Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Each December, I get so excited when my daily trip to the mailbox produces a Christmas card or two. Even better, I love when the sender includes a letter along with the card; the type of letter that recaps their year and regales the reader with a progress report on each child. As much as I love reading how our beloved family, friends and church members are doing, I’ve yet to write a letter of our own. Growing up, I fondly remember walking into the living room on a Saturday morning, year after year, and seeing my mother all cuddled up on the couch, handwriting letters inside every Christmas card. As much as I’d like to, I cannot offer you a handwritten letter. But, I’ll take a whirl at my first “Smith Year in Review” typed Christmas letter:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I beg to differ. On our Christmas card, is my one Christmas wish: a family portrait in which everyone is sitting still and smiling for the camera. Still and smiling. Those two words together are very foreign in our household these days. Our portrait attempt in 2009 was nothing short of a disaster. But, persevere we did and viola, my wish came true. If this picture could truly speak, it would tell you that Eli ran off the set after every 2 snaps of the camera, Micah’s hairbow was pulled out no less than 20 times, which was about the same amount of times that I had to pull her dress down to cover up her “muscular” thighs, Jason’s tie was forgotten amidst the “hurry up and rush out the door while everyone is still tucked in and wrinkle-free” frenzied moment, my tights were getting a new snag every 15 seconds from the Velcro on Micah’s shoes, Jacob couldn’t quit veering off to the left or the countless times our ever-so-patient photographer, who fortunately happens to be a good friend, squeezed a rubber chicken in attempt to get everyone to smile for the camera. So, please do not be misled by the happy, smiling, it-looks-like-we-have-it-all-together family on the Christmas card. Happy? Yes. Smiling? Most of the time. Have it all together? Rarely. If you want to see a true reflection of our life this year, the snapshots would spawn an entire album. Life these days is full…very full!

The long forgotten terms that I learned while taking Music Appreciation in college are fresh on my mind once again as I try to describe our life today. The tempo, or speed, of our life at Christmas 2008 would best be described as andante, or at a walking pace. We had just welcomed our much anticipated second child, Eli. Pulling the crib out of the attic after 6 long years and remembering how to piece it together was a thrill. Jason was at home almost every week, coaching Jacob in one sport after another. Jacob had just started kindergarten, which allowed me to stay home and lavish undivided attention on my baby boy all day. Adjusting to a family of 4 after being a family of 3 for so long was a fairly easy transition. Life was good and steady; a walking pace.

Fast forward to this Christmas 2010 and the tempo of our life would best be described as vivace, or lively and fast. We saw more doctor’s offices in the first 5 months of this year than we did in the past 5 years combined. Someone was sick practically every single day well into spring. January found us pushing the crib out of one nursery and into another. And, the past 5 months has seen Jason on the road Monday-Friday more weeks than we wish to count. Being a single mom to 3 is hard. Being a daddy on the road away from his 3 children is harder.

From the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning, we are on the go. I know that most of you are as well, but unlike you, our feet sometimes carry us no further than 50 ft in any given direction the entire day and they somehow still manage to never get a minute to rest. Three meals alone can take a total of 3 hours. Diaper changes and baths another 2 hours. Cleaning the kitchen and laundry is done so often throughout the day and night that I couldn’t even guess a time. You get the picture. We are not out changing the world, but rather shaping little lives that may one day change the world.

This year started off with a bang. Right around the 18 month mark, I think Eli woke up one day and decided to leapfrog past months 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and take a straight nose-dive into the testy, trial-filled terrible 2s. We didn’t know what provoked it so suddenly…was it the baby taking his place? the middle child thing? a boy thing? I remember holding him in time-out while he screamed and saying to him over and over, “Eli, you’re in time-out,” just to get him familiar with the term. Oh, how I wanted to give up! I thought, “What’s the use? This is going nowhere!” Then, I read somewhere that consistency bears fruit. I allowed that to resonant in my mind and pray this child (and his mother) through this time. Slowly but surely, we have made much progress. Six months ago, we never could have left a book with paper pages in his room without it being torn to shreds. Now, he ADORES his books and I frequently watch him on the monitor flipping through the pages. He has also been known to put himself in time-out a time or two. Talk about progress! I like to say that we’re still working out the kinks but we rejoice in how far he’s come. We have discovered that we cannot give this child too much individual attention. He thrives on it and lives for it. He is smitten with his “baby girl” and I dare anyone to try to hurt her because you WILL go through him first. He is the most charismatic 2 year old you’ll ever meet and funny to his core. He is obsessed with everything…from choo choo trains and spooky cats and ghosts (thanks to Halloween) to Jesus and Christmas lights. He loves big and he loves life.

Jacob has turned into our little bookworm. He started the year reading about 60 wpm and is finishing it reading 132 wpm. School comes very easy for him; working slowly on his assignments does not. I have drilled into this child the need to double check his work and use his eraser but, alas, he is on a determined mission to get done as fast as possible. He stays active in soccer, basketball, church and Boy Scouts and is so helpful and loving with the little ones. Jason and I can’t help but smile when we catch him singing along with them to their preschool songs. To be such an independent, growing boy, he still has so much innocence. We’re trying to bottle that sweet innocence up and savor it for as long as possible.

Sweet Micah is the most cuddling, lovable baby you’ll ever meet. Her world revolves around her people. She wants to watch them and be loved on by them. She is perfectly content being a spectator, plopped on your lap. She’s is no hurry to do new things and focuses instead on giving and receiving love. About every waking hour, she’ll crawl up to me, place her head against my leg and just bask in the warmth of my touch. An easy, breezy child who blows kisses to her brothers, lights up like a Christmas tree at the sight of her daddy, kicks her legs with wild excitement for her Papa and follows her momma from room to room just begging for a look, a word, an outstretched arm.

As I have had some quiet, stolen moments throughout this month to reflect on our year, I haven’t seen all the piles of laundry, all the crumbs under the kitchen table or all the times we’ve had to endure the unfortunate task of discipline. Instead, I see how God has brought us out of the survival mode that we were in at the beginning of the year with all the constant sickness, the rough transition to becoming a family of 5, the difficult and continued need to carve out individual time with each person and the highly intense days of toddlerdom. All of those things still apply today, but God has lovingly guided us throughout and taught us how to parent with grace. We stumble and fall flat on our faces more times than we succeed. But, with each rising of the sun, we are reminded that His mercies are new every day, and we try again.

We hope that this Christmas season will bring you moments that you can treasure up and ponder in your heart, just as it brought Mary as she cradled her newborn baby boy, the promised Messiah, on that very first Christmas. If I had to guess, I’d bet that her heart was going at vivace speed, but yet, she was still able to treasure up the moment, safeguarding it forever in her heart. In the busyness of the everyday demands in our life, my new Christmas wish is that we don’t lose the art of treasuring; treasuring each tiny hug, each pair of Christmas pajamas, each sleeping child and each stolen moment when my husband and I look past the chaos and catch one another’s eye and, in a silent moment between the two of us, say that we wouldn’t want it any other way. Our 10 year anniversary will be in 2 days. We’ve talked for years how we wanted to be in Hawaii on this big day. Instead, we’re trading it for 123 Main St (real address omitted for security purposes), a place where a swirl of activity demands our every minute. We’ll have time for Hawaii later. This time with a 1, 2 and 7 year old, we won’t. Therefore, we will treasure it up. We pray you’ll do the same.

Merry Christmas to All!

The Smith’s

The back of our Christmas card:

Monday, August 2, 2010

In Her Own Time

As her 9 month birthday was approaching, I was starting to wonder if Micah would ever sit-up or roll over. Up until that day, she had rolled over a grand total of 3 times (tummy to back) and that was in a 5 minute span when she was 6 1/2 months old. It was almost like she said, "Okay, I tried it, it's a bit overrated and it's not for me." At her 6 month check-up, her pediatrician was a bit surprised that she hadn't mastered that milestone yet. After checking her over, he remarked, "Well, there's nothing physically wrong with her. She has good muscle tone and I believe she could do it if she wanted to. I like to say she's just content. Other people might say that she's lazy. But, I like content." He pegged her perfectly. After two very independent, strong-willed boys, God has blessed me with a sweet, content little girl. There is a slight sparky side that she displays when hungry or when you put her down but, for the most part, she's just a go-with-the-flow easy child.

I'm finding that content children are in no hurry to experience life. They'd rather be spectators. Give them a full belly and they will park on your lap for hours. A string or a spoon is enough entertainment to fascinate them for at least 20 minutes. When she does get fussy, all it takes is a dose of her love language of physical touch and she's happy as a clam again. Yes, this is a different experience for me, a much easier one, and I'm enjoying her sweet, cuddling nature immensely.

Thus far, the milestones have been few and far between so I was shocked that she mastered 2 in one day! Last week, within just a couple of hours, she rolled over with ease AND she sat alone for 5 minutes. did she do that? Then, I wondered if she's really known how to do these things for a while but has been holding back on us. Nevertheless, we were proud of her and I think that she's enjoying her little world from a new vantage point.

Because of her agreeing nature and not wanting much more than a smile, kiss or lap to sit on, I view her as my baby bird who will spread her wings when she's ready. She is teaching me that she WILL do it, but in her own time. She first clearly demonstrated this when she finally found her thumb. Here's an excerpt from the journal that I keep for her:

I walked past you tonight trying to get some things done around the house while all was quiet. I paused for a moment to stare at my sweet girl and noticed something that brought a huge smile to my face: you were sucking your thumb. I knew this moment was coming because you've been working so hard to find it. You've been nursing your tiny fist so hard that chapped, raw patches marked the area surrounding your thumbs. Seeing you struggle to find it, I tried many times to help you out. I'd take that miniature thumb, pry it away from your fist and put it to your tiny lips. I would think how delighted you'd be to taste it but, instead, you'd gag and pull it away. Seeing you tonight with that miniature thumb in that tiny mouth made me realize something: you will find it in your own way and in your own time. Though I'll be there to help and can even make it easier if you let me, some things you just have to learn by yourself. Then, I can stand in awe, like I did tonight, with tears running down my face and be so happy for you and proud of your accomplishment.

My sweet Micah, my baby bird, you have brought more joy to my life than I ever thought possible. All those baby girl dolls that I loved on and cared for ever so diligently when I was a little girl prepared me for you. I'm so happy that you are in no hurry to grow up because you allow me to enjoy each stage just a little bit longer. Soon, you will take those first wobbly steps, your first tooth will sprout up and you will babble your first true word. But, like you have proven in your first nine months of life, you will do them in your own time. And, that time, is the perfect time. I love you my baby girl!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gift After Gift After Gift

Every day, in some small way, I am reminded just how quickly time passes. The only exception to this would be from about 5:00 to 7:00 on the nights when daddy is not home. On those nights, I'm counting the minutes til bedtime; minutes that very S-L-O-W-L-Y tick by. Other than those moments, I find myself wanting to hang onto every last second but, instead, I face the realization of how fleeting time really is. Try as I may, I am continually learning how impossible it is to freeze a moment in time just so I can savor it a little longer.

There are obvious milestones that remind me of the years that are ticking by faster than I ever dreamed. Each year when I pull down the Christmas decorations and then 6 weeks later when I box them back up, I am hit with how quickly the season passed. With each birthday party I plan, I face the realization that one of my babies has gotten another year older. With each anniversary, I celebrate the years that God has given to Jason and I and how with each passing year I love him more.

But, what gets to me the most, are the much smaller moments that mark a passing of time that no one but myself knows about. Today it was the act of carrying Micah's baby bathtub to the attic. It is easier to bathe her in the kitchen sink now. But, one day, in the not so distant future, the kitchen sink will no longer hold her and she'll move to the big tub, thus reaching another moment that pricks my heart and causes it to silently scream for time to slow down.

This very day last year, I was mulling over 20 shades of lavendar paint chips. I was determined to find just that perfect color for her nursery. One outfit at a time, her closet was starting to fill up with the things in a little girl's wardrobe; things our house had never seen before. I was discovering hairbows and bloomers and dreaming about the day when my little girl would be here to wear them. And, now she is 9 months old and I wonder how can that be? With every month that gets flipped on the calendar and each time I have to adjust her carseat straps, I just want to scream, "STOP!" Why is that?

Of course, I know if I could have the supernatural ability to stop time, I would miss so much more. If my sweet baby girl were forever a 9 month old, I could cradle her in my arms and gaze at her gummy smile the rest of my life, but I would forfeit much more. I would never see those first steps, hear her first words, see her off to kindergarten, teach her about Jesus, hold her while she cried over a classmate not wanting to be her friend, watch her develop into a lady, witness her walk down the aisle, and stand in awe the day she becomes a mother herself. Moreover, I would never know of her secret crushes, her talents and her dreams. Yes, to be able to forever cradle my baby, I would lose so much. But, it's still oh-so-difficult to allow her to grow up.

This weekend, a fresh reminder hit me as I was with my beloved Women's Ministry ladies. I heard several stories from women, who are now grandmothers themselves, as they talked about when their children were pint-size like mine. The stories they recalled were still so vivid in their minds although they occured over 25 years ago. The realization that time is fleeting washed over me once again. One day, I will no longer have babies to care for. The reality of that is painful because it has consumed my life these past 2 years. As challenging as having two under the age of 2 plus a 7 year old is, I absolutely love every second of it. I love riding the wave of highs and lows that a house bursting with children, chaos and activity bring. In the highest of highs, I feel joy like never before. In the lowest of lows, I cling to my Savior like never before. All the times in between, I am at peace.

So, what do I do when I clean out yet another closet and pack away old clothes? Each season, I am having to ask myself the hard question, "Store them or sell them?" With each piece, I remember the times whichever child wore it. In my mind, I can see them in that outfit, I can remember how small they were and I am briefly transported back in time. Selling them would mean closing this chapter of my life forever. In 7 years, I have never sold a thing. The "what-if's" silence the "we are done's". And, I wonder, "Is our family complete with 5?"

While I don't know if Micah is the cherry on top, our last sweet addition, I rest in knowing that God's plan will come to completion for our family. Three children or just one more, I don't know but He does. My job isn't to worry about that but rather to embrace the three little lives He has entrusted me with and continue to watch them grow, tending ever so lovingly to their needs.

This coming month, it will be an honor to hear all of Eli's new words, play toothfairy once Jacob's front wiggling tooth finally decides to come out, watch Micah master the art of sitting up, and love my man a little more than I did last month. It will also be a privilege to get another hug from my parents, share more laughs with my friends, and spend more time in God's Word. Each moment will feel so great and I will find myself wanting it to last a little longer. Inevitably, something will remind me that it can't. Maybe it's a new shoe size or a gray hair. Whatever it may be, I know it's God's way of reminding me that life is supposed to be lived and lived to its fullest; full of love, full of grace and full of giving just as Christ lived while on this earth. "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." I love the translation of this verse in The Message, "We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift."

Each day, each moment shared and each memory is a gift. However, perhaps the greater gift is that we are given another day, another moment shared and another memory. Over and over, year after year, with no merit on our own, God gives us the gift of time. It is up to us how we receive each gift. If I try to cling to the time that I have been given today, I will miss tomorrow's gift. Therefore, in the morning when I wake up, I will embrace all that the day holds. In my heart will still be the joy and laughter from today, but, there will be room for more.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swimming, Sunscreen and School

Today was a very important day: it began the one month countdown until school starts. This one day shifted our focus from enjoying these lazy summer days to doing everything we can to savor what precious few days remain. Yesterday, I filled in the dates on my dry-erase calendar for the month of July. There were a few leftover boxes at the bottom so I went ahead and marked the first few days of August. I was tending to a dirty diaper today when I heard a big groan from the kitchen followed by "Huh??". My mommy ESP told me that Jacob had spotted it. There, on the calender in big orange letters, were the words "August 6 - First Day of School". I listened as he proceeded to say to himself how unfair that is, that last month went by too fast, he wasn't ready for school.... I got up to walk into the kitchen so that we could talk about it before he broke down and started crying. When I entered the room, however, there was no Jacob. I called upstairs for him. He happily said, "What?". "So, he's already over it. That was fast," I thought. Then, I looked over. August 6 was suddenly a blank day on the calendar. It no longer stood for anything. It was not a dreaded date or one that would start a countdown into motion. It just blended in with the other seamless days of summer. Smart kid. I wished it were that easy. Just erase the dates we don't want to face. Maybe they would never happen.

I called him down and we talked about why he erased it and he said he didn't want to go back. He was having too much fun being at home. He said that he decided that he wanted to be homeschooled, something we've been praying about but haven't commited to just yet. If you would've asked me 3 months ago about homeschooling, I would've said, "No way. It's great for other people who have the patience, but not me!" I can't exactly put into words why I have since changed gears. All I can adequately say is that it was a complete, instantaneous change in my heart. I literally felt it. The change didn't tell me that I HAVE to homeschool my child. It simply told me that it was unfair that I haven't ever considered it, weighed it out and given it to the Lord to decide. Since that change of heart, I've read a homeschooling book and gotten excited about the possibilities, talked extensively with Jason and peppered my conversations with Jacob about what-ifs. Still, I'm not sure if the timing is right since I stay so busy looking after two little ones all day. But, I'm willing and open to do it if God's will reveals it.

Back to our summer. I have to admit, I wasn't exactly thrilled about the prospect of entertaining 3 kids all summer long. During the school year, I had gotten into my routine with the babies at home and when big brother got home at 3:15, the house seemed as if it would burst from all the noise, activity, crying and utter chaos on some days. A whole day filled with those things....oh my! But, much to my pleasant surprise, this has been the best summer in years. The biggest decision that I have to make some days is what bathing suit to put on Micah. The pool has been our salvation, an aroma of sunscreen clings to us and afternoon naps are our respite from the hours in the sun. I can't get enough of the tan lines between the rolls in Micah's arms (all 4 of them), the brown biscuit that Eli has turned into and the sweet company of Jacob. During school, we were battling each other quite a bit. The ease of the summer has brought with it a new joy in our relationship. I have discovered how well-mannered, fun and caring he truly is and what a great UNO and not-so-great Yahtzee player he is.

In these short 6 weeks, we have squeezed in every bit of activity possible. While the activities fill our calender, the friends and family that share in our fun fill our hearts. The calendar for the whole month of July for now is eerily blank, something we're not accustomed to. All the big summertime plans have already passed. All that stretches out before us between now and August 6 are blank slates in which we have the luxury of filling in any way we wish. There's only one thing I'm sure of: there will be lots more sunscreen. And, for August 6th? Again, the calendar reads, "First Day of School" in big orange letters but with one exception. Right next to those words is a blue frowny face.

Here are a few highlights of our summer:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What I Would've Missed

Ahhh...I just want to say a big thank you Lord for 7pm bedtimes. Although the sun is still high in the sky, I insist on keeping bedtime the same. I have to for my sanity. This has been one of those days when both babies cried at the SAME time throughout the entire day and neither one wanted me more than 3 feet away from them. As much as I love them both, I need some reprieve!

Today, I have had ZERO adult conversation, didn't brush my teeth until 2:30, gave up on the idea of taking a shower, ate (or I should say drank) 2 meals consisting of Slim-Fast and a handful of animal crackers, yelled a little too loudly at Eli for breaking his sister's tiara, fed my children chicken noodle soup from a can for supper and managed to squeeze in some "me" time which allowed me to read 4 whole pages of my Beth Moore book (at this rate, I'll finish by November) . I would've taken everyone outside for fresh air, but that would've sent my allergies into a tailspin that would take me all night to recoup from. And, if I wasn't chasing after Eli (since we STILL don't have a fence), then I'd be picking up EVERY ball that he found in the garage and threw into the yard. So, it's a little simpler to stay inside and go stir crazy.

Well, bedtime is finally here and the chorus of "mommy, mommy, mommy" has died down. Instead of crashing on the couch, I have laundry to put away, floors to sweep, dishes to wash, toys to pick up and yes, a shower to take. But, I'm thankful to be lost in my thoughts and enjoy the blessed sound of silence. Looking back on my day, I don't see all that wears me out...I see all I would've missed had I not been here. I would've missed Micah sitting in the exersaucer for the first time, her first pair of baby leg warmers & her first taste of sweet potatoes. I would've missed Eli saying "sorry" for the first time to his baby sister after breaking her tiara while patting her on the chest over and over. I would've missed reading Pooh's "I See the Sun" book, drawing our whole family on a Magnadoodle, teaching Eli what a bird, pig and chicken say, singing "Jesus Loves Me" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," playing Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Pat-A-Cake with Micah and hearing her giggle, kissing boo boos, snuggling and tickling.
I have a clear calling on my life and that is to stay at home with my children. Although I used to question that, I no longer do. It is one thing I am certain of and one thing that makes me content. I know my children will never look back and remember the day mommy didn't take a shower or brush her teeth until 2:30. They'll remember the songs, the giggles, the time and the love I gave to them. I know that is what I'm going to remember.
Micah's first leg warmers (or Baby Spanx as I call them):
A broken tiara and an apologetic brother:
Our Magnadoodled family:
A sleepy princess:
In awe of seeing images from the soother on the ceiling:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pray 4 Me

Why is it that I feel compelled to write after a bad day or with a heavy heart? I promise that my life is filled with much to smile about. But, for whatever reason, I want to record my thoughts whenever events of the day have taken a downward direction or sometimes a straight nose-dive. Maybe it's therapeutic for me. I just know I gain a lot of insight when looking at things in retrospect. So, hang in there with me. More joyful blogs are coming...just not this one.

So, it was around 3:50 this afternoon when I texted my husband this short message, "pray 4 me". Of course, he calls immediately. Because I have a screaming child in the backseat, I cannot hear a word he is saying. I say, "I can't hear you...just pray for me...don't worry, I'm not going to beat him." Click. Even my customary "I love you" didn't get said. I was in one of those mommy crossroads and I wasn't exactly feeling the love at that moment. I knew I could choose to let this screaming, tantrum throwing child get the best of me and act like I'm 2 years old myself or I could keep my composure, be patient and act like a grown up. I was trying hard to choose option B. I didn't even know where my husband was. I just knew, at that moment, I needed his support.

The day had been perfect. Beautiful, sunny skies prompted me to take the kids to the park after school. While playing on the playground, I watched the boys play and just soaked up the moment. After a while, the slides weren't quite so interesting anymore and Eli found his way to the water fountain. I knew that there was no stopping him from the thrill of playing in the water, so I decided not to pick that battle. He happily pushed the button and giggled as he turned the water on and off. Of course, the next step is to put his hands in the water and before I knew it, he was dripping wet. "Oh well," I thought, "it's just water."

After 5 minutes or so, I decide it's time to go. That's when a nice day at the park quickly shifts to the type of day when I have to make a hasty appeal for prayer. My soaking wet child goes limp noodle on me and starts SCREAMING on the ground. I have to stop and say a quick thank you to the good Lord that no one was there to witness it. After that acknowledgement, I pick him up by the arms and say, "Stand Eli". The wet noodle is something we've unfortunately become accustomed to and this is my typical reaction. I will hold him by the arms until his feet are planted squarely on the ground. Just when I think he's ready to stand, he goes down again. So, up and down we go. Obviously, this isn't working. I decide to sit with him while he gets his composure. We make 3 or 4 attempts to get back up. No luck. He's a sobbing, screaming, wet mess. Mommy is still doing pretty good. However, I can't toot my horn too loudly because I probably would've been much worse had witnesses been on hand. Oh, and can I mention I have 2 other children to worry about during this little episode? Finally, he stands and I give him about a nanosecond before I start half dragging him to the car. I was walking so fast that I didn't give him a chance to do the wet noodle routine. After bucking me, I finally get him in the carseat and hear the seatbelt click. Whew...glad that's over.

Did I think I'd be so lucky? Eli is a screamer but the scream that came out of his mouth after that would make every hair on your head stand up. No, we are NOT having that. That scream is utter defiance if I've ever heard it and merited a spanking. Yes, I do spank...don't hate me for it. Finally, I'm in my seat and that's when I make the text.

This is when I pause to say how lucky I am to be married to Jason. He was at Lowe's, a very manly store, when he got my text. My man stops in the middle of the aisle, with his buggy loaded with electrical wiring, closes his eyes and prays for me. He told me that everyone probably thought he was half crazy. How that simple act touches me in unspeakable ways.

Thirty minutes later, he pulls into the driveway to find me sitting in a lounge chair reading a book. I'm hardly the picture of a frantic mother at her wits end pleading for prayer. Eli was inside watching cartoons and eating goldfish in his booster seat, the baby was asleep and Jacob was playing his DS. What happened? All I can say is prayer happened. The fruit of my husband's prayer brought immediate peace to our home. Moreover, the exact page I was reading when he pulled up spoke directly to my heart about the situation I had just experienced. It's from Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God and reads:

Like most moms, I have been brought to tears and very often to my knees before the Lord...As I have taken to heart God's command to look and watch, I have begun to see God's hand where I hadn't before. With spiritual vision, I now can see that God is using my children to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me, something for which I have fervently prayed. I can see how the Lord is using them to temper me and make me more fully into the woman He wants me to be. Seeing what God is up to has restored my confidence that He is speaking and working in my situation.

I colored the passages that spoke the loudest to me. I've always approached parenting with the attitude of what can I teach my children? Rarely do I see it the other way around. After reading this, I realize God is using them to teach me a few things. These are things with a divine impact and a divine lesson. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I simply need the help of prayer. Thank you, my husband, for looking half crazy for your wife. Not only did you help bring about peace to a frazzled mother but you have shown me love in the deepest of ways. Prayer changes things. It did today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Underwear

Since becoming a mom to 3, I have developed somewhat of a memory problem. There is so much to remember between homework, laundry, dinner, schedules, practices, bathing, etc. My husband, who works with computers, says that I have a server (hence, the computer lingo) for a brain. However, I feel like lately the server has lost a few files. In the past week, I forgot to pick Jacob up from school (he gets out at 2:50 and it was 3:08 when I remembered), forgot a close friend's baby shower and finally the ultimate no-no, I forgot it was St. Patrick's Day until I saw Jacob off to school in his very blue and white shirt. Yes, I sent my child into a school wearing ZERO green with eager children waiting to pinch at the first moment they spotted that unfortunate soul.

After picking him up from school (I remembered this time), I inquired about his day and gently lead up to the big question, "Did you get pinched any?" Duh! Of course he did! He said he lost count because he "got pinched a lot in the morning and a lot in the afternoon and all the time in between." Yikes...that bad? So, trying to lighten the mood, I jokingly said, "You should've told them you had green underwear on." Gasp! He very quickly informed me that he didn't have green underwear on and that would be lying. So, I said, "Well, you could've just tricked them." Another gasp. "But, that would be lying and if I lie then I wouldn't be showing them that I have Jesus in my heart." Ouch! My very 'black and white with no shades of gray in between' child made his mommy very proud at that moment. He took this seriously because he takes his love for Jesus seriously. We have often talked about setting an example to others that reflects what having Jesus in our hearts looks like. Here I am encouraging him to go against that. No, I really didn't want him to "lie," I simply didn't want him to fall victim to the pinching fingers of 18 over zealous classmates. But, to him, there wasn't any other way.

I pondered this the rest of the afternoon and I've come to this conclusion: how many times do I compromise my faith just to avoid the imminent possibility of being vulnerable? Whether it's by a harmless little white lie, not following through on a promise, an outburst of anger, a snide remark or sharing in a bit of gossip, I am compromising what I know to be true and that's the living, breathing Word of God; the same Word that I have prayed over my children, meditated in my heart and established our home on. No, I am not perfect and I sin just like everyone else. But, if for one moment, a child, my child, can open my eyes to the error of my ways, then I am all the more wiser.

Yes, my dear child, you did not have green underwear on today. I wish I could take every one of those pinches for you. But, you did not complain and, in the end, taught your mommy a very valuable lesson and reflected what our ultimate goal should always be: showing others that we have Jesus in our hearts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taking Time to Stop and Look At Worms

Yesterday was quite the day. Eli has been sick what seems like all winter long. This week he's battled an upper respiratory infection. I'm not talking about a runny nose and pesky cough. I mean the child has been invaded with this infection. The drainage from his eyes was so bad that we had to wipe them constantly causing the skin under the eyes to bleed. He ran 104 temps for 3 days and slept 20 out of 22 hours on Monday. To say he's been a bit irritable is an understatement. So, you can imagine how my life has been put on hold yet again. I don't mind...I couldn't imagine doing anything else at these moments. So, Mother's Day Out rolls around on Thursday. He's already missed 6 days since he started in February so I really wanted him to go back. I figure that he's feeling better, not contagious and could use some interaction and mommy could use some time to get a few things done. I figured wrong!

Within an hour and a half, I got THE call. The one where the director is distressed, doesn't know what to do and is very sorry to call. It turns out Eli did NOT agree with my decision that MDO would be good for him. She said that he had basically been in time-out since he got there, it wasn't fair to him and now he has turned his aggression onto one of the teachers. So, here I am with a very unhappy, at the point of screaming, baby who was MORE than ready to eat and I have to make the 15 minute ride into pick up Eli. Mommy dilemma, huh? After my failed attempt to get a friend to watch and feed Micah, I looked back on the blessed sight of seeing her asleep in the carseat. So, I figure (correctly this time), I think I can do this.

Driving to the church, I felt oddly calm. I was somewhat surprised myself because I've been to the point of tears many times lately from this same situation. And, those who know me best will tell you that I NEVER cry. It's not the first time he's acted up at MDO, but this was definitely his worst time. The two notes he brought home just last week read, "Time-out for: shoving, taking away binkies, pulling out hairbows, pushing, tackling, etc. (I had to laugh when I read "etc") and the second note read, "Did a little better with his time-outs today." No, he didn't have less time-outs, he just acted a little more compliant while in time-out. Those notes have the ability to unravel my whole day. I can be upbeat, enjoying the beautiful day and rolling right along to feeling utterly defeated, frustrated and just plain sad. I wonder why in the world he's being such a problem?? What am I doing wrong?? I have slowly been giving it over to God in prayer. Lately, when I drive up to get him I say, "Lord, good, bad or indifferent, I am not going to let this get me down and I'm going to serve you today."

So, back to the call. I figured this would be my breaking point. But, I calmly walked in and talked with the teacher, who gave me a complete run-down of his bad behaviors. We said our good-byes and walked hand in hand outside. My emotions were bubbling to the surface and I was about to pick him up to put him in his carseat. Then, we both stopped. He started pointing to the ground laughing. I crouched down and saw what was captivating his attention. Worms. The rainy morning had brought dozens of worms out of hiding. As we stared at the worms (I was staring more at his innocent fascination), peace overcame me. "This is what it is all about," I thought. It's not about me, how I feel, what I am or aren't doing right. Take the focus off of myself and see it through his eyes. Where I would've stepped on the worms, jerked his seatbelt on him, got into the driver's seat thinking, "Woe is me!", in that moment, this tiny child put everything into crystal clear perspective for me. I shifted my focus from what he was doing wrong to what I can do to show him love. It was as plain and simple as watching a worm creep along the ground.

I won't go into the rest of my day. It got much more chaotic from that point on. We found out that night he has a significant bacterial infection in his eyes. He was quite the spectacle at the doctor's office. You never want your child to be the one that the other doctor's not attending to him want to come and look at. Obviously, this infection causes tremendous discomfort and irritability. Instead of focusing on how the bad day was, instead, I found myself hour-by-hour seeing God's provision to get me through it. He sent helpers to me that normally wouldn't have been there and I was overwhelmed just how much He cares. I pray that you will see God in the details today and that you'll stop and look at worms or anything else that makes you remember the more important things that make us step away from ourselves.

Big brother fell asleep holding a VERY sick baby brother: