once upon a time at burger king and the out-takes.

43chambers14So, if you’ve ever wondered…occasionally, yes occasionally, we have bad days. Usually, they come on the heels of a great day.

4 kids dressed in somewhat decent only borderline homeless looking (or hipster looking)clothing. check.

4 kids with food crammed in their bellies and no one complaining of being hungry. check.

4 kids with socks and shoes or sandals or socks with sandals (Reminder: we are in the Pacific Northwest). check.

4 kids loaded in our new 1987 creeper van (yes, we call it this). check.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.45.32 PM Then we proceed to the dentist.

We all walk in, check in, sit down. And, we still haven’t had a temper tantrum, a whiny child or a canation (whatever this is–I’m not sure. I just know that it can be good or bad and I’m living in a toddler world, we speak on their terms).

The boys come back completely cavity free–hallelujah.

All 4 kids in the van. Celebration!

Don’t squeal too loud people will stare.

Me to them, “Oh my gosh you guys, you did it. We all did it. We were on our best behavior and we had such a great morning! Let’s go to Burger King for lunch and to play on the indoor toys since its such a hot day”. Squeals of delight.

And then we arrived, Burger King the holy grail of all things for my kiddos.

This is where it all starts to go downhill.

We unload and go potty. All of us.

We play for 20 or so minutes, eat lunch. And know what happens? My youngest pees his pants in the tunnel at the top of the playground. #facepalm

I’m outnumbered. simply outnumbered.

So, the extra pants were left in the creeper, the pee is still at the top of the tubes (and I have a very natural fear of heights), and I can’t leave 4 kids alone in Burger King  or the real creepers will creep. Hear what I’m saying?

We’ve been here for 45 min. Plenty long. It’s officially nap-time. Brilliant idea: let’s go home. 2chambers14

We proceed with fully fit throwing planking toddlers. They have figured out that if they all do it at the same time, I do not have enough arms or gusto to carry them all. But, we manage to get to the front door.

Oren looks at me and with sheer dread as he looks at the expanse of parking lot like its a giant lake of alligators, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Mom, I’m just a kid. I’m not sure how we’re going to get across this thing with them”.

Me, “Me either, buddy, me either”.

But, we buckle down. We half drag-half demand some level of cooperation and reach our vehicle.

They plank again. on.the.ground. between me and the car next to me.

As I’m unlocking my car and opening the door, some lady in her cute little car either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice the kids on the ground next to her vehicle and begins backing up. Like, going to run over my kids, backing up. I’m waving my hands trying to get her attention, while at the same time moving 3 little plankers to the front of my vehicle and literally holding them in an upright position.

She drives away.

No one is injured, and I return to opening the door and attempting to get planking children into the car.

They bolt. Yes, two of my children bolt around the front of the car. Oren chases them. I finish pushing the one child in my arms into the car and head around the back.

23chambers14My 2 runners, a chasing Oren, and a box truck are about the meet up in the middle and I’m too far away to do anything.

Picture this: A fiery 3 yr old redhead screaming in the creeper van screaming bloody murder for Burger King toys.

And me a fiery much older redhead screaming outside the creeper van, “STOP STOP STOP, EVERYBODY STOP!”

The box truck barrels through. And, I can no longer see my kids. They’ve disappeared.

I’m running towards where they should be. A woman who may have only seen the last 2 min (not the full 20 min of attempting to “control” my kids) yells from the door of Burger King in a very judgey tone, “You need to watch your kids better.” ….if looks could kill……..but, I have 3 missing kids and ain’t nobody got time for that…..

I walk around a large car to see 2 kids on the ground with an older brother on top, fighting to keep them there, he says, “Mom, I saw the truck and I had to save them. I tackled them for you”.

I’ve never been so proud, scared, frantic, and angry all at once. I wrangle, wrestle, and bribe them to the van.

I’m now sobbing in my front seat, “I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again. I hate burger king”.

Why am I sharing this? This is my confession to the world: my life is far from perfect, these moments are the norm. I am not capable to be the BEST mom all the time. I don’t have it figured out. I am so far removed from the term perfect. Life is sometimes just chaos. And, yet in the midst of all the chaos, I have an anchor, a calming overpowering awareness that Jesus was orchestrating all of it. That my kids ended up safe.41chambers14

And why after days like these, I am fully aware of my need for him. If it were up to me, I’d be done, thrown in the towel, and having already been crazy.

In situations like this, I’m more aware of my selfishness, my need for control and my desire to do things on my terms and how Jesus requires me to be present away from my needs, give up all control and do things on his terms. I see myself as these rowdy toddlers throwing full on planking fits, and I’m so thankful for the Father’s patience with me. Sometimes, the out-takes in our life reveals our very need for reliance on Him.

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Mommy Mayhem: Finding Grace and Growing Up

Mommy Mayhem


Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1234, here)

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.34 AMAs beautiful, wonderful, and exciting as it can be, being a mom is hard. Really hard (as you mothers already know).  As in, why wasn’t anyone brave enough to be real with me about just how incredibly hard it is to be a mother, especially of very little ones?

I thought I was prepared to be a mother, and quite confident that I was going to make a pretty darn good one, thank you very much. I considered myself a fairly steady personality, patient, creative, with years of nannying experience to help me out. Ha. When our beautiful daughter was born, although life was very different from what I expected and things were hard, I knew I was going to be ok.

Even in the midst of doubting my ability to be a mom, I knew deep down I could do this, I was cut out for this, and I loved being a mother. There were many moments of joy, watching my little girl play and learn and grow.

When our son came along, it was quite the surprise. We had definitely wanted another baby but hadn’t expected to have our children 14 mos apart! I kept hearing helpful motherly advice that littles so close together are really hard in the beginning but then it gets way easier as they get older. I suppose I’m just at the beginning because….it’s still really hard.

I mean, yes, it’s been challenging trying to figure out how to care for a home and manage to get everyone fed and clothed and semi-clean, while clambering over mountains of laundry, and digging your way through piles of dishes. But I’ve been learning, and each fear is conquered one at a time. Giving them both meals at the same time. Taking them both on outings by myself. Giving them both a bath at the same time. Some days I do okay, other days I feel like a failure.

While things things have been hard. The hardest part of mothering has been….me. They say motherhood changes you, and that is as true as true comes, but what happens when you don’t realize how hard you’re fighting the change, even while loving being a mom?

What do you do when the change is an emotional roller coaster, transforming you into someone you don’t recognize, someone short-tempered and critical, frustrated and ungentle, easily angered….without grace?

Suddenly, I found myself with my beautiful baby boy, all light and smiles no matter what was going on around him, and I was being rough and harsh for no other reason than I was frustrated. It frightened me, so much so, that I found myself in tears more often than not. What if my children remember me this way, this joy-less, irritated, angry person?

One day, after curled in the fetal position under my covers as my children were finally, if briefly, asleep, I called my sister in desperation. Wise, gracious, gentle, she herself had fought her way through post-partem depression so severe that she had reconsidered having more children. She put words to what I could not. “You feel like…you’re drowning.” But how could I, me, possibly have post-partem depression? Six months after my little guy was born? I was the least likely person I could think of, and yet, it was true.

It’s hard to mother the way you long to when you don’t know if you’re still…you.

I would find myself trying to put my sweet little man to bed, and he was telling me his needs the only way he knew how – crying and crying and crying – and anger would spring up in my heart so suddenly it nearly took my breath away. More than once, I had to slowly set him down and step back, breathing a desperate prayer for God to free me from the anger that had no place in my heart or home.

How was I to teach my beautiful son how to be gentle if I offered noScreen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.44 AM gentleness? How would he ever learn about grace, the overwhelming all-consuming grace that our heavenly Father holds out unreservedly to us, if I never gave freely of it? I felt so ashamed. Yet, I’m so thankful that God in His wisdom saw fit to make me a mother –not just so that I could help my children grow up, but so that He could help me to grow up.

I used to love working with ceramics in high school – it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. As we were working with the clay, little by little it would dry out and harden, even if we tried to keep it wet and soft enough to be pliable. If a piece of work wasn’t forming right and becoming too hard, we had to break it down, crush it completely, and throw it into a big bin full of ruined projects and water…a sloppy, mucky mess. After a few days at the bottom of the bin, the clay began to soften again, and could be scooped out, the water worked and kneaded out of it, and once again it was soft, pliable, willing clay.

The challenges of motherhood have allowed me to see that I’ve been that piece that hardened before it could be fully made, dried out by my own apathy and busyness, made unyielding by my pride and need to be in control. The only way for me to be made into Christ’s likeness is to be completely unmade out of mine. And here I am, at the bottom of the muck bin, a broken version of myself, but I am being remade. One day at a time, one failure at a time, one humbling moment at a time.

In that remaking, the prayer of my heart is that God would fill me to overflowing with His astounding, undeserved grace so that I can pour out grace to my children.

I am not the mother I want to be. I don’t know how. But, I was made by a great and loving Father who desires the best for me and my family, who created this role of motherhood, and formed me with my children in mind. He is faithful to answer our cries, to give wisdom when we ask, and to change us when we cannot change ourselves, to teach us how to mother our children, to grow us up.

We need Him as mothers, desperately.

I suppose there are a few lucky ones out there who figured that out early on and perhaps have had a smoother journey into motherhood, but for the more stubborn ones of us, He loves us enough to let us journey down into the dark pit of self so that we can realize the empty road we’ve taken alone, and find that we cannot accomplish our calling as mothers this way. Then we find ourselves on our knees, finally, crushed and broken and a mess of tears and sweatpants and leftover Cheerios, and our need for Him is finally, truly known. It is acute. It is devastating. It is freeing. It is the only thing that can unmake us so that we can be made again into the mothers He alone has called us to be. And He kneels down next to us, His own precious children, with outstretched loving arms and grace-filled eyes, waiting for us to finally run to Him instead of away.

The truth of it is, when you get down to the core of things, being a mother is a high, hard, beautiful calling. The truth is we are only human; our efforts alone will always fall short, but we serve a big God full of grace with whom all thing –all things- ARE possible!

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.12.09 AMIn all my free time (haha), I’ve been reading a book by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. If you are a mom, and life is hard and you don’t have it all figured out like you’ve convinced your fellow playgroup moms you do, you need to read this book.

This season of my life has challenged me to fall at the feet of the One who loves my children even more than I do, who loves me even at my worst moments, who is faithful to change me and remake me. In one of the first chapters, Sarah Mae says, “My kids don’t need to see a supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a Super God”, and later adds that “godly parenting is fueled by God’s grace, not my efforts.” This has resounded over and over in my mind and heart – I am only human, and my efforts alone will always fall short, but I serve a big God full of grace with whom all things – all things – are possible. Part of the gift of this book is the encouragement that we do not have to do this high, hard calling of motherhood alone. God meant for us to travel this journey with other moms, being real and teaching and learning and edifying one another for His glory and for the sake of our families. It has reminded me again of all of the beauty of motherhood, made more exquisite as He grows not only our children, but us as well, and He gives grace abundantly to those who ask.

About the author:

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.52 AMHeidi is 28 years old and lives in Stanwood, WA with her wonderful husband Isaac and their two beautiful children, Jolie & Gideon. She’s a stay-at-home mom who gives piano lessons during naptime, loves music and late-night singing with her husband, and enjoying God’s magnificent creation outdoors. She grew up as a missionary kid to the Marshall Islands in Micronesia and in Laos, next to Thailand, before moving with her family to CO and then adventuring out to the great Pacific Northwest to study music in college. Isaac & Heidi met at Northwest University, and have now been married for 5 wonderful years.

Saturday Suggestions 1/26/13

It seems that everyone I know is sick and recovering from “sick” of some sort, so I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to introduce my  “Saturday Suggestions” so you all have something to read.

During the week, in my not-so-free “freetime”, I try to sneak in some other blogs or online articles. It’s much harder to find times to read a full book, so blogs and short articles are kind of my new “thing”.

I’ve always been a “reader”, in fact, my sixth grade teacher told me, “If you spent as much time on your math as you do reading, you could very well be my student with the best grades”. Thanks? I’m pretty sure I responded with, “Well…at least I can figure out how to do math by reading, so I guess i should just focus on my reading”….yes, I was that kid.  Sassy-little-thing.

So, here’s a little of what I’ve been reading this week (the good stuff):

On Marriage and Parenting:

The Parable of the Flying Naked Baby by Jamie The Very Worst Missionary Ever

Jamie talks about how a story of her son falling out of a second story window made its way into the “storytelling” of her neighborhood and how she has come to learn the beauty of Jesus’ story.

“And I think that’s so important to me because I know that apart from Jesus I’m just so common. But when I remember that He is part of my story, it becomes something truly extraordinary.” 

3 Things I wish I knew before We got Married Relevant Magazine.

This is brilliant stuff. Definitely things, I wish I knew sooner. Game changer.

“In this light, contrary to popular opinion, the goal of marriage is not happiness. And although happiness is often a very real byproduct of a healthy relationship, marriage has a far more significant purpose in sight. It is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire and help us grow….When we’re willing to see it this way, then the points of friction in our marriages quickly become gifts that consistently invite us into a more whole and fulfilling experience of life.”

Please Don’t Help My Kids by Kate Bassford Baker.

Kate challenges me as a mom, and hopefully you as a parent to let our kids experience little “safe” bouts of freedom and hardship to learn how to eventually conquer harder ones.

“I don’t want my daughters to learn that they can’t overcome obstacles without help. I don’t want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort. I don’t want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that’s holding them back and *earn* it.”

Anger is not a Sin by Kathy Escobar (guest post on Rachel Held Evans blog)

Whew! This blog post is a great reminder about how we as parents reflect the nature of who God is to our kids. Man…straight to the heart.

“We had good intentions.  We weren’t abusive. We were just following the books that temper tantrums were a sign of faulty parenting and kids needed to learn emotion control.  

I know there are all kinds of ways children need their parents to guide, teach, and set limits on what is appropriate and what’s not.  But looking back, I have learned something very painful about our early parenting years—we sent our children a strong message that we didn’t tolerate negative emotions, only positive ones.”

I Made Up a New Word to Describe Parenting: Harderful by The Outlaw Mama

Outlaw Mama always has me rolling on the floor in tears with her funny expressions of what it means to be a mom. She created a new words that describes both the beauty and the relenting toughness it requires to be a mom.

“Harderfuladj., an experience that is both intensely wonderful  in the deepest and most fundamentally fulfilling ways, but also harder than you ever expected as the experience required of you more guts, stamina, and sheer willpower than you knew you possessed.”

Brave Moms Make Brave Kids by Jen Hatmaker

Um, couldn’t agree more. We HAVE to remember as moms were making disciples and disciples have to be tough!

“Not all risk-taking is bad risk-taking. For the love, don’t we want to raise kids who go for it? Who are brave and headstrong? These are not just the marks of achievers; they are the hallmarks of disciples. If we expect our kids to engage this broken world one day, safety has to be somewhere around #14 on the list. Our children will be totally ineffective if they are still afraid of their own shadow.”

On Faith and Service:

In which there is no “and” by Sara Bessey.

A beautiful reminder that Jesus needs to be first in our life. I was weeping through this as I realize that sometimes, He’s not “enough” for me, but he should be.

“You don’t need anymore “and” in your life. Jesus is enough.

Jesus is enough. God alone is enough, yesterday, today, and forever.”

Finding Contentment: Thoughts on the Downsized Life by Donald Miller

Great Reminder that sometimes “more” isn’t “more”.

“So, I don’t have a nice house. I don’t have a nice car (though I love it. How can you not love a car that has a popup bed on the roof?) and I don’t spend much money.

But I’m content. I can breathe. And that’s nice.”

Current Books I’m Reading:

  • Timothy Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” for the Second Time! If you haven’t read it yet, I challenge you to. It goes far above the “who does what” or proper roles in marriage (although thats a little part of it), but he aims to take modern day common beliefs about marriage and replace them with the beautiful and tough selfless gift God intended for us. This is the book I’m recommending for anyone who plans on getting married, is married, used to be married, is never marrying, or anyone who knows someone married. 

Next on my “reading” list:

  • “Radical” by David Platt. I’m going to be seeing him speak in March and I need to read it first. My hubby has read it, and has challenged me to as well.

My most viewed post of the week:

My First Amendment Right….Still submits to Jesus

My Latest Post:

Maybe, this is normal?

What have you been reading? Anything I should add?

I voted (17)

I voted and placed my ballot in the box. I’m not entirely excited about my vote, nor the candidates represented on the ticket this election year.

ImageToday, although I’m not original in saying this, I’m thankful for being able to take that pen and cross off a choice, my choice for who I believe will run the country the best. I’m thankful that in this nation, I personally get to do that not only as a citizen, but also as a woman. Both are absent still in many nations.

I’m thankful that regardless of my choice, or any other choice, that Jesus still wins. That he can use whomever He wants to accomplish His glory.

I’m thankful that whoever gets elected tomorrow political ads will stop and my mailbox will stop being a junk drop off for all these flyers!

I’ll end with this thankful: I’m thankful for little people and their “political” discussions.

Oren (my 5 yr old son), “I’m voting for the president, because he’s already president”.

Abby (my 7 yr old sister), “Well…Mitt Romney lowers taxes and Obama raises taxes, so I’m voting for Romney”.

Oren, “Well…its a good thing then that I don’t have to listen to you or Mitt Hominy because I don’t have to have taxes.”

Sleep, sanity, husbands, and daylight savings. (13-16)

James Bryan Smith in A Good and Beautiful God says that, “Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust. It is admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps), and that is good news”.

My late evenings are generally filled with the need to stay up longer to be more productive and do grown up tasks such as chores, and reading, and catching up on all the “grown up” shows. Most of my daylight hours are consumed with children, toys, stuffy noses, and dirty diapers–So this makes sense, but it ruins me having a normal bedtime. Sleep for me is both a best friend and a worst enemy. I need adequate sleep and yet, usually sleep is the first thing I give up to meet needs: my needs and my family’s needs.

Let’s be honest, this sleep deprived mom is usually slighty (And by slightly, I mean extremely) cranky. The sound of cranky kids to this sleep deprived mom is usually a panic invoking invitation into borderline insanity. (Can anyone relate?).

James Bryan Smith is right. Sleep is for me a need. A need that I had never placed in the context of trusting in God. As a mom, I need sleep to be my best friend because it shows my kids that I am surrendering my worry my cares and my anxieties and placing my complete trust that God has it under control. No amount of reading or chores will ever make me better; not a better mom, friend or a better wife. Usually, in fact, the opposite is true: sleep deprivation makes me worse at both.

Lately, my husband and I, have challenged ourselves to get more sleep. That means that we give up grown up tasks have a dirtier house, and are calling ourselves “old” because bedtime is now strictly 10 pm.

Sometimes though despite my best efforts sleeping does not work. This weekend was one of those times, sleep was my enemy. No matter how much I tried tossing and turning, my husband was still snoring and talking in his sleep, my 11 mo old thought 3 am was a good time to be awake, and no amount of trying to fall asleep was working. I found myself frustrated and very awake until approximately 4 am.

You know what was amazing? Even though my sleep deprivation was out of my control, I was able to gain an hour because of daylight savings, my hubby woke up with our kids and let me sleep til I naturally woke up.

Today I’m just thankful for sleep, husbands, and daylight savings. And that I get to keep my sanity for one more day. 🙂

Psalm 4:7b-8 “At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together.”

Sunny Days…sweeping the clouds away! (Day 7)

My Day 7 praise is this:

No matter where my kids are in the house, as soon as “Sunny Days…Sweeping the Clouds away” begins an opening ballad, there will soon be the thud, thud, thud resounding through our 3 story house.

Within minutes, 2 little one and a half year old girls will be yelling, “Melmo!” “Abby Cabbabby!” “COOOOKIE!” and will frantically seat themselves excited bottoms down on the couch cushions. My five year old, although he claims he is too old for Sesame Street, normally finds himself meandering into the living room and enjoying the hour long broadcast. They’ve all heard the song enough to know that soon their favorite characters will be parading across the screen.

This little game has become kind of fun for me as a mom. I love to hear their excitement over something so silly. I love to see the joy across their faces as they see and experience the joys of interacting with their favorite characters of Sesame Street.

“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.”-Psalm 147:7

Like the Psalm says, my praises for the past seven days are music to God’s ears, but I’m also noticing they are creating music in my life. And like my kids with the “Sunny Days” theme song, I’ve been sharing “songs of praise” so much lately, that I’m becoming more and more excited to hear them. In fact, sometimes, my “thankfuls” are so many that I’ve had to decide which ones to share. I’m noticing that even on the worst of days a there’s still an exciting theme song constantly playing. There is always something that I can be thankful for.

What I can’t believe is that honestly after only seven days, I’m noticing my attitude and my days changing. Things that I usually loathe like dirty toilets, dishes, and never-ending piles of laundry are actually just beautiful reminders of simple things like indoor plumbing, a full tummy and warm things to wear.  Work is easier when I’m counting it as a blessing.

I’ve also realized that I have the ability to tune the song out or turn it off by my complaints or inability to be grateful for them.  The “clouds” or complaints in my life kind of drown out the excitement of all the good things God is doing.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again-Rejoice” Philippians 4:4

So, will you join me on this praise pact?

What are your praises this week?

Praise Pact: Day 3

My praise pact day 3:

Today I’m thankful for growing pains. The last few years have been full of growing pains of varying degrees. From challenging pregnancies, to relationships, and home-life, career and at times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. But, from those challenges and growing pains I’ve learned what it means to be content, to trust and rely on God and His unfailing mercies and strength. I have learned that there is joy and peace in every circumstance even when it seems bleak. For that, I am immeasurably grateful and thankful.

Psalm 107

The Message (MSG)

107 1-3 Oh, thank God—he’s so good!
His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

10-16 Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying God’s Word,
for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—
A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
broke open the jail and led you out.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!

17-22 Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life,
your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food,
so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!

23-32 Some of you set sail in big ships;
you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind—
an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
and he led you safely back to harbor.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!

33-41 God turned rivers into wasteland,
springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
because of the evil of the people who lived there.
Then he changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
they moved in—what a great place to live!
They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
their herds of cattle never decreased.
But abuse and evil and trouble declined
as he heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

42-43 Good people see this and are glad;
bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

 

What Growing pains have you experienced the last year and what has God shown you through them?

I’m okay.

My 21 month old daughter, Addilynn, recently stubbed her toe, ran towards me and said, “Mimi, toe-sh, hurts. O-kay? yesh,I o-kay. Kisses mimi, peeze.”

Then I follow up with a kiss to those little stumpy precious baby toes and I tell her. “Oh, Addie-girl, you have to watch where you run.”

She has learned the process, the script, and knows that mom’s kisses heal and she is safe to return to running.

I,like my daughter Addie, have experienced a stub my toe kind of hurt lately. Someone recently hurt me. They don’t know they did, but they did none-the-less.

Someone misunderstood something I wrote. But, they didn’t ask me about it. I heard a concern from someone else and the original person wished to remain anonymous. So, instead of hearing my position or my feelings, they believed something about me that’s not true, and I don’t get the opportunity to set the record straight by clarifying or apologizing or doing anything that the situation could have warranted.

Although it is frustrating that someone thinks something about me thats not true, what bothers me the most is that someone in my personal life feels they can’t talk to me.

It really made me question whether or not I should write in a public setting. It made me question all the people around me.  Was it her? Was it him? Am I approachable? My easiest response to these questions would have been to withdraw and to stop writing or to allow it to impair my running abilities, or to become angry and blame them.

But,  thankfully, I went limping towards the arms of my heavenly Father instead. I spent time praying, and pouring out my heart-hurt.

He began to bandage my heart-hurt with the God-kisses of mercy, grace, and love. And he asked me, “Ash, you going to be okay?”

I’m okay because I’m learning that God will always kiss the smallest of stubbed toe heart-hurts.

I’m okay because I’m learning that maybe I need to watch my words a little more carefully. And, that maybe I’m causing stub-my-toe kind of hurt towards others.

I’m okay because I want to show grace to the anonymous person in my life. I’d like to ask them to forgive me, if my words have hurt them. I’d like them to know that I’m very sorry if I have made myself unavailable or unapproachable for them to share their hurt with me. Most importantly, I’d like them to know that while they may have hurt me in remaining anonymous that I forgive them and want to show love and compassion. And that beyond that, I am willing to risk being misunderstood again and thus hurt again in order to be obedient to the calling God has put on my life.

I’m okay because I’m learning the process, the script, and that with Abba’s kisses I’m safe to return to running.

Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

–Psalm 103:2-4

Letter to a Real Superhero

I recently shared these words with my friend, a new mom. And, I gave her a supermom “cape”

Dear Friend,

Words do not begin to express the joy I feel to know that you are becoming a mommy. I am so excited to be on this journey with you. There are some things that I think you should know—sort of an initiation into mommyhood.

In the next phase of life, it’s about to get REAL crazy, a good crazy, BUT crazy none-the-less. Your world, no matter how little or huge you feel like your world may be changing it’s about to be flipped upside down and inside out! It’s supposed to happen that way. There’s something uniquely mysterious and beautiful when a woman shares and pours her blood, sweat, tears and heart into a little baby. But, your life will never ever be the same as it was. REJOICE though: It will be better, but it will be harder.

Moms often get fearful to let others know that we’re struggling. There are moments when you too might feel lonely, and inadequate like you didn’t receive any training despite the hours of babysitting and classes you may have taken.

Look around at the moms around you, REALLY look for a minute AND know this: You are a blessed woman. I know that you know that, but I hope you really let it sink in today. These women around you are all women who deeply care for you, love you, and truly will jump in the trenches for you. Most of us have gone through this transition. We have all felt overwhelmed and underpaid. And we’ve all compared ourselves to another mom or woman who seemed to have it “all together”.

Know that we don’t have it all together. We have all been there crying out of pure exhaustion—wishing for more normalcy. But, know also the things you are facing are not yours they are ours– being alone only makes it worse—so reach out when those moments come. Let these women encourage and strengthen you. Let these women challenge you and most importantly let these women HELP you. If it feels like your day to day life would burden someone or is “your problem” and burdensome for others (which is normal) know that it’s not.

You have continuously served and been there for me, I am certain all of these women, and in this short phase we all get to be here for you. Let us BLESS you in that way! Don’t be afraid to ask! Ask for anything: Five minutes for a shower, 20 minutes for a nap, a trip to the grocery store. Don’t feel like you have to be a hostess or be worried about your home, you don’t need to. We all know and understand the challenges we face. So invite these women to face them with you.

Also, Know this: YOU are capable, able, and were made to be a superhero mom. You have prepared well for this! While at times, it may seem like you are failing, you aren’t. Your kids will not hate you and most likely they will not remember this time of transition, because they are resilient. Do the best that you can, and just keep going You’ll figure it out quickly! Tomorrow is a NEW day, so no matter how hard or how bad today felt, there’s a fresh start tomorrow!

Also, know this: keep your expectations of your spouse and of your house and of your life low during this time. The higher the expectations the less of a sense of accomplishment happens over achieving the little things (which all accumulate to become mastery of big things). Allow little victories to come daily and celebrate them!

Also, know this—this is ironic, since I am giving you a lot of advice, but this may just be the most important. Just go with your gut. There is a ton and a ton of differing advice columns, parenting methods, childrearing ways, but just do what you do best. Focus on what feels right for you and your spouse and for the little baby you have. The people who write those or who will give their unwanted advice aren’t you or him or have your kids. Listen, but feel free to use or not to use at YOUR own will!

Lastly, I’ll say this: Remember to keep God as a primary source of your strength. Not only will he give you supernatural abilities (especially when your sleep deprived), but He will be a source of joy and peace in the midst of your chaos. It’s about to get harder to find time to meet with Him, but in the craziness of your life find 5 min here or there. I’ve always been a big time Bible reader, and in my phase right now, I’m fairly limited in that portion of my faith walk, but I’ve gotten really good at praying. I pray while I do chores, and while I cook dinner. Different phases of life develop different faith practices–so don’t be discouraged.

On days when you feel up to your elbows in poop (literally you may feel this way) and babies are crying and you are so exhausted that you are sitting up drinking coffee and falling asleep know that you have a tool—feel free to use it often. You can make it a daily aspect of your wardrobe—you will deserve it within the first 24 hours.

Love ya, and I’m praying for you daily (minute by minute, hour by hour, because I know the crazy mom world), Ash

Favorite Most Bestest Mom

My day: Wake up, take shower and brush teeth (if I’m lucky), get dressed, change Judah, feed Judah, get girls up, change girls, feed kids breakfast, COFFEE, eat breakfast myself, clean up kids from breakfast, clean up, play with kids, feed Judah, naps, read my Bible, run a load of dishes and laundry, sweep floors, get kids up from nap, feed kids, COFFEE, change kids, laundry, nap, change, feed, laundry, feed, diapers…….get the point yet?

How we conquer “swinging” with four kids, haha

Then, throw in today’s adventure of chasing two children in opposite directions both with coins in their mouth (I cannot figure out for the life of me where they are getting them), my infant Judah screams on the floor because he was in the middle of nursing when this game of coin eating began, and my four year old is saying repeatedly to his screaming brother, in the most annoying decibal, “Judah, Juuuudah, Judah, Jooo–duh, Jude, Jooodah!”

Happy Judah

I wish I could say that these events happen one time every week or maybe one time every day, but they are pretty regular.

I’ve become the mom in the grocery store whose kids are crying and throwing fits, because no matter how hard I “plan” by the time we’ve eaten, changed, driven and are half way through shopping, it is indeed nap time again.

Strangers are constantly raising eyebrows of disdain, and making comments. I received one recently, “you should’ve stopped after your twins” or my all-time favorite, “wow, haven’t you heard of adoption?” I’m not lying, I have been told these things. Even Oren, my 4 year old has said, “Oh, so…we don’t have a dog because there’s just to many kids right?” (I must say I find his to be more funny-than a stranger’s insult)

I am not reading to my kids the recommended minutes per day, nor am I doing all those arts and crafts that develop fine motor and gross motor control. I don’t review flashcards on a regular basis. My 4 year old does not write his name yet, nor has he learned to ride his bike with or without training wheels because we don’t have the time or energy to teach him but for a few minutes here and there. I have to admit, I didn’t throw a BIG 1st birthday party for my twins. To be more honest, I barely remembered it and then we threw a small party a month later. My kids rarely get baths nightly. Sometimes, I’m lucky to get them in 2-3 times a week.

Kiddos takin a bath

But, somedays and more often than not, when I look at these things and the fact that were just simply in survival mode I have to wonder if I’m doing a good job as a mom because these things seem like failures.

Even as I type these thing there is a slight twinge of guilt and a little voice in my head says, “Don’t type that..your just inviting judgement”.

Thankfully, there’s a stronger voice, the one that is not tame but full of love, tells me that my thoughts aren’t His.

He points out that although I’m not being the “World’s Greatest Mom” because I don’t have what the “world” claims is the greatest, that the title I’m earning is better.  That first and foremost, I am his child and that’s the most important. And second, that I’m teaching my kids God’s ways and caring for my kids out of love.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Deuteronomy 4:9-10

When people make mean comments, I can graciously respond (while holding back tears) that, “My kids are my miracle babies. God entrusted them to me. That although its overwhelming and appears impossible, that they are my gifts, and I cherish them.” My kids hear that often (unfortunately), and they know I believe it.

Girls help with dishes

When I think about Oren not being able to ride his bike, I also have to remember the moment recently he walked into the kitchen because after he realized that Annie (the movie he was watching) was an orphan and he said (through tears), “Mom, that little girl is looking for her parents. She doesn’t have any. That’s so sad, we would help her wouldn’t we? We would invite her into our family right mom?” He grieves what God grieves, orphans and the lonely people in the world, some people (while being bike-ridders) miss that altogether.

Addie and Momma at the park

Or that despite the lack of arts and crafts, he comes downstairs crying after having colored on the walls during bedtime worried that lying or hiding it would hurt his heart. He knows that bad choices hurt our inner soul and eventually will change us. My husband and I taught him that through our household conversations and no amount of motor skills can replace that.

I might not be giving my kids all the baths or showers or birthday parties they should have, but I’ve got to remember that my lap is always open, I’m excited to see them grow, I love them each for who God created them to be, I encourage their independence and uniqueness. I’m teaching them respect and taking pride in work. Because, we show them love by serving them daily without feeling obligated, it’s a privilege. Even if  it looks like were “barely surviving” by the worlds standards.

Realistically, the things I’m seeing as failures are really first world problems,I only have them because I am educated, and have wealth and can read what the “world’s greatest” should be and what scientific research says the right amount of reading or what arts and crafts provide. They really are secondary.

My kids are happy and content and all their needs are taken care of. They don’t know they are missing out on anything, because they have everything important. And, while I might not be the “World’s Greatest” Mom I’m being “Oren, Cadie, Addie and Judah’s favorite most bestest mom” (as Oren says).

Now, that title -I’ll take it!

And the rest? Well, I’ll have to trust that God has got it under control, that my kids forgive me for not showing them flash cards or throwing a huge first birthday party. And, that when these days of having so many kids in diapers who need so much care are lifted — we will more than make up for it.

“Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.”-1 Samuel 1:26-28