Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The strong-willed child?

I don't believe in 'the strong-willed child.'

I know what you're thinking... She's only saying that because she hasn't had her's yet. Wait until her third or her fourth comes along.

I still don't believe.

And not because I think any resistance, no matter how strong, can be spanked out or loved out or in any human way tamed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Didn't I feed you last night?

Can I hear an amen? That book on the floor would be The Winds of War by Herman Wouk {at least this week, and probably next week - it's 900 pages}. I would so much rather read than face my fridge.

What to cook for dinner?

Every day when the girls go down after lunch, I bite my nails until this puzzle is solved. What will I fix? Not because we have no options. On the contrary I have a hundred half options, a tried recipe with one ingredient missing or a list of ingredients waiting on my brain to concoct a recipe. I want to slump with her.

It's the deciding that gets me. All day, deciding. The biggest pro and con to self-employment and the essence of SAHMing.

This is first world problems all the way. Too many options for dinner? Truly ridiculous.

Seriously, I'm sorry for griping that I have to decide what to feed my family.

I left in the gripe because I guess we all get there on occasion. Dinner is just a straw on a back that gave out yesterday and confined me to the couch.

Trying to train myself back to writing. Not dissimilar to breaking running training, then fighting through wheezing lungs all over again. That's the real reason I leave the post. I've got to start back somewhere.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A long walk home

"We ride the big white bus?!?"

Since the airport tram, big one has been enchanted with public transport. And I must say, that's cheap entertainment. $3 for the whole family. So we speed walked to the bus stop and hitched a ride.

All 4 miles down Warwick to a yuppy section of town. Maybe they don't think so, but it has no practical shops, just boutique types. And beautiful old houses with full gardens.

At an antique/consignment shop, I found a bin of lace scraps - yards and yards for $1. Quilting fat quarters for $.50. Bags of buttons. I could go on. Oh, and the sweet proprietress had a pot of coffee brewing. Perfect.

Even more perfect, the girls ate a snack on the picnic table out front while I dug.

The sky was so blue, and we were enjoying conversation, so we decided to ditch the bus ride home and just walk through the old neighborhood with the great plants.

6.7 miles...

In flip flops...

80 degrees and 100% humidity (the peninsula knows no less)...

Small one in arms for miles...

"Oh, Thank heaven for 7 eleven." Never appreciated that before. Iced Fanta hit my lips, and my knees buckled a little.

We're home, laying before the fan, blistered feet elevated, Slurpee cups drained, babies napping. A nearly perfect family outing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Strained Week

I could have written a fail blog this week. Everything I touched turned to dust: bread, granola, more bread, crazy sewing project for DH that I abandoned in disgust and found $75 in the budget to buy the Timbuktu bag he wanted and my release from sewing interment camp. It's discouraging.

That's no excuse for not writing.

I have a lot on my heart at the moment. Not all is appropriate for public broadcast. The parts that are: the decline of my grandparents, the exhaustion of my parents, the impotence of living 9 hours away, the relentless rebellion from small one who just learned, "NO!" and how to run and how to climb the stove and how to remove her diaper when it's full. This phase weighs heavy in my chest.

Earlier in the year, I studied: We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4 I cling to that promise: endurance, character, hope. Rewards of suffering well.

Faith that has suffered learns to cling. Grab hold of hope on the glory of God and hang for dear life because everything else is pitfall.

Busy about morning chores, I feel my anxieties and fears press hard against that shield of faith, threatening to crush in on me. Another passage comes to mind: Take up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times. Ephesians 6:17-18 Don't just stand there while the enemy bears down upon you. Pick up the word and fight back.

So I sit, open to my regular reading. The very first passage, Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of deep darkness, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

My grandmother's favorite Psalm that she taught me as a child. God is so good.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Afton at Bluebird Gap

It's not often DH is jealous of a beard

So much excitement packed into an hour at the petting zoo.

Small one stole the show. Every turn brought the discovery of strange creatures: goats, pigs, chickens. Animals DH and I barely notice. The price of familiarity.

Watching her joy was our joy.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I not comfy anymore...

The only thing standing between our family and fro-yo was one half-napping two year old. Ghengis Khan would struggle to keep us from Sweet Frog. Big one was no match.

Daddy quietly snuggled next to her, explaining to her almost listening ears that we were going for frozen yogurt. Nothing from big one.

At the mention of soft-serve heaven, small one moshpit-style leaped onto the bed, her face pressed down onto big one. Big one grunts, Uhh, I not comfy anymore.

Daddy and I howl, shaking our heads. Oh yes, why don't you lay there comfy while the rest of us pile yogurt into our bowls. I'm sure you'll be happier.

And don't we do it all the time? Skip the family dessert-for-dinner outing, or more realistically, the sunrise to stay in comfy beds.

This was our discussion this afternoon: Why hasn't small one been to Grandview yet? When was the last time we visited Bluebird Gap Farms?

We're so distracted by grown-up stuff... yard work and broken cars. Out of the habit of finding fun family stuff. Staying in our 'comfy' gluten-free home rather than making the mess to have the adventure.

Practice impractical. Plan impromptu. We need a bit less warm bed and bit more frozen yogurt. She agrees:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blame the Blog

The familiar sour taste is back this morning. Wonder why I have a pattern of blogging for 4 or so months, then giving up? Mornings like this one.

I sat down to write a couple hours ago with nothing. A signature and no thought to place before it. But it's been days, and I always post Monday. Who knows what the rest of the week will look like? I gave God about 15 seconds to inspire me before turning to the kitchen. When in doubt, cook.

A granola recipe has been in 'testing' for several weeks now. Eh - why not iron out the last kinks? So I spent all morning toasting and chopping and mixing. Not because granola is complicated - I had to tinker with my method and ratios. Must create the next 'perfect granola' recipe. Delusions of 'America's Test Kitchen'.

Looking out the kitchen window while washing up from the first mess, the perpetually overgrown lemon balm caught my eye. Oh yeah, I was going to do something with that. So I set about making several quarts of different herbal teas. Again, with a future post in mind. Again, awarding myself much greater culinary prowess than I deserve.
On and on. All while trying to craft winsome introductions.

I'm sure by now, you've asked the question I forgot to: Don't you have children? What have the girls been doing all this time?

When I finally broke from my self-absorbed experiment, I found pee on the floor and shreds of what used to be a beautifully illustrated children's book. Standing over their mess were two fed-up toddlers, ready for time away from their beloved sissy.
This is where I get disgusted with the blog. Of course I would be an attentive, present mother, reading with her children and one step ahead of the little bladder if I didn't have to feed the blog. It's all the internet's fault.

You already know. You're much smarter than I am: The blog requires nothing. Somewhere, a blog marketer just exploded, but really, the blog would still be here if I didn't write. It would still hold recipes and funny memories and awesome stuff God has done. It's a journal, not an obligation.

The girls require. More than food. Engaging their hearts and minds. Something Momma failed at today.

But God's mercies are new every nap time Lamentations 3:22-23 New Momma Version.

Lay down the wooden spoon and with it my pride {I heard recently that pride keeps us from recognizing our own ridiculousness - amen}. Fold hands in my lap. Bow head before the Father. Praise the Spirit for revealing my selfishness before it spoiled an outlet of praise.

Hope your Monday is Spirit-filled and Christ honoring - Happy day after Momma's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cuteness du jour

Simple post for a slammed week: the babies and their antics.

We learned "Follow the Leader" last night. Trying to exhaust some wiggles before dinner guests arrived. This morning I poke my head into their room at the sound of loud, unusually solid clapping. Big one looks at me, We playing follow da leader! We marching! and so they are, marching like organ grinder monkeys banging wooden puzzle pieces together. {grin}

Big one continues composing:

Jingle bells. Jingle bells. All through the town. {still beating puzzle pieces together}

A B C D E F G L N M ah poop - giggles to herself. Her third grade boy humor is developing early.

Happy day to you. Happy day to me. Happy day to us.

Reciting Goodnight Moon:
Goodnight sun, goodnight moon, goodnight stars. Goodnight mush and goodnight hush. Goodnight mittens and goodnight cats.
Then a craft break to speed a morning that started too early {big one asks for lunch at 10:15}. Instead we color construction paper and cut out A's and G's. Such a silly small project, but I'm working with 1 and 2 year old fine motor skills. The girls proudly wave their letters, mostly in the cat's face.

Small one, well, it's just been a messy day. Fortunately I am close when big one yells, Sissy have messy diaper.

How could she know that?

Then: OOOh, Sissy, don't eat poop.


It's not over. Want to see lunch?

Bath. Clean up. Reading. Both asleep within 4 songs {I time how long I've patted a booty by the cd}. I'm not bragging. I'm exhausted.

Monday, May 7, 2012

God is Bigger

What do we say when we're scared?

I see her chin quiver. Fear of the unknown is taking over. Mommy, why am I here? What is here? Why are you holding me down? Why does the nurse keep tapping my arm?

She pulls brave from her toes and cries, God is bigger than da boogie man. And he watching you an me.

Everyone in the ER can hear her tiny testament of faith in a big God who knew this day would come.

And isn't that what my heart was whispering all day: when I walked in the room and saw them chew and gulp the last pill - extra strength Tylenol. No regular strength pain killers in this house. God is bigger.

And didn't I hear it when I tried to call poison control, only to find out that my phone could only operate on speaker phone? Something about the tea I sloshed into the headphone port. God is bigger.

What about when the pediatrician kept me on hold so long my phone died all together? God is bigger.

Or when I walked into the emergency room carrying 50 pounds of squirming, scared, barefoot, overdosed toddlers? God is bigger.

Wasn't it there all along? God whisper, "I'm bigger than this day. I saw you stupidly put the Tylenol in a discarded mint tin. I saw big one's fingers reach for it. I saw her share so generously with sissy. Now you've seen it. Do you trust me?"

As I fought with the broken seat belt to "please for the love buckle!" I recalled Ann Voskamp writing that when we chose Satan's ways under stress, we tell God that his methods aren't expedient enough, aren't adequate for this day. Just give me patience and peace and faith on the easy days. I'll take irritation and frustration and snatching and screaming for the hard days.

God is bigger than my stress response too.

Here we are, four hours later. Big one looks at me. Do I believe her song?

So I sing, "God is bigger than the boogie man. He's bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV. O, God is bigger than the boogie man, and he's watching out for you and me."

The truth of that simple VeggieTales tune hits hard, and I hide tears with a kiss on her forehead. God is bigger than this whole day, and His eyes never left us.

The non-dramatized version of the day:

As I was transferring car seats so we could go to church, the girls pulled the time of Tylenol out of my purse and crunched on 5 or 6. We spent the morning in the ER waiting for blood levels to peak. After 4 hours, their levels were in the 'low risk' range. Their little livers metabolized wonderfully. Mostly waiting and watching for an mercifully anticlimactic finish. Momma, Daddy and girls are all fine after a good night's sleep.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Momma Prayer

An afternoon prayer to fight discouragement when I realize that I'm washing dishes so that we can eat off them in an hour and sweeping floors so we can walk over them in minutes:

Lord, let the relentlessness of my job remind me of your relentless grace. You never grow so weary that you cannot forgive my sin. You never throw up your hands and storm out for alone time. You are gracious and merciful; slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. Great is your faithfulness.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Religion

The cool kid churches hate 'religion'.

Have you noticed? The new religion of being non-religious? The new extra 10 commandments for churches and pastoral staff:

1. You shall wear jeans and flip flops to church. Elder, if you are over 50, you shall also wear hawaiian shirts.
2. You shall not use a hymnal {under any circumstance, even to prop up a table}.
3. You shall mention in passing that you drink red wine, only at home, only with your wife.
4. Your shall post recycle bins at more or less convenient locations; however, never in the women's restroom to catch paper towels.
5. You shall have a coffee bar, for espresso is a holy drink, provided it has a lid.
6. You shall offer your sermons on podcast.
7. You shall teach exegetically {verse by verse through a book}. Topical studies shall be used only on occasion to teach stewardship and marriage.
8. You shall refer often to deceased theologians: Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, Owen, and anyone else who makes you look intellectual. Do this, so that non-Christian elitists in the congregation will know that you are not brain-washed, unstudied hicks, but brain-washed, learned hicks.
9. You shall only meet as a large group on Sundays. If you want to see more of each other or eat together, you shall meet in a small group throughout the week, to be divided by common life stage or interest or family structure and to study sermon-based material posted to the blog.
10. You shall blog. And tweet. And keep a facebook page. And when you have excelled in secular social media, you shall create your own network.

I jest.

Well, sort of.

I like most of these 'rules'. I was raised in a church that helped come up with the new rules for non-rule following churches. They're my church comfort zone. Leading people out of religion into relationship. It's a good motto, but it's not true. We moved people from an old liturgy into a new, sleeker one.

Religion - from Latin religare - to bind, tie; compare to a ligament.

Religion binds us together, like our ligaments holding bone to bone. All together creating the body of Christ.

The church is a funny thing, a quirky living entity made up of every believer, every culture, every age. It's easy to get caught up in the quirks and issues, moan about latte prohibition in the sanctuary or about disrespectful slurping from travel mugs during worship.

The rules are never perfect. Jesus never told us how pastors should dress or how big baptismal fonts should be or how many singers should be on stage at a time. He left us to wrestle through those issues together. A group problem that draws us into cooperation with each other {however, it would really ease conflict if Elijah had 'seen' whether the senior ministry needs a people mover}.

New religion or old, no matter how silly, binds us together.

It also makes us slightly ridiculous, these arbitrary rules we add. How to worship God correctly. Our scope of worship is so small. Who are we to make rules?

I find it cathartic to mock. Lightens the mood when conflict arrives. Our religious rules are not true, not Biblical. Because...

Religion that is pure and and undefiled is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Oh wait, I guess Jesus did answer that religion question.

Need to laugh at our own ridiculousness? Check out Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like.

Got any rules to add? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Encouraging Word

God still feels removed most days. Not Jesus or the Holy Spirit - they feel close. But my thoughts of God the Father tend to future tense: I will see Him in heaven. Or as the distant Calvinist director of all humankind. God in glory and splendor, pillar of fire, blazing throne room. Holy. Holy. Holy. Father doesn't feel like an accurate moniker.

Then that brilliant light breaks through. Reveals Him on the earth. Him, big God, universe-in-palm creator God right here, intimate and invested.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

God himself. The one I assume has better things to do. The one I don't bother with my sufferings. God himself.

Restore. Confirm. Strengthen. Establish. Reminds me of the girls: trip and crash, goose eggs and scraped skin, looking to mommy to kiss it and make it all better. Teary eyes pressed into my shoulder.  Nothing removed and distant about that. All access. All present.

All through Christ.

Elijah and Jesus {!} weren't tended to by God. The angels ministered to their needs 1 Kings 19:48, Matthew 4:11. God's open arms come through grace and the cross. A gift when the veil is torn.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; 1 John 3:1

Children who suffer and fall and cry, only to meet the arms of the Father himself.

My words fall short. Overwhelmed by gifts of grace.


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