July 25, 2011

  • A Day Off!


    Friday night at dinner, Ben surprised me [greatly] by saying he wants to give me the day off on Saturday.
    A very stunned wife stared at him in amazement, because a day off —-?
    Exactly what is a day off? It seems I can’t remember.

    I’ve only had one other such day since beginning my career as a mother. Without any appointments or schedules or places that I had to go. Exactly what does one even do on a day off?

    My kind husband continued on… “I think you’ve been really tired lately. Maybe a little burned out? I know I’ve been working Saturdays and some evenings, so you’ve been doing double duty. And I’d like to give you Saturday off… Would you like that?”

    A slow smile crept across my astonished face. Would I like that??
    Oh, indeed, kind sir, I would LOVE that, in fact.

    My Type A personality wished I would have had a week to plan!
    What does one do on a day off?
    Where does one go?
    What stores would I go to, without two kiddos in tow?
    Where would I park with my journal and Bible and books?
    What books should I read?

    My tired-mommy mind, on the other hand, wasn’t about to plead for the following weekend instead of the the following day. What kind of woman would EVER refuse such a generous offer?! A day off looked like a breath of fresh air!

    A few quick idea were jotted down, possible places to go, since I knew going out of town was definitely in the plans. We have no coffee shop in town, or bookstore/cafe, or anything remotely charming for such an occasion. McDonalds just wasn’t going to work. Or any of the many fast-food options we do have in town.

    Saturday morning dawned…. We had already been planning to host people for lunch on Sunday, so I did spend the forenoon doing some food prep. That was okay. I was getting all afternoon and evening off, and that in itself was enough to make even the food prep exciting. :)

    While I was making dessert and other meal plans, Ben took Olivia out on her first date. It was beyond precious. It was really for her birthday, two months ago, but it was her first date ever.

    First Date

    I have to insert here, that when I birthed Zoe, one of my very first thoughts upon knowing we had a little girl, was the excitement that she could go on a date with her daddy. I don’t know why that was one of my first thoughts, in the midst of birth excitement and feelings of physical pain beyond what I expected. But I was so excited about my little girl going on a date with her daddy. 

    Fast forward several more years, and it’s my second daughter now going on dates. To the donut shop. I should have sent the camera along with him, but knowing my husband, that would not have added to his time there. :) So I took a few pictures of them before they left.

    They just melted me.  A daddy and his little girl have got to be one of the most precious and tender things in this world.

    A Day Off 016A Day Off 014A Day Off 025

    Another little girl was also melted. As in “melt-down” though, at not being included in this one-on-one date. I tried to think of something to console her with, so Zoe and I made a paper chain, to count down the days until HER birthday, which at that point was less than a week away. Thoughts of birthdays made all tears flee at rapid speeds, and a happy three-year-old was chattering away as I mixed cream cheese with sugar and patted herbed hamburger steak into big pans.

    A Day Off 028

    And then – it was dress up time for me! Strappy sandals, flower brooch, sheer scarf, a touch of make up… and after kissing Husband and a million thanks, and after hugging wailing little girls who didn’t like the idea of their mother going away without them [how dare she!], I drove off.

    A phone call to my grandmother to wish her a happy birthday as she nears 80 years old, a call to the florist shop to deliver flowers to her door, a chat with my own dear mother, and even some moments of utmost quietness made up my one-hour drive to my destination.

    A few stops at various stores, just because I could. A music store, to buy a copy of  beautiful new piano music, a craft store to buy a few supplies for a party coming later this week, a few clothing store faves…. just to check their sale racks, of course. :) Nope, just because I could. And finding a few new cutesy things that good prices.  I did try to be a good girl… :)

    I do adore the feminine style that can be found so readily these days. Designers sure are creative when it comes to styles and fashion. I love the ruffles, the lace, the flowers, the skirts and dresses… It seems the last few seasons I keep thinking styles can’t get any more darling, and they DO! They sure know how to tempt people trying very hard to stay within the budget…

    But the majority of my time was spent at a little table in the cafe corner of Barnes & Noble.
    My heavy bag containing my journal and Bible was taken off my weary shoulder,
    and I had a date with my Daddy.
    More than anything, solitude and quietness refresh my soul.
    As much as I adore my husband and little girls, time spent solo is what my soul craves for restoration and rejuvenation.

    A Day Off 030

    A quiche from the cafe, as well as a [venti] Caramel White Mocha, added the perfect touch.
    Oh, and One Thousand Gifts.
    Pages in my journal were scrawled, pages in books turned.

    If I could have openly wept in that little corner of B & N, I would have. Truth be told, I didn’t feel like causing a scene. But my eyes were constantly filling with tears as I sat there… reading… writing… thinking… thanking. My heart really needed to be refreshed… encouraged.

    That week I had been feeling so weary, and yes, a little discouraged.
    Am I doing this mommy thing okay?
    I feel like I mess up so often…
    Will my children need counseling when they grow up?
    Could someone please walk beside me and just tell me I’m going to make it?
    How can I have enough of energy for everything that I’m supposed to do?
    How can I reach around and love everyone well?

    I had been longing for mentors, in flesh and blood.
    God gave me mentors that day, but in the form of written words.

    There were two mentors “present” with me, other than God.
    One was an article from John Piper’s website [found on Janelle's blogthank you!!]  that I had printed and brought along with me.  Here are a few paragraphs from a powerful post…

    “Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

    Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing…

    If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children….Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?…

    Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

    Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

    The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?

    It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.

    Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.

    Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work…”

    [Rachel Jankovic]

    I read and re-read those words, finding strength and deep encouragement in them. I was so challenged and convicted and encouraged all at once.
    The whole article can be found here.

    And I read the first three chapters of Ann Voskamp’s beautiful words. Through tears. She is an anointed writer, who reaches deep into the hearts of readers with her words. Now I know why people read and re-read this book. I would have sat all night and finished at one time, had I had no time limit.

    The last few years I’ve felt and known my need of God more than any other time of my life.

    When I was single, I thought I was a fairly sanctified person. Sure, there were areas I knew that needed God to desperately work in them, but it felt like I was on the road to being a person with less and less flaws. [doesn't that sound awful!? i'm embarrassed to admit it!]

    After I got married, my weaknesses suddenly flared up wildly. You mean I had disagreements with my husband? You mean I had a hard time admitting I was wrong? You mean I had a hard time surrendering to an unknown life? Yes, all of the above. And I suddenly felt very much in need of God.

    And then there were children…. and my weaknesses and faults and blind spots seem to glare at me daily. How can little people of such short years and short stature show up my sinfulness so drastically? How is it that I feel like a perfect heathen some days? Never have I realized my own shortcomings, not only in myself and how I relate to my family, but in how I relate to other people, and my faults in relationships and how badly I mess up.

    But there is grace. Sweet grace.

    And in those few short hours, I took hold of His grace yet again.

    I walked away feeling like a new woman, with a fresh sense of hope. A renewed sense of purpose. A taking hold of Truth once more, a desire to live our of fresh conviction and courage and love and life and purpose….

    Such days are rare, quiet rare.  And I cannot live my life waiting for such glorious moments of quiet. For long time of no interruption.

    But God will continue to meet in the midst of the busy moments, in the middle of pitter-patters of feet and chatter of baby voices. He is always near.

    And thank you, dear husband, for the my soul refreshment…
    I am a better wife and mother because of it. :)



Comments (37)

  • My eyes were welling up with tears as I read! Thank you for sharing the sweet moments and the encouragement and inspiration you found. For me, it’s not NOT having the alone time to ponder because I only have one baby, it’s taking the time. MY mother-in-law gave me “one thousand gifts” for my birthday and I am so incredibly blessed every time I open it up and read even just a sentence or two. Now I want to go read that article you posted again… I sort of skimmed over it, catching some here and there. Maybe later I will have time to really soak it in… Take the time to. Thanks for writing!

  • awesome! so happy for you. our souls do NEED such times. i can’t quite imagine a day off right now… i’m afraid that instead of doing the amazing things YOU did on your day off… i would sleep. ALL. DAY. LONG if for some crazy reason i was given a day off!:)

    we really need to catch up on the phone sometime. thanks for your fb message. i’ll call you sometime soon. love you friend!

  • Clarita, what a wonderful day off. Sounds like your hubby offered you a refreshing much needed time of being away and just rejuvinating. your drink and choice of book sounds wonderful, and your journalling and reflection. sometimes i just need to get away and have some good moments with just me and God, usually i find that we have long conversations when i’m driving somewhere. i listen to music sometimes but usually God lays things on my heart. I’m so excited that your husband has chosen to give so much into the lives of his daughters…i’m not sure if my dad and i went on dates per se but i know some dads that have had that special time with their kids and i know its so important!!! love that you were able to capture their excitement!!!
    i have to be honest and tell you that you, Cynthia and April are some my fashion ‘icons’ in a sense…you both always look so well put together with just the right touchs. I love how you ladies dress and its really been refreshing to me to see you women you are so beautifully feminine and glowing in your creative dressing..and by that the way you put things together…i dont’ really have an eye for that so i’m always looking to see how things are put together! hope that you found some great beautiful pieces on your shopping trips ;)

  • What a beautiful and convicting post…
    Can we please live closer together?
    Can We please fly home and surprise you for Zoe’s birthday?
    Oh How I miss you madly…

  • New favorite post. Goodness how I love it. And you. Soon I’ll join you for a Barnes&Noble afternoon…

  • oh Clarita…how this post resonated with me from beginning to end! i felt myself choking up as the part about wondering about parenting skills and children needing counseling years from now, because so many, many times i have both wondered and said the same things….and, the whole ‘someone to walk alongside me’ thing is such!!! a tricky thing. or, maybe i make it tricky? i’m not sure…but, seriously. this posting just hit me right here♥.
    and, a day off sounds like pure bliss!!! i chuckled to myself at the ‘wish i’d have had a week to plan it’ piece because oh that sounds a little too familiar!! on the (rare) occasions when Tim will tell me to just go, i’m left in a stupor because i haven’t had time to figure out what i could do, and i sooo love to anticipate and look forward to time away, and somehow, it seems i make the most of it when i’ve got it figured out…but, then again, it could just me my (gulp) type A personality surfacing too. ;O)
    have a great week Clarita!!

  • Oh how wonderful you got to have “alone time”! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I really needed to read that article you quoted.

  • I’m all teary.  I’m so g.l.a.d for your refreshment.

    I can so identify with some of your pre-refreshment feelings….tired. weary. wondering. longing.  I SO want to get the mothering thing r.i.g.h.t.  But, whew, I feel pretty whooped the last while…..

    Love you beautiful lady! (love the new header too!!!!)

  • So blessed to read of your day of refreshment. And I get it, so many years later, you just don’t forget. As moms we really are in the trenches all the time,and get worn out and weary. Yet, truly, God will give you what you need! And though you mess up, as you humbly ask God and your family for forgiveness, He will heal and bless you. I felt like I muddled through and made mistakes, yet we see all God has done with us as a family as we had Him first in our hearts. You were so wise to spend a big portion of your time reconnecting deeply with the Lord and your CALLING as a mom.
    It is so good to see you treasuring your girls and doing so many fun things with them, it does go by so fast. My sister and I sat at the beach today and enjoyed seeing some of the little ones running back and forth and jumping in the water. She said “it makes me miss our little ones!”

  • Some of my fondest memories as a young girl are dates with my Dad! How sweet:)

    So happy you had a day off and what a sweet husband you have for offering it as a surprise!

    Clarita, I love, LOVE the passage you posted from Jankovic. It touched my heart. It perfectly put into words what I have been feeling for so long now. I see an unspoken, subtle resentment that mothers seem to have for raising their children. To my shame I have even joked about the imposition they can be at times… I don’t want to do that anymore. It is evident to me that you daughters know that you value them, that you are loyal to them. Good job momma :) Thanks for the great reminder… iron sharpening iron.

  • me again….wanted to say this last time i came by, but forgot….i LOVE the look of your blog these days! you upgraded to premium, right? very tempting to me because i am so SICK of the ads on my sidebar!!!
    anyhoo….it’s a lovely space here!

  • What a treat to have a day (or an afternoon and evening!) off like that! And what a sweet thing for you to share your refreshment with us so we could be refreshed, too. I felt rejuvenated just reading the words you were inspired with (although I wouldn’t have complained about a latte to go with it). :) I especially liked these words, The question is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. In regards to our children, yes, but in all of life. More and more I am feeling convinced that parenting is not so much about working at parenting as it is about me becoming more Christlike. So glad you shared here. And I always love your music, too! Have a happy Tuesday!

  • Ahhh . . . a day off! It must be every mother’s dream!! So glad you got one again {I remember the last one you had}, and I think you spent every moment of it just exactly right. A little bit of everything, but mostly sitting and soaking up words, and writing words. Words are just the best!!

    On Mentors. I have wanted one or two real-life (in my life) mentors for so long now . . . and made an attempt at asking for one and met a few times, but maybe she nor I knew how it’s all supposed to go/flow? Maybe I think too highly or ask too much of the position, but at this stage of life, it feels like too much to try to schedule times to get together. It’s like I just need a person who is willing to check up on me, drop in on me, encourage me, etc. Not often, but just to know THEY know I’m here, sometimes buried under a pile of laundry or dishes. :) Are we going to remember to do this for others when we’re the “old” ones??

    And the article on mothering . . . it’s the 2nd time I’ve seen it posted now and it just strikes at the very heart! I need to print it and post it in prominent places around my home for a while, just so I can be reminded. Thanks for this and your honesty and thoughts.

    Have a lovely day! {Live in the glow of Saturday . . . walk in His grace for today. :) }

  • This is a wonderful post that could probably echo many other Mommy’s hearts:) A day out, ALL alone, Titus gave one of these a few weeks ago, It felt like a cold drink on a hot day!:) I can so identify with the mentoring thing, I think as Moms especially we are so much more vulnerable to the devils lies, What IF I’m not doing this thing right?? We can feel like our work is so mundane etc..But in reality we have one the most, If not THE most important job of anyone, Raising the next generation…Has me pleading to God for wisdom!!
    I think also it is really hard going through this mommy hood thing without the secure shell of your/my family around:( I love it that I’m close with my family but it makes the distance so much harder, especially when I WANT them to see Cole and Chloe in person not just in pictures! But I know its where God wants us so he’ll give grace to get through:) Hang in there..((hugs))

  • Oh and I LOVE the pictures of Ben an his lil girl, There are few things as precious as a Daddy an his little girl!:)

  • I Loved this Clarita. Thank you for sharing the article you read, it was very encouraging!
    (I can’t get to the link though)

    What a sweet husband you have to give you the day off!!!  Time away is so special…I am always excited to leave, but then toward the end of my time out I start missing my family and can’t wait to get back home! lol.

  • Beautiful, Clarita – all of it. I so relate to that feeling of being fairly sactified and then having that illusion shattered. Ha, maybe this is maturity – seeing our need? Would love to hear about the Bible Studies…

  • Amazing. To have a husband who sees your need and acts on it, and to have a Father who hears your pleas, and answers. May I link that article on my blog? That is SO inspiring. I feel fresh vision as a mother after reading it!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • I loved this entire post…. so much truth. I did happen to notice your scrawlings in your journal – you have some amazing handwriting. Ever thought about making it into a font for digital scrapbooking? Just a thought I am a font fanatic.

    I am buying that book today. I only get to buy one book every so often and lately my budget have went to buy adoption related books but this one has been on my list and plus just this week have watched some amazing interviews on Renee Swopes site with Ann. They have really been making me want to buy it even more. http://reneeswope.com/ if your interested.

    I am going to look up that full article later as well…

  • A beautiful post, to be sure. Thank you for sharing the article on parenting. “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps (okay, that line makes me smile)… It is what God gave you time for.” Just a powerful article… I needed to read it. Always enjoy the beauty you share!

  • Sigh. I am need of one of these days too. So glad you had a rejuvenating time!

  • I soo “got” this …. i could just cry too.  longing, needing some LONG alone  Daddy time and with a lil’ baby in the house those times come by rarely.  but this is my stage of life right now and i do know He knows my desires…. someday i’ll have my time. in the meantime, i’ll take my few minutes here and there.  I just started reading that book too and am totally inspired as well..   SO happy you had those precious hours to re-focus.

  • Wow! So much here spoke to my heart.  You made me wish for a day away of my own.  Curled up in Barnes and Noble with a coffee drink and just reading and processing and praying and thinking. That sounds absolutely wonderful!  Its amazing how much God can speak into my heart when I am actually quiet enough to listen.   And God bless your husband for recognizing your need for some quiet time and allowing you that freedom to go. 

    That article that you quoted in here:  Wow! Powerful stuff. Especially the part about whether we are laying our lives down for our children and how that represents the gospel. And are we doing it resentfully??  That really, really spoke to me. I can get in the mode, when talking with other Mom’s, of complaining about my kids, how they are driving me nuts or whatever. And really, is that the way I should be talking or feeling? No!  You really encouraged me with this post and thank you so much for sharing all of this.  Loved hearing your heart!

  • Beautiful post!   I was so inspired once again about what it means to be  mom.   I’ve had moments like that thanks to help from others and it’s amazing how refreshing that long time with the Lord is.  The Lord has taught me so much, in this calling.  The selfishness of my own heart and other faults becomes a glaring reality in the calling of motherhood.  And yet God’s grace still reigns and for that I am incredibly thankful.  I recently have had my tonsils taken out.  I learned so much through that experience as well, one being that I really do love being a mother to my little ones and would truly never trade it for any thing else in the world.  I’m learning that this gift of motherhood is a gift in so many ways, and just one of those ways is how it molds and shapes us to be more Christlike.  Ok, so I didn’t mean to go off like this.  Just wanted to agree with so many aspects of this post that I can relate too.  Thank you so much for this.  There’s something inspirational in knowing that your not the only one who has these feelings.  Thank you for opening this window into your heart that the rest of us mom’s can so relate too, and in that way give words to our own feelings.

  • @mytoesareblue - oh my goodness, you amaze me, because really, i grew up with three sisters and felt like i couldn’t make a fashion decision without all three of them. :) but thank you! i’m very honored!

  • @foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown - oooh, your comment made me wish i could just sit down and talk with you!! i’ve wondered the same thing about the mentoring thing – do i made it tricky? how do i ask for it in a way that doesn’t make the mentor feel awkward and put on the spot? but i just want someone who would come up to me, even if i’m smiling at church and “seem” to be okay, and just ask me how it’s going. not that i even have to meet once a week or month or whatever, just someone who checks in and i know she cares… i just want a titus 2 woman in my life, who teaches me how to love my husband and children, and well, life!  i want to remember these feelings though, and take time to BE this to other people when i get to be that age one day… and yes, i did upgrade to premium. it was a long time in coming, because i could hardly justify paying for a blog when i could go elsewhere for free. but this is where i started, and even though blogger would seem “cooler”, i decided that i’m just going to stay parked here. :) and after hearing that my mother-in-law was horrifed after seeing some near-porn ads by xanga on my site, i decided something’s got to change!! but you could do the background even without premium… i do love the ad-free site though. and gracious, what a long comment i’m writing you. :)

  • @ABAHM - i am so encouraged by women like you!! thank you for taking the time to encourage us moms with little children when we feel like we’re in the trenches! i can’t tell you how much it means!

  • @inanorchard - iron sharpening iron… you are that to me as well, april! i love the spirit about you, and the very evident pouring-out of your life for your family!

  • @druett - i so know what you mean, the longing for my chldren to know my family for REAL, not just in pictures and brief visits!! and i love your heart for your family, dru! so true, the incredible gift and responsibility we’ve been given to raise the next generation! that’s so exciting and sobering all at once!

  • @livingwater4me - thank you, carolyn! and yes, that illusion is definitely shattered. :) if that is what maturity looks like, well, yikes, it feels very vulnerable and scary. and yes, would love to tell you about those bible studies! i will need to email you… remind me if it goes too long… :)

    @shellElynn - you can may. it’s not original with me at all, and i was just so blessed by the article! soul refreshment at it’s best…

    @rugbana - oh my goodness, i never once thought of it. :) i wouldn’t even know how to go about making my handwriting into a font! any ideas? and thanks for that link, i’ll check it out…


  • Wow, so much truth is in that article!  Thanks for the much-needed reminder. 

    I have been so blessed to have an “unofficial” mentor…she has been a wonderful example of a “Biblical older woman”, not only to myself but to several other young mothers in my church.  Seeing what a blessing she is in my life, makes me wish more (older) women in the church (not just my church, but all over the world) would see the value of it and instead of judging us younger ones & how we’re raising our children and living our lives, would come along side us and teach us by their experience and wisdom.  I want to be open to God’s leading and pass along this blessing when He calls me to it!  May God hear your heart’s cry and bring a beautiful Christian “older” woman in your life!


  • ahhh i love Janele’s blog (three men and their ladies) i don’t know how i came across it originally but there is sooo much on her site that i just connected with.

  • I’m very happy for you! Since I’m not able to get a break since moving here–no babysitting or even having my children play with other children while I talk with friends, Steve has been very generous about telling me to take off for an evening any time I need to go. I used to take him up on that offer a little more often, but since I’m pregnant, I’m usually too tired to leave the house in the evenings.

    I really related to feeling like I was becoming pretty sanctified until I got married….and then became a mother, and wrestling with some of the exact same struggles you did. I thought I was easy to get along with, but now I had a hard time giving up my way? I thought I was patient and unselfish, but now I wanted space and no touching… It’s a hard process, but this recent birthday got me reflecting, and I must say I’m glad to be 30…through the stages of refinement I’ve been through. I know there are more of those needed, but I’m glad we’ve come this far.

  • This was so special to read of your amazing day off. I know all about the wishing you had more time to plan and well, shoot, just to look forward to it.;) I enjoy your honesty and beauty that comes through in your blog.

  • Your blog seems so lovely. :)

    I especially like your screen name. I look forward to reading more of your posts. :)

  • @TheSecretLifeOfPandas - Thanks so much! You’re welcome to stop by the Cottage anytime! :)

  • i love you clarita.

    we’re in this together.


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