Feeling overwhelmed?

Anyone else feeling some stress right now? Those of you who read my blog and social media posts know I try to be super positive. I also never want to give the illusion that life is easy or happy all of the time. It isn’t, which is indicated by my blog title “Middle of the Mess.”

I am fairly good at holding things together and seeing the bright side. However, once in awhile it just gets to be too hard, too much, too unbearable. I also DESPISE talking about my feelings, so I stuff, stuff, stuff until it oozes (or explodes) out of me. This is usually brought on by something small.

This week has been hard for multiple reasons. Both of my kids have had mini meltdowns at some point from their own stress. There have been health issues to deal with, home repair problems, and multiple decisions having to be made regarding all things Covid. It’s the last one that has made me the most weary. As numbers ramp up and the holidays are before us, there are more decisions to be made than ever, or so it seems.

Too often I forget the necessary role that sadness plays in our lives. I sat down on my bed and had a good cry. It helped. I stood back up with renewed energy and determination. Things are truly not that bad. There could be sooo much worse. We’ll get through this.

Writing things down helps me to process what’s going on in my head. I share it with you because I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen a lot of posts from friends recently who are struggling. Please know I’m here to be an encourager right down in the pit with you.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5

I appreciate the first verse where it encourages us to give praise and thanks. Thanksgiving is a brilliant weapon against stress and sadness. Did you know it quite literally changes your brain?? So fascinating.

My new friend, Kelley Dawson, has started an initiative centered around joy. Check out her posts here. It’s a group worth joining to get yourself in the right mindset. I know it’s helping me! We could all use a little extra help right now.

Photo cred: https://unsplash.com/photos/lQ1hJaV0yLM?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

Children Are an Inconvenience

messy hands

Let’s just get right to the point of this post. Exactly as the title states, children are an inconvenience. They just are. It’s a fact. However, this is the reality of parenting. I’m pretty sure it is impossible to be a parent and not be inconvenienced.

This week I read an article that prompted these thought entitled “They’re Single. They’re Straight. They’re Friends. And They’re Having a Baby.” An increasing number of individuals are choosing to raise children with a non-romantic partner for a host of reasons. In fact, there are now sites that can match you with someone, much like a dating site. Here is another reality: 35% of children now live in single parent homes. In 1968 that figure was 15%. As of the last few years, marriage is on the decline for the first time in history. 61% of people between 18 and 34 do not have a spouse or partner. Marriage is becoming more and more unappealing. Now, certainly marriage isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. I know two women who have chosen to foster/adopt as single women and I have mad respect for them.  But I find these trends a bit worrisome due to the reasons behind why some people are making these choices.

One comment stuck out to me amidst the host of reasons some people are choosing this lifestyle. One woman by the name of Lauren Brim, who is raising her 4-year-old with a platonic male friend admits “she was inspired, in part, by a recently divorced friend who appeared to be having more fun than most of her married friends: ‘For half the week, it would be kids world, with homework and dance parties in the living room, and then the other half would be R-rated movies and whiskey at the bar.'” This comment doesn’t sit well with me. At all. My question is, what might that friend be missing out on with her children that 50% of the time she doesn’t have them? I have friends who have had to share their children with ex-spouses only a fraction of the time and have felt agony on missing out on holidays and other special moments. They might be unencumbered for the time their children are away and free to do adult things, but that doesn’t make their life a party.

I will admit I have complained and moaned at times about the inconveniences my boys have presented at times. I didn’t think my youngest would ever sleep through the night, and I remember being so tired. There are moments I now gripe about the 6 times I have to drive back and forth across town in a day to pick up one or the other of them from activities. No doubt, I do not relish going up to the high school at 3:00 in the morning to pick my son up from his show choir competitions. The older they get, the more expensive they get. But guess what? When I brought them into this world, that’s what I signed up for.

Maybe, just maybe, if you don’t want these inconveniences 24/7, then you just don’t need to consider being a parent. This reminds me of a sign I saw at a local hardware store awhile back. It said, “Now hiring. Must want to work.” What a sad state of affairs that the additional comment was necessary.

There is an anonymous quote that says, “If it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor.” My friend, Rachel Gerber, wrote in her book Ordinary Miracles, “Living in this state of expectation– a posture in which we anticipate encountering ordinary miracles throughout each day– takes work. It takes effort to remember. It is just so easy to forget the sacred mundane through which we walk every day.” As a person of faith, I see parenting as holy work. It is a job which often feels completely beyond my capabilities. It is hard, trying and exhausting at times, but there is no way I would trade what I have and miss out on a single moment of their existence if I don’t have to.

My children are beautifully inconvenient, and they are worth every moment that my life is complicated in order to experience a taste of unconditional love. There is such joy to be had in raising tiny humans to be amazing adults, if only we will take the time to look for it. I’ll find other ways to watch R-rated movies and drink whiskey, thank you (just kidding).


Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash


“Safety” Through a Child’s Eyes


Today I stared in the face of one of the many things 9/11 cost us as a nation. Who could fathom all of the long-term ramifications of that fateful day?

Seventeen years have passed, but when I think of September 11, 2001 vivid pictures come to mind. And not just pictures, but deep rooted feelings, including that soul clutching feeling of fear that crept over me that day.

My students wanted to talk about 9/11 today. I hadn’t planned to do so. Personally, I don’t like reliving it. I gave in to their pleas. We watched a brief video and talked for awhile. As soon as I got in front of the class to listen to their questions and comments I started to cry. I have no strong personal connections to anyone lost on that day, yet remembering still tears me apart.

As I looked at the faces of my sweet eleven students who have been untouched by a tragedy of this magnitude, I felt immensely sad for them because I realized something I had not thought of even though I have a child of my own the exact same age. These children born after 9/11 and in the wake of so many school shootings have never known a complete sense of carefree living. They have grown up with locked school doors, lockdown drills, sign out sheets, metal detectors and bag searches, and the constant reminder of “this is for your safety.”

As I reflected with them on my own childhood, the stark contrast became ever more evident. “When I was a kid, we just walked into Disney World. We didn’t have to be searched,” I told them.

“No way!!!” one of the girls exclaimed with wide eyes.

And that was the moment a shift occurred in me. I began to see the world through the eyes of the children. You see, as adults we lock the doors to help keep the kids safe and feel safe. But guess what? In doing so, we make some of them feel the opposite because they look at it from a different perspective. To them, it isn’t that they are safe inside but that there are possible scary things outside. Suddenly, the increase in childhood anxiety we have seen over the last several years makes more sense to me.

“I don’t ever feel completely safe,” one of my kiddos said.

And now I cry more tears.

I know not all of our children feel this way, but those that are more sensitive do. And that’s disheartening.

Today I experienced the importance of talking about these issues with our young ones. They need to be reminded that adults are doing their best to protect them. They need to feel the love of the big people around them and know that while not all of the world is safe, there are indeed safe people around. As Mr. Rogers so aptly said in his lesson to children in the wake of 9/11: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” We need to let our kids express their feelings, acknowledge them, and remind them that there will always be people to help them in a crisis.

There are moments over the last few weeks that it has been particularly wonderful to teach in a Christian environment. Today was certainly one of them. We took time to pray for the families of those who lost loved ones many years ago and to give thanks for the helpers that exist and for the hope that we have. By the end of the prayer I wasn’t the only one who had shed some tears in my room.