Friday, October 25, 2013

Livin' on a Prayer... and coffee... lots of coffee

It started out like any old normal day.

The batteries on the smoke detector near our room were going out. At 5 a.m. 
The baby woke needing to eat.
One child peed the bed.
The other woke crying because she needed medicine. Sore throat. Stuffy nose. 
Then the other woke because she also wanted medicine. Sympathy symptoms?
I wanted to do the night over. But before daylight even began to peek into our windows, we were rolling.

It continued like any old other day.

We recently got our home on the market and a realtor called to say they had scheduled a showing in one hour. 
One child was in the bath. 
The baby was needing to eat.
I needed to straighten things up. Pack bags. Make beds. You know, make it look as little as lived in as possible with three young children. 

We got everything done in a hurry and ran to the fast food joint.
The baby threw up on me.
One child dropped her burger on the nasty ground.
The other peed in the play place.
The baby needed to eat.

Well, in a nutshell, that has been a large portion of our day. Hopefully the people like the home. Hopefully they want to buy it. Hopefully we will be moving into our bigger home soon. Hopefully. 

It is so funny how I thought my life was so full before a husband and kids. I would go all day and all night and come home and crash, thinking I did not have a moment to spare. What was I thinking? All my moments were mine! My moments are no longer mine. They mostly belong to the awesome man I married and three youngins I'm rearing. Every now and then they all nap at once and I get to sip some coffee and reflect. I would not change any of it for the world. All the bumps, dips, spins and crashes- without downs there would be no ups. Life is funny that way. I am taking it in stride. Hopefully you are too! Enjoy the messes~ they change as the seasons in life do. I won't always have spit up and pee stains to clean up. Someday it will be relational challenges and more heart issues. Someday it will be children moving away and empty rooms. There will always be messes. Today, mine are all over the place. Literally. On my shirt. I better go change. 

Loving my mess!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What to DO?

These past few weeks have been busy. Fun. But busy. We are in the clear as far as sickness goes...or we were until Josh started to get a tickle in his throat on Monday. We have all been downing EmergenC and eating loads of fruits. I do not recommend one child eating almost an entire pineapple...regardless of how much they insist they love it. The after effects are not pleasant.

So, over my almost five years of being a stay-at-home-mom, I have received countless variations to the infamous question, "What do you DO all day?" I even recently read a rather enjoyable blog post by Matt Walsh about stay-at-home mommas.  My responses over the years have changed (as have my responsibilities) and they have ranged from highly annoyed to actually trying to justify myself and listing out details of cleaning up diaper explosions and handling emotional meltdowns all while trying to maintain some sense of overall peace and joy in the home. However, I have found that if you are a stay-at-home mom you KNOW how hard you work and how exhausting but rewarding it is. And if you are not a stay-at-home mom, you could not possibly understand even if I listed out my schedule from wake to sleep (well, I guess it is called sleep- whenever all the lights go out). So, instead of attempting to justify a life-style choice or trying to convince someone of my value to society, I thought I would share some of our activities we have enjoyed in the last week or so. Whether you're a mom who stays home or goes to a job at some point during the day, an aunt, a dad, a family friend, anyone really who likes to hang out with kids, this list may jump start your creativity of what to DO with them ;) 

  •  animal charades
  • making jello together and then playing with it when it's ready
  • nature walks and each time a different theme (ie~ find as many colors as possible, take a baggie and collect "treasures", how many living things do you see, etc)
  • Using our "roller dice" to help us when we are hard pressed to come up with something (I let the girls come up with their own ideas and I wrote them down)

  • Dress-up (I have one little one who lives in princess clothes and another who hates bows and makeup so we have a variety of "dress up" choices)
  • Craft time (we have an entire pantry I cleared out and filled with "goodies"- markers, every color and kind of paper you can imagine, modge podge, glue, paint, pom-poms, etc) Sometimes I have a specific craft in mind, other times I fill the table with supplies and let them loose!

  • Running around the outside of the house to get their "injury" out (that is what my oldest has called energy since she could speak) when we can't all get out for a walk.
  • Sidewalk chalk masterpieces
  • Giving them Windex and paper towels to "clean" my windows- a surprising favorite of theirs
  • Scrubbing coins with soapy water and a toothbrush
  • Looking through our online photo albums of all our adventures while I tell them memories and they tell me theirs
  • Building forts and hideouts with blankets and living room furniture
  • Obstacle courses (if they fall off and touch the ground alligators eat them)
  • Sorting coins (I have a set of plastic ones that look just like real ones only not as 'dirty' but you can use the real ones too!)

  • Using different hands-on activities we call "school" from My Father's World. This week we worked on patterns.

  • Listening to music and having a dance party. One of our favorite cd's is Hide 'Em in Your Heart because we get to dance plus we have memorized a ton of Scripture from it
  • Sorting socks by color
  • Write a letter to a family or friend who has done something nice for you or just to say hi
  • Come up with a topic and make up a song about it

Hopefully some of our week's activity will help you with an idea or two! Everyday can be an adventure when you have young children with you. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life Overflowing

I consider myself blessed. Privileged even in many ways. I never question where my next meal will come from or if I will go home to sleep in a warm, cozy bed. This blessing extends to my children. While they might not have all the latest and greatest of technology or toys, they do not lack. They are loved and cared for in the deepest ways we, as their parents, know how. They wake every morning and know that it's going to be a good day, not worrying about much, except for the occasional lost toy. I ask them each morning what they dreamed and it is always about princesses, adventures, family and fluffy animals. Throughout the day they get lost in play and learning. Carefree. Able to fully enjoy the moment they are in because they know every moment after will be enjoyable as well. Their future is as secure as their present- carrying very little weight- as I believe it should be for children.

Reality hits me how uncommon this is for so many young children. We're not talking Africa, here.
America the Beautiful.

God shed His grace on me. 

The privileged country. 

How blind I can be to the need all around me. 

I am reminded of this when my sister comes to visit. She has taken on the intense responsibility and difficulty of foster care. The kids she has taken in have seen and experienced pain and suffering unimaginable and at such young ages. Over the years she has watched children come and go, each with their own stories of hurts and neglect.

This past weekend they came to visit. They burst through my door, like two tiny tornadoes. They shout about what they have seen and done, barely pausing enough to take a breath, much less receive a response. One of the children has a pint-sized stuffed puppy named Tuffy and I got to hear all about Tuffy's news while fixing BLT's for a late dinner. They have been with my sister almost three years now.


They were four and a half when they came to her and they acted a bit like wild animals. I've watched them transform after getting to taste of that blessing I spoke of my own children having~ being able to enjoy today because their tomorrow was certain. But not anymore. The state is working to reunite them with their mother and they do not want to go. Do they get a say? No. Voiceless. The older of the twins complains that no one will listen to him. He wants to tell the judge that he never wants to see his mother again and wishes to live with my sister for the rest of his life. 

The boy is seven. He has written letters begging to not have to see her. He will soon be living with her again. 

We went out for pizza. I sat across from the younger twin. Our eyes kept meeting and I would make silly faces, trying to get him to smile. He was in another world. He was distant. Quiet. Not typical at all for him. Eventually he asked my sister, "What are we doing next weekend?" "When are we going home?" These questions seemed so random. Finally he said, "I'm going to ask the judge when I am going back to live with her. I just want to know when." "Do you want to go back?" I asked. "No, I just want to know when", he replied.

OUCH! The weight is too much for me to bare and yet these little seven year olds walk around under it daily. Never knowing when everything they've grown to know and love will be snatched up from underneath them, returning to daily uncertainty. They are little fish being thrown back into the shark tank and they are begging to not have to go. They will soon go.

I do not know what is next for these little guys. I know right now they are struggling to grasp what is happening to them. I know my sister is doing everything she can to give them a voice. I know she is making a difference in their lives and the others she has welcomed in. I know she will continue to do the little things that make a big difference because she knows there is no act of love that is too small. Everything that grows starts out small.

I am on a journey, as we all are. I told the Lord recently, either take away my compassion or show me what you want me to do. I know He will show me. I know my hands will be a little more dirty. My house a little more messy. My time a little less my own. I know there will be many more opportunities to look outside my own certainty and into the very eyes  of those who do not know what tomorrow will bring. I have a great deal of blessing to pour out. Do I have need? Sure. Do I have enough extra to give? Always. And if I dry up, I know Who to ask for more.

I will hug my kids extra tight today. I will pour out more thanks for everything I am blessed with. And I will also keep my eyes opened to others who are questioning their tomorrows. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Voice from the Past

    It laid on top the desk in her kitchen. Around it were empty envelopes, stamps, pens, letters she'd received. It was opened. She had been reading it that very day, possibly that very hour. What words did she see? What truth did she find? 
    I remember getting the call on December 4th that my Nana, 84 years old, had passed away from a massive heart attack. Grandy (who had been married to her for 56 years) tried to bring her back, but it was her time to go. It was weeks before Christmas and this year was going to be different. Difficult. The whole family gathered at her and Grandy's every year to celebrate. It was the one time we all still got together since life had taken us in different directions. Friends and other family were always stopping by, bringing cakes and homemade fudge. It's the south so you don't stop by without food. Festivities lasted an entire week and Nana was the main attraction. I still remember how she lit up when we came through her kitchen door after not seeing her for months. Her high pitched voice sounded out for every visitor and no one ever left having not been a little loved on by her. 
   She loved people. Her heart danced when she saw her family. I don't remember her sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time and if she did, it was to tickle your arm or "milk your mouse" (my little pinkie never lasted long). That woman gave until her fingers ached, her knees were sore and her voice was hoarse. Her eyes were always outward and only looked to herself when she put in her "ear bobs". 

  At her funeral hundreds and hundreds of people came, some we had never met or heard of, and each told a unique story of how she had touched them, impacted them, loved them. The grocery-bagger from the store, the mailman, the new pastor who was challenged by her faith, the missionary society members who felt at a loss without her leading them. For hours at the Wake I saw my Grandy meet and greet a never-ending line of people who wanted to tell their story, some he knew, many he'd never even met himself. But all had felt a love from her they would never forget.
  As I walked into her kitchen, it was quiet.

 No "yoo-hoo" with footsteps coming forward to hug me.

  I stood in her castle, the home-sweet-home that held decades of memories. And there on her kitchen desk, was her Bible. It was opened up to the Psalms that had undoubtedly given her a peace and strength just hours before she breathed her last. 

  Today, I pulled that same Bible that was given to me, off my bookshelf. I thumbed the pages, full of underlined texts, markings and notes. To Nana, it was more than a book. It carried pictures of loved ones and friends, newspaper articles of special events, quotes and sayings she had saved. And in this Bible is where she chose to keep all of that. This book held her life. Thumbing through the pages, I was once again embraced by her and impacted by that same love so many spoke of over a decade ago. It is a love that transcends time, space and even worlds. 

   I recognize this love is not human love that comes and goes. It is still here. Still impacting people.

 Impacting me. 

  It's the Father's love. The love of Jesus that had split open Nana's heart until she was busting at the seems to let it out. She did not have to try to be kind. She did not have to try to give her time and energy. Her love was His love. 

And oh what a love it is! 

  In my own kitchen, 12 years after her passing, I look into the pages that are torn and see something I long to know more and I desire to be full of ~ not full for my own sake, even though it is an amazing, healing touch. Full for the sake of others~ neighbors, friends, family, strangers~ that I can spill out onto them the same Love.