School Is Out = Summer Is Here = Fighting the Mushy Brain

Mom, can I play the Wii?” Oh if I had just a dime for every time I know I will hear that this summer.

School got out for our kiddos last week. I have to say, I was on the countdown just as much as they were. At one point I tapped the tips of my fingers together like Monsieur D’Arque does, who is the head of the insane asylum in Disney’s animated version of Beauty and the Beast. I tapped the tips of my fingers together and said, “In just a few more days I will have them back to myself to begin the cultural detoxing process!” I considered adding in a maniacle laugh for effect, as if my children are a crazy science experiment. Sounds creepy, but that makes it all the more amusing!

However, in all seriousness, I do feel like I get them back from everything that pulls against the unit of our family throughout the year. To clarify, I’m not saying they’re facing only negative things through the year. Some of what we get them back from is the crazy schedule. Jaron asked me what I was looking forward to most for summer and I said, “Not having to keep a schedule and getting to have time, time with you all and time with friends.” Again, it’s not that we don’t do anything, but we just don’t have to have everyone up at a certain time and out the door. We have some evening activities here and there, but it’s not every single night of the week. We have time to be together. We have time to chill. We have time to reconnect and simply enjoy our family.

And that brings us back to the question I know I’ll hear over and over and over again— “Mom, can I play the Wii?

Part of this relaxed schedule is the threat of what I call, THE MUSHY BRAIN!

TV. Movies. Video Games. The Computer. Galaxy of Heroes for Jaron and The Dad.

Can I get a witness? Are any of your kids zoned out to electronics?

Last summer I informed the kids of what I thought was an incredibly bright idea.

Guys! This summer each of us are going to read one chapter a day and you and I are going to journal to each other each day!

In my head everyone was jumping around with enthusiasm seeing the great potential in this idea.

But that wasn’t the response. There was moaning and blahness. (Yes. I just made up that word, but it’s fitting so go with me on it—it’s a word that summer journals are made of).

Well, those little stinkers really made a stink about it. One child even wrote a whole journal page about how stinky journaling was. Creative writing. It’s a beautiful thing. (insert sarcasm)

But guess what?!

Despite the negativity at times, they liked it! No, they’re not begging to start again, and they weren’t super expressive, but here and there they’ve let the cat out of the bag different things they liked about journaling.

So this is how it looked for us. I pick a topic and write to them in their journal and then they write back to me. Like pen pals so to speak.

I wish we could do this throughout the school year, but it was very timely for last summer when Brandon was unexpectedly laid off. I wrote to each of the kids about what had happened. Jaron wrote back ministering to our hearts. He shared how he was kind of worried but then he remembered Psalm 23. He looked it up and wrote each verse out by hand for us to read:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
    Your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

You can imagine what Brandon and I were doing reading that journal entry! Can we say, “tears?!” And lots of them. We were hoping to give reassurance to our children and here one of our children was giving it to us.

Then, as balanced as life should be, we got a good chuckle when we opened Caden’s. He wanted to know the specifics of how everything would pan out, asking if we were going to sell our house and buy a tiny house. Which by the way, wasn’t such a bad idea to him.

I asked for at least one full page, but sometimes because of the subject matter I got more. Here were a few of things I shared with the kids about our summer writing—

  • Please write back to me in a three-step process:
    • FIRST– start out writing your thoughts about what I’ve written to you in the beginning of the journal entry and
    • THEN– share you’re thoughts about the middle part of what I wrote to you
    • and LAST, answer any questions.  Follow this pattern every time you write back.
      • For Gavin who was turning 7 last summer I asked him to write to me and draw a picture of what he wrote.
  • Please… Make the most of this.  You’ll love what you get from it.  One day it’ll mean the world to you to have this glimpse back.  Today, it’ll be like a magic mirror revealing what you never knew was there.
  • Please fill in the following pages using your thoughts, feelings, engaging your mind and utilizing your vocabulary and most importantly exploring your heart.
  • Let your mind wander, your creative side to explore, let your imagination paint a picture with your words.  Journaling connects you to what you didn’t even know was there.  Now….start your adventure.
  • Thank you for opening this door of writing, allowing me to not only peek in your heart, but to be welcomed in— as if stepping through a door, coming in and staying for a cup of tea.

So how did I get them to oblige? It was simple—all the answers to what they wanted to do were a “no” until they did their journal and read their chapter. I know. Mean Mom, right? But I’ve got these treasures of their lives, penned from their own hand, on topics that are meaningful and valuable. Those are my summer treasures and it helps them fight the manifestation of the summer mushy brain!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

**If you would like some ideas and focus points to write to your kids this summer, I invite you to download Journal Writing Topics – Fighting the Mushy Brain for free.  We just got regular ol’ journals at Walmart and wrote to each other like pen pals.  The document shares some of our topics. Don’t feel pressured to write every single day, but just a consistent flow of communication with them through the project. Also, visit my friend, Shawna Fisher at Water Walker Events Design Planning for a fun free-to-download journal that includes a Summer Bucket List and Nature Scavenger Hunt.**

 

 

It Is Time

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

There are few things I enjoy as much as I enjoy “walking right down the middle of Main Street USA,” grabbing a hot dog at Casey’s Corner and watching the three o’clock parade in Magic Kingdom. It’s like stepping into Bert’s painting the way Jane and Michael did with the one who is “practically perfect in every way,” Mary Poppins. However, there is a part of Disney World that doesn’t feel quite so magical to me. It’s the roller coaster rides.

“Cautious” is the word. Or maybe it’s “scaredy cat.” The scene is a bit similar to when Brooklyn was attempting to walk on her own. She wanted to walk, but she wanted something to hold onto, even if she didn’t need it to balance. I tried to supplement a sharpie marker for my finger, but she didn’t “fall” (pun intended) for that. For the longest time, she’d cruise along with my index finger barely within her grasp. She was just too cautious to let go. The same goes with roller coasters and me. I want to ride with the group, but it’s the unpredictable course, the unexpected turns and surprising drops that almost make me bow out. I know, that’s why people ride, but “thrill” is not in my vocabulary. “Family memories” is though.  So I gather up the nerve and ride anyway. When the ride is over, I’m always glad I got on.

How many rides do we skip because we don’t have the courage to experience the unexpected? When is that little something in our grasp keeping us from having the courage to let go and take those first steps? What do we miss in life because we don’t have courage?

In my time recovering from surgery, the Lord whispered into my heart repeatedly, “It is time.”

“But I went to nursing school to be a nurse.” I felt Him speak that He gave that to me.

“But I have these beautiful children who I’m always so busy with.” I felt Him speak that He gave them to me too.

Then there’s my sweet husband, but the Lord gave him to me as well.

What I really wanted in life is what I thought I’d never have, my husband and my children. I have all I ever needed with them.

“It is time, it is time;” the message stirred in my spirit.

Yes, it is time.

This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. I Corinthians 1:25 NLT

We want to be right where God wants us to be, when He wants us to be there. His plan is wiser than all others.

The place He’s calling me to be, took me back to the place where it all started on April 27th 1988. It was the ditch where I laid, my body burning; my brother dead. It was the scene of a horrific accident. This course of life changed.

That ditch. That place of tragedy, photographed for its symbolism of triumph!

Here I am, stepping on the ride. Here I am letting go of what’s in my grasp that I can feel and see and know.  Here I am silencing the “what if’s” and “hows.”

Steps of courage: setting a three-year time line to write a memoir of this journey

Steps of courage: sharing with others through speaking opportunities

Steps of courage: developing brochures to capture who we are, our past speaking experiences and testimonials

Steps of courage: seeking options for where our online home should be

Steps of courage: sending our story to different publications

Steps of courage: asking for your prayers and requesting your support in following this blog, sharing it with friends, and connecting us with others to share our story publicly

These things which God has done must be shared. “To God be the glory for the things He has done!” Sharing what He has done gives hope. Giving of ourselves brings encouragement. Telling our stories inspires, sharpens, motivates.

What has the Lord done in your life that could make a difference in another’s?  We all have a story to tell.  Whether it’s to forty or four thousand, whether it’s over coffee or in a presentation, we make a difference when we share where we’ve been.  That may look a little different for each of us, but make no mistake, it still makes a difference!  So take those steps of courage with me when God opens the door.

In the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some people with you who have inspired me. These individuals are courageous in being who God has called them to be, and encouraging to all who have the privilege of knowing.

This journey has unexpected turns, twists, and curves. But when it’s over, I’ll sure be glad I got on.

“Decisions are not always easy…especially ones that are life changing. Faith gets you founded. Courage gets you moving.” Pastor Steve Lee, Coweta Assembly

If you know of an occasion where I could share my story,                                                                       click here to complete and submit the form.

View More: http://malloryhallphotography.pass.us/heathersblessedjourney

“shout unto God with a voice of triumph” — my back is to the ditch where I was injured– thank you to Mallory Hall Photography for telling the story with her lens! http://www.malloryhallphotography.com

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A Really Weird Dream

A few nights ago I had a disturbing and very strange dream.  In my dream, I was getting ready to go somewhere.  The surroundings I recall are unfamiliar to me, so I know I wasn’t at home.  While getting ready, someone ran in to tell me there was a huge bug in the other room.  I assured I’d get it.  I quickly finished what I was doing and put on a pair of cute tall-heeled black boots to complete my outfit.  (The boots were familiar to me, as they were the ones my sweet hubby gave me for Christmas.)

I walked into the other room thinking I’d take care of the bug.  (This is where the dream turns into some weird oldies sci-fi theme movie.)  But the bug was massive.   It was somewhat resemblance of a cricket.  It was black, standing upright and had huge tentacles.  I assessed the situation to be dangerous and concluded that there was no way I could fight that bug in the heels I was wearing.  I determined I was inadequately dressed to overcome the bug without risking injury to myself.  Someone else stepped up to the task and that’s where my dream ended.

Weird, huh?  Well, I didn’t exactly dismiss the dream as you might assume.  Throughout getting ready for work and driving in, I had this disappointed feeling in myself.  I wondered why I didn’t dream that I saved the day.  I wondered why I was such a coward.  I wondered why I backed down and allowed someone else to do what I said I was going to do.  I shared my dream and my thoughts with my husband and he asked, “So, what’s your bug?”

Hmm.  What is my bug?  Maybe it was that I had recently had one of my own patient’s code, and that I wasn’t as proactive and take-charge as I imagined I’d be.  Instead it felt like a fog, like everything was moving really slowly, as if in a dream.  My little patient was stabilized within minutes, but it seemed like hours.  The moment has replayed in my mind repeatedly.  While I know no super nurse runs a code alone, nor alone, saves the day, I still felt disappointed in myself.  Despite mock codes, the real deal had me feeling like I wasn’t adequately prepared.  Maybe that’s the bug from my dream.

Or maybe it’s this blog.  My presence here has been a source of some very personal and hurtful attacks.  It conjures up thoughts, like: “It’s not worth it.”  “I don’t really have anything special or unique to offer.”  “What, if any, difference am I making?”  I mean, don’t people follow blogs to get recipes and craft ideas, or political views and scholarly opinions?  I don’t have anything to contribute in those categories.  Even though I continue to grow from my investments here and learn from fellow bloggers, I again, still confront inadequacy, so maybe that’s the bug from my dream.

In my dream, I found the bug to be quite scary.  So, if either of these instances are symbolic of my bug, why would I willingly continue to put myself in situations that are sometimes scary?  The answer is for the same reason why any of us do what we do; it is to make a difference.  I have no idea if anything I have to offer in my work, in my writings or in my speaking is worth merit, but God does.  And I know that He can’t use what I won’t give Him, but He can use what I do.  I’ll never know if I don’t offer it.  And these are what I give to Him.  I continue to walk in obedience and trust that despite my shortcomings, despite my fear and despite my inadequacies, HE makes the difference.

There are so many unknowns.  And for someone who always likes to have a plan, the unknowns can be scary.  But it can also be exciting.  Each day ahead holds possibility.  Therefore, let us have an excitement over the wonder and possibility God has in store for our lives.  Each of us are unfinished; allow Him to direct the ending.  The best part is coming!

Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)~ Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

Excited about the upcoming movie in which Celine sings this theme song, Unfinished Songs, written by the talented Diane Warren

So you’re thinking it’s ending
But it’s only just begun
Your whole life is there right
Right in front of you
Life’s a story that is all twists and turns
All that matters is the lessons we learn

‘Cause we’re all unfinished songs
Waiting for the best part to come along
Hey hey
And we’re all pictures half drawn
We can be anything we want
Hey hey

Now is your time
It’s your life
No one’s living it but you
In your hands is your chance to live the life you choose

Life’s like music
There’s so much still unsung
Make it magic
There’s so much still to come

‘Cause we’re all unfinished songs
Waiting for the best part to come along
Hey hey
And we’re all pictures half drawn
We can be anything we want
Hey hey

You can write the song and write the story
Live all of this life in all its glory
Take the time to make the time to make each moment count
It’s your life
It’s your call
Grab the chance
Have it all

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Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com