Posts tagged “Mothering

Rainy Day Jar

Doesn’t everyone have a rainy day jar? We’ve had one for years. Some times we are better than others adding to it. We began the change jar with intention. It was supposed to be our rainy day fund. The kind that saves up for spending money on vacation. We used to be really good at putting all our extra change into it from our cars, cushions and wallets.

I’ve noticed the change jar hasn’t grown much over the last 8 years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve rolled coins in at least 8 years. The reason why is we haven’t filled the jar and quite frankly, kind of forgot about it. We stopped using cash for the most part which eliminates the ability to collect change.

The past couple of weeks I’ve done a whole home purge. I’ve gone through drawers, cabinets, closets and purses. Along the way I gathered the coins I found and remembered about the rainy day jar. To my surprise I filled it up. I didn’t immediately have plans for it, rather I tucked it back in the cabinet it’s been hiding in and went along my merry way.

Most know this season has been different. Not just for me but many. For being the “crazy Christmas lady”, I hadn’t bought any gifts until today. Not because I’ve procrastinated but because I’m going to have to be more careful and less frivolous. Now that’s really not a bad thing but it’s a thing. And so as it is literally raining today outside, I had an idea. I decided it was time to pull out the rainy day fund and get to rolling. This concept is obviously foreign to the twins. They are asking what I’m doing and then why. I haven’t burdened my kids with “moms been out of work for four months” and really, they hadn’t a clue until today. I’ve been keeping busy, volunteering, creating and continuing to write and speak. In their minds, I’ve been working and working to them means moms making money. With all smiles and quite proud of myself for thinking of the rainy day jar, I enthusiastically shared when asked that I was going to use it to buy Christmas presents. To me, this is what the whole point of the rainy day change jar was for. But what happened next broke my heart.

Gabby’s eyes filled with tears. The realization and a short explanation that I don’t make money right now hit her like a semi truck. Why I’m not sure. I didn’t make that much when I was employed. But she’s 12 and not oblivious to how much things cost. Her next question shook me more. “Mom, will we have to move?” What? That’s not on my radar but the simplicity of rolling coins to buy Christmas gifts equaled to her we may need to move.

I’m not sad at all about a more simplistic Christmas. I was worried for a while the kids would be upset or disappointed. And they might be. But I am hopeful they are much older and more mature now. I also am banking on the fact we value each other more than things. Sure, it’s nice to spoil our kids and lavish them with things we didn’t have growing up but doesn’t that all get lost in the whole reason for Christmas? We will still eat way too much sugar and good food. We will still sing songs, watch movies and play games. We will still be together with family and friends. And don’t worry? They will still each be getting a few gifts. and thanks to my rainy day jar, I’m not worried about it at all.

Do you have a rainy day jar? If so, what do you use it for? After Christmas, ours will need to begin again. I think I’d like it to have a new purpose.

Living joyfully, day to day,

Jennifer


1000 miles

I wasn’t ready to let go.

Three years ago we took a short drive three hours from our home and dropped off our oldest, Morgan, at college. Since this was pre-covid, there were plenty of college kids there to welcome, distract and immediately plug Morgan in. She was going to the university my husband and I met at so there was comfort in knowing the school, the town and even friends who still lived there. While it was hard to leave her, she was close and I knew her surroundings.

Jump forward three years and here I am again. The original plan for our second daughter Katie and her first choice school was to be five hours from home. This changed when God said, nope, not going to happen. I say it was God because we did all we could humanly possible to make it happen for her. So into this summer we found ourselves shifting……to 1000 miles away. Let me spell that our further. It’s a 17 hour drive. Two days of caravanning across the country with packed cars. This kid isn’t going to have the luxury of driving home on a weekend. She’s going to settling in for 12 weeks.

While in my mind I have known the distance, the length of how long she’ll be gone, it really didn’t hit me until the day before we left. As we were all sitting at church in one long row and eating lunch afterwards, I thought, this was it. All six of us together again won’t happen for a little while.

Each child is different in personally, resiliency and interests. Katie is no different. She’s strong, independent and knows what she likes and wants in life. All these traits made me think this was going to be easier than Morgan. While Morgan was ready, I wasn’t as confident as a parent. This time I thought it would be different.

Thanks to covid, everything feels “off”. Not only is Katie going far away, the day we moved her in her dorm this week was the first time we had been in the city or stepped foot on the campus. Ever. Everything is new, we didn’t know our way around and all I could think was, this is a big mistake. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud but I’m sure I’m not the first or last parent to have these emotions and thoughts. I kept thinking, what have we done? What are we doing? There’s still time to pack her back up and bring her home.

Don’t worry, we didn’t do that. Instead we decorated her room, made a trip to Walmart for all the things she needed/wanted and said “see ya soon”. Yes I cried but by then both Katie and I felt better about it. Her confidence was reassuring and her smile let me know it would all be okay.

I’m pretty sure going to college is harder on the parents in some ways than the kids. Have we done enough to prepare her? Is she going to be safe and okay?

Here’s the deal, she’s never been mine. At least not completely. She’s a gift. A gift from God that He allowed for me to take care these past 18 years. I dedicated her to Him and as much as I love her, there is someone who cares even more for her. Trusting in that is the only and best thing I can do right now. God has been teaching me lately that I am not in control. I try. Really hard. But ultimately when I surrender and let God lead the way, things always turn out the best. So today I am reminded that though 1000 miles seems far away, Katie is never without the Lord. He is with her always. To guide her, comfort her and direct her if she chooses herself to trust Him and give Him control.

Living day to day-

Jennifer

P.S. I may have already planned a trip to see Katie during parents weekend. 9 weeks and counting…


Living in the in between

Something I have done for the past eight years was written a story that I shared a couple of times a month with those I served with. It went out on Friday’s.

Two weeks ago, that came to an end. I was a casualty in a large layoff….restructure of sorts. I got the meeting request 20 minutes before (big first clue) and when it only includes the boss and president, you kind of have an idea what’s about to happen. In all of it, the greatest sadness was not being able to say goodbye to the staff and hundreds of volunteers I worked with. It was immediate, abrupt and sad. I loved what I did and who I did it with. In the end, I count it as a blessing for having spent 15 years serving and working in a ministry I so loved. Not many can say that.

This space I now live in, is the in between. In between what life looks like going from working 40 hours a week to looking for a job. The questions of what now and the white space in my days is both hard and good. You see, I live my life with a core belief that God has a purpose and will for my life. Each day I choose to walk towards that or away from it. Each unexpected twist isn’t anything He didn’t already not know. There is comfort for me in this and also a wrestling of sorts. What’s next?

I am also living this “in between” in my personal life. I have two kids in college and two kids starting junior high. Parenting both looks very different.

Being a last child, and later in life kid, also means my only living parent is older. With age comes life and health issues for anyone. Alongside my siblings we are doing our best to come alongside my dad in this “in between” stage. The balance of wanting him to enjoy all the independence he can while also advocating for him when he can’t.

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It was sweet, memorable and also a reminder that these past years we have had to fight for it. We are “in between” a very hard few years and looking forward to dreaming new dreams and all that God has for us the next 25 years.

Living in this in between season of life is both a blessing but also requires determination. It’s my story right now and what I will be sharing about. The struggles and the celebrations, the mundane and extraordinary. The how-to’s and what not to do’s. This is my life. I invite you to come along for the ride and share if you think others can relate. My heart beats to encourage, inspire and even challenge you as you read along.

Living day to day-

Jennifer

P.S. As I learn my new voice, I’d love to hear what you might want to talk about. Email me at day2daywithjenn@gmail.com.