Sometimes I am a Foggy Mother…

Rainbow infused cichlids swim laps while the algae eater noshes on the side of the tank. The only sound this morning is the gurgling that cheers them on as they do what they do best, swim and eat.

My babies, those who helped me earn the mama badge, are sleeping in my bed this morning, on the eve of Mother’s Day. Daddy’s 4am alarm clock wakes them some mornings and they are a welcome addition to my King size dream machine.

I sit at the kitchen table and type these words on a screen. The 1st cup of coffee is working its magic and I am thinking clearly.

But there have been many times when I haven’t thought so clearly as a mother…

Like when my son wanted to eat every 2 hours for the first 6 months of his life. I was a walking zombie. I don’t remember much of that season other than I was always sleepy, hungry, and irritable. Sleep deprivation is my kryptonite. He finally started sleeping past 6am when he was about 4 years old. It was better than winning the mega-millions.

And when we brought my first-born home from the hospital. We didn’t know what the heck we were doing. But she turned out just fine. Due to a later diagnosed tongue thrust issue, she never latched on securely enough to nurse, so I pumped for 14 months. Wow. So do not even want to think about that. She looks more like her daddy, but she acts just like me. I don’t know how my parents did it at times. But, I am so glad they did.

Or when we decided it was best to bring our daughter home for school. I was desperately clinging to Jesus for answers. And after 3 weeks of desperation, peace washed over me and I knew what He was calling us to do. 7 months later, we are all still alive and Callie hasn’t fired me…yet!

Oh yeah, and the time when Anthony worked night shift for almost 3 years when my littles were really little. I felt like a single mother 2 weeks out of every month. All my dear husband had time for was work and sleep. I couldn’t blame him, but I am sure I did. I know I was mad and he was the reason. My dream machine had 3 riders on the nights he worked. When he finally went back to days and the fog lifted, we were stronger as a couple than we had ever been, but the journey was not blissful.

I don’t think either of us were thinking very clearly during those almost 3 years. We call it the “season of fog”. I am so grateful the fog has ascended and clarity has returned.

Speaking of weather and fog and storms, parenting and being a mother reminds me sometimes of living in the eye of the hurricane. The world and things that happen every day rage on. As a mom, I want to safeguard my megamillions, my kids, from that world. They are worth everything to me. I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t get hurt or feel pain. They most certainly will.

That’s why I believe the most important gift I can give my children this day and everyday is my time. My presence. Myself. It is a precious sacrifice that I pour out everyday.

It reminds me of my sweet Jesus. He doesn’t want anything I can give Him. He wants me. My time. My presence. He just wants to be with me, foggy headed or not!

Everyday at our house is mother’s day. Everyday is spent with the ones I love. Everyday I choose how I spend my time. I never get it perfectly right, but all my kids want is me and I always have that to give them, clearheaded or not!

As I hit the publish button and shut down my laptop, I want to wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day, today and every day.

Much love to you all.

 

Actually, I’m Frightened…

We were riding through downtown Clayton. Clouds were ominously heavy with water. My sweet girl seemed a little weighed down, too. She is never without words, and she had spoken a grand total of 4 words from our home to downtown, about a 10 minute drive.

“How many more minutes?”

“Just a couple more,” I replied

Then silence. No response from my sweet girl dressed for a grand occasion.

Her lack of response prompted me to remember what I felt like when I was preparing for my first recital.

“Callie, baby, are you excited?” I asked.

“FRIGHTENED is MORE like it!” she exclaimed.

And she was serious. Her already wan face was void of color other than her sprinkling of freckles that she likes to call her “God-given sparkles”.

“What are you afraid of, baby?” I questioned.

“What if I mess up? What if I trip? What if I forget my notes?” she pondered as she shared her anxiety with me, dad, and Sean.

I noticed Sean reach over the center console in the backseat and place his hand on her leg. I almost lost it. Sometimes words are a poor substitute for human touch.

“And if you do all of those things, we will still be so very proud of you. We will love you regardless of what happens today. Just don’t stop playing. Keep going if you make a mistake. Most people in the audience will never know.” I shared through glassy eyes.

My super confident oldest child was more than scared. She was frightened of messing up. Messing up would mean that she was a failure, not good, not worthy.

As I pondered this conversation days after the recital, God shared with me that Callie’s fear on that cloudy Sunday afternoon is my fear and your fear.

What if I screw up? What if no one likes me? What if they laugh at me?

Fear is a thief that steals our joy. It was causing Callie’s excitement over her first recital to diminish in the face of messing up big time.

Fear causes us to doubt and doubt convinces us that we’re not good enough or we won’t be loved or accepted if we make a mistake. 

Wow…how many times have I allowed fear to affect my decisions. To delay me or to change my direction in life. The fear was too overwhelming to conquer so I chose something easier or different. I can think of several major times in my life. I regret them immensely.

However, I now know that whatever happens on the other side of a decision has nothing to do with my worth. In the past, I connected success with being worthy or good enough. I pray I can help my children learn from my mistakes.

I pray they know their worth and value is not connected to success or failure. You have value because you are you. Simple to say, hard to live. The key is to keep playing, writing, singing, drawing, cooking, loving, praying, giving, and trying. Don’t let fear paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward.

Callie pushed through her fear and played her piece oh so well last Sunday. I was more nervous than her when she walked up to the piano and sat down. I was nervous for her because I wanted her to succeed. I wanted all of her hard work to pay off.

I know she will not always be successful. Neither will I, but I do know we are loved and worthy regardless.

 

 

What I learned in April 2013…

I am a reflective sort of person. At the beginning of each new month, I take some time to reflect on the past month. It helps me see what I learned, take notice of any patterns (good or bad), and just enjoy God’s goodness of a new month.

Here is what April taught me:

1. The beach “cures most of what ails you”. We spent a week at the beach and did mostly nothing, which was a big something for me and Anthony. We are project minded and to just enjoy each day with no agenda was soul refreshment. Nugget: I want a beach house, or at least I want to spend more weeks at the beach!

2. I finished something. I blogged through the alphabet during the month of April. I am so glad it is over, but I am so proud of my accomplishment. This non-finisher finished. Not a minor deal. I pray my kids will love their letters as much as I loved writing them. Nugget: Writing every day feels like work…maybe that’s what I needed to learn.

3. I have been on the verge of tears all month. Most every beautiful April day, I cried. But, not all sad tears. Mostly tears of gratitude and grace. I have been given so much. When I would pause and reflect on God’s goodness (healthy children, beautiful birds out my kitchen window, friends, good healthy food to eat, laughter, gifts of paint and canvases), the tears would well up in my eyes and find their way out at each corner. I let them flow. It felt good. Nugget: Tears are as refreshing as the salt water at the beach…there has to be something curative in salty water.

4. My heart hurts for so many in my life. I have dear friends and family walking through life-altering tsunamis in their lives. My fixer mentality wants to pick them up and run out of the burning house to save them from despair. But, I can’t. I can’t cure cancer. I can’t fix broken. I can’t heal a broken heart. But, I can pray. I found myself mumbling “Lord, help!” a lot during April. When I got out of bed, before I painted, wrote, cooked dinner, homeschooled, and most any other time.  Nugget: I hurt when those I love hurt…helps me understand God even more.

5. I love speaking. Who knew {no sarcasm allowed!}? Little ole fast talking southern accented me. I can’t describe what comes out of me when I speak in front of women. And the amazing thing is it has nothing to do with me. It is all God working in me. Nugget: when He gives you a word, it will burn in you until you give it away. Lord help me to give it all away. 

6. Setting boundaries suck. Yep. And, even though I am better at setting boundaries than I used to be, it still sucks. And it seems to offend people. Maybe because they are not getting what they wanted. Their needs/wants are not getting met and therefore, they are mad at you for not meeting them. Lord, help me to set boundaries in love, not selfish ambition. You know my heart. Nugget: boundaries even though painful in the beginning lead to less pain in the future.

7. We went to a lot of birthday parties in April. This used to annoy me. Honestly. However, during my tear-filled April, my perspective changed. Days of birth are very special and need to be celebrated. I am thankful for this new shift. Nugget: Birthdays only come once a year if you are fortunate. Each one is a gift, regardless of the number.

8. A couple of quotes from this month tickled me to my core: “Mommy, did the Easter bunny hop all the way here or did he drive his car?” Sean. And my sweet Callie: “Mama, will the clouds in heaven be made of marshmallows? I hope so because in heaven you won’t be able to tell me how many marshmallows I can eat!” Nugget: My kids are my best teachers and may have careers as comedians.

9. On a very sad note, we lost our precious Blondie this month. She was our family’s favorite chicken. A predator possum killed her. Thankfully, we found her body and were able to bury her before the possum had his way with her. We were all heartbroken. Anthony and I stayed up all night the night we found her. I watched from the porch as Anthony buried her in the driving rain and a different, but healing rain poured forth from my eyes. I love that man. He makes so many sacrifices for our family. If you are a dedicated reader (thank you!), you will know that I don’t do pets very well. I have closed my heart off to pets because it is an agreement to get your heart broken. They are going to die. However, a little piece of my heart has come back to life. I love our girls. And when my heart broke when she died, I knew that I am on the right path. Your heart can’t break unless you choose to love. Nugget: When you make the choice to love, you are also accepting the fact that you WILL get hurt. It’s really all worth it. RIP Blondie girl.

10. Platform building is just not for me. I have watched God make people connections in April that have left me in awe. He is the God of all connections. He is weaving people into my life (and out of my life) for His purposes. All I need to do is be available, show up. The two most important things in building community and family (as I like to call it) is to love and give. With these two ingredients, Kingdom work is being done. Lies are shattered. Truth revealed. And lives changed. What more could we ask for? Nugget: When I seek God first and then make my self available, He will build His team. Powerful.

What did April 2013 teach you? I got way more than I bargained for.

 

Much love to you. Thank you for taking the time to read. I promise I will not blog everyday in May!!!!!

 

 

Raising the Dead

The deepest pain I’ve ever felt from losing someone to the great eternal flame was when I lost my nanny. She was like my second mother. Isn’t that what grandmas are supposed to be, but with fewer rules?

When she died in May of 2009, I lost someone who wiped many tears from my eyes and stood up for me more times than I can count. When I was scared, she was my rock. When I was happy, she was one of the first to multiply my joys. When I was hungry, she would fill me up. When I didn’t know what to do, she would always remind me to do the right thing.

As I ponder another death today, the death of Jesus today over 2000 years ago, I wonder what those who walked dusty roads with Him were thinking. Were they in shock like I was when I lost my nanny? Did they wonder who they would turn to when they needed wisdom or encouragement? What would they do without their fearless leader, the one who walked on water, fed thousands with little, and made the lame to walk again?

I sure thought my nanny walked on water. I knew she could feed a few dozen in a matter of minutes. And I know she prayed hard when it was feared that I may never walk again.

I know she wasn’t perfect, but in my eyes she was the closest thing to it. But, I have hope because she loved Jesus, the one who is perfect. She had the faith of a child and her faith made her eternally whole. She is with Him today.

One day, in our resurrection bodies, we will be together at last. We will dance and sing. Bluegrass gospel will be turned up loud and the old wooden bench will be full once again.

Yes, this Friday can be GOOD because of what happens on Sunday. The best is yet to come! Always!!

Until then, I will keep my eyes on the one who defeated death. The one who volunteered to take my place in death, and rose again so that I will never experience the sting of eternal death.

He is risen and we, too, shall rise!

5 months in…

…and I think I am learning more this time in 2nd grade than I learned the first time in 1983-1984. Mrs. Baker was my teacher and I adored her the way a charmed blonde-haired blue-eyed little girl could. Every word she spoke was truth and I believed it.

But, this time, second grade has changed me. And another blonde-haired blue-eyed little second grade girl is the best teacher I’ve ever had.

She asks great questions. The kind that Google can’t answer.

She steals my heart with the little notes she leaves me all over my side of the office.

Her artwork is always superior and makes my heart flutter and my eyes steal second and third glances when she’s not looking.

She keeps me on my toes because her math skills test my own. She refuses to share her magic as she calls it. She doesn’t want me to figure out how her brain works.

We have our moments. She isn’t always in the mood to do math. Or she flat-out refuses to start her letters from the top. Oh yeah, and I yell, sometimes. It is not all perfect in our home educating sphere. But as imperfect as we are, there is a love and understanding between us that conquers all. I know her and she knows me. I trust her when she says she understands something and she trusts me when I say just one more time.

Since October of last year, I have never once regretted choosing to bring her home. Our decision as a family has only been confirmed over and over again. I am grateful for the opportunity. The time I spend with both of my children is the glue that binds us together. In regards to time, quality or quantity of, I believe it is both that matters. You can spend all day or all morning with your child and never even know he or she is in the room. Or you can spend 5 minutes with them and make lifelong connections. It takes both. Quality and quantity.

Life happens over the course of time passing and creating opportunity to interact with each other. Connecting takes time. Time is all we have.

Every day is full of adventure. Every day the home school room is a mess. But, every day is the best day because I have enjoyed my daughter. If she’s learning half as much as me, this second grade year might be as successful as mine was back in the early 80’s. To enjoy my daughter and see her growing in love and character, makes this mama very happy.

 

Dear 5-year-old Sean: Finding Your Voice

Sean,

When you arrived almost exactly 5 years ago, you changed me. It was nothing you did or said. Nothing that I was expecting, nor desiring. But, I changed.

I didn’t grow up with a brother. I didn’t know what it was like to have a little boy in the house. Little girls don’t pee on you when you change their diaper. I was warned, but it still didn’t prepare me.

I knew things would be different, but there are some things you can’t prepare for.

Like falling in love with another little man. Your daddy has my heart, but boy do you know how to pull on my heart-strings. You play chords my heart has never known. With your little smile and that way you tilt your head to the side when you want something. The way your eyes get so big they just might pop. When you shower me with kisses and you tell me to never become a grandmother because that means you won’t be my little boy anymore.

Yes. Those things. Secrets my heart never knew until you.

When we brought you home, your sister was also captivated by your sweet charm. You were so quiet unless you wanted to nurse. Then I was concerned my neighbors may call the police for a disturbance next door. You knew exactly how to ask for what you wanted.

Until you realized that you were different. That your words didn’t sound like other people’s words. I remember the look in your eyes.

I knew, too. I knew something was different. You were becoming painfully shy. You clung to mama’s leg like it was your oxygen tank. You needed me for many reasons, but most of all, I believe you needed me to be your translator.

You would say something and without fail, the person you were talking to would look up at me for help. With awkward looks on their faces because you have always been tall for your age, they would want help. They couldn’t understand you and were thinking you were much older than you really were. But, I understood you. I knew what you were trying to say. I would feel bad for you and translate almost without delay. And this created your dependence on me…but, it made me mad. I wanted other people to understand you.

Because I believe God has given you an amazing and powerful voice. He named you. He called you. And I believe He placed within you the ability to reach others with of all things, your voice.

I wasn’t mad at the other folks for looking at me to translate for them. I was mad at the fact you had a lot to say and were becoming painfully shy. To the point of avoiding others.

I knew your speech was delayed. I knew you talked way too fast. When your 3-yr-old preschool teacher came to me with her concerns after about 2 weeks of preschool, I was relieved to know that it wasn’t just me. Someone else had noticed. And she was brave enough to come to me. For that I will ever be grateful.

Soon after, you started seeing Ms. Renee, your speech language pathologist. She is an angel. Sent straight from God. She is also now a dear friend to our family. When she tested you, you ranked in the lowest of lows for your age. Again, I knew, but I also knew you were made to use your voice. I knew this would be the beginning of a journey for our whole family.

Today, almost 1.5 years later, your speech is drastically improved. You still talk way too fast, like your mother, but you have a voice!! A powerful voice! And you are not afraid to use it with confidence and courage. You speak to complete strangers now. You joke around. You pray all the time without even thinking about who might be listening.

When I hear your sweet and courageous voice and the faith in your words as you pray, tears always fill the corners of my eyes.

Your favorite passage in Scripture is Exodus chapter 3, Moses and the burning bush. Little do you know, Sean, but Moses was afraid to use his voice, too. There is no irony in this for me. Listen closely to your Lord and your God:

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Exodus 4:10-13

Sean, you have been given a beautiful voice. One that is full of compassion. You give grace. Pray without ceasing. And love without discrimination. I pray that you will always go in the name of the Lord. He will help you speak and will teach you what to say. May you not be like Moses in this passage, but may you say, “Yes, Lord. You will show me the way and tell me what to say.”

As you continue to grow and become a young man, I pray God will be your translator, your sword, and your shield. And I will always and forever be your biggest cheerleader.

Happy 5th birthday, little buddy. Continue to live out loud and never doubt that your voice is beautiful, powerful, and important.

Love you today and always,

Mama

 

 

For when you don’t feel like loving…

I had heard all the love stories. They began with: “you will feel love for her the instant they place her on your chest”. Well, I didn’t. And I felt guilty {for a long time} for not feeling love for her the instant she was placed in my arms.

Who can you talk to about such things without them thinking you need to be committed? How can a new mother not be madly in love with her first-born baby? It is hard enough to share it almost 8 years later. With you. With strangers who stumble upon my website through random search engines.

But, today, I choose to share my love story because I have a feeling I was not alone in my confusion and guilt.

More than anything in my life, becoming a mother changed me. Forever.

More than leaving home for college. More than getting married. More than my parent’s divorce. More than losing our first home and all of our belongings to tragedy.

Becoming a mother created imprints on my heart that nothing can ever wash away. Becoming a mother changed the way I think about everything and everybody. I will never think the same about my days, choices, actions, and relationships. Every choice I make impacts the lives of two precious and completely dependent little people.

When we found out we were pregnant with our first-born, I was ecstatic. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to hold and nurse and cuddle with a mini-Lizzie or mini-Anthony. My entire pregnancy was filled with beautiful reminders of what was about to happen. A new little life was going to call us mama and daddy. Our then one bedroom apartment was busting at the seams with baby paraphernalia!

When we found out we were having a little princess, she already had a name. The one we had picked out when we were dating in college and talking about our “what if” future together. Her name means most beautiful oath of God. We were beyond excited.

Callie would keep us waiting longer than the normal 40 weeks of gestation. She was already displaying her stubborn personality. 10 days beyond her July due date, I started having labor pains in my lower back that were almost unbearable. And for 24 hours straight, it felt like an elephant was dancing on my lower back.

2 failed epidurals later, Callie was determined to stay in my womb just a little longer. After pushing for 3 hours and 15 minutes, we discovered the problem. Callie was positioned face up and her sweet head was getting caught on my pelvis. After my OB tried to manually turn Callie {ouch} with no success, out came the vacuum extractor, and so did Callie. Her very loud cry was the best thing I had heard all night and all day. I collapsed on the bed, bruised and torn from the birth of my first-born.

The nurses checked her out, cleaned her up, and swaddled her tight. The very moment they swaddled her, she stopped crying. She was warm again.

I, on the other hand, was exhausted and traumatized. None of those people who told me that I would “feel love for her the instant they placed her on my chest” prepared me for reality. Remember, excruciating pain for 24 hours. 2 failed epidurals. Pitocin induced contractions. Manual maneuvering in an attempt to turn Callie and all sorts of other physical ramifications left me completely worn out. More so than after completing my first marathon.

The last thing I wanted to do was nurse a baby. I wanted to go to bed for the next 24 hours.

I managed to roll over onto my back as they brought her to me. I held her. And I really wanted to make myself feel love for her. To cry tears of joy. But they didn’t come while I held her the first time. Or while we snuggled together after nursing marathons at the hospital. I KNEW I loved her. I knew I loved her more than I knew anything. But, I didn’t feel it. At all. The guilt from not feeling love for your child is something you never want to feel.

The feelings still didn’t come as we left the hospital and headed home. And for weeks to come, I didn’t have a distinct moment when the love feeling switch came on. I knew I loved her. But, I wanted to feel it. I wanted something replace the guilt I was feeling.

I wish someone had told me the truth instead of fantasy filled expectations of instantaneous love and bliss. I wish I had known the love feelings would eventually come if I kept choosing to love. 

Out of desperation or ignorance or just plain not knowing what else to do, I chose to love my daughter even when I didn’t feel it, just like I had chosen to forever love my husband on our wedding day in 1999. For better or worse. In all things. Through all things. In spite of all things.

I learned love is a choice. And as a young mother, I chose to love when I didn’t know what else to do about how I was feeling. I acted in love even when I didn’t feel like it. Who feels like waking up every 2 hours to feed a screaming baby? Who feels like changing poopy diapers more often than I can count in 24 hours?

And the feelings eventually came. The guilt was slowly replaced with feelings of love that I had never felt before for anyone. A mother’s love. And almost 8 years later, it is stronger than ever.

Love is a choice. Feelings come after choosing to love.

Who are you choosing to love today even if you don’t feel like it?

 

“Lord, help us to love you more than anyone or anything. Give us courage to choose to love others even when we don’t feel like doing so. Thank you, Father, for choosing to love us and for sending your Son to die in our place. Love requires sacrifice. Every time. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me enough to make a choice that led to your death. A choice to love that required the ultimate sacrifice. May we love like you. Undaunted, unafraid, and unashamed.”

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

When asking feels so hard…

The shiny foil wrappers surrounded by tiny white strips of paper with blue writing were my first clue. Who knows how long they had been deceptively placed behind the couch. I rarely sweep behind the couch, but visitors were coming for a holiday brunch. I felt extra motivated to disband the dust bunnies who live behind my comfy red couch.

The wrappers could have been there for weeks. No kidding. But, I was more concerned with who put them there than how long they had been there.

Both of my kids love chocolate. I prefer chips. My hubby could eat my share and his share of chocolate every day. Since he does not have to ask my permission to raid the pantry, I knew that I had two potential Hershey Kisses thieves on my short list of suspects. In my gut, I knew who hid the evidence…but the curious mom in me took the time to process the evidence and “interview” all the suspects.

I started with the oldest on my list. Sean was at preschool and I wanted to speak to each of them in private:

“Callie bug, is there something you need to tell me? Did you hide something behind the couch?”

“What are you talking about, mom?”

I showed her the evidence in question…shiny, empty wrappers.

“No, mom! You know I didn’t do that! I bet Sean did it. You know how much he loves candy.”

Callie was busting at the seams to convict Sean of theft without delay. No innocence until proven guilty. Guilty, right now! “Boy, he is in BIG trouble,” she said. I encouraged her to let me handle it. My justice-loving girl reluctantly agreed.

I don’t know how, but Callie managed to keep a secret all day long. After we prayed as a family at bedtime, Callie left Sean’s room to go to her bed. She knew that I was going to talk to Sean as I laid down with him before he drifted off to sleep. She winked at me as she left and turned off his lamp.

Sean is a very loving and sensitive little boy. I knew this conversation would be tough for him (and me).

“Buddy, is there something you want to talk to me about?”

“No, mom. What do you mean?”

“Well, I found something today, behind the couch.”

He was facing away from me, my arm draped across him. I could feel his little body tense up. My heart ached for him.

“Which couch, mom?”

“The red one. Downstairs.”

“Oh…what did you find?” His little body was almost rigid at this point.

“Sean, will you look at me?”

Silence…

He managed to shake his head, no. By this point, his little body was shaking and tears were flowing.

“Sean, you’re not in trouble. I just want to talk to you about the Hershey’s Kisses. What made you take them and then hide the papers behind the couch?”

Through tears and sobs, I managed to make out what his little conscience had been hiding for probably weeks:

“I knew…..if I asked you…….that you……..would say……..no……….so I took them. I didn’t………….think………….you would……..find out.”

I held him until the sobbing stopped. His body softened.

“Sean, I love you very much. I want you to know that you can always ask me for whatever your little heart desires. I may say no, but please don’t let that stop you from asking. You may be surprised. I might say yes!”

“But we only get one surprise each day and I had already had my desert that day.” My kids get one treat each day, unless it is a special day or I am feeling extra sweet or they look at me with those big blue eyes and make me feel guilty.

“Yes, you are correct. But please don’t let that stop you from asking. Don’t hide the desires of your heart from me and daddy. We love you very much and want to be able to give you all good things. Too much chocolate is not good, but know that you don’t have to sneak around and hide your desires. Ask me. Always ask me.”

“Okay, mommy…I am sorry. I love you very much.”

“I love you very much and what you want is very important to me, okay?”

“Okay…you’re not mad?”

“No, I glad that we talked about what happened and that you don’t have to hide it anymore.”

“Me, too. I will ask next time.”

All the while, God was working on me. I am talking to Sean, trying to help him understand how important it is to ask his mom and dad for things instead of hiding his desires. And God is talking to me….

“Ask me, Lizzie. All you have to do is ask. I want to give you all the desires of your heart. All of them. Even if you think I may say no, ask anyway. You might be surprised….”

What are the desires of your heart? What is God saying to you?

Ask and release the outcome to Him. Ask and surrender. Fellowship with and enjoy the Giver of all good things. When we enjoy the Giver, His gifts make so much more sense. Even when we don’t get what we desire when we want it….which may be a gift all its own.

Ask Him and release, friends. Always ask…

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Messy Beautiful

I don’t pretend to know it all. But, there are days that I wish I knew more than I do now…

Days when everything goes right. I get up before my alarm clock goes off to read, pray, and ponder. My children obey my every command. My house is tidy and the toilet rings vanish. Dinner appears on the table and the dishes disappear once our tummies are full.

But, reality sunk in this morning as I woke up to our highly emotional and disruptive rooster. My alarm clock taunted me with its manic beeping for almost 30 minutes unbeknownst to me. I don’t brush my teeth until after I drop my youngest off at preschool. Callie does independent work while I take a phone call that should have only taken me 5 minutes. 48 minutes later, she is reading “Little Women” and I plop down on the floor beside her.

“Mommy, I finished all my independent work, so I read two more chapters while you were on the phone. Who was that anyway?”

“Nothing important, baby. I am proud of you for working so hard. Thank you.”

She doesn’t question my dodgeball answer and we move on to grammar, phonics, and spelling. Life of Fred, her favorite math adventure, was saved for last.

It is only 12pm. I have been up for just over 4 hours. And I am already tired.

Tired of what, I don’t really know. But, I think I may need another cup of coffee today.

I have to cook lunch first, though, before we pick up my youngest. And brush my teeth.

I cook and eat while Callie spreads out her art supplies, sneaks my acrylics out of my art bag, and begins to stroke another masterpiece. An 8×10 of a colorful fish. Art class at the kitchen table. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but is it messy. Another mess to clean up today.

Yes, some days are messy. Actually, most days are messy.

Callie is so enraptured by her creation, that she says she isn’t hungry. She tells me she will grab a bar on the way out. I have learned to not pester the maestro as she is making art. It takes time, you know.

We load up and pick up Sean who bloodied his lip at preschool when he collided with another classmate. He is fine and laughs as he bumps into a chair on the way out. “I’m okay, mom!”

We had to stop by Michael’s for more art supplies. Callie forgot her giftcard, so instead of leaving the cart and walking out, I paid for her stuff in exchange for her giftcard when we get home. Yes, mommies don’t mind. The grocery store is next  for coffee creamer. Simple necessities of life.

My babies giggle in the backseat as they try to beat their mommy by getting the most punchbugs on the way home. I always seem to lose when they gang up on me. The funny thing is, I find myself playing punchbug when I am in the car by myself. I even say “punchbug” outloud.

We make it back home by 3:30pm and I am pondering what to make for dinner. Herb crusted lamb sounds like it would be tasty, but the kids wouldn’t appreciate my culinary excursion. Good thing I had some leftover chicken from the stirfry at lunch. Dinner is made. In my mind, at least.

The kids take off on another adventure in the backyard. I follow them and let out our brood of 9. I check for eggs and find 5 of them waiting to be boiled for deviled eggs tonight. Callie’s favorite.

I step in a big pile of chicken poop as I venture back inside with the eggs. Thankfully, I check my shoes before I create another bigger mess. There have been other not so fortunate times. Chicken poop has a smell all its own.

I get to work on dinner and not five minutes later, I hear my babies on the back deck. “Check your shoes before you come in!” I tell them.

“Mom, mom, will you please go out with us in the front yard and play basketball? I want to play you in horse. I almost beat daddy yesterday!”

How do you say no to that?

Lamb can wait. I have a game to play. Memories to make.

We shoot hoops and use the driveway as our canvas for the dusty chalk creations until dark calls us in.

I am back on the dinner wagon and I hear not giggles, but screams from upstairs. Best friends became enemies rather quickly. I call them both downstairs, put on my mediator hat and hand down the consequences.

Both of them leave crying. I want to cry, too. But, there is lamb to dress and cook.

Anthony walks in from a long 13 hours at work a little after 7pm. We greet, eat, and share about our days. Laughter is good medicine. Especially when it is shared with those you love.

I am writing, Sean and Anthony are playing legos, and Callie is reading over my shoulder as I type.

The day went nothing like I had planned. But then again, does it ever? I just realized I never got my second cup of coffee…

I am learning to be available, not perfect.

To be honest about where I am on my journey. Some days that is desperate and other days that is content.

The life we live is messy beautiful.

And the only thing that would make it any better is if I had a chef and a maid.

 

{This post is the beginning of a book study that I will be hosting starting in March or April. The book is called “Desperate” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I have mentioned this on FB a couple of times, but wanted to share on my blog as well. If you would be interested, please let me know!}

Stronger Together - desperatemoms.com

The next best shot…

It doesn’t seem right as a life coach and writer not to post something on New Year’s Day. It is THE day for looking forward, starting new things, turning over leaves, and eating black-eyed peas. Who doesn’t love black-eyed peas and cornbread?

I took some intentional time off from blogging from Christmas until now. Some of it was not so intentional though. Like the past 5 days of vomiting and reverse vomiting (you get the idea). Oh my. I have seen enough body fluids to last for the rest of my life. All four of us have lived through the worse stomach virus that I ever recall having.

As Callie said as she was hovering over the trashcan, “mom, I would rather be dead than to feel like this.” True words from a 7-year-old. 4 hours later when I was hovering over that same trash can, I heaved a hearty amen to her sentiments.

Wow. Life has been pretty rough since Friday morning about 3am when I awoke to Sean throwing up. Little did I know that we would all be leveled within about 48 hours. One by one we all fell hard. By Sunday morning, the largest member of our tribe was taken out by the insidious virus.

I had SO many plans for the past weekend. Decluttering, simplifying, processing, dreaming, writing, cleaning, eating a GF burger at Red Robin, and catching up on sleep.

Reality looked more like cleaning up lots of liquid stuff, watching all sorts of documentaries and hours of cartoons on Netflix, and lying flat on my back. Miserable.

The thought of food still makes me a little nauseous. I am dehydrated. I haven’t had coffee since Friday morning and have not even wanted the first cup. My office is a wreck and The Branch Academy starts up again tomorrow. I have clients to email, deadlines to meet, and the Mt. Everest of laundry awaits me.

Life did not go as planned. But, life did go on. And for that, I am grateful.

God reminded me of something this weekend as I was shivering on the couch and moaning in pain. He hardwired me to love sports, so He used a sports metaphor to lead me into deep contentment in the middle of uncomfortable chaos.

“Lizzie, the best shot is the next shot. Don’t focus on that shot you just missed. Focus on the next one you are going to make. The best shot is the next one.”

I was so frustrated about being sick and literally too wiped out to walk downstairs. I was focusing on all that I was not doing or missing out on. His encouragement reminded me that I would have another shot. Another day. Another opportunity.

And with this simple, yet moving exhortation, He showed me my one word for 2013: FOCUS.

I normally cast a wide net. He is telling me to focus on a few things and do them really well. For the past two years, my one word was “simplify”. His plan is coming into view. He called me to simplify in some ways where I was willing and some where I kicked and screamed all the way there. Now, I can focus on those people and things that are most important because of the work of the past 2 years.

He is so very good and gracious with stubborn people like me.

Are you focusing on the “shot” you missed? That job or relationship or opportunity that slipped through your fingers? As 2013 has arrived, what is your next best shot?

I am focusing on the best shot, the next one. And that is what moving forward is all about.

May 2013 be full of God’s abundant grace and mercy. Looking forward to all that we will unwrap together! Thank you for reading. I am grateful for you!

 

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14