Thursday, April 29, 2010

Job opening

The other day I saw an opening for a "Breastfeeding peer counselor."  It was only fifteen hours a week and most of it was from home on the phone.  Besides the fact that having an intelligible conversation during daylight hours is next to impossible, I was quite interested.  I thought the extra little income would be fun and what was fifteen hours?  Anyway, I began to read the requirements...and then my little extra income fantasy was shot.
The main requirement was to be excited about breast feeding.
Before I had the twins I dreamed about having my little babies and providing them with "God's perfect food" and the bonding experience that it would be.  I was so excited to nurse them.  Then they were born.  Then I had two babies attached to me eleven hours (at least) a day, plus a pump the other hours it seemed so I could have a break from them once in awhile.  I was a milk cow.  Then God showed me mercy and allowed them to get thrush at nine weeks and gave me a great excuse (at least in my own opinion) as to why I should quit.  So I did.  And look!  They are almost four years old and they have survived.  And as far as I can tell, I think their IQ scores are just fine and I don't think they have any resentment towards me for offering them Enfamil instead of breast milk - or for having a c-section for that matter (seriously people, some think kids can harbor resentment for not being born naturally...hmmmm)
Then there was Lily.  I had all the best intentions with her.  Nursing one baby would be easy.  Then I hemorrhaged after her - and secretly blamed her for at least the first bit of her life for my excruciating pain (I know, I am a horrible human being) but I still powered through all of that.  Then we moved to Montana when she was two months old.  I powered through that.  Then my husband got sick, she got thrush and I had two very needy and confused twins hanging on me.  I was done.  At nine weeks.  And as far as I can tell, she is just fine as well - but I guess we can never know until they are adults and at that time I will blame all their dysfunction on not nursing them until they were a year old.
So, then I had Will.  I counted, even anxiously waited for nine weeks when he would get thrush as well and I could quit nursing him.  But nine weeks came and went and life was pretty tame and so I continued nursing.  I thought to myself that if I could make it to six months then I would be happy and we would go to a bottle and live happily ever after.  Six months came and went.  Now we hit nine months and he gets thrush.  Are you kidding me?  NINE WEEKS WILL - NOT MONTHS!!!  Apparently he did not read the memo correctly.
So here we are.  I can't nurse anymore because I'm a wimp, I hate nursing, and as I see it, we are seven months past due for quitting.
But he won't let me.  He won't take a bottle - no matter what is in it.  He won't take a sippy cup.  He won't take a regular cup.  I am going to do a medicine syringe today and shoot it into his mouth so he can get some liquid and nutrition.  I have been so frustrated in the last week (this is only after almost a month of trying to wean him) that I have found myself in tears wrestling with a baby who is remarkably strong.
But the best part?  Women, who I'm sure feel that they are helping in providing their opinion, who tell me that breast milk is best and I can just power through thrush and teething because otherwise I'm taking away from my son.  SERIOUSLY???  I get the guilt trip at nine weeks (not really, but I will say it to keep all angry comments at bay) but at nine months?  Really?  Based on his crying and the anger that comes with it, he is more upset when I am nursing and I pull away in pain then when I offer him a bottle.  I don't frustrated.
Ok, I can't leave it alone.  Guilt trips at nine weeks even really get me furious.  There are moms who just can't do it.  Formula is there for a reason.  Breast feeding is wonderful but formula is ok too.  It is not the cure all for everything like weight loss to magic immunity...sometimes, breast feeding is such an incredible toll on the family that it's not worth it!  I have a friend (and friend, you know who you are but I won't say your name so you won't get barraged with emails telling you how wrong you are) who had a baby and has been trying her darndest to continue offering breast milk to her baby.  It's just not working.  And for almost three months she has struggled and exhausted herself to nurse while her baby has lost weight, been sick, gotten infections...but she continues to nurse because of the guilt that so many people "out of concern" have laid on her.  COME ON WOMEN!!!  Do you really think it's supportive when you guilt a mom so much or even better yet, put nursing next to godliness?  SERIOUSLY?  I don't know, call me crazy, but I think that maybe, just maybe, loving your kid while giving them a bottle full of Similac is probably more beneficial than resenting your kid or the situation while breast feeding.
Ok, just a little frustrated.  Excuse my hostility.  And you can comment about the wonderful joys of nursing and the horrors of formula if you feel necessary.  I understand.  But really, don't you think it's more important to encourage other mom's to just love their kids than to breast feed? 
So, no - I'm not going to apply for the job as peer counselor because I think I would be counter productive to what they are trying to accomplish.  And now I'm going to go get the dropper ready to feed my son who won't take anything but the boob.  I'm so excited to be a mom today, I can hardly contain myself.  Hooray.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Operation: Project Mommy

Oooh, sounds official doesn't it?
So, while I was taking my short hiatus Dave and I were talking over lunch - and the topic of our conversation led me to this idea.
I am purposefully going to remain a bit vague about it all for right now, but if you would like to be involved that would be wonderful...but I do have some criteria.
1.  You have to be a stay at home mom.  100% of the time. 
2.  And you need to have been a SAHM for at least one year.
3.  You need to be able to set up times for a couple of phone conversations (I know this sounds ridiculous to put this as a requirement, but if you are like me this can pose a serious challenge!)
That's it.  Not too tough.  If you are interested in helping me with this project although as illusive as it may be right now please let me know by commenting on this post.
Short post I know, however after my day today I'm thankful my fingers are moving!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Because we are smelling the roses, that's why!

I am a planner.
In tenth grade my history teacher told us that if we were to write down our ten year goals, that within ten years most of those would be fulfilled.  So, that night I promptly went home and typed out my ten year plan.  And strangely enough, the majority of it had come to pass.  Pretty amazing.  However, there were a lot BIGGER accomplishments and trials and every day moments that happened within those ten years that I would have never dreamed about putting on my list at fifteen.
But that's me...always thinking about what's next.  And I tend to be in a hurry, probably to some extent because I am forced to be that way with my life and my VERY busy kids.  But I often find me telling myself, "SLOW DOWN!  Just breathe..."  Why does everything have to be so hurried - and yet I inevitably find myself trying to rush everything.
I remember when Luke and Emma were probably two and I was so frustrated because they weren't talking like all the "other" kids.  They would talk forever in their "twin talk" but normal words were not part of their vocabulary.  They would actually have conversations together and completely understand what was said as I would stand there confused at the first syllable.  And I desperately couldn't wait for the phase when they would talk.
Then they started talking - and with attitude.
And I thought to myself, "I was in a hurry for this?" 
Then I took a parenting class and they talked about when your kids reached the "why stage" to be as respectful of their curiosity as possible and keep in mind that they aren't (for the most part) challenging your authority when they ask why, but out of genuine wonder.  I was so excited for the twins to reach that stage, determined I would answer every why with a intelligible answer and NEVER say, "BECAUSE I SAID!"
Yesterday within five minutes, without exaggeration, I heard "why" probably 25 least.
I was in a hurry for this?
I did good for probably the first 15 whys until I couldn't handle it anymore and answered, "Because that's what God said and what He says goes."  To the why for that I answered, "BECAUSE I SAID!"  You would think by now I would be over saying, "I will never say/do that" because without fail I always do.
And then there is Baby Will.  My precious, strong willed warrior Will - My last baby who I am cherishing and clinging onto every moment of his babyhood.  Now that I am on my last go around I am determined to treasure every stage that he is in, enjoy the blessings of each stage and laugh through the challenges.  And yet, even tonight as I put him to bed he reached out for me for the first time and I almost missed it because I was so busy about my routine.  I almost missed even recognizing that a milestone had just occurred.  So, I stopped, took a deep breath and picked up my precious son.  He clung to me (this sounds so sweet, but really it's because he didn't want to lay in his crib) and I was reminded that right now I pretty much fulfill every one of his needs.  I nurse him, I can put him to sleep, I change him, I dress him - I can solve all his problems for him right now.  And really, right now that's where all my kids are for the most part.  Right now there is no problem too big for Mommy and Daddy to solve.  We are their superheroes.  And I have heard somewhere, that it doesn't stay that way for too much longer.
So I resolve to slow down.  Take some deep breaths.  Get on my knees and smell the flowers with my kids on our walks instead of urging them to keep walking.  I will enjoy these moments, because I know they go quick...too quick, and I don't want to take them for granted or miss them all together because I'm in too much of a hurry.  And I will remember this tomorrow as I answer why from two very inquisitive three almost four year olds what may seem like a million times - because right now they want to talk to me.  Right now they want my opinion.  Right now I can ingrain within them the virtues that are important in my answers to all their whys.  Right now I can reinforce that I am a person that they can always talk to - so maybe when that day comes when they have a why that seems insurmountable to them, they will come to me.
So breathe and enjoy the journey - really enjoy it.  Take it all in and treasure all the moments, good and bad and in between.  Focus on today and God will take care of the rest just like it says in Matthew 6:34:
 34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (The Message)
Enjoy the flowers, they really do smell beautiful!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm back - and the laundry is done!

Adult conversation and interaction is good for the mental health of those who spend the ins and outs of their days with children.
That would be my conclusion after (almost) a week without blogging and the good ol' Facebook.
Now, with that said I have realized a few other things and accomplished a great deal of "stuff" around the house. And to seem completely successful in my week off from the computer I will put my list in a number succession, because that always seems more impressive.
1. Mount St. Laundry was conquered, clothes were sorted through and now we have five large black bags full of clothes to donate or sell (depending on how motivated we are.) Since I reached the summit of the mountain two days ago, I have done an additional three loads or more. I have concluded that although I am thankful I have a washer and a dryer and clothes to clean and so on and so forth, I HATE LAUNDRY.
2. The master bedroom is now a master bedroom once again. I still have to decorate it - but really, let's take it one step at a time. My goal is to make it this romantic get away, but I think Dave and I are really quite content at this time to not have it be used as a closet and a toy box. As well, I'm sure Dave is elated that the giant sock pile is no longer encroaching on his side of the bed. I folded probably fifty pair of socks before I threw the rest of them into the big black bag.
(Really, that's all that I accomplished along with cleaning up the inevitable messes throughout the week such as Lily taking off a dirty diaper and spreading the love all over Luke's floor - ya, that was great. However, I will continue my numbered list to make it sound that much more impressive...)
3. I realized that I love my life. I unapologetically love my life. I have four wonderful children and an amazing husband and all in all we are a very happy family. I am among the most fortunate of women who get to lay in the grass at 11 in the morning on a warm spring day with my daughters, or play "Robot Mommy" at 2 in the afternoon with my son, and kiss my baby whenever I want to. I have a husband who comes home every day from working to support our family and who I trust and love with every fiber of my being. I have food on my table, clothes on my back and washers and dryers :) to wash them in. I have a warm home, a car that works, and a God who is alive and who loves me more than I can imagine. I am pretty fortunate. Sometimes, in the midst of my life and filling my days with just "things" and "idle busyness" I forget that I am among the most fortunate of women like I have said before who get to love on my kids all day long. I get to see all their discoveries, answer all their "why's" and kiss all of their boo-boos.
4. Oh ya, I lost another 4.5 pounds - so for a total of 8 pounds so far! Less time on Facebook, more time walking!!!!
5. And to go along with number 3, I also had a melt down because I was completely overwhelmed. We cannot be islands. I spent the entire week with my kids mainly and with my husband at night. I really did not get a whole lot of conversation with my friends throughout the week and my girlfriends who talk me down from the crazy ledge when I need it were not readily available. FB has provided an outlet for me to do ministry, to connect with friends and to encourage and be encouraged by others who are in this with me. I enjoyed my week focusing totally and completely on my children, but I realized that I really do need my friends and the support they provide to me. Now I won't become that mom that is so overwhelmingly obsessed with Facebook or Farmville that I can't even tend to my own children, but I think a little social interaction with people I have relationship with is actually quite a good thing - just not in such huge doses as I was having before this week.
6. And now, since my week isn't technically over, I am going to go play our newly purchased Wii and beat the socks off of Dave.
Now, get off the computer and go spend time with your family!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just one second, I have to update my status...

I must say that my favorite excuse I use as to why my house isn't perfectly clean or dinner isn't done or really anything for that matter (besides the kids) is that I just don't have "time." In all reality, no one really ever questions that statement because I have four little kids running around from the moment their feet hit the floor. I so often feel like I have too much on my plate with only 24 hours in the day and just not enough time to do it all.
And then today I was really convicted.
I do have enough time. I do have the ability to get all these things done. I am just choosing not to. Really. What do I choose to do instead with that time I could be using more wisely? I'm on the computer. I'm on Facebook. Now don't get me wrong, Facebook is wonderful for so many different reasons especially reconnecting and connecting with friends. Making relationships is something that is crucial to our emotional health, but while I am making and cultivating my friendships on the computer I have realized that my relationships, the most important relationships are getting jipped.
There is a time for everything, but I think my time for Facebook and the computer has become all the time and that's not healthy, for me or Dave or the kids.
So, I have decided that for this week I am going to turn off the computer for the most part (except for that wonderful bill pay that can't go left undone for a week) and use that time for other things like cleaning, cooking, reading, playing, praying, exercising, or simply just being. I am going to use the phone to only confirm or make plans this week and focus on my kiddos and my husband.
Do you think that you have something that is vying for your time? Are there things that you could eliminate for a while or permanently that take you away from what's important?
I will check back in next Saturday with a post about my week - and in the meantime, enjoy your family. Turn off the tv, the computer, the cell phones, the ipods and enjoy each other.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Laughter is the best medicine...

Ok, so major mommy blunder this morning.
Dave and I just got a "new" fridge from his uncle - so this morning Dave started to clean it. The kids and I were all outside playing and I heard my phone ring inside. I walked inside for maybe ten seconds and when I walked back out Lily was in the middle of the street on her tricycle. To make things even better, a minivan had come to a dead stop waiting for her to decide what to do. Mom of the Year.
Or maybe a few days ago when my aunt and I took the kids to the track to go running. Emma, since we took her hiking a month or so again has a new found interest in peeing outside. As much as I have reiterated to her time and time again that we only do that in the forest when there are no bathrooms around, apparently the concept hasn't gotten through to her head. So, as the kids were all running, I turned around to see Emma sitting in the middle of the football field peeing. I'm a mommy champ.
Even better was the time I went to Target with all the kids to get child proofing stuff mainly for Luke. I found all the supplies on an end cap, parked the cart and turned my back to look at all the different choices. Then I heard laughter, Luke's laughter. I turned quickly to find that Luke had climbed out of the cart onto the display where they put all the baby swings and was running back and forth until he found the perfect swing and climbed on in to take a ride. The stares from the onlooking mothers where quite the confirmation that I probably was the best mom ever.
Or the time that I had just purchased the Moby wrap after Lily was born. She was probably 2 weeks old when I wrapped her up and decided to clean the office. I bent over and Lily just nicely rolled right out onto a huge pile of paper. Ya, mommy of the year award - right here!
I have countless stories like that, and I'm sure countless more to come. Daily I make mistakes that I'm sure before I had kids I would have been judging up the wazoo for! This journey is one that if we don't laugh at our mistakes or our children's ability to embarrass us more effectively than anyone else, we may go crazy! Laugh at yourself, enjoy the ride...
What are some of your funny mommy stories?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your marriage: A wall or a door?

When Dave and I went through premarital counseling we had to take a "relationship assessment." When our counselor received our results back, he said he had never seen a couple come back with answers almost identical like ours were. He began to tell us what the results meant and in summary he said, "couples with your results are the ones who are most likely to stay married forever." At that Dave and I smiled and were pleased to know we wouldn't EVER have any trouble making it work. Then he continued his sentence, "However couples with your results are the most likely to be in marriages forever and be miserable." Great. So we left there excited and totally confused at what he meant by having to work at it. I mean, we had heard marriage was hard, but Dave and I loved each other and ours would be easy. Then we got married.
We are coming up on our seventh anniversary and our marriage though wonderful has been really hard too. Marriage, any marriage is work. Throw kids into the mix and wow! Who knew just liking someone at times would be such a chore.
So, what I'm going to say I'm sure will offend someone because of the nature of this post so get ready.
For the last few weeks, Dave and I have spent countless hours in discussion and prayer, angered and saddened over decisions that people in our lives have been making regarding their marriages and families. Some of our dearest friends have decided that marriage and family is just too hard, too demanding, too much that they have decided to throw it all away for the other side of the fence that always promises to be greener. The single life, the more dangerous man, the life with no accountability all enticing these friends who despite the people around them trying to scream "danger!" are being sucked in.
From blatant affairs to just giving up are the reasons these families are crumbling and Dave and I are watching from the sidelines not sure if we can jump in and save the day or if we are to continue sitting on the bench praying our guts out for these families. In the meantime, as we wait to hear what God is telling us regarding that, I do know what God is speaking to me regarding our family. And that is what I'm going to share.
Dave and I committed to being married FOREVER. Not until it got too hard, not until it got too stressful or not exciting. But forever - till we die. As we have entered each stage of life we have been hit with the struggles and with the blessings. We have fallen, we have gotten back up - and I expect that it will continue much like that for the rest of our lives. We have had times where we are totally on the same page, and other times that it felt like we were writing two different books. However, we come together. We power through it.
I don't understand marriage. My marriage is not perfect by any means, but it's my marriage forever, and I will strive to make it the best marriage it can be.
With all these couples around us being attacked, Dave and I have become re-focused. We realize that we need to make a concentrated effort on connecting with each other as often as possible emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. We can not, absolutely can not take each other for granted and the reality that he will be here tomorrow - I need to cherish him and honor him more because of that reality.
In Psalms it talks about how the wife of King Solomon was a "wall" as a young woman. Her brothers said when she was a little girl that if she was a "door" they would stand guard and protect her, but that if she was a "wall" they would adorn her and make her beautiful. Let me explain. A wall in this sense would be a woman who when asked out or pursued by a man would have a "godly rudeness" and is very comfortable with the word "no." No one could get past the wall. But a "door" is a woman who any man who asks her out on a date would be told yes right away and the word no is not a word she speaks often. Of course, when we think about our daughters this way, we want all of our girls to be walls! We want them to be discerning about who they let past the wall of their hearts.
This passage has been on my heart lately in regards to our family. Is our family a wall or a door? Are we guarding our family and those we let in? Are we standing watch at the gate of our marriage to who and what we let have access? Or are we a door - having no boundaries, no safe guards and allowing whoever and whatever to enter in at their own free will?
In the marriage series that Dave and I just went through statistics regarding adultery and pornography were shared. The rates at which adultery is being committed and pornography is being indulged in are alarming! I would like to say that those who say they are Christians are better statistically, but not really if at all. I would like to say, maybe, we aren't safeguarding our marriages.
I want to toot my husband's horn here for a second. Since I have known Dave, whenever there has been a lingerie commercial or an inappropriate scene in a movie, even when we walk by Victoria's Secret in the mall - Dave always looks away. One of the things that I have never even questioned is Dave's loyalty to me, because I know his eyes are on me. Safeguarding our marriages is crucial. Not allowing trash into our marriages, or foxes in our vineyards as Song of Solomon puts it is imperative. Yet, even in our own marriage, we can get so careless about these things.
Our children are looking at our marriages, our examples, as a blueprint for what their family is going to look like. Are we setting an example of purity and sanctity? Are we showing them a family of devotion and love? Or are we showing them secrets and lies, shame and addictions?
I am angered at the attack on marriage that I have seen lately. It angers me that I feel the odds are stacked up against us to succeed. I want to win - I want to grow old and gray with Dave. I want to see our grandchildren TOGETHER and maybe even our great grandchildren TOGETHER. I want to share in holidays TOGETHER and family vacations TOGETHER. I want to spend my life with him - and I am willing to stand at the gate protecting the wall of our marriage to see to it that it happens.
Also, I wonder, shouldn't we stand at the walls of the marriages of those we love? Shouldn't we help to protect our friends' marriages with them? Marriage is hard, shouldn't we work together to make it successful? Encourage girlfriends to work it out, men encouraging men to hang in there through thick and thin. I think we have lost community in this age of shallow "friendships" where we think we know how our friends are doing based on their status updates. We need to plug in, link arms, fight this fight together - for our marriages, for our families.
So, I ask you - is your marriage a wall or a door? Are you protecting it from unwanted intruders and foxes that will ruin the vineyard of your marriage? Do you have friends and family who are standing at the gates of your marriage with you, protecting it and keeping it strong? Are you helping your friends keep their marriages strong?
And, if by chance, you are one of my beloved friends who I have failed by not standing with you to help protect your marriage, I am truly sorry. If you are one of my beloved friends who have decided to just throw in the towel, please reconsider - for your children, for your spouse, for your friends, for yourself. There is too much to lose and nothing to gain, because really - the grass is always greener on the other side until you get there to mess it all up.

I'm sorry, but saying "sorry" is just so hard to say.

I like to be right. I like to win arguments and even when I know I'm losing I like to continue arguing hoping that the person in the argument with me, usually Dave, will get exhausted and just forfeit. When I am wrong or Dave is persistent in proving my "wrongness" I really really don't like saying that I was wrong - but, alas, I do.
As a matter of fact, I have had many opportunities to say "I was wrong" in our marriage and though I still don't like saying I'm wrong, it has come a bit easier to say it.
Which brings me to this weekend. At church our pastor made a point regarding hypocrisy. He said there is huge difference between failing and being a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings but to fail is to make a mistake and then, shocker, apologizing for it. He made a good point when he said, "If you apologize for your sin, tell the person you are sorry, they tend to be shocked. They think it is weird that someone is actually apologizing" He's right. When we decide to not be so thick headed and prideful and just admit we made a mistake, people tend to respond with more grace and forgiveness.
As I pondered his sermon over the weekend, I began thinking how this relates to being a mom. I tell my kids to speak with kindness - do I always speak with kindness? I tell my kids to share - do I always share? I tell my kids to not be selfish - am I always unselfish? I tell them to put their shoes in the shoe box - do I always put my shoes away? Now the last one isn't a sin I don't think or at least I hope not, but that's to prove my point. Our kids are watching us - my kids are watching me!
For example, last week after Easter the candy battle was raging and finally after having too much of it I yelled, "No more crap! You guys have had too much crap!" Then I proceeded to toss it. The next day as we were driving to a bible study Luke told me he was hungry. I asked him what he wanted to eat and he responded, "Hmmm....well, I haven't had craps in a while. I want some craps." Nice. That's a brand new word in his vocabulary and I couldn't discipline him for saying it because he learned it from me. Needless to say, I haven't said that fake cuss word in a week now because I was reminded that little ears are listening.
But on a more serious note, Emma has become quite the little yeller. And although I am doing MUCH better at yelling I still slip up. Emma has learned how to yell from me, and since I have been making a conscious effort to stop she has been getting disciplined quite frequently for her yelling. Then she goes and makes me so frustrated I can barely stand it and I yell. Her beautiful brown eyes look at me with hurt because my words were sharp and kindness was not present, and I realize I messed up. Do I apologize to her? Do I stand strong and convince myself that she deserved my sharp correction? Or do I humble myself and apologize to her for yelling, ask her for forgiveness and show her that mommy is not perfect nor pretends to be? I usually try to apologize, but I realized after hearing this message from our pastor that repentance is necessary.
I don't want my kids to look at me, the way I live, the way I act and compare it to what I'm teaching them and the standard at which I hold them and see two totally different pictures. I want them to learn from my actions and have it reinforced by my words.
I used to know someone who shouted from the rooftops how holy and perfect they were, but in their actions and day to day life I could see contradictions left and right. Apology wasn't a word present in their vocabulary and you dare not question what they preached. They were a hypocrite. People who came across their paths were hurt and confused because of the blatant contradictions. Some are still healing from the hypocrisy that was so prevalent with this person.
I know someone else who has lived a transparent life and is not unwilling to admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness when one has been made. They don't claim to be perfect, but they claim to know the One who is. That person does not have a bunch of hurt people wherever they go - they have made a profound impact on hundreds maybe thousands of lives.
I want to be the latter and not the former. I want my kids to know that Mommy isn't perfect but she knows who is and she is constantly striving to be more and more like Him. And I know all to well, that if I don't humble myself and repent when I make mistakes like the one I described with Emma, my children won't care to hear what I have to say. They won't hold much or any stock in what I want to teach them.
I encourage you, next time you make a mistake in your parenting, go to your kids and apologize. Don't make excuses, don't say "I'm sorry, but you shouldn't have..." Just apologize and ask them to forgive you. It's amazing how children are so receptive to that. It's amazing what an apology can do to heal relationships. If you have hurt your children with your words or actions, apologize today. Don't leave it unattended to. Take care of it. Show your kids that a repentant heart is the best kind to have. You will be encouraged by the outcome, I guarantee it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Green thumb, Black thumb, or somewhere in between?

I don't have a green thumb. What's the color of death? Black. I have a black thumb. Plants that come into my home do not have a long life. As a matter of fact they die quite quickly under my care. Even those plants that Home Depot told me were fool proof were not so much for me - they were dead within a month. Here's my number one reason - I'm too busy to remember to take care of them. I know, horrible. All I had to do was water them and apparently that was too much for me to handle. My number two reason - my children kill them. We had a strawberry plant that we lovingly named Sophie and I was doing a reasonably good job tending to it, when Luke decided that since he got one strawberry off the top of the plant there MUST be some strawberries in the dirt. He proceeded to dump Sophie out on the ground to look for more strawberries stomping on all her roots. RIP Sophie.
Thank God I have a better track record with human life!!!
Every birthday we celebrate of our kids, Dave and I give each other a congratulatory pat on the back for keeping them alive for one more year. Yes, sometimes, I feel like that's all I can do. Just keep them breathing.
So, when a couple of months ago I decided to focus on the "Fruit of the Spirit" in my parenting I didn't take into account my lovely black thumb. What does gardening have to do with the "Fruit of the Spirit" you may ask. EVERYTHING, unfortunately. To produce fruit you have to cultivate the soil, tend to it, pull weeds, water, prune and on and on. Much to my dismay, you can't just say, "Fruit grow!" You actually have to work at it.
Since I have been focusing on producing more fruit in my life hoping that it will spread to my childrens', I have noticed A LOT of weeds coming up. Weeds of impatience and frustration, sharp-tongue words and selfishness. Those have got to be pruned, really. But I have an excuse, really I do. I just don't have time.
Except my excuse does not work with this. These are not just plants I can toss and buy new if they die. There's a lot more at stake with this.
So, I remember, if I'm not growing I am dying. That's fabulous. If I'm not constantly striving for fruit and lovingly tending to my garden I'm trying to grow in my own life - my garden is dying. And really, who wants a bunch of half ripe fruit? Not me.
I have to stay focused. I have to remain engaged. I have to keep my gloves on and garden shears in use. I have to keep pruning the branches that aren't yielding fruit so that the ones that are will be more productive. Jesus even talks about this in John 15:1-8:
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (NIV)
So not only do I have to stay engaged but I have to stay plugged into the Master Gardener, because without Him, my goal to be fruitful in my life and in parenting will be in vain. This takes work, commitment and focus.
I will stop making excuses, and though it is painful at times, I will prune those nasty branches out and will allow the Father to throw those branches into the fire. I will remain in Him so that I will be fruitful. And I'm pretty sure that my family who reaps the benefits and the consequences of whatever my "fruit" is will be thankful that much more for it.
How is the gardening going in your life? Do you need to prune some branches back? Have you taken off your gloves and dropped your shears for a bit like I have? Are you ready to get back in the dirt and get messy? Let me know!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Candy, self control, blah blah blah

To stay true to my word and follow through with what I promised - I am going back to my post about the Easter candy and consistency. I started out that post by saying that I was eating chocolate as fast as I could before I had to throw it all away due to my children's whining. I then lightheartedly said that it lent itself to my current weight issue that I would address at a later date. Well, today is the later date.
I have got to lose weight.
Before I had Will I was part of a gym and was in the best physical shape I had been in a long time. I was exercising my tail off 5 days out of seven and I felt amazing. My attitude was better, I had more energy and I wanted to eat healthier. Then I got pregnant and just stopped - the weight had just dropped off me with my other pregnancies and I took for granted that it would do the same with this one. However, I did not factor in that I was 3 years older (which apparently makes a huge difference) and my body had decided that a permanent pregnant belly was the way to go.
As well, in talking about the "Fruit of the Spirit" in parenting, I have to look at it throughout my whole life. One of the fruits is self-control. I want to teach my children self-control, and I would like to do so more in action than in words. However, my self-control is lacking when it comes to food. That is my addiction. How embarrassing to admit that on this mommy blog. When there is food, I just eat it - whether or not I'm hungry. I don't just take a couple bites, but I eat and eat, and eat some more - till really, my stomach does not feel good at all. That's enticing I'm sure for my husband.
Anyway, so tonight is going to be a short post - but along with my parenting journey through this joyful jungle of mine I am going to be posting about this journey to better myself for my kids, Dave and me. I want to be a good example to them in words and in action and this is a good place to start. Tomorrow is going to be a new day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Calling or just coincidence?

There are two basic thoughts on life:
1. Life just happens. Totally scientific, and if it works it works, and if it doesn't it doesn't.
2. Life is divinely appointed by God, the Giver of life - He decides if and when life will begin.
I like to believe that life is created under the premise of number 2.
So, yes, I suppose that with this belief I would say that ALL life that is created is a life that God has chosen to create.
Even with IVF, which Dave and I did to conceive our amazing twins, Luke and Emma. Yes, I had to take drugs to produce the eggs. Yes the eggs were surgically taken. Yes the egg was fertilized with a needle through a procedure called ICSE (don't ask me what that stands for, but it worked so I like it...a lot) and yes the embryo was then "transferred" back into me on day 5 of their conception. All very scientific. HOWEVER...
At the point the doctor sent me home and said "good luck" - I don't believe "luck" had anything to do with it. At that point God determined if that life would be fulfilled. Both embryos clung to the wall of my uterus (excuse the science lesson, I really do have a point here) and they took. But God, if He did not see fit for these lives to continue, did not have to allow that to happen. EACH and EVERY life is given by God - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Now with that settled...
There are two basic thoughts about children:
1. You get the children you get because of genetics and environment and you do the best with what you got.
2. You get the children that God wanted you to get. He created them, He knew them before we even knew of them - like it says in Psalm 139:
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day. (The Message)

With that said, our children are purposefully given to us to parent. Amazing! That means we have been called to parent our children.
I knew that I always wanted to be a mom and a wife. Then while I was at college pursuing my MRS degree God whispered to my heart that He wanted me to speak for Him. So, I listened and obeyed (one of the few times!) and began speaking. I moved to Nashville and was starting a speaking ministry when God whispered again at a really pivotal point, "I want you to start your family." Amazingly, I listened again! I moved home, met my husband two weeks later and here we are.
Sometimes I get lost in my daily routine, and I know as I speak to other mom's especially of young children, it's so common! Sometimes, it just feels like life. Not like some divine appointment from the Lord. Sometimes being a mom feels more like slave labor than a calling that God put on my life to fulfill. And sometimes I wonder if I'm the best mom that my kids could have.
But here is the reality:
This is our life, and how blessed we are! Children really are a blessing from the Lord although sometimes we forget that! But God called us to be mommy's! God doesn't call everyone to be mommy's for reasons that we may never know; but He called us. Our children are a blank slate that we have been entrusted to write on! What an amazing task that has been set before us! And God chose our kids to be our kids. He didn't choose Luke and Emma to be Emily's kids. He didn't choose Lily to be Billi's daughter. And He didn't choose Will to be Jennifer's son. He chose them to be my children. For a purpose. So, although at times I feel like I have absolutely no idea why or what I'm doing - God does! And He chose me to be right where I am raising these four wonderful amazing creations.
You, fellow Mommy, are fulfilling a calling - maybe a calling you never knew you had, but a calling none the less! Pretty amazing stuff!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm a student, they are the teacher?

The other day I decided to take my kids to the doughnut shop. This doughnut shop has been around seemingly forever and I was pretty sure from their sign out front that they were Christian owned. It was the first time I had ever been and the kids and I were excited about trying something new.
We walked in and sat our group down at a booth, had a quick review of the "rules" and then went and picked out our doughnuts. My children were very polite and well behaved (thank goodness!) and we sat down to enjoy our healthy breakfast of sugar sugar sugar. Luke and Emma were saying hello to everyone, and Lily was following suit. And then in walked a homeless lady.
My instinct was to tell my kids to be quiet and not to talk to her. I feared she might steal from us or something. But I bit my tongue, because I just felt a quiet whisper from the Lord to be still. And so, I watched as my children engaged this lady in a conversation all about why she walked with a limp, if she was hungry, how she definitely should have a doughnut. This lady lit up as my three kids talked to her like she was a human and just as special, loved by God and important as they were. In my stomach I felt sick because I knew how I had judged her the moment she had entered the shop but I still had reservations. The lady behind the counter then offered the homeless lady a box of day old doughnuts that were being sold for 6.95 for free. I was touched by the lady's generosity and though the homeless lady refused at first, between the owner and my children's prompting the lady finally took the doughnuts. As the lady left the store she said goodbye to our table. Luke and Emma said goodbye and told her to have a nice day. She seemed taken back like she hadn't heard anyone say that to her in a long time.
The whole situation made me think. I teach my children daily that God loves everyone. That God made everyone. And I know theologically, that no matter how dirty we are if we turn to God, He embraces us dirt and all and then starts the cleaning. I know all this! Yet, when my kids treat everyone just the way I have been teaching them to, my own discomfort is the loudest voice I hear.
I am a closed minded person by all definition. I believe there is only one way to heaven. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that abortion is wrong. And things that are contradictory to my belief system I count as wrong and opposing of God's word. But what my children have taught me is that those THINGS are opposing to God's word. Those LIFESTYLES are opposing to God's word. But those LIVES are not. And I realized that I have been viewing people who are caught up in those things and living those lifestyles as not worthy of the love that I have been teaching my kids about. How disgusting!
As Christians we are supposed to offer something different than the world. Those people who are in what I consider sin based on what the Bible teaches are not going to be led to the Lord by any definition by my judgment of them. I have always heard the saying, "Hate the sin not the sinner." Well, as Christian's I think we have started hating the sinner because of their sin. So wrong.
Today on Facebook a pro life group posted something on Obama's pro abortion health care plan. Which I agree that it is pro abortion and I, as in an earlier post pointed out, totally disagree with it. HOWEVER, the comments on the post were appalling! People were spewing hate and grossness about Obama and everything he stands for. What he stands for is despicable, I agree. But to hate him because he is obviously completely and totally lost? Aren't we missing the point? Aren't we totally forgetting about the passage in Matthew 5: 21-22"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill." (The Message)
The Bible says that the greatest of all these is love - and yet, I know personally, have lost sight of it until recently. We can so easily get caught up in our political beliefs and OUR Biblical guidelines, but these people don't know Jesus - they don't know or find any value in Jesus and what He stands for. And if we continue speaking and treating them the way we are as a whole, they will NEVER find value in what we stand for - because from their view, and now I'm seeing it more clearly, is hate itself.
I want my children to know what Jesus says about sin. I want my children to know what is right and wrong as the Bible declares it to be. However, I want my children to never lose their genuine love for people - no matter who or what they are. That is real Christianity. And my children show people Jesus and His love in such a innocent and passionate way that all I can do is learn and hope and pray that I can see people with the same heart.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The consistency conundrum

I am currently intoxicating myself with chocolate as quickly as I can (which lends itself to my current issue with my weight...but we will address that later) before I am forced to throw it all away. Every single last piece of candy is going in the trash. I hate consistency.
My mom was not consistent. I remember when I was nine my friend and I hid in a tree to make my mom thought we had been taken (horrible!) and my friend was in major trouble and me? Well, I set my own punishment of being grounded for a week which really only lasted about a day. Or my mom would chase me around and around the kitchen with a wooden spoon until I wore her out and she forgot why she was chasing to begin with. Consistency was definitely not her forte. And so I, knowing EVERYTHING about parenting before I had children knew that I was going to be the Queen of Consistency.
And then I had kids.
Dave and I took a parenting class in Kalispell and one session talked about threatening and bribing parents - which we all are at points. Threatening parents are the ones who say, "If you do this I will..." and bribing parents are the ones who say, "If you don't do this, you get..."
And I sadly fall into the threatening parent category so often. So often, unfortunately, that I am pretty sure my kids let my idle threats go in one ear and out the other. And if I was my kid, I know for sure that would be what I would do!
"If you do that one more time, I'm taking away all your toys!" Really? You know how long that would take? Idle.
"If you don't pick up your trains, I'm throwing them away!" Really? Those trains cost so much money! Idle.
"If you continue that behavior, I guess your friends just won't come over!" Really? I need the conversation with their mama just as much as they want their friends to come over. Idle.
I remember a long time ago I was listening to a speaker and the topic was consistency because apparently everyone struggles a bit with it (who woulda thunk?) and the guy was talking about a parent who's son was behaving horribly in their house one winter day. Finally, the dad said, "If you do that one more time, I'm going to throw you out this window into the snow!" Totally idle threat I'm sure, but the kid called his bluff and the dad made good on his threat. The kid was thrown out into the snow in shorts and a t-shirt. The kid learned that day that his dad was serious.
I, however, am not that dad. Today, hence why I am throwing away all the Easter candy, my kids were in a sugar coma from yesterday. This morning, their Easter baskets were sitting on the top of the cupboards in the kitchen way up high. But the thought of having candy, no matter where it may be in the house was just too much for them to handle. By seven this morning Luke had asked me for candy at least 75 times - no exaggeration! Finally, after having quite enough I put the kids down for a nap - early.
When they woke up, I told Luke that if he was good and watched Barney nicely while I took a quick shower that I would be happy to let him have a piece of candy, but if they didn't I would be throwing away all the candy. When I walked downstairs, there was Luke and Lily sitting on the floor with their faces dripping with chocolate. Luke had the scissors in his hand and Lily had a cheese knife trying to open a m&m egg. Needless to say, I was livid!
Not only did Luke question if I was going to deliver on my promise of candy if he was good, but he also didn't believe me when I told him that if he touched it it would be in the trash.
Long story short, I took his candy away for about 2 hours before I let him have that m&m egg and as I handed it to him, his little face had this look of, "I knew she would cave" written all over it. And then I was reminded, I really need to start saying what I mean and meaning what I say.
So, candy is going in the trash tonight. And from now on, well, at least for awhile, I will only make promises that are reasonable and that I will deliver on if need be. No more idle threats.
How are you at being consistent? Do you struggle with it like I do? Are you a bribing parent or a threatening parent, or have you figured out how to be neither? Let me know!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I don't know. What do I talk about? I have so much on my mind and apparently the inability to form a complete sentence or thought to communicate any of it. Maybe I should just save it all for another day, or maybe get just one or two things out of the way right now. That's what I will do, not that they are insignificant by any means.
The first: Ok, well that's not working. I've deleted this and retyped this stupid sentence three times.
Ok, just one thing - we will keep it simple.
Yesterday was Good Friday. Tomorrow is Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. Can you imagine what people were thinking 2000 years ago on Saturday? Yesterday all hope was lost and yet they didn't know that tomorrow was coming? Today, today must have just felt like a cruel joke.
I love Easter. Easter is the holiday that speaks to the core of who I am.
I know some of you who read this are not "religious" - well, I would like to think I'm not either, but I understand where you are coming from. I know some of you who check in now and then with my blog have been burned by the church - so have I. I know that others of you who read this would quickly say that you were a Christian but in your heart you aren't really sure - and I get that too. However, I love Jesus. I love Him. I love what He did for me and tomorrow I get to celebrate it.
Ooh, check me out, a few posts ago about politics and now religion - I'm on the edge! Ha!
Yesterday was a rotten day. The weather was gross, I had loved ones who were visiting that had to leave way too soon, my stomach felt nauseous, Dave was short tempered, and our children were less than angels yesterday. And me, oh me. All my rotten, gross, disgusting parts were on full display. Fruit of the Spirit was not very evident at all - ok, not even remotely present. And we loaded our family in the van to head to church and I wanted to cry. I knew that I had messed up yesterday. I knew I behaved ugly and though I had apologized to my children I knew that I had messed up and just felt horrible about it. I couldn't shake my behavior as we checked our kids into church and went and found our seats in the sanctuary.
This was the first year that we went to church on Easter weekend on Good Friday. I'm not sure I will be able to keep myself away tomorrow just because what's Easter without church, but going last night was pretty incredible.
Friday Jesus was slaughtered. He wasn't just hung on a pretty cross with a pretty crown of rose stems around his head. He was murdered a brutal, horrible, painful, miserable, beyond imagination sort of way. He could have, at any point in the whole disgusting series of events, stepped right off that cross and taken all of them out. He could have, but he didn't. The cost for sin is death. Innocent blood had to be shed to forgive sins - and Jesus, allowed Himself, the most innocent of all, to be sacrificed for us.
I've always known that Jesus died for my sins, and that realization has been clear to me more and more as I have grown older, but last night it took on new form. As I sat in my chair listening to the pastor preach, I realized that Jesus died for my sins that day.
Dave and I came home and we decided that we wanted to watch Passion of the Christ. Definitely not a movie night movie, but we felt that we needed to be reminded of what Jesus went through last night 2000 years ago. As we watched and flinched and turned our eyes away as they beat Jesus with the cat of nine tails and shoved that crown of thorns on his head I was reminded that Jesus did that for me. For my sins.
And today, with the knowledge of what happened tomorrow 2000 years ago, I was filled with hope. Now, my children's behavior was not drastically different than yesterday, but I had just been given focus again - and tomorrow is new life. Tomorrow, hope is alive. Tomorrow, Jesus proved that He was God in flesh. Tomorrow is a wonderful day!
If you don't know Jesus or have just never really given it thought, please do. If you have questions, please ask. I'm not pushy, but I am passionate. Jesus has changed my life - the real Jesus, not the pious fake churchy Jesus, but the real, amazing, strong, ALIVE Jesus.
Happy Easter!