Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Balance of Freedom

Life’s a little different for us these days, my husband and I have realized. Changes are happening faster than we’d like.

Making plans with friends is in some ways much easier—no babysitter needed. (Can I get a Hallelujah?!)

But in some ways, getting together with other couples is much, much harder. Sometimes our kids need us on the weekends. And sometimes our weeknights feel so busy that we just need to be home on Friday night.

Life with teenagers is a fine balance between being available and not, being accessible and letting them figure it out, being around and living our own lives. We’re still primarily parents . . . with a little more freedom.

Freedom to go out with friends. Freedom to work. Freedom to take off for the weekend occasionally.

And yet, we’re still primarily parents.

I feel that tug. I feel the pull toward freedom. And yet, responsibility beckons. I’m still needed here. I’m still Mom to three independent, yes, but needy still, teenagers.

One of the wonderful pleasures of having daughters is helping them maneuver the highs and lows of womanhood. And don’t we know that the highs are pretty high and the lows are pretty low? It’s a rollercoaster, no matter how you look at it.

Recently I found myself with the absolute pleasure of having a few hours alone with Kate. She was home on Fall Break, and neither of us wanted to do the work we needed to be doing, so we decided to go shopping. (Another of the great benefits of having daughters!)

On our way to the mall, we talked of the future, of what it’s like to be a woman—an intelligent woman with a bit of ambition. Some of Kate’s friends don’t get it. Why would she even consider law school? What if she met someone and wanted to get married? What if she wanted to have kids? These questions bothered my daughter, just as they bothered me many years ago when I was in graduate school.

Who says you can’t be a mother AND a lawyer? Who says she has to choose? Besides, she’s still young and still exploring her options.

But she has options, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

We talked about vocation and priorities, and I hope I drove home a point or two from my own experience. No matter what you choose—to work or to stay home with your family—you family is your first priority. It has to be.

I pointed out that even her dad has made that choice. Even though he has a demanding career, and even though he has to be away from us early in the morning and sometimes late at night, those of us who live within these four walls know without a doubt that we are his first priority.

God gives us choices. God gives us abilities. God gives us these good, good lives to live. And yet, within the freedom of these lives, we have to choose to honor Him by making our family our first priority.

It’s a balancing act, and sometimes we fall off the tightrope. I know I have. I know I’ve missed a concert or two and later wished I had not made the choices I had made. But we get back on the rope and we try again.





Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MODsquad Blog - 31 Days of Prayer

Hey there!

I just thought I'd mention that over at the MODsquad blog (Mothers of Daughters), we're spending the month of October praying for our daughters. I'm posting very brief prayers today and tomorrow, so I'd love it if you'd pop over there to check it out.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You? Again? {repost}

I was poking around on my blog this weekend because, well, the junior high retreat didn't happen for me. Bronchitis happened. Anyway, I came across this little gem that I wrote last spring. I just had to laugh, yet again, over this situation and this post. Thought you might enjoy it today.

I am about to tell you something completely embarrassing. The kind of information that, if I would ever be tempted to think too highly of myself, the mere thought of this situation will plant my feet firmly on terra firma.

Oh, there are so many ways to keep me down-to-earth, and I have plenty of friends who will happily join in the discussion about the many ways I’ve embarrassed myself over the years (if, that is, my friends actually read my blog *ahem* ). And then there’s the fam. They will always keep me humble.

But this one. Oh, this one was all mine, observed by my husband and a roomful of people who had no idea what was happening. Only B and I really knew.

I haven’t thought about this in a while, but I was reminded of it this weekend while Julia and I were watching the movie “You Again.” You probably haven’t seen it. I’m sure it was NOT a smashing success at the box office, and I’m equally sure it will turn up next week on ABC Family where they will play it over . . . and over . . . and over again. For weeks.

Anyway, “You Again” is about a girl who was a total geek in high school (let’s not go there because I can SO relate) and who gets tormented for four years by the most popular girl in the school. Fast forward a few years. The geek has turned into a beautiful princess who has found great success in the P.R. world (nope, can’t relate there). Her brother is getting married, so she flies home for his wedding to a girl she has not yet met. Or so she thinks!

Here’s where fiction meets the reality of my life. The ugly-duckling-now-turned-swan enters her mother’s kitchen to find . . . you guessed it! . . . her arch-nemesis from high school. She says hello, coolly, and her arch-nemesis says, “Oh my goodness! It’s so nice to MEET you!” Like she’d never even seen her before!

Now, here’s where the truth is stranger than fiction. And where I reveal what might have been the most humiliating experience of my life.

Several years ago a friend of mine was having a party, and she mentioned to me that she had invited a new couple who had just moved here. She told me their names, and I knew immediately that the guy was a guy I had gone on a date with in college.

One date. Only one.

B can absolutely confirm this because we (B and I) had been dating, but we broke up for a couple of months. It was during those couple of months that this guy asked me out. Shortly after that B and I got back together and the rest is history. Mr. X was no more.

Until my friend’s party. When she told me he was coming I simply said, “He probably won’t remember me” because I have a huge ego like that. Huge. I always assume people won’t remember me.

But my sweet friend said, “Oh yes he will! How do you forget someone you’ve taken out on a date?”

How do you, indeed?

So I made a little wager with my friend. Nothing on the line because we’re not huge gamblers, but I think I said something like, “I’ll make you a million dollar bet!” I told her not to say anything to him. We would just see what happened at the party.

You know what’s coming. I was introduced to him and his wife at the party and there was the look. That absolute blank look of no recognition whatsoever. “It’s nice to MEET you!” just like the movie.

Then B-with-the-big-mouth piped up (I think he may have had a slight grin on his face) and said, “I think you and Shelly might know each other.” To which I added one very obvious point (aside from the date) where we would have crossed paths in college.

But still, the guy looked at me and said, “Hmmmmm. Nope. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember.” Blank looks all around.

At this point I just wanted to run away. Far, far away. But there’s my husband, standing there grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Oh yeah, this is one funny situation, Honey, isn’t it? Your wife is such a fun date that he DOESN’T EVEN REMEMBER ME!!

And there’s my friend, the hostess of the party, who is watching this whole situation unfold . . . badly . . . from across the room. As soon as I could excuse myself from the conversation (that was my punishment to my husband—I made him hang out and talk to him for a while. Talk about squirming!) I ran into the kitchen and grabbed my friend by the arm.

“I was right! I was right! He didn’t remember me!” Imagine the hilarity. Imagine the laughter. We suppressed giggles all night long.

So now I have to ask you . . . have you EVER forgotten someone you went out with—even if you only went out once? How do you forget taking someone on a date? And really, am I THAT forgettable? ARGH!


If you've enjoyed this story, you might want to consider following me because I've got lots more stories to share with you. Head over there ------> to sign up for email updates or to follow in an RSS feed. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good Reads

I've been collecting blog posts to share with you for a while now. I guess today's the day.

Let's start with food, shall we? I made my own version of Frito Pie a few weeks ago, but leave it to the Pioneer Woman to one-up me. Who ever thought of serving it in an actual Frito bag?? Too cute.

Ever fight with your husband (or wife)? No? Let me first say I'm amazed, but let me also say you don't know what you're missing. (Just kidding.) This post was an interesting and really thought-provoking take on how to have a good fight.

Pumpkin coffee cake? Yes, please!

Ohmygoodness, I love Emily's posts. Here she just dares you to say YES.

I haven't seen the Courageous movie yet, but reading Kristen's post really makes me want to see it. And soon.

There. That should keep you reading through the weekend. I'll be yucking it up this weekend with about 85 junior highers--Fall Retreat, WOOT! It's probably my last Fall Retreat (out of six), and I've never been on the rope bridge. Not sure that's going to change, but even if it doesn't I'm sure that Monday will bring the inevitable "I'm-too-old-for-this" post. Stay tuned.

[Edited to add: Guess what! The retreat didn't happen for me. I have bronchitis, so I'm laying around doing not much of anything. I guess God didn't want me on that rope bridge after all.]

I'm so excited for next week (how often do I say that? Like never?)! Ann Voskamp is speaking in chapel next Wednesday, and not only am I definitely going to THAT chapel service, Glenda is coming out to see her/me. And then she will visit my class. *gulp* And then we will eat in the dining hall. Thrilling, I know. But it makes me excited. Full report to follow, I'm sure.

So tell me, if you're not hanging out with junior high kids this weekend, what WILL you be doing?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pesky Squirrels

This morning, early, I heard a knock on my front door. Curious, I opened it to find my neighbor standing there, laughing and pointing to the mangy spruce tree in front of our house where Mr. Squirrel was having a picnic.

And his twin was up in the tree enjoying our pumpkins too! (Can you see her?)

All the while, our ferocious guard dog is looking the other way.



Monday, October 17, 2011


Last spring, as you know, I agreed to do something I never thought I would do again: teach.

Believe me, when the word “Yes” came out of my mouth I was probably the most surprised person in the room. I still am.

Last summer, while sitting on the sabbatical dock, I asked B why he thought God would have me go back to teaching because going back to work in any way, shape, or form was not in my Life Plan. I didn’t need the money (although I’m not complaining about getting a paycheck!), I didn’t need to get up early (most mornings when my alarm goes of at 5:45 a.m. I curse myself for that decision), and I certainly didn’t need the hassle.

B, being the ever-wise-one that he is, just quietly reflected for a moment. And then he said, “You are so much more confident as a mom now. Maybe someone in your class just needs a mom figure.”

I’ve mulled that over so many times this semester. And I really thought he was right when a girl came up to me after class one day and said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes your mannerisms and the way you talk about your family remind me so much of my mom, and I miss my mom so much right now.”

And I agreed in my heart that B was right when two girls from my classes at different times asked me to have lunch with them. What fun to hear their stories and to share a bit of mine!

So, O.K., if God wants me to be a “mom figure” to some college girls, I’m good with that.

But I still felt there was something more. Some hard work He had me to do. But I didn’t know what that could be.

Until last week when I had one-on-one meetings with each of my students, all 40 of them, and during one of those meetings I had a conversation I never expected to have at my Christian college. One of my students told me he was struggling with his faith.

Struggling is one thing. It’s normal, expected almost, but calling oneself an atheist at a Christian college is another thing entirely.

I loved talking with my student last week; I appreciated his openness and his sincerity. I asked a lot of questions, just trying to get a sense of how this happened, this loss of faith, and whether he felt he could, or even wanted to, get it back. And the entire time I felt the Holy Spirit telling me not to worry about this boy—that God had His hand on him and He would take care of the outcome.

As he left, I told him there was a book I really wanted him to read—Carolyn Weber’s Surprised by Oxford. I don’t know why, but I thought it might resonate with him somehow.

I loaned him my copy last Friday. On Sunday he was waiting for me at the back of my church (um, yes, church!), smiling, and telling me how much he enjoyed the book. The 400 page book that he had devoured in two days!

As God would have it, I had actually cooked a decent lunch yesterday, so I asked if he had any plans and would he like to come over to our house? He agreed. Now, on any other Sunday I would have offered him a bowl of cereal, but yesterday I had made a pork roast because Kate was home for Fall Break. (God thing? I think yes.)

While my girls were getting lunch ready, my student and I sat on the couch in our family room and talked about the book. He said to me that what he has started to realize, and what he took from Carolyn Weber’s book, is that Christianity isn’t so much about our seeking God, but it’s more about God seeking us.


We chatted about the parts of the book that we really liked and what it meant to us, and then he told me that he is planning to take next semester off to study in . . . get this! . . . Oxford! I had no idea that this was his plan when I gave him the book.

God thing? I think yes.

We enjoyed a great lunch, great conversation, and a great day. And I received great confirmation that I am exactly where God needs me to be right now.

Someday I’ll have time to blog consistently again, but I’ll be honest, my blog is taking a back seat right now. Teaching has to be first because it’s where God has called me to be for this season, and I can’t wait to see what He confirms for me next.

And also? This weekend I met an author who also spoke some truth into my life (I’ll tell you more about that later), and so my other writing is taking second place starting today.

Blogging? Third place for now. But that’s O.K. I have the confirmation I need that I’m doing what I need to be doing. And that is so sweet.

How about you? How has God confirmed your steps lately? I’d love to hear about it!

I'm linking up with my sweet friend, Richella's, "Grace Imparted" series today.


Despite the fact that I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be, I'd still love to have you follow me here. That way you can get updates as soon (or as late) as they come up. Just head over there ----> and hit the little RSS Feed button or sign up for email updates. And thanks. I love followers!

Monday, October 10, 2011


So where have I been the past week?

Let me count the places.

1. To work, one week ago today. When I shut down my computer, put it in the car to take home, and then tried to start it up again. Except it wouldn’t. Start up again.

2. To the Apple Store. Right away. To get those experts to figure out how to start my computer again. Except they couldn’t. Figure it out.

3. Home. To cry. Real hard. And to somehow collect my thoughts and try to reconstruct the two manuscripts I had already started and that might have been lost on my crashed hard drive.

4. Back to work to grade papers. Lots of them.

5. Back home to try to be a mom to my kids and a wife to my husband.

6. Out to dinner with said husband. We tried a new place in the next town over and ohmygoodnessyum!!! Best meal I’ve had in a long time. A highlight of my otherwise pretty terrible week.

7. Back to the Apple Store to collect my now-fixed computer. And to realize that God had mercy on me, yet again. Everything was restored. Everything.

8. Back to work to deliver said papers to my students. “But Mrs. Wildman, I know I’m a good writer!” My head hurts.

8. Back home. . . .

You get it.

Don’t you?


Monday, October 3, 2011

Where I'm From

My sister, Jodi (happy birthday!), came into town this weekend, and we spent the day on Saturday in our hometown with our wonderful aunt, Alice. It was a good day. A fun day. A day of memories for us. I was inspired by this prompt which I've seen around the blogosphere and thought I would add my nostalgic voice.

Where I'm From

I am from tractor wheels and combine heads, John Deere and Allis Chalmers. 

I am from the banks of the Mazon River, flowing between great cliffs of limestone; water rushing, breezes blowing, cornstalks bending.

I am from black Illinois loam, Queen Anne's Lace, and towering oaks. 

I am from large birthday gatherings, relatives and laughter loud; from Hunt and Yag, Ethel and Nellie, strong women who worked hard and held me close.

I am from the generous and the sorrowful; from Jesus Loves Me and “you’ll be fine.”

I am from Grandma’s attic with its rainy day adventures; from cedar closets and sleeping porches, crossword puzzles and Days of Our Lives.

I am from the liturgy of the Lutherans and the zeal of the Evangelicals, a heritage proud and true.

I’m from Midwestern plains where the summer sun brings sweet corn and mulberries and rhubarb from Grandpa Earl’s garden.

From the sadness of loss to the gladness of birth and the “she gets her spunk from you.” I guess I’m getting everything I deserve. And more. 

I am from Weitz's Cafe and the Corn Festival and firehouse pancake breakfasts and Straightway Dairy. A town I both loved and despised; too small for my dreams, yet too big for my heart.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hey there!

Something exciting is happening this month. Bloggers are coming together and joining Nester, Emily, and others in doing "31 Days" posts. About lots of topics!

The idea is that you can find some topics that interest you, hop around and find some new blogs to follow. Fun, right?

Since I've already done a 31 Days series this year and since my current "31 Days" series would be titled something like "31 Days of Grammar and Punctuation" or "31 Days of Watching Shelly Grind Her Teeth While She Grades Papers" or "31 Days of Research and Argumentation," I decided to let you off the hook.

But, I still get to take part in all the "31 Days" fun!

Over at the MODsquad (Mothers of Daughters) blog where I am a monthly contributor, we are praying for our daughters through the month. Pop on over and see what some of the moms are saying . . . or praying. We'd love to have you join us!