- It started off like most any other day. I was awakened by the baby monitor rather than an alarm clock. I fed others before I fed myself. I silently begged to finish my coffee prior to wiping not just one, but two bottoms. A pallet of blankets littered the living room rug, left over from the night before, remnants from a sleepover with daddy, which is a nightly ritual. They hadn’t gone unnoticed from my probing eye, and I filed it away on my to-do list of morning housekeeping rounds. As I scrambled eggs for breakfast, gulping the last sip of my lukewarm coffee, the three year old called from the other room, “Can I make a clubhouse?” I answered back quickly, “Can’t you go play in your room, and for once stop messing up my living room?!” I turned back to my eggs as the baby beat her hands against her high chair tray eagerly awaiting a bite. I paused in my flipping, spatula poised in anticipation, but my thoughts had gone to her.
- It was a very large house, bigger than any I had ever seen in person for sure. It had four white columns on the porch and a grand set of concrete steps leading to its vastly shaded porch. It certainly seemed out of place across the street from the tiny rental house we were occupying. I was afraid, no doubt, but I was also curious. I had seen the white-haired woman through the kitchen window, and watched while she placed pies on the sill. I didn’t realize it as I crept up those steps, knees knocking, but I was crossing paths with a woman I would never forget.
Her name was Mrs. Lorraine. Mr. Lorraine had passed away years previously, and I was surprised to learn she lived there all alone. We were drawn to each other, her with her big house and only the company of cats, and myself with the desire innate of an eight year old to share company with a grandmother type figure. My own maternal grandmother lived far away, and my paternal grandmother had always been too engrossed in her beer and game shows to teach the likes of me the fine art of baking. I had never heard of a teacake, but loved asking, “May I have another?”, to which she always obliged. I remember the grand rooms, ceilings tall, and furniture so dainty. Above the mantle was a school picture, much like my own, of a little blond girl. I mentioned wishing to play with her once, to which Mrs. Loraine replied, “I’m sure she’s much too old for hide-and-seek now. She’s in her twenties.” “Don’t you have a newer picture?” I asked. It seems she did not. “Her mother and I don’t speak. I haven’t seen my daughter or my grandchild in twenty years.” She kept mixing the batter, but I could see tears in her eyes. My child self asked why, as only children can do. “She told me once that I had never had time for her when she was young. I suppose now she don’t have time for me.” That was all she said, and even my eight year old self knew better than to press her.
That summer we filled each other’s days with baking, laughter, and love. My mom got married at the end of summer. I gained a new dad, and we moved away. I cried when I told her goodbye, but she never let a tear fall. I wonder if maybe she had cried all the tears she had many years before, over a relationship lost, and another never had. I waved as we drove away, clutching my bag of fresh baked cookies, and watched her turn and make her way back up the large steps into her empty house.
- As I spooned out eggs onto plates this morning, I thought of her. I thought of her loss, wondering why, if she could have done things differently. I didn’t know her whole story, but I knew enough. I walked into the living room and found my three year old removing all the couch cushions, intent on building her playhouse despite my previous grinchy comments. She looked up at me beaming proudly. I went over a helped drape blankets across the top. We turned over the toy box out into the floor because it’s really the best way to find the toys you want to play with most.
When I was twelve, I convinced my mom to stop on a trip we were making, to detour to our old neighborhood. I recognized Mrs. Lorraine’s house immediately as we pulled into her drive. Another car sat there already, and I glimpsed a man in a suit hammering a sign into her front yard. He came over gleefully and spoke with my mom. I didn’t understand everything they said, but I remembered the words, “no one came.” The house and all its contents had been auctioned and donated to a charity of her choosing. Her small funeral was attended by some ladies in the community, but “no family” he had said. I wondered about the pretty blond girl, and if she would have ever imagined how good those teacakes were, or more importantly, how her grandma’s eyes crinkled at the side and seemed to shine when she knew how much someone enjoyed them.
Today as I sat in the floor playing with a small rubber ball, rolling it back and forth with my child, I knew that was an important moment. I want her first memories to be of making breakfast together, building forts out of cushions and blankets, and playing together in the floor, not of watching me pick up messes, or the top of my head buried in my phone, or of spending time with a babysitter more than me. Watching my baby learn to walk, that’s what is important to me, not working extra hours so I can buy her the best name-brand dresses in town. I want them to know I love them, and never have a doubt where they rank in importance in my life and my daily tasks. Tasks will continue after they move away, but these days will not. I don’t want to look back in regret wishing I had just decided to play and giggle, instead of something superficial I thought was important at the time. I want to bake with them. I want my eyes to crinkle at the corners and shine as I delight in their joy.
That is all 🙂
- I hurriedly pushed my cart full of purchased and bagged groceries towards the back of the store, stopping only briefly to grab a bottle of water from the cooler. “Mommy, I’m thirsty!” uttered in the most nasally whine known to man, but as my own throat was parched from the marathon spree, I conceded, with full intention of paying for the bottle along with the oil change and tire rotation. I had completed the shopping with still a whopping 10 minutes left to spare before the tire and lube department closed for the night. I had a brief moment of fear where I thought, what if they decided to close early?!, but I was able to dispel it quickly enough. More wishful thinking than anything I’m sure. As if reading my mind, the three year old pondered aloud, “we may have to sleep here tonight.” Her pronunciation came out “sweep,” which I always find enduring. As I repeated it to her, though, she corrected in a loud, impatient voice, “No mom! Sleep not sweep!” We cut around the corner, barely missing a display of stacked tires with our deluxe, seating-for-three, shopping cart. A pink, stuffed unicorn, (far too large to have been brought into the store, but I didn’t feel up to that battle), fell off the cart into the floor as we neared the back register, causing an unexpected pitstop and the baby’s head to bob up and down as she attempted to compensate for the jerky halt. She gave me a raised eyebrow and sideways glance of disdain as she blew a raspberry (whether that blowing of spit was directed at me or simply to keep herself awake, I may never know). The three year old called out with a shriek and outstretched arm for her mythical, equestrian friend, while spilling half the bottle of water into my open purse below her. A stranger walked by and handed me a baby shoe left back by the fall flower display, smiling all the while and complementing the spit-bubble blowing baby on how cute she was. I smiled proudly, but also winced a little on the inside as I waited on the expected whine from the eldest sister issued after the stranger left, “Why didn’t she say I was cute?” I rubbed her blond head and offered my own opinions of her beauty as we came to the register. I glimpsed another man waiting and felt a little better for my near tardiness.
- After I gave my name, he retrieved my keys and bill. As he rang me up, he commented, “prior to service, you were a quart low.” That’s strange I thought. I was only getting the van serviced when I was in anticipation of a road trip coming up. The oil had been changed 2000 miles earlier, so I found it a bit odd that it was already running low. “I’ll have to keep an eye on that.” I said aloud to the young cashier. As I looked over at my girls, each with red-rimmed eyes that I was especially sensitive to noticing, I realized that sounded about right. As I pushed the cart towards the exit door and acknowledged my own weariness, I knew it was right. We were all a quart low.
- We had spent much of the day out and about, running errands, shopping, making some last minute purchases for an up and coming, much needed vacation. Getting out with small children is so much different. I’ve been a mother for three years now, but I still can’t get used to how taxing it can be. I make the choice to not get a sitter for when I need to shop. I simply take them with me, but simply doesn’t really belong in that sentence. Nothing is simple when small children are in tow. There’s no running into that store real quick. Each stop and go necessitates placing them in and out of their life-saving seats. The poor baby thinks each placement into her car seat is similar to being put on a death row sentence, and if she could talk, each time I unbuckle her she would proudly proclaim, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!” Today I made the brilliant planning prior to departure to feed the girls and nap the baby. I felt this would help tremendously. With the way things went, I can’t imagine the hell I would have endured if I had not. Since I had fed them prior to leaving, naturally the three year old was starving one hour into our voyage. A stop for fried chicken parts was necessary. I had to perform minor surgery after a paper cut from the Happy Meal box left her feeling as if she had experienced a partial amputation. I didn’t think she would stop crying. If she was older, I would blame hormones for she had approximately 99 breakdown, cry with snot pouring out, screaming in anguish moments throughout our trip. An especially emotional moment for her was when mommy adamantly refused to allow her to scale a display in a department store. I know, Mommy Dearest, right? (no wire hangers in this house). The baby wouldn’t eat (too much going on), wouldn’t nap again (too much going on), and saved her meltdown for the drive home. Tonight wasn’t a force baby to adhere to bedtime. It was a “must put baby to sleep before we both go crazy” kind of night. Pajama time wasn’t magical tonight. It was excruciating. My solace came, though, as our day out ended. When I pulled into the driveway, I saw it, the most beautiful sight ever. It was my husband’s car! He was home two hours early. I do not want to imagine unloading groceries and other bags, cooking dinner, and the bedtime routine tonight without his assist. When I mentioned the comment about the oil to him he seemed unimpressed and replied, “A quart is nothing. There’s a lot more than that in there.” And I suppose he’s right. Even when I feel a quart low, like I did in the midst of my kiddie chaos, I’m reminded there’s way more in there. We always have more in our reserve than we think. Sometimes it takes a helping hand from others, but we keep going until bedtime. Maybe tomorrow we’ll stay in, or maybe I’ll be ready for another road trip. There’s more in my tank than I give myself credit for. Just remember, if you’re feeling a quart low, that there’s plenty more in there.
That is all 🙂
- The baby’s whines, punctuated with crying, and interspersed with babbles and weary giggles, fill the vehicle as the sun sets in the distance, a pink, translucent hue, so peaceful that it almost overshadows the cranky baby, and even helps me ignore the repeated kicks into the back of my seat. While the baby tries to put into words the sheer exhaustion she feels, the three year old asks a gauntlet of questions, strung along sporadically to prevent her from being sucked into her own looming nap. “What is this?” she asks, pointing at random buttons. “How much further?” she questions with a sigh. As the sky changes from pink to gray, and then finally to black, the baby starts to cry in earnest, giving wakefulness her last fight as the full moon shines the way back home. The baby falls in and out of slumber, while her big sister’s endless repertoire of inquiries continues, and often loudly, pulling little sis out of her sleep before it even begins. As the hazy moon rises higher in the night sky, the babe finally sleeps, and even though the continuous questions proceed, a peace settles over the vehicle amidst the hum of rubber on blacktop.
- It’s in the moments of silence that you can reflect on the full day, remembering all the laughs and excited smiles. It’s in the beautiful moving picture show of your mind that you can fully appreciate the memories made, and sigh internally with contentment over it all. The middle is always the good part it seems. The beginning and the end, not so much. After a full day away from home and the comforts that reside there, small children crash onto the runaway leading back to that blessed oasis. Naps are typically interrupted, meals forgone, and sugar highs come to an end. In those moments of collapse you’re reminded of the start, rocky in its own sense, and how you almost just said, “forget about it.” The preparation that goes along with a day out can be exhausting. Gathering, packing, planning the details. All things meant to make it a little easier, somehow cause their own stress. But the actual getting out the door is the worst part. All perfectly laid plans, all the preparations and perfectly packed goods can collapse in an instant. The unforeseen will make itself known, moods will crumple, threatening tempers to flair. Knowing it will likely be this way will make you not want to put yourself through it. Too many activities just fill the precious time with rushed attitudes and cranky cries, making it seem far easier to hole up in your bunker for the next five years or so.
- But you do it anyway. You do it for them, for those tiny smiling faces that say, “Can we go mom? Please?” You try to remember, Didn’t mom do that too? I’m certain she did. You do it for them, but it’s for you too, because nothing seems to compare to that joy you feel when the musical laughter fills the air like the soundtrack to your busy, chaotic, yet idyllic life. I delight in the little children. I’m reminded that Abba Father delights in me, despite my endless questions, my weary cries, and my inability to rest when I most need it. He loves me despite the craziness and how much work I can be. He loves watching me love those little children, as He sees His best in me at those times. I am reminded that though it’s good to do the extra for them, even when I just want to be still, that if it becomes movement that brings bitterness rather than joy, then it is pointless. The important things are not how many places you can go, activities you can complete, or crafts you can design. All the pictures of happy memories are for naught if the smiles are forced. All they really need is love and time. Time to be loved and to feel my love. In the end today, as the moon leads the way home with my two little hearts riding behind me, I am content with our pursual of time together. It is sometimes time going here and there, chaotic and full, but other times it is simply reading books on a blanket on the floor. And that is good. Any time with my loves is not wasted or ill spent.
That is all 🙂
- She’s been training for a couple of years now, so it’s only natural that my three year old is finally coming into her own, and really starting to excel at completely trashing my living room, or any room in the house for that matter, especially if I just finished picking up. I suppose she’s like a budding Picasso, and a bare floor resembles a blank canvas to her artistically destructive eye. Asking her to pick up her own mess is the absolute worst torture I can dish out on that child. Her shoulders will sag inward while her chin crashes into her chest, and the most pitiful sigh issues from her tiny peasant, slave child mouth. Today after we played her favorite game of “let me undo what mom just did,” I insisted she clean up the existing mess that completely painted my living room rug with a coat of discarded toys prior to granting her request to pull baby furniture out of the nursery (because playing with her own toys just isn’t as much fun). She attempted the task of cleaning with the reward of making future messes dancing in her head. At one point I heard her groan in angered exasperation. I peeked into the room and her pants were around her thighs while her arms were full of stuffed puppies. “My pants keep falling down! I can’t do it!” I wanted to laugh out loud at her miniature temper tantrum over saggy pants and the exhausting chore of moving a toy from point A to point B (approximately two feet).
- Well, instead of laughing I filed it away. I do that a lot. I see my child do something ridiculous and then I realize, she comes by it naturally. I’ve been on the border of throwing my toys in the air and screaming in frustration most of the day. My day started okay, but for me it seems like a single event can alter the coarse of my perfectly pleasant day in record time. I don’t like that fact, nor do I condone it, but I really have trouble changing it. My day took a detour to Sucksville when I logged onto my bank account. Payday is tomorrow, but I needed milk and other essentials today. I quickly entered my password to see just how much I could spend. I was drying my hair at the time (yes, I frequently multi-task) and almost dropped my hair dryer in the sink when I saw my balance. It was negative! How did that happen?! It seems that your normally put together to the fraction of a cent, financial guru, queen of the checkbook woman got it wrong. In my haste and distraction I apparently forgot to log a large check, one that I’m not accustomed to writing, one that I wrote over two weeks ago, and that was finally cashed yesterday. I have never done this in my twenty years of having a checking account. I almost felt like a man from the bank was likely waiting at my front door ready to slap me into shackles and throw me in the vault along with my useless, bounced check, where we could ponder the error of our ways via overdraft fees.
- I immediately texted my husband. When I want to feel stupid and angry at myself, the poor man usually has to listen. Naturally he sent reassuring texts with cute, kissie-faced emoticons telling me it was no big deal. He even tried sending adult content, suggestive texts to make me giggle (which they did), but I had convinced myself I was a moron. Since I couldn’t stop there, I also began to dwell on finances period (I still needed that milk), which is never really an uplifting experience. I followed up by feeling sorry for myself, thinking, Why are we always broke? I hate being poor! Never mind the fact that we are far from poor and actually pretty blessed as far as hundred-aires (aka lower, middle class) goes. I was on a roll, and I wouldn’t stop until I was sufficiently in a bad mood, and had ruined my entire day with my negative attitude. I’m not sure why I do that, why I allow one bad apple to ruin my entire barrel. But I do. I found myself praying for God to help change my attitude (which is a good thing I think), and also asking forgiveness for such a poor one at that (which is probably also a pretty good idea), but then I also realized something. Some days are just going to be bad. Some days something bad is going to happen. It’s going to really suck on days like that. I may not can fix it or change it, but I can keep going. Once I told myself it was okay to feel bad, I actually felt better. I can not fall victim to giving up. Just because my attitude was poor today doesn’t reflect what it will be tomorrow. I can start new. I found the time to wash my sheets tonight, and similarly I can lay my mind down fresh when I go to bed, pray for God to clean it, and wake up ready for another day. Even if my arms get full and my pants fall around my ankles, I will not say “I can’t do it,” because I can, and I will. I have to. There’s new beautiful messes waiting to be made. Because really that’s where the fun is at. I won’t beat myself too hard for the overdraft, or even for my ensuing mood. It’s like my husband said, “It’s over. It’s done with, and you can’t change it, so move on.”
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
And I’ll take that as my own. You can too.
That is all 🙂
- Tomorrow is my precious, baby girl’s 3rd birthday. I am excited for the day, but also apprehensive to concede to another year passed. I knew it was fitting and necessary that I write a letter to my darling daughter.
My Dearest Little Princess,
I address this letter to you as “Princess” because I know you would want it that way. When you run around the house, spinning and twirling, wearing your pink, princess nightgown (that you will no doubt ask to wear to your birthday party), you will say in your sweet, yet high pitched trill, “I’m gonna be the princess Mommy.” You dance about, pretending to be royalty, but I have a secret for you my precious child. You are a princess. You always have been, and always will be. I remember when I first realized how special you were, and began to understand that you had laid claim to my heart. I remember holding your tiny, infant body to my chest, and loving you so much that I just wanted to squeeze you so very tight, but I didn’t, because you were so very small, and I feared crushing you. In that moment, even as I made myself hold you securely, yet gingerly, I knew I was in love. I knew my heart had grown to include room for a little person, and nothing would ever be the same, and that was just fine. It was wonderful in fact. I knew I was loving in a new, magical way, and that I held a tiny princess to my breast. And so you began your reign on the throne of my heart.
I have been watching you lately, my little princess. I have seen you changing before my very eyes. Where did the chubby, infant princess in my arms go? I looked up, ready to snatch you from your bassinet, and you were crawling into the other room. I followed after you, but as I turned the corner, I glimpsed your toddler frame wobbling away. I pursued further only to discover this long-legged, little lady waiting for me. I turned away for a moment and those little dimples on your fat hands disappeared, and knuckles replaced them. I bent to kiss your chubby cheeks, and when I pulled away and looked, a little girl face was looking back at me. A grabbed a case of Pampers off the store shelf, but by the time they landed on the bottom of the shopping cart, they were your very first package of princess panties, and yes, they were pink.
On the eve of your third birthday, Mommy’s heart catches in her throat. I push away hot tears baby. My tiny princess just keeps getting taller, and smarter, and sassier, but also sweeter and more full of love each day. Mommy wants to hold you, and somehow stop tomorrow from coming, freeze time to keep you Mommy’s pretty, little princess forever, holding you in my lap in your pink, princess nightgown, reading you Bernstein Bears Soccer Tryouts (again), and reveling in your sweet kisses, to the soundtrack of your musical laughter. But I can’t do that to you baby. I must let tomorrow come. I will watch you run, and play with your friends. I’ll watch you blow out your candles and open your presents. I will see you grow another two inches while I stand there. I will let tomorrow come because I know good things are coming your way. You see, my precious princess, Mommy has been praying for you, every day, ever since God formed you in my womb. I think of how you have changed Mommy’s world, and can only imagine what you can do for the rest of the planet. You can do anything my darling girl, with God’s hand on your life, the possibilities are endless. But just remember, when the way gets tough, and it will, just remember that you are always welcome in Mommy’s lap, no matter how big you are.
Until then, I will be watching you, trying not to blink, lest you grow even quicker. Until then, let’s dance, and spin, and sing princess songs. Let’s hug and kiss in our palace made of couch cushions, reading a story by the beam of a flashlight, pink, of course.
Happy Birthday my precious princess, darling daughter, baby girl of mine. You will always reign on the throne of my heart.
The Queen Mommy
- Ok. I’m crying now. Sigh. Pray for me friends. Think of me tomorrow. If you see me out, disheveled, with puffy eyes, just smile, pat my arm, and look at me knowingly, but with an empathetic smile.
That is all 🙂
- I have this terrible habit of misplacing things. I will pick up the nail clippers, with it completely in my head that I’m finally going to trim my nails now that I have a minute. Then I think, “Well, I’ll need the file too. Can’t have jagged edges.” I set off in search of my nail file. “I know it’s in this kitchen somewhere!” (Isn’t that where everyone keeps their nail file?) While in the kitchen, I see the creamer is still out on the counter. I pick up the bottle to place it in the refrigerator. While the refrigerator is open, I notice the cooler bag of my breast milk on the top shelf. Realizing I need to bag it up and freeze it before I forget again, I grab the cooler pack quickly. Not wanting to leave the dirty bottles to have remnants of milk dry inside, I decide to put them in the dishwasher immediately. When I open the dishwasher, I notice it’s full of clean dishes. I have to empty it before I can put the dirty bottles in there. So I put dishes away. Now that the dishwasher is empty, I might as well finish cleaning the kitchen. If I do it now, I won’t have to later. Halfway through rinsing plates, the baby wakes from her nap and starts to cry. I dry off my hands, and rush off to scoop her from her crib before her cries wake her two year old sister from her own nap. The baby is hungry, and I settle into the rocker to feed her. After she’s fed, I realize I better start thawing chicken for dinner. So glad I already cleaned out the sink! The two year old enters the room, and I decide to go ahead and fix her dinner. While she eats, I cut some potatoes to put in the oven. After I put the seasoned and foiled potato cubes in the oven, I figure I better give the two year old her bath. I hate waiting to the last minute, plus she’s got macaroni all over her face. I go ahead and bathe the baby too. Just as I’m putting pajamas on the kiddos, and putting the completed dinner on “warm,” my husband walks in the door. After too brief of a visit, the baby starts to whine and rub her eyes. It’s bedtime. As I rock my bundle to sleep, I stroke her little head. As I finger her tiny curl, I notice my finger nails. I really need to trim them! But where in the world are the nail clippers?!
- Sometimes the day can get so hectic, it’s insane. In the middle of all the busy chaos, you lose something. As you hustle and bustle, back and forth, here and there, you misplace your joy. You can’t see it anywhere. All you see is a huge “to-do” list that has yet to have a single thing crossed off of it. You don’t have peace, you have frantic tasks to complete. You don’t see joy, you see discontentment. You almost find your joy when you finally get that disgusting floor mopped, but then the crawling baby throw-ups and decides to finger paint with it, on your clean floor. Sometimes you can’t find your joy because your life in no way resembles what it once was. Once meticulous about everything, you watch in horror as the baby pulls out strictly alphabetized DVDs off the shelf, upsetting the ABC order. In the back of your mind, you may realize a beautifully categorized home isn’t true joy anyway. Simple annoyances may steal your joy into hiding. Like, why does egg always stick to the pan after being washed, like the dishwasher only cements it into place? Even present day conveniences seem intent on sneaking away with your joy. Why do they jump on the bed when it’s made? Why does the husband seem determined to squirrel away balled up, dirty socks throughout the house? Why does the phone ring when babies sleep?
- I’m of the opinion that we can find our joy. It’s there to be found. It’s simply a matter of perception. How do you see the chaos, turmoil, or busyness that works so hard to shield your joy from your sight? I think we can make a pledge to find our joy, to see it shine through every situation. Earlier today, the two year old wanted to swim, but I wouldn’t let her. I couldn’t watch her at the time, and told her to play in the sprinkler instead. She commented, later, about the sprinkler, “I don’t like it, but when I’m in it, I love it!” The sprinkler wasn’t her first choice, she wasn’t even particularly fond of it, but loved it in the midst of the spray. Do you hate your job? Sometimes people will say, “at least you have a job!” That comment may not always bring you the joy. Instead, look at it this way. God has you there for a reason right now. I once was forced to take a 4 hour break during the day at work (in the restaurant business) because it was slow. I had a bill due and really wanted my hours. I wasn’t happy, but spent my break at a park by the river. While there, I came across a girl and struck up a conversation after the Lord’s urging. It so happens that she was intent on jumping over a rail onto the rocks below, along the river that day. I came along right when she needed someone to talk to. You never know when or where God can use you. But He can’t use you if you’re too busy grumbling. Find your joy as you wait on His leading. See each situation as the joy it truly is. When you’re trudging through the house with clothes in your hand to put on your child after they peed on the first set, and you find them outside standing on a upside down tricycle, with a plastic golf club in their hand, naked as the day they were born, smile. That’s joy in disguise. When there’s a cup of water spilled on the floor, wipe it up, and you can feel accomplished saying you mopped today. That’s joy in hiding. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Hold it tightly, and don’t let it out of your sight. A wonderful thing happens as you view each moment with joy. You realize that it truly is joyful, even the moments you didn’t think you could count as such.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So, if you can get past the rush, the schedules, the frustrations, the inconveniences, the disappointments, and find your joy, you won’t regret it. As you view your life with joy and see the gifts, you will discover you are indeed blessed, and open the floodgates for more of Him.
And, if you were wondering, the nail clippers were in the refrigerator beside the creamer.
That is all 🙂
- Today my two year old and I went out to the swimming pool in our backyard. We haven’t been out there in a while with the rain and cooler weather. It’s only been about a week since we last swam, but it seems that was enough time for the water to get cloudy. Sometime in this past week of idle use, it was neglected that the filter system was not working properly. The chlorine I had loaded in the filter was not being disseminated into the water, and therefore a stagnate mess awaited us. I glimpsed pieces of “I don’t know what,” algae maybe, floating in the water. After tinkering with the pump, and hopefully fixing it, I realized I needed to get in the water with the net and get busy cleaning it if we were going to be able to use it for the remainder of the summer. I also decided, that while I was getting in, there was no way I’d let Chloe get inside. This left a little girl in her swim suit standing on the sidelines, and very disappointed. It was at this point that I recalled the incredibly, nasty pond behind our house that I swam in as a child. It was a glorified mud hole really, originally dug by my grandpa for his cows to drink out of on a hot day. I smirked a bit at my protectiveness for my baby. I also winced.
- It occurs to me often, that what I have in mind for my children is different from the life I lived or even how I was raised. This is to say nothing negatively about my upbringing. I was indeed loved immensely, and can find no fault in that blessing. I think if we’re all honest, though, we’ll admit there are a few things, at least, that we plan on doing differently with our children. If this hasn’t occurred to you, then perhaps it should. Raising future generations is a mighty task. I am confronted with a world that is far different from the one I grew up in. Technology is just a scratch on the surface of how things have progressed. Ideals that once held importance, have taken a back burner on the stove top of life’s agenda. I see small children being taught that the brand of their clothing is far more important than remembering to say “yes ma’am”. I personally had a teacher that only responded to “yes ma’am” and if we neglected to use it, a wood paddle would find our behinds. I’m amazed that a seven year old has to be disappointed when they can’t have a closet full of Under Armour shirts. I am guilty of passing my child my phone to play with before taking her outside. Are you? What of chores? And I’m not talking about “clean your room or no allowance!” I’m talking about teaching responsibility, like, “if you want to be able to play, you have to feed the dog and do the dishes first.”
- My oldest child is only two, and I’m a little concerned. I don’t know all the answers. I’m just trying to figure out what happened. I can’t understand why I look at the world around me, and it seems to be falling apart. I actually cried today when I saw stories of my tax dollars funding the murder of innocent babies. I can’t understand why people can’t find employment, but we keep making programs to satisfy the jobless and keep them appeased. If you didn’t have assistance, would you try harder to find something? I’m just taking a shot in the dark here. Why are we not praying at school, but shooting in them? Since when is it common place to take the Lord’s name in vain on regular television that my kids can walk in on, but the same kid could get suspended from school for using any term that might offend someone’s sexual gender preference. What is going on when my small home town experiences a rape and shooting in a week’s time? Today I had to put a baby gate up to prevent my 8 month old from crawling into her sister’s room. It’s dangerous in there for a baby who puts everything in her mouth. The thing is, I can’t put up a gate from the world. It’s dangerous out there folks, and our kids are going to want to figuratively “put everything in their mouth.” It comes down to you and me, trying our best to raise up that next generation, but is our hardest even good enough? We can’t do it alone. It’s gotta be Christ-centered parenting, or we will fail. I’ll say that again. WE WILL FAIL. Today I cried to God, “Please forgive us Lord. Deliver us from evil. There’s still good folks here who love your ways!” A good friend told me earlier, “I think God will protect those who follow Him, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be without struggle in a Nation that has turned its back on Him.” I believe she’s right, and I take comfort in knowing He will protect my family as we follow Him. I can only pray for this Nation. Well, that, and prepare the next generation. How grand it would be to raise prayer warriors, Godly men and women, ready and eager to do battle for God’s will. How wonderful to raise a generation that will bring revival to our land. I cannot keep my child out of the murky water forever. She will eventually venture into the depths. My prayer is that I’ve helped prepare her, and her siblings, for the dangers seen and unseen, so they may hold firm in Jesus and emerge from this world victorious, and having left it better than when they came.
That is all 🙂
- In the midst of a parental moment of frustration God humbled me. It’s like God affectionately said, “Whatcha talkin bout Willis?” It’s been coming for a while, but cumulated with the nighttime rush. Sometimes it seems like the bedtime routine is the equivalent of having your toenails removed one by one or sliding down a bannister made of razor blades into a wading pool of lemon juice. Painful, right? The moment I lay the baby flat on the changing table to put her sleeper on, she screams like I am breaking her tiny bones. She equates bath, lotion, and footsie pajama application with going to sleep. In my house of insomniac wannabes, this is simply torturous. The two year old loves a bath in the morning, but suggest one at night, and I might as well be suggesting we cover our feet with lighter fluid and put them near a flame. I’ve tried to explain that bath and pajamas doesn’t mean you have to go to bed yet! Here’s what she hears of that sentence: bed. So, needless to say, it’s painful. Why is it when the going gets tough, the tough gets going in my mind?
- I realize that I’ve been performing this weekly game of dread for some time now. I truly enjoy my time off with my children. Truth be told, I love it. If it were up to me, I would do nothing but take care of my kiddos and husband. Well, I’d probably write too. That seems to have found a place in my heart. But being a Mommy is where my heart thrives right now. For some reason, I began to dread the coming days when I would work. On a Wednesday, I would think, “It’s getting closer. It’s almost time.” It got so bad, that I was missing out on the joy of the moment. I was so busy dreading the future that I was unable to enjoy the now. I was fretting like a child, dreading my bedtime. I was so busy on my countdown of doom, that I couldn’t live my blog title. I was a hypocrite. I wasn’t “savoring the essence of life”. I was smothering the essence out of my life.
- So, why do we do this? Why do we inadvertently wish away the present while we’re dreading the future? Are you guilty of being unable to fully engage with your family on Sunday evening because your thoughts are on Monday morning? What about trying to rush through a block of time, longing for something better? I’ve known a couple of Moms lately who wished the summer away for some peace and quiet, but missed their babies an hour after they were out the door. Or do you rush through work, wishing the work week away? Maybe God has you there for a reason. I remember once as a kid we were on a family outing. I didn’t get my way about something. It was so mundane that I can’t even recall the specifics now. What I do know was that I pouted the rest of the day. There’s a picture that immortalized it for all time. My cousin and siblings are all grinning at the camera, but I’m looking down in imagined anguish. So what does my present attitude look like? Is my dread and unhappiness with the moment being forever remembered in the photo that is my child’s memory? What am I teaching them about perseverance, joy, and faith? How can I expect them to trust God in all circumstances and treasure each moment He gives, if I’m looking down in imagined anguish? I have heard a story about my Mom when she was a girl. Her and her sister would receive lollipops for a special treat. My Aunt would eat her lollipop quickly, worrying that her little sister would want a bite. My Mom would have no concern for anything other than her own treat. She would slowly lick, lick, lick, enjoying each prolonged flavor with no worry over how long the sucker would last or when she might get another. Guess who ended up the happiest? I guess sometimes it comes down to worry and anxiety. You’re unhappy with the way things are. You’ve prayed about it, so why hasn’t a resolution come yet? All you see is the unsatisfactory situation. You become anxious and discontent in the current circumstance. You worry what will come next, rather than embracing what’s right in front of you.
Matthew 6:28 (AMP)
And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
I want to love the now, even the hard parts. I want to go to bed when I’m supposed to, without complaint. I don’t want my picture taken with a scowl on my face. I don’t want to toil and spin. I want to believe there’s a time for everything and a season for every activity. I don’t want to miss the joy because I’m weighted down by uncertainty. I want to lick and lick and lick, enjoying every flavor available for my palate.
That is all 🙂
- It’s amazing to me how I can be such a level-headed, analytical woman at times, but still have moments where I absolutely loose my mind. That has to be the only explanation for why I would knowingly submit myself to torture. I’m sure I was hit by a moment of weakness. It was, after all, almost four in the afternoon, and my subsistence for the day had consisted of the leftover egg white from the baby’s yolk breakfast, and later a handful of pretzels. It was a moment of caloric weakness. I was sitting at the red light waiting to make a left hand turn. I glanced over to my left and was confronted with the most beautiful of edible sights. Mexican food. Oh Lord help me! Thoughts of salsa, cheese dip, and fajita goodness danced in my head, similarly to the way the little children dreamt of sugarplums on Christmas Eve. Our destination was currently pointed towards the sno-cone place. While I enjoy a sugary, frozen treat as much as the next gal, at the time, I could not imagine how flavored ice could compete with sizzling meat. I called back to my partner in pre-dinner consumption crime, the two year old. (I knew she was excited for some icee yumyums, so I had to be stealth). “Hey Chloe.” I called sweetly. “How’s about we go sit down in a restaurant instead of getting a sno-cone?” My goal was to make it sound adventurously exciting, and therefore easily defeat the aforementioned flavored ice in favor of a taco in my belly. Being the optimistic, overachieving child I adore, Chloe responded, “I got an idea Mom. Let’s go to the restaurant and then go get a sno-cone.” I love that brilliant darling!
- By the time we decided we would sidetrack for a food fiesta, I had already been forced into my left turn taking me to a cold, frozen, minimally nutrient rich, cousin of a popsicle. I would not be denied my quest for spicy splendor that easily! In true stunt driver fashion (no, not really), I performed a possibly illegal u-turn (pretty sure it was illegal). While keeping my wits enough to insure the safety of my tiny charges, I whipped through the traffic with Mexican manic thoughts abounding. I can only blame my desire for a bountiful burrito to drive me to make such an erroneous decision. You see, I don’t usually eat out with just the girls. I usually have the husband along if we go out to eat in a restaurant. As a side note, McDonald’s does not count as eating out at a restaurant. The staff there undergoes special training in dealing with people under the age of seven. I even suspect that they add mild sedatives to the chicken nuggets to keep the children from running amuck and strewing napkins and Happy Meal toys in their wake. Anyway, when I do occasionally visit an adult establishment for food consumption beyond that of a burger, I typically go with another adult. I’ve naively thought all this time that I went with another responsible adult for the sheer joy of conversation beyond the topics of “peepee and poop”. I now realize I’ve been using my company as an unpaid nanny service. It somehow seems to go so much smoother when another set of hands is available to carry bags, be it diaper or doggie, corral spastic runners before they bolt into traffic, or back into the kitchen if you don’t pay attention, catch toppling drinks, and so much more!
- Upon entering the restaurant, Chloe immediately became excited over the plethora of candy machine choices featured in the lobby. Her tone rose and her speed of speech intensified. It was like by some strange form of osmosis, the sugar from each candy she viewed was assaulting her bloodstream all at once. Only my regrettable promise of candy after dinner was able to separate her from the line-up of quarter treats. I ushered us to a booth, and scanned the wall for a high chair. Finding one complete with a functioning strap is the key. Sometimes you luck upon one complete with a seatbelt, but once at your table, discover the buckle has been effectively chewed off by the wild animal it held before yours, or the connection is so caked with masticated food that it no longer can be secured. God was trying to throw me a bone, and I was able to indeed find a seat that I didn’t fear would be a physical danger or communicable disease threat to my baby. The two year old started right away playing her favorite game of musical seating. I’m gonna sit by myself. No, wait. I’m gonna sit by you. No, wait. I’m gonna sit here. This particular food spot offered a strangely wide window ledge by our table. To Chloe, this simply meant another place to try and sit. She ended up, to my absolute joy (insert sarcasm here), finding the leftover meal pieces of the little person that came before her. She handed them to me for inspection, because I never grow tired of handling other people’s chewed food. (Do I have to tell you to insert sarcasm here?) The meal consisted of many joyful experiences to include: trying to stop Chloe from killing the rainforest with all the destroyed paper product she amassed pulling napkin after napkin out of the dispenser, attempting to keep up with the supply and demand of fruit puffs I fed into the baby’s open, bird mouth while still trying to fit in my own bites of entree, managing to restrain curious baby fingers from grabbing steaming plates or exploring in my refried beans, and explaining repeatedly to Chloe that she had to eat more than two bites of her $5 kid’s meal if she wanted any of the much anticipated candy. The waiter politely smiled sweetly at my motley crew and would pat the baby’s head each time he came by to ask if I needed anything (His eyes seemed to betray him. They silently screamed, “Please go woman, and take your offspring before any more food falls upon my floor!”) In between instructing Chloe to stop playing with her cup of water (I mean, really, why do they serve kids a styrofoam cup? They gotta know that straw is like a sword just waiting to slice through its environmentally unfriendly enemy), I made the server’s day by requesting the check and a to-go box (for the 80% of Chloe’s remaining meal). When I turned back to Chloe, she was pulling out more napkins. This time, though, it was to mop up the river of ice water that had fallen victim to the straw of doom, and poured out of its wounded styrofoam side directly into our awaiting seat that was conveniently able to hold water with its concave structure, and effectively soak our pants. After I slaughtered another forest to catch the spill, I turned up to catch my darling baby in action. She had puked up all those puffs, mixed with water, onto the table. She was painting the mixture across the surface with her hands and forearms, and seemed very proud of the masterpiece she had achieved thus far. I gathered my brood, heading for the cashier. As Chloe asked about the candy, I broke the news to her that I did not have any quarters. I’m certain the waiter’s family back in Mexico could hear Chloe’s anguished cries over a sweet treat envisioned, but never brought to reality. It seems those brilliant Hispanics foresaw such a dilemma. They packed their register with multiple canisters full of enticing candies, all available for purchase with your debit card! This last chance of sugar was an effective salve for Chloe’s pain. (Yes, I am a sucker, but I also promised, and try to keep my word). As we packed up in the van, and I realized it was baby nap time with a Walmart trip still to be completed, I wondered if my little tryst had been worth it. It almost seemed like more of a hassle than an enjoyment. I vowed to rethink such an endeavor in the future. I know, though, that when the hunger pains and temptation of enchanting enchiladas again strike, I will once again charge blindly into the land of eating out with kids.
That is all 🙂
- Today was a beautiful summer day in my opinion. We went swimming in our wading pool out in the back yard. It’s shallow enough so that Chloe can stand, but deep enough for Mommy to enjoy too. After a dose of sunscreen and putting on her hat, I placed Bailey in her Mickey Mouse float that also has a canopy to protect from the sun. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right? She actually enjoys floating around, and will do so for as long as I let her. She likes for me to push her around and make motor boat sounds. Funny the things you do. Naturally, the two year old is always in mild jealousy mode. After a session around the pool in our little boat, I relaxed against the side. Chloe proceeded to go over to Bailey’s float and hastily bang the canopy shut and give it a not-too-friendly shove. I said, “Hey! You better not do that again or you’re getting out of the pool and sitting in the chair for 5 minutes. And 5 minutes is a long time for a little kid!” That’s the truth, isn’t it? Five minutes is an eternity when you’re two.
- Y’all know how my brain works. I immediately thought about God’s timing. When 5 minutes seems forever to a two year old, but is merely a minuscule moment in time for me; what of God’s timing? What about all that stuff I got on my mind? What about the dreams, goals, or fervent prayers I think on daily? I wait anxiously to see them fulfilled. It made me wonder; am I like an impatient two year old? Am I thinking hurry, hurry, and God is thinking, “it hasn’t even been 5 minutes yet kid!” Then it hit me. I reckon God has got me in a time out! I wondered why this hadn’t occurred to me yet. That got me to thinking “exactly what is a time out?” Well, usually you put a kid in time out for their own good, first off. They typically get a bit rambunctious and get a bright idea of doing something stupid. They think its a good idea, though. They may even feel like you’ll approve of it. You typically foresee someone getting hurt, or some other poor outcome, and intercede with a time out. What happens during time out? Well, the goal is that they’ll think about what they’ve done. Even if they just sit there fiddling with a loose thread on their clothes, at least, you can mostly count on them not doing it again. When they emerge from the 5 minutes of pure torture, they’re better than before. They’re more eager to listen and follow direction. I figured maybe God wants me to sit still and think about things. Before I can run off doing what I think is best, maybe I need to spend His 5 minutes learning from my mistakes. Maybe as I wait, I’ll grow from His instruction and come off the couch with better ears for His directions.
- When I think about waiting on promises, I think of Abraham. God told him that he would be a father of many nations. He couldn’t see how that could be with Sarah unable to produce a single heir. But God kept His promise. In his old age, he and Sarah had a son. I like a verse from Hebrews that speaks of this.
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Patiently it said. Oops. I would imagine I probably resemble my two year old in time out, fidgeting and crying, “Momma, can I get up yet?!” Today as I was thinking about all of this in the swimming pool, in the back of my mind I was thinking we might have to go in. There was a large gray cloud overhead. It had blocked the sun, and I wasn’t sure if swimming weather was in store for us. I began to watch the clouds and decided to wait. I watched as the gray cloud blew away. I watched in wonder as I glimpsed magnificent rays of sunshine burst through the cloud cover. The sun once again began to shine down on us, and we continued to swim. It reminded me of God’s timing and His promises. Before the brightest light is recognized, there are often shadows. It is after being in the gloom, that you can stretch out your arms and enjoy the warmth of brilliant sunshine on your skin. I reckon God may have me in a time out. How I deal with it is up to me. I will be still Lord. I will wait. Has God got you in a time out? How will you respond?
That is all 🙂