Laresa Watkins

Life is Like a Load of Laundry…

Jan 20, 2017
mommyinbonlee

I spend a large part of my time on this earth doing laundry.  I know that God must have some reason for all of the laundry, that there must be something more He wants me to get from this daily toil.

Here are some life-lessons I have extracted from the endless loads of laundry that I deal with every day:

Life is Like a Load of Laundry

 1.  Sometimes you have it all together.  Everyone’s clothes are washed and folded and put away, and you feel really good about the laundry situation in your home.  You think, “Man, I have this thing called laundry figured out.” You feel smug and wonder why everyone else complains so much about doing laundry.  But…

2.  Some days there are people crying because they don’t have the pants they want, your husband sheepishly informs you that he needs a button-down shirt washed, dried, and ironed (with heavy starch) in three minutes, and you realize that your children have been wearing pajamas for two days (not because they want to, but because they have no clean clothes).  That moment when you had the laundry handled? A distant memory.

3.  Just when you think you’re caught up, someone throws something in the dirty clothes basket.  Maybe your kid has an accident, your husband spills his coffee on his shirt, or your mom’s washing machine breaks and she brings all her dirty laundry to your house. Better yet, you look under your son’s bed to find two weeks worth of dirty socks, underwear, and pajamas.

4. It can overwhelm us.  A funny smell may be coming from the laundry room, or, God forbid, the washing machine breaks.  The obstacles can seem insurmountable.

5. A laundry crisis will show you who will really be there when you need them.  A couple of months ago I had 6 loads of laundry piled on my bed, ready to be folded.  I texted some of my friends to see if they would come help me, but they all informed me that they had their own laundry to do and that I would have to handle this on my own.  So I called in the big guns: my mom.  And you know what? She came over and totally folded all of that laundry.  Guys, your mom will do your laundry when no one else will.

Isn’t this such a picture of life? Sometimes we have it together and sometimes we don’t, but we will NEVER get caught up.

Above all else, when you just can’t handle it anymore, call your mom.

Christmas

Dec 31, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Isn’t Christmas such a dichotomy?  It’s a time of joy and giving and getting and celebration, but also a time that I am reminded of the brokenness of this world.  As a child I was split between parents, and even as a married adult this brokenness continued as Jason (who is also split between parents) and I traveled from Christmas to Christmas to Christmas to Christmas.  Even though we were having a great time and spending time with people that we love and who love us back very much, it was also stressful and just…hard. We spent a lot of time away from our home and on the road for our first Christmases as a married couple.

Since having children, I have discovered an entirely new side of Christmas.  We have toned things down a lot.  We still see everyone, but our parents have their get-togethers on different days so we can be at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We’re still busy, but not so busy that we can’t enjoy ourselves.  We have time for a nap, to sit down and put together Legos, to play with new dolls.  Jason and I even get to spend time with our new “toys.”

 

There has been so much joy found in Christmas since C and M were born.  We have new traditions like cutting down our tree at the Doby Christmas Tree Farm every year, and watching “The Polar Express” with hot chocolate and cookies.  We start listening to Christmas music in November and wear tacky Christmas shirts every day.  The kids wake up every morning to find our elf, Martin (On a side note, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not too sorry that he’s gone back to the North Pole for the year!).  Their innocence and excitement is contagious.

This Christmas also brought with it a new aspect for me: grief.  It was our first Christmas since losing Kitten (my stepdad) and I missed him and his huge presence.  I also really mourned my grandma, who passed away 3 years ago on the day after Christmas.

Recognizing this dichotomy makes me really want to soak in every good moment that Christmas offers. One thing that was so special about this Christmas was that, since it fell on a Sunday, we got to go to church.  It was a privilege and a pleasure to join my church family on Christmas morning and worship with them!

Focusing on the real reason for Christmas makes the good and bad aspects of the season easier to bear, because both can be a little overwhelming.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV)

As I go through this life, the good and bad become more evident, but Christmas reminds me that Jesus left his Heavenly home and came here to fulfill all of the prophecies that spoke of him so we could dwell in the light, not the darkness.  We’ll have brokenness and grief and the stress of getting our families dressed for church on Christmas morning, but there is also peace and joy and love and celebration. These things go hand-in-hand (for now).

“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to it that its time of hard labor is over and its wrongs have been paid for. It has received from the Lord double for all its sins.” Go up a high mountain, Zion. Tell the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Jerusalem. Tell the good news! Raise your voice without fear. Tell the cities of Judah: “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40: 1-2, 9 (GW)

What a blessing to have that comfort and to celebrate Christmas with Jesus at the center, to feel the grief that is simply part of life, but to accept the peace that the Holy Spirit brings only because Jesus walked this Earth. Christmas is all of the feelings concentrated into a couple of days, with wonderful promises of what is to come.

 

 

 

 

Some things that may seem not-so-good but really are…

Dec 6, 2016
mommyinbonlee

1-Maddie loves to get up really early, and even earlier now that Martin (our Elf on the Shelf) is here. I can hear her rushing around upstairs, brushing her teeth and feeding her fish before she runs downstairs to find him.  She just laughs and screams and talks to him, then comes into my room to tell me where he is.  Some mornings (like this morning when I was still asleep) it is a little annoying, but I do enjoy our mornings together.  We sit on the couch and she watches cartoons (Christmas cartoons this time of year) while I pray and do my morning devotion, she with a mug of hot chocolate and me with a cup of coffee.  Even though she does sometimes wake me up earlier than I would like, I do treasure that time with her.

img_4639

 

2-Charlie was sick yesterday.  I know there should be nothing good about this, but I secretly enjoyed it.  Last week he became embarrassed to hold my hand.  I grabbed his hand on our way into church, and noticed that he wouldn’t grasp my hand. Then, without looking at me, he shook my hand off.  I laughed at him (but may have gotten a little teary-eyed when I told my friend about it a few minutes later).

I hate that he was sick, but I will admit that I loved being able to give him some attention.  The two of us stayed home from church so I could spoil him back to health.  😉

 

In the midst of this busy holiday season, I feel the need to find the good in the quiet, mundane moments.  Because….

“God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.”
Psalm 126: 3
He was good then, and He’s good now! I don’t have to look long to find evidence that he is a wonderful God.  In the seemingly bad, he has created good.  In the dark, early mornings, there is joy and peace, and in sickness there is a chance for restoration.
This makes me one happy person.

 

Summer 2016: Our Summer of Yes

Sep 19, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Summer of Yes

I began the summer by saying no. No to well-meaning friends who wanted to schedule playdates and dinners out, no to Jason when he wanted to sign Charlie up for golf camp, and no to Maddie’s gymnastics teacher when she invited her to gymnastics camp.

I’m sure it was aggravating to some people when I kept turning them down, but I just needed some rest.  It was a long, hard winter for my family, and I was just so tired. I really felt the need for a long stretch of time with no responsibilities or worries.

So I said no, and when we wrapped up our school year, finished with MOPS and church responsibilities, played our last baseball game and went to our last gymnastics lesson, we started our summer of yes.  And it has been fantastic.

We marked a lot of things off our summer bucket list (which wasn’t really a list, since I refused to make any lists all summer long).  We spent tons of time at the pool:

img_4226

Both Charlie and Maddie are great swimmers now, and every once in awhile (thanks to some awesome lifeguards and plenty of pool noodles) I could actually sit and relax without worrying about anyone drowning!

We went to the beach a couple of times:

Our favorite beach activity: building sandcastles.

Our favorite beach activity: building sandcastles.

 

Ice cream at the beach is the best!

Ice cream at the beach is the best!

 

A little daddy-daughter dance. :)

A little daddy-daughter dance. 🙂

The kids had a lemonade/cookie stand.  This made me fall in love with our little community even more.  So many people stopped and bought cookies and lemonade from C and M! There was actually a little traffic jam in front of our house.

img_4225

 

We had lots of sleepovers.  This means that the kids slept on our bedroom floor.  They loved doing this every time there was a thunderstorm, which there were lots of this summer.

img_4268

 

Maddie learned how to make pancakes, and is now the pancake master of the world.  Charlie orders pancakes before he goes to bed, and she wakes up the next morning and makes them!

img_4316

 

And, we had lots and lots of time for silliness:

img_4249

 

We did other really productive things, like taking plenty of naps (pretty sure Jason thinks that’s all we do at home now) and going to the movies every Tuesday (How did I not hear about Tightwad Tuesday sooner?). We read lots of books and I am so proud that Charlie, after a year of struggling with reading, is now a super reader. He also learned to tie his shoes.  We’re all feeling pretty happy about those major skills he mastered this summer (well, mostly me since I am the one who had to spend HOURS of my day every day tying his shoes).

I know that summer isn’t officially over until Thursday, but we’re back to school and all of our extra-curricular activities.  After such a relaxed summer it hasn’t been easy it has been a struggle it has been almost impossible to get back into our schedule, but we’re getting it, and I’m starting to look forward to fall and all of the holidays coming up.

This year, with all of it’s ups and downs and crazy rythyms, has taught me a lot about the importance of real rest.  I’m a list-making, planning type of girl, so to take so much time and not do those things was not easy for me.  At the beginning of the summer I asked myself what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the summer, and a major thing I wanted was to feel rested and ready-to-go once the summer was over.  I also wanted my family to have fun at home, and for us to have a vacation-type atmosphere at our house.

I’m happy to say that I can mark those things off of my list (in my head, because making that actual list would have been considered work). We had a great summer and are rested and (pretty much) ready to go.

So…We Had to Take a Break from #WatkinsVacay2016 and What I Have Learned About Rest

Jul 15, 2016
mommyinbonlee

I know it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, who actually has to take a break from their vacation?  But it’s true.

I (along with Charlie and Maddie) began our summer vacation as soon as VBS at our church was over in June.  We wrapped up (for the most part) our school year that week.  We finished up MOPS, gymnastics, and T-ball.  I turned down any and every offer to fill our calendar for the next two months, using Meghan Trainor’s “NO” as my inspiration. I know she had different intentions, but I still feel it gets my point across:

We were good to go.

We went to the beach for a week, then we followed that up with 2 weeks of pool time, naps, more VBS, time with friends, a visit to Mt. Airy, and an ideally fabulous July 4th weekend.  We have been going to the movies and eating out and using paper plates. The house has been a mess and we barely have clean clothes to wear, but it has been wonderful.  My mind has been gloriously empty.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me as I wrote that last paragraph.  How ridiculous is it that I am allowed to spend whole weeks like this when there is so much suffering going on? After beginning a paragraph explaining how hard I have worked for the past 10 months, how my family has been grieving, I stopped and deleted it.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people, because you all know how hard life is.

This week, we had to get back to real life.  We spent last Friday cleaning, doing laundry, and buying groceries in preparation for playdates and meetings at our house.  We got haircuts and went to the post office and paid bills and taxes.  We’re having a workweek, which is necessary to a busy life.

But beginning today at 12 we are back on vacation. We’ve got another few weeks and we’re going to enjoy them.

This summer, I’ve learned some things about rest and celebration and making memories in general.  Our theme over the last year of MOPS has dealt with real rest (not scrolling-through-Facebook rest), but I will be honest and say that I ignored what they were trying to teach me and what I was trying to teach the women in my group.  Who has time for rest, right? And how are we supposed to have clean houses and clothes, well-rounded children, husbands who aren’t hungry, and fit bodies if we’re resting all of the time?

But now that I have had real rest, I see the desperate need that I have for it. I don’t forget so much.  I feel like doing things for other people.  I don’t feel stressed when I think of the summer being over.  I am kinder to my children and husband.  I notice little things that my children do that I know I will want to remember. I say yes to things I would have said no to before. I read actual books and I feel like writing!!!

I also see the need that my family has for rest.  I have found that, because we have taken some time to just be, we laugh more. We talk over longer dinners without worrying about time.  The kids get along better.  We all sleep sounder.

This was my theme verse for the summer:

“So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life God gives him under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 8:15.

I didn’t get it at first.  I thought perhaps God just wanted us to have a nice dinner every once in awhile.  I could definitely pull that off.  But now I really understand.  I overheard Jason explaining the verse to Charlie last week, telling him that God wants us to have fun times, to relax and have great memories.  He told him that those memories are what keeps us going during times when life is hard, when we’re working  and maybe weary.  Those times of rest are a gift from God.

So I understand now, God.  I’ll take advantage of this summer that you’ve blessed me and my family with. Then I’ll take the memories and the energy and I’ll keep on running the race, and I hope that, when you have the opportunity, you’ll do the same.

%d bloggers like this: