Tuesday, April 17, 2018

mom fruit

YOU GUYS!!!!
The coolest, most wonderful mom thing happened yesterday. It was so confirming and was a sign of fruit through all the tough and crappy mom stuff that I have done thus far. I NEED fruit. It's not a craving. It's a symbol of hope for all the time and tears and heartache and effort that has gone into this whole mom thing. To see that fruit happening is a beacon of light for this weary mom soul!

My bright, figure-anything-out, go-getter 12-year-old daughter had come up against her nemesis once again: math. No matter what super powers that girl brings to the fight, math always "one ups" her. It beats her down and frustrates her to tears! (She's got a phenomenal tutor and great math curriculum, in my opinion, so that is not the issue here.) Math, no matter what size or shape it comes in, pushes my girl's buttons.

And yesterday was no exception. Negative integers and deciphering between the area and circumference of a circle and the distribution property got her to her wits end and we heard all about it! Long story short-ish: she was frustrated with herself. There are so many things in this life that come easy to that girl (except for keeping her room clean and being nice to her brother) and to have one thing that doesn't come easy to her just aggravates her! It breaks my heart to see her frustration, but I can't do anything about it. Math is important in education and we won't let it slip around here.

It all came to a head when I stepped into the garage to find a piece of chocolate from the freezer. She came out after me, wrapped her arms around me and said, " I just want to be smart like my dad." I held her with all my love and told her I understood and then, a moment later, to lighten the mood, because that's how I work, I teased her and asked, " Wait a minute: if you want to be smart like Dad, what does that make me?! Not smart?!"

And you know what she did? She looked up at me (which I can only say for a few more years, I'm sure and then I'll be looking up at her!) and then buried her head into my chest and said emphatically, "You're wise, Mom!"

I'm immediately started laughing. It was a laugh that came from my soul! Partly because that was a good recovery on her part - she was quick with that response! And also because I knew she meant it. She's told me this before.

Y'all. My 12-year-old daughter thinks I'm wise. Amongst all the eye rolling and the talking back and getting the last word in, she still thinks I'm wise.

I often question my choices in parenting. Shoot, I often question my choices in what I snack on! But every once in a while, God allows me a little glimpse like this one into my daughter's heart and reminds me that I'm doing okay. And that makes me want to keep trying at this whole parenting gig.

Look for the fruit, my friends. If you haven't seen it, ask for it! God will give you a peek, if your eyes are open. And even if you have to wait a while for it (I waited years and years and I'm not even lying), keep at it because it'll come. And it'll be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears (and I'm speaking figuratively AND literally there!)

I'm praying for you all, my friends!

KC


Monday, April 16, 2018

Doritos

As I sat in front of my computer, eating cashews (because cashews are beyond delicious and better for me than Doritos), I kept trying to come up with something clever to write about. I started about 3 different posts, quitting after about a sentence for each one.

"No one wants to read what I have to write about. I don't have anything interesting to say. No one is going to care about what I've got going on in my life."

Would you look at that?! I totally discouraged myself, all by myself! I didn't need any help from anyone else. That's pretty typical of me: I'm my own worst enemy. If I try hard enough, I can talk myself out of anything and put my self worth as low on the ladder as possible... (I was going to say on the totem pole but being low on the totem pole actually means being wise and other good stuff and that's not what I've been telling myself!)

(I have now moved on to Club crackers, if anyone is interested. They are also quite tasty and maybe 25% healthier than Doritos.)

When I tend to get down on myself, I have usually forgotten one very important aspect of me: God created me with a purpose. He made me on purpose. He decided that He was going to put together a Kathy Lynn Cragin for reasons: His reasons!

Sheesh! If I could just get out of His way then maybe He could do some bigger and better things with me so that He could accomplish more stuff and things! But NoooOOOOoooo. I've got to put up walls and close doors and just get in the way of it all.
*eyeroll at myself*

I know I'm not the only one out there who does this...
People! We have GOT to get out of the way! At least once in a while!
Take a chance! Do a thing! Listen to that poking and prodding of God and stop doubting yourself. Because God wouldn't poke and prod you if He didn't already know that something good was going to come out of it all.

So tonight I just started writing and discussing my evening snacking habits with you and TA-DAH!!! He ended up coming up with something kind of cool to tell you (and me! Pretty much all of what I write to you is just stuff I need to hear too!)

Now, if someone could please bring me a bag of Doritos, I would greatly appreciate it...

KC

(Nacho Cheese, please.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

aaaaand: fail.

I don't know, y'all. (And yes, I do say "y'all" in real outloud life even though I'm from California. It's for emphasis!) I just don't think I'm cut out for this parenting thing. The more I strive to get ahead, the more I look around and see every where that I am failing!

I just put bath towels away in my kids' bathroom, only to have to rearrange the entire cupboard because one of my children has moved in and also started to take over the second cupboard in that bathroom. I'm going to start charging rent on cupboard space.

Earlier today, I kept getting sticky feet while walking in my kitchen. On hands and knees and with a wet towel, I identified the area of sticky-ness that no one seems to know how it got there. I now leave a pair of flip flops near the kitchen floor for when I get fed up with crumbs and sticky spots on the floor. I can't.

"Child, please don't eat this entire bowl of blueberries."
Returning 5 minutes later: "Where are all the blueberries?!"
Child: "I ate them all, I guess."
YOU GUESS?!

I constantly buy my children dental flossers. Those little sticks that have a small piece of dental floss to make it easy for them to floss every night. But I recently asked my children if this flossing is being completed. Can you guess the answer?! Can you guess when our next dentist appointment is?! Three days from now. Ugh.

My daughter rolls her eyes at me an average of 10 times a day.
My son's cursive handwriting leaves a lot to be desired.
Math. I'm not saying anything about math.
There were snails in my garage in a bucket for about a week.
Wet bathing suits and towels live on bedroom and bathroom floors, just beneath the hooks installed for just that purpose.
My kids eat candy. (See paragraph regarding dental flossers.)
Little Lego pieces everywhere. Just everywhere.

I look at every one of these and think: "There's more I can be doing as a parent to stop these behaviors! If I have so many parenting fails (y'all, this is like an eensy-weensy peek into a very large box, nay, garage full of parenting failures), then obviously, I'm not cut out for this!"

But there's always this word that constantly inhabits my mind. Sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's quiet. But it is always there. It is a gift that God gave to us, hand-in-hand with free will. There is absolutely NO way we can attain parenting perfection. (I'm telling you: the ones who show you their perfect parenting are not showing you every part of their parenting world.)

So God gave us grace.
He shows us favor and gives us blessings despite our shortcomings.
And that grace covers a LOT!

Today I had to apologize to my daughter for something rude I said to her. It was eating me up as her mom but when I told her I was sorry, she told me it was no big deal and hadn't really bothered her: grace.

Last night I failed as I hadn't even thought about what my daughter would wear to church on Easter Sunday. There was no way that we could find a dress for her before church the next day. She pulled out the one dress she had that was flowery and then looked at me and said, " Do I have to wear a dress?!" HA!! Nope! Grace.

I looked at the mess that I had just gotten frustrated over and my son came up and hugged me despite my aggravation: grace.

People, this happens every day. My shortcomings are greeted by God's grace. Sure, my kids are probably going to need counseling someday, but I believe that every step of my parenting is surrounded by the grace of God. What makes me think that I need to have it all together when I've got a great big wonderfully wise God walking right next to me in this adventure?! Guess it's time to show myself some grace...

KC

Thursday, February 22, 2018

save the drama...

So one of the things that I have realized from being a female for my whole life is that I don't do drama. I'm don't like it. I don't have patience for it. I think it's petty and dumb. When I was younger, I hung out mostly with the guys because they don't really don't do drama. I was a tomboy probably for that very reason!

Recently, I had a run in with some drama. Like I said, I don't do drama. I was simply pulled in by being in the same room as this gal. It's complicated to explain and not really worth it (BECAUSE DRAMA *eyeroll*) and that's not the main point of the story anyway.

Here's the main point of the story (well, getting there anyway...): part of me was very frustrated with this person who had not even spent a moment of her time to get to know me before judging me and creating drama. I had a couple of good friends who were involved in this situation as well and while I know a part of us wanted to bash this person, that wasn't the right thing to do either.

While our frustrations were justified, our bashing wouldn't have been appropriate. We don't know this person's background, what kind of baggage they might be carrying (because we are ALL carrying luggage around, some of our bags are just bigger than others!), we don't know what a person's state of mind or heart might be or what in their life has influenced them to be who they are or act the way they do.

And for these reasons, and because God calls us to, one of those good friends on mine said that we should pray for this person. Not because we liked her, but because it was the right thing to do. (I'm telling you, I have amazing friends.)

Matthew 5:44 specifically says: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Do you KNOW how hard this is to do?! Pray for the person who is being mean to you?! AND LOVE THEM?! God, really, you are asking too much. That's just ridiculous.

But do you know what that does for you? It releases the responsibility of justice and anger from you and puts it in God's hands. And although the whole "love your enemy" part might seem impossible, you are truly showing them love by praying that God might have a mighty work in their life.

So as much as I'd like to avoid drama, it looks like I can't even in my late 20's...I mean 30's (*sigh*). I might as well be a teenager again...

KC

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

breathing

I just returned home from a little trip away where I got to spend time with some of my nearest and dearest. I left my most nearest and most dearest to do so. In other words: I left my hubby and kids so that I could spend some time with my friends. (Sorry I used so many words there. I thought I was maybe being clever or something. Maybe not so much!)

I try to do this about once a year. I used to feel guilty about going. After all, I was leaving my family to go and do what I wanted to do. Things like eat what I wanted, eat when I wanted, eat where I wanted.  Okay, usually it really is about food for me. I love to eat! I like to cook. But I really prefer to go somewhere and have someone else make my food for me. You know: like even a sandwich will taste 10 times better if you don't have to make it yourself! Maybe I should just hire a chef...

Okay, but digging deeper: there are many reasons I like to go away for a bit with my friends. I like to have fun and it gives me a chance to catch up on their lives. We go places and experience things I don't regularly get to do. But the truth is that I need the break from home. My brain needs to get out of my house so it doesn't keep the big to-do list up front and center. My body needs to sleep in without the nagging feeling that the laundry should be started. My heart needs to not "mom" for a bit (not that you ever stop momming, but it is nice to hear the sound of the water fountain outside the hotel room instead of the children bickering and arguing and making annoying sounds!) I get to think about me and my needs instead of meeting everyone else's, just for a little while.

I love being a wife and mom. But being a wife and mom often means running at full speed to make sure that everything runs well, or in my case just making sure everything runs! Eventually the gas tank runs out. If it runs out for me I can feel myself getting bitter and resentful. I'm not saying I'm right in feeling this way. I'm just saying that it becomes a struggle.

So I go away for a bit so that I can fill the gas tank to this old Katillac. (See what I did there?! Cadillac, but with my name instead! Clever!! Or dumb. Mostly dumb.) And when I come home, I feel needed and ready to tackle all the responsibilities once again! Well, not exactly. I could handle vacation for a little longer. But I do come back feeling as if I have caught my breath and can do all the things on the to-do list. That feeling lasts for about a day when reality checks in and I see that the to-do list is never going to be completed. But there is hope once again and hope is an important thing to have.

I don't know exactly how Jesus felt about this but in Mark 6:32, He and his buddies did go away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Sounds like a chance to breathe and rest to me!

So next trip away from the to-do list, who's with me?!
(I'm thinking we go next week...)

KC

Monday, February 5, 2018

say it, mean it

There's this saying that gets said a lot. I'm never sure exactly how to take it because it often feels like a platitude. It's supposed to be said in appropriate situations but the follow-through is not a guarantee. And that stinks.

I was guilty of this years ago. If someone was going through something tough, I would tell them: "I'll pray for you!" or: "I'm praying for you!" And, admittedly, I'm not a prayer warrior, so I would rarely revisited that promise.

I got tired of being fake so I stopped saying that I would pray when I knew I wouldn't follow through. So instead, I told them I was sorry for them, or that the situation sucked, or some other thing that didn't require commitment. But that felt terrible too, so I decided I needed to do something about it.

So often, I think that when we say we will pray for someone, we think we need to speak in clear and concise sentences to God. As if He doesn't already know the situation and can't figure out what our dear one needs. I also think we feel like we should be in a solemn, quiet situation before we start and complete our prayer because that's the only way that God can hear us.

There's nothing wrong with either of those situations, but the truth is that we're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves when we tell someone we will pray for them, with the intention that we will find our most eloquent words in a serene setting. (Do you know how often eloquent words come out of my mouth and how frequently I find myself in a serene setting?! Never. Just never.)

And I don't think we need to be an incredible prayer warrior. I'm not and I no longer feel bad about it. Turns out that God has other gifts and uses for me and I'm cool with that.

But, with all my shortcomings in the prayer field, I think I've found a few things that seem to work for me and God. When I tell someone that I'm going to pray for them, I do it immediately. And then I do it when they randomly pop into my head throughout the day. And in some situations, I find myself in a semi-conversation with God all day long regarding a prayer request.

I'll pray when I'm driving, because it turns out that I CAN have a conversation with my eyes open. And sometimes the words that come out of my mouth are just words like: "peace," and "comfort," and "wisdom," because ultimately God already knows what is needed and if He can understand every language in this world, then I'm pretty sure He can understand the utterings of my heart, as simple as they might be. There have been times when I have told God: "I don't know what to say so: *siiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhh*" and He totally understands the heaviness and the heart behind that sigh.

Check this out:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
Romans 8:26
(See, that Holy Spirit has got our back!)

And then there are times when, even though it might seem awkward, I'll stop my friend who is struggling and pray right then and there for her! Imagine that: praying in the middle of Starbucks, or a parking lot, or in their living room. It might start out awkward, but by the end of my simple prayer, God usually takes the awkward out of it. He's good like that.

I don't know that I'll ever make it into Prayer Warriorshipdom. 
But I can tell you this: If I tell you that I'll be praying for you, I will be praying for you.

KC





Tuesday, January 30, 2018

dumb idea

YOU GUYS!!! Why in the world do so many of you want to go zip lining with me?! And why didn't I put "Go on a cruise with all my friends" on my 40 Before Forty List instead of zip lining?! AUGH! Here I was, just hoping that perhaps that one would fall through the cracks this year but NOOOOOOOO, you all are going to get me up on a terrifying platform, hooked to some rope contraption thing, only to be pushed off (because I'm pretty sure I'm not getting off that platform voluntarily) into crazy heights over absolutely no safety nets, hoping to high heaven that I don't pee my pants! I regret sharing my list with you all!!!

Okay, maybe not.
I still like your hearts.
Even if you are trying to get me to pee my pants.

Let me explain my foolishness for adding zip lining to my List.
I have a phobia regarding heights. I struggle to be near the banisters upstairs in my own house. If someone is standing near them, I ask them to move away. I cannot watch videos of people in those tall buildings who are looking out of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. And those RIDICULOUS videos of people walking on glass bridges over stupid heights so that they can see what awaits them if they fall thousands of feet....NOPE. I can't. I struggle if my kids walk over a bridge. You know that one at Knight's Ferry? It's enclosed, people. But there are cracks and I have to concentrate on not looking down through those cracks because otherwise I will never, ever cross the bridge. I do not have any idea where this phobia came from, but it affects me if members of my family are on tall ladders or on our roof or are looking over the edge of anything that is more than 8 feet tall. I seriously even had issues at the playground watching my children climb over and around the structures and I stressed about them falling down.

I am telling you, zip lining is not on the List because I think it would be fun. I probably put it on the list for reasons of facing my fears. Which I now think is a dumb idea...

HOWEVER, once upon a time, I did face this fear. In high school, our volleyball team went on a retreat and participated in a ropes course. One part of the ropes course was a giant ladder that was made up of huge logs held together by I-have-no-idea-what anymore, but it was not safe, I'm sure of it! Our job was to climb all the way up this stupid thing (it looked like 300 feet tall but was probably more like 40 or 50 feet), cross over the top log/rung of it and then climb back down. There was room for about 3 of us to do it at once, but in reality, it was best for just 2 of us to try and maneuver up and over it. If I remember correctly, we were paired up with someone to help each other get all the way up and over. I was paired with the tallest gal on the team who could hit the ball like no on else. She was a fierce competitor if you faced her on the volleyball net. AMAZING. Strong, powerful, full of all the things you want in a front row hitter.

This amazing gal, she got halfway up the ladder and stopped, and started crying, her fears had completely overtaken her. And there I was sitting across from her and my job now was to encourage her to get up and go to the next rung and so on until we made it up and over and back down again. UMMM, WHAT?! I was the skinniest, scrawniest kid in school. I was a setter on the team and "powerful" and "strong" did not define me. But she needed me so I climbed with her through her tears and encouraged her up and over that stupid giant ladder. And any fears I had were completely gone. Why? Because my focus was no longer on me, but were on helping someone else.

Little did I know how true this would be in life. The first time it truly became evident to me was when I had children. I went from an anxiety-ridden woman to a momma bear who would overcome whatever obstacles I needed to in my own life in order to be there for my children. When we turn our focus away from ourselves and our fears and towards other people and how we can meet their needs, it makes our fears seem a little less significant.

God knows this: "There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear." 1 John 4:18.
Perfect Love = God.
Best example ever.

I'm pretty sure, though, that God didn't say: "Kat, you should go zip lining because that is a great way for you to help somebody out..."
So I think I'm going to need a little more convincing, y'all!!

Seriously, guys, couldn't you have all been more excited about helping me grow a garden or write up my will?!

I guess I'll be planning a zip lining trip. Better be some yummy treats awaiting me when I'm done, just sayin'.
KC