Monday, March 28, 2011

Changed

I suck at prayer.  If you need someone to pray for you, I'm probably not your girl.  Sure, I'll say I'll do it.  I'll even have good intentions to get it done.  But I won't.  The light will turn green, the kids will yell, the phone will ring and I will forget.  Every time.  My personal prayer life isn't much better.  It's embarrassing to say, but I'm too rushed, tired, and distracted.  The thought of prayer seldom crosses my mind.

Apparently, God has been noticing.  In the past few months I have found myself on the outskirts of situation after situation that lead me straight to my knees.  Not a passing "Please God work in that situation" way, but a "My words have run dry and still I pray" kind of way.  I have prayed myself to sleep and then awoken with an urgency to pray again.  I have wept as I pleaded with God to work miracles.  I have prayed that God's hand would be seen and I have prayed that Satan's lies would be revealed.

 Then, on Friday night, I found myself standing in a pediatric hospital room rocking a sweet little boy to sleep while his mama lay broken and exhausted on the bed across the room.  In the stillness of night, I began to pray.  As natural as breathing, it came.  I prayed for healing and rest and grace and strength.  I prayed and I rocked until both were asleep.  I prayed through the parking lot and on my drive across town.  I prayed myself to sleep.

If you would have looked in on me that night, you would have seen me smiling.  Not because I was doing some grand thing, but because for the first time I really knew that God was changing me.  He had given me a heart of prayer.  I may still get distracted and forget, but we're working on it.  Knowing that He is still working gives me hope.  Hope for my quiet time, attitude, patience, self-control, selfishness.............. you get the idea.  He is blessing me.  Through tears and heartbreak.  He is working.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

When Good Intentions Go Bad

Sometimes, my quest to balance life sends me in a tailspin.  This may be one of those times.  Months ago, I was approached by a childhood friend asking me to do a MARK party to help start her business.  Perfect!  I NEED to reconnect with my friends and this could be fun girls night.  Wine, chocolate, coffee, make-up, and friends.  Who could turn that down?!? 

Knowing that March was the best month for my friend's business, I picked a date and sent the invites.  No problem.  It's March.  What could possibly be going on?  Nothing, other than the Book Fair at Paige's school which I volunteered to staff.  Nothing, other than Adam's big project for Writing for Engineers.  Nothing, other than a clothing resale that I sold, shopped and worked at for much of last week.

If I didn't need this night so badly, I would reschedule.  That, however, is NOT happening!  I will have girl time if it kills me.  I will have wine and chocolate and a side of laughter.  My carpet may have puppy stains, my shelves may have dust and my counters may have clutter, but my soul will be fed.

The finger smudges on my front window, pen marks on the hallway wall, and discarded toy collection under the couch make me hesitant, but we are called to be hospitable.  To leave the kitchen and gather in the living room where relationships are nurtured and hearts are encouraged.  And this week, there is no place I'd rather be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Would You Like Some Cheese With That?

I have a bad attitude.  It's been building for about a week now.  At first I blamed hormones, then lack of "adult" time, and now I am at a loss.  There are no more excuses.  While hormones didn't do me any favors, they were not totally responsible.  A date night was long overdue and an enjoyable break, but by morning the gray cloud was back. A man at Meijer told me how much he admired me as a mom, but that held me for only a few minutes.  I have even enjoyed two play dates with sweet friends in the past week and, still, I can't kick the gloom. 

Being married is hard; having kids is harder; having a new puppy is insane.  Carpool lines, laundry, grocery shopping, baths, homework, dinner, PTO meetings, dentist appointments, dishes, and diapers consume my days. A screaming toddler and a bed-wetting preschooler interrupt my nights.  If I'm not refereeing fights, I'm answering another unending "why" question or playing yet another game of I Spy. My world is rarely quiet.  I'm tired.

In the movie "Date Night", Tina Fey says to Steve Carell "I just want one day that doesn't depend on how everyone else's day goes."  Can I get an AMEN?!?  Lately it feels like everything I do is dictated by what everyone else needs done. When I'm not caring for everyone at home, I'm organizing childcare for dozens of other moms.  In many ways, I love my job, but, sometimes, it feels like more than I bargained for.  When do I get to sit back and let someone take care of me??

If all of that whining were not enough for one post,  I end feeling guilty.  Guilty for complaining while my friend longs to hear the voices her two babies still in Ethiopia.  Guilty for whining when another would give anything to spend one more sleepless night with her daughter.  Guilty that my service has turned to burden.  Mostly, though, I end feeling convicted.  This Martha world isn't going anywhere. I've got to find my Mary spirit and STAT.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plan Perks

Sometimes planning pays off.  I have found that, in motherhood, planning rarely hurts.  The plan may not play out exactly as intended but having one is never a bad idea.

Today I planned.  Instead of spending the glorious quiet of nap time vegging on the couch zoned out to some random TV show, I typed out a grocery list.  Two actually.  I looked up clip art to match the items on one of the lists(for the non-reader) .  And I prepped myself for a rare afternoon shopping trip with all three kids.

I don't take all three to the store if it can be at all avoided.  I go in the evening, in the morning with just two, or on a day when I can get a sitter.  I don't take them all.  It never ends well.  There's frustration, short tempers, harsh words, angry stares and often tears.  The kids don't fair well either. 

But this was one of those weeks.  The fridge was bare, babysitters were busy and evenings were booked.  We had to go. 

In the past, I have tried movie carts, bench carts, cookie bribes, and death threats.  They climbed out of the windshield of the movie cart, fought over the steering wheel, pushed each other off the bench, smeared warm chocolate chip cookies all over themselves (seriously.  who gives kids warm cookies???), and called my bluff on the whole death thing.  I've even tried drowning myself in Starbucks as we shopped in hopes of calming my nerves.  They spilled $4 of said drink through the bottom of the cart in the first aisle.

With so many failures, I had very little faith in my shopping list plan.  It might work for 5-7 minutes, but beyond that would be chaos.  That's what I told myself.  I have never been so glad to say that I was wrong.

They were amazing!  As I taught them to park the carts along the sides of the aisles and out of the way of other shoppers, they obliged.  Their little lists sat in their carts directing us to our next stop.  Organizing the lists from the back of the store to the front prevented skipping around from aisle to aisle.  Somehow, our organized trip managed to calm Emerson's usual "I'm buckled in and don't like it!" fits.  At one point he was quietly singing to himself.  Unheard of!!

As a treat for being such great helpers, they each got to pick one special treat.  Other than that, we stuck to our list.  And honestly, I felt like they did most of the work.  I was just supervising and passing out coupons.

Planning served us in so many ways today.  We all stayed calm, enjoyed the trip, accomplished the our goal and learned a life skill.  What's more, they were proud of themselves.  They felt such accomplishment having their lists checked off and their little carts full.  I have to say, I was pretty proud too.