Years ago my son’s baseball coach told his team, “It’s not about winning. We’re here to have fun.” My dad leaned down and whispered, “He forgot to tell them that it’s not fun if you don’t win,” and I nodded, a believer. My daddy coached my softball team through junior high and high school. We were in it to win it and we usually did.

As a twenty-something, I once called a local radio station to verify my answer in Trivial Pursuit when my mother, aunt, and cousin questioned it. I not only believed I was right, I was willing to work to prove it in a day when a quick Google search wasn’t an option.

I’m competitive by nature: I’ve played for a state champion softball team; if you pick me for your team, I’ll give it all I’ve got. I like to win.

Don’t we all?

But in the last few months I’ve questioned the win-at-all-costs mentality as I’ve watched it backfire around me.

Please visit me today at (in)courage  to read the rest of the post!

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In Plain Sight

by Dawn Camp on July 25, 2014

in a day in the life,faith

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18 days. For 18 days I couldn’t find my keys and then suddenly there they were, in a place we’d looked several times. When I offered a reward—a lunch date—everyone looked even harder, but that didn’t help.

My 14-year-old daughter picked out a fancy Asian buffet and my husband said that he wanted to win, too. A date is a date.

The keys didn’t stay missing because no one looked for them. If you saw where they hid, you’d wonder why we didn’t find them in five minutes instead of 18 days.

Sometimes the things we seek are in plain sight, waiting for us to notice them.

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I spent five relaxing days out of town over the weekend, but the transition home was brutal. I arrived at 8:30 Tuesday night; hopped back in the car to buy shoes for my kids’ first cross country practice the next morning; and stayed up until 1 a.m. to meet a writing deadline. My daughter was experiencing tooth pain and I wasn’t here to get her to the dentist; we were both miserable.

I felt like a failure in so many ways and just wanted to cry, overwhelmed by the knowledge that clearly I was not enough of whatever it takes to run this family. The enemy will break us with that message every chance he gets, and it’s easier when we’re vulnerable.

Apparently I set the time for my alarm but not the alarm itself, so we overslept and showed up late for practice, a barely thrown together mess of a first impression for our new team.

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In the afternoon I found my keys; it’s amazing that something I’d normally take for granted—like car keys—can bring such happiness. Life looks radically different when viewed through a lens of gratitude. Then the dentist worked my daughter into someone else’s cancelled appointment and I was sailing.

That night my husband said, “I wish your life were better,” and I almost laughed because surely it was a joke. I’d forgotten he last saw me the night before, when all looked dark and I wore my stress. Hopefully I convinced him how thankful I am for my life and that I know it is good.

This week I overheard one of my kids give the I’m-out-of-here-when-I’m-18 speech. If you parent long enough, you, too, may hear this gem. Once it would have broken me, left me questioning, wondering why we weren’t better parents. How could one of our kids feel this way?

Now I know better. We wear our imperfections in plain sight, but ours is a big, crazy bunch and I wouldn’t trade my family for anything. I could improve in a million ways: organize daily family devotions; cook more and eat out less; homeschool better; prepare healthier meals.

Perfection is an illusion and if I make it my goal, I’ll live less and strive more. I’ll never achieve it.

I’ll never even publish this post.

Tonight my 19-year-old son and I see the Avett Brothers in concert and I’m grateful both for this time together before he leaves for college and for the chance to hear this group that speaks both to my heart and my head (and for waterproof mascara, because I’ll need it).

What are you grateful for today, maybe something in plain site that’s gone unnoticed?

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Last week I inhaled Emily T. Wierenga’s Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look in my precious spare moments: riding in the car; in the bleachers during baseball practice; late at night while my house slept; and finally getting up early and reading in bed until I finished.

I messaged Emily immediately because I had to talk about the book. Although I planned to review it, she offered me a guest post and a giveaway copy and that’s even better. Leave a comment to win!

 

What My Mum Taught Me About Church (giveaway!)
By Emily T. Wierenga

“So, I lied,” my husband says, poking his head into the bathroom where I’m showering.

And I’m thinking five minutes honey, just five minutes without the kids or anyone, just five.

“I said we had 15 minutes until we have to leave for church,” he says, “but actually, we have three.”

This happens every Sunday. Somehow, without fail, I’m always behind and shoving boys into pants they grew out of overnight and trying to find an outfit that I didn’t wear last week only I know those things shouldn’t matter, so then I repent and that makes me even later, and then there’s makeup. Because you can’t go to church without makeup–someone might see who you really are, and some weeks we’re so tired we opt for BedSide Sabbath.

Which means, stay at home in our pajamas and eat popcorn and watch “Cheese Guys” as my boys call them, or Despicable Me, because God has called us to rest.

And maybe I’m a church-rebel because I’m a pastor’s daughter and was never allowed to be. Maybe I skip sometimes because I had to be on my death bed to skip it as a kid, and maybe I’ve realized that no amount of feeling tired will earn me any rewards in heaven.

But entering rest will.

And this is something Mum taught me when I took care of her for three years. Mum, who had brain cancer, and I moved home from Korea where my husband and I were teaching English. I moved home to live in my parents’ basement and make art on large pieces of canvas. I moved home because Mum was dying and she needed me and in spite of traveling the globe trying to find the God I said I believed in at eight, when my dad sprinkled water on me; the same God who saved me from anorexia at thirteen and then again at twenty-six, I didn’t really find him until I entered her room.

Mum’s bedroom, where she slept for hours on end, the crimson blanket across the window, the sheets smelling of urine, and when I sang to her in that room, songs like Blessed Be the Name and Better Is One Day and Amazing Grace, she would always sing with me, from somewhere deep. Her eyes closed. Her feet, moving.

After twenty years of being a pastor’s wife my Mum had finally found rest and when she awoke, no matter what day it was, she always thought it was Sunday. Her blue bag packed and ready by the door, filled with her Bible and her notebook and when Sunday would actually arrive, she’d often sleep right through it. We’d push her to the front of the church in her wheelchair, and she’d droop over and I’d cry because all she wanted was to be awake in time for church.

Mum’s better now. After eight years of brain cancer, she’s better.

I’m no longer anorexic either, and the doctors were wrong. I’ve had two babies, and they said I wouldn’t be able to have any, and that’s because God is bigger than all of our Sundays.

He’s bigger than our wildest mistakes, he’s bigger than our theologies and our hypocrisies, and he’s bigger than our church buildings. Big enough to chill with us in our pajamas while we watch Cheese Guys and eat popcorn.

I used to hate church, because I had to go. I love it now, because I choose to go. And that day Mum called Sunday, it’s a day of rest for me. A day when I find myself by her bed again, singing hymns with her and holding her hand.

A day of broken hallelujahs.

 

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including an upcoming memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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I am excited to give away a copy of my new memoir, ATLAS GIRL, today. Just leave a comment below to win. 

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I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl, today. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive The House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing the Story in Your Soul (which the above post was taken from) – an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

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All proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards The Lulu Tree ~ preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. 

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Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Summer Reading List: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Thumbnail image for Summer Reading List: Finding Spiritual Whitespace July 7, 2014

This post is part of the “Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour.” To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!   There’s something decadent about curling up with a good book, probably because as women we deny ourselves downtime, like a privilege we must earn. Surely that’s not just me. Questioning the idea that it’s wrong […]

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July 2014 Desktop Calendar!

July 1, 2014
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Where has this summer gone? Anyone else want to go back to May for a do-over? I took an early run yesterday before the heat set in (94° degrees forecasted for tomorrow—yuck!) and saw our day lilies in bloom: perfect for July’s desktop calendar. The kids and I spent last week in Alabama for singing […]

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A New Season at (in)courage

July 1, 2014
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Sorry I’m late sharing my monthly (in)courage post with you—my kids and I spent last week in Alabama at singing school. As the mother of two newly engaged sons, I’m entering a new season in life and I covet your advice, whether from the point-of-view of mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. Please click over to my post, A […]

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Mary & Martha’s Semi-Annual Sale!

June 30, 2014

Mary & Martha’s Semi-Annual Summer Sale is here with items discounted up to 75% off of retail value! There are four full pages of sale items here with links to featured items. Click on an image to see it enlarged. To see the full sale, go to my Mary & Martha site and click Shop. There’s a blue […]

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June 2014 Desktop Calendar

May 31, 2014
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Our family spent last weekend in Oxford, Mississippi, where we visited Rowan Oak, the home of American writer William Faulkner. This flowering bush grows on the grounds and although I’m not sure what it is, I think it’s been there for some time. Do you know its name?  I pray this calendar blesses your socks off […]

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Secret Places

May 21, 2014

Sometimes when I look through my camera, I think God shows me secret places: reflections in raindrops; the veins of a leaf; pollen on the antennae of a bee; beams of light that skim branches and illuminate honeysuckle on the vine; an insect’s shadow as it crawls across a leaf above me. Will another human […]

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