Friday, May 6, 2016

It has started.

It has started.  

I was able to put it off a couple of years.  We intentionally have kept our oldest home from school two years longer than most.  We wanted to train him in our values and strengthen his ties to family.  I hope that years into the future, we will discover that these years accomplished their purpose.

I taught him to read, to count, write, and play piano.  I made every breakfast and lunch.  I supervised his days, scheduled his activity, managed his education.  And today, he proved that he doesn't need me for that anymore.  My heart!  

Today was the day we went to check out the school he will attend next year.  I knew he was nervous, so I helped him pick out clothes he would think were cool.  I gave him a hair cut.  (Overboard, maybe?  He needed one anyway.)  He was silent on the way there, and respectful, but shy with the principal and school nurse when they introduced themselves.  

We went into the gymnasium and I asked him to sit with the other first graders who had come over by bus to take their tours.  He was paired up with two boys in batman shirts.  I prayed for a positive experience (I think I meant in school forever, not just for this tour), and off they went.  

I didn't cry, but I wanted to.  Trying not to hover, I followed from a distance as two very cool 3rd grade boys showed my little almost-2nd-grader around the school he will attend next year.  As I stalked observed them, my son was talking, following directions, and acting totally normal and cool.  He loved the library and playground.  

It has started.  Today, I watched my oldest boy confidently take some large strides away from me.  He was awesome.  And this is how it will be from now on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Do You Choose Me?"

Have I mentioned how much I love living in this little town?  I have considered creating another blog just about our Abilene, KS and writing about all of the gems (people, mostly) I encounter here on the regular. 

This morning was no exception:  The Thrift Store.  Our thrift store is run completely by volunteers, and all of the money that it makes goes straight into the food kitchen, which feeds families in our town.  Also, the prices are about half of what you pay at Goodwill.  I one is losing here.

And to make it better, the ladies who attend the store treat me like I am treating them by coming in.

"You kids can play with the toys all they want!"  (Kid heaven.)

"How about I give your one-year-old a ride on this cart, so Mom can shop."  (SWOON.)

"Wednesdays are the best days to come, because I work the checkout desk and I think things are too pricey here, so I mark them down."  (Not making this up.)

Ok, here is what this post is really about:

As I was checking out, I was getting the typical questions and comments: "Are all of these children yours?"  "3 boys!  Wow, you are busy!"  None of these bother me, and today I responded with, "I dream of the day I can come and browse without my children."  (Cause, seriously, that's the stuff dreams are made of.  Coffee in hand, $10 in my pocket, and garage sale prices.)

Well, guess whose 6-year-old ears were listening?

We get to the van, I am buckling in the baby, and Gabe says, "Mom, someday, Ben (youngest Engle) will be 18, and you will be so glad."

"Why, Honey?"

"Because he will be in college and you can go shopping alone."

Oh.  Hold the phone. 

Pause: (I am about to share the best mommy moment of my day.  If I shared all the others, this would NOT redeem them.  Just wanted to say that before you start thinking I'm great at this.)

I stopped what I was doing, put my hand on the sweet boy's face and said, "Let me tell you something.  I could hire a babysitter.  I could go back to work and have a break from you three everyday.  I could make more money and have more awesome stuff.  i could send you to school so I only have two little boys to take shopping with me.  But I CHOOSE to be with you.  I choose you.  I want you more than I want peace and quiet and more than I want breaks and nice things.  I want YOU."

Then, Ell piped up and said "Do you choose me?"

"Yes, I do.  And I choose Ben."

And that was that.  I really needed that reminder today.  I am choosing this.  I never wish I had chosen differently.  Never.  I just get complainey when things don't go'd think I'd be used to "not smooth" by now.  I mean, "not smooth" is a good day.

There is no better choice than this life.  I am SO blessed. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

That Peach Pie

I got a voicemail last night. 

"Emily, this is Shirley.  I have something for you.  Will you call me before you go to bed tonight so I can bring it over?" 

YES!!!!  When you get this message from Shirley, it means one thing...she is bringing me something delicious that she has baked. 

Actually, it means a lot of things:

Shirley is 65+ years old.  She is retired.  She has her freedom from kids living at home, work schedules, etc.  She could do anything she wants with her, shop, TV...but she picks peaches from her own backyard, cuts them up, and bakes pies from scratch (I think she said she did 12 this time!) and calls people up to deliver them.

She calls it her "hobby".  Blessing others is her hobby.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men."  Colossians 3:23

Friends, it can be anything.  What can you do?  What do you like to do?  What are your hobbies?  How can you do it to bless someone else?

Admittedly, I have some I just show up and do these things?  Do I call first?  What if they say no?  What if they hate it?  I think Miss Shirley has this down:  Just call and say "I'm bringing it over."  Just do it! 

So, write this down, make a little list of things you can do. 
Are you killer at this one recipe?  Make a bunch of batches and give them out.
Crafty?  Who would be blessed to have your work on their wall?
Musical?  Volunteer to work up a song with your friend's kid to record for them, or to sing at church.
Can you wash dishes?  Fold laundry?  Scrub a toilet?  Do you know someone who would feel great to be relieved of some of this work?
Can you babysit and give a momma the morning off?
Can you mow a yard?  Give an hour of your morning to a lonely older friend to chat?  Gather up some hand me downs with some life left in them and GIVE them away for FREE to someone who needs them?

Ok, I am feeling I will stop. 

Here is the kicker, I don't need a peach pie.  My day would have been fine without it.  But I can't stop thinking about how special it is that Shirley put me on her list and followed through...all the way to calling me up and bringing it over.  Our loving actions and never too small, and never unnecessary. 

When have you been blessed by an act of unnecessary kindness?  And if you do take a step to bless someone, it's OK to share it here.  We won't think you are bragging...just inspiring the rest of us to do the same. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You Have a Super Power

I had been the worst Mom that morning.

I wanted to squeeze some errands in and then get my kids home to sleep so I could get things done, and the morning minutes were ticking away as I watched my older ones slugged their way through chores.  Every time I went looking for them (because I had to go looking for them), they were playing.  My calm discipline gave way to full on SCREAMING after the fourth or fifth reminder to get back to work. 

Everyone was crying.  I felt sick.  I hated myself.

We got to the store and I turned on my sweet mommy voice as I coached them through each isle.  "Stay behind Mommy."  "Please stop touching."  "Can someone try to make the baby laugh so he will stop screaming?" 

We got stopped by a woman looking at a display.  She didn't see us so we waited.  Then, my oldest, in a moment of charm and grace said so sweetly, "Excuse me." 

The lady looked at me and said, "Great job, Mom.  What a polite young man.  You are doing this right." 

The tears came fast.  I mumbled, "Thank You." and moved past her.  I couldn't see the labels on the juice.  I couldn't talk for a minute.  That woman had no idea how powerful she was.  Her words changed everything.

Don't tell me you can't change the world.  You have a super power.  You have the power to change someone's day with your words.

We all know how damaging words can be.  We have been the victims of hurtful speech, and I know I have been the one doing the damage.

On the other hand, we can do so much good with our words.  I have seen my sons be trained into changing some bad habits just by using positive speech when they did well.  I have seen my husband walk into a work day with an optimistic attitude after a compliment by a student the day previous.  When you get a good compliment, don't you replay it in your head for hours, or days?  I even treasure a few gems I received YEARS ago.

So, be GENEROUS with your words.  Maybe you have been trying to figure out what you have to give to someone when money is short and time is unable to be spared.  Purposely give them your good words.  Write notes, leave Facebook comments, or if you are feeling very brave, and very generous, give them some public praise, with actual spoken words.  Imagine the impact you can make. 

You have POWER to change someone's moment.  And our moments become our days, our weeks, our lives...look at what you can do!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


We went camping this weekend for the first time since #3 was born.  He is almost a one-year-old, so it was time to give this a husband loves camping.  I love the idea of I prepare my mind, talk myself into meeting the challenges, and think about all the memories we will make. 

I'm a boy mom.  I have to go camping.

It went pretty well.  We didn't sleep, but we ate well, stayed warm, and had some great fireside moments, ranging from "The longer we look at the sky, the more stars we see, just like the longer we look at God, the more of Him we see" to "What happens if I pee in the fire?"  Boys...

They were eating up all the stories we were telling.  "Tell another one!"  So, my husband told them about the first time he and I camped together.  We took the looooong drive to Georgia to visit my Dad, and since we are so frugal, and since we were so young, we packed the tent and sleeping bag and decided that when we were too tired to drive anymore, we would pull over somewhere in the smoky mountains to camp.  About 10pm, and 10 hours in, we found a campground with spots paved into the mountain.  It was dark, we were tired, so we picked one quickly.

I am not making this up, the spot was a square of gravel  with a parking spot beside it.  We pitched the tent by the light of a flashlight.  This was Kentucky in the summer, so it was hot.  I had camped maybe three times in my life.  I don't remember, but I think I cried.

In Jacob's version of the story, he told the boys "It was a tough night and we didn't sleep much, but your mom was so patient and sweet.  I know she was uncomfortable, but she did not complain."

REALLY???  Did that happen?  He promises it did.

I don't even know what to say about that.  I feel confident that if we tried that today, EVEN IF we got to do it with no kids, I would not be sweet.  I would not be patient.  I also would not cry...because my default emotion is mad.

I am afraid I am not the girl Jacob married.  I am older, fatter, more tired...I have three boys to raise, meals to cook, housework to tackle...I am not that young, carefree girl who does things like sleep on gravel because it is adventurous.  And I certainly don't do it sweetly.

After the storytelling and we miraculously got three boys to sleep, Jacob and I were curled up and whispering and I got brave enough to tell him that I don't think I am as sweet as I once was.  And I was sad that I'm not like I used to be.  He didn't hesitate.
"Em, you are better."
"No way.  That's impossible."
"You are definitely better."

Like he meant it.  He didn't think first.  Like he couldn't believe I think I'm not sweet.

Sisters, is it possible that we are doing better than we think we are?  My husband and my sons seem to think I am this great mommy, this wonderful wife...all I can see is losing my temper, weight gain, last minute dinner attempts, and piles of laundry.
One of us is wrong.

And who am I doing this for anyway?  For me or for them?  So, whose opinion matters?  Why am I so hung up on how I think I am doing when the people I am doing this for apparently think I am awesome?  And furthermore, I am ultimately doing this for the Lord, right?  Guess what He thinks of me?

 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

Clearly, I am not thinking correctly about myself.  I should soak up the love of my boys and my man.  And best of all, the love of my Savior.  It's amazing how beautiful a woman is when she knows she is loved.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What I Know

I'm ready to share a bit about the last week.  I'm also afraid that if I wait too long to write this stuff down, I'll forget.

Last Wednesday, I had a Dr. appt.  Just a routine check up for baby, I was just over 15 weeks along.  There was no heartbeat.  After two sonograms, they confirmed that our baby had died.  Jacob and I decided to go into the hospital to deliver the body the next morning.

Thursday was a very surreal day.  Lots of resting and waiting for things to start happening.  We had both cried so many tears the day before that we were just introspective most of the day.  The nurses were patient and gentle and wonderful.  One was a good friend and I know she was praying the whole time.

They told me the baby would come out quickly, and it did.  I wish I could have delivered him more gently or slowly, but I had no control over that.  He was perfectly formed.  His hands were beautiful.  Tiny ears, toes, and muscles.   Our sweet boy.  We named him Isaac Phillip Engle.  5.5 inches long, 1.8 oz.  The hardest part was when we had to give his little body back to the nurses.

I have noticed a separation between what I KNOW and what I feel. 
I KNOW that Isaac is with the Lord: a perfect Father.  I feel so sad that I never got to be his mommy.
I KNOW the Lord never gets anything wrong.  I feel that this shouldn't have happened.
I KNOW that I don't need to know why.  The Lord knows and He has my best in mind.  I feel confused about why God would allow this.
I KNOW that Jeremiah 29:11 is true.  God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  I feel broken and sorrowful.
I KNOW that this sadness is only for a season.  I feel scared that it might not go away.
I KNOW that God loves me and has been caring for me closely through this process.  I feel so loved and even blessed by His goodness to me.  While He did not allow me to keep this gift, His gifts of salvation, a future in heaven with Him, and His constant love are certain and even more precious than our sweet Isaac.

Sometimes God spares us devastation and heartache.  And sometimes He causes it.  Either way, He is worthy of our worship and submission.  He has done more good for me than anyone else could.  Though He slay me, I will hope.  He is good and He does good.