amelia · gus · just write life · motherhood · writing

When Determination Comes at the Pace of a Bear Crawl

IMG_0368They tell me bears are fast. If we see one when we’re hiking, the worst thing we can do is run because they will chase us down and eat us.

Okay, not really, but mauling for sure. Maybe.

My kids participated in a bear crawl this morning because the bear is their school mascot (of course because we live in the mountains) and this fun run raised lots of money for their school. Specifically the teacher’s classroom libraries, which I think should be stocked with Cynthia Rylant and plenty of gorgeous picture books.

(I told this to my youngest’s kindergarten teacher from last  year. I don’t know his first grade teacher well enough yet to go all book bossy on her.)

Thirty-five laps around a “track” made of tiny cones and discarded water cups. I have no idea who long the actual footage was, but I know it took most kids about thirty minutes to complete. I expected my turbo charged little boy to run his heart flat out.

He did. He also made his hair look like this which is why I cannot bring myself to cut it.

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But my third, my youngest daughter, who has given us a history that involves words like atrophy and MRI and oligloconal banding, the girl who wears a brace to walk so she doesn’t get too tired, the child who had a complete meltdown at my kitchen table Monday afternoon BECAUSE THIRD GRADE IS SO HARD, I didn’t have any expectations. I just hoped she wouldn’t get run over.

Y’all.

She ran and ran and grinned and ran and cheered and laughed. She beat her friends. She never stopped, never gave up, never worried that she couldn’t do it. Watching her reminded me she’s stronger everyday. She’s better every scan. She’s living with a new normal that’s been her normal for over half her life now.

This is her life.

And she’s determined to live it at high speed–not crawl through it cowered down by the what-ifs.

I think it’s time I took a cue from my baby girl and found my own endurance.

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I adore this book. It is wonderfully written and tells the story beautifully.-2

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1000 gifts · just write life · madelynne · motherhood · writing

13 Ways to Live When You’re Only 13

Dear Daughter Turning 13 Today,

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Yesterday I couldn’t reach the paper plates on the top shelf of the tall cabinet and you could.

Yesterday you lay in bed with me, snuggled up like you were still five, but we read Harry Potter instead of Llama Llama.

Yesterday, you were still twelve. You were still considered a kid by society and all the people who create children’s menus at restaurants.

Today you are thirteen.

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This getting older is pretty much like standing on that mountaintop again, realizing we still have so far to go. 

Your daddy doesn’t like when I wish it away. This growing up, growing older, growing taller by the second. He loves having you all independent and that I don’t make him carry a diaper bag anymore when we travel.

But when you were small, I could tuck you into my lap and protect you from the world. I could hold you close and make everything okay with a Disney movie and some popcorn on a school night. (I keep trying to use this tactic, hence Gilmore Girls on the first day of new school when you cried because you didn’t have any friends.)

When  you were small, I was all that stood between you and all things scary. Now you’re growing up and you’re the same age as students who once called me Mrs. Brackett and talked me into reading Twilight and told me about which boys were no good. I can’t imagine you being the same age as Ansley or Cassidy or Katie or Maribeth or Mattie or Savannah or Jessica or Veronica. In my mind, you’re still five and you love coloring and mismatched clothes and playing at the house up the hill and when you grow up, you’re going to be President and Jackson is going to be your Vice President.

Now you’re standing in front of a world that when the news or weather channel is on–thank goodness we don’t have cable TV–seems awfully scary. Do I caution you about social media? Cyber bullying? Nuclear missiles? Hurricanes? EMP pulse? ISIS? Zombie apocalypse?

Or do I just teach you how to live in the face of a world we can’t control? 

I think this is a better lesson.

13 Ways to Really Live When You’re Only 13

  1. Sing. Loudly. Off key or on key. Hamilton score or Taylor Swift (the old stuff though). It makes you happy. So do it no matter what anyone else thinks.
  2. Laugh. At yourself and with your friends and always, always with your family. We yell enough. We don’t laugh enough.
  3. Wear the clothes that make you feel good. I wish I’d learned that sooner.
  4. Try harder everyday. Keep practicing volleyball and geometry and music and all the things you like.
  5. Enjoy the sugar now. Though we do talk about healthy choices… I’m so jealous you can drink a Dr. Pepper without an ounce of guilt because you’re young and full of never-ending metabolism.
  6. Be yourself. You’ve never cared what the popular kids thought. Don’t start now.

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    Case in point: sparkly hat.
  7. Keep the compassion. Walk between the crowds, see the ones outside.
  8. Know what you believe. Now’s the time to ask all the questions. To maybe find all the answers. Talk to us now, while we’re closer than a phone call.
  9. Talk as much as you want. I know we joke about how you could talk the wallpaper off the dining room wall (and I really wish you’d try) but I love to listen to you tell me about every detail of your day. Truly, even when you think I’m not listening, I am.
  10. Delight in all the small stuff. You already do–let that be a part of the young woman you become. One who sees how all the little moments really matter.
  11. But let the little hurts go. We talk about this almost everyday. We’re both working on it and I hope you learn faster than me that letting some things roll on off will make you happier.
  12. Like what you like. Music. Books. Clothes. Games. Like the things that make you grin and let others do the same.
  13. Stay honest. You tell me you’re like me–but you’re not. You’re stronger and more confident than I’ve ever been. And you’re honest–with yourself and others. You talk things out. You wrestle your hurts. You ask for help. Because you don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

While I could happily wait a little longer to see you become a young woman… this time keeps coming at us and the days and years seem shorter every time. Settle in, baby girl. We’re going to make it to the other side.

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Madelynne was born so long ago WE DIDN’T USE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY AT HER BIRTH.

 

Thirteen years ago I birthed this baby. Eleven days ago I birthed this book. Let’s just say one took longer than the other and they’ve both caused me immeasurable amounts of tears–and incomprehensible joy.

motherhood · school · writing

When Gilmore Girls Makes Your First Day of School Look Not So Bad

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We did it. Lined ’em all up on the front stoop (it’s not a porch though Joshua says he’ll build me one someday) and took the obligatory First Day picture and took them all to new schools.

Yeah, I’m a homeschool quitter.

I love a lot of things about homeschool. I love the freedom to travel. I love reading books with and to my kids. I love the library and the Dollar Tree practice books I discovered late in the season and all my homeschool friends who make it look so easy. But I also had to teach math and y’all, I know my strengths. There’s a reason I made it into college with a really high verbal score on the SAT.

So they went back to school. Little ones love it. There’s colorful classrooms and desks with their names and cafeteria food. My kids have really high standards, can you tell?

But the big ones… well, we sent them to middle school. Most awkward years ever and we sent them to a new school with hardly any friends.

We’re the meanest parents ever. Also, I’ve been told I’m incredibly embarrassing because, turns out, I do know lots of the teachers and there was hugging at Open House and talking too much.

They’re going to survive. I know that. But when your girls cry on you in the minivan and the first day isn’t easy, you do what you have to do to make it better.

We watched Season 1, Episode 2, “The Rorys Go to Chilton”. Because, truly, Rory’s first day was way worst than ours. I wore real clothes for drop off (actually Joshua did the MS drop off) and there was no girl on campus who even came close the rivaling Paris for mean girl crown. Which made my almost-thirteen year old smile and start naming the things that were good.

And that’s my parenting tip of the week. When times get tough and you’re at your wits end trying to make it better, use a little pop culture (pre-screened of course).

I’d love to hear about your first day in the comments here or wherever you have a login saved. And what did I do while they were all in school for a solid eight hours you ask? I worked on proofing the print and Kindle copies of my debut novel which releases next month. NEXT MONTH. You can preorder it on Amazon while you’re buying all the Gilmore Girls episodes. 

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

faith · just write life · motherhood · writing

When You Really Don’t Want to Run the Race Anymore

StockSnap_I5APPDXHX3Had one of those pinnacle moments of motherhood this weekend. One of those times where I thought–this moment is it. The choice I make, the choice she  makes, in THIS moment will define how I parent her for the rest of her life.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve had more than one moment like this with this particular child this past month.

And I’m not so certain she’s the one who’s learning. I pray she is. I hope she is. I think she is. But really? I’m learning the hard and fast truth about motherhood, writing, life–you have to keep going even when you don’t think you can. 

She fell Saturday morning barely 25 meters into the 3200 meter race at the state track meet for youth. That red-hued track ate up her knee and elbow and pride. The whistle blew for a restart because the rules allow it that early into a race.

(You know, quite often we aren’t as far along as we think, and the opportunity to begin again is right there if we take a few steps back.)

The gatekeepers let me out there as soon as I said she was mine, and I wiped the bloody trickle and slapped on a bandaid and told her to line back up. That’s the worst part of motherhood, you know. When your baby is crying and hurting and you know you have to make them finish. When you know it would be easier to say, good try, there’s always next year, you’re hurting so let’s quit. 

But truth is I called up reality–we drove three hours so she could run in one race. This is her event. She’s had a tough season, but we’re finishing. It’s two miles, I told her, and you’ll be done in fifteen minutes. Line up.

I practically pushed her back to that starting line believing she might make it one round and then beg to come out. I would’ve let her. Because she got back up and tried again.

She finished the race.

We run with endurance the race that is set before us…

The preacher called up those words Sunday morning amidst a congregation that featured a woman who left her Georgia home in 1954 and served 38 years in Nigeria as a missionary. The pews were filled with her girls, come visiting for her 90th birthday. What a race she’s almost finished.

…run with ENDURANCE…

My girl might carry that scar on her knee for awhile. She has a wall full of medals and ribbons from other races she’s won, but this one–this race she lost by all the standards which measure speed–this is the race where she truly gets the prize.

This is the race I will remember in this long marathon of motherhood and grace. The one that cost the most. The one that made me set aside the instinct to coddle and press forward with the commandment to endure.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [a]fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12: 1-2

 

motherhood · vent · writing

The Not To-Do List

This post was inspired by the warmup I gave myself commenting on my friend Hannah’s post today. You should know Hannah. She tall and gorgeous and we bond over caffeine and writers conferences and having unplanned pregnancies that send us to our knees.

This is a common trend in most of my deep and abiding friendships.

Anyway, Hannah’s awesome and she writes children’s books and confesses what needs to be said over and over again in the face of Pinterest and status updates and perfection. Nobody’s doing it all. And if they are, they aren’t doing it well.

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I also don’t have time to download pictures and I really love this one because it was a really good day just before I took Gus to have his hair cut way too short. (Sob.)

I fed my kids frozen chicken nuggets and pizza rolls for lunch and I haven’t cleaned up the kitchen. They’re watching TV on this random Thursday and the house is rather messy and someone should switch the laundry. I bought myself a new planner today because there are dates on my novel publication timeline that are in 2017 BECAUSE THAT’S ONLY LIKE 56 DAYS AWAY and I am about to hyperventilate. Annabelle cried about fractions AGAIN and she told me we will never use fractions in real life and I was a good mom who didn’t correct that statement since I hate math and I’d agree except I love to cook so I’m going to make her cook with me and then we’ll learn fractions and that’s how homeschool works.

That’s also how a run-on sentence works, thank you very much.

I have no idea how I’m going to get it all done but I do know there are a lot of things coming up in the next eight weeks that I am NOT going to do. I made a little list for you because I thought there might be some things you want to NOT do as well so you can do all the things you’d really rather do or absolutely have to do.

Like read a novel. Because that’s pretty important, I think.

  1. I will not be purchasing matching Christmas pjs for Santa pictures. There is no budget for this or do I have time to scour the internet/Walmart/outlets for flannel matchiness that one child will say itches and one child will say is ugly and one child will refuse to wear.
  2. I will not be painting my kitchen by myself because I have already proven that I cannot be trusted with such a project and also, if fifty of Joshua’s co-workers come over and see the paint samples on the wall and the delightful circa 1990 wallpaper and want to judge my decorating skills, oh well. (As an aside, I don’t really think they’ll judge me but they are coming.)
  3. I will not be doing the Whole 30 challenge because while I could stand to give up some carbs (i.e. sugar) now is not the time. April might be good for that, I’ve heard. So what I can put off until next year, well, I will.
  4. I will not request extra projects so I can earn some extra cash for Christmas because I already can’t finish the work I have in a timely manner. As illustrated by the text I just got from the scheduler for one of my clients.
  5. I will not wade into the mudslinging of the internet over issues that are hot-topic and involve women and leaders I respect. But I will provide you this link to Jennie Allen because I like what she said.
  6. I will not kill myself to write 1600 words on my manuscript each day so I can meet the 50,000 word suggested goal for NaNoWriMo. I will, however, write on my manuscript everyday. Today I wrote 665 words and mostly liked them all. Done.
  7. I will not worry about how my girls maybe aren’t learning enough science and social studies because those classes are not scaffolded for middle school and they can catch up if we go back to public school and the world will not end and at least they have a general idea of where the continents are. Oh, and they can tell you a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win an election. Good enough.

There’s more but I should probably shower before I go to the Rotary dinner with my husband tonight, and I WILL be cleaning the shower because the mildew is gross. See? Priorities. What about you?

P.S. Sign up for my newsletter because I pinky promise this time it’s really coming and I have exciting news!!! (No, I’m NOT pregnant.)

 

 

just write life · Margin Mom · motherhood · writing

Definitely Not All That and a Bag of Chips

Let me tell you one of my absolute favorite reasons for attending writers conferences. Not only do I get to hang with my awesome friends whose minds work a good bit like mine, not only do I get to take classes from really smart people who become awesome friends, and not only do I get to network with awesome industry professionals who encourage and give me guidance,

I get respect.

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Some of my people. Aren’t they fun? Hannah Hall, Hannah Brock, Lyndsey Hulen, and Janet Surrette.

I’ve got a few bylines, great connections, and a job in publishing which means people approach me as a professional. Newbies ask me for advice and they want to talk this motherhood-writing-publishing-loving Jesus gig with me as if I know some secret they don’t.

Here’s what I know. I’m not all that and a bag of chips.

I’m a harried mom who has never really learned the art of simply playing with my kids.

I’m a stretched writer because I want to fulfill my creative endeavors and pay my bills.

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With Bruce Stewart, one of our prolific Splickety writers.

I’m a published author because of grace and maybe a little raw talent, but mostly a whole lot of right place at the right time.

Yeah, definitely not as together as I’d like to appear.

Two Saturdays ago I taught an online class about finding time to write. I had tried and true tips, funny anecdotes, and good connections to pass on to these writers.

But this past Saturday afternoon I cried hot streaming tears so hard and so fast, my daughters rubbed my shoulders and told me to just take my computer into the bedroom and close the door and work.

Because I had run out of time to finish edits to my never-existing satisfaction and my morning had not gone as planned and it’s the first week of summer and I’d gotten up early every day to work and I was so, so tired.

When I spoke with my editor she gave me some beautiful advice. “God doesn’t want your perfection, Lindsey. He wants your excellence.”

There’s a difference.

Perfection doesn’t exist for flawed, broken people. We can’t be perfect because that unattainable quality is reserved for the great Creator God. What we can be is givers of excellence, strivers of offering only our best, lovers of good works that resonate with souls.

And perfection actually doesn’t resonate with mine.

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The lovely Lucinda McDowell who is helping me market my novel and wrote my current favorite devotional, Dwell.

So I quit fiddling for now and sent in my manuscript. And I got a lot honest with myself. I’m terrified of the expectations I’ve heaped upon this book. But all I can do is the best I have right now, at this moment.

And that might not be good enough for some people. Everyone’s not going to love this novel that’s getting birthed from a small publishing house with a lot of wise people helping me along this journey.

Sort of like, everyone doesn’t read this blog. Everyone doesn’t think I’m all that. Everyone doesn’t believe I really have it all together.

And those might be the people I’m most grateful for. Because they push me to strive beyond my “good enough” and find that place where I can be excellent. And then they challenge me to find it over and over, again and again.

But never expect perfection. That’s a death trap of comparison and joy-stealing and self-hatred.

Perfection belongs to Christ. And we belong to Him.

motherhood · writing

Big Little Lies, Milestones Testing, and Trump

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That shirt just says it all. Most of the time this little one reminds me that my only job is to take care of her. She’s struggled a bit these past few weeks.

Sometimes I’m not really sure what I think about this world we’re living in. Sometimes I just want to take my kids to a farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere and finally own that granola tag a college professor gave me years ago. Sometimes I want to keep them home with me where the only fear is that I might lose my mind if they fight one more time over a certain couch cushion.

Seriously, kids. There are FIVE cushions and FOUR of you.

But if I just retreat into our own little haven, I’d miss out on all the goodness that is interacting with live, three-dimensional people and telling my friend at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, in between comparisons of kale types, about the latest book I read.

I’m supposed to be reading the Divergent series with my oldest, but we’ve both lost it on Allegiant and I’ve told her to stop because a) it’s just not that easy to follow and b) it’s definitely not appropriate for her. Line crossed. Instead I finished my book club read. We’re on a Liane Moriarty kick. So much so that we just had to make a rule that we wouldn’t read anymore of her books this year.

Big Little Lies was just perfect for this time of year and for this public school mama/former teacher who has had it up to here (picture hand over my head) with all the drama. We’ve never had a parent die at a school fundraiser (spoiler alert!) but if you want a good laugh at the caricatures of typical parents these days, read this book. It’s got a heavy, serious side as well and things are not always what they seem — for anyone.

I love, too, that it’s set in Australia and the glimpse into a different type of school system is fascinating. But you could pick it up and set in America, no problem. Just sprinkle in some labels determined by a test that ultimately means nothing.

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No, he doesn’t have a concealed weapons license. And he’s a thief because that gun isn’t his. But a sweet boy said he could keep it.

Seriously. The kids and teachers did everything they were asked. My kids got a special snack and a cute saying everyday (“We’re CHEERing you on!” with the bag of Cheerios). We fed our teachers muffins, and said prayers for their sanity, and whispered among ourselves about whether or not we should organize an opt out movement that demonstrates disdain for this test yet shows support for our teachers.

And the state of Georgia can’t get it together so that the results are actually valid. Which just goes to prove our students and teachers are so much more than a test score. They’re volcano builders and story writers and stage actors and creative mathematicians. They’re kids who grow up to form their own opinions about the world and all it has to offer.

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Sixth at state track in the 1600. She’s mad I posted this because she hates to be the center of attention. Guess politics aren’t in her future.

Of course, in America, what we have to offer now is Donald Trump.

I usually keep my political views to myself, especially since I don’t land solidly in any camp, and I’ve come to believe that my circle of influence doesn’t have to be large to be powerful. But I’m really not happy about this.

Thank goodness I don’t put all my hope in this world where we can tear each other down and forget to build one another back up. My hope lies in a place where we no longer believe the lies we tell ourselves, where we no longer measure our kids by their performance, where we no longer divide ourselves into two opposing camps of right and wrong.

And that’s a great big truth.

What are you reading lately? Did you kids take the test? And if you dare, feel free to talk politics, but I’d rather talk kale recipes.