Our Life...

Our Life...
...summed up in one photo.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

If You Give a Mom a Free Evening

If you give a mom a free evening, her mind will begin to race with all things she could do. She'll finally decide on a project she would like to complete.  She'll gather everything she needs and sit down to begin working. When she's almost finished, she'll remember she needs a Sharpie to complete it. She'll get up and walk to the computer desk to find one. She doesn't see the Sharpie, but she does notice she has a few new notifications on Facebook. She'll sit down for a FEW minutes. While she's on Facebook, she remembers it's been awhile since she's written on her blog. She'll open it up and stare at the blank page. While she's staring at the blank page, the dog will begin to whine to get her attention. She'll realize that maybe the dog hasn't been fed this evening. She'll get up and feed the dog. While she's up, she realizes she might like a little snack too.  She'll walk to the kitchen and wash a pear. As she's standing in the kitchen eating the pear, the dog begins to whine again. She realizes perhaps he had been fed and maybe he just needed to go out. So, she'll let the dog out. While she's waiting for him to finish his "business", she'll walk down to the basement to check on the laundry. As she's checking the dryer, she'll notice that (for some unexplained reason) there's a Sharpie on top of the dryer. When she sees the Sharpie, she'll remember the project upstairs she needs to finish. As she sits down to finish the project, she hears the dog barking in the backyard and realizes she forgot to let him back in. As she's letting the dog in, she has an idea for her blog and decides to sit back down to write. She writes for a few minutes and then loses steam. Suddenly she remembers the project she was working on earlier and sits down to finish it at last. As soon as she sits down in the chair, she hears her husband and kids at the door and realizes that once again, the idea of accomplishing something on a "free" evening has eluded her.

True Story.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Preach it Carson

Tonight has been our whirlwind evening. We ran home from school, finished homework, grabbed a snack and ran again to soccer practice for Carson. When my sweet seven year old gets a little tired, he can get rather cranky. And when he gets cranky, he gets REALLY, REALLY stubborn. Bless his heart.

Which sets up the story of what happened this evening.  He was doing his evening reading homework with me and did an awesome job, until the last page. When he quit, crossed his arms and refused to read anymore. So, we talked it through and I said,  "Carson, what's going on buddy?"

He slid off the bed, stood up, turned to look at me with his hands on his hips and said, "Well mom, it's like this," and he grabbed a nearby measuring tape. As he picked it up he said, "Sometimes people get angry. And when you get angry, you need to stay away from sin." While he said it, he pulled the tape out. And he continued, "you need to stay FAR away from sin."  And he pulled it out a little more.

Smiling and trying to keep a straight face I said, "That's right Carson."  As he stood there with the tape stretched out I asked, "How far do you think you should stay away from sin?"  He looked down at the tape and said, "Sixty-nine inches," then pulled it out a little more, "no, 72 inches," then a little more, "86 inches..you should stay 86 inches away from sin!"

Preach it Carson.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back-Scratching and Prayers

As I write this we are in the middle of a bout with a stomach virus that won't go away. Everyone has had it except Chris and Hudson...so far.  I'm weary of watching my little ones lay around not feeling well. I'm weary of not feeling well. And weary of saltines and toast and applesauce.

And may I be completely honest in the midst of my whining? I'm weary of cleaning up after "throw up" and the constant laundry it creates and the smell of it covered by Odo-Ban and Spring Waterfall scented Lysol.  ("throw up" seemed to be the least offensive sounding way to put it...if you prefer, you may insert a different euphemism for it :) )

I had a long nap this afternoon when Chris got home from church, so I'm wide awake in the middle of the night. Hudson came in our room about 30 minutes earlier. I heard the creaking in the hallway and my first thought was.."Oh no...here we go again." After five straight nights of having to change sheets or pajamas in the middle of the night, it was becoming routine. Thankfully, no one was sick. He just wanted his music in his room turned on. He was having trouble falling back asleep.  I walked him back to his room and turned on his CD player.

While I was tucking him in, he said, "Mommy, do you know why I'm having trouble falling asleep?" (That's his favorite way to tell me about anything, by asking me a question.) "Because I can't get comfy. If you scratch my back, I bet I can fall asleep." (He'll also use any excuse to have his back scratched.) "Okay buddy," I say as he flips over before the words are out of my mouth.  I scratch and rub his back till he seems to be drifting off.  And I tiptoe to my room, hoping I can fall back asleep. But I can't, because of the aforementioned nap. :)

About 10 minutes later, Hudson is back in our room. Apparently he wasn't as settled as I thought. "Mommy, can you scratch my back one more time?"  "Sure Hudson." And so we're walking back to his room again. As he's crawling into his bed he says, "Mommy, if you pray to me maybe I can fall asleep." "Okay Hudson" I say smiling. We'll worry about the semantics later, I knew what his sweet little four year old mind wanted. And so I pray for him out loud -- that God will watch over him and protect him from the "bug" and help him to fall asleep and I say, Amen and he grins and closes his eyes.

As I'm scratching his back and holding back tears, I continue praying silently. Lord, grow this willingness in his heart. This willingness to come to You so naturally, knowing You want that for him and from him always. Protect him and keep him tender to Your voice and Your ways. Do that for all of my children. Help me to have that same childlike quality in my walk with You.

And I leave again, hopeful he'll be able to rest. I sneak downstairs, which is no small feat in this 1950's house with squeaky wood floors, hoping to have some alone time with my Lord. I make a cup of tea, gather my Bible and journal and head for the living room. As soon as I sit down on the couch, the door creaks open again. He's up. "Come downstairs Hudson," I whisper up the steps.

He comes down and snuggles up against me as I'm nudged to write this story in my journal. The story of the night my littlest one taught me so much with just a few simple words.  "Your writing looks pretty Mommy," he says as he smiles at me. "Thanks buddy." I look down at him and am reminded of the wise warnings of more experienced moms. Cherish the time. He won't always be this little. He won't always want me when he can't fall asleep. And I ask for grace to be patient and kind with my family in the midst of the weariness. For strength to be the woman God wants me to be.

And then he says..."Mommy, my tummy feels bad." Oh boy...here we go again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

About a Garden and a Recovering Perfectionist

Yep, it's about me. Surprised?  Nah, didn't think you would be if you know me at all. I'm a perfectionist.  It's still strange to hear myself admit that. Up until a few years ago I really didn't think that lable fit me. I figured if I was a perfectionist, things in my house would be more perfect and so would I.  Yeah, I realize that's all part of the problem. :)  I know some people can actually use their perfectionism for good rather than evil, :>) but mine usually lands me smack dab in the middle of a state of paralysis.
Sunflowers from the Garden - 2011
Anyway, on to the case in point: The garden.

When the hubster first mentioned it, I really bulked at the idea of doing one. But the more we talked about it, there really wasn't a good reason not to do it.  The yard has a nice big plot already marked out for a garden. Chris was willing to do the tilling. The seeds were cheap.  We are trying to eat healthier. We could save some money. And besides, at the time I was homeschooling, so we could count it as science. (Yes, I'm kidding. Well...no, actually I'm not.)

The only thing holding me back was this darn perfectionism and the subsequent excuses.  How in the world would I keep up with the weeds?  I don't know anything about gardening.  I don't really want to or have time to read about gardening. And on...and on...and on....

God has been gently dealing with this perfectionism stuff in my life for a while now. He's much kinder than I am about it, thankfully. I usually want myself to just "get over it". I know that it can paralyze me in many areas of my life. It makes me not want to attempt things at times if I know I can't do them perfectly.  Which is such a joke, because we aren't going to do things perfectly, because we aren't perfect.  But, I suppose if this was a rational issue, I would have reasoned it out long ago. 

As I continue in this "recovery" from perfectionism, I think it comes down to knowing that "just being" is enough. What I do or say or don't do or don't say; doesn't define who I am. My value is in God's love for me and learning AND believing what He says about me. And thankfully, no where in my bible does it say that if I have a garden full of weeds or a messy house or some extra weight to get rid of, that I am less than HIS. Or that He loves me any more or less because of anything I do or don't do.

Yes, of course, there is value to tending to the weeds in the garden, keeping my house liveable and being a healthy weight. But I can't wait until I get those things all lined up to start living. The living is now. Right in the midst of the weeds, a less than organized house and my full-figuredness.
Carson Enjoying a Carrot
So, we did a garden last year (2010).  It was pretty exciting when we had lettuce and spinach by the end of May.  And then in June 2010, I had surgery on my toe. No bending, no squatting or anything that would put pressure on my toes. The weeds went nuts.  And amazingly, I didn't. (some may argue that's because I already was, but nevertheless...)

We enjoyed the garden for what it was. The kids loved to help pull the veggies out when they were ready. They were more willing to try things they normally would not.  It was wonderful and little by little I realized that it was ok to just do it and not expect perfection. It was ok that there were weeds in the garden. It was even ok that by the end of summer there were more weeds than "real plants".  We enjoyed what grew, which was so much more than I expected.  And maybe...just maybe, that was part of the bigger lesson. Learning to enjoy the blessings God has given me and relax in the middle of my wonderful, but imperfect life.

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Luggage and a Toddler

I'm "cheating" a little today and using a story I wrote a few years ago. I revised it a bit to share earlier this week and thought I would share it here too.

I had just returned from an amazing week-end retreat, I put my bags by the bottom of the steps to be taken upstairs on the next trip.  One of the bags was a small rectangular rolling bag.  My son, Hudson who was almost 19 months at the time, decided he was going to try to pull it around the house.  The bag was HEAVY, still filled with the evidence of my failed attempt at packing light for the 2 day trip J...and almost as big as he was!   As he tried to drag it, it nearly knocked him down before I intervened and put it away, so he didn’t hurt himself. As I was taking it upstairs, I thought it was so silly this little boy would think he could drag around such a heavy load. 

The next morning, I brought the empty bag back downstairs to go into a storage closet.  Apparently I had forgotten that Hudson was so drawn to it.  So, of course, he went right to it and started to try to pull it around.  Although it was lighter, it was still too big and awkward for this little guy.  He would fall, cry and then get right back up and try to drag it along behind him with a new sense of determination.  He bumped into the wall and came running to me to kiss his head...and then he went right back to try to pull it again, as if forgetting what had just happened.  I watched as he tried to figure out a way to drag it around - forward, backward, even bending down and trying to pick it up and not even use the wheels. If his brother or sister came near to help he would do his best toddler "NOOO!!!"  "MIIIIINE!!!!!" And not let them help him.  My well meaning daughter, always wanting to be the helper, even got close to him and tried to explain the best way to carry it - but of course he didn't listen. Or if he was listening, he didn’t understand how to follow her directions.  Finally, exhausted with his attempts he sat down for a while, but still held on tightly to the handle.
Immediately, the following verses came to mind: 

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 55:22
Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

My son is not unlike his mother.  Trying to bear burdens that exhaust, frustrate, and irritate her - things she’s not equipped to carry alone.  Running to God often, asking Him to make me feel better, but too often not willing to let go and accept His generous offer to, "Come".  "I can do it Lord...I need to do it...these are my burdens to take care of". And so I return to try to figure out a new way to balance it all – when the answer is simply, “Come”.  Or at times my pride has caused me to think, I’ve made a mess of things, I can’t just ask for forgiveness, I’ve got to fix it.”  And still the call is , “Come”.

The word used for weary in that verse refers to those who have become weary through heavy struggling or toil, while the word for burdened is more the passive side, those who are overloaded-have had huge burdens placed on them. So, it really doesn’t matter why we’re worn out. Whether it’s from our own doing or the things that have been piled on us…the invitation is the same – a gentle, “come”.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7 (NIV)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Trouble with Jesus

Last night I ran a few errands with my four year old son, Hudson. My husband, Chris, was at karate with our other two kiddos, so I seized the opportunity.

We finished up at the first store and while in line to check out, I thought to myself, "Wow! That was sooo easy."

My Huddy-Buddy

And why did I have this realization, you ask? (Well…if you're a mom you wouldn't really ask, you would already know..but humor me anyway. Please?)

It was SO easy BECAUSE…Hudson was SUPER cooperative!  Hoping to re-enter the mother of the year contest (since I've already blown all my other entries to this point) and catch him doing something positive, I said, "Huddy, you're a great shopper!"

His reply was..."Yeah,” and then after a few seconds, “but I wasn't in that one store."

Confused I thought for a minute about what he meant. He's usually my “go with the flow” kid and probably the easiest of the three to take to the store. Then I remembered. Several weeks ago I tried to cram too many errands into one block of time. What started as resistance from him inside the store that day turned into a full blown melt-down, as the perfect storm of his low blood sugar and his need for a nap collided in the middle of the parking lot at Aldi's. Needless to say, that wasn't one of my finer parenting moments. *ahem* I had to resort to picking him off the pavement, throwing him over my shoulder and carrying him kicking and screaming to the van. As a mom of three, I've finally learned there's no reasoning with a melting down child.

Can I get an AMEN?

Anyway...back to last night. 

So I said to him, "You mean the other week at Aldi's?"

He said, "Yeah."

"Yeah,” I chuckled, you were having a little trouble that day, weren't you buddy?" 

And his reply?

"Yeah, I was having a little trouble with Jesus." 

Smiling…and laughing out loud in the checkout line at this point, several thoughts swarmed my mind all at once. The first being, wow..how profound??  How many times do I have "trouble with Jesus"? Trouble listening to Him. Trouble obeying Him. Trouble serving Him, making time for Him. Trouble receiving His grace and instead choosing to hang on to my mistakes?  Do I need to go on?  ;)  

None of the trouble is really Jesus, of course. It's all my own junk creating that "perfect storm" for my own version of a grown-up meltdown. 

Hudson & a little trouble with some icing.
It caused me to think also about his little mind and heart and how he is already considering things in a spiritual sense. It made me rejoice, but it also made me realize how nonchalant I can be with "spiritual" things when it comes to my kids.  I wonder if sometimes as a family who is “in ministry” do I start to take those opportunities for granted? Please Lord, help me if I do.

Our kids are surrounded by all things “Christian”. They have awesome teachers who love the Lord both at school and at church. For that I am extremely thankful. We pray with them and talk about Jesus at home.  But in all of that, in all the familiarity of Jesus and who He is and what He has done and still does, I NEVER want talking about Him to become something that we "just do" with our kids. I want it to be because it’s TRUE. It’s ALIVE and it makes a difference. I don’t want them to look back and think their parents were just “going through the motions” doing what families in ministry do. I want them to know that it is REAL. That Jesus loves them and even if they have "trouble with Jesus", He has promised to never leave them or forsake them.

They are processing my friends, your kids are taking it all in. Whether we always see it or not they are considering the things we are sharing with them, exposing them to, and teaching them. What an awesome privilege and responsibility we have for these little ones. They are so tender. 

His tenderness led me to another thought.  Of all the positive things that happened with him in the last few weeks, that was what he remembered. He didn't remember the weekly trips to the store since then where he had behaved so well and been cooperative. He remembered the time he melted down in the Aldi's parking lot and had to be scraped off the parking lot and loaded into the van kicking and screaming. :(

Maybe you aren’t wired this way, but he is a lot like his mama. That’s my tendency as well. I tend to remember my own meltdowns and hang on to them and get stuck.  As opposed to repenting, quickly receiving God’s grace and moving on.  And again….WOW.

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses my kids to teach me and remind me of His gentleness and love for me.  Thanks for the reminder Huddy-Buddy!  And thank you Jesus for loving me even when I have a little trouble with ya'. 

…He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.                     Psalm 103:10-13

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saving Grace...

Not a whole lot of time to write today, but this really impacted me this morning and I wanted to share.  Chris and I are doing a bible study together this summer called, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.  It's been really challenging, in a good way.  Here's a bit from today for anyone who has ever struggled to understand God's gift of grace:

"If a young man is killed through some random act of violence, and his father tracks down the guilty person and kills him, we would call that vengeance.  If, however, the father calls the police and the murderer is arrested, tried, convicted, and executed, we'd call that justice.  If, at the trial, the father pleads for the guilty man's life to be spared and the judge and jury consent, we'd call that mercy.

Now imagine this: in addition to pleading for the guilty one to be spared, the father actually appeals to the judge to release the offender into his custody and care. Miraculously gaining approval, the father takes the young man into his heart and home, adopts him, and raises him and loves him as his own son...that would be grace!"        (Seeking Him, page 86)

Ephesians 2:1-9

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins....You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,  that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.