• Tag Archives encouragement for mom
  • And The Fish Died

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    When my oldest son, Caleb, was 3, he won a goldfish at a local fair in our town. This wasn’t one of the “quality” aquatic creatures, but a simple feeder goldfish.

    Now, the life of a feeder goldfish usually has one of two paths. One, he is bought and fulfils the destiny his name suggests and becomes food for another animal. Or two, he is given to a child. In most cases, it really is a draw as to which destiny gives the fish the longest life span.

    Caleb was oh-so-proud when he won his goldfish in the goldfish races and didn’t seem to notice that every other child also got to keep their free racing fish, whether they won or loss. He won a goldfish to take home, and that’s all that mattered. When we got to the car, Caleb asked me how we were going to cook him. Yes, he wanted to eat his little goldfish. This boy was a fisherman, still is, and to him getting a fish apparently meant a meal, not a pet.

    After I explained the difference, he warmed up to the idea of a pet, so we brought the fish home and stuck him in a bowl. I was not a novice at the fish-keeping business. I know the drill. You get a fish for free. You are prepared to be a good pet owner, so you buy all the equipment. Two days later, said fish dies and you are left with a bunch of boring equipment.

    So I waited to buy any equipment. I think the first day, Caleb named him Nemo, but to my knowledge, he has never been referred to as Nemo again. We have always just referred to him as “the fish.” Surprisingly, several days later, the fish was still alive, and I went ahead and coughed up the money for a small aquarium. I wasn’t going to buy a huge one when I was sure the little thing was just waiting for me to spend money on it.

    So I got the little aquarium set up. And I waited. But the fish still didn’t die.

    He didn’t die when Caleb was 4 years old either. Or 5. Or 6.

    No dead fish at age 7.

    8 was a good year too.

    Caleb is 9 now.

    And the fish died.

    For six years I have cleaned his little tank. Bought his food and tank filters. Made sure he was cared for whenever we had to leave for a few days.

    I was the one to feed him. I tried to have the kids help, but the entire jar of food would end up in the aquarium every time, so instead, it became my job. The fish grew big, and didn’t really fit in his little aquarium any more. His long beautiful tail filled the tank nicely as he’d sashay around.  But I never bought a larger aquarium because I just knew he was going to go belly up any day. He then made the move from our old house to the new house, and I managed not to spill him out as he sat beside me on the car ride over. And he still lived, his box aquarium parked on our counter.

    For six years, I waited for the fish to die.

    But then, I didn’t want him to.

    I have bad guilt. I may have forgotten to feed him a couple of times. My head knows the fish didn’t starve to death. After all, he’d been sick for a few days and stopped eating. In terms of being a feeder fish, he lived an exceptionally long time. But I still have the guilt. Poor little fish with no name!

    Then I got to wondering why the death of our little nameless fish was bothering me so much. The reality is that I’ve been in a pretty bad mood about it and definitely channeling attitudes from Eeyore and Grumpy the dwarf.

    I guess I feel sentimental because we had him for so long. I never really wanted a fish, and I don’t want another. Our little fish tank will not be getting a new occupant. Like I said, I’ve been waiting for him to die for six years. But I’m still sad to see him go.

    But my bad mood is more than that.

    It’s the exhaustion from caring for a baby and three other young children.

    It’s the stress of trying to remember everything for everyone.

    It’s the worry that I’m not doing enough.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the fact that I have a million things on my to-do list and no time.

    That I rarely get to mark anything off the to-do list.

    It’s looking around my house and seeing the mess of three tornados and no hope of fixing it.

    It’s the hundred things I’d like to put on my husband’s to do list if he actually had time to do any of them.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the books I have floating in my head, pestering me to be written and no time to do it.

    It’s the best sellers that have come to visit my brain and left before I could capture them on paper.

    It’s everything that others say need to be done in order to be successful.

    It’s the driving need to push myself and do what I love and feel called to do.

    It’s the worry that it will all disappear before I can write the next book or put the time into my career I need.

    And the fish died.

    It’s the frustration of a ministry my husband and I have felt called to do yet have been in the waiting mode for several years.

    It’s the confusion of not understanding what God is up to.

    It’s the fear that somehow we will or have screwed things up.

    It’s the constant worry that I’m not good enough.

    And the fish died.

    Headaches. Kids fighting. Concern for my extended family.

    Caleb is playing tackle football, and I am TERRIFIED!

    Am I good mom? Am I a good Christian?

    What am I missing? What am I making for dinner?

    Did the 3 year-old get his teeth brushed this morning? What about yesterday? A week ago? What smells so bad? Oh, it’s me.

    What am I forgetting?

    And the fish died.

    In short, it’s life.

    As I thought of all of these real reasons behind my attitude, I felt my agitation increase. And then, before the worry could completely consume me, two beautiful thoughts popped into my head.

    1. The minutes of a day is like chocolate. There is never enough. I shouldn’t be wasting so much chocolate (I mean minutes) worrying about things that I really can’t change.

    Instead, I should turn them all over to the only One who really can change them.

    1. I should take all those worries plaguing me and count them out to God like counting dollar bills into his hand. And then… I shouldn’t accept any refunds.

    Giving my worries to God is difficult because I like to take them back. It’s something I need God’s help on. And while God is still working on me, I’m going to try to focus more on the little things. Life. Enjoying the moments that include free fish with no names and being thankful that the rest of us made it through another day relatively intact.

    Eventually, I won’t feel so sad that the fish died. Life will go on. I’ll figure out what to make for dinner (McDonalds?), and today’s worries will be paid off by the One who owns them. And I will be thankful that for six years, we had a fish that lived.

     


  • Tru Stories 2.0

    I am very fortunate that I get to live out my dream of being an author. I write books and people actually read them. And what’s even better is that they like them!

    But there are some things that I am not good at. I am a very busy mom of four young children. My oldest is 9, and my youngest is 3 months. I am a full-time mommy, with no babysitter, so naturally, some things just have to go. I’m pretty bad about keeping my website up, and not great at doing the social media thing or advertising. When I do have time, I’d rather be writing than trying to figure out creative ways to get more people on social media to buy my books. And honestly, I really don’t feel I’m interesting enough that people would care about a Facebook post chronically the number of times I changed a diaper today!

    As I mentioned before, what I like to do is write. I really can write about absolutely anything and be happy doing it. (Cue post about watching paint dry). So then it occurred to me that maybe I could write about my life in a way that people might enjoy reading it. What if I did the things I normally did, but then wrote about it in a fun way?

    For instance, I tend to be rather obsessive. This serves me well when writing books because I research things ad nauseam and am quite perfectionistic. But I also obsessively research non-writing things as well. Do you know the best way to get marker out of a hardwood floor? Or the best present for a 9 year-old boy? Or the best and safest shampoo for your kids? Or how to navigate Disneyland with a 2 month old baby in tow? I know all of those things. Plus, I’m fantastic at screwing up daily life and surviving to laugh about it.

    And you know what else? Along the way, I write some pretty awesome books!

    So my new goal for my blog is to write. Not just about my books or writing. Honestly, trying to keep myself to those subjects is very limiting and rather boring. My life is so much more than that. Instead, I’m going to write about whatever suits my fancy. But do it in a unique way with some different, rather entertaining angles.

    So I’ll share some stories, write about things I’ve learned or find interesting, and probably share some products that make a crazy life easier. Some of my product links may be affiliate links, which simply means, if I share about a product and someone buys it, then Amazon pays me a small commission. That just seems smart and we both win. You get something you like and I get some money that I will most likely spend back at Amazon to find more things you’ll like. Because honestly, Amazon is kind of my best friend. (Remind me to tell you about the Fed Ex guy who delivers my many Amazon packages. I keep him employed.)

    Chances are, if you visit often, you’ll probably learn something, be inspired, shed some tears, find some great books to read, and get plenty of giggles. If you happen to enjoy any of my posts, please share the link and / or leave a comment and let me know! I appreciate knowing these things don’t go into a great black hole in cyberspace.

    Ready? Here we go.

    Hope you enjoy a few Tru stories!


  • How I Became J. Lasterday

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    I recently published my first children’s book, and I did so under a pen name. Of course, I anticipated the inevitable questions as to why I chose to do that and why the name J. Lasterday.

    I used a pen name because I wanted to have a distinct separation between the vastly different genres. I wanted kids to be able to look up J. Lasterday, and find exactly what they were looking for. The same with my Amanda Tru name. Of course, I have no problem with people knowing both names belong to the same person! Hey, if you enjoy my Amanda Tru books, maybe your kids will like the J. Lasterday ones!

    As far as the pen name itself, it is very sentimental. J. stands for Jane, and is in honor of the imaginary friend who stayed with us for a very long time. In fact, he still shows up every once in a while. (Yes, Jane is a boy.) My oldest son first introduced us to Jane when he was about three. Many kids have imaginary friends, but Caleb had an imaginary town, complete with a large population of friends. Jane, however, was our most frequent visitor. So much so that he was somehow adopted by my second son. We played with Jane a lot. When my boys would run races around the house, I would call the races as they competed against Jane and others. That poor Jane. He wasn’t very fast. I don’t know that he ever won a single race.

    If you look at the dedication for my book, “The Dragon’s Escape,” you will see that it is dedicated to my boys, “in memory of all of your lasterdays.” The following is a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago, around New Year’s. I think it clearly explains the origin of Lasterday.

    When I chose a pen name, it was a name which, to me, captured the essence of childhood. I want my books to spark imagination and revel in the joy of being a kid. So for my wonderful “grown up” readers who love my unexpected stories, I will be Amanda Tru, but for the children, I will be J. Lasterday.

    Lasterday

    Blog Post from January 2013

    Whew!  I’m running behind!  I’ve been busy finishing writing my new book and also getting some big projects done for my family.  So, I know it’s late, but this is my New Year’s post.

    I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions.  Of course, I have some things I would like to accomplish this year.  I have a list of books to write, and I have the standard ‘get into a good exercise routine’ goal.  I’d also like to revamp my Bible reading and devotional time.

    However, I tend to be a very goal-oriented, stubborn person anyway, so I don’t necessarily need the pressure of a resolution to accomplish my goals.  If anything, I tend to get too focused on the things I need to accomplish.  I can get so caught up in the details that I lose the beauty of the big picture.  I think it’s actually a pretty common problem with moms.  There’s so many expectations put on us by others and ourselves that it’s hard to remember to breathe let alone take a moment to stop and enjoy the view.

    So maybe what I need is an anti-resolution . . .

    My 3 year old uses the term ‘lasterday.’  I think it’s a combination of ‘yesterday’ and ‘last night.’  He frequently asks in his cute voice if we did something lasterday.  And I never correct him as to the proper term.  Why?  Because I know that he will eventually realize it on his own, and his lasterdays will forever cease.  And what really bothers me is that I don’t know when the last time is that he will say it.  If I did know, I would try to find a way to record it.  Or maybe I would just hold him and savor the sound of his cute voice telling me about lasterday.

    So that got me thinking . . .

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to play with you.

    I’d stop everything I was doing

    And we’d get every toy out and play with it twice.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You wanted me to pretend.

    I’d crawl after you and the other ‘kitties’

    And answer you in meow.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You sang the wrong lyrics to a song.

    I’d belt out the wrong words with you

    And dance you around the room

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to read you a story.

    I would find the child’s version of ‘War and Peace’

    So it would last forever.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You wanted me to ‘tuckle’ you in bed.

    I’d crawl in beside you, pray away the nightmares, sing lullabies,

    And fall asleep with you in my arms

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You let me kiss and hug you goodbye

    I’d making it embarrassingly long

    Then watch until you were long out of sight

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You asked me to kiss your owie.

    I’d put extra magic into the kiss

    So it would cover all future hurts.

    If I knew it would be the last time

    You crawled into my bed in the morning.

    I would snuggle you close, smell your hair,

    And remember my little baby

    Time goes so fast.

    So many lasts.

    And I know not when.

    So I’ll savor each time as a last.

    I’ll close my eyes, hold you close,

    Take a picture in my mind.

    Keep that one moment to last forever.

    Then I’ll let you go.  Smile through my tears.

    And follow you into tomorrow.

    I have an impossibly long list of things I should accomplish this year.  But this is my anti-resolution:  I’m going to try to work on the things I really want to remember in twenty years or more.  I’m going to try to live in the moments of my children being young.

    So, if you come into my house, you may have to excuse the clean laundry pile the size of Mount Everest and the pretend kitties crawling around the furniture.  We’re busy making memories and enjoying whatever lasterdays we have today.

    Poem and Post by Amanda Tru