Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride
On June 13, 2020, my firstborn, my baby girl, got married.

Nineteen years ago she was in my womb.

Today she's a wife, happily serving her husband in their tiny, love-filled apartment as she juggles online classes and babysitting jobs.

I teach moms how to be fit for life in all areas, and I especially like to focus on mental and emotional health. But can I be honest for a moment? I was completely unprepared for the emotional journey this blessed event would be.

Now, almost 3 months after the big day, it seems less momentous and more...I don't know, NORMAL, I guess. Charis and Isaac were made for each other. When they talked with us only a couple of months into their official dating relationship, saying they thought they were ready to be married in the summer of 2020, Ted and I had to agree. They WOULD indeed be ready. But that didn't mean my mama heart was prepared for the speedy changes that would take place over the following months!

My head knew everything was unfolding just as God had ordained from before the foundations of the world. I could see clear evidence of His direction in the lives of these precious young people.

Emotionally, though, I realized I was ignoring much of what threatened to well up inside me if given the slightest opportunity. It was far easier to smile and nod and assure people who asked that yes, this was happening and yes, we were happy about it. I mean, it was true, right??

I used my emotional support oil blends; I journaled (not as much as I probably should have); I went for morning walks or runs and prayed. And I thought I was doing all right. I think, mostly, I was. But I needed to let myself FEEL. To acknowledge that there was a part of my heart that did indeed feel sadness at the passing away of one stage of mothering even as I was so grateful to be entering a new stage, one that involved "mother-in-law" as a new role. 

The day before the wedding, I went for my morning walk/run and intentionally chose to soak in every detail I could. The sun was already shining brightly by the time I hit the trail near our house. A gentle breeze kept me comfortably cool. Two birds met in the air close to the path I was on, and I paused to watch and wonder whether I was seeing a caustic confrontation or an amorous affair. The birds disentangled themselves and flew off, leaving my question unanswered. 

Emotions are harder to separate and leave us feel-ers asking many unanswered questions. As I prayed through my thoughts that morning, I realized with a pang that I needed to release some past hurts--I needed to acknowledge that I HAD, in fact, experienced some hurts in the recent months. These had nothing to do with anyone intentionally causing me pain. No, it was unavoidable hurt as a by-product of life changing.

Life changes. It isn't always good or bad, it just is. But the change brings pain at times, and it's wise to let it surface and just sit with it for a bit. Yo, pain, there you are. I feel you. I love you just the way you are. You remind me of the precious relationship I have with my daughter, the amazingly BIG love I feel for her. What a great love it is, to feel such sadness at a goodbye of sorts. I could excuse it away, brush it aside, because this is a GOOD change, a wonderful change, as God is blessing me with the son-in-law of my prayers. And yet there it is. 

I stopped on a bridge to look over a green meadow into the blazing morning sunshine and let my tears flow. It was healing release with new insights into my thoughts and emotions. God and I had a good, long talk, and I cried on His shoulder. And then?

Then it was time to set up for a wedding!

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What emotional journey have you taken recently? How are you honoring your emotions while not letting them control you? Leave a comment and let me know!

And if you don't yet have my guide delving into 4 ways you can be fit for life, grab it here...you can bet emotional fitness is one of those points!


Getting Schooled

Getting Schooled
We are finishing our 15th "official" year of homeschooling! It's hard to believe, and yet, as my daughter hangs up her freshly steamed wedding gown in the room next to me, I realize that it's true...I'm actually one of those seasoned homeschool moms who has been doing this so long it's "easy." 

HAHAHA!! Who am I kidding?! I remember, when I was a mama of three kiddos three and under, looking at moms in their second or even third decade of homeschooling and being in AWE of how they seemed to have everything all together. Their homes ran like clockwork; they had systems in place; their children were well-mannered and looked adults in the eye while having an intelligent conversation with them. These moms had a patient, gentle spirit and wise words for any question I threw at them. 

I couldn't wait to someday "have it all together" the way these moms obviously did.

Let's just pause a moment, shall we, and have a good laugh together?!

Because now...I know better! NO ONE "has it all together." (My apologies to the moms I put on a pedestal all those years ago, but I think they'd be the first to agree.) I believe years of experience allow us as parents to recognize what is truly important, to focus on the eternal rather than the daily check list. We have the opportunity to play to our children's strengths as well as to slow down and take time to work on their weaknesses. And I'm talking about spiritual formation and character development, not just academics and life skills. 

Oh...that spiritual formation and character development? I should clarify...

I'm talking about me! 

OK, maybe my kids, too. But this homeschooling journey isn't easy, and as many families have realized during these last few months of COVID-19 lockdown, it's not for everyone. (I do believe it's for more people than may want to admit it, though!)

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be "schooled" by my kids, who are unwitting vessels of God's grace, clearly used by the Lord to teach me my own daily lessons! Praise Him! 

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(Picture notes: The above photo is from 2013. We were living in Naples, Italy, and I was pregnant with our 7th child. The kids loved piling on our bed for our read-aloud time in the evenings, often done after the little ones were tucked in bed. The photos below show our oldest daughter from early in her homeschool journey to her graduation celebration two years ago.)