Life is in the Interruptions

Interruptions, oh how I am constantly being interrupted. Many days I do not sit down to eat until two o’clock…. By the time I feed the baby, prepare my daughter’s meal, then take her to the bathroom, change the baby’s diaper, get them both down for naps at the SAME TIME! (That’s my goal anyway!)

Interruptions are a way of life. It took me 34 years to figure that out!  I hope this helps you know that before 34 years!  I have finally come to expect that I will never be able to complete one task in a day, or at least not while I have a three year old and a baby.  It is just…not… happening.  I try, oh, how I try. I start to unload the dishwasher, then it’s “Mommy, I need to go potty”.  I try again, then the baby starts crying. Then the dog needs to go out. Then I turn my back, and my daughter is handing her seven month old brother paper to chew on and hard peppermints within his reach! (I know, I should have moved the peppermints! Don’t worry, I did after that!)

I have finally just decided to accept my interrupted life. That’s not a bad thing. I’ve decided to change my perspective. If you can’t change the circumstance, then change the way you look at things. When I look at my children as interruptions, then my day goes much smoother.  I expect to be interrupted every five minutes.  And that’s OKAY. This is just a season. My children need me now, they will not always need me. God made me to be their mom, the dishes can wait.

I often think this is how Jesus felt. He was constantly interrupted as well. He was constantly giving, with very little in return.  I wonder if he ever got frustrated?

Just this evening, I was actually sweeping the floors (this is a rarity in my house! Who has time for that?).  My daughter was “helping”, and by helping I mean sweeping my piles of dirt out of their piles in order that I had to sweep again! She was trying to be helpful. It’s really my fault for showing her how and buying her a mini broom. (Yes, I did!) How often were people trying to help Jesus, and they just made it worse. What did Jesus do in those moments?

I think so many times we focus on life in between the interruptions, on the tasks on hand. We so often forget that Life is IN the interruptions.  Our life is those little interruptions:  the baby crying in the night, sticky hands hugging you, tears that need wiping, knees that need to be kissed and cleaned. Our life is in those phone calls from a friend who needs you. Or perhaps it’s in putting down your electronics to look your spouse in the eye. Maybe it’s the person in the hall at work or school who is lost, just needing directions and guidance. Take Martha, for instance. She was a busy woman, and I think she may have been a little resentful of Mary. Mary was her interruption. She had to stop what she was doing to go ask Mary to help. I can relate.  BUT, Jesus had it more right. He delighted in the interruption. He saw Mary’s heart and accepted her. He loved her. He loved Martha too; he just needed her to stop and slow down, to take joy in the interruption.

I’m not saying I’m great at this. Not in the least.  I am a work in progress, and I am just praying along the way that I don’t screw my kids up too bad.  I probably would have been a Martha. But when I look back on my life, I want to remember what I did with my life of interruptions.

Remember, Life is in the interruptions.

What interruptions have you had today?

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The Middle of Nowhere: How I Learned to Love More

I’m visiting grandparents this week. They live in the middle of nowhere at least 5 miles down a country dirt road. I am not exaggerating! This is not where I grew up, my dad moved here for his job my freshman year in college.

Everything here seems so much more expansive. You can see stars for miles. You can see all sorts of creatures. We see birds, flowers, bees, spiders, lizards, raccoons, and even the occasional deer or fox.  Of course we can see most of these at home, but somehow it seems more impressive, more expansive, bigger.

Life is slower. There is no rushing here and there, partly because it’s the way of life, and partly because there are just not that many choices. You can only drive so fast over a 5 mile gravel road with potholes. There is so much to do, yet so little. My daughter has a huge forest land to run and play in, a nature park right outside the door. “Granny” has tons of old toys and books which are completely new to my daughter.  There are birds to watch, lizards to catch, bees to run from. There is plenty of space to throw a ball that does not entail mommy chasing it down a steep hill (our current home situation)! The best part of all: there are at least 2 other people to give her attention: Granny and Granddaddy!

I love my city, my house, my life. I don’t wish to move to the country (though I would not rule it out), but the country is a nice place to visit. This country place reminds me of just how beautiful life can be. It shows me how to be present and oh, how the opportunities abound for teaching about how awesome our God is. How majestic is His name!

“Can you count the stars?”  “Isn’t it amazing how God made all these stars.” “Look how many variety of flowers there are; it looks like a painting.” “How great is it that God gave you so many people who love you.”   “Look how God made the lizards and spiders.”

This country place makes me stop. It makes me slow down. This place reminds me to appreciate the world God has given to me and to respect it. It reminds me to share my love of God with my children and with others.  There is something about an old porch swing that gives you answers, answers that were in front of me all along.

1. Point out God’s wonder and beauty around you. God made the butterflies, the stars, and you. Just like you can’t count the stars, you can’t measure how great is God’s love for you.

2.  Spend Thirty Minutes a Day with your loved ones.  I’m currently reading Purposeful Parenting, by Jean S. Barnes. She suggests to spend 30 minutes a day with our loved ones.

“Practicing the Thirty Minutes a Day Rule became intentional- and turned into so much more. By intentionally making thirty minutes a day for simply delighting in one another, we learned how to really pay attention to each other in snatches too…. Looking for ways to give one another undivided attention became a lifestyle, and it strengthened our relationships just like layer upon layer of glue holds things together, because nothing makes the ones you love feel more cherished than your attention, your constant practice of being there. In being there, I discovered another wonderful practice in how to show the kind of love that’s transforming. This practice is about seizing extraordinary moments that might otherwise pass you by as ordinary. It’s about seeing the cracks in your child’s soul, where values, discoveries, and new ideas can be planted and begin to seep in and take root.”

I say we take this a little further, and also apply it to significant others or anyone else we may be living with at the moment, be that a roommate, a parent, or sibling.

3. Pray in the moment. In the serenity of the country, I was looking at Facebook (ironic, I know!), and I saw a post from a friend whose son is having surgery. I showed my daughter the picture of the little boy and I said, “He is sick. He needs our prayers.” Then we prayed right then. I had never done this before. It must have been God given. I think it did leave an impression on my 3 year old, but it taught me so much more.

4. Accept distractions.  Though the country is quiet at times, often it really is not. You have tree branches creaking, birds chirping, porch swings rocking, bees and hummingbirds buzzing. At night there is the wind blowing when it is stormy, frogs and crickets singing their melody. And the occasional cougar screaming (yes there are cougars in that part of the world). Owls may hoot and woodpeckers are pecking, but though the wind may be blowing through the trees, the distractions are different. It is the distraction of just watching in amazement at the bumblebees for 20 minutes as my sister and daughter did; it is the finding of extraordinary large pine cones and the variety of flowers all around you. It is the distractions of chasing the squirrels and raccoons off the bird feeders. Yes it is a different distraction, one that is God given.

I recently attended a conference where the one thing that stuck out to me was that our children our an interruption ministry. That has changed how I look at parenting. Instead of being annoyed every time I am interrupted while cleaning the dishes or doing laundry (these tasks will take me all day, if finished at all), if I look at my children as a ministry, it changes my whole demeanor.

5. Tell them you love them. This goes for more than just your children, but includes your friends, your spouse, your siblings and parents. We all need to hear that someone loves us. God did not make us to be solitary people, he made us to be loved and to love. Tell those that are important to you that you love them. All the time. Everyday.  I love you even when… I love you especially when…. I love you all the time.

Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need to hear these words!

Mommies Get Angry Too!

It was a rough weekend, make that a rough month, maybe even two months.

Let’s see, it all started with my baby boy’s four month check up, in which he had not gained enough weight. As a result, we were having to take him to the doctor every 2 weeks for weight checks. One week, after not nursing well for a few days, I took him into the doctor and he had not gained any weight. None, in 2 weeks! That is not normal for a baby, period. So of course I’m worried; the doctor is concerned, and I’m angry. I’m angry at myself for not noticing his lack of weight gain; I’m angry at my baby for not following the text book (I like control people!), I’m angry at my husband for not getting why I was so upset; I’m angry at my 3 year old for distracting me.  I’m angry because I’m having to watch the lab technicians prick my little boy’s fingers for blood while he screams and looks at me with alligator tears streaming down his face. I know he is saying, “Why are you letting them do this to me momma!??”

Fast forward a week, and after pumping, giving baby expressed milk from pumping, then following that with 2 to 4 ounces of formula, and then following with baby food, we finally gained 7 ounces in one week! Yay!  But I’m still angry. I’m angry at the time spent feeding our baby, perhaps even a little resentful. I value my time, and every minute spent feeding our child, is a minute I can’t fold the laundry, get dinner ready, just be with my children, watch television., write, etc.  I value my little boy’s health, but I am stressed.  I’m angry at myself because I’m too exhausted every night to do any said stuff once everybody is finally asleep! Oh, I am so tired. It has been a rough few months.

Fast forward another few weeks, a gastrointestinal bug plagues our family. First it hits the 3 year old, then my hubby, and just when I think I have made it through unscathed, then it hits me (and oh yeah, did I mention that turns out my baby did have a virus on top of not gaining weight).  So, I miss work, which makes me angry at losing that money because I will not get paid if I don’t work. And of course, I get thrown up on… More than once (every mother’s dream).

I think we are finally through that ordeal, when we start noticing little pimple like sores on my little girl’s bottom. Turns out she has a skin infection. In the mean time, my husband for the last month or two has been having off and on chills. He finally goes to the doctor and he is diagnosed with mono. Seriously?? So now I’m angry because I have to take care of everybody!  Why does he always catch everything? I’m angry that I as a nurse didn’t catch it sooner myself.

So in summary, over the course of two months, I have been thrown up on at least four, five times, have had to clean out pus from my daughters skin infection (sorry to those with weak stomachs), and then yesterday, my daughter pees all over me and all over the bathroom floor!! I lost it! I feel like I had been taking things in stride up until this point. That was it Enough was enough!

She peed on me because she was refusing to use the potty (she has been pee pee potty trained for several months now so this was not acceptable!), so I manually put her on the toilet, to which she responds by screaming and thrashing about, resulting in said urine being sprayed all over me and the floor. Let me remind  you that I have been cleaning up vomit for the last couple of days, from clothes to sheets to stuffed animals. I am tired! I am just drained, and I am tired of cleaning up gross stuff. Just because I am a nurse does not mean I enjoy it!

I then, of course, as only all good mothers do, began to yell at my 3 year old. I then tell her that she has to clean up the pee herself (which I don’t think is a bad lesson, just probably not approached in the right way). We ended with us staring at each other in a battle of wills. My little 3 year old mini me, staring just as stubbornly back at me as I was staring at her. I have more years of stubborn strong will then she does, so naturally I win.

Like I said, it has been a rough few months.

Why did I get so angry? I’m mom; I’m not supposed to loose my cool.  I should have at that moment apologized. I wish I could say I did later. But I didn’t.

Fortunately, my mini me is only 3 and didn’t hold it against me. She went to bed as usual and still gave me a little kiss and hug as I lied down with her in her bed. Sweet children. That we should give ourselves grace like our children give us grace. They know what forgiveness means, even if they can’t verbalize it.  You lose your cool; they don’t remember it the next day. They still want you to play with them. How often can we say we do the same? How often do we forgive ourselves? None of us are perfect parents.

I challenge you to forgive yourself as your children forgive you. Everyday is a new day. The next day our young children have all but forgotten that we lost our cool. They love you unconditionally. You are their whole little world. That’s true love. Let’s learn to love ourselves the same and start each day anew.

You can do this! This parenting stuff, you got this.  We can do hard things! Now, take a deep breath with me….. Breathe in…. Breathe out…..  Say it with me: “I can do this! I can do hard things! My past does not define me! Every day is a new day!”

When You Are the Bad Parent: Learning to Give Grace

Recently, a 2 year old boy was lost in the woods. His grandmother had taken him and his older sister for a walk. Reportedly the older child ran ahead and the grandmother ran after the child. She turned around and the little boy was gone. Of course over the next few days the temperature was in the teens. The little boy died from hypothermia. For the full story, click here

My heart just breaks everytime I hear this story. I cringe with the thought of how scared that little boy must have been. I just cannot imagine. I can’t imagine the grief and guilt that grandmother must have felt. I can’t imagine the panic and worry the parents must have felt. I guess it really hits close to home because I have a 3 year old. It hits even closer to home because I take my children hiking on a semi-regular basis.  I understand how this little boy could have just wondered away.  I understand how someone might accidentally leave their child in the car. I understand how someone might be scared they could  hurt their child out of anger or depression. I understand how a three year old might end up in a busy intersection by himself. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1yKpt1muU).  I’m not justifying these things; I’m just asking that before you judge, you put your feet in the other person’s shoes.

Toddlers are known to be curious creatures. They see a butterfly and they chase it. They throw a rock over the edge; they run to see where it lands. They see a bug in the middle of the street and stop to study it. They have no concept of impending danger.  You have to be on your toes at all times! I could see my daughter getting curious and running off into the woods. Then in a blink of an eye, she’s lost.  Not knowing what to do, she probably cries and runs back to where she thinks I am.  Oh, the terror! My stomach lurches at the mere thought! How scared and cold and horribly confused that little boy must have been that his mommy couldn’t find him. The terror and the grief!

We all have our routines; any change messes with your head. I can see how you think, “I will just run into the store to get two things and then you get stuck behind the lady with 100 coupons, the slowest cashier, and slowest bagger known to eternity. The next thing you know, it has been 30 minutes or more. We have all heard of the horrifying facts of how fast a vehicle can become deathly hot. I have been in my car driving to work and made the turn to go to work instead of the daycare! I fortunately remembered before I arrived at work, but my point is that none of us are perfect, none of us are immune.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7: 1-5

One day, we found my daughter outside with our dog. We did not know she was outside. We did not realize she could open the door by herself! Fortunately we figured it out quickly. Can you honestly tell me you have never made a mistake?

Remember when you were so exhausted taking care of your newborn? You were in a fog, ALL DAY LONG! When the baby starts crying and he won’t stop, sometimes you don’t know what to do. You can read all the books and articles you want and still have no clue.  I have literally been so frustrated and tired that I had to lay my  baby down and let him cry, for fear of hurting him. That is a sombering thought, one that I do NOT readily admit. Then on top of the huge responsibility of taking care of this completely dependent, vulnerable baby, your hormones are going crazy! With my first baby, I literally sweated more than I thought humanly possible. I also remember breaking down from the sheer exhaustion and stress of it all. I was completely inconsolable!

I would guess that more then one of you have had similiar thoughts. (I hope.)

We don’t like to talk about these things.  No one likes to admit that they would be capable of any of these horrid acts.

We are such a judgmental society (I am no exception). We think these stories can only happen to other people, to those parents. We gasp with disgust and turn our noses upward in disdain.

Before we judge, we ought to take a look in the mirror.  Let’s step back for a moment and then reach forward with arms wide open, sharing our hearts and giving each other grace. I don’t share these personal stories lightly, or to showcase how imperfect of a parent I am. I share them so you know you are not alone. You are not the only woman who has these “bad” parent thoughts. These thoughts don’t define you, they do not make you a bad parent. They only serve as reminders, that we can not go it alone. We need each other, and we need our heavenly Father. I ask you to be open to these thoughts, so that others may know they are not alone. We are on the same team.

What are some ways you can let others know you are on their team?

Perhaps you can call a new mom and offer to watch her baby so she can rest? Perhaps you can deliver a meal or have groceries delivered? Perhaps, just sharing your stories can help others know they are not alone? Let’s show compassion to each other and learn from each other. We all have lessons to give and to receive.

“You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. the amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” Luke 6: 36-38

 

If you have been pregnant in the last 12 months and are having feelings of depression or you feel out of control, then please call a doctor and a friend. Post partum depression is real. Read HERE for more symptoms of Post partum Depression and what to do about it.

8 Life Lessons I Learned From My Toddler

DSC_0403 (2)I now have a three year old!  I can’t believe it!  Sometimes I feel like I am looking at someone else’s life. I honestly was never the girl that dreamed of the kind of kids she would have, and even if I would have kids. I never thought about what kind of mother I would be. I honestly really never liked kids, and if I’m being honest, I’m still not crazy about other people’s kids (I do like most of my friends’ children, most of the time). Sometimes I wonder if I am a good enough mother. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I get impatient or frustrated and yell or say things I shouldn’t say. In spite of all that, I believe I am the perfect parent for my children. And more and more, I understand a little of the unconditional love our heavenly Father has for us.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for me and for my children, this I know. I have to remind myself almost every day. There are days when my beautiful Sophia is very tiring and challenging and exhausting. She is headstrong and fiercely independent. (I can’t imagine where she picked up that personality trait!.. Must be from her daddy. 🙂 )   She has taught me so much in her short 3 years of life!

Lesson 1: Sometimes you need to just be silly.

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Sophie is a jokester. We used to ask her, “What color is this?”  For awhile, the only thing she would respond with was “Orange!”  She knew the colors! That was her 2 year old self teasing us!  Another joke she says, “I’m BeBe”, or I’m “Uncle Matt”, and then now she follows it with “You’re Daddy”, or “You’re Max” (Max is our dog!)  She has a mischievous little glint in her eye while she’s saying these things too. Sophie loves to be tickled. She loves being thrown up in the air, loves hide and seek. If we can’t go outside, she will run in circles around our dining room table. She makes me laugh.

We need to let ourselves laugh. We need to remember what it was like to just be silly.

Lesson 2: Be Persistent!

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This past summer, we made the transition to a big girl  bed. Now that she can get out of bed freely, she will literally knock or bang stuff on the door. It’s really quite funny and difficult to not go back to her room. She is a world champion at bedtime stalling!  I have to give her props for creativity. “I need some water!” “Lie down with me!” (with big blue pleading eyes!), “I need to put my babies to sleep”. “I need to read” . She even uses prayer time as a means to stall her bedtime. If we have taken away story and song time because she is not listening, then she pulls the prayer card. She knows mommy wants her to pray!

The point is: While we don’t need to  give in to our children’s every demand, we can learn from their persistence.  If you want something, keep trying! Don’t let a few no’s (or a few hundred) stop you from pursuing your passions or dreams.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you just need to let it out!

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Oh, we have had our share of tantrums and fits!  Screaming in a restaurant, screaming in the store, you name it, we have had it.  How about the time she laid down at the train station, no wait, the cell phone store, no, the consignment store, and just had a textbook tantrum and sit down!  Oh, yes, my Sophie has a temper.

And talk about drama! Once, after a trip to the community pool, Sophie fell and scratched her knee while walking back to our car. Drama central!  After the drama settled, she wanted a Dora band aid, but when I tried to put it on her knee, she screamed. Then she just held it the whole ride home.

Okay, so maybe you and I are past the tantrum phase, but don’t you want to just let it all out and scream and stomp your feet and cry sometimes?!  Well, maybe we can’t scream and stomp our feet (unless you are completely by yourself, then I say, go for it!). However, it is  probably not the best example to teach our children in order to launch them into functional adults.  However, it is okay to accept a hug or want someone to kiss your hurt away. It’s okay to dry your tears on someone else’s shoulder. The point is: Stop being so independent! It is OKAY to ask for help. It’s okay to cry.

Lesson 4:  Sometimes a girl just needs to look good.

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Sophie  loves trying on shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk in her room after nap time to find shoes and clothes, and toys EVERYWHERE!  She would take hair bands and use them as necklaces or for awhile she was attached to hats. She would wear them constantly, even sleeping with them.

Sometimes you just need to dress up a little. We should dress up, not to impress others, but just to remember how beautiful we are.

Lesson 5:  Life is about what happens everyday in the little moments!

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For all of Sophie’s challenges and tantrums, there are more than enough sweet moments. Like the time when she handed me my tucks during my pregnancy with our son (both embarrassing and sweet), or how she is with her baby brother, constantly loving on him, kissing him, and helping me mother him. Or when she spontaneously gives me a kiss or “helps” with chores (she can help unload the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer! Sometimes she even sweeps! She loves to hold the dustpan for me!). Or how she “cooks” with her pretend food. How she loves to make baby brother laugh and share stories and tummy time with him. Or how she tugs at our heart strings every time she asks us to lie down with her. Or the times when she asks for a “big hug”.  Once, after I gave William his  bath, I turned my back for one second, and next thing I knew Sophie was bathing her baby dolls. All Ican do sometimes is laugh.

For all the bad moments there are 10,000 more good ones. We  can learn from the bad moments, but we need to cherish the good moments. After all, people don’t usually take pictures of the bad moments (although I think that is warranted sometimes!). Our pictures are of the happy moments. You don’t usually remember the tantrums and attitude between the pictures.

Lesson 6:  Life is Messy!

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Life is Messy.  From throwing up in the doctor’s office and in the car and all over me. (all three of these happened last year!), life is messy. From snotty noses and ear infections, life is messy. From spilled drinks and dumped over cheerios, life is messy. (thank goodness for dogs!). From tear stained faces to skinned knees and new scars, life is messy. From emptying out all the drawers to emptying the toy boxes, life is messy.  Life is Messy! Let it go and keep making messes!

Lesson 7:  Celebrate the little successes!

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My Sophie finally went poo in the potty! It has been a long time coming! I dare say, we may be done buying pull-ups! (at least day time ones) If you are a mom, you know how exciting this is! It was all I could do to restrain myself from posting it all over social media! I did text almost all my close friends and family! We celebrated this feat with ice cream and a toy.

That’s how toddlers are, they celebrate little things, like putting their shoes or pants on all by themselves. Or finally figuring out how to open the doors! Or putting that last puzzle piece together. Let’s take a lesson from our toddlers and celebrate the little successes. Like doing prayer/bible time even once or twice a week. Or maybe it is making it somewhere on time! How about getting noticed for a job well done. Picking up a few pieces of trash (that’s one less piece of trash!) Or finally learning to parallel park. Perhaps, it is making one person smile. Or making it to bed on time. Or making it through the day without killing your children.

Little successes add up to make a big difference!

Lesson 8: You are capable of so much more than you realize!

Do you know how many times Sophie has done things  I didn’t think she knew how to do?  Like the time she opened our screen door and walked outside, BY HERSELF with the dog! (we have no fence and we live on a steep hill!) Or the time she started drinking out of a regular cup.  Or  the time when I walked into her room and she had figured out a way to pull off items from the top of the dresser!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for!

And so are you!  Don’t sell yourself shot. Believe in yourself!

 

Yes, this year has taught me so much. It’s taught me that this parenting stuff is hard, that life is hard, and marriage is hard As the cliché goes, anything hard is worth doing!  I said at the beginning that I didn’t really like kids, but I LOVE my children. I love my Sophie and everything she is and everything she stands for. I love her just because. She is a gift. One that I do not deserve.

To my Sophia: rbp-42

I love you and everything you are and everything you have taught me, and everything you stand for. You have taught me so much more about love and life than I ever imagined.  You are uniquely wonderful and beautiful. God has a plan for you! I don’t know what it is yet, but it will big! Bigger and more wonderful than I or you daddy can imagine!

 

What are some lessons you have learned from your life experiences? I would love for you to share your stories!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, don’t forget to share!

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Chocolate

DSC_0197I LOVE chocolate! Just about any kind, with nuts, without, with peanut butter, caramel, whatever. If it has chocolate in it or around it, I will eat it and be bribed by it. One of my favorite kinds of chocolate is Dove chocolate, every flavor. I even love the little sayings that come in the wrapper. Now, I’m sure the Dove manufacturers did not intend to provoke profound thinking on their wrappers. And often, I just read them in passing. Some are cute, some are downright stupid (sorry Dove), and some are sweet. But one recently did have me pondering deep thoughts (maybe it’s the breastfeeding hormones).  “Do all things with love.”

Do ALL things with LOVE. Really?? Do ALL things with LOVE? Am I supposed to potty train with love, change diapers with love, eat, feed my children, fold laundry with love? While these things seem trivial, are they? What if we did everything from the lens of “Do ALL things with LOVE“.

Would that make the mundane things a little more enjoyable, or just increase the pressure of being a parent? After all, as all moms and dads know, toddlers and infants are exhausting (as I’m sure any age can be).  Between taking my two year old to the potty for the millionth time, cleaning the floor and sheets from pee and poo (I am happy to report that we are now almost completely potty trained!, just trying to get that #2!). Between  begging her to go # 2 on the potty and bribing her with a new toy and ice cream (which has not worked), and just short of forcing her on the toilet (which I realize does not work either!).  Between nursing every few hours to soothing a fussy baby at all hours, the last thing I  think about sometimes is love. I think about sleep and rest and peace! I think about being able to sit down with my lunch and not have little hands grabbing at my plate demanding at that instant to eat, even though they may have just eaten or just said they were done! I think about drinking HOT tea or coffee. I want to read a book in its entirety and in one sitting. I want to finish writing this post without interruption. I want to be able to eat my chocolate without having to hide it or share it with my child.

Maybe that is the point. Parenting is not glorious work. But neither was Jesus’ work . Did he want to constantly be traveling and speaking and healing? How many times did he get interrupted while praying or having a meal with his friends. How many times did he get woken up by cries and whines? How many times did he just want to spend time with his Father without having to break up an argument or soothe somebody? He did those things out of love and with love. Do ALL things with love.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 14

What if, instead of lamenting our days away we said the following instead:

How amazing is it that my two year old is learning to go to the bathroom all by herself? How awesome is it that I can see my baby boy growing right before my eyes?. How extraordinary are all those dirty and wet diapers, for they are a sign that he is healthy?

While not the most glorious acts, these are all opportunities to show love. Show our love in discipline and teaching and learning. And even though this season of my life with young children seems to be dragging by at times, I know this too shall pass. Will I look back and say I did all things with love and that my children knew they were loved? At the end of the day, ask yourself:  Did I have a heart filled with love or was my heart weary and weighed down with the tasks and to do lists of the day?

I want to make sure my children know that they are loved. I don’t want them to remember a clean house, every meal being at 6:30, or an organized playroom. While there is certainly nothing wrong with, and I do aim for those things, my point is this:

I want my children to remember the laughter we shared, coloring and building blocks together. I want them to remember me baking with them and taking them to the park. I want them to have love filled memories.  I want them to remember that I loved them, just as they were. And, perhaps, I will share my chocolate. 🙂 (Sometimes…)

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share!

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WHY I HAVE TO PRAY TO SURVIVE PARENTING

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn't get a picture of that)
Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn’t get a picture of that)

I honestly do not know how people parent without having a nervous breakdown if they don’t pray. For me, the task of parenting is so daunting and overwhelming, I have to pray, for fear of completely messing up my child. I’m not saying I pray everyday ( I am a work in progress), But sometimes, make that all the time, I feel like I have to pray to make it through my day, even if it is a simple ” Please God help me not kill my child today”. When I really start to think about what it means to be a parent, it truly does overwhelm me. I am completely responsible for this little being that God allowed me to bring into this world. If she becomes a burden on society or a blessing to society, it all comes back to the parents. I worry I don’t play with her enough, that I don’t let her play by herself enough. I don’t read enough, too many toys, not enough. The list goes on and on as I am sure many of you can relate. Then there is this task of  teaching her about God!  I don’t know anything about God, how on earth am I supposed to teach someone about God?! And you love these little beings so much, that it literally hurts.

I  start thinking about God and Jesus, father and son, and how Jesus was sacrificed for me and thus completely separated from his father. I don’t know if I could ever do that. I could sacrifice myself for my child, but to have my child die for others is unspeakable,. It is unfathomable. I guess that is where the necessity of the cross comes in to play, for my sinful heart. I have to pray, for fear that I will be swallowed up by my anxiety and panic. It calms me, and reminds me that I cannot control everything, that I have to trust God.  For however much you love your child, God loves them more. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  John 10:10 states, “That they (we) may have life and have it abundantly.”

Isn’t’ that just it?, That we may have life and live it to the fullest? We don’t have to worry! God is enough!. There are so many different schools of thoughts on every topic, from breastfeeding to free range parents, to helicopter parents. You name it, you can find a book on it. (trust me, I have looked. ) Those things are of course important and I definitely have opinions on all the above.  But the thing I feel is most important is that we teach our children what it means to be loved and what it means to love. To love without condition. That in and of itself would be an anxiety producing task, if it wasn’t for our heavenly father being the perfect example.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

One of my favorite stories to read to my child is “God Gave Us You”, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is a beautiful story about how this bear cub was a gift from God. It reads:

” Every night, I prayed for you, my special child, I prayed that your bones would be straight and your heart would be strong. But most of all, I prayed that someday you would love God.” “I love God,” Little cub said proudly. “I know,” said Mama. “I do too.”. Mama lowered her voice. “And then we took you home. And it was just us. Our family. We just stared and stared, wondering at the miracle of incredible you.” “Because why?” “Because God had given us you. Then little Cub asks “Did you ever want a different baby?… “Never,” Mama said. “Never, ever, ever. Your papa and I wouldn’t trade you for the world….Because God gave us you. Because God gave us you”

The first time I ever read that story I had to hold back my tears to finish the story. Even now. two years later, I still have to hold my tears back. Perhaps that is how God feels; he has to hold his tears in check, because he chose us. Chose us to love , so much so that he was willing to give his only son to be sin for us. “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Imagine if your child was taken to prison and given the death penalty, for a crime he or she did not commit. I would be in anguish, infuriated!! Perhaps that is a  sliver of what God went through, except Jesus received the death penalty for thousands and thousands of crimes he did not commit.

I am no expert on parenting or things of God, but my prayer for you is the same as my prayer for my family:

Dear Father,

Please help us show your love to our children, in all our words and actions. When we make mistakes, turn our mourning into gladness, for you are merciful and good.

Amen

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.