Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy day

Ten years ago I shared my 20th birthday with 101,000 of my closest friends at Neyland Stadium, bedecked in orange and singing Rocky Top. That pretty much sums up where I was. Floating in a sea of faces, not quite sure who I was, passionate but unconnected.

Today I welcome 30 with my beautiful family. Friday morning traditional pancake breakfast, "assisting" my little party planners as they "make" my birthday cake, build a sand castle at Buckroe, quiet evening with Tim, and a cookout with friends later in the weekend. Infinitely connected to four people, journeying with so many more.

In a mere ten years.

Well, not so mere...

20 - sophomore year, working as an RA, tons of peeps, no solid friends, no church home
21 - find a church home, find a best friend for college and a best friend for life
22 - tragedy shows how real our church family is
23 - get married! start grad school, start ministry with new church family
24 - buy first house, find new married friends
25 - leave grad school, identity crisis over who I am without "future DVM" behind my name
26 - first baby arrives! move to Virginia and fall in love with a new church family
27 - second baby arrives!
28 - develop our family identity
29 - third baby arrives!
Thirty promises two new nieces, a celebration of a stronger, happier relationships with my original family, too.

How could I not look forward to 30??

The Lord has done so much for me the last ten years. He has taught me about who he is and who I am in Christ. He's given me purpose, my personal ministry from him. I don't only mean my kids, although they are a ministry. I mean that he has taken so many pieces of me that I didn't know what to with at 20 and showed me that he made me "this way" to use me "this way." I don't need to become someone else.

I am a happy girl on this happy day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2 months tomorrow

Little Man is two months old tomorrow. All that stuff about time flying, it's true here too.

He's still my fabulous baby, with the goofiest grin, especially for Afton. Those two share some special connection. She starts singing her little made up ditties, and he kicks and coo's and grins like a fool.

Got my first kiss today, the nearly violent open-mouthed baby kind, not the mistook your face for a boob kind.

Also today, I missed a photo op when he saw his hand for the first time. Gwennan face planted while I was looking for my camera. I'll just have to remember the what new marvel might this be look.

But I didn't miss every picture...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Invited to interrupt

Glance at the clock. 9 o'clock. Breakfast dishes took an hour. A pan and a handful of plates and mugs.

Maybe it's settling hormones, more likely, it's frustration that brings tears to my eyes. 

Not about the dishes.

About the time. About the infant stirring. About the lost moment to workout. About the interruptions. 

The interruptions are the real weight.

My fists ball when I hear the bells clang against the back door. My face tenses anticipating another, mmmmmmoooommmmmm-aaaaaa. Crises. Kisses. Tattles. I need a new pencil. This one's not working. Sister was about to hit me. I found a mushroom in the yard. Come get it. I'm done outside. I need to big poop. waa-waa-WWWAAAAA!

So an hour slipped past before the breakfast dishes were nestled in the sink to dry.

This toddler season is our life. Hard. Good. Beat your head against a wall. Smile until your cheeks hurt. Parenting.

The relentless nature wears on me. DH comes home from a 12 hour work day and asks, what's wrong? Are you just tired? And I think, no. I've just had one year of my life sucked away. I feel like Wesley strapped to the machine in the pit of despair.

No. It's not that bad.

But it is relentless. Ceaseless petitioning.

My humanness, and probably selfishness, begs to finish a task, a thought, start to finish without someone talking to me.

Let the little children come to me. Don't worry that they'll interrupt or annoy me, that they will babble nonsensically. I want to hear and see them.

What I find exhausting, God finds delightful.

He invites us to converse. Pray without ceasing. Not a command, but an invitation. Please, come to me with every little thing. I want to hear it all.

Not like a frustrated mother in front of the sink pulling off her gloves to deal with yet another squabble.

A loving father waiting to hear every detail, never cutting off or glancing at his phone.

I don't treat prayer that way. More like a military exchange. Here are the facts. Lets get down to business. You to yours. Me to mine. Check back in with the results. Amen.

My underlying assumption is that he is too busy to converse. He would rather recieve bullet points during a set meeting time so he can resume his more pressing duties.

After all, he is The Lord God, creator of heaven and earth.

But I'm not told to prayer to 'God Most High, King of Kings.' I'm taught to prayer, 'our father.'

Father who loves me because I am his child. He is invested in me, in my every moment.

Father who has no need to multitask in order to include me. His attention is as infinite as himself. He is fully present when I speak. I don't understand how that works; I simply rejoice that it works.

Knowing who is waiting to hear from me, I can joyfully petition all my cares. Please heal the dog. I need my happy Abby back. Please keep Tim safe as he bikes home. Thank you for a moment of happy imaginative play. 

My grandmother prayed like this. Especially in her last years. Every time she got out of bed, she prayed that The Lord would give her strength to walk to the couch. My sister used to grin and say, I can always carry you there. But Grandmother never stopped asking or thanking. She understood the invitation.

My Lovely child, Pray whenever you want, as much as you want, about whatever you want. I am always listening. I am never too busy. I am never interrupted. I've never heard it all before. Please, pray without ceasing.

Casting our cares because he cares for you.

More than any flawed momma juggling duties and plaintives.

We pray because he cares.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our breakfast obsession {dutch babies}

Hearing your children cheer to eat 'babies' is a little creepy, especially early in the morning. But it happens almost every day at present. Because the girls discovered the dutch baby.

A dutch baby is essentially your eggs and toast, but in a custardy pie with a flaky top. Doesn't that sound worthy of a two year old's obsession?

With all the convenience breakfast foods available, it can be hard to muster the energy to make a hot breakfast. I get it. I don't like cleaning dishes any more than the next momma who'd rather move on to her yoga routine than pick up a soapy sponge. That might be why I'm so obliging with this meal. It is no messier than scrambled eggs and actually requires less of my attention while it cooks. I stand in a stupor watching espresso drip down while this sits in the oven. Not so when I scramble eggs. Either the eggs come out a little brown and firm while I make coffee, or I don't get coffee. You can guess how I usually serve eggs. {If you come over for breakfast, don't worry. I hand over the reins to Tim for large group scrambled eggs. His are always perfect thanks to the hawk-like vigilance he learned from his dad. I just worry over the coffee.}

Without further procrastination:

Dutch Babies {GF}

1 c milk
4 eggs
1 c flour {can use whole grain like buckwheat, oat, sorghum}
Pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 t lemon zest*

1-2 T butter for pan

Preheat oven to 475. Place an oven safe 9-10" skillet in the oven as it preheats.

While oven preheats, combine milk and eggs in blender. Blend until eggs are incorporated {about 30 seconds}. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth {about 1 minutes}. Allow to sit while oven preheats to soften whole grain flour.

When oven is preheated, remove skillet {Use a potholder!} and melt butter in pan, rotating to cover the bottom and sides of skillet. Pulse batter once more to mix in any settled flour, then pour in skillet. Place skillet in middle of oven. Bake for 14-16 minutes.

Makes enough for our family of 4.

Add some fresh fruit {we suggest blueberries}, and you've got a complete breakfast. Enjoy!

For the gluten free peeps: Dutch babies are our replacement for french toast. The flavor is very similar without using a loaf of gf bread on breakfast.

*DH found pure lemon oil, not an essential oil, at a cake decorating shop ~ perfect easy substitute for lemon zest. One of my favorite pantry staples.

Adapted from this recipe

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sneak peak at the 'bunk house'

We're halfway through my first solo flight. Daddy is on a work trip, and we're no longer three lone girls. The little man of the house is holding down the fort with both nap time and late night vigils {I can't fall asleep at 8:30 or sew until midnight. hmph. But I do get to cuddle with my son!}

Brother doesn't seem to mind princess night yet, so the tradition can continue for now. But it might not have to. DH set me up for this trip, working well into dusk before he left to finish his backyard build. Oh yes, it's not quite ready for the big reveal {I think he has a few decorative touches left}, but our landscaping has changed drastically to give the kids a wonderful, imaginative play area.

A sneak peak at the 'bunk house' {not sure where G came up with this moniker}:

 Several blogs suggest making your own odd size/shape blocks instead of buying them. I remember wondering if I was supposed to buy 2x4's and cut up random blocks. These pieces of splintery imagination are a lovely byproduct.

A pinhole peak, to be sure, but I really want to honor T's wishes to keep it hidden from the public until he's satisfied.

And what do the girls think??

They spent at least a couple minutes this morning making 'footprintses' in the sand {anyone else hear Gollum, 'filthy hobbitses'} and building a 'snow family' out of blocks before they found a bucket of water and some foam brushes. They abandoned the brand new, totally awesome fort to paint the patio with water {idea courtesy of Mr. Putter and Tabby}. As usual, they prefer 'the box to the toy.'

For right now.

We have years of play ahead of us. And they really do love their bunk house. We're just ill-tempered and quick to fight this morning. As if to make my point, Gwennan just yelled through many tears and sniffles, "Afton just bited me. She thought I was an apple, but I was really a little girl. Now I really will hit her."

I can't wait to show you the finished project. It's fabulous! I'm so impressed by my sweet hubby's handiwork. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A gray joy

Dark gray storming morning. Lying in corpse pose after my first dedicated work out since bed rest. The instructor on my iPhone tells me to focus on my worries and embody them. Seems counterproductive, so I pray moving through the fruits of the spirit. Thank The Lord for his love in our hearts. Ask for peace to be sown in our home.

You missed one.

Pause to recite the verse: the fruit of the spirit is love, joy.

Oh yeah, joy. The little one. That was my mental cue when I was learning the list. Joy was the little word tucked in. Three letters easily missed. Especially on a rainy morning stretched out like a corpse.

Isn't it human how joy can be overlooked in what should be our most joyful seasons? We have a brand new baby. I should be dancing around the house, humming to myself like a scene from Lady and the Tramp.

That's not happening right now.

It's been a very hard year, truth be told. Our assertive bossy one hit the assertive bossy three's. Our emotionally volatile one hit the emotionally volatile two's. We've discovered that personality times developmental stage exponentially exaggerates and elongates the behavior phase. Grr...

Tim and I have been the easiest either. I've been sick and pregnant or recovering and exhausted. Add walking through some difficult, painful issues in our relationship. And saying goodbye to good friends and my grandmother.

I don't mean this to be a gripe list. But in an effort at openness, we're in a long difficult season.

I want to grin and bear it until the next birthdays. Then pray expectantly for an easier year. But the last time I decided I should be done with trials my cousin died and my dad underwent radiation treatment. I don't mention that because I believe God will smite me if I ask for a break. God is not petty.

But 'hanging in there' 1) does not create joy in the present 2) teaches me self-reliance not God-endurance 

And I have no promise that any light at the end of the tunnel is daylight.

But if The Lord is my light, I don't need the sun. Don't need the day. I can walk through the tunnel for the rest of my days and never walk in darkness.

The Christian life is not trial-free but trial-proof. ~~Mark Driscoll

What a depressing, intellectual post on joy. 

Maybe that's why joy is the small one in my estimation.

Why the only "joy" associations I could make during my meditation were a Christmas carol and a verse about suffering.

Maybe this is a huge gap in my everyday that needs some serious prayer and practice. Not a dogmatic self-command, rejoice, damnit, but a new understanding.

Once again I write with no answer.

No answer, yet.

Joy is one of his gifts for all Christians, even the cerebral blogging types.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cutting paper hearts

We are all harshness, demanding tones, warning looks around here. Ugly mess. The big people keep looking at each other with sympathetic war time faces. This cannot be the new norm for our family.

This momma is exhausted, feet up, dishes stacking because I've tried to pull love up from my toes only to find I have none. Just clanging words squeezing through taut lips. Reflexive hugs after irritated gestures. But I still ask where did this attitude come from when Gwennan commands her sister to action.

Break to pray. Plead for love to come from him because my grace bank is broke.

Broke because I've forgotten the source of the love. We love because he first loved us, right. We are capable of love, servant, godly love because the God who is love have himself. We have that love poured into our hearts. Ahh, I see. Holy Spirit let your love flow through me to them. Where my attempts fail, Your love overpowers to bring peace.

My attempt to teach love ended with girls separated by a baby gate. Conflict avoided. And sometimes that artificial quiet is needed so momma can quiet her heart before her Father.

Beg forgiveness for believing I could fix this mess by trying harder to love

Beg for a feast of the first fruit of the Spirit

Beg for a way to show love for God's glory

{And what seemed like a silly gesture to a God directing the universe,}

Beg for an idea

A simple idea for a tired momma to engage her girls in encouraging them to love through the Spirit. A heart orientation not merely managed behavior.

I settle on Valentine's in August. Break out the glitter glue and stickers, the after-holiday clearance stamps and construction paper. We cut and color and paint a gallery of love reminders. Small one points to the blackboard we our memory verse is kept, Da fruit of da Spirit {holds up her index finger to count off the nineis love,

She stops there, smiling. Injection of encouragement. We carry on making gifts for each other.

When Big one shrills, Mother, I want juice now. Sounds just like Veruca Salt.

I didn't expect paper hearts to change real ones. My day is not shattered. The craft was a segue to family prayer. We bow heads and pray. Say our amens.

I sit back still thinking about where this horrible voice is coming from when the veil is pulled back to reveal a mirror. Foolish me has forgotten what my face looks like when I'm annoyed, forgotten what my voice sounds like when I'm ignored. Until a three year old mimics my tactics right back to me. Raises her voice and commands my attention. And what am I going to say? You may not talk to me like that! Echo her own tone right back? Do as I say, not as I speak.

Do you ever hear the Spirit say, Now you see it. Ugly, huh.

Love is behind this revelation. If I don't have love, I don't care. I settle for behavior modification. Enough correction and control to mask hypocrisy for a long time.

Only love opens the heart's eye wide enough to see the ugly.

Only love wipes that ugly clean. Not my love. His. His love changes my heart's beat.

Time for me to beg again.

Beg forgiveness from my children for abandoning the speech I teach

Beg a soft voice and face, the teaching of kindness on my tongue

We've made it to naps.

The girls responded instantly. They cleaned their room without incident, gratefully received their lunch, quietly hopped in bed, and politely requested a story.


Not at all.

The baby wasn't quiet either.

Lots of opportunities for me to practice a new heart beat. With more to come, I have no doubt.


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