Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Though she be but little, she is fierce."

A few weeks ago, I saw a quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream, "Though she be but little, she is fierce." I want to frame it an put it over her bed. I want to know how to help her harness her fierce to use it to fight fights worth fighting. It means I have some fights to fight as well.

The other night she finally slept in her crib. The past week she had been coughing so much I always gave in and let her sleep with us. But two nights ago, the coughing had subsided and she did not want to go to bed, which was a good sign she was feeling better. I put her in her crib and sat down with my knitting to wait. This is our new approach, she screams, we sit next to her letting her know we are there, but she has to stay in bed. It has taken on a bad night close to two hours of screaming, on a good night, usually half an hour. This night, after about twenty minutes of screaming, it was quiet. I decided to wait five minutes, to ensure my leaving would not wake her. After one minute I heard her little voice. "Mommy, I am all done crying. You can leave now." I had won this fight, she had made her point. I left, and she slept.

Today started with a close to one hour time out. My husband woke up, showered, got ready and went to work all in the hour this was lasting. It started that I had the wrong cereal. I gave her the two options which resulted in a shaking screaming response, apparently she wanted a different option. I told her she can not scream at me, and she ended up in time out. She screamed for her two minutes and finally agreed to let her dad get one of the cereals for her. He was frantically trying to help me get breakfast served while getting ready for work. She grabbed the bowl, maneuvered herself behind me and then proceeded to throw the cereal across the kitchen, angry at we have no idea what. But in all her two year old defiance when asked to clean up she crossed her arms and screamed "NO!" And for the next almost hour, she sat in time out, every chance she had at ending it (every two minutes) when asked if she wanted to help clean up now and get out, she crossed her little arms and screamed, "NO!" I worked on cleaning up breakfast and made some coffee. She kept screaming. I checked email and facebook, the screaming continued. Finally through a  wet, tear streaked face and gasps for air, tired from all the screaming, her two more  minutes was up, and she nodded yes. She slowly helped me clean up her mess then climbed into my lap and just sat, both of us exhausted from a fight.

This fight I am willing to have over and over because it is more than a fight about being a right. It is a fight to teach her to obey, to listen, that there are rules to follow.  It is a fight for her little heart. This parenting thing is so difficult, but so worth it, especially when you see a little fruit from the fight.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

David is 5!!!

5 years ago my world changed when a little boy named David Maccabeus Jacobs, affectionately known by those who love him as David "Macaroni and Cheese"Jacobs, came into this world. I was already the mom of two girls, and was excited and nervous about how a boy would change our pink little world. It changed with all sorts of colors and noise, of legos and balls, of "Avengers" and "Spiderman" and it has been wonderful! He looks out for others and his heart breaks when he hurts someone. He is full of big hopes and dreams of flying one day(not airplanes, but super hero flying) and playing football. He learned to walk by kicking a soccer ball across the room. He loves to cuddle. He loves to run.

There is nothing I do not think this boy can do if he puts his mind to it. He has taught himself gymnastics in hopes that his parents will put him in class, and he is really, really good. If there was a headstand contest for five-year-olds, I think he would win! He has been known to wait at the bathroom door on his head, we get used to just seeing this boy upside down. He is determined to be an artist like his dad and spends hours working on pictures that are good, not just for a kid good, but really good. He decided to try to ride his bike this summer without training wheels and told me if he fell he was never doing it again. He did it, he did not fall, he rode and rode. One day he did fall, and without a tear he brushed off and got back on that bike and rode some more, it is his favorite thing to do! This boy is all heart and determination.

He could not be loved more by his sisters, in particular his little sister who adores him. He puts his arm around her when she needs comforting, and is often the one in the family that can convince her to eat. The other day at church he shared his cake with her, one bite for him, one bite for her, back and forth until it was gone. There were quite a few ladies at church that oohed and aahed over him. He is all boy and all sweet.

I have always said that he gives me the best glimpse of what true "joy" looks like here on earth, joy overflows from every inch of his person, it is contagious.

I have not ever met anyone like this little man and could not be more proud to be his mom.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Minute Friday... Quiet

Five Minute Fridays is when you get a word from over at Lisa Jo Baker's blog and write on it for five minutes, WITHOUT editing then link up and ABSOLUTELY have to have to comment on the post before yours!
Today's word is: Quiet

It is a treasure and gift. When everyone is asleep, the quiet is a gift. A gift when my day is full of good noise and busyness at the end, to hear nothing but sweet rest. Rest that is well deserved for children who have played hard and worked hard. And a mom who has hopefully done similar is finally able to have quiet rest. I used to fill my head with noise for fear of what I might hear. But now with all the noise of life, I treasure the quiet moments. I peek on each of my children and see their sweet faces resting and quiet. Faces that are usually full of laughter and words, resting, restoring. That is what quiet does, it allows us to rest and restore. It allows me to sort through all the noise in my head and hear clearly again.

I love the quiet of a morning run, dark before the world has started to breathe, with children at home still tucked in beds. I run with someone usually, but sometimes it is a quiet run. Where we are just  next to each other breathing, running, but listening to the quiet and stillness of life before it starts breathing for the day. Quiet is a gift, a treasure, one I will take whenever I am blessed with it!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Asking Why?

"Feeling so blessed, our house sold and they accepted our offer on the new house." It is not the exact Facebook update I read, but it goes something like that. And I want to celebrate with a friend, I am thankful for God's provision. But I struggle with the understanding of why.

We prayed for months, asked for God to be in the details. He remained quiet. And I ask questions.

Why has our house still not sold after months on the market? We have only had about four people look at it!
Why do you work so hard and barely are able to pay the bills?
Why is life sometimes such a struggle and sometimes people seem to be so blessed?

I start to question myself, my motives, my heart. Is there sin in need of confessing? Is that other person better than me? I know this is where grace comes in and mercy and sovereignty. But I want to scream and yell WHY?

I know in this world I am considered blessed, but sometimes, I feel sorry for myself and get angry that it does not seem fair. Why does it work out perfectly for some and others never seem to get a break.

I do not know, I do not have answers, but there are somethings I do know..

The Lord is good, his faithfulness endures,
Psalm 100:5 "For the Lord is good and his faithfulness endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."

Waiting on the Lord is okay,
Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar with wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

He is glorified even in my weakness,
2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

God's timing is perfect
Ecclesiastes 8:6, "For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery."

God's word is full of promises
Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'"

Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

I know that His ways are higher.
Isaiah 55:9, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than you ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So I am working on selflessly celebrating because God is good and when He blesses my friends I want to rejoice because God IS SO good. And I will hold to the promises knowing that God is working.

And I will continue to count my blessings...
80. running on a cool fall afternoon
81. friends that come over for an impromptu dinner
82. soup and cornbread that warms inside when the air is cool outside
83. a warm home
84. that our house is full of art and literature
85. writing ideas finally onto paper
86. a dishwasher
87. an extra hour of sleep
88. children that can read clocks so I might actually get that extra hour of sleep
89. watching my children play together like they are actually friends.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five Minute Fridays... "Roots"

Five Minute Fridays is when you get a word from over at Lisa Jo Baker's and write on it for five minutes, WITHOUT editing, then link up and ABSOLUTELY have to have to comment on the post before yours!
Today's word is, "Root"


My mind immediately goes to all the wiry tendrils reaching into the ground. The ones that I try desperately to pull up when I am actually working on weeding my garden. Why is it that the roots of weeds seem so much more set in the ground than those of my delicate flowers? Weeds and established trees, those are my greatest barriers when trying to clean up my garden. Trees are okay except they do not belong in my garden.

And I cannot help but draw some parallel between my garden and my heart, where sin has rooted its way in. Somehow the wiry tendrils of sin have wrapped themselves so tightly around my heart that is seems they might be impossible to pull out, or if I do, maybe it will rip my heart out with them. I am holding so tight to the things that I think are making my life so great. And the tree is so established, not necessarily sin, but has made itself at home that I have grown comfortable I have not had room to plant flowers or even the thought to.

There is no room then for the roots of delicate flowers that are just starting. Somehow those take longer to settle in and wrap around my heart. Maybe if I spent more time growing them they would be set firmer, I am not sure, but in the mean time...

the ugly wiry roots I am working on pulling out.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..."I am Blessed!

It is finally the end of 31 Days... I did not think I would make it through. And, I missed one day, so part of my "follow the rules" self thinks I need to write one more day to make it legitimate, BUT I have other things I need to do. Other projects to start. I will still blog, just not every day, and maybe on some other topics, although, my kids are just about my favorite subject to talk about.

I wanted to come up with some final thing to end the series, and to summarize it all, and all I could come up with was.... "I am blessed"

I have learned that I am blessed!

Psalm 127:3 a "Children are a gift from the Lord,"

Blessed with children. There are women who long to be mothers that cannot, are facing days and nights of longing for little hands to hold and cheeks to kiss, and I am aware of them, I ache for them. I cannot help but realize how blessed I am. I do not take it for granted.

I am blessed to have children that have turned my world upside down. Wrecking crazy havoc on my heart, turning it and wrenching it as I love them more than I ever imagined possible. The crazy love that makes it permissible to give one hundred kisses at bedtime if deemed necessary and allows me to stay up all night with a sick little one. The crazy love that allowed me gets up over and over to feed and change and rock a new baby, a baby I had just met but already loved with all my heart. Love that allows me to sit quietly as I hear the accounting of every second of their day. I am blessed that I get to be part of that world.

And I am a better person because I am a mom, I have learned through no effort of my own that my life is not my own. I am pulled on, needed, sleep deprived and served out. But joy reigns in my heart because it is all worth it. All these things I thought I would never do, and definitely not joyfully are now part of my day, although not always full of joy.

I have learned that I do not come first. And that is a hard lesson, but one I think that makes me a better person. The ability to see each of the people in my life, whatever age as someone loved by a mom, and ultimately by their Creator.

I am BLESSED. I have learned that life with children will never go as planned, days will never go as planned, but God has it all in His plan. And that is okay with me, better than okay, it is grand.

I have learned that each day is a gift, to enjoy with these blessings, and each moment is a treasure, words spoken wise beyond years and hugs given without regard, simply because I am their mom. I am oh, so blessed, and thankful.

So I will keep counting my blessings
71. laughter of siblings
72. songs sung about chocolates jumping on the bed
73. bright eyes peering at me from under covers early in the morning
74. a sister who loves her brother, speaking affirmation in front of others, "you are so handsome!'
75. neighbors to celebrate with
76. food shared and prayers answered
77. a new church that feels like home
78. our old church that will always be like home
79. friends and family we have to miss.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." Humility

"Mommy, you spank me, but I NOT WISSENING TO YOU!"

Words spoken to this mom who, after 10 years of being a mom, still has NO idea what I am doing. It is so humbling to know that I will never get it right, and it makes me all the more grateful that my Father in Heaven always gets it right.

I am certain He is never rolling his eyes at me, trying to figure out what to do now that I have once again fought what is best for me.

This little girl has taught me that I am SO far from perfect. I thought after three children I would have this mastered. Oh, I could not be more wrong.

I will never forget the twenty week ultrasound with this wee one. We went in and I knew it the minute I saw it - nothing too alarming, but something very distinct. There were just two vessels in her umbilical cord. This had happened five years prior when I had my ultrasound with my second. I always joke with her that she has been high maintenance since then, keeping me on my toes. When you have a two vessel umbilical cord, it could mean that about five hundred things are wrong, or it could be nothing. So you have to go in for extra tests and get monitored and measured - high maintenance. My second was born perfectly healthy at 8 lbs 1 oz. And now five years later, only two vessels again. Tears stung my eyes as the fear of another wild little girl was going to join our family. I was terrified that I was going to have to do it all over again: the battles, the fights to try to teach this strong will but still let her be who God made her to be. I also cried with relief that my 5 year old spitfire would have someone who could understand her.

Then she was born, perfectly healthy 8 pounds with a little firework on her cheek - a mark that I did not know at the time would define her personality so perfectly. She was born almost on the 4th of July. And apparently the only thing that two vessels means in our family is feisty.

I am humbled every day by the responsibility I bare of raising this child - these children - fearing they will NEVER be able to actually participate in a normal society.

And, I am humbled by hearing how my voice sounds so much like hers when I am speaking to my Father. I can be disciplined, but I AM NOT LISTENING! I so often think I know what is best.

And here it is, this little two year old humbling me, teaching me that I do not know what is best. Actually, I often have no idea what is best. In fact, I get it wrong more often than not. She needed love at this time, not discipline. So thankful my Father always knows what is best.

So we rocked and I held her. She stopped screaming, and I rocked some more. And finally, she fell asleep.

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children"... The gift of touch

They came in and told me I had to feed him, his blood sugar was way too low, the explained all the reasons it could be, but right now, I just had to get him to nurse.

It was the middle of the night and my little boy was just not having anything to do with it. Just 6 hours old and already not cooperating. My third, I thought for sure I would have this down, but he would not work with me. I Was. So. Tired. They handed him to me and with all the tricks that had worked before, I tried to coax this little boy to nurse. He would not. So I cried and I held him against me. His little soft sweet skin against mine and we slept for a while. The nurses returned, and asked if I had gotten him to eat. "Maybe a little," I exaggerated. He had latched on but he was too tired and so was I. Exhausted from labor and love. They checked his blood sugar and he was fine, perfectly fine, as if he had fed. He had not fed at all, but he needed his mommy to hold him, to touch him.

Children who do not have the loving touch of a mother, do not thrive. And this child of mine was not thriving, he needed me, in the night, to just hold him.

We were created to need people, to need to be held and touched.

Last night as we rocked to sleep she kept reaching up and bringing my cheek to hers. To have our cheeks together, skin on skin, touching. Every time I thought she was asleep I would pick up my head and she would immediately startle and reach her little hand up, grab my face and bring it by hers, again, cheek to cheek and she would rest, until finally she slept.

I am not a "touch" person, I am not a person who greets with a big hug or any hug at all. I am a person who needs personal space. But through these little people who thrive off the touch of their mom I have learned what a precious gift it is.

And so much to be thankful for...
61. Little hugs and kisses and cheeks to hold against mine; 62. The promise of a rainbow
63. Piles of leaves that smell like fall; 64. laughter as children jump in; 65. stories read with hot chocolate after a day of play; 65. Holding hands as we walk slowly the speed of little two year old legs and talk about stories she has created about rivers and not being scared. 67. Full moons that light the sky on an early morning run. 68. yarn waiting for projects to be started. 69. my whole family together after being apart for a few days. 70. Plans made to visit friends and family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." Read and read and read some more.

Just over a month ago, we decided we were going to give up TV - except on Saturdays.

Being that I am not a rule-follower, I doubted it would stick, but the idea came from my ten-year-old, so I thought we could give it a try. They tend to worry and be hypochondriacs (a bit like me), so when I say TV makes their minds turn into mush, they put stock in it. I always said they should watch less TV, but I was also quick to turn to it when I don't know how to fill the time. So we jumped full in. The TV has been off most days; there have been a few exceptions, but the results of those exceptions have almost always been horrible. It seems that as soon as there is something to entertain us, all ability to take care of ourselves goes out the window. So we stick to our new rule as best as we can.

One result has been that we read more. Our evenings have ended with almost an hour of family reading. Even on Saturdays, we watch a movie and then end an hour early to get in some reading. This is a bit surprising to me, since I used to think that the last hour before bedtime would pass quicker with a television show. But it does not. We spend time together, doing something I love, reading. They each pick one book, and we read about fairies, ladybugs, and superheroes. Sometimes we read about magic spells and insightful principles, such as "a person's a person, no matter how small." Our days end better; they settle a little easier; and I feel like I did something worthwhile.

Another result has been that we read more during the day. My oldest is reading books I have not read, that maybe I should have read but skipped. And I have found that reading classic books allows me to think more clearly and more often. I have found the joy of reading over weeks. I tend to plow through books, but we are now reading some books just a chapter or two a day. We live in the books, and I miss the books when they are gone. (If you have not read the Tarzan books, I definitely recommend them!)

My second oldest is reading the Little House series, and she is learning to love stories and to enjoy sharing books with me and her sister who has already read them. There is joy in finding a kindred spirit who has experienced the book too and enjoyed the lives of the characters before.

My boy is learning to read. He is learning to put letters together to make sounds and sounds together to make words, and he is so proud. I am so proud. He works hard; he loves stories; and he loves making his own stories.

My littlest just loves books and repeats words and stories over and over. She is absorbing all she can.

I am finding that my kids are more creative and thoughtful as they read. I am finding that their minds work better for school. It has been a blessing for our entire family.

So, we read and read and read some more.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children"..Courage

The courage I am learning about is the kind that believes something is possible and then does it.

I want to protect my children, to keep them safe in a world that doesn’t seem so dangerous until you have little people you must protect from it. But I also want my children to be brave. I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to be willing to say something is wrong if that’s what it is.

I wrote yesterday on “voice,” and I have not stopped thinking about the word since. In particular, I have been thinking about the voice of a girl on the other side of the world that spoke up for girls in her country. She said that they should be able to go to school. As a result, a terrorist organization has vowed to kill her. She is brave. She knew something was wrong; she was willing to say it was wrong; and she spoke because she thought that change was possible. Her voice is now echoing around the world. She is fourteen.

I want my children to let their voices be heard. And I want them to do more than speak; I want them to act.

In election seasons especially, I want to say to my children, Regardless of what happens, you still have personal responsibility to speak the truth and to act on it. I suppose that during elections, I feel as though so much hope is hung on a person who promises to pass laws or put in place regulations that will change lives. It is easier to believe that someone else – someone with more power and resources than me – can fix this problem. But to not only identify a wrong but DO something about it, that is the brave part. That is the step of faith. I believe (deep breath) it is job of the Church to help people, and we often miss the mark on this one.

I agree with those who fight to make abortion illegal. But wouldn’t that voice be louder if every person who opposes abortion actually adopted a child or offered to help a mom who has no options?

What if we, the Church, bought a struggling family food or medicine? What if we made them a meals or watched the kids when the mom needs to work? Those actions are big; they are the ones that can change lives – really change them. Those are brave actions.

And what of this girl in Pakistan who is fighting for education? We support her in principle, but what if we DID something? What if we raised children that knew right from wrong, and did not settle for the wishy-washy-truth-is-relative stuff? What if we loved in the way Christ loved and actually DID something. I admit, I have no idea what the doing would be for this girl, for the girls in Pakistan who want to learn, but there must be a brave action here – doing, loving, meeting needs – that might actually make a difference.

And I am learning that my actions are being watched. Even though I am a mom with four kids, and I am simply trying to make it in and out of McDonald’s in one piece, if I take a moment to be brave, my children will see it. If I take a moment to buy that person who is in need a cup of coffee, they are watching. Even the little things take courage. And they are watching and learning to be brave with me as I put into action what I believe. Maybe, just maybe the significant change would come if I start living as if Mark 12:30-31 is true…

“’The most important [commandment],’ Jesus answered, ‘is this: “Love the  Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’”

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..." Finding my "Voice"

This post is written for Five Minute Fridays over at Lisa Jo Baker's blog. 
The rules are you get the word from her blog then write without editing(this is REALLY hard for me) for five minutes then stop and hit publish. Then you link up...

and then you go and absolutely comment on the post before yours.
So the word this week is ...



It is what they said I was missing, a voice. So odd it seemed since I hear myself speaking all the time, in words and in my head. But apparently it was not in my writing. You need to find your voice.

I get to pick?

My voice for writing, I have read it has something to do with your real voice, the one you hear in your head but then with something added to it. Whatever that looks like I am unsure. What I am sure of is my voice, the one I speak and the one in real life is always changing.

Sometimes my voice, is quiet, speaking words of love over sick little boys.

Sometimes my voice is full of laughter as I joke with my husband about putting the soap you use for washing dishes in the sink in the dishwasher and our kitchen fills with soap bubbles.

Sometimes my voice is full of tears as I talk with friends who have lost loves or are feeling hopeless.

Sometimes my voice is so loud as I am trying to make sure they hear me, since so far there has been no reaction to my request.

My voice is hard to find. Maybe my voice has multiple personalities.

And if I could pick a voice, one that is me, what would it look like, always?

I think I would pick the always full of grace one.

I know that is not what they are talking about or looking for, and I still am looking on finding a voice for writing, kind of an experiment in types as I write and write some more.

Looking for my writing voice, conscious of the one I speak.

Conscious also of how my voice, the one I speak, the words I use impact my children, husband, friends, and all those I meet throughout the minutes of the day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." Watching and Waiting

I heard a cry as I stepped out of my car after an early morning run. I looked, and staring at me was my sweet little girl. She had the door open and was just standing, watching. I ran to her and scooped her up in my arms. Every emotion and horrible thing that could have happened ran through my mind.

Everyone was still asleep. She had woken up and could not find me.

"What are you doing sweet girl?"
"I was watching for you mommy!" 
As I lay in my bed later again replaying all that could have gone wrong and thinking how to keep this fearless one from running off in the middle of the night on her own adventure this verse kept coming to my mind. 

"Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming--- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning--" Mark 13:35

In this moment of terror of all that could go wrong, I saw so clearly this picture of me, waiting, watching for the One I love, my Savior, who has promised He will return. Maybe, just maybe this is what that verse looks like. Waiting and watching for the One we are longing for to return.

(... and for those grandparents who are reading this, don't worry, we are working on a fix for this...the escaping from home in the middle of the night thing)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." The Practical Top 10

I had really no idea how to prepare for motherhood. I read several bits of books, got terrified, stopped reading them. I imagined what it would be like, and then, I became a mother. Nothing could have quite prepared me for it, the good and the bad.  I have learned so much about humility, things that matter in life, myself, my "issues," and my joys. I am so thankful for all the things I have learned.

However there are a few of the just obvious things that I have learned from motherhood, not the deep things that have challenged me to grow or think, but the practical things.

So, this is a list of the top ten practical things I have learned...

10. That "NO" will quickly become my least favorite word. Especially when screamed at the top of the lungs of any of my children when they have been asked to please obey their mother.

9. Sleep is a luxury

8. Humans can subsist on very small amounts of sleep for years at a time, although a few brain cells are lost in the process.

7. The most precious of gift I can give to my children is undivided attention.

6. Date night will soon look like sneaking in take out after kids are in bed, starting a movie, but then going to bed by 9, hoping to get at least two hours of sleep before someone little crawls in.

5. Books read aloud become markers in life. They are kind of like smells, reminding you of places. I have memories as a child of reading books with my mom curled up in sleeping bags while camping. Fond memories that I go back to whenever I see the book, 101 Dalmatians. And we are making memories of books read in different homes in different stages of life. So I read, lots and everything. As much as I heard it and still hear it, it is true. I can never read to them enough.

4. I will be expected to know the most random things, "Who is that person walking down the street?" or "Where is the ambulance headed?"

3. But my knowledge of things actually known will always be doubted. For example why my baby is crying or what we are having for dinner.

2. I would go from hating coffee, to enjoying it on occasion (but only the really fancy kind), to drinking it black if necessary to get through the day.

1. That I could possibly love someone so much, and then love the other little someones just as much. And that I would love them more each day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..." The Importance of Quiet

Tuesdays are the days that seem to never end. We go and go and go some more. It is lots of fun going, but a bit exhausting. So exhausting today that my little two year old who NEVER sleeps fell asleep at 6:45 in my arms.

There is something so beautiful, watching one of my favorite people in the world to listen to, actually be quiet. To soak in all her sweet smells and soft skin, while she sleeps in my arms. So rare is it that she rests, that she is quiet. After all she is two. Two and a every adjective that goes with typical two. Actually every adjective exaggerated. 

I have often wondered about how an introverted mom can raise an extroverted child, and she will be the one  that challenges me the most. She waves at every person on the street and volunteers to get up and talk in front of groups at two and a half. At thirty five it takes everything in me to be willing, but she is eager. She is loud and has so much to say. And on Tuesdays, she does not nap. And on Tuesdays, I get no quiet. Life goes at the speed of light and there is noise from the moment my feet hit the floor until all the little blessings are in bed, and then the ten times they get up to ask for extras.

My night usually ends with noise, noise of a movie or TV. But I have found at the end of a day of noise, I need quiet. I need to hear the voice in my head and not all the other ones that are blocking it out. I need quiet to appreciate the songs and laughter that make my day, but wear me out on days when that is all I hear. I need to sit and be quiet and wait. What if I am missing the very thing I am to be hearing because I stopped listening when the noise overwhelmed my ears.

Before children I had struggled with no noise. I hated to be home and not have a TV going or music on. Fearful, I might hear a noise I do not want to hear. But as a parent I have learned the precious gift quiet is, for restoring and renewing. 

I have learned the importance of quiet, which is about the third time I have written on quiet in the past month, apparently, I really am valuing this!

Still counting blessings
51. night in its quiet, dark, stillness
52. a cool refreshing breeze
53. watching my husband put off going to work so he can play catch with his son, and genuinely meaning it when he says, "I wish I could just do this all day with you."
54. a neighbor who comes over to share chocolate and sweet words.
55. the outdoor smell of children who have been playing for hours in the grass and riding bikes
56. a little girl asleep in my arms
57. a bed with way too many pillows and fluffy blankets to fall into at the end of a day
58. new running shoes
59. bright stars in the dark of early morning
60. laughing with new friends that makes them feel like old friends

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." To dream and live dreams

I spend hours with these children each day, and it is a gift, to see their strengths and weaknesses and joys and frustrations. It is encouraging and challenging to see how each child has been made, uniquely made. And it is a responsibility to see these children with the eyes of Jesus, and try to guide them to be the big people one day that God has called them to be.

It is a gift and a fear.

As I have struggled for years to figure that out, floundering. Bearing this weight of wanting to be someone they want to be like. With three girls I have fought how to be a woman they can admire. I want them to want to be like me, but I want to be someone worth being.

So I wrestle with living dreams and doing things that I have always wanted with fear of falling on my face in front of my children, but also fearful of not doing anything worth striving for.

So I dream and do things I love. I do things that make me, ME. I read and spend time in God's word. I experiment with cooking. I run. And I write.

I started running races when my son was just a couple of months old, and I did not win, but I became stronger. And my girls ran a race with me. They have goals of maybe running as far as mom when they are a little older, and maybe faster.

And, I went to a writer's conference four years ago, with the hope of making my dream of writing come true. It was a pretty awful experience. I am not going to say the conference because I still have mixed feelings about the conference itself, but overall I was told, "You will fail" and be told "No." They are right, to tell you that, but they also said that no one cares who you are until you are someone. I get the point, but it was frustrating. So I swept that one under the rug, but now four years later, it is coming back up. And I have started to write again. I know that if I ever step out a little more bravely from behind this blog I will fail, many times, but it is possible I may actually succeed a little. So it is worth it. To live a dream and have my children see that falling flat is part of life, but so is getting up and dusting myself off and stepping forward. And as I write I have a little girl who is starting to write and dream her dreams. She has written letters to several authors and they have written her back. She even read one of her stories to a group of peers. It was my favorite story of hers, and someone said it was "dramatic." She never wants to write again. But I need her to see that is part of life. People will give criticism, sometimes it is right and sometimes it is not. It is important to make you want to try harder, not to give up.

I am learning to live dreams and have dreams, to be willing to fall on my face and get up and dust off and keep going, for the sake of my children.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..." Selflessly Celebrating!

"It is NOT fair!"
"They always get to do the fun thing." "So, can we watch a movie and eat chocolate and drink lemonade?!"
"They got to go to a water park and sleepover, and I only got my hair cut and ear's pierced!"
"SHE got her hair cut and ear's pierced and I only got to go to a water park!"

I want to just say, "Life is not fair." And usually that is what I say, because if we face it, life is not fair. And I finish with, "If we want to start comparing life stories, you need to watch out, because mommy will tell you what is not fair."

But this is a deeper issue. It is more than just not fair. It is unkind, not that they get to do it, but that their family will not celebrate with them.

I have been there many times in my life, when some person suddenly is successful at something I have tried for so long to be good at; OR usually something I have not really tried that hard to be good at, but just wanted to be good at. I fester and grow angry with that person, and life and all its unfairness. Because it is not FAIR. But life is not fair. And it is a deeper issue. I am being unkind. Because I am to love God and love my neighbor as myself. Those are the commandments I am told to obey. The first and second greatest ones. And here I am in my sin, angry at this person. I should be celebrating with them; I should be praying for them.

It is like a magnifying glass when I see it in my children. This is me, pointing out a speck in my children's eyes when there is a log in my own eye.

I want my children to be excited when one wins a race, or gets to go on a special trip. Because is it not more fun to actually celebrate with someone? When something good happens, how much greater is it to celebrate with someone who we know will rejoice with us? How much greater is someone who says, "That sounds like so much fun! I cannot wait to hear about it!" Or, "I am so proud of you, you deserve it after all your work!" It is so much better than someone who says, "That is not fair! Why do you always get the good things!" And starts complaining and comparing, rather than rejoicing.

I am thankful for friends in my kids lives that do this with them, that set an example for them and for me of what a genuine friend looks like - one that is loving their neighbor as themselves; a friend who offer to secretly let my daughter use her American Girl doll and pretend it is her and promises not to tell anyone that it is not; friends who genuinely pray for them and ask how they are doing; friends who want the best for us. Those friends are so rare and so unlike what the world wants us to be. It looks so odd but so beautiful in a world that is all about itself.

I am learning with my children to celebrate each other and with each other. I am learning to look different than what the world wants and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I am learning to selflessly celebrating!

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children.." Look

This post is written for Five Minute Fridays over at Lisa Jo Baker's blog. 
The rules are you get the word from her blog then write without editing(this is REALLY hard for me) for five minutes then stop and hit publish. Then you link up...

and then you go and absolutely comment on the post before yours.
So the word this week is ...


She is smiling from ear to ear all decked out in her fancy pants and shirt, her purple fuzzy boots her hair done in cute pig tails and nails freshly painted by her sister. She does not even have to say it, she wants me to look, to see her.

And I do, I look and I see her, but I see past all the cuteness to a little girl who longs to be noticed by someone. And I am happy to fawn over her, but also worried about what lies ahead for all my girls who want someone to look, but more for someone to see them, to notice them.

And is not that what we want in life, from people, to be seen? And yet each day I drive by people in need, people wearing their purple boots and perfectly picked outfit in hopes that someone will notice, will see them.  But I do not I am so caught up in my world.

Sometimes I do not want to look because they are not wearing really cute boots, and I am afraid they will think I am staring or being rude, but am I seeing them? I look away because I am ashamed and unsure what to do.

They need me to notice though, to see them and acknowledge them. AND to look at them as more than a need or cute boots, but as a precious child created in the image of God.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." Pray

"Pray! Mommy, Please Pray!" She screams at the top of her lungs. We have stopped for a bathroom break at a gas station in a tiny bathroom where she is screaming. And I am trying to not scream back, unsuccessfully, "Just go to the bathroom! You just HAVE to go! We still have an hour til we get there! You have to go!" But to this little girl there was nothing more frightening than an automatic flushing toilet. And here in this bathroom she is screaming, "Mommy pray!" Because at two, she knew, with childlike faith that the only way out of this situation was prayer.

And every night we pray and after we pray they come again for more prayers. "Please pray that I not be scared." And we do, we pray, and sometimes I think it is silly to pray the same thing every night, knowing that they are fine, but I do it. And I am reminded of my need to pray, to keep asking. So I pray for them to not be scared, for their safety and their bravery.

We have prayed together for a job and a house; for friends and provision. And God has answered.

And we rejoice when God answers.

We have prayed for friends in need and friends who are sick and friends who need jobs. And we wait. Because for now that is what we need to do.

And, we keep seeking God.

We pray for our daily bread and God's continued provision. We pray with out ceasing for mercy and grace, words whispered when we have nothing left to say on our own, "Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me."

And we pray, prayer is something we do as a family.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..."Joy overflows

Joy is obvious. Joy overflows.

This suffering, this time for me, is like a hill that does not end, the kind that might not be so severe it makes it hard to breathe but the kind that wears me out because I have been enduring for so long and do not see an end in sight.

And then, every once in a while, right in the middle of suffering, a blessing comes. The suffering does not end, but right where I least expect it, blessing.

I am reminded that all blessings are from above. So often, though, I attribute that to something I did, something I deserve. But that is wrong. Blessings are all from God.

James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

And every once in a while He has one just for me, and I cannot help but laugh because joy overflows. God met me so personally, met me so obviously, met a need I had that I wanted to shout from the rooftops, "How GREAT is my God!" Joy was obvious, so obvious that my children noticed. They comment on their mom who is in such a good mood. And the joy overflow flows to them. They change too.

And we are reminded of our blessings, our things to be thankful for, our list of counting blessings:

41. personal blessings from my Father above;
42. the chance to share joy with my family;
43. the chance to share suffering with my family;
44. praying through joy and suffering with my family;
45. running partners that laugh with me;
46. running partners that listen to me when I need to just keep talking;
47. deer that meet us early in the morning for our runs, just so we get a chance to see God's beautiful creation in the stillness of dark;
48. the excitement of starting a new book;
49. the joy of listening to one of my children tell me about the adventure in their book;
50. watching my son practice his drawing, so he can grow up to be an artist like his daddy one day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..."Thankfulness

"Mom - mom - MOM!" She whispers it not-so-quietly. I roll over to check the time. It reads 1:00 a.m.
"What?" I ask in a haze.
"I just wanted to thank you for helping me when I was scared last night, and to let you know you were right." She whispers. "Good night, mommy!"

"MOM!" She whispers again not-so-quietly. Again, I check the clock. It is now just after three in the morning.
"What?!" I whisper again, a bit annoyed because her baby sister is now sleeping next to me.
"I just wanted to let you know that I am so thankful for you helping me last night when I was scared. Good night!"
"Good night!" I whisper back.

How can I possibly be upset with this little girl who is so thankful for a mom who prays with her and lays with her when she is scared, a mom who lets her know it is going to be okay. I think I got a little short tempered as we were facing storms, which I am terrified of, and the baby was up, refusing to sleep. She kept saying she wanted to be helpful, but was just really scared. I kept praying for her. She then got concerned about throwing up, and I decided to head that off by offering her five dollars if she did actually throw up. That way, it was a win-win. If she did throw up, she got five dollars; if not, she was fine. And it seemed to work. The baby settled; we cuddled up in her bed; and she fell asleep, safe and sound.

And somehow in that, in the chaos of a night, I had comforted her in a very imperfect way. AND she was thankful.

How much more then does my Heavenly Father provide comfort for me? Do I wake up to praise Him in the middle of the night when I think of his provision, his mercy, his grace, his comfort? Oh, what a blessing it is to be reminded to be thankful.

SO, my list continues, my list of thankfulness:
31. God's provision, when I have no idea how it will work out;
32. Words of comfort;
33. children's laughter;
34. God's promises;
35. Being woken up to a child who is THANKFUL;
36. New friends who make amazing cake, and celebrate with me;
37. Facebook that reminds me I have lots of friends and they make me feel loved on my birthday;
38. A husband who gives me a day just to myself;
39. A husband whose favorite thing is making me laugh;
40. new friends who learn with my children.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." I am Loved

Today is my birthday

I got to spend the day drinking coffee, reading, shopping and getting my hair cut.

After a greeting of cards...

and I am LOVED by the loves of  my life!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." True Beauty

This post is a rewrite from one I wrote a year and a half ago. (here)

Running in the way only a three year old can, catapulting himself through the air, he landed on the lap of his dear great-grandmother. We were up visiting for just a short trip.

It is always dear to me to see him with my grandma. He is named after my grandpa, who passed away just a month before my first little girl was born. And he is another David that has a strong affection for my grandma. One time, he forgot to say goodnight to her, so he ran downstairs and quickly hugged and kissed her goodnight. Another time, he realized she did not have a drink, so he ran to the cooler and found her a Mountain Dew. She had not asked for a drink, but he had just noticed she did not have one and decided to get the Mountain Dew for her.

He is always so happy to see her, and shows it in the way a three year old boy does - which usually involves a lot of activity. So this run with a leap through the air made me nervous, but he settled himself on her lap. He started to examine her  hands, tracing the lines and turning them over.

"They are old hands," she said, sounding a bit embarrassed.

He kept looking at them tracing and turning for another minute or two, and then he looked at me with big eyes and said, "MOM! Did you see them? They are BEAUTIFUL!"

They are beautiful, beautiful because she had lived, raising six children, two of whom were adopted, caring for grandchildren and loving great grandchildren. She has a Master's degree in education and was a school teacher for years. Those beautiful hands used for years to hold little children, comb little hair, and make meals for all those she cared for. Those hands were used to knit sweaters and hats. Hands used to hold littler hands while praying. And hands used to hold books and read to children. I have memories of sitting on the porch of her house picking green beans and popping the beans out. And memories of picking apples in their small apple orchard that then turned into applesauce and apple pie. And hands, her beautiful hands, now held this little three year old

She has lived a LIFE and her hands showed that, and that is what makes True Beauty.

This post is linked up to Titus 2 Tuesdays...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children.." I will never love you too much

The chubby arms of my two year old are wrapped tight around my neck, little gasps of air, hot tears on her cheeks, and she whispers, "I just want you mommy; I love you."

"I love you too, baby, and I want you too." I whisper it back in her little ear.

Swaying gently, prayers are prayed, another song sung. Her little body gets heavier as she settles into my arms. The gasps for air become a little less frequent. Knowing she is loved so much, she can rest. For now, she sleeps.

And just for a moment, nothing else matters but this little girl. And words spoken at some place and time come again into my mind: "They will never say you loved them too much."

I could never love them too much.

In their grown up conversations about all the things their mom did wrong - yelled too much, did not listen enough or was too busy - the one thing they could not say, was that their mom loved them too much. Because it is not possible to love a child too much. Not in the spoiled, give-them-everything-they-want way, because that is not love, but in the I-know-my-mom-will-ALWAYS-be-there-when-I-need-her way.

And I pray that she will know I always love her...

Even when we fight over bed time;

When she scratches her brother, fighting for her words to be heard over all the noise of her siblings;

And she sits in time out, screaming.


I will always love her...

When she wakes up with a crazy head of hair and her first thought is to hide and ask, "Who can find me?!";

When she laughs so hard, covers her mouth, and falls down;

When she finishes our game, and I ask, "Whatcha doin'?"
She answers, "Eatin' chocolate."
"Where'd you get it?"
"From dad." She says.
"Where's dad?"
She laughs, "Eatin' chocolate."
And we laugh 'til our sides hurt because when you are two and loved, there is not much else better.

I love her when she pretends to be hurt and then, when we all go to take care of her, she yells, "GOTCHA!" at the top of her lungs and again falls over laughing.

I love her when she kisses her siblings over and over with messy two year old kisses, "I WUV YOU SO MUCH!"

And I won't mess this up because I can't be wrong if I love her too much.

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Learned from my Children" They will do as they see Done

I have been writing about 31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children" and I recently wrote a post here about how running makes me a better mom.  Today the word for Five Minute Fridays over at Lisa Jo Baker's is "Race" This brings up an entirely different reason I run. So for five minutes here are my thoughts on "race."


I started late at the whole racing thing, I was thirty when I ran my first race. It was a 25k, just over 15 miles of running. I had not been a runner my whole life, in fact I could hardly able to make it half of a mile without falling over gasping for air. But as an adult, I decided to start running, to try. I ran a block. I would get up every morning and run one block, then two then three, finally up to three miles. I got stuck there, at three miles. I ran three miles every day for years. UNTIL one day I met someone who said she would train with me for a race. And so we ran together. And I learned the benefit of friends and running. I learned how misery DOES sometimes love company and the joy of setting a goal and reaching it. When race day came, I was all nerves and excitement. We ran the entire race together, and at the end I was exhausted and thankful to be finished.There was nothing remarkable about the way I raced, it was very average. But then I found my family. And my three beautiful children and husband were PROUD of me. I had finished a race.

Days later the girls were playing a game of pretend. One would cheer as the other came around the corner RUNNING her own race. And I realized how significantly even these things I do, for myself are impacting the little minds of my children. That every day I have an opportunity to set an example, to build in them something good. And, they will do as they see done.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." What a Mother Needs to Know.

Some people are born to be moms, like my 7 year old, who, when she was just 9 months old crawled to a wash cloth and then her baby doll and started gently wiping her face. Some are more like my boy who, when giving his baby doll a bath, decided to use the spit and shine method.  However much we love and want these blessings, we are completely unprepared for all that lies ahead. They do not teach this stuff in school, and I have yet to see a Little House on the Prairie episode that shows baby Carrie screaming for an hour about not going "sleepy"

We read books about sleep habits and foods to feed our children. We do research for how to deal with a "strong willed" child and get them on a schedule. And we learn some, bits and pieces that work with some children and not with others.

But somewhere along the way, we learn all the things that make a mom a mom. And these are the little things, not the cooking, cleaning, changing of diapers, which are so important, but also the little things that make a child know they are loved by their MOM.

Moms know...

That kisses can heal just about any booboo.

When a child falls off a bike based on the scream to follow, and from that whether it is a serious injury or not.

How to respond when awoken by a child with a cup of ice stuck on her face, to not panic or laugh at the moment; laughter may come later, but this is a time to just fix.

When tears are flowing over heartache, of friends missed and fear of not having new friends, to put down her own lifelong fears of rejection and make new friends.

That there are fights worth fighting and some to let go. And the ones worth fighting, she fights for and hard because they are fights for this child's heart.

Dreaming with children and encouraging them in who God has made them is one of the greatest gifts she can give.

That they will always fall short and make mistakes, but...

They are who God chose to raise these children, so they will face each day with courage (and coffee) and do their best.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." I will never be ALL that they need, but I am enough.

I will never be ALL that they need, but I am enough.

I can try to fix it all, to make it better, to protect them from every heartache and suffering in life. And I very well might try, but I will fail, because I am not ALL.

I have written earlier here about my little girl coming to me in tears about not knowing what to say to make friends. I was overwhelmed with her honesty and heart. And I was angry at the world for not just wanting to be her friend. I did not have all the words, I had my words which I could not speak because they were not helpful or uplifting, but I held my tongue, and I held my girl and we talked a little about what would be good to say, it was far from all she needed to hear, but it was enough.

Cries in the dark, a nightmare that disturbs the precious sleep, and all I can do is hold him, rock him and pray for peace. I can not fix it ALL, but I can hold tight until it is over, enough.

"I met a girl today who has a friend whose parents are not Christians." "I think that would be really hard, to be a Christian and not have parents who are Christians."

Words spoken in passing, as I am tucking in blankets and children ready for bed. This moment seems profound. A moment where she may have realized the blessing of parents who love the Lord, and compassion, a heart that aches for a girl who does not. But what do I say, nothing. I am inadequate to explain it to her. How very right she is that must be hard, and how blessed she is to have parents who do BELIEVE. Instead, I hug her and tell her I love her. The words I have are not all she needs, but they are enough.

Tears flow for things missed, for people missed, for life missed, grieving a life that has changed. I understand the grief, I have it too. And maybe that is why I do not have all the words they need to hear to make it all okay. I only have some words. Words of understanding and encouragement, but words that are not ALL they need, just words that are enough. Enough to know that they are heard and loved, but that I can not make it all right.

And I think it is good, I think the enough is ENOUGH. Because if I was all, they would not have need for a Father in Heaven who is ALL they need. A Father who loves them and loves a heart that is thankful. A Father in Heaven who grieves with a child whom He loves, and heals a heart that is broken because HE is ALL they need. My enough is so inadequate, but it leaves room for  the Lord's complete, the Lord's ALL.

Psalm `16:5 "Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

This post is submitted to Walk with Him Wednesdays at A Holy Experience

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my children." Running makes me a better mom

My ears sting from the cold and my hands are a bit numb. My feet in rhythm, striking the ground as the world is flying by and I am doing something, moving forward.  So far from the normal rest of my day which involves cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, REPEAT and no forward motion ever seems to be made, just a circle that I get back to, to start again. Most of the world is asleep, but I am awake, alive, my mind clearing for all the to do's that lie ahead. But for now, I am free. I am running.

And running, I have learned makes me better. I am a better mom (and wife) because I run. It may be that I could be better with some other sport or activity. In fact, I am pretty sure it would. But for now, for this time in my life, running works. I can run whenever there is a spare moment or before the moments of the day have even started.

My mornings work better. My time is more organized. Some days I run with friends. Words exchanged with the only grown up I see all day. And sometimes I run by myself and I can plan for all that needs to bed done, OR I can just dream about life, OR I can just think of nothing for miles. And I get to make that decision myself.

Those days, the ones I run, are usually the days my patience stretches a little longer. Those are the days, my "to dos" get checked off a little quicker. And I feel strong, ready to take on whatever the day holds. Some days, when I have not slept at all, and morning has come too quickly, I still get up and run. Because I know, the day will be better if I do.

Just recently my four year old took off on his two wheel bike, and this new found freedom has allowed for me to do something I have not done since my oldest was a baby, nine years ago. I have started running with them. They hop on their bikes, the two year old in a jogging stroller and we go, running faster than I would by myself to keep up with the energy of children ready to go! And I get to share part of my world with them, my running world. And they get to see me in part of my world that was always a secret, the one that happens before their sleepy eyes are even awake. They stumble out of bed curl up in my lap and ask, "How was your run mom!" I love that they know I run. And I love that they get to be part of that  world sometimes now, when life is maybe a little extra hard, and a second run is necessary, or the morning got a way from me and I missed the run. They join with me.

But sometimes it has to be just mine. Still my time, to restore in the wee hours of the day.

And so I run, knowing I am a better mom because I do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children..." Sometimes the best thing is to just slow down

This may be a cop out on my goal of posting every day for 31 days. However, after a night of VERY little sleep and a day with even less rest, I am reminded of the importance of slowing down. I have learned that sometimes the best thing for my family and I is to stop trying to complete the "to do list", just walk away and rest.

Also in a world that is full of hurt and heartache, I am holding on to little ones and spending time just spending time with them.

So that is all for tonight. Slowing down and counting my blessings...

21. A pile of books ready to be read to littles all in warm pjs with freshly brushed teeth.
22. A baby who is sleeping safely in her bed.
23. Cool night air
24. Feet that heal
25. Running
26. New friends, more and more new friends
27. The sneaky smile of a two year old stealing almonds
28. Songs that people are gifted enough to write, that speak to my heart in a way my own head won't
29. A Heavenly Father that hears the cries of our heart, even if we can only whisper them
30. A Father who forgives a hundred times over

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children"...the need to create

Red, yellow and green hand prints covered the white walls and carpet. Thoughts of, "What is wrong with these people!" and "Their parents are going to kill me!" are running through my head as I am wrangling these two children I have agreed I will babysit. I was a freshman in college and I could not believe this was happening to me. I swore up and down that if I ever had children they would NEVER act this way.

BUT years later...

My little one year old has completely colored herself in black marker, herself and her chair.

Black paint is covering the walls, floor, chair and feet of my little boy.

And, I can feel my hair standing on end as I once again ask, in a voice getting close to a shout, "PLEASE PICK UP ALL THE PIECES OF PAPER OFF THE FLOOR!" and while you are at it, "please pick up all the glue, stickers, markers and crayons AS WELL!"

As much as I try to stifle it; to hide all the craft supplies, the tape and glue and markers and scissors they somehow manage to find them and scatter them EVERYWHERE! and I have now turned to screaming... "NEVER AGAIN WILL YOU HAVE ANY CRAFT SUPPLIES!"

But really, it does not matter, because created in the image of God, our creator.




And I look so much like them, craving writing, knitting, sewing, cooking. I have to make something. I. Must. Create.

And sometimes for us that means messy creation, but there is something about creating that makes them, us, alive. There is something fulfilling in the creating process. We have a need to create.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my children..." There is a time to be quiet

In the quiet of the morning after a run, I sit next to her and listen, as she pours out her heart, a dream that she does not understand. A dream that breaks her heart and mine as I realize my little girl is not so little.

And I hold my tongue, eager to just keep her talking. I hold back the advice that a mom is so quick to give.

She has been talking for the ENTIRE twenty minutes of our walk, I mention it, but only in kidding, eager again to just hear all that is on her heart. Hesitant to give any words that might stop the heart she is sharing; a heart full of joy at my undivided attention.

There is a time for a mom to listen to be quiet and wait. It is so difficult to not impart all my wisdom on their little ears. But those moments I am quiet are when I get to hear their hearts.

Hearts full of...

Fears of change, growing up, and the unknown.

Joys of friends, growing up and new things learned.

Dreams of stories, GROWING UP and all that happens in their imagination.

And for these moments while they are still young and willing to share... I will be quiet and listen, eager to be part of their worlds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children...." Welcome

This 31 Days post is also part of 5 minute Fridays over at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog. The idea is you get a word and write on it for 5 minutes, and then you hit publish. Today's word is "Welcome"


"Can we have them over?" "Please mom!" "Lets have them over for dinner and maybe they can stay and spend the night!"

My children are quick to welcome new people into our home, pretty certain that every person they meet is just a friend waiting to be made.

My response is usually "No!"

Don't they understand the meaning of this "Welcome to my home!" It means bathrooms need scrubbing, floors need washing, vacuuming needs doing and fresh cookies need baking. And there is no way I have time for all that. But their persistent nagging finds lets me give in to one "Yes" (usually once a week) And I work like crazy and secretly am thankful that I have a reason to actually clean my house.

They walk in and children scatter and toys are messed and play is had and the messier it gets I tell myself, the more fun they had. And cookies are eaten and milk spilled.

And new friends are made or old friendships are renewed. I realize the cleaning may not have been necessary as the mess has nudged back in. I am thankful to share my home and food with friends, and realize that the "Welcome" is more than a neat house and cookies, it is the door opening, saying we want you to be part of our life. You are WELCOME here, even in the mess of life, we want you to be part of life with us, because friendship is important.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days of "Things I Have Learned from my Children..." There is a time for joy

Days and weeks of fighting with my two year old have left me more than a little disheartened... BUT the thing that has killed me is the fight before bed. The one that is usually necessary for her to finally fall quiet into sleep. Sometimes it seems that she actually needs this fight, to release all the extra energy necessary for rest. But I hate it. I hate putting my little girl down to sleep after a battle, knowing it will (hopefully) be hours before I see her again.

SO we have come up with new things, a new routine, it involves rocking in a chair, singing songs about stars and "gucks" (ducks) and then me praying over her until she reluctantly gives into sleep. And my heart is quiet and full of joy knowing that in the end we made it without a fight.

And I am reminded of other times I chose joy.

Times when we laughed instead of dwelling on a moment of sorrow.

Times when we told funny stories instead of being afraid in the dark.

The times we play funny games in the grocery store to avoid the screams of being TRAPPED in a cart!

Times they asked me to tell a funny story about growing up or a fun adventure I had been on, when they are sick.

We chose to find joy, laughter, rather that the sadness or frustration of the moment.

And what in the situations of discouragement and frustration of my life should I choose? I should choose to remember God's faithfulness, to tell myself my own stories of God's goodness and blessing. I should find moments to laugh when I am taking life too seriously. And I should spend a few minutes with a giggling child when I am worn out with disappointment.

Because there is a choice.

And there is a time to choose joy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of "Things I have Learned from my Children"....Princess on a Plane

This is one of my favorite stories, I tell it every chance I get honestly. And maybe it is not a thing I learned from my children as much as a thing I learned with my children. My oldest daughter to be exact.

It happened years ago, 9 actually. We were living in Oregon at the time and a dear friend of mine was getting married in Wisconsin. I was in the wedding so heading back for all the celebration. We only had enough money for one ticket so I was traveling by myself with my baby girl. She was just four months old at the time.

It was one of the nightmare flights that make you never want to get on a flight again. We were taking a little plane from our small town in Oregon to Denver, CO and hit some really bad turbulence. I had to stay in my seat, but my darling little girl was SO fussy. The nice flight attendant offered to walk her up and down the aisles during the short flight. All the turbulence had delayed our flight. I had a connecting flight in Denver to Minneapolis where I was meeting my sister to drive over for the wedding. The flight attendants knew I had this connection so called ahead to the airport to let the flight know we were coming. They also arranged for a little cart to be waiting since we had to get to the other side of the airport. All the other passengers let us off the plane first, and we hopped on that cart and flew through the airport at the top speed of maybe 5mph, as fast as the cart can go. When we got to the gate, I realized that there was no one waiting or boarding.

"Did they wait? We called ahead to say I was coming!" I was angry. The plane had boarded and was taxiing down the runway.

"Are there any more flights tonight?" They told me no. I was going to have to get a taxi, find a hotel, spend the night and come back the next morning and see if I could get on one then.

Tears filled me eyes. "Can you ask them to come back for us, please!" I don't know how I asked, if it was in whisper through tears or yelling in frustration. But they did, they called the plane.

Hung up the phone.

And said,"They are on their way back... to get you."

We boarded that plane, messy mom, weary and teary eyed with a screaming four month old. And people stared. I am pretty certain there was some disappointment in the eyes of the passengers as I sat down in my seat. I am also pretty certain that they planned to at least see someone famous, someone important. And my heart started beating faster, I am nobody, but I AM a daughter of the King of Kings, a princess, whose Abba Father put it on the heart of the pilot to turn that plane around and come back and get His child. He then carried that plane through the air making us arrive at our destination without one bump twenty minutes early with all our luggage on board.

It does not always happen that way, but sometimes, sometimes in the rain.. that is when the blessing comes, right in the midst of a storm. Blessings poured as gifts from heaven!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Things I Learned from my Children...hard work pays off

The encouragement and cliches roll of my tongue...

"Things worth doing are hard!"

"If it was not hard, you would not be learning anything!"

"It builds character!"

Sitting with discouraged children trying to learn math facts, memorize dates on a timeline or sounding out difficult words. It is what days in our house often look and sound like. They are frustrating and a lot of work. I often do not understand what I am missing in teaching them and they do not understand what they are missing in learning.

But I keep cheering and teaching, and they keep working. Sometimes for weeks... we work on something, sometimes months.

But then all of a sudden, it makes sense! All the, "I will never be able to do this!" Turns into "I can not believe I learned this!"

And the things that are a struggle, the things that take more time are put on the pedestal for further cheering, because she did learn all the dates on her timeline, of course, with some hard work, she can learn those spelling words.

Each day they learn more, their minds growing at speeds I could hardly fathom when I started this whole homeschooling "thing." And I am encouraged because suddenly the hard work is paying off, and they, we, are seeing the fruits of our labor.

And I am reminded of my cheers, "Things worth doing are hard." Writing is hard, but it is something I want to do and something that needs practice, so I do it in hopes that there will be fruit in my labor. Training for a race or just running at 6:00 in the morning is hard, but they are worth the hard to get a result.  And relationships are work and hard, but they are worth doing.

The satisfaction knowing that it was worth it, all the hard, which led to the "I can't believe I did it!"

This is part of a 31 Days Series,on Things I have Learned from my Children. For the first post in this series click here.

This post is also linked to Titus 2 Tuesdays

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Things I Learned from My Children... Determination

Arms crossed, furrowed brow, and head that shakes in defiance - a snapshot of determination. She is pushing, testing to see what her boundaries are, but also fighting for a cause she absolutely believes in. And I am amazed at the conviction of this little two year old. I often wonder in the midst of one of our now daily struggles what my life would be like if I had just an ounce of her will.

A couple of days ago it was unfortunately about a "boogie" (her brother's boogie, to be exact) that her mother made her throw into the garbage. She was attempting to place it in my COFFEE! The fit that followed with garbage cans thrown and screams that shook the walls was staggering. She fought and battled with me for her need to have what she wanted, what she thought was hers. With complete reckless abandon, she fought for her cause.

Today the fit lasted one hour and twenty minutes - an hour and twenty minutes to say sorry to her brother for pulling his hair. I do not think it actually hurt him, all of our reaction was the same when he reported on it: "What hair?" But she said she had done it and was NOT apologizing. Over an hour later, she finally caved and hugged her brother with an apology. But this will, this determination, if directed in the right place just might do something or change something.

Through it all, my mind kept racing. "What if I had this determination? determination to yell louder? to SCREAM for things I TRULY believe in? for things that are right and good? What if I fought so hard for the things that needed fighting for? if I set my feet on the ground and said, NO! I am not standing for this! I am not caving on this one!" I think it is possible that if, at times, the right times, I followed the full-of-heart determination of my little, strong-willed baby girl, just maybe I might make a tiny difference in the world.

One of the things that makes my heart want to CRY OUT for justice and God's mercy is children without a place, whether that is because they have no home or parents to care for them OR their place as children has been stolen, replaced by a world full of people wanting to harm them. I often feel my hands are tied with life and responsibility. What I do is so little, but I just registered for the One Heart for Justice 5k this weekend that raises money for and knowledge about two groups, Titus Task and Ezekiel Rain, which are working on restoring the lives of orphans in NW Arkansas, Haiti, and Thailand. I am excited to learn more about these groups whose hearts beat with a similar beat as mine. And maybe join with other voices to scream for what is RIGHT and GOOD.