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Covey, Jason Covey: a birthday tribute to my man

Tomorrow is my husband’s  birthday and I thought I would seize the  opportunity to proclaim his greatness to the world.

Note possible ulterior motive: I’m hoping this post may convince him to finally read my blog!

Here are 36 reasons that I love Jason, in honour of his 36th birthday:

1.  He looks like James Bond when he wears a suit.

2.  He laughs at all my jokes but he never at me.

3.  He is steadfast and level-headed.

4.  He takes his time and will not be rushed.

5.  He offers the single most memorable line in an evening full of conversation.

6.  He listens and remembers.

7.  He doesn’t succumb to the unrealistic expectations and idiotic opinions of others.

8.  He looks at me and he sees me.

9.  He is a respectful and respected professional that does his work with excellence.

10.  He opens our home to any number of vagabonds, including, but not limited to, former students, moms groups, and close family.

11.  He sees all his flaws as a place to start rather than a depressing end.

12.  He reads classic fiction – for fun – and he reads to our children.

13.  He tracks the paperwork and finances for our household on an Excel spreadsheet because I asked him to.  God bless him.

14.  He trouble-shoots technology problems and is patient enough to persevere until he finds a solution.

15.  He is an amazing athlete, playing all sports with ease (an ability I envy because I do not possess it).

16.  He helps around the house with menial chores like garbage, dishes, and laundry.

17.  He commutes every day so I don’t have to.

18.  He respects my profession.

19.  He tells me to relax, to sit awhile, and to let the rest of the “to-do” list go.

20.  He snuggled and continues to snuggle our babies.

21.  He gets his hair cut with a proper stylist.

22.  He cares about how he presents himself to the world:  with style and integrity.

23.  He will pick up diapers and feminine products on his way home from work without complaining.

24.  He keeps my bed warm every night.

25.  He strives to understand and meet my needs.

26.  He champions me in my secret ambitions.

27.  He listens to my lengthy and repetitive rants about delinquent teenagers at work, frustrating kids at home, and my mother.

28.  He cherishes his heritage and seeks to honour it in our home.

29.  He makes time for frequent dates and plans mini-break weekends.

30.  He draws me a bath, rubs my feet, and/or pours me a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) when I am weary.

31.  He trusts and values my opinion as an equal partner.

32. He DJs and participates fully in our Living Room Dance Parties.

33.  He reads his Bible daily with his morning cup of coffee.

34.  He will watch episodes of Gilmore Girls, Downton Abbey, and Parenthood.

35.  He tolerates my fits of hysteria that often end in tears or uncontrollable laughter.

36.  He is fiercely loyal and committed to his family.

                                                                         And…he reads my blog!

Happy Birthday, honey!  I hope you feel loved today and every day.

A Bit Loony

At the cottage this year, my husband and I spent some wonderful evenings enjoying the view of Charleston Lake and, as usual, this quiet time surrounded by God’s Green Earth had us thinking about the pace of our day-to-day lives.

Like Annie Dillard, tinkering at her creek, I often find that the time I spend in nature is spiritually charged.  It compels me to reflect on and examine my life and to learn from the wisdom embedded in creation.  This particular vacation, my attention was drawn to the flight patterns of two birds.

Have you ever observed the distinct contrast between a loon’s frantic flapping and a hawk’s majestic soaring?  Sure, they both make it to their chosen destination but watching them get there reveals a significant difference; the loon looks like she is barely surviving while the hawk makes it look easy.  Truly, loons are not very graceful when they fly.  They exert so much energy and appear to be fighting against the wind and the gravitational pull whenever they are airborne.  It seems they should take some advice from Dory and “just keep swimming” because they’ve got that mode of travel mastered.  Just take your time, loons.  Stop trying so hard.  Align your flight with the power of the wind.

Oh. Right.

So, I’m a bit loony.  Shocking revelation, I know.   Friends, I am fighting every fiber of my being as a Type A, driven, task-oriented individual and am resigning myself to the fact that this pace is not a healthy or inspiring way to travel.  Actually, it’s a little crazy.

I often succumb to the frenetic pace of our society because I feel the need to get somewhere or to accomplish something according to an arbitrary timeline that I have established for myself, generally based on unrealistic expectations and external pressures.  I rarely orient my life to a rhythm that breathes.  Hence, the frantic flapping and the trying too hard.  And the grace-less flight.

istock_flying_common_loon[1]

But, I am weary from all the flapping and I’m baby-stepping my way into the hawk program.

The late Dallas Willard offered the wise instruction to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives”.  I must do this.  I know it to be true.  But it is SO HARD.

So, where is the hope for me in all this loon-acy?  How can I reorient my pace to something that is life-giving instead of life-draining?

I think it is as simple and as hard as this:  daily I must resist the tyranny of the urgent and SLOW DOWN.  Daily I must choose to live in harmony with the indwelling Spirit, release all the busyness and striving, and become attentive to God’s work in and through me.

If I want to soar, I have to put my hope in the Lord to renew my strength.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like [hawks];

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40, italics mine

What Lies Beneath

So, I bought my first pair of Spanx last week to wear under my dress for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  (Well, not actually Spanx another – I’m sure much lesser – brand from The Hudson’s Bay Company but you get the idea.)

I don’t think I fully understood what I was getting myself into.

I mean, these gitch are the envy of every granny-panty ever made.  A single pair is about $50 – one pair of underwear, essentially – and mine are the cheap knock-offs!

However, I need them to wear under fancy dresses and the like to smooth out what I will call my “life lines”: the extra bits of me that have grown from experiences like birthing too many children and eating too many Lays Dill Pickle Chips.  Yep, that’s right. I paid good money to strategically stuff pieces of me into the largest pair of undies you’ve ever seen.   A pretty picture?  Maybe.

Yes, I could just sport a lovely muumuu to the family wedding but if it is a choice between grandma’s outerwear and grandma’s underwear I’d rather hide this necessary evil and pretend my weight issues away.  The muumuu is a dead giveaway that I have been eating like a cow. (I realize this blog is too, but so few people read it.)

So, the big day arrives.  I’m prepping for my debut as a 10-pound-lighter-looking goddess in the bathroom of the Holiday Inn because I know there will be no end of photography on this occasion.  I’m showered, shaved, newly coiffed, and ready to go out into the world until I try on my undergarments. And they suck.

Ladies, it is no small feat to get into these things, let me tell you.  It is no spa treatment.  I could pay the same cash for a lovely pedi and be much less aware of my shortcomings.  Because, after squeezing my parts into the proper places with several grunts of dismay, I stood in front of the mirror and realized one simple thing.

I am NOT 10 pounds lighter.

I am merely bound by the modern equivalent of the corset and my lack of self-discipline.

Spanx are a merely a Band-Aid solution.  Sure, they work wonders to conceal my flaws for a few hours but nothing has really changed.  It’s all a façade.

As many of you know, I have struggled for sometime to maintain a healthy lifestyle  but it is so much easier to stuff it than to actually make changes.  I am weak and my resolutions fail and I continue to find myself in front of the mirror, confronting the truth.

And the fact that Spanx  (and wannabe Spanx) fly off the shelves indicates to me that I may not be alone in this battle against the bulge.  C’mon friends, surely I’m not the only muffin-topper out there that needs some encouragement!

How can we come together to create a prettier picture that embraces health and wellness in all its forms – including our bodies? How can we get beyond the lies we tell ourselves and really find some freedom?

Maybe if we all rally together we can help each other confront the truths about this deeply spiritual issue. Is it possible?

Is it time for a support group instead of support panties?  I’d like to think so.  Let me know if you are in.

Check out this group resource: http://madetocrave.org/

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Confessions of a Selfish Mom

“I wanna do what I wanna do.”

This is my 2-year-old’s newest chant.  My heart chimes in with an amen, I hear ya, little man every time it is uttered.  And I wonder if that makes me a selfish mom.

Like many moms, I know I need to look after myself but so much of my time and energy is poured out into my husband, my kids, my home, and my work that I don’t know how to juggle it all. I often struggle with the guilt associated with taking “me-time” and making decisions to meet my personal needs.  I often feel that I am not fulfilling my motherly duties if I take time away from the kids so I tend to neglect myself under the guise of caring for others.

I’m convinced that there is a spectrum that lies between

selflessness ______________________&___________________selfishness

and I’m really not sure how to pin point the golden mean.  In this case, Aristotle’s virtue between the two extremes is a little vague for my liking.

I know that we must take care of ourselves as moms in order to be able to take care of our families but the litany of items that “ought” to be addressed in my life under “self-care” constitute a full-time job and I already have at least one of those.  How can I stay spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and have time for anyone else?

Every mom knows that the job is draining; everyone wants a piece of you but there are not enough pieces to go around. So we can’t keep running on empty and expect to carry on without deficiencies in one area or another.  I know that taking time to care for myself is necessary in order to be any good to those who depend on me but trying to discern the practical parameters of my self-care is really tricky.  Perhaps, I am lacking wisdom and should ask for it…so, wise ones out there in cyberspace, what say you?

Currently, I try to take one night of the week and break from my motherly duties.  I try to be as consistent as possible to keep our family routine intact so that the kids can expect it. This seems reasonable enough but it is the daily disciplines that seem to be so elusive.  I have trouble finding moments throughout my day to refresh.  And even if I should miraculously find a spare 10 minutes, I don’t always use these precious few breaths well.

So, I guess what I am really asking is, at what point does self-care descend into selfishness? I know we invest so much of ourselves in this holy calling known as motherhood but is it okay that sometimes I just wanna do what I wanna do?

I Can’t Do It and Neither Can You

So that resolve thing?  Yeah, it’s not working.

I keep trying to do things on my own and my resolve lacks results.

So, here’s what I am learning.  No amount of doing on my part is going to help.  This is a difficult realization for me to admit.  You see, I’m a doer and a doer that can’t do anything is a force to be reckoned with.  Just ask my husband.  I don’t like to wait;  I want to take action.  I want to develop a plan and implement it.  But manipulation of the externals rarely succeeds in bringing about internal change.  And therein lies the problem.

This frustration is at the heart of Christian experience, right? The Apostle Paul got it.  It has to be God doing the work because we’ve got nothing.  No amount of wishful thinking or good intentions is going to accomplish the work He has started.  Only He can do that.  And so we wait on Him.  Argh.

I’m just trying to figure out how to live in that holy dependency.  Seriously, how do we practically depend on God for strength?  (And don’t comment in Christianese; “let go and let God” just doesn’t deal with this very real struggle honestly enough for me.)  I know that trying to “figure out” the mysterious movement of God is a bit of a fool’s errand.  But I’ve got to do something!

Often, I feel like there is little point in trying at all:  what I want to do I don’t do; but, what I don’t want to do, I do. Yeah, I get that, Paul.  For all those areas that need discipline in my life, I am at His mercy. Somewhere between grace and application a balance can be found – not that I’ve found it, I just choose to believe in that hope.

But how do we allow God to work in us to break us free of these chains?  I have to believe it is possible and that I’m just a work in progress with a long way to go to completion.

I suppose I should feel it is freeing to know that this work is not up to me.  Somehow, that’s not where I’m at and I want to be able to accept that I can’t do it.  And I want that to be okay.

Looking for some wisdom?  Can you supply it?

The Top Ten Reasons to Love Gwyneth

So, my baby girl just turned 10 and I thought it was the perfect time for a top 10 list.  The last time I wrote about her was when she was two.  A tribute is long overdue!

If you love Gwyneth, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below!

I love Gwyneth for…

10. Her vibrant smile and freckled nose (and red hair, of course)!

9. Her delight over a good book.

8. Her willingness to try new things, especially foods.

7. Her creative script-writing, song-writing and flair for story-telling.

6. Her contagious laughter and silliness.

5. Her thoughtful gestures and kindness to others.

4. Her ability to animate any anecdote.

3. Her integrity and commitment to what is right.

2. Her sincerity when speaking to and about others.

1. Her strength of character and her authenticity.

Me and my girl
Me and my girl

Happy Birthday, G-Jane!  I love you to the moon and back.

What to do When you Hit the Wall

Stone-walling. That’s the recurring tactic of my son, Wes. When something is bothering him, he withdraws and shuts down. Completely. It’s a rather disturbing version of the silent treatment, though often with tears. Despite my constant cajoling for him to “use his words”, this little man has trouble articulating what is wrong and this big mama has trouble penetrating the silence. Frustrating combo.

You may have read about our sharing journals in my other post. Just last night, Wesley wrote “snuggle me pleeeeese, mom!” (large enough to fill a page) and drew a page full of tears to accentuate the need he was feeling. He ripped the pages out of his journal, snuck out of bed to sit on the stairs, and passed them to his father (who found him there) to give to me.

Insert teary eyes and a quick leap from the chair to his rescue here.

We headed to my bed for some Snuggle Therapy and, once we had a few laughs, his sadness had dissipated significantly and he fell asleep feeling loved.

Thank God.

All’s well that ends well. Or is it?

He is the kid who says ” you never listen to me” but he really means that I don’t understand him. And, the truth is, I don’t. But I want to. So, like most moms, I struggle to find ways to access his personality and understand his needs; but, it is a perplexing task to say the least. And it is so easy to feel defeated.

Intense, withdrawn, cerebral, compassionate, sneaky, tender-hearted, active, funny, introverted and slightly melancholy – that’s my Wesley. He fluctuates between moments of sincere concern and patience with his siblings and flat-out punches to the face. Always retreating and hiding to cope with his guilt (like most humans). He is amazingly complex and, seemingly, so out of reach?

On days that I seem to be a particular failure as his mom, I have to remind myself that I am the mom God wanted him to have. This combo was meant to be! Oh, boy! That means that I am what he needs, or at least I can learn to be, right?

So, here’s what I’m learning about hitting the wall, Wesley-style:

1. Snuggle first, talk later. Physical affection breaks through that tough exterior like nothing else. In this case, a hug is worth a thousand words.

2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I can give him my undivided attention as often as possible in any given day, I will minimize the risk of intense outbursts; or, at the very least, lessen their severity and duration.

3. Understand the reasons, but don’t make them excuses. A lack of sleep, a sugary diet, a tough day, or an overload of people will all trigger Wes’s emotional upheaval. If I know that one (or any combination) of these factors is at play, I can chalk his difficulties up to the source and address the root of the problem as part of the solution.

4. Don’t give up. It is so important that I work through the discouragement of misunderstanding and keep trying to “get” my kid. It would be so easy some days just to default to Daddy, but that’s a bit of a cop-out. He needs to know that I will keep trying, despite the difficulties and that Jason and I are both in his corner.

5. Embrace the morning. The fact that each new day presents an opportunity to do something differently is such a gift of grace. What happened today does not have to determine tomorrow’s agenda. As Anne of Green Gables would say, “tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.” Together, Wesley and I are learning this truth.

Photo

That’s my boy, on our breakfast date. The morning after.

Ah yes. New mercies.

Do you have a Wesley in your clan? What do you do when you hit the wall?