Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Got This.

I tucked two Xanax inside a tiny zipper pouch and stuck it in my purse. I couldn't take the whole bottle because, well, they weren't mine. I just happen to know someone who graciously (and illegally) agreed to help me ease my flight anxiety. Just before boarding the plane to San Diego, I ducked inside a bathroom at Midway Airport to stifle the panic. I pulled the coin pouch from my purse but as I dumped the pills into my hand, somehow both of them hit the floor. The wet, dirty, public bathroom floor.

I turned around but the space behind me was empty. I wasn't surprised. I've been known to be rather clumsy and it's quite possible that I'm just that much of a klutz. Even though there was no one around, I wasn't desperate enough to retrieve the pills from the floor. I turned to leave the restroom, but instead of melting down into an all-out panic attack, I laughed a little as I pictured God's message in that moment:

Seriously, Lisa? Just get on the plane. Trust me. I got this.

It really is a silly fear. I felt silly packing Xanax to begin with. I felt silly Googling "the odds of dying in a plane crash" the day before my flight. And I felt silly adding "would have to fly" to my list of reasons not to go to the wedding.

It's ok. He's got this.

I returned to my seat at the gate and offered up my fear. The flight to San Diego was smooth and easy, and I was proud of myself for "letting it go and letting God," as they say. I knew He would come through for me, and He did.

I had a blast at the wedding and enjoyed a much-needed break from the demands of full-time motherhood. The bride has been one of my closest friends since middle school, and I couldn't imagine having been anywhere else on her wedding day. Her husband is from Malaysia, and I found so much beauty in God's ability to unite two people who were born and raised over 14,000 miles apart.

When I witness such amazing examples of His work, I feel silly for not trusting Him with my silly fears. Totally absorbed in the happiness of the day, I looked out at the ocean and breathed in deep gratitude, awe, and joy.

He's got this. He's got all of this.

The following evening, I sat at Gate 1 at the San Diego airport. My thoughts didn't even wander toward the now-empty zipper pouch in my purse. I boarded the plane without any fear.

He's got this.

An hour into the nearly four hour flight, the air got bumpy. In my heightened sensitivity, every little jolt felt like a 10,000 foot dive. I tightened my seat belt and gripped the arm rest. Just minutes after lighting the "fasten seat belt" sign, the crew announced that they would also be taking their seats and that call buttons should only be pressed in the case of a medical emergency.

Almost instantly, my trust and awe dissolved into worry and anger.

Really, God? I thought You had this.

Isn't that the way it works for most of us? It's easy to be thankful for joyful moments. It's easy to have faith when things are smooth. It's easy to feel blessed when life is good. The real tests of faith come in difficult moments, when things are hard, and when life is challenging.

On the flight home, I was acutely aware of the difference in my attitude on a smooth flight compared to a bumpy one. It looked a lot like the difference in my attitude on an easy day compared to a difficult one.

Sometimes I feel guilty in my weak moments because too often I hear that worry and anxiety imply a lack of faith or a lack of trust in God's plan. But I don't think it's the worry and fear themselves that are a cause for guilt. It's our response to that worry. It's whether we choose to wallow in fearful anger or to humbly accept God's curve balls and to find strength in our suffering to turn toward Him rather than away.

Choosing the latter, I clicked the button on my Kindle and selected The Bible from my reading list. Among the first passages I read was:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 

It's definitely harder to keep our eyes toward God in the midst of life's turbulence. Uncertainty, adversity, worry, and fear give rise to doubts about His plan and the intentions behind it. But if we can find a way to listen, He will find a way to say...

Trust me. I got this.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Make a Card Collage

We flip through our wedding albums every year on our anniversary. We have two because one is our formal photography pictures and the other is a scrapbook that documents our journey from engagement to honeymoon. I'm an avid scrapbooker, and I love finding fun and creative ways to recreate our best memories on paper.

I still remember the week I spent scrapbooking our wedding memories. I sat in our living room surrounded by pictures and construction paper. To my left was an box of wedding cards. I dumped the box on the floor, still trying to decide if what I was about to do was a good idea. 

It's a great idea. What else are you going to do with them? No one ever pulls out their old wedding cards. They are destined for either the garbage can or a dusty storage shelf. Just do it.

Wincing just a bit, I took a pair of scissors and started shredding. I spent hours cutting the messages and handwritten signatures from each of our wedding cards. I spent even more hours perfectly arranging them on page after page of our scrapbook.

It turned out to be one of my favorite sections in our album. I read through them at least once a year, and now I make collages with cards from every scrapbooked occasion.

Baby Showers
Reese's Birth
So if you have a box of wedding cards (or baby cards or 1st birthday cards) tucked away somewhere that you'll probably never read, grab a pair of scissors and start shredding! What else are you going to do with them?  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lessons from a Past Regret

Two months ago I stood in my kitchen holding an invitation to my best friend’s wedding. I read the print as if I didn’t already know the details. Sunday, June 16, 2013. San Diego, California. Why does it have to be in San Diego? I clipped the invitation to the refrigerator wondering how long I would wait to tell her that I had decided not to go.

Feeling guilty for my decision, I silently listed my reasons. It made me feel better. It’s not really a choice. I just can’t go.

For starters, I’ve never been a great flyer and ever since my semi-emergency landing situation in 2008, I’ve become an awful flyer. (Actually, I’ve only flown once since then but it was enough for me to know that my level of fear has skyrocketed past uneasiness and is now orbiting straight-up panic attack).

I can’t go.

And now we’ve got this house and these two kids and I don’t work and money doesn’t grow on trees and ticket prices are high – not to mention hotel rooms, meals, and the high cost of everything in California (or so I’ve heard).

I can’t go.

PLUS, I’ve never left my kids. Ever. I’ve left town without my children one time since Reese was born. One time! Matt and I went to Chicago for a weekend getaway - we didn’t even leave the state. How can I go across the country without them? What if they get sick or hurt or they just need mommy?


I can’t go.

After convincing myself that this was not a choice made by me but by factors outside of my control, I made my peace with it. Her parents are having a reception here in July. I’ll go to that. There. Now I really felt better. Well, that’s the end of that.

A few weeks later, I was clearing out my office/guest room/catch-all-disaster (because I'm finally giving in to my desire for an official play room). I filled a small box with my framed diplomas, pictures, and other decorations. I paused as I grabbed the picture of my brother in his Marine uniform. That picture is all I have of the experience of his graduation. I don’t remember the ceremony. Because I wasn’t there.

I chose not to go for a lot of the same reasons. Mike had advised me against bringing Reese because of the lack of accommodations for a baby. He warned me that we would be outside all day in the heat with few (if any) convenient places to change or nurse her. As a new mom (and a generally high-strung person), I didn’t think I could handle that. But I also couldn’t handle the thought of leaving her…. AND I probably would’ve had a panic attack on the plane and I had just quit my job and money doesn’t grow on trees and...

I should’ve gone.

Until then I didn’t realize that I had never really made peace with my decision. Even though I did what I thought was best at the time, I wish I hadn’t let fear, discomfort, and uncertainty cause me to miss such an important milestone in my brother’s life.

If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t miss it.

I didn’t add his picture to the box. Instead I took it out of the frame and walked it to the kitchen. As I clipped it to the refrigerator next to Katie's wedding invitation, I saw my handwriting on the back.

People talk about living without regrets and I don't know if such a person exists, but I feel sorry for anyone who truly has none. Some of my deepest regrets and biggest mistakes have taught me the most valuable lessons of my life. Often the choices I would change if I could go back and do it over are the ones that shine a light on an opportunity to go forward and do it better.  

My flight leaves Saturday morning.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Serious Accident

I should start this one by saying that neither of my kids is hurt, but we were all a little shaken. I’m sharing this story because I never thought anything like this would ever happen to us, and I can’t imagine how horrifying of a situation we could have had if one small detail of this accident had been different.

Last night Matt and I planned a date night to celebrate our five year anniversary. I was in our bathroom curling my hair while Matt and the girls played on our bedroom floor. Neither of us are sure of the exact chain of events because everything happened so fast, but I remember hearing a loud noise and a panicked yell. I dropped my curling iron in the sink and turned toward the bedroom just in time to see our dresser and everything on it tumbling forward.

I was too far away to catch anything (or anyone) as everything came down – including a DVD player and flat screen TV. Matt dove in front of the dresser and I lunged toward the kids. The plugs ripped from the outlets and the DVD player and TV crashed to the floor. Both kids were immediately in hysterics, and I started assessing for injuries as Matt pushed the dresser back in place. By the grace of God, Allie wasn't hit by anything. Just a few minutes earlier, she was laying where the DVD player fell, but she's been working on her army crawl and had managed to inch herself out of the way. I didn’t see what hit Reese, but she was crying and saying her head hurt and that the TV hit her. We didn’t find any bumps, and a few minutes later she was acting normal again. We think she may have been hit by a picture frame, but we never did find any marks on her.

For several minutes after we all settled down, we sat on the floor holding our kids and forcing our minds away from the horrific images of what could have been.

Maybe we’re na├»ve, but we had no idea that could happen. Oh, we’ve heard of furniture tipping over and hurting or even killing small children. We know that TV’s are dangerous and that furniture should be bolted to the wall, but we thought our setup was safe. Our dresser is tall enough that the kids can’t reach up and pull the TV down, but it's wider than it is tall so it doesn't seem top heavy. It sits on a level floor and it’s a high quality dresser – one I always thought was too heavy for a three-year-old to topple.

I always thought the tipping hazard was a result of kids climbing in open drawers, but Reese was just opening and closing drawers and relocating her doll from one drawer to the next. The drawers are small but they're on rollers and they don't pull all the way out. We think she just had too many drawers open at once and the weight of the clothes made it just heavy enough to shift the center of gravity, making it possible for one small tug to take it off balance.

After we discovered that everyone was okay, we finished getting ready and went on our date. On the way we stopped at Lowes and picked up brackets to attach all three of the dressers in our house to the walls.

Looking back, I remember very specific moments where I thought certain pieces of furniture should be more secure but I never acted on that hunch. I just didn’t think it would happen. And even though we had to find out the importance of it the hard way, I’m so very thankful that we didn’t find out in a devastating way.

I know we’re not the only parents with unsecure furniture in the house. I don’t know why it’s so common to wait until something happens to address a potential hazard, but don’t do what we did. If you have dressers, desks, and bookshelves that are not secured to the wall, please consider doing it. Watch your kids in other people’s homes, and make sure they stay clear of furniture that isn’t stationary.

Things happen quickly, and parents certainly can’t prevent everything, but in this situation we didn’t even know there was something to prevent in the first place. I hope this story resonates with other parents who assumed that a toddler can’t tip a dresser or that certain things are not a fall risk. Know that it can and does happen to anyone in any house. And when you have these occasional close calls - as we all do - be thankful for the eye opener and try not to dwell on the what-ifs. Don't let your mind trick you into thinking that it wouldn't have happened to a better dad or a more attentive mom. And don't let those thoughts stop you from sharing your story with other parents. Your close call could prevent someone else's tragedy. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Birthday Party Mania!

This might seem a bit out of the ordinary compared to my usual content, but I can explain. We just celebrated Reese's 3rd birthday and during her party I had several people make "this should be on Pinterest" comments. I'm not necessarily all that creative in any particular area, but every now and then I come up with random things that turn out to be pretty cool (or so I'm told). I thought it would be fun to add a new element to this site, so consider this my first venture into a new type of blog post. Now, I'm sure I'm not the first person to come up with a lot of these things, but everything I post here will always  be my own ideas (unless otherwise credited).

I figured I would start with the two things that generated the aforementioned Pinterest comments... 

I'm not big into huge expensive birthday parties - especially for little kids who don't know the difference. I didn't choose a theme for any of Reese's birthday parties. I made the cakes myself and bought whatever decorations and paper products happened to be on sale. My goal is always to make the day as nice as possible while spending as little money as possible - a process I find to be way more fun anyway.

My biggest challenge every year is the cake. I have no formal cake decorating skills whatsoever (actually, the cake for Reese's first birthday was my first attempt ever). I thought it would be fun to try to do something completely different every year so this year I decided to follow the cupcake trend. The cupcakes were very simple so I wanted a nice display. I didn't have a display tower so instead I used Reese's Little People Disney Princess castle... 

I also wanted to do some kind of game or activity with the kids - something that would be fun, cheap, easy to put together, and manageable for a bunch of three-year-olds. We live on two acres so we ended up doing a goodie bag scavenger hunt and the kids loved it!  

I gathered 10 buckets from around the house. (Random buckets are on my list of things I never pass up at garage sales so I always have a bunch). I filled each one with a goodie bag item (so one bucket had pencils, another had sand box toys, another had bottles of bubbles, and so on). Then I set up a table with crayons, stickers, and white paper bags with each child's name. Inside each bag was a checklist of the things they needed to find. We corralled all the kids into the garage to decorate their bags, and while they were doing that Matt placed the buckets around our property. We turned the kids loose (with parents in tow to help read the checklists), and they put together their own goodie bags with the 10 items from the buckets. It went over so well that we will likely make it a birthday party tradition!

Thanks for joining me today. Keep watching for more fun tips, creative gifts, really random ideas, and (as always) inspiration stories and moments worth sharing. For easy access to new posts, you can now follow my blog on Pinterest.  Have a blessed day!