Greatness: remarkable in magnitude; degree or effectiveness.  Sometimes, I look at my life and wonder if I have achieved greatness, in any capacity.  I recently attended my daughters moving up ceremony.  There was a whole hour dedicated to awarding certain children with certificates.  Perfect attendance; Presidential awards; Most improved.  There was even an award for best behaved while having a substitute.  I look back, and realize that I have never won anything.  Maybe I never tried hard enough, or cared enough.  There are a lot of talented people out there.  They accomplish much, they hone their crafts, they perfect whatever it is they are passionate about.  They conquer the world, and win.  Do I win?  The truth is, I am a simpleton.  I laugh at dumb things, like silly voices, and sarcasm.  I giggle when someone calls me a dummy, and I get excited when there are fireworks or big waves at the beach.  It doesn’t take much to bring me joy.  A cup of coffee, and a long walk.  A new eye liner, a new cleaning product..or a string of pretty lights.  I’d be happier with an imperfect stone, than a new diamond.  My biggest dream, is to have a porch.  The world is a big place to me.  It’s exciting, and scary and I wonder sometimes if I’m too small or insignificant to make any kind of difference in the world…and then I I need to?  Is it enough, just to live my life?  Maybe make someone smile or to do my best to raise my children well.  Can I do what is in front of me, with remarkable magnitude?  Am I able, to be effective in the little things?  There is no award for best dishwasher at work, and nobody is counting how many times I fold my children’s clothes.  I will most likely never win an award for anything, and maybe at the end of my life; when all is said and done, not many people will even know I existed.  I will enter Heaven, and the only evidence of my life will be my grandchildren, and their children.  I realize that, that is enough for me.  I am significant to a small few..I matter to some.  I search for magic and hope.  Sometimes, on quiet summer nights, the magic comes in bright colors and sparkles and booming sounds of life and excitement.  Sometimes, the sky is dull, and silent and even the brightest of stars are difficult to see.  I wont stop looking though, and I won’t stop searching…because my porch is waiting for me.  Whether I sit on it alone, or with someone someday..I will know that I am perfectly okay…and that even if I haven’t achieved greatness, I will have peace.

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Lauli4's Blog

1 Corinthians 13:4….love is patient.   I have known this scripture most of my life.   I’ve had it read at my two weddings , I’ve heard it read at weddings,  in sermons,  I’ve heard it in songs.   How can it be that I have never truly understood what it means.    Patience,  long suffering .. Love suffers long.  Perhaps because this scripture is so widely used in weddings I have only thought of it pertaining to marriage,  and never contemplated the bigger meaning.   Love,  a word used roughly over 500 times in the bible.   Love your neighbor,  love God,  love your husband or your wife.  This very first part though,  love is patient,  or suffers long.   A clue,  that it isn’t easy.   I think of the long suffering of Christ.    The pain He endured,  because of love.   He didn’t get annoyed and walk away.   He didn’t put His own needs…

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1 Corinthians 13:4….love is patient.   I have known this scripture most of my life.   I’ve had it read at my two weddings , I’ve heard it read at weddings,  in sermons,  I’ve heard it in songs.   How can it be that I have never truly understood what it means.    Patience,  long suffering .. Love suffers long.  Perhaps because this scripture is so widely used in weddings I have only thought of it pertaining to marriage,  and never contemplated the bigger meaning.   Love,  a word used roughly over 500 times in the bible.   Love your neighbor,  love God,  love your husband or your wife.  This very first part though,  love is patient,  or suffers long.   A clue,  that it isn’t easy.   I think of the long suffering of Christ.    The pain He endured,  because of love.   He didn’t get annoyed and walk away.   He didn’t put His own needs first.   He didn’t base His sacrifice on what He thought each person deserved.   There was no screening process to determine who was worthy of His love,  His long suffering.   His agony for US,  wasn’t based on merit.   We are so quick to hold our love,  our sacrifices close to the vest.    As human beings prone to sin,  and naturally selfish and self preserving; we don’t want to suffer.   We don’t want to give if there’s no return.   We look for validation, justice. ..what is fair.    Giving should be equal!   I matter!   What about my needs?   Love,  suffers long.    It’s not supposed to be easy.    Loving our neighbor, when we are hurt, angry,  tired; or we don’t think they deserve our long suffering.    Or worse. ..loving our enemy!   How can I be expected to suffer long for my enemy?   Did Jesus give His life,  even for those who betrayed him,  beat him?   Yes!   Love not just when it feels good,  not just when it is reciprocated,  not just when I want to.   Love,  pure, unconditional love. It suffers long,  sacrifices,  gives,  transforms,  heals,  and brings us into a realm of understanding and revelation that shifts thoughts and turns selfish ambition into selfless generosity.   Acting on the command to love,  even when I am sad,  even when I am angry; when I feel unloved,  when I only see darkness, when I am weary. ..acting on the command to suffer long for those that annoy me,  hurt me,  abandon me,  WILL produce fruit in my spirit!   It will strengthen me,  it will bring growth,  it will transform me.   It will bring joy,  not just happiness… but joy because understanding even just a thread in the fabric of the sacrifice Christ made is the beginning of transformation,  from self serving to unconditional undeniable love!  My rewards are not on this earth.   My validation,  doesn’t come from man,  or from a thank you,  or from an acknowledgement for loving.   My worth doesn’t come from fairness,  or what I think is right.   My mission while on this side of Heaven is to love, love,  love.

Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13: 8

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The Empty Well

As an introvert, my personality is usually in direct conflict with having multiple children.  I have four.  My home is a constant hub of activity, noise and voices.  Mornings are most challenging, when chaos erupts and the walls hum with discontent.  I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how early I wake up, sometimes 4 am…I am never truly prepared for the miscellaneous outbreaks of tween and teen girl tragedy.  In nearly twenty years of being a mother, I have come to understand, that children are well drainers.  I do not say that in a disparaging way…The very nature of a child is need.  From infancy and beyond…We as parents are here to meet the need.  Whether a diaper change, or a feeding; a calm voice after a nightmare or a ride to the mall.  The needs grow as our children do.  My days usually sound like this….mom MOM, can you, will you, mommy I need, mom would you….????  And on and on from dawn till dark.  Not only do we meet the basic needs of our children, but we soothe the hurts of their hearts, we manage their feelings and we pour all of our souls into making sure they are safe, well adjusted, good human beings. In the midst of all this.. we have to manage our own lives, our own hearts.  We have jobs that pull at us, marriages that require attention and maybe God forbid we want to eat a meal.  Sometimes it feels like all I do is give and sacrifice my own needs with diminishing returns.  There are mornings, where I’ve poured my heart out in prayer and actively done everything I can possibly do to make my children happy.  From cooking a nice breakfast and waking them up with a delicate cheery voice; to setting up a makeshift hair salon at the table so I can do the hairstyle they want with professional precision.  From singing their favorite song to packing a perfect lunch.  I’ve done everything in my power, short of renting a pony to make it all OK..Only to be met with cries of calamity that the t shirt won’t sit right on the waist of the leggings..Or that there is a dreaded bump after I dutifully made the ponytail so tight that I’ve caused myself nerve damage in my finger.  One child has breathed in the direction of the other and now there is growling and incessant wails of mommy you never punish her.  By the time I get them dropped off at school my entire body is vibrating with anxiety and now I’ve got to get myself ready for work.  Not even 9am and my well is bone dry.  I have nothing left.  My heart cries..God I just can’t do it anymore!  I go about my day, feeling like a failure and wondering why everyone else seems to have it together and I don’t…AFTER TWENTY YEARS!!!!! My well needs constant replenishing..I suppose it’s the old comparison to the oxygen on an airplane.  If you don’t put yours on first..You won’t be able to help anyone else.  So maybe I’m learning that some of my needs have to be a priority.  I gain energy from being alone, it’s who I am and I can’t change it.  My oxygen comes in the form of solitude.  I require time in the sanctity of silence. Noise and voices drain me.  I’ve never understood those who are able to withstand the sound of constant chatter; (nothing irritates me more than two voices going at once, cross talking, or worse someone talking to you while you’re clearly concentrating on something)…. It is how I recharge, regenerate and it is where God restores my soul.  It is in the quiet that my well is filled.  Otherwise I keep dipping in, and giving to everyone else and there is nothing left for me. So I sit here on a dreary afternoon…It is dead silent and the lack of sound is like a soothing balm.  I am alone, writing of course and I can feel my brain balancing itself out again.  I try not to anticipate what is to come..The noise will begin soon.  There will be stories from the day, arguing over pencils and the snack I prepare will be insufficient…But I have enough in the well to get through.  I will give it all, because that is what mothers do; and there will be a moment at day’s end where I remember why and that it is all worth it.  In the sweetness of a long hug or the soft cheek pressing against mine as I comfort, or reassure or say goodnight.  One day, there will be too much quiet..And I’m sure to miss the noise. 

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That Old Wineskin

New: not existing before, made introduced or discovered recently.

This past Sunday my husband I became new members at a church we’ve been attending for a few months.  For 5 years my children have been members of this church along with their Dad, my ex husband.  If anyone told me 5 years ago that I would be sitting in these pews I wouldn’t have believed it.  Nobody who hasn’t gone through divorce, can fully understand the devastation.  Not only the pain of a marriage ending..but the ripple effect it creates.  Relationships are changed, friendships disappear and although divorce is still seems to carry this stigma of feared contagion.  It is sometimes treated as a disease that ones we thought were friends…are afraid to get too close to.  Divorce is lonely.  It is also fraught with emotion..anger, hurt and sorrow.  Yet, 5 years later I find myself joining this church where my ex husband is highly involved.  He has established friendships, and my children call this place their spiritual home.  Throughout the ending of our marriage, as I began to survive on my own I was forced to work on Sundays.  I could no longer bring my children to church and so they began to attend their father’s church.  I saw immediately how happy they much they loved it.  When my schedule changed and I was now able to attend church I didn’t want to uproot my children from where they were going.  They had enough upheaval in their lives, and if they were attending a church they loved and they were comfortable, then I had to let them be.  I began to really feel the void, however.  Not worshipping next to my children, started to really bother me.  I wanted to be where they were.  I felt it was unfair though, to infiltrate the church that had become a safe haven for my ex husband.  On the few occasions that I attended his church, I was welcomed with sincere kindness and the utmost respect.  I felt drawn in, this was where my children were and it felt like I belonged.  I had since remarried, and I couldn’t imagine my ex husband being comfortable with his ex wife and her new husband coming to this place every week.  In the end though, he was the one who brought it up.  He expressed how great it would be if we joined, and that all of us worshipping with the kids would be good for them.  So…on Sunday we became new members.  I was struck by the newness of it all.  In the book of Mark, Jesus explains the importance of using a new wineskin; pouring new wine into an old wineskin is fruitless.  The old, broken down vessel won’t hold.  So, as we stand in line for communion..I realize I am standing next to my ex husband, with my son in front of me and my husband behind me.  We walk together towards the healing body and blood of Christ.  It doesn’t escape my knowledge how significant this is.  We have travelled the depths of pain, we have been broken and now we stand facing the cross..holding a new wineskin.  What healing power there is in Christ!  Something old can be made new, something broken can change shape and still be used to glorify our Lord.  God is merciful, and His hope is everlasting.

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I was two weeks into my 21st year on this planet when I gave birth to my first child.  I was so uninformed I didn’t even know I was in labor.  Young, naive, innocent; not only to the practicalities of taking care of a newborn but also to what lay ahead.  I suppose we all are, we read books and listen to our mommy friends.  We ask advice in  nonchalant please don’t judge me subtleties.  How many times a night does your baby wake up screaming like there’s a pin in his eye?  We move through the early days in slow exhausted motion..until one day we are strapping a newborn into a car seat with one hand and cutting up miniscule particles of pasta for our toddler with the other.  One day we realize;that there are now seemingly 14 pairs of shoes and 75 coats littering the floor and we are in full fledged motherhood with sweat stained armpits and all we want to do is sit down.  Here’s the thing though.  All that sweaty racing to find matching socks and get dinner ready, all the lost homework and constant injuries…all the typical crazy day to day minutiae will fade slowly and at warp speed at the same time.  One day you’ll find yourself sitting alone all weekend.  At first you’ll be excited…binge watching things you can’t watch in front of your kids. You’ll pour the wine.  You’ll do a face mask.  Your nails will be on point…no little hands bumping into wet polish.  You’ll walk past their room to get something from the bathroom..and the blankets on the bed of your youngest will look sad.  How can blankets look sad?  They just do.  The shoes on the floor.. abandoned in the position they were thrown will look sad too.  You’ll wander in.  Look around.  The sweater your oldest girl rejected lays tossed on her rumpled sheets.  You see the jeans your middle daughter never put away crumpled in the corner.  It will look like a creepy museum of childhood.  You’ll go back to your shows.  The quiet will be loud.  You’ll think of your oldest, your 19 year old who doesn’t even live with you…how does a newborn suddenly become a man who puts gas in his car???? See, nobody really tells you.  Everyone told you to breastfeed, or to never ever use a pacifier.  Nobody told you that when they leave..when they begin to discover the world and forget about you….it will hurt more than childbirth.  Sleepovers, parties and dances…jobs, proms and the mall. All of those things will be more important, more exciting than  Nobody tells you they won’t remember that you sang to them, wiped their fevered faces and cleaned their throw up.  Nobody tells you…because if they did you wouldn’t understand it.  You have to experience it for yourself.  It’s the natural progression.  Wings have become strong enough to fly out of that nest.  It’s heartbreaking!!!! You’ll want to shout..COME BACK!!!!! But that wouldn’t be healthy, you have to let them go.  So, you find other things to do while you wait for the key in the door, or the phone call asking you to come get them.  You’ll clean more than you ever thought normal, and you’ll watch a lot of dumb movies.  You’ll cherish it when the youngest sneaks into your bed after a nightmare.  You’ll enjoy being needed even though you might roll your eyes when the hairbrush goes missing and you’re the only one with the super power to find it.  Nobody tells you, that love so big and so deep can knock you down with the force of the ocean.. rendering you useless on a lonely Saturday that all you can do is stare at the wall in your dumb face mask and remember.  Remember the smell of formula at 2am, and the sound of small voices calling Mamma!   Nobody tells you, but even if they had, you know you’d do it all over again, because it is so worth it.  Even on a Monday morning, with sweat stains and that missing’s worth it.

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My husband and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. It is the second marriage for both of us; and as I am looking back on our year I see how two broken people have found love and redemption in the imperfections and idiosyncrasies of our humanity.  I have a habit of zoning out and my attention span is extremely low.. somewhat like a goldfish.  My husband is detail oriented and has never forgotten even a particle of information.  I like sitcoms and Wonder Woman.  My husband likes documentaries and I don’t believe he has ever intentionally watched a sitcom.  I could sit for hours reading a book, my husband can’t even stay still while sleeping.  We are different.  What is it that drew us together? The answer…  that mountain we were both facing.  When Vinny and I met, I was 3 years into a divorce and working 3 jobs.  I had spent those 3 difficult years desperately trying to find an affordable apartment big enough for all my children.  For 3 long years they didn’t live with me.  I lived in a mice infested apartment that smelled like decay and urine.  I slept on a mattress on the floor.  I moved to a studio above an angry woman who never stopped screaming in Italian.  I worked hard, I cried hard and I prayed hard.  Vinny had his own share of struggles.  He had moved half way across the country, come back and moved away again.  Divorce, relationships that didn’t work and a deeply broken heart kept him moving around.  I think of those years when we didn’t know each other..we were like two fallen leaves swirling around in the wind.  Restless, searching and quite lost.  Somehow..we both ended up swirling into each other.  I had miraculously found a home for me and my children..and my life although improving was difficult to say the least.  I was now figuring out working full-time and part-time while managing a household and living with my children.  When I met Vinny, I was tired.  I had no room in my life for nonsense.  I had this huge mountain in front of me and I didn’t have the strength to drag someone along with me.  I had jobs to work, bills to pay and children to raise.  I liked him though.  After our first date he hugged me, and I will never forget the feeling of pure comfort that rose up in my heart as I rested my head on this man’s shoulder.  Still..that mountain.  How could I invite someone into my life when it was a circus..when time was constantly running away from me and I was getting groceries at the dollar store.  When I felt like I had nothing to could I expect him to want to stay?  It was in front of that huge mountain I suppose, that Vinny stood with me and took my hand.  He wanted to climb it with me.  He wanted to get tired and worn out along side of me.  He wanted to see the triumphs..share the victories and be right in the middle of our circus.  Our dating experience wasn’t about restaurants and was sitting in the yard with the kids spying on us.  It was washing dishes, and doing fourth grade homework.  It was him, figuring out how to make my life easier.  It was me, figuring out how to make him feel loved.  It was us, holding one another’s broken pieces and seeing the beauty in them.  It’s been a long climb..and there’s more to go, higher places to see.  Sometimes I stumble and sometimes he gets worn out..but we never quit.  We lift each other over the pitfalls, and wipe the sweat from one another’s brow.  I am awed by this man who chose to climb next to me, chose to love me.  So, here we begin another year, the sun is more visible now and there is more rest but we climb..him and I together.

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