Saturday, December 17, 2011

Only By the Grace of God

For the briefest of moments, I was forced to wonder if one of my children might be dead.

There.  I said it.  The one thing that I've been thinking since Monday night, when a teenage boy pummeled into the back of our van, pushing us into the car ahead.  The thing I almost dared not to voice, for fear that actually saying it out loud would somehow make it something that could have happened.  That almost happened, even.  But by the grace of God, didn't.

Only  by the grace of God.

We (me and all five of my children) were running a projected five minutes late for my husband's annual Christmas Program.  I was approaching an intersection, getting into the left turn lane, when the car in front of me stopped very suddenly, forcing me to slam on the brakes.  I thought for a moment that we were going to hit him, but managed to stop the van with not a whole lot of extra space between us.  Relief set in, but my silent prayer of thanks was cut short by the impact of a car slamming full-force into us from behind.

The moments that followed were some of the worst of my life. It was dark. My three oldest children, who were sitting in the backseat, were screaming wildly, and I had no idea how badly they had been injured. The baby, jarred awake by the blow, began screaming at the top of his lungs, too. And for the briefest of seconds, I thought that something dreadful might have happened to one of my children. There was confusion and terror and panic and sobbing, and when I cried out to them to find out if they were hurt, they insisted that they were.

Quickly, I scanned them over.  I saw no blood, no protruding bones, and everyone was awake and alert.  In fact, they were far more alert than usual, although understandably shaken.  Somehow, I got everyone calmed down enough to tell me that they were not seriously injured...just bumped and bruised and whiplashed...and then my relief came down in torrents.

I was able to pull the van off the road into a parking lot (the same was not true for the car behind us, as it was missing its entire front end).  I checked each of my five kids over inch by inch, hugged them to me one by one, and then sobbed out a prayer of thanksgiving to God for protecting us.

The next hour passed in a frenzy of cell phone calls, blinking lights, sirens, firefighters and police officers. I answered countless questions, rattled off birth dates, and shed a thousand tears.  I was a bit in shock over what could have happened, yet even now I could go on and on with all the details I collected from the scene: who said what, how each person was feeling, who was crying, who came to help, whose phone number I misdialed in all the confusion, the damage our van sustained, the sorrow of the boy that hit us when he realized he'd put five children in harm's way.  

But the truth is, none of that is very important.

What's important is that after anxiously waiting for a solid hour for his family to arrive at his program, with no way to be contacted and with no choice but to go on with the show, my panicked husband was able to look up and see all six of us coming toward him.  We were all safe.

And over the last few days, both my husband and I have seen our lives and our children in a new light.  We're cherishing the laughs and the ballerina twirls down the hall, the joking around at the dinner table, the brandishing of little swords, and the hugs and snuggles in between.  When we're brushing little teeth, or wiping little bottoms, or teaching math lessons, or cleaning up after someone who didn't make it to the bathroom on time; when we're listening to children argue or fuss or even throw tantrums, and when we've been woken up yet again in the middle of the night, we've been acutely aware of the fact that we could have lost them.  And we're thankful to be allowed to do even the most mundane of tasks for these precious, irreplaceable people- the children that we love.

A bit of humor, as I can't help but find humor in the ugliest of places:

While waiting for the police to arrive, a bystander picked something up from the ground outside and brought it to us.  It was a picture of my husband that had been on the dashboard.  He had not been properly restrained and had been thrown from the vehicle. 

I remembered and relayed to my husband every emotional and story-telling fact of the accident scene in fabulous detail, except the one thing he wanted to know most of all:  "What kind of cars were they?"  What do you mean, what kind of cars?  Ours is a van, the other two were cars.  Two cars, one van.  "But what kind of cars were they?"  One was red and boxy, the other was tan (I think) and pretty crunchy. 
Apparently this wasn't a good enough description. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Glimpse into Our Marriage

From me to my hubby this morning:

Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince that emailed his love every day while hard at work at the Royal Music Academy. Sometimes he emailed two or three times, even. The princess, pining away in the dark dungeon filled with miniature trolls, lived for the moments when she would check her email and read longingly as once again, the prince declared his undying love for her. Upon reading those emails, the dungeon would appear brighter, little birdies would begin to sing and flutter around the princess's head, mice in stocking caps would skitter around, washing and repairing garments, and the princess would be filled with renewed strength, love and energy to face the day with all those smelly and somewhat amusing miniature trolls.

But then one day, or maybe even several days in a row, the prince failed to email. And all went dark. The birds dropped dead, the mice refused to do the laundry, and the trolls were smellier and grouchier than ever before.

Happily ever after? I think not.

His reply:

Once upon a time, there was an incredibly ugly ogre. This ogre was particularly blessed to be married to a beautiful, intelligent, witty, funny, creative, late-as-molasses princess. The ogre was off fighting very busy battles trying to get his incredibly huge pageant ready for King Jack. (school principal) The ogre forgot to send his carrier-pigeon messages to his beloved because his time was severely limited. The lovely princess was mad and sent a sarcastic message by carrier pigeon to the hideous ogre, who realized the err of his ways. He was intent on sending his own sarcastic story to the lovely princess as he ate his frozen burrito with rice. (which said scorned princess lovingly prepared, no less) He felt badly that his beautiful princess felt unloved, when, in fact, she was quite adored. The ogre knew that his princess was a wonderful blessing from heaven. Then, the ogre pricked his finger on a spinning wheel and threw the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom, slaying Darth Vader's evil twin brother, Garth Vader.

And they lived happily ever after...

Burritos are good.

The end.

Are we a match made in Heaven, or what?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

No Regrets

My first baby turned six last week.  Wow. 

I called her a baby until she turned two, and I stretched "toddler" until four.  When she turned five, I convinced myself that she was really just a big toddler, on the edge of becoming a little kid.  When she started kindergarten, she was still only five....hardly more than a baby, really.  My baby.

But now she's six, and I can no longer put off acknowledging what I know to be true.  I can't deny it, even though everything in my aching heart longs to hold onto her babyhood for a few years - or lifetimes - longer.

My little daughter is a child.

These six years have gone by so quickly, and my memories of them are a series of blurs tangled up in my already over-full mind.  Why can I no longer smell the clean, hot, soapy scent of my freshly bathed baby girl as I snuggled her up with her last bottle of the night?  Why can't my arms remember the weight of her cradled in them, fast asleep?  I can't hear her baby giggles and coos, her first words, or recall the feeling of watching her take her first steps, clap her chubby little hands or hold her sausage-arms out in a silent plea for me to hold her.

Those days are gone, as are the days when I taught her to write her name, when she drew me her first picture, when she sang her first song, when she lost her first tooth, when she learned to skip and do puzzles and decorate cookies and ride her bike and braid her hair and read a book by herself.

Time passes so quickly.

As I snuggled my little-but-getting-big baby girl this morning, I was flooded with these emotions, and simply had to pour them out.  I wish that I had all the time in the world to savor this sweet child....savor each of my children...and I will never regret giving up these years of my career, extra money, a big house, nice cars, new clothes, fancy vacations, trips to the salon, my hobbies, my freedom, my social life, my very identity outside of being a breathe myself and my faith into the very fabric of this child.

At the end of their lives, no one ever says that they wish they'd spent less time with their children when they were young.  I've never met a mother who, when her children were grown, wished she could go back and invest more of their childhoods working or building her own career, but I've heard from many who have said just the opposite.  This time is so short, they tell me.  Slow down.  Hold onto them.  Invest in them.  Enjoy them fully...the years and the children...before they're gone.  

Six years has passed in the blink of an eye, and will never be able to be grasped again, no matter how hard I try.  I'm so thankful that I'm not looking back on this time with regrets, that I figured this out at the beginning of those six years instead of when it was already too late.  The moment that beautiful, squalling baby was first placed on my heaving chest, I heard the voice loud and clear....the squalling voice, yes...but the still, small voice, too, whispering...

"This is what I have for you now.  This is what I made you for.  You will love her with a love like no other, with the kind of love I have for you.  You will breath into her all that you have learned, all that you know, all the beauty that you see.  You will sacrifice so much of your life for her, and in doing so, someday, she will be better able to see Me."

Thursday, December 8, 2011


In the past three days, my little blog has exploded (at least in my eyes).  My stats are climbing by the hour!

My little ministry to parents raising children with Attachment Disorders...unsung heroes, in my growing exponentially right now, and I've had almost nothing to do with it.  I've been getting tons of positive comments and feedback, both on this blog and on various facebook pages, and I so greatly appreciate knowing how something I've written has touched you.  It fills me with joy....a supernatural kind of joy, really.  In fact, I've had goosebumps for three days now!

But I also feel just a little sense of caution, and I wanted to clarify something.

I'm just a person.

I'm selfish.  I think about me a lot.

I'm grumpy sometimes, and I take it out on my kids.

I lose my temper, even though I know full well it's what my RAD kids are going for.

I like to be right.  I like to be in control.  And I like to beat a dead horse that's already been beaten.

I sit on facebook when I should be doing laundry.  Or cleaning the kitchen.  Or teaching math.  Man, I hate math.

And I'm still in my pajamas, and it's nearly three o'clock.

Need I go on?  I could.  Trust me.  I'm completely, indisputably, sinfully human. 

Since it appears that we all might be friends for awhile, I wanted to get that off my chest, so to speak.  I don't ever want anyone to think for a second that I have "it" all together.  I'm so far away from "it", that I don't even know what "it" is.  I'm not equipped to be anyone's hero, but I know the One who is.

I'm humbled and thrilled that God is using my writing to speak to your hearts.  That you and I can have a common bond and find comfort in one another; share in the joys and pains of this - the craziest of all journeys.  But if ever I write anything that speaks to you, please know that it is only by His grace....because anything that is good in me comes from Him.

And if ever I write anything that's really, really crappy....then I'll take the credit for that.  :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Compassion Fatigue

My baby has a fever.  I think he's teething (finally!).  He's crabby, droopy-eyed, and a little sluggish.

Mostly, though, he just wants his Mama.

And man, do I feel bad for him.  I want to snuggle him.  Rock him.  Love on him.  Make him feel better, even though he's being a bit of a pain in the backside.

Even though he kept me up half the night last night....the eve of the busiest week of my year.

I'm exhausted this morning.  I'm a bit crabby myself, and I'm having to make a concerted effort to function in a regular kind of way.  Yet here is little Baby K, clapping his hands and smiling his giant still-toothless smile at me, and there's no way I can be mad at him.  No way I can take his actions personally. 

It's easy to forgive him; I know he's not being crabby on purpose. 
He just doesn't feel right. 
He's sick.

Know what I wish?  That I could always have the same perspective with my RAD kids.

I'm stuck in a funk of what we parents of traumatized kids call Compassion Fatigue.  I know what my older kids went through as babies and toddlers, I have a pretty good idea of what caused them to be the way they are, but their endless annoying, disrespectful, controlling behavior is blocking all of that out right now.

Frankly, I want them to just knock it off and act right. 

But just like my tiny teething baby, I have to remember:

I need to forgive them; they aren't being controlling on purpose.
Their brains just don't work right.
They're sick.

And when all else fails, it helps to visualize them as crabby, droopy-eyed, fevered little babies, crying their hearts out for someone to pick them up and comfort them.  Snuggle them.  Love on them.  Care about them. 

When they were babies, there's a good chance that no one ever came.  And that makes me sad....makes the compassion flow a little easier, when I think about them being sick or teething or hungry or cold or wet or dirty or scared and crying out in vain.  Left totally, completely alone to comfort themselves.

When deep down, all they really want is their Mama.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Her Own Two Cents

Our five-year-old daughter, Miss J, is very gifted at thinking of reasons to get out of bed.  Sometimes we can tell that she's been using all her powers of creativity to come up with what she thinks is the perfect plan to escape the prison of bedtime. 

Over the past two years or so, Miss J has had countless "tummy aches", a few "fevers", and several phantom aches and pains.  One time, she happily announced that she had broken her ribs.  The problem (or the good thing for us) is she's a really bad liar.  She prances out into the living room and announces quite nonchalantly,

"My tummy hurts!"        

Or, she knocks at our bedroom door and says with a little smile,

"I fell out of bed!"  
                            And you're obviously not injured, so climb back in!   
"There's a cat in my room!"  
                            And I know for a fact that you let him in, so let him back out!  
"I think I might have a headache!"   
                            You think you might have a headache?  And you're happy about it? 

At times, even her genuine pleas have been hilariously self-incriminating, like two hours after she's gone to bed, she comes out crying that she broke her necklace or lost her toy down the back of the bed, which naturally leads to the question "Why on earth are you playing with a toy or a necklace when you should have been asleep two hours ago?!" 

Although she's duped a few well-meaning grandparents and babysitters, as you've probably guessed by now, my husband and I rarely fall for any of Miss J's little schemes.  She's usually told to go immediately back to bed and not to get out again, which she does without complaining, turning around to quip "Goodnight, Mama!" as she skips back to bed.  Little putz of an actress. 

However, when she comes into the room with eyes full of tears, like she did last night, we try to take her seriously.  Something was truly bothering her, we could tell.

"Maybe something really is wrong this time," we wondered. 
"Maybe it's not just something silly."

Or maybe our daughter has just swallowed two pennies because she was trying to clean them with her mouth.

Makes perfect cents to me.

P.S.  Don't worry.  We called the doctor, and Miss J will be fine.  Most objects less than an inch in diameter (except for batteries, magnets and sharp objects) usually pass quite easily through the digestive system.  However, she will probably suffer some emotional damage for being teased mercilessly about always having to put in her own two cents.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Walk

I got in a  car accident  today.

                                                   Not a BIG one, just a teeny tiny one...

...but  t o t a l l y  my fault.

This morning was one of those mornings that refused to wake up and take the day by storm.  It wanted to meander and daydream and pause, all the while expecting the minute hand on the clock to follow suit.  It refused.  As the minutes sped by, the Queen of this humble green castle (myself) became restless and crabby.  Her demeanor reflected the panic of impending tardiness, and she began barking orders to her lowly (only because they're short) subjects, which didn't succeed in motivating the morning (or the subjects) one bit.

The morning did, at the very least, offer up sunshine and beautiful frosty blue skies, which were fully appreciated as we climbed into the Royal Minivan nearly an hour past the start of kindergarten.  Knowing that the morning's antagonism had already dampened the spirits of her subjects, the Queen spent several minutes entertaining them as a "fire-breathing" (or frost-breathing) dragon, restoring the laughter and smiles to her little kingdom.  Well worth being five minutes later, and after kisses and hugs, Princess J skipped happily into school.

Off we went to deliver shoebox gifts to our church, which were supposed to have been turned in yesterday, but were being loaded into shipping boxes this morning.  One shoebox filled by each of our children (and their queen)...full of toys and pencils and toothbrushes and trinkets of all sorts...and a sixth unexpected shoebox filled with the overflow of the other five.  Shoeboxes, full of the love of Jesus, sent to six children in third-world countries who are desperate to know of their treasure-status in heaven. 

The morning's lack of motivation nearly caused our shoeboxes to "miss the boat", so to speak, but also afforded us the special opportunity to pray over all the boxes stacked down the hallway (about seven hundred altogether) and ask God's blessing on the little lives that receive them for Christmas.

A few hours and a few errands later found Princess M, Sir C (my valiant knight), Baby K and the self-titled Queen all strapped into the Royal Minivan on our way home. 

Oh, impatient Queen. Will you never learn? 

The cars in front of us were stopped.  There was a long line of cars.  Far too long of a line of cars for me to wait through, I thought.  In the time it takes to act without thinking, I was swerving into the right lane, intent on going around them.

The problem was, there was another car already there. 

So often, I beat myself up for the bad example I set by not being perfect.  I'm horrible at being submissive.  I'm late for everything.  I say things without thinking.  I make mountains out of molehills.  I lose my temper.  I don't do the laundry when it needs to be done.  I don't clean the house when it needs to be cleaned.  I have trouble resisting anything loaded with carbohydrates. 

And even this morning:     no patience,     late for school,                     
                             nearly missed the shoebox shipment,        
frustrated by insignificant things,
                                                  drove into other peoples' cars.

Today, though, my kids also saw their mom (feeling less queenly than ever before) admitting her mistake, accepting complete responsibility for her actions, apologizing to an upset driver, humbly asking for forgiveness, praying to thank God for protecting us, respectfully talking to a police officer, telling the absolute truth regardless of consequences, and accepting those consequences without whining or grumbling.

And though I fail miserably every day to set a consistent Godly example, I know this one incident spoke volumes to the impressionable children that witnessed it....a lesson that is well worth the price of a ticket.

I don't want to be one of those Christians that talks a good talk, I want to be one that walks the good walk.  Today, in those moments, I actually did it.  I walked the good walk.

After the driving skills I exhibited today, maybe I should be walking more often anyway.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ugly and Thankful

I have an ugly temper.

A quick, impulsive temper that sometimes, usually with my kids, makes a really big deal about a very little thing. 

The thing is, it never feels like a very little thing until way later, when I'm listening to the still, small voice again instead of the monster of erupting emotion.  Then I think, "Man, that was a waste of anger.  I totally tore down that relationship instead of building it up.  I let sin get the best of me, ignored the direction of the Holy Spirit, and completely blew it.  Again."

I realize that there are multiple good, justifiable reasons to be angry.  I'm not worried about kids know when they've earned a little parental wrath.  I'm talking about the times when my child makes a mistake, or does something without thinking first, or performs some age-appropriate crime and I neglect to charge, try and convict them as juveniles.  Sometimes I'm feeling irritable and they're bugging me, or my feelings have been hurt, or my authority challenged, and I go on and on and on and on and on without so much as pausing for a breath of fresh air.  At times, I can get myself so worked up about something (something that doesn't even matter, no less) that I'm unrecognizable as a child of the Risen King.  Ouch.

Bet there's a good chance you've never seen me like that.

That's because, for better or for worse, I reserve this slightly evil alter-ego Lisa for those who know me and love me the family.  I don't do it on purpose, mind you, it's just that when I'm with my husband and my kids, I let my guard down.  I'm comfortable.  And sometimes I conveniently forget to try my hardest to be Christlike.

But that's what's so incredible about my family. 

They see me at my absolute worst, and yet they love me still. 

I was taken aback earlier this week when I was explaining to Miss M (my daughter with Reactive Attachment Disorder) why family is so important compared to friendship.  In our conversation, Miss M said that she loves her friends "because they like me.  They don't know all the bad things I do."  She admits to hiding the "ugliness" from other people so that they'll like her.

I was trying to get her to understand how much more powerful it is when people know everything about you...have seen you throw hundreds of tantrums, have heard you scream terrible things, have been bitten and scratched and pinched and kicked by you, among other things....and still love you and want to be with you. 

That's the power of family.

It's easy for people to love you when you're being sweet and nice, but it means a whole lot more when someone loves you after seeing you at your worst. 

A good lesson for a child with RAD.  A good lesson for me, too.

I'm so thankful for my family, who loves me regardless, who forgives me always, knowing full well that I'm going to mess up again.  And for my friends who know all my faults and love me still, well, I consider you my family, too.  Thanks for loving me at my ugliest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Hard to Hug a Porcupine

It's hard to hug a porcupine, they really are quite prickly.

Your instinct is to turn around and run away quite quickly.

For if you venture close to one, there really is no doubt,

There will be a confrontation and some quills will fling about.

Yes, it's hard to hug a porcupine, or even to go near one,

You know what she can do to you- there's reason you should fear one.

Just when you let your guard down and you show her some affection,

She'll do her best to injure you, shoot quills in your direction.

Oh, it's hard to hug a porcupine, to cuddle would be silly,

And if you could avoid one, well, it would be wise to, really,

But if you have no choice to, put a leather vest and glove on,

Protect yourself most carefully if you've a porcupine to love on.

RAD kids are like porcupines, they seem all kind and gentle,

Until you try to love one you don't know they're temperamental.

As soon as you get close to one, to love, to be a mother,

The prickly porcupine comes out; they'll fight you like no other.

And it's hard to love a porcupine, to even want to see one.

It helps to think of all the things that caused your child to be one,

But still the daily struggle, when they hate you with a passion,

Soon it breaks your will to love and wears away compassion.

How do you hug a porcupine, when her quills stand at the ready?

How do you choose to love her?  And to keep your temper steady?

You arm yourself with righteousness and truth and faith and prayer,

And you trust the love of Jesus to teach your porcupine you care. 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:10-17

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Little Garden

People have often thought it a bit weird that my husband and I chose to adopt two older special-needs children when we were, at the same time, having babies the "old-fashioned" way.  In all honesty, it wasn't what we set out to do.  We were open to the thought of adoption, but figured that if we ever did, it would either be before (as in years before) we had biological kids, or long after we did (as in after our kids were grown up).

Well, God doesn't always ask us to do things that fit into our own plans.  Unfortunately, sometimes we're so wrapped up in those self-blueprinted plans that we fail to hear His voice...but on this occasion we listened, we heard, and we obeyed.  And we ended up acquiring our first four children (two babies, a four-year-old, and a seven-year-old) in just a shade over two years.  Yikes!

It's been difficult, to say the least, especially since our adopted kids (and our daughter especially) have struggled greatly with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Sometimes I marvel at how God has kept each of our biological children safe from the often-ugly effects of RAD, not only protecting them from physical harm during violent outbursts, but also protecting them from emotional harm.  It's obvious to us that God hand-picked the personalities of the babies He gave us.  They (all three of them now) are resilient, secure, content, and spite of the turmoil they have been witness to.  Granted, we've been vigilant in protecting them ourselves, removing them from sketchy situations whenever possible, but it still remains a miracle that none of our biological kids (now ages 5 1/2, 3 1/2, and 9 months) have ever for a moment imitated one RAD behavior or given us any reason to think they are scarred in any way.

(Having said that, I want to acknowledge that having young children (especially babies) in the home along with RAD kids can be extremely dangerous.  Kids with Attachment Disorders can be very violent and controlling, loving the feeling of power over "weaker" things (babies, toddlers, pets).  Children with severe cases of RAD should (for their own protection and the protection of the "weaker" things) be kept away from young kids and pets.  Our kids, while they do have control issues, vent them by being incredibly bossy with their siblings, not violent.)  

So in response to the question of "Why did you...?", the answer is "Because God asked us to."  But the other, even greater question for me has always been "Why did God ask us to?  Why now?"

Five years after obeying God's call to adopt, I think I'm finally seeing part of His purpose in giving us all these kids at the same time.  Since the day they came to us, my older, troubled kids have been learning to love and attach to the cutest things on Earth....babies.  The imprinted images of neglect from their early years are being replaced with images of Mom cradling babies, singing lullabies, of Daddy tossing them in the air, of happy, drooly laughs and chubby arms waving at them as they walk through the door.  They've seen first-hand what love and laughter and tenderness and care does for a baby.  They've seen each of their young siblings blossom into cute, entertaining, healthy little people...and at the same time, they themselves are blooming into something more beautiful than any of us ever imagined.

Watching my now nine-year-old daughter's face as she plays with the baby, seeing her glow with adoration as her three-year-old brother is learning to write his letters, hearing her say "He's so cute!" or "You're the best baby ever!" or "I like my little sister" absolutely melts my heart.  She is learning to love!  She's becoming compassionate!  Where these feelings were once foreign to her, she can now feel them and even express them, and I know that the babies have helped her in ways I couldn't. 

RAD kids often turn into RAD adults, and have trouble bonding with future spouses and children, thus spreading Attachment Disorder into the next generation.  Hopefully, my kids will be able to grow up, have secure relationships, and raise healthy, attached children because they've witnessed it being done.  God made them key players in a functional, happy, God-fearing (though incredibly imperfect) family.  It was His plan, and I firmly believe He will be glorified in their lives because of it.  God is so good!

I would never go around telling anybody they should adopt troubled kids while they're already raising a young family.  I know the risks, the heartache, and the sacrifices involved.  I would, however, strongly urge you to follow whatever it is that God is asking you to do.

His plans are always greater than our own. 

Living out a life of obedience to Him has been the hardest, most humbling, and most rewarding thing I have ever attempted to do, but my little garden of children is blooming and thriving and growing...all because we listened...and obeyed...and we continue to try to live in His light.   


Monday, November 7, 2011

So Sweet

My three-year-old son wants to marry me when he grows up.  He doesn't care that I'm already married to Daddy, he still just really wants to marry me.  How sweet is that?

At three years old, he can't imagine being without me...being away from life independently from me.  I'm the most important thing in his life, followed closely by swords and trucks and diggers and books and dinosaurs.  Okay, to be fair, I'm sure Daddy's in there, too...but probably somewhere after the trucks and before the dinosaurs (love you, honey). 

So why does he love me so much? 

Because I love him.  I take care of him, I feed him, I clothe him.  I completely accept him.  I comfort him when he's sad, I forgive him when he's been ornery and disobedient.  I teach him, I protect him, I spend time with him.  I listen to him; I treat him like the treasure I know he is.  He needs me, and he knows it.  He's completely vulnerable, and yet He trusts me completely.

I am his rock...the one he trusts with his life. 

He's been told by his brother and sisters that he can't marry his Mama.  Now he insists that he's just going to live with me forever, and never ever move out.  Still sweet, although I'm sure that by the time he's forty it will be more creepy than sweet.

So I got to thinking that it's really no wonder that God wants us to come to Him like a child: trusting, loving, believing.  It comes naturally for healthy, nurtured little kids to adore their parents and to desire to be with them every waking moment.  To trust them, rely on them, be completely vulnerable with them.  To relay all of the joys of life to them.  To share all of their problems, big or little, with their mommies or daddies, and truly believe that they will make them better. 

What could be sweeter than to share everything about your life with the one that loves you more than any other?

I wish I could place myself in God's hands so whole-heartedly, instead of willfully trying to control my life on my own.  I'm not very good at running my own life, anyway.  I nearly always mess it up, and I end up feeling miserable and alone.  So I've set myself a new goal. 

This week, I'm going to try to love God like a toddler loves his Mama. 

Like my toddler loves me.

P.S. Now that he's been told that he can't be a daddy someday if he still lives with his Mama, my little son is planning to grow up, get married to someone (he still hopes it will be me), and use his very own digger to build his family a our back yard.  Then he can use the back door to visit me whenever he wants.  So sweet.  Love this kid. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More or Less

Once upon a time, over seven years ago...before children, before a renewed commitment to the Lord, before the discovery of my purpose on the Earth...I was gathering up my things at the end of a workday, moments away from heading home.  I was the manager of a small business, a portrait studio nestled inside a mostly-forgotten mall, and I was tying up a few loose ends at the front counter before leaving my studio in the hands of an employee.

It seems that mostly-forgotten malls are rarely forgotten by one group: the mall-walkers.  For years, when business was slow, I couldn't help but notice every person that walked by over and over again, and these people (whether I came to know them or not) became permanent fixtures of my workplace.  On this particular day, my attention was drawn by some commotion to the bit of mall outside my storefront, and I looked up in time to see a familiar middle-aged woman collapse to the ground.  She had been carrying a pair of crutches, and my first thought was that she had fallen while using them and needed some assistance to get up.

I ran out into the mall, as did a few people from a neighboring store.  When I got there, the woman was unresponsive, and it was evident that this was something far more serious than a fall.  I yelled to my employee, who was standing at the front counter, and she immediately dialed 911.

Life sped up and played in slow motion all at the same time.  No one knew what to do.  It seemed like the woman was gasping, we thought she was, and we assumed that she was breathing.  It was so hard to tell.  No one was doing anything...everyone there was so young and in disbelief.  I knelt down and I rubbed the woman's back, I whispered in her ear that Jesus loved her and that someone would be there to help her soon.  I think I was crying.  I felt totally helpless, but I just kept telling her that Jesus was with her and that everything would be okay. 

The paramedics were there in moments.  They took over.  Told us to leave.  Stunned, I went back to my studio.  But I didn't leave.  My soul...was still out in that mall with that poor woman lying on the ground, pleading with her to pull through as the paramedics pumped her chest with an almost violent urgency.

God and I didn't speak frequently enough back then, but He heard a lot from me that day.  I called my parents and asked them to pray.  I called my sister.  As an afterthought, I decided I should probably call my husband, too, although he wasn't much of a pray-er then, either.  Then I got down on my knees in Camera Room B and poured my heart out to God.  (In the years that followed, as my then-life was being reshaped into my now-life, Camera Room B became witness to many of these prayer sessions, but it can be certain that at the time, it was caught entirely off-guard.)

Eventually, after half an hour or more of constant resuscitation attempts, the paramedics lifted the woman onto a gurney, still pumping oxygen into her body with a plastic "balloon" over her mouth and nose.  I watched them wheel her away, and I knew.

The woman was dead. 

I went home that night limp with the fatigue that comes from having fought hard and lost.  I had spilled my emotions on the floor of Camera Room B, and yet I found that I had many more to spill in the days to come.  My beloved Grandma Mac had passed away just months previously, and this fresh encounter with death tore the scab from my heart as mercilessly as an eagle plucks a fish from the sea.

Just days later, I came home late after closing the studio.  As I walked through the door of my home, I witnessed yet another horrific death.  A man had been impaled with a fence post, and a grotesque, blood saturated wound consumed his entire upper body.  His chest heaved with the effort of each agonizing breath; the sounds of death gurgled from his throat.  And although my husband flipped the TV off the moment he saw the horror on my face, the image of this dying man is forever imprinted on my mind.

And very suddenly, my eyes were opened.

Death is not entertainment.

Death is real.  Pain and suffering are real.  And real people who suffer from real pain can't change the channel or forget about it at the commercial break.  Our culture would have us believe that we can, in our own lives, experience these "entertaining" things- death, tragedy, violence, divorce, casual sex- and go on living completely unscathed...unscarred...untouched. 

Our culture lies.

We were created in the image of God, with the ability to feel.  We were created to be in community, sharing in eachothers' joys, hurts and sorrows, full of compassion and sensitivity and love.  We were created to connect deeply.  We feel loss and horror and anger and betrayal and there are lasting scars when we make bad choices or when terrible things happen to us.  What our culture of entertainment wants us to believe is simply not true.

So where do we draw the line?  What's acceptable entertainment, and what isn't?  Are there times when it's alright to watch people being killed or living immorally on-screen?  What if it's obviously make-believe?  What if it serves a purpose, such as to educate or inform?  What if it isn't gratuitous?  Is it okay for adults to watch things that children shouldn't?  What if we're mature enough in our faith to truly not be influenced by what we watch?

I don't have this all figured out, so please don't assume that I think I do.  There is one thing that's clear to me, thing that I am certain of. 

As our culture becomes more and more saturated with entertainment - movies, television, video games, internet - we are not becoming any more like Jesus.

We're becoming less like Him.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

LaLa Land

I was hopelessly frustrated with the sweetest, most oblivious thing on Earth this morning.  My five-year-old daughter, Miss J.

Miss J lives life on her own little planet that's located somewhere inside of her pretty, blond-haired little head.  If I had to guess, I'd say that her planet is probably pink and sparkly, and is perpetually overcast with fluffy pink and purple clouds.  It's likely that there are unicorns galloping across its hills and valleys, and tiny winged fairies dancing in the mist, gathering moonbeams in heart-shaped baskets to share with all their tiny, glittering winged friends.  Everyone is smiling, everyone is happy, everyone is singing, and everyone is eating lots and lots of candy.

Okay, so I don't actually know what goes on inside Miss J's head, but one thing I know for sure is that she spends an awful lot of time in a faraway place.  LaLa Land, I've heard it called.  And the problem with living in LaLa Land is that while you're there, you can't be fully present in this world.  At all.  You kind of float through life half-dazed, being distracted by every little noise...and movement...and bug...and falling leaf...and shiny object.  And you never ever stay concentrated on one task for long.  You have no sense of urgency, for there is no such thing as time in LaLa Land.  You forget what you're doing.  You stare off into space.  You remain completely oblivious to the promptings of those around you, even those who are desperate to prod you on, speed you up, and kick your adorable little heiney out the door and into a waiting vehicle.

All this to say, Miss J is SLOW.

P a i n f u l l y   s l o w .

And while I'm not a trained professional qualified to make such diagnoses, I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that my little girl has ADHD.  Her frequent visits to a faraway place, her happy-but-somewhat-vacant expressions as she stares at absolutely nothing, her inability to remember what exactly it is that she's supposed to be doing at any given moment, her obvious lack of understanding of the concept of time, and the pace by which she accomplishes (or half-accomplishes) everything and anything that she sets out to do, are all eerily similar to someone else I know...someone I know very intimately.


Yes, ADHD is hereditary, and little Miss J comes by it honestly.  Although undiagnosed, my maternal grandfather was almost assuredly a kindred spirit, who passed it on to a couple of his children, including my mother, who passed it on to my brother and myself.  So basically, we are a family of people who are either scatterbrained ourselves, or have learned to live with someone who is scatterbrained.  To my knowledge, not one of the ADHD people in my family have married a fellow ADHD person. 

There is a reason for this. 

You see, a house can only handle so much ADHD before it explodes.  When I'm running around like a mad woman, trying to compensate in the final ten minutes for everything that I failed to plan for in the previous hour while I was vacationing in LaLa Land, I need attentive, capable children to quickly follow every frantic order that I holler in their direction.

I need efficiency. 
I need initiative. 
I need an army of little people that are on-task and ready to shine where I can't.

I do not need a child dancing around the room in her underwear.  

This is why we are late for almost everything:  my scatterbrained five-year-old refuses to compensate for her mother's ADHD.  Totally inconsiderate, I know.  Day after day, I bust my buttons for ten solid minutes trying to get a whole passel of kids out the door, and she insists on trying to cram everything I've told her to do into the last possible seconds before we're supposed to leave.

She should probably work on that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Living Dead

These days, I have a lot less free time than I used to, not that I ever had more than I knew what to do with.  The very nature of having five children, with most of them home with me all day, is physically and emotionally draining and entirely free-time sapping.  But I do have those moments.  Those few and far between moments when there is no one coming and no one in need of going and there are no questions to be asked or answered or directed. 

And then I have free time. 

Can it be called free time if I'm nursing the baby at the same time?  Perhaps not, but it's the best I can do.  We'll call it semi-free time, except for those rare occasions when the baby happens to be cooperatively napping during our daily quiet time (as he is now), and I'm actually totally alone.  Regardless, these are the moments that I get to sit and do (almost) nothing.  Or, from a different perspective, I get to sit and do (almost) anything.

The problem I'm having is that more and more often these days, I'm choosing to do "nothing" with my free time.  Nothing productive.  Nothing life-altering.  Nothing God-honoring.  Nothing...except numb my brain with useless computer games, while I could be reading a good book, writing about something worthwhile, sending encouraging notes to others, reading the Word of God or praying for those I love.  I could even be paying the bills or making lesson plans or scrapbooking or sorting family photos on my computer. 

And yet I continue to play the same computer games over and over again.  And what's really silly is at this point, there is absolutely no hope of getting any better at them.  I'm incredible.  I'm probably the best zombie killer on the planet, and yet I continue to shoot at them with a variety of dancing vegetables whenever I think I have five minutes to spare....or a half hour....or an hour and a half.  Where does the time go?!

And that's the other thing.  Slowly, I've been "finding" more and more time to dedicate to my obsession, when I really don't have any extra time.  So what's happening?  I'm neglecting the things that are my responsibility, like laundry and housecleaning and lesson planning, and I'm passively refusing to do the things that God has called me to do, like learning how to study the Bible, reading the book I've committed to reading for a church group, and writing about what God is doing in my life.  All as I stare blankly at a computer screen and devise the best plan to prevent the consumption of my brains.  Ironic, isn't it?  The more I protect my imaginary brains from the onslaught of animated zombies, the more I can feel my actual brains becoming more and more zombie-ish.

Seven years ago this coming January, my husband and I stopped watching all television.  It was hard.  Really hard.  We made the choice for a variety of reasons, but do you know what we discovered after it was gone? 

We had both been addicted to TV.

After the addiction was broken and we were free, we grew closer to each other and closer to God.  We wasted far less time.  We did things that were worthwhile.  And once the "withdrawal" from television was over, we emerged on the other side with a much purer and Godlier perspective on television.  It's mostly worthless.  It glorifies sin and materialism and violence and immodesty and human wisdom and greed.  Obsession with TV turns us into zombies.  Obsession with anything turns us into zombies.

I thought I was free from it.  I thought I had escaped.  But now I'm a zombie once more.

I'm through. 
Today I'm taking back my brain and I'm giving it back to God.

In the words of my pastor, I'm coming back from "the living dead". 

Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Like a Child

My mom's childhood friend, Joyce, went to be with Jesus this past weekend.  She wasn't old enough to die, not by the standards of our medically advanced society.  Just one day short of sixty-three.  Not old enough at all, especially when many of the most precious people in my life fall in the same age category.  Not young, not middle-aged, exactly...but definitely not "old".

And since I'm not in the center of the emotional fireball of loss (she was, after all, my mom's friend, not mine), I have a unique perspective on what is most definitely a tragedy for all those that loved Joyce.  I'm filled with, shall I say....a "reflective sorrow".  Not agony.  Not pain.  Just sadness for my mom, who lost a life-long friend, for Joyce's husband Tom, who lost a wife of forty years, and for Joyce's sons, their families, and her brothers and sisters and friends.

And because my emotions aren't overriding my every thought and action, I can see beneath the very real pain of the situation and find an overwhelming sense of joy and awe.

Because Joyce loved Jesus.  She believed in His death and resurrection, His atonement for her sins.  She professed Him as her Savior.  And since this past Saturday, she's been "reJOYCEing" in His presence in Heaven.  There is no place on Earth that could compare with the splendor that Joyce is living in at this moment.  She is wrapped in beauty and love and light and laughter and harmony and inexplicable joy.  And that leaves me in awe.


Last night, on the way out to my parents' house, three-year-old Mr.C and I had a talk about Heaven:

"Someday, I'm gonna go to Heaven and live with Jesus, too.  But not yet.  Not till I'm really, really old.  Then we can go together, right, Mama?"

"Yep.  Mama loves Jesus.  Do you love Jesus, too?"

"Yep!  I love Jesus!"

"And you know that sometimes you do bad things and Jesus died for the bad things you you can live with Him in Heaven someday.  Do you believe that Jesus died for you, buddy?"

"Yep!  I believe that!  And there are no bad guys in Heaven."

"Well...what if the bad guys changed their minds and decided to love Jesus?  Then they could go to Heaven, too."

"But they're BAD GUYS!!!"

"But sometimes we do bad things....and we still love Jesus.  Jesus died for everybody!  We want everybody...even bad learn about Jesus and to change their minds so they can come to Heaven, too.  Right?"

"Oh...okay.  They can come.  And they can still keep their swords, too."


We spent the evening with my parents, hopefully providing a bit of a distraction for a while.  On the way home, little Mr. C said that it was sad that Joyce had passed away, and he thought we should pray for her.  I reminded him that Miss Joyce is in Heaven, and she doesn't need us to ask Jesus to help her because she's with Jesus!  But, I said, it was important to remember to pray for Mr. Tom.  Mr. Tom is very sad, and we should pray that he lets Jesus love him and help him feel better.  I told Mr. C that we should remember to pray for Mr. Tom at bedtime.

And do you know what he said?

"We should do it right now." 

Wow.  Humbled, I realized that he was exactly right.  What was I waiting for?  Right there in the car, at the urging of a three-year-old child, we prayed for Mr. Tom.

And I realized something else.  There's a lot of wisdom in a three-year-old.

He loves.

He believes.

He forgives. 

All without questioning. 

He asks for what he wants, and he has faith that he will receive it.

He doesn't put off until later things that are important enough to do now. 

More than many adults I know, Mr. C really gets it. the wake of an unexpected death, the home going of someone who was too young but who knew where her true home was, I feel compelled to ask you...where is your true home?

Like my little son, have you heard the Good News?  Have you accepted it at face value, not trying to use your own wisdom to figure things out by yourself?  Have you placed your faith in Christ Jesus?  Do you love Him? 

And if not, if you're waiting for some perfect opportunity or for everything to suddenly make sense to you, then why don't you just ask God to reveal the truth to you?  Earnestly ask (even if you're not sure that He exists) that He would make Himself known to you.  That He would prove Himself.  Humble yourself to the possibility that what that ancient book of fables says is true.  What could it hurt? 

You should do it right now.

Because whether you're sixty-three or thirty-three or even just three, you never know which day could be your last.

P.S. If you're a bad guy, don't worry.  I am, too.  And I'm bringing my sword with me. 


And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

And for Joyce:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 
See you in Heaven.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Old is Passing Away

I'm paying for someone else's sin. 

My reputation, my very ability to serve God, is being scarred by the un-Christlikeness of someone else.  A nameless, unknown face...perhaps faces...within my own church.  Ungodliness in the house of God.  Someone says something without thinking, or with selfish motives, or with complete ignorance to the situation, delighting in thinking the worst about someone else.  Me.  And then someone else overreacts, overcompensates, and falls to the pressure of pleasing the masses.  And I'm hurt.  Again.

The truth is, my reputation is already scarred. my own un-Christlikeness.  I don't need the help of made-up whisperings uttered by mysterious people to know what a wretch I am.  Not a day passes in which I don't hate the sin I see in myself, will it to be gone from me.  I have more than enough real and true and ever-present sin held within me to incriminate myself without adding the imaginings of  someone else to my conscience.  I accuse myself...but not of this. 

I would accuse myself of this, too....if only it were so.

And the fact that it isn't, not even a little...the fact that I have guarded myself so carefully against this thing, this possibility...makes this accusation hurt all the more.

I feel like screaming at the blind, "Why can't you see?!"  And yet blind people admonishing blind people accomplishes nothing.  I feel like yelling in anger, "How could you possibly think this thing?!", and yet angry people admonishing angry people accomplishes nothing.  I feel like accusing and assuming and blaming and guessing, and yet ignorant people admonishing ignorant people accomplishes nothing.

To be blunt, I feel like being un-Christlike. 

And yet un-Christlike people admonishing un-Christlike people accomplishes nothing. 

So what must I do?  Love.  And live.  And serve.  And obey.  All the while knowing that God is still good, and still in control.  I have no right to admonish on my own:  I am blind, given to anger, ignorant, and un-Christlike.  The right belongs to Him.  He will accomplish what He desires to accomplish.

And still I am hurt.  And tears are flowing.  Tears of sadness, yes, and disappointment, and loss.  I'm deeply frustrated at the unfairness of it all.

But there are also tears of joy

For today I have seen evidence that God is making a new creation of me, and the old is slowly passing away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Perfect Place

I've been thinking about chickens a lot lately.  I like chickens.  I want to own some someday. 

And maybe a goat.  I really love goats.  I've been asking my husband for a goat for years.  In fact, whenever he asks me what I would like for my birthday or for Christmas, he prefaces it by saying "And don't say you want a goat!  You can't have a goat in a neighborhood.  There are ordinances against those kinds of things!"

Ordinances, shmordinances.  I think he's just happy to have a reason not to buy me a goat.  I try to tell him that my goat would help him by cutting the grass regularly, but he's not caving.  After ten years of marriage, and ten years of putting in a request at least twice annually, the closest thing I've gotten to a goat is a tiny plastic figurine and a stuffed sheep.

In my quest for a goat of my own, I do have to concede one thing: our current little corner of the world has no space for a farm animal.  In fact, our big family (which does sometimes resemble a farm animal in noise, manner and smell) is already bursting at the seams of our 1200-square-foot, single bathroom home.  We've contemplated putting an addition on the back of our house, thought of adding bedrooms and a second bathroom in the basement, and even considered simply choosing to thrive in the space we have.  Until recently, I actually thought that one of these plans could work.  Until, that is, we added a seventh person around our dinner table in our tiny little dining room. 

We don't fit anymore. 

Let's face it.  The dining room in this house is never going to get any bigger, and the people around it are never going to get any smaller (except for me, that is....eventually).  They're going to keep growing and growing and growing, bumping elbows, knocking over glasses of milk, and having to suck in their bellies just to slide behind someone else to get to their seat.  It's not the table that's the problem, but the fact that a bigger table won't fit in the room.  It really bugs me. 

I mean, the dining room table is, in my mind, the central gathering place of our home.  The heart of our family, where we come together at the end of the day to commune with one another.  To share what went on while we were apart.  To break bread together.  Pray together.  Laugh together.  Live life together.  And there simply isn't space for that kind of family togetherness when there isn't even room for the whole family at the table. 

So now that the direction of my thoughts has turned once again to moving, I find myself thinking about chickens... 

...because the kind of house I dream about raising our children in just wouldn't look right without a flock...or a herd...or whatever you call a clan of chickens....pecking around the lawn.

So many people want great, big, new, opulent houses with the finest of everything inside them, built all in a row with other great, big, opulent houses with more of the finest of everything inside them.  Now don't take this personally if you happen to live in a house like this; everyone has their own dreams and their own ideas of the perfect home.  But I hate those houses.  

For one, I'm not opulent.  At all.  I'm homey.  And since I don't enjoy cleaning even one bathroom, I can't imagine I'd enjoy cleaning a half dozen of them.  And I don't like my home to look like it popped out of a magazine.  Or was created by some interior designer that has never walked a day in my life.  I want my family's home to look like my family. 

Imperfect.                        Fun.                      Creative.
                     Crazy.                                  Musical.
Faith-filled.              Loud.               Spontaneous.
                    Joyful.                   Passionate.                 Ornery.
       Loving.                 Cluttered.             Sentimental.

 I want a place to surround the people I love with things that we love.  Books.  Pictures.  Guitars.  Souvenirs.  Childish drawings and crooked pots made of clay.  I want to plaster the walls with memories of each other, encouragement for each other, love for each other.  I want a home that holds the story of our family within its very with its own character, that lives and breathes and echoes the laughter of piles of little children that run barefoot down its creaking halls.  A home that has known love and laughter and family before, and is aching for us to give it another chance, aching for us to move in and uncover the secrets it holds within.

My dream house is an old house.  A lived-in house.  A loved house...that wants to be loved again.

Somewhere out there, I pray that God has the perfect house picked out for us.  One with a great big dining room that holds a great big table with more than enough room to hold our entire family...maybe even with a few spaces yet to be filled.  And past the dining room, past the library filled top to bottom with tattered, well-loved books, through the big front baby-fingerprinted windows, where the sun shines through in golden streaks, I hope there will be chickens clucking merrily in the yard.

And off to the corner of the yard, completely free from troublesome city ordinances, would be a perfect place to keep my goat.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Blogger's Block

I have blogger's block. 

I think it's because I have laundry to do.


I've started like a gazillion different blog posts in my head in the last few weeks; I've actually started writing several of them.  Each time, though, I get to about the third sentence and my ideas vanish.  Gone.  Poof.

Hey!  I made it past sentence three!

Yeah.  So here's my theory:  I've got a few things going on in my head right now.  I can't possibly focus.  And by "a few things", I mean the sarcastic amount of "a few things", not actually a few things.

For one, school started again.  Difficult, right?  Yeah.  My husband, a teacher, has gone back to school.  And this year, I've got a brand-new middle schooler in a new school, a brand-new kindergartner in a different new school, and a difficult third-grader in another brand-new school.  My school.  At home.  With me.  Constantly.

And then there's the taxi service.  To school.  From school.  To church.  To gymnastics.  To ballet.  To play practice.  To the dentist.  Back to school.  To the doctor.  To the store to buy things for school.  Enough to drive even the peppiest of soccer moms insane. 

Then there are the routine things to think about...the things that have to be done for family survival.  Like making meals.  Or lesson plans.  And grocery shopping.

And the things I'd like to do but can't ever seem to find time sending out birth announcements for my seven-month-old (don't laugh, I seriously have a whole stack waiting to be stamped and sent out...course they are a bit dusty now).  And writing in the baby book.  Or scrapbooking. 

And finally, there are the things that I really should be doing, but rarely have gotten around to in the last few weeks (and perhaps longer in some cases).  Like reading my book for a church group.  And cleaning the house.  And showering (just kidding mostly).  And then there's the laundry.

See?  I knew it would all come back to the laundry eventually.

So what does laundry have to do with blogger's block?

I'll tell you.  Every day, when I finally have about an hour and a half to myself during naptime, I sit down in front of my laptop with a big tossed salad and try to find my blogging zone.  I then (undoubtedly) look up and see all the piles of laundry that have taken up residence in my living room, and I think "I should really do the laundry instead of writing right now."  But I try to write anyway.  Even though the piles of laundry are taking over my mind as quickly as they are my home.  And if it's not the laundry, then it's the book I should be reading, or the dishwasher that should be emptied, or any number of those gazillions of things rattling around in my brain.  Somewhere around the third sentence into my new blog post, unable to focus, I usually give up.

And then I spend the next hour and a half
                                                      doing the laundry
                                                 killing zombies on my computer. 

One of these days, perhaps my brain will be clear enough to actually write about something worthwhile, but I have the feeling that it won't happen until I've accomplished the things that I'm supposed to.

For today, I'm content to blog about the things that are stuck in my head right the laundry.

It's the most attention it's gotten in weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

I feel like I'm caught somewhere in the calm before the storm.

I can see the thunderheads off in the distance, feel the winds starting to tug at my body, getting more and more forceful with each minute that passes.  The skies are getting darker, as if dawn never quite peaked its way over the horizon this morning, and I can no longer pretend that the storm isn't headed directly for me.  It's on its way.  I know it is.  And it will be upon me in a matter of days.

Okay.  Enough drama.

The truth is, every fall feels like a storm to me, as I'm sure it does to every mother preparing her family for another year of school.  Having a teacher-husband along with a houseful of children adds greatly to my back-to-school chores.  We spend hours at the store scratching items off supply lists, looking for sales, comparing fat and skinny markers, and discovering the merits of purple glue sticks versus the old-fashioned white ones.  We search for the perfect backpacks, scour clearance racks and second-hand stores for treasures, and try on dozens of pairs of shoes.  I try to get all my fall and winter clothes shopping done and out of the way in preparation for those unexpected freezing days that are just around the corner.  And I'm not done yet.  I still have a lot to do.

This is also the time of year that every summer-hibernating activity seems to start back up all at once.  Gymnastics.  Ballet.  Piano lessons.  Wednesday night church.  Kids' choir.  Bible study.  School functions.  Etc. etc. etc.  Why do they do this to us?  All at the same time?  As if we didn't have enough going already in this two-week span of time.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit, though, that this year it feels like a lot more than a typical thunderstorm headed my way.  With the decision to homeschool Miss M having been made months ago, the darkness (and yes, depression) has been creeping up on me for the entire summer, getting darker and darker as the weeks have gone by.  For the last few weeks, I've been struggling just to wrap my mind around what God has asked me to do, and there have been times when I just want to give up the idea entirely.  I feel so unprepared.  So unwilling.  So...sad.

In typical fashion, Satan has been "beating me when I'm down", pouring salt on past wounds and ripping open hurts that I thought were on the mend.  And Miss M has been throwing tantrums again (not regularly, but enough to make me cringe).  When she is behaving, she's been sickeningly obnoxious and clingy...making me want to be away from her more than ever.  I'm overwhelmed, my house is dirty, my chores are left undone, and I feel like I'm constantly being reminded of how inadequate I am to serve God. 

Which is fine, I've decided.  Because I am inadequate.  I'm weak.  I need God to homeschool Miss M.  I need His strength to bond with her, to love her and to snuggle with her even when her behavior is unbearable.  I can't do it, but He can.

And so I ask this of you, my friends, my family, and anyone that is willing:

First, as strange as it sounds, please pray that I continue to be inadequate and weak so that I'll remember to let God control this situation. 

It's only through my weaknesses that God's power is made perfect, and I can't wait to see what His perfect power does this year in my life and in the life of my daughter.

Second, if you are one of those that has expressed willingness to pray for us regularly, I have set up a new tab on this blog entitled "Mama & Miss M".  I'll be updating this page regularly to keep you informed and to give specific praises and prayer requests.  I've linked it to an e-mail account, so you can also leave me messages there to let me know you're part of my praying family.  I would love to know who you are!

And if you haven't already, check out our newest song release on the widget to the right of this page.  It's called "I Know Nothin'", and it is my theme song for this whole year....and this whole adventure called life.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.  We start school tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things To Do

I'm feeling lazy and unmotivated today (far too lazy to write something new...although I did manage to revise an old favorite of mine), which reminded me of this writing from a couple years ago.  Unfortunately, it still applies...

Lord, you have given me so many ways to fill each day.

I have a kitchen to clean: counters to wipe, a dishwasher to empty and fill (and empty and fill and empty and fill), a sink, stove and refrigerator that should be scoured, a floor that needs to be swept (or maybe mopped?). There is endless laundry to be done. Closets to be cleared out. I’m sure there are things in the bathroom that are in need of a good cleaning, although I can’t think of what, as it’s been awhile. I have a whole house that should be picked up, dusted and vacuumed. I have windows that really need to be washed, and there is cat hair on all of my furniture. There is endless laundry to be done. I have coupons to clip, grocery lists to make, and shopping trips to take. Meals to plan. Cats to brush, scratch, and feed. The bills always need to be paid. There are countless places in my house that need to be organized, but I can’t find any of them in all the clutter. There is endless laundry to be done.

Lord, You have blessed me with five children.

I have little lives to mold, and sticky little hands to hold. Mouths to feed, stories to read. Little bodies to bathe, little bottoms to wipe. Ears to clean, nails to clip, noses to blow. Hugs, kisses, and punishments to dole out. Boots to find, papers to sign. Lunches to make. Homework to check. A school in which to volunteer. I have fights to break up, and stains to fight. I have endless laundry to do. Five, actually seven, wardrobes to maintain. There are ouchies to be kissed, and tears to be dried. Appointments to make. Appointments to keep. There are values that constantly need to be taught, and lessons that need to be learned. Good behaviors to praise, bad behaviors to correct. There are cookies that should be baked, play-doh that should be played with, and puzzles that should be done. There are snacks and spankings to be given. Prayers to be said. Teeth to be brushed. Pictures to hang on the refrigerator, which needs to be cleaned.

Lord, You have given me countless ways to serve Your Kingdom.

I have a Godly husband to respect, encourage and support. A marriage to continually grow and renew. I have a church in which to use my gifts: singing Your praises, teaching Your children, praying for and serving with the body of Christ. I have friends to encourage, and neighbors to love. There are hungry people to feed, strangers to reach out to, widows and children to care for. I should be visiting the elderly, seeking out the lost, providing for the poor, loving the unlovable, and sharing Your hope with the hopeless. I need to be reading Your Word on a daily basis, and working harder to be like You. I should be proclaiming Your greatness from the rooftops, and seeking to follow Your voice into the unknown. There are far more prayers that I should be praying. There are far more ministries I should be supporting. There are far more people that need to hear about Your love from my lips, and see Your love in my actions.

Lord, You have given me so many opportunities to fill my days on this earth, so many tasks to accomplish, so many ways to proclaim Your kingdom until You return.

So how is it possible that, according to the game statistics, I have managed to play nine hundred and seventeen games of computer solitaire in the last few months?

You'll be happy to know that I kicked the computer solitaire habit some time ago.  I also kicked the subsequent Minesweeper addiction.  Currently, I'm dependent upon shooting cartoon zombies with cute little dancing peashooters...Plants vs. Zombies.  It's a very entertaining game.  You should check it out.  Or maybe you should just go scrub your refrigerator. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Blinked and It Was Gone

I blinked, and six months was gone.  He was just born, wasn't he?  Spending his entire life enveloped in the warmth and safety of my body, six months ago he screamed his way into the great big world.  Naked.  Helpless.  Looking for one thing only.  To be nourished: body, soul, heart, mind.  And now he's babbling and rolling and rocking his little body on hands and knees, ready to explore his life with drooly smiles and handfuls of whatever his little fists can gather.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and three years was gone.  My little man, my warrior.  Galloping through the hallways of life in search of the next great battle.  Daddy's shadow, venturing further from my arms now, but never out of reach.  Still needing one thing: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.  Has it truly been three years since I cradled you and nursed you in my arms?  Now you're vanquishing my home of dragons and bad guys, protecting me just as you've always been protected.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and four years was gone.  Nearly four years since we stood before the judge and promised to be your family forever.  Promised to tuck you both safely under our wings, providing protection from the cruel elements that had bombarded your little lives, leaving paths of anger and destruction.  Desperately needing one thing only: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.  And now, four years since that day, nearly five since your storms first penetrated our home, we are witnessing a transformation.  You are incredible little people, rising from the ashes and glowing with the radiance of life.  Your scars are becoming beautiful, part of who you are, but not defining who you will be.  Has it really been more than four years since you were first mine?  Such a long road.  So much change.  And yet a blur.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and five-and-a-half years was gone.  My baby girl, my first little love.  How my arms ached to hold you for the first time!  You were created in God's perfect timing, a living, growing reminder that daylight breaks after even the darkest of nights.  You float through life like a little bird, gathering up bugs and flowers and all things shiny and beautiful.  You share them with me with sunlight in your eyes, and you look to me for one thing.  To be nourished: body, soul, heart and mind.  And now I'm sending you off to kindergarten, to shine your rays of sunlight on the lives of others.  Can it really be time already?  Yesterday you were a baby, pointing at the cloud-covered moon and asking "Moon doe?"  And now you're going off to school.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and ten years was gone.  Ten years since I walked down that aisle on my Daddy's arm and gave you the rest of my life.  We were children, really, setting out to sail on uncharted waters, foolish in thinking that we didn't need a guide.  A Captain.  We very nearly drowned.  And somewhere along the way, once our Captain had pulled us from the water, we learned that a marriage is a living, breathing thing that needs to be nourished: body, soul, heart and mind.  We're sailing now; sometimes on rough waters, sometimes on smooth, into the depths of an endless sunlit horizon.  Has it really been ten years since we embarked on this journey together?  My whole life is intertwined with yours, and yet the years have been a whirlwind.  Where has the time gone?

I blinked, and my life on Earth was over.  My childhood, my adolescence, my school years.  The years of my marriage, one right after another, learning to give up our lives for the others' good, to love as we've been loved, to forgive as we've been forgiven.  Years of child-bearing, nursing and endless diaper-changing, of gathering children into my arms, of correcting, teaching, training, disciplining, and of watching the fruits of my labor grow in both wisdom and stature.  Years of cooking and laundry and grocery shopping, of dropping off and picking up and hurrying and waiting, of wearing second-hand clothes and living in a small house and buying everything off the clearance rack.  Years of sacrificing my own desires to give what my family needs most: to be nourished body, soul, heart and mind.

It seems forever, yet it's such a short time.  Soon my children will be graduated, married, and I'll be cradling my grandbabies.  And I'll be wondering "Where has the time gone?"

Don't waste your time on things of this world.  Money is nothing.  Big houses, the best schools, new cars, and expensive clothes only contain people, they don't nourish them.  You nourish them.  Give your children...give your marriage...yourself.  This is eternal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  

Matthew 6:19-21