Vulnerability in an Independent World

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Vulnerability, What does that mean, exactly? Basically, it means being open. Open to attack, open to criticism, opening our hearts to let others in. It’s risky. It’s a word we don’t like to be in our independent culture. We are taught at an early age to be independent, to find a job, move out on our own, to live our own lives. We are taught that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. We are taught to hide our true feelings.

I grew up in the same town, the same house, for the first eighteen years of my life. I couldn’t wait to leave home and make my own way. I was convinced that was the way to happiness. I was not an unhappy child, but I wanted to be independent so fiercely. I had things to do and see and the whole world was at my fingertips.

I finally graduated from high school and was able to move away for college! I was so nervous and excited at the same time! While I didn’t move too far away (just 4 hours), it was far enough, for the moment.  Ironically, as independent as I wanted to be, I probably cried for the first week of my college life. I was so homesick that I went home once a month for the first semester (plus I did not have any clean clothes to wear!  Thanks for doing my laundry mom!).

Fast forward to college graduation! Once again, I was anxious to live on my own, live in my very own apartment, pay my own bills. What I wouldn’t give now to have my daddy pay my bills now! Sigh….

Clearly, I achieved the independence I wanted. I treaded the waters of college successfully, made some incredible friends and learned some new perspectives on life. I had the opportunity to study in Europe and backpack across that great continent!  I had the opportunity to travel to Africa, where I spent six weeks working in a hospital helping the men, women, and children of Tanzania. I learned more in those six weeks about being content with what you have than I ever had in my young life.

Right after college, I moved to a big city and had a small apartment where I could walk to work, coffee shops, and more.  That was everything I had dreamed of at that point of my life!  I was a grown-up.  I lived by myself for five years before I married my hubby (I did have a roommate for about a year or two). And I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not every minute, but I was content). I worked twelve hour night shifts, so I did many things alone: went to coffee shops, grocery shopping, mall shopping, ate alone at restaurants (though that was mostly fast food).  I even went to museums, church, and movies by myself (though those were not my favorite things to do by myself).

All of the above has helped shape me to be the person I am today and has served me well when I needed to be independent.  That stage of my life taught me how to do things I needed to be able to do by myself (pay bills, budget, change a tire, though, ashamedly, I have probably forgot that by now), check my oil, etc.  I would not change any of my life experiences.

BUT, I spent so much time learning to be independent, I forgot what Jesus teaches about vulnerability.  I  fought vulnerability so much that I forgot that God made us to need each other. He made us a part of a whole. We forget that we Christians (and women especially) are supposed to be on the same team!

"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of only one member, but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose. If we all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, thee are many parts, yet one body."

1Corinthians 12: 12-20

Jesus knew what it meant to be vulnerable. He knew what it meant to be alone, even with crying and screaming and gossiping crowds around him, even when he was constantly being interrupted. He knew what it meant to be criticized, laughed at, and beaten down. He knew what it meant to be exhausted but not sleeping. He knew what it meant to be talking and not heard. He knew what it meant to be vulnerable.

"And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well", And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in imself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his discipes said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you and yet you say, "Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 

Mark 5: 24-34

What if, like in this story, we were not afraid to ask for help or reach out to touch somebody? What if we remember we are on the same team? That life is bigger than we are. Life is bigger than the busy season of sleepless nights, potty training, temper tantrums, wiping runny noses, and dirty bottoms.  This life is bigger than deadlines and all night study sessions and early morning classess. This life is bigger than sibling rivalry, living under your parents rules, and not being able to vote or drink or smoke (at least legally).

This life is about living life together. Let’s challenge ourselves to let our lives be about helping each other cherish the moments. Let’s learn from each other, be willing to be vulnerable and call on God and each other.

We are on the same team, and better yet, God is on our team. We cannot fail!

Know that you do not have to do it all by yourself!

Please share!

 

Come Play With Me: Choose to Delight

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“Come play with me, Mommy!”  “I will soon baby, I promise.”  I then proceed to walk inside with the intention of getting my sweater.  I go inside and gather my phone and kindle (yes I do need these to play).  “MOMMY, come play ball with me!”, my daughter says in her sweet little 3 year old frustrated voice. “I will baby, I promise, I just forgot my sweater.  (It’s sunny and 60 degrees)  I go inside to get the baby monitor… and my sweater.  I go back outside and sit down, “Moooommmyyyyy, come play”, my daughter pouts. “I will, I just need to get the charger so I can hear baby brother.”  I go inside to find the monitor, just to realize I have misplaced it, spend another few minutes trying to find it, then I give up.

By this time, my daughter is nearing temper tantrum phase.  MOMMMYYYY, COME… PLAY… WITH… ME!! Now, I really try not to let her talk to me like that, but I was exasperating her.  In her defense, she had asked nicely several times  without success.

I finally play ball with her, and we had such a good time! We were both laughing and just delighting in each other.

Isn’t that what our Heavenly Father wants? Much like my daughter continued to plead with me to play with her, our Heavenly Father pleads for us to come to Him. He wants to delight in us. He wants to spend time with us, ball playing, no interruptions, time with us, with you.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4

Aren’t we all like a three year old sometimes, begging and pleading just for someone to pay attention to our antics? Isn’t that’s why we get angry or frustrated or sad because our spouse or our boss or our friends or our parents or siblings or children don’t appreciate us? They just don’t see that you emptied one side of the sink even if the other is still full. They don’t see that you put one basket of  the never ceasing laundry mountain away or that you took the garbage out without asking or put away your laundry or shoes without asking. Those people, they don’t see that you helped your co workers with that project or that you have already done all the things expected of you and more. If they only would have noticed what the problem was in the first place or just noticed all the little things we just did or do on a daily basis. Does this sound familiar?

That’s just the point though. How awesome it is that we have a Heavenly father who does just that. That lives in the moment, in the present, and we know we are loved.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love....I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15: 9,11

He does recognize us and all the little things we do or don’t do. Not because it matters whether the kitchen is clean or the laundry is put away or all the toys are picked up. Not to Him at least. Because He sees what really matters. He sees the heart of the matter. He sees your desire for a clean home so that it is pleasant for you and your family to live in. He sees that you took care of the problem at work because it was the right thing to do. He sees the kindness and the listening ears and helping hands. He sees your broken heart and anxious spirit. And He cares. He care about all of it, because He loves you. Unconditional, never un-breaking, always and forever love.

"For God so loved the world (that's you!) that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

It is because of our God that we have an example of how we should treat all our loved ones. It is because of Him that we have a reason to do things without thanks or recognition. Because of Him, our standard is higher and our hope remains constant.

One of my favorite sayings from my teenage and college years (wish I could remember where I originally heard it), is that we need not remember who we are but whose we are.

We all have days when we are frustrated and overwhelmed, when that laundry pile seems like it will never go away (and maybe it won’t).  We all have days where we don’t delight in our loved ones or ourselves even. Today was one of those days for me. I was lacking patience and my daughter was lacking listening. Nothing I did or didn’t do seemed to make a difference in her sassy attitude. It was so bad by 7:00 PM, I was finished. My daughter was in bed by 7:15.

I pray when we have those days the days where you feel like you are the worst mom ever, that instead of raising our fist in anger or thrashing our bodies on the floor toddler style, that we choose the higher standard. I pray we choose love and delight. I failed miserably today, I did not choose love or delight. I chose yelling and frustration and anger. I pray on those days where the end is not what you want to remember, I pray that we will receive grace and forgiveness for ourselves and lift our hands up to our Heavenly Father who hears and forgives all. I pray that we bow on the ground in prayer, not rage.

I pray that we may always choose love and delight and forgiveness for the days when we don’t.

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

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?

Thank you for Reading!  Please share!  If you don’t want to miss a post, please sign up for my email list!

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!

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!

Be sure to follow me for weekly encouragement from the realities of my ordinary life!

Look at the Birds

One of my favorite birds: A Painted Bunting Photo credit: www.fanpop.com

If you have been following my blog or know me personally, then you know my husband and I are expecting our second child very soon! September 3rd. 4 weeks away!! Yikes!  That being said, I plan on continuing to write until our little boy decides he is ready to meet the world. Once he is here, I plan on taking 4 to 8 weeks off from blogging to get to know our newest family member and adapt to life with two children.  I hope to be able to work on my website’s design as well, so if you have any tips, feel free to share as the whole technological thing is a challenge for me.  I plan to make a quick announcement shortly after the birth of our baby boy.

The question is, am I ready? I am not, but are you ever, really? I know we will adjust and learn, but it is scary all the same. How soon you forget all the nuances of taking care of a newborn.  You have this tiny living being that is utterly and completely dependent on you. God has granted you a gift and responsibility. It is ever daunting. No other species, that I know of, does it seem that their children are quite so dependent and useless when they first come into this world. Foals come out already walking and then running soon after.  Baby sea turtles are set off on their own as soon as their eggs hatch to live or die. I am glad we are not turtles! (for many reasons, think hundreds of eggs being hatched!)  But my sense of fear and anxiousness is where my weakness lies, and thus where God’s strength is shown.  I think we all have those one or two verses that speak to your heart. It is almost like God wrote those words just for you! Mine is the following:

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6: 25-34

Some of you may be surprised to learn that I am a worry wart. I have learned through the years to that God is in control, but it is an ongoing struggle.  The words above speak to my heart and serve to remind me of what is important and how to deal with my worries. If it was not for the truth of those words, I would have had several panic attacks. Truly, there are days, where I am  just trying to get through the day. And that is okay!  We don’t have to have everything planned all the time (I’m preaching to myself here!)  It’s a running joke among friends that I have to do  lists for my to do lists.   But truthfully some days, I am just trying to accomplish what needs to be done that day, and I know the rest will have to wait or be pitched completely. My favorite part of the verse above is where it talks about the birds.  That holds a special place in my heart, for some of my best childhood memories are from bird watching with my father.  Finding that one special colorful bird was exciting and its beauty enthralling.

I ask for your prayers in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, that I can take things day by day. (and not be too mean to people!) To trust that God will take care of me. I ask for reminders to cherish my daughter and husband in the last few weeks as we are, and yet be ready to celebrate a new life in our son and with each other.  That I can truly focus on what actually needs to be done and not on things I would like to be completed. I pray that we can cherish our new son, as they are only that little and vulnerable but for a brief time. And in a flash, they will, Lord willing, be leading their own lives. I pray for a strong and healthy baby, but most of all I pray that he will know he is loved by God and that he is loved by his family.

I leave you with the following link to a song that has been on my heart all week, for our God is merciful. “God be Merciful to Me”. https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play?p=God+be+merciful+to+me&vid=52ccc4e1e0a4ddc12e638186c9acd817&turl=http%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DWN.PZhG4LtZOlCocnhR1%252bQ%252fcw%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D360%26w%3D480%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DEjPzlDvaYfU&tit=God+Be+Merciful+to+Me+%28w%2F+Lyrics%29&c=1&h=360&w=480&l=271&sigr=11bu9rhrc&sigt=1116klb97&sigi=12p60i38j&ct=p&age=1329511266&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&hsimp=yhs-prodege_001&hspart=prodege&vm=p&tt=b

Truly God is merciful to me:
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank you for reading and praying!

15 Simple Ways to Show Someone You Care

Recently, I asked my husband what he considered the most important things he needed to do for his day to be successful. His response, quite frankly, surprised me. Not because of what he said, but more so because of what I had in mind. I was thinking along the lines of housework, meal planning., etc…  He quickly made me realize what really mattered. His list was 1. Spend time with your spouse. 2 Spend time with your children 3. Do something nice for somebody every day.

The last one is what really honestly floored me and totally made me reevauate, well, everything.

How do you do that exactly? How do you do something nice for somebody every day. It seems like such a simple tasks, but when I actually tried to put those words into practice, it proved to be quite difficult. The majority of my days are spent with a 30 something inch little person. Even when we leave the house, my focus is on not losing sight of her, keeping her from running out in front of a car, and from destroying other people’s property. You know, just your usual day spent chasing a toddler. To say or do somthig nice for somebody else??? Are you serious??

My husband’s mindset is right, even if you don’t do it correctly all the time and even if keeping your toddler from destroying other’s property might be considered your good deed for the day (even if they didn’t know it! :)). Perhaps, my service would be walking out of my house showered and with make up applied to my face. Gasp! They, being the world,  have no idea what they would have been presented with if I had not left my house somewhat prepared.  In all seriousness though, I sat down to to actually think of ways to actually be nice to somebody that did not include my toddler not coloring on their wall or demanding a 5th sucker. 🙂 I came up with the following list:

1. Wash your loved one’s car (You could either do this by hand or if you despise that you could take it to a basic car wash; I prefer the latter)

2. Freeze their favorite summer fruit and then bring it out in the winter for them to enjoy (this was inspiration from my friend Lisa)

3. Send an old fashioned card. You know, the ones you buy in a store and put a stamp on an envelope.

4. Send a simple text message telling your loved one how much you appreciate him/her.  It will put a smile on their face.

5. Prepare their coffee or tea just the way they like it or buy their favorite beverage

6. Bring home ice cream unannounced or whatever their favorite treat may be.

7. Flowers (even those who say they don’t care about flowers appreciate the gesture occasionally). It doesn’t have to be a dozen red roses; a simple bouquet from the grocery store will suffice.

8. Keep a bag of candy or gum at your workspace for co workers.

9. Do a chore someone else in your family always does.

10. Hold the door open, for anyone! It’s always appreciated.

11. Pick up somebody else’s trash. Sometimes the best deeds are those unnoticed.

12. Take cookies or donuts to a firehouse or to your work place or husband’s work, doctor’s office etc.. (They do not have to be homemade!)

13. Put $5 dollars in a library book or pay somebody’s library fine.

14. Try the pay it forward thing at a fast food restaurant or if you can afford it, find someone’s meal in a restaurant you can pay for.

15. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile out of the blue.

What are some of your ideas for a simple kindness you can do for somebody else? I would love to hear from you. I challenge you to practice an act of kindness at least once a week for the next month. Once a week is really not very much, you can do it! Follow me as I attempt to meet the challenge as well at #showsomeoneyoucare

Proverbs 16:24, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.”

THERE WILL BE A PARTY FOR YOU!

dmpbjw_1366For my daughter’s birthday a few months ago we received a magnet book. It was just a two page book that came with 31 magnets.  Technically, it said the age range was above 3, so I was a little paranoid to use it at first. Being a nurse, I know just enough to make myself crazy about what could happen if a child swallows a magnet.  Finally, one day a few months after her birthday, we tried it out. Of course, my little girl loved it. (crazy what entertains them) I was being very astute and watching her very closely. Later it was time for lunch and she wanted to play with the book again.  I set it in front of her, turned my back for, literally, one second. Irony of ironies, she had a few in her mouth.  I quickly grabbed them out of her mouth, then proceeded to count all the magnets to ensure I had all of them. I was missing one.  I turned to my toddler and asked her if she had swallowed one, for which she proceeded to say yes. Now at that time her yes also sounded like no so it was very hard to tell if, she knew what I meant, and if she  actually swallowed it.  After that point, I quickly progressed to full panic mode including “googling” what could happen when a magnet is swallowed just to add to my hysteria.  I swept the floor two to three times,  mopped, looked under the couch, and counted again and again. I was starting to cry, thinking how could I have turned my back for one second, why did I even let her play with it and all other sorts of self deprecating thoughts, thinking of the worse possible scenario and end result.  Anyway, long story short, we ended up at the pediatrician’s office in which he basically said since it  was so small and thin of a magnet and my child appeared in no distress, he would advise just watching and waiting. Nothing happened, she was completely fine. Needless to say, I was very observant of the floors and her stool over the next few days. (On the positive note, my floors were cleaner than usual!)

Several months, later, after I had given up ever finding this magnet and assuming she had passed it unnoticed, I saw a black spot on the floor. I bent to look at it closer, and you guessed it, it was the magnet. I was elated! I knew at that point that our daughter was fine, but somehow it was reassuring to know I had found it.

My silly story reminds me of the following stories found in the Bible:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and havent’ strayed away!” Luke 15: 3-7

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents”  Luke 15: 8-10

“for this son of mine was dead, and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. So the party began. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” Luke 15: 24, 32

Can you imagine?  Every time one of God’s children comes home or he finds a lost soul, he rejoices with His angels. He basically has a party. He has a party for you. He spends all his resources and money for this party. Against all logic and reason, in spite of our sinfulness and rebelliousness, there will be a celebration for you! He will call over all His friends and neighbors, and celebrate as if you are the only person that matters!

Now my husband and I’s wedding was a celebration. We had a blast! We dined and wined and danced. It did not matter what anyone else thought, because we were having fun and were blessed with celebrating with all of our family and friends. Not to brag, but people still say how much fun our wedding was that day five and half years ago. Can you imagine? God’s party will be so much better than any party that you have ever attended!

Think of how happy you are in the following moments: A lost coin. A dress  or piece of jewelry that has been missing for months found in the back of your closet.  Cash in your glove compartment that you had long since forgotten. The gift card lost in your wallet or pocket.  Your favorite pair of flip-flops that had been misplaced.  Think of the elation or the thoughts of good fortune that run through your mind in those seemingly trivial moments. You had even stopped looking  God rejoices so much more.  He continues to look and search, even in darkness.

HE NEVER STOPS SEARCHING!  AND WHEN HE FINDS YOU, THERE WILL BE A PARTY LIKE NONE OTHER!