Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jehovah Jira: The God Who Provides

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

What began as a VBS memory verse has quickly turned into the theme of our summer.  As we walk this road of uncertainty, we cling to the truth that God is with us.  He has gone before us and will provide the strength to finish this adventure. 

Part of that journey is a new school for our girls.  For Brooklyn, this is just a small change.  Kindergarten is a year of new friendships, schedules, and teachers.  For her, the location has changed, but the experience remains the same.  As a third grader, Paige's year is completely different.  New building, teachers, and, most importantly, friends. 

As I drove my nervous girl to school yesterday, we lifted our voices to the Lord and I fought back tears.  I reassured her that she would have friends, that this would be a good year, and that her fears would not become realities.  Pulling into the parking lot, she uttered another "I don't want to go" and I steadied my voice enough to remind her of our verse.  "When your scared, just say Isaiah 41:10 over and over in your head. God will take care of you."  Minutes later I left my brave faced first born standing against the cinder block walls and I prayed that God would not only make good on His promise, but that he would give her friends. 

I would find out that afternoon, that God did us one better.  You see, a friend that Paige had made at church just "happened" to sit down in the desk right next to her.  A little girl who immediately recognized Paige.  A little girl with the last name Black.  In a classroom that is organized alphabetically.  So not only does Paige have a new friend, she has an old friend who sits next to her all day and stands behind her in line.  She is NEVER alone.  And that's true whether or not Reagan is at school. 



Monday, May 28, 2012

Six

What a crazy month!  I would fill you in on all of the nonsense, but quite frankly, I don't have the time.  I am writing this post for one very important reason.  My Brooklyn has turned six.  She actually had her birthday on Saturday while we were moving all of our belongings into storage.  Like I said, no time. 

Despite the craziness of our week, we made sure that B got her special day.  A party at Glow Golf with her friends last Friday, breakfast for dinner (aka brinner) with our families on Wednesday, and Chick-fil-a and Cold Stone Saturday evening.  I don't think she noticed that we weren't with her for 90% of her actual birthday.  At least I hope she didn't. 

If we could sum up Brooklyn at six we would say sassy, sweet, and sensitive.  She cries at the sight of blood, has a heart for others, and has picked up the phrase "Seriously?!?" and a wicked eye roll.  Her favorite things are her American Girl doll, Marie from Aristocats, and Strawberry Shortcake.  She dreams of being a vet and having a hundred cats.  Her favorite color is gold and her favorite food is eggs-in-a-hole.


There is so much personality in our Brooks.  God has given her a tender heart and an infectious smile.  I pray that He uses her to do mighty things and that her heart never grows calloused to the pain of this world. 

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn Grace! We love you sweet girl!  Keep loving like Jesus!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ten

Ten years of marriage.  3,653 days of learning.

Learning that he would rather eat cereal than most any meal. 
...... to button the top button on his shirts when I hang them. 
......the correct way to remove a seat belt (still working on that one)
...... to identify the sound of him gagging when the diaper is too gross
....... and getting there before it's too late
........that the draft will ALWAYS fall on our anniversary weekend. 
........ to fall asleep before the snoring begins. 
........ the art of wrinkle free sheets
........they ways he feels loved
........the delicate art of fighting fair
........to tag team the chaos

The list could go on and on.  And it will.  We will never stop learning and we will never stop needing to learn.  This thing called marriage is tough.  Ten years ago we began our lives together in a little townhouse with empty closets and little furniture.  Now, our closets are full, we've outgrown our house, and there are three little ones following us around.  This adventure has only just begun!

 Wherever this road may take us. Whatever the future holds. I am glad I get to walk it with you.  No one else would make it worth the ride.  No one.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Enough

I'm having one of those life events that make you want to throw up and cry all at the same time.  Not that anything is actually "wrong".  I'm just so scared of the unknown that I can barely think straight.  For weeks I have been praying that God would make himself known.  That it would be unavoidably obvious the direction we should go.  Yet, the minute that God does something HUGE.  Something completely unexpected and totally obvious.  I FREAK out.  I have no peace.  Seeing the path is no longer good enough.  Now I want the destination too.  I want to see the whole staircase, not just this step.  How quickly I disregard his direction.  My fear and anxiety over the unknown overshadow the gift of known.  Nothing is ever enough. 

This afternoon I drove through town with two little ones giggling in the backseat and I poured my heart out. I sang through my sobs and I laid it down.  At his feet.  Where it belongs.  He has this, I don't.  He knows the destination.  I am only asked to walk the path.  He is my portion.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  He holds my world in His hands.

I'm going to need to revisit this post many times in the next few weeks (and the rest of my life for that matter).  And I will have to lay it down EVERY day, because He's more than enough for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time Out

It's been a long two weeks.  That may be the understatement of the year.  Twelve days at home with sick kids.  I don't even have the words. 

What I can tell you is that after a run like we've just had patience is running on empty.  I have been nurse, short order cook, cleaning lady, laundromat, and comforter for 288 hours straight.  Tonight I hit my breaking point. 

I won't bore you with the play-by-play, but it basically involved three kids, lots of mud and a garden hose.  I lost it.  Now, I could say that an eight year old knows better than to smear mud on the sliding glass door or to spray her brother with the hose in 50 degree weather, but, as my mother reminds me so often, "she's only eight".  Should she do those things? No.  Did she deserve to be yelled at? I don't think so. 

I am so grateful that tonight my attitude didn't get in the way of my guilt. (As it often does.) After starting some mac-n-cheese, I called the girls out to the kitchen and apologized for my actions and asked for their forgiveness.  The smiles on their little faces said it all.  This mattered to them.  They needed to hear that I was wrong and that I was sorry.  Because I was. 

I don't tell this story to pat myself on the back.  If you were standing in my backyard at 4:30, you would certainly know better.  Instead, I hope it encourages us to say we're sorry.  To be honest with our kids and admit our mess ups.  They need to see that we aren't perfect and that we need grace and forgiveness just as much as they do. 

Also, I hope today has reminded me to take a step back.  Stop taking this motherhood thing so seriously.  I'm not suggesting that we eliminate boundaries and consequences, but I do hope that our focus to "raise" our kids doesn't demand they act as grown ups.  Does a little mud on the glass really hurt anything?  Couldn't I just let them enjoy the moment?  Ask them to clean it up when their done?  Wouldn't it be great if we could miss something every now and then?  Give them a chance to cut a corner or make a mess without immediate consequences?  Oh, how I would hate to have someone tapping me on the shoulder every time I screwed up! 

Maybe for the first time, we can allow our kids to see us for the mess-ups we really are and we can let them do the same.  Who's with me?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big 8!

Yesterday, Paige celebrated her eighth birthday.  I am completely overwhelmed with emotion when I think about that little girl.  Our journey has not been an easy road.  She has all too often pushed me to my limit and then, knocked me right over the edge.  I have spent the past 8 years crying, praying, yelling, and questioning.  I am not qualified to raise this little girl.  She needs so much more than I have to give.  And yet, God continues to remind me that we were made for each other.  This little girl is EXACTLY who I need.  And she needs me. 

My emotion does not come from a place of sadness or frustration.  Oh, those have had their times, but this emotion comes from a place of gratefulness and pride.  Not in the job that I have done, but in the young lady Paige is becoming and the lessons she has taught me along the way.  Her story may just be beginning but it already screams of the One who has great plans for her life.  I am so grateful to be a part. 

Paige has an insane love for books and she reads fast (just like her mama).   When she puts her mind to something, she is focused beyond interruption and will not take no for an answer.  She is natural leader in her classroom and makes friends with nearly every student.  Paige thrives on quality time and just tonight asked if we could have a date because it feels like she doesn't get to see me very much when she is in school.  To which I obviously said yes.  Paige also began taking gymnastics this month and is loving the opportunity to get out some energy and put some of her natural talent to use.  The child is fearless and strong.  Oh, how I pray the mats are thick!

Paige has grown by leaps and bounds this year.  The meltdowns and fits that plagued our home last year are now just a random occurrence.  The little girl who used acting out and baby talk to get her way has matured into a child who asks for what she needs and explains her feelings....most of the time.  Our shy and easily embarrassed 1st grader became a 2nd grader who sold over $700 worth of candles to win 2nd place in her schools fundraiser.  Calling friends and family and talking with neighbors all on her own. 

If you haven't gotten the gist by now, I'll sum it up for you.  I am beyond proud of my baby girl.  She has taught me that my job as a mom is not to control her actions but to teach her to be responsible for them.  She has taught me about grace and love and patience and self-control.  I can't even imagine what the next 20 years have in store!




Happy Birthday, Paige! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh, boy!

Today Emerson turned three.  I had our whole morning planned out.  Starbucks, party supply shopping, Build-a-Bear, Auntie Anne's and a birthday cookie.

Emerson had plans to ride an elevator.  He failed to share those plans with me.

I was watching him.  My eyes never left his little body as he walked down the rows of shoes at Macy's.  When he ducked into an alcove, I watched until he popped back out and continued down the row.  When he got to the second doorway, I expected the same but he never popped back out.  I went after him thinking he would be hiding in the corner.  He wasn't there.   An elevator door stared back at me.  When the doors opened the revealed an empty shell.  My baby was gone.

The next ten minutes might as well have taken three days.  The Macy's managers and security team scrambled over the first and third floors searching for my boy.  I stood helpless in the hallway watching the elevator doors open and close with no sign of my baby.  Finally they call came that they had found him.  In the bathroom.  Downstairs.  Crying.  Back in my arms, sucking his thumb I asked him why.  "I wanted to ride the elevator." Oh, sweet boy!  How will I ever survive you!?! 

Last week Emerson put on the girls nail polish.......like it was lip gloss.

I guess nothing should surprise me with this little ninja.

We really did have a great day.  Other than that 10 minutes or so.

Starbucks.....

Build-a-Bear....

and Auntie Anne's

This little boy has stolen my heart.  I can not imagine spending my days without him.  As crazy and tired and stressed as he makes me, I wouldn't trade him for the world.  Emerson Neil, you are my favorite little buddy.  You are smart and funny and absolutely adorable.  If you are grown and reading this, go out and buy be a really nice and expensive present. You owe me.

Happy Birthday Crazy Boy!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Speaking His Language

I've mentioned before that my kids have different and distinct love languages.  Despite my intentions to read the book "5 Love Languages" I have not.  I do know the basic premise of the book (thanks to my mother) and can identify the tendencies in both Adam and I and our kids.  Paige made it clear early on that she was a quality time kid.  Sometime last year, we realized that Brooklyn's dependence on us is rooted in a need for service.  We speak to her through our acts of service.  Last week, it dawned on me that Emerson is a physical touch kid.  Go figure.  Like father like son. 

Every night, Emerson insists that I lay with him in bed while we read.  If I hurry bedtime, he cries for me to "hold him".  In the grocery store, he insists that I carry him while I push the cart (Which is nearly impossible when the cart is full and the aisles are crowded.)  This has lead to many a screaming fit.  He doesn't handle it well either.   The more I think, the more obvious it becomes that this kid thrives on physical touch.

The problem: his mama is NOT a touch kind of girl.  I admit this to you at the risk of sounding cold, harsh, and rigid because it's the truth.  Oh, I love to squeeze my babies.  I love to kiss them over and over until they fall to the ground giggling.  I love to cuddle them while we read a book or stroke their hair while talking about their day, but then I'm done.  I didn't carry my babies in slings against me, I put them in their seats.  I didn't hold my babies while they slept, I put them in their beds.  I love my kids, but I need my space.

Emerson does not feel the same.  There is never enough "holding" for him.  He wants me to be at his side all day long.  He follows me around the house crying for me to hold him more.  His love tank is going to be a hard one for me to fill.  I don't know if my little three year old boy will always need his mama's touch as much as he does today, but I do know that I wouldn't want anyone else filling him up.  These are LONG Chronos days, but I'm trusting that there will be Kairos moments that make it all worth the while.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What I'm Learning

I have been struggling to write lately.  The desire is there but the subject matter eludes me.  Nothing has driven me to a place of inspiration.  I started watching my calories this week, but who wants to read a whole post about my issues with self-control?!  There have been some major things going on in the lives of those around me, but I don't express myself well when the wounds are raw, so those will have to wait.  It just so happens that a friend posted about the things her kids are teaching her and that inspired me to do the same. 

I am currently reading a book by Angela Thomas (who I LOVE) called "52 Things Kids Need from Their Mom".  It has inspired me to take a closer look at my relationship with my kids and to be more intentional with the little things I do everyday.  I plan to write more on that later, but this new awareness has only helped me pinpoint the ways my kids are teaching me.
At almost eight years old, Paige is teaching me how to parent at a new level.  She has always been my independent child, but now that she can read, write, make PB&J, and bath herself, she rarely "needs" me.  Our relationship is changing as she matures.  I can't depend on the "needs" of her day to keep us connected.  I have to be intentional.  She still wants me to tuck her in, make her lunch, and read her stories even if she doesn't "need" or ask me to.

Brooklyn is teaching me to be sensitive. I do not understand this child.  She can be heartbroken over the silliest things.  She sheds more tears than any person I know.  We spend many hours talking about controlling emotions and then we do it all again tomorrow.  I am not emotional like Brooklyn, but I know that simply forcing her to dry her tears will not serve her in the future.  Her gentle spirit is a gift.  I need to be sensitive to the things that hurt her heart.

Emerson may be the death of me.  How a little boy who melts my heart with his smile can cause such chaos in my life is beyond me!  I am learning patience with Emerson.  His days are full of screaming fits, potty training power struggles, and arm crossed pouting.  He is happy only if I am playing trains or holding him.  He hates his car seat and refuses to ride in a shopping cart quietly.  (I apologize in advance if you ever find yourself in Target or Meijer with us.)  I know I had these issues with his biggest sister, but I had forgotten what life was like 5 years ago.  Emerson has so graciously reminded me. 

These lessons are never going to end.  They will change and they may repeat, but they won't end.  I wont' let them. Every season of parenting teaches me more and more about who I am and who I need to become. All that I can ask of myself is that I learn from yesterday.   If I ever look back on a season of parenting and can't find something I should have done differently, I have failed.  Until then, I just pray God covers the lessons I have missed.