelling like we have. It’s so exciting to see them learning to enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.

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We rarely travel high class. We fly budget airlines (we seriously adore Southwest), earn airline miles on our cards, opt for driving if it’s closer, stay in affordable hotels or with friends and family, and we bring a lot of our own food places. We are teaching our kids the value of priorities, planning, and budgeting.

But there’s another part of traveling that is so awesome that I am so incredibly grateful for in our lives – traveling without our kids.

Because our lives are so busy, there are very few times for Ty and me to stop and have some concentrated time together. We have awesome family that is so willing to help watch our kids for date nights so that we can have that time together, but as wonderful as it is, it’s not the same as getting away by ourselves for a concentrated amount of time.

In the last 12 days, Ty and I have been out of town by ourselves twice for a total of 10 days.

This was a fluke for sure, because usually we don’t take two 5-day trips back-to-back. It was actually due to my terrible scheduling….I didn’t realize that our trip in February backed up to our trip in March. Mom Brain, I guess.

But either way, it has been a great time for us. Our trips were for two very different reasons (the first was to put on a conference for youth workers, and the second was to relax in a beach house with ten of our closest friends), so these last two weeks were a great time of growth for me.

Here are some reasons why it is so important to us that we travel without our kids.

WE TRY MORE NEW THINGS

Let’s face it, when we have kids, we tend to stick to what we know, right? We go to the restaurants we know they’ll like, we go to their favorite parks, we read the same stories. It’s part of being a parent, and part of being in a family. You do what works best for all. Sure, there are adventures, and we are trying to teach our kids to branch out and try new things, but there are quite a few things we can’t do with our kids.

We’ve been bobsledding on an Olympic track, and have had a blast on segways.

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We go hiking, four-wheeling, kayaking, and white water rafting.

We try frog, elk, and buffalo. We go to plays and concerts.

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Someday when our kids are older, they will be taller, more capable, and more ready. When that day comes, we will take them to do some of these things, but for now, we get to do them on our own.

WE CONNECT

Having any conversation with your children around is choppy at best. At restaurants, there are reminders to move their cups from the edge, stop watching the game on the TV and take a bite, and someone inevitably has to go to the bathroom as soon as the food comes.

When we are by ourselves, we have the best conversations.

We grow, we learn, we laugh, and sometimes we cry.

We catch up, check in, and encourage.

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Since we aren’t rushed, there is time to look each other in the eye and give each other the time that we need.

Dinner can last for hours, which allows plenty of time for dreaming and reminiscing.

If we are travelling with friends, it’s a time to be grown-ups. To laugh and enjoy each other. It’s a time to play games that don’t involve candy or to sit around the fire without worrying that someone will fall in.

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THEY SEE ME BE INDEPENDENT

Moms, this is so important.

Do you ever get the feeling that your kids don’t know that you actually have a first name? That before them, you had hobbies, dreams, and passions that were all your own?

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When I got home from our conference last weekend, I got to tell my kids that I was in charge of a team planning a conference – something grown-ups do. I have a degree in event planning, and I was able to tell them that I have my own talents and passions and that I put them to good use.

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They get to see pictures of me in a helmet, ready to hook my harness up to the zip line in St. Maartin. They hear about how I conquered my fear of heights by laying on the glass floor of the Calgary Tower in Canada.

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They see me as my own person doing my own things and having my own adventures.

As a person.

With a name.

THEY SEE US BE INDEPENDENT

Ty and I love. our. kids.

Most of the time, our life is a lot about our kids.

But it’s good for them to see that, in reality, the world does not, in fact, revolve around them. It’s beneficial for them to see that we make each other a priority. It’s good that they know that we are going to help other people, or visit people, or take time for ourselves.

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WE SEE THEM BE INDEPENDENT

Our kids are very self-sufficient as far as kids go. But it’s really fun to see them be super independent and know that they can do all kinds of things even if we aren’t with them.

When we were gone in February, Noah climbed to the top of the rock wall at his school carnival.

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When I asked him about it later, he said he was nervous, but he knew that both sets of grandparents were there, as well as a couple friends, to cheer him on, so he felt better about doing it. I just love that he knew he had support from all of those people – not just his parents.

My mom taught Aidan how to tie his shoes while we were out of town this last time.

What a cool thing for both of them that they got to have that moment together. And it’s great that he knows he can learn things from all kinds of people.

It’s also so important for them to know that they are able to function and develop who they are without our presence.

They have moments of missing us, sure. But overall, they know that we will be back, and they know that they will be okay until we are.

My favorite part of this element is that it makes them lean on each other, too. They are so much closer because they play with each other, they support each other, and they are a comfort to each other when they feel lonely without us.

It’s the stuff best friends are made of, and I’m so glad they’re each others’ best friend.

They are becoming Spartans thanks to all of the shaping that others contribute to their lives.

I SLEEP

I mean…’nuff said, right?

Honestly, though, this is a huge bonus for me. I don’t sleep well in general, but mostly because there are things expected of me from multiple people on a daily basis.

Lists run through my head, chores need to be done, plans need to be laid out and revisited….my brain just never shuts off!

On vacation, though, I sleep so soundly! No one needs me for anything, and if I can’t sleep, I have no qualms about popping some melatonin and getting a sound night’s sleep!

WE ARE BETTER PARENTS

When we get back from vacation, we are eager to see our kids. We have had a chance to refresh our relationship and ourselves.

And let’s face it…it’s nice to be able to miss your kids every once in a while.

I love coming home and snuggling and catching up on their time without us and our time without them.

It gives us renewed focus and energy.

We’ve had time to strategize and get on the same page and realign ourselves with each other to stay a team when it comes to parenting.

THEY HAVE A BLAST

The boys usually stay with one or both sets of our parents, and lets’ face it — who doesn’t want to spend the week at their grandparents’ house?

 Our kids are the only grandkids on both sides of our family, so they are pretty much the most loved kids probably ever.

They do all the things.

The zoo.

The carnival.

Ice cream in pajamas.

The park.

Games.

Bikes.

Breakfast made-to-order.

Sleepovers.

Skateboarding.

Movies.

Staying up late.

Candy.

The library.

Special dates.

Favorite books.

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When we call home to talk to them, they are way too busy to talk to us. They like to say hi, and they think it’s cool when we FaceTime, but we have to beg them to stay by the phone and focus. They are goofing off and doing something way more fun than talking to their boring parents anyway.

We are so grateful for both of our parents and all of the help we get with our kids on so many levels.

All in all, we love to travel, no matter who is with us, or where we are going.

We love going with our kids, but we also really really love going without them.

And we are a better family for it all.

Do you take your kids on vacation? Where is your favorite kid-friendly place to go?

Do you go without your kids, too? Where is your favorite place to go? 

On Being a Good Friend

On Being a Good Friend

Recently one of my closest friends, Machelle, moved to a different state.

Before she left, our close group of friends did a photo shoot together so that we could send her off with some great pictures of all of us together.

Of course, when they came back from the photographer, we all started posting a couple on Facebook. They were such great pictures that captured all of us and our individual senses of humor, our personalities, and our love for each other.

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But something kind of odd happened when we started posting them online. I started getting a lot of questions and comments about them. Of course, there were the obligatory “what a beautiful picture!” or “such beautiful ladies!” comments because let’s face it — they’re a great looking group of girls, and bonus – we had a magical photographer. But then there were some more private comments that quite a few people made in person.

“I wish I had a group of friends like that.”

“How did you find such a good group of friends?”

“I saw those pictures of you and your friends online. What a cool thing – I’m so jealous of your friendships.”

“I’ve never even had one friend that I was close to like that.”

“I see you and your friends online sometimes. How do you get friends like that?”

I know that I have been so very blessed in the department of friendships — both near and far. It’s been years and years since I have been without a wonderful social circle around me.

But true friendships don’t come easily, and they don’t come cheap.

There’s a verse in the Bible that is thrown around a lot about friendship. It’s in John, and it’s Jesus talking. He says,

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

When most people use it, they use it in the context of actually laying down your life for a friend — dying for a friend. Taking the place of a friend in a moment of courage and deep love. This is what Jesus did for us, and He calls us His friends — an unspeakable and grace-filled honor.

And while that is so amazing, and it’s true that if you were to die for a friend, it would be a gigantic expression of love on behalf of your friend, it’s a rare occurrence to need to die for a friend.

What makes such a good friend and is the greatest expression of friendship is setting your life aside in favor of a friend’s life.

Your time for theirs.

Your needs for theirs.

Your wants for theirs.

You have to be present for all the things. Good things. Bad things. Hard things. Fun things. Silly things. Heartbreaking things.

You need to be a friend who knows their favorites. Someone who will lovingly tell the truth. You must be able to keep a secret.

To be a good friend, you show up for their life.

You see their talents and encourage their passions. You pray for them. You want their greatest good always.

You don’t have great friends without being a great friend.

True, lasting, and deep Spartan friendship is a two-way street with lots of sacrifice and vulnerability and accountability and lots of time. It requires forgiveness and grace and mercy.

To have a meaningful friendship is costly for both friends.

It’s knowing that your friend needs help with some construction at the office and jumping on a plane and working for 3 days straight.

It’s getting the text, “He left.” and showing up with wine and chocolate and tissues. Then spending the next months and years working together to rebuild the woman and the life.

It’s hearing the words, “It’s cancer,” and standing with her and saying, “I’m with you and I won’t leave you. I’ll fight for you. I’ll be your strength when you don’t have it. We can do this together.”

It’s dropping everything and flying to your friend’s hospital bedside when they’ve been in a car accident, and taking turns with her husband sleeping in the chair.

It’s being available for middle of the night phone calls.

It’s telling a friend, “I hear you and I understand your side, but I think that this time, you’re wrong and he’s right.”

It’s showing up with packing boxes and tape and snacks and a can-do attitude to help your friend move.

It’s saying, “I’m so sorry I hurt you,” sometimes and “I forgive you,” just as many times.

It’s the Tuesdays, and the birthdays, and being present even when you weren’t asked.

It’s painting living rooms, babysitting, nights out, and choosing time together over laundry.

Laying down your life isn’t necessarily dying.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

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P.S. I’m obviously super passionate about friendship. I’ve talked about it before, and if you want to read some more of my thoughts,   click here and here.

Today is Thursday.

Today is Thursday.

Some facts.

Today is Thursday.

An incredible man, Bob Goff, wrote a book called “Love Does”  and it changed my life.

*subfact: It will change yours for sure and you should read it.*

In his book, Bob says that every Thursday, he quits something. He quits something because he wants to make more room for people and more room for Jesus.

Today is Thursday

Today is Thursday. And today I’m quitting something.

Today is the day that I refuse to feel guilty about nothing anymore. 

I’m tired of walking around with guilt that shouldn’t be mine. There are plenty of things for me to feel guilty about that I could totally own. I mess up frequently.

I’m grumpy, I’m hangry, I’m crazy.

I get lazy, I yell, I get impatient.

Like, a lot.

I have so many things that I could spend my time making right, and asking for forgiveness for that I don’t need to add on guilt for things that I’ve never done. And all of those things that I’ve actually done? Jesus has already forgiven me for them.

I’m tired of letting other people make me feel guilty for things they think I should do, or shouldn’t do, or will do, or maybe did.

This comes so much with the territory with moms, especially, but also with just women in general. Not that the world as a whole doesn’t supply plenty of pressure, but women specifically place a lot of this pressure on each other.

As a mom, I was told that I needed to breastfeed. As soon as I told people that I would be nursing Noah, the women who didn’t nurse automatically took my choice as a judgment on them, and began making excuses for their own choice, even though the only topic of discussion was MY choice. Many of those who nursed felt like we inherently were on the same side of a battle, and felt comfortable discussing why those who didn’t were in the wrong.

When I decided to stay home with my kids instead of have a career, many women with jobs around me felt like I was making a statement about their decision to work. Other stay-at-home moms felt like they’d gained another ally to add to their number.

I eat junk food and I love it. I’ve been trying to change that, and I am working to change the way that my family and I eat. There’s a battle about that. When I decline a food that I feel we shouldn’t eat, some feel like I’m judging the way that they eat.

Ty and I decide to go out on a double date with another couple. Then some couple feels like we are upset with them for not choosing them instead.

And Heaven help me if I plan a birthday party. Who knows how many hundreds of people are offended that they weren’t on the 3 year old’s list of people to invite.

I nursed my first child, and bottle-fed my second child.

I may not have a job, but my choice to stay home with my kids was a very personal one, and is in no way a statement made for the benefit of other people. Some women would love to stay home with their kids but they must work. Some women have the desire to work, but for the benefit of their family they must stay home. Some want to work and enjoy it.

I am changing the way that my family eats because I have a personal conviction that I feel better when I eat better, and we might as well do it as a family. Not everyone is in a place to afford the changes it takes to make real life change in the area of eating. Very few people have the time that it takes to do it completely – me included. Which means that I have one foot on one side of the line, and one foot on the other.

I enjoy a lot of people, and would love to spend time with pretty much anyone. But if I tried to spend time with all of them at once, I would spend no time with anyone. Everyone would lose.

I can’t have everyone I know over for a birthday party, so I have to choose the people that know my kids the most and limit it to the children who are closest to my kids.

If the gossip train really gets going, or if someone sees something on Facebook and interprets it in a way I did not intend, if someone infers something that I didn’t say, if…if…IF…IF….IF!!!!!!

You guys.

We have to stop the madness.

Today I was chatting with God and handing over all my guilt yet again, as is our ritual. I lament my failures, apologize, plead for forgiveness, and feel unworthy, forgetting the valiant sacrifice already made on my behalf. Jesus, in His amazing graciousness wipes my slate clean and picks my chin up and dusts me off and gives me a gentle nudge to face the day again.

But today, I heard Jesus whisper deep down in my soul, “Wait, some of these don’t belong to you. Where did you find these?”

Some of these things that I’m feeling guilt over aren’t mine. So much of this guilt I feel isn’t mine. It’s over things I didn’t do – just things that others expected me to do. Or it’s from things I did and have allowed others to make me feel shame about or insecure about, when none was needed.

I’m tired of letting others dictate what I should feel guilty about, aren’t you? I’m tired of not having room for Jesus or other people because I’m taking up all the space and time with worrying about things that didn’t even happen.

I want my gauge of whether or not I’ve done wrong to be based on truth and fact. On Biblical authority. On those who have my best interest at heart. On who Jesus created me to be, and what He asks me to do.

Today is Thursday.

And today, I am done feeling guilty because others tell me I should.

Will you join me?

I’m Just In It

I’m Just In It

Hello again sweet friends!

I feel like it has been far too long since I’ve written to you all! I’ve been jonesing for some time to write and I just haven’t been getting it!

On some level, I’d love to write every day. But let’s be honest….I’m kind of a spaz and I don’t quite find the time every day. Or most days.

I think I talk a lot about being in a funk. I get in them for a couple days every few weeks, I suppose. I think it’s just feeling like I’ve been doing the same thing over and over and I get…for lack of a better word, bored. I feel like I just kind of numb out until I am jolted back to reality that my life is so wonderful and I need to be reminded that I am so so grateful.

I don’t have any deep insights for you today, or anything really special to share. I just wanted to let you know that I’m in it with you. I’m in the daily grind. The Christmas take-down. The recalibrating schedules after break. The part where you feel lonely and sometimes unnoticed. The “I just did the dishes, how are there more?” part of life. The zombie when I wake up, zombie when I lie down. It’s chilly, and it’s dark until late in the morning and early at night.

My house looks like this, people. All of it.

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(And for the record, you can see that my Christmas tree is still up in the background. I can’t take it down by myself, so there it sits until I have a taller grownup to help me. It might be a Valentine’s tree. Um, don’t judge me. It’s totally a thing. Or it will be. You’ll see.)

I’m just in it with you.

The mundane, and the messy.

And the best part?

So. Is. Jesus.

I woke up this morning and from the depths of my soul, I just whispered, “Just be with me today.”

Do you ever just feel like all you can say to Jesus is, “Could you just…not leave me?”

Today was that day. All I had left for Jesus today was a silent plea to simply be right with me.

So all I have for you is this — you are not alone.

I see you. Jesus sees you.

Power on, dear friend. Power on.