Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's not cute at 4am

I'm home from vacation. We had a great time with family and came back refreshed and ready to go. But I do need to bring up one point here. VACATION usually implies "rest", "relaxation" and maybe even some extra sleep, right? Like, no alarm clocks going off because you are on vacation.

That said. My children did not get that memo. They got this one, instead:

"To whom it may concern:

While mommy and daddy are on vacation we need to wake up at 5:30 or earlier, refuse to go back to sleep, whine and throw tantrums at bed time at night and wake up randomly through the night every other hour or so." Signed - The baby/kid sleep refusal board.

Yeaaaaa.... sleep was def not a priority to either of my doll faces. {sigh} And I've tried not to be the whiny, martyr, mother - but, I'M SO TIRED. Physically, shoulder hunchingly, eyes squinting, tired. And the thing with life is... it goes on. Sleep or not. My children need care during the day, my husband needs a functioning home, our ministry needs tending, chores need done, bills need paid. Life.

This morning August woke up at 4am. Seriously. We let her babble for a long time... I couldn't tell you how long because I was in a half stage of conciousness. But it must have been long enough because the gentle babble turned into a translated, "GET ME OUT OF HERE NOW." Obviously the sun wasn't even up and we don't want our bigger girl to be woken up at this time of, I pulled her into bed with me. She dozed off shortly after on my arm - that was now falling asleep - and I couldn't move it. I was pinned. Right before she dozed she turned her face to me and smiles. All I could thing was, "Augs... it's not cute at 4am." But of course it is.

I'm open to suggestions. I don't think I know it all about raising these children. We've tried putting her down later, and earlier. We've increased food. We've eliminated a late nap then added it back in. I've tried to leave her unswaddled. But she prefers swaddled. We've done nothing. We've tried everything. I've cried out to God in the middle of my sleep-deprived-tear-stained-cry-fests. She used to roll onto her belly and fall back to sleep - now she acts like a flipped turtle who can't roll over. :/

Yesterday morning my husband said to me, "you are such a good mom." I was so challenged by that. HEART MOTIVES. I'm also so challenged {again} with the truth of GRACE. Thank you Lord for new mercies... and very strong coffee. I know this phase will pass and one day my babies will be grown and gone - and I do so want to enjoy this phase. But, maybe after a nap? Trying to remember and live today - "Give thanks IN ALL THINGS." Eucharisteo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What IS this for? Junk drawer edition.

Do you have a junk drawer?

I, apparently, have a home full of them. I'm not sure it how it happened, but, in every room of our home there is at least one drawer this is full of stuff and nonsense that makes me absolutely bonkers. {sigh} I don't pride myself on being the most tidiest of home makers...but c'mon! For reals?! EVERY room?

Intro kitchen "utensils" drawer.

When we moved into this home 2 years ago I was thrilled about this deep spaced drawer right by the dishwasher. Oh the visions I had of keeping a tidy drawer for all of my odd n' end pieces. Things that were necessary and needed, but didn't have a "proper" place to land. I pictured myself whistling while I worked, diligently emptying the dishwasher and placing utensils in this drawer. Perfect. And for a while I did! Then... well, you know. Life gets real. Time gets short. Other things become 100x's more important then a silly organized drawer.

Today as I cast an annoyed glance at this hot mess - something caught my attention. And this is how the Lord often teaches me. Random personality - Random lessons. Everything in this drawer has a purpose. Everything in the drawer is important at some time. And, this hot mess will remain a hot mess unless the chaos is put in order. For example...
Mom's old metal/copper cookie press. You know... makes those amazingly addicting little spritz cookies. All I seem to have is the barrel portion of this tool. The press... who knows? The little shaped discs...nada. The turny-wheel thing that pushes the dough into the shaped discs... gone-sy! Thank you for your grace as I clearly know NONE of the actual parts names. :)

Next we have Mr. I-Have-No-Clue-What-This-Is.

Honestly. This came to me in a hand me down box when I first got married...and I've never used it and I haven't a clue what it even is. But it's cool and antique-y, so I kept it year after year... filling space.

So, what am I talking about? Here's where I try to put heart to paper, er, keyboard.

Though these things seem to useless and weird and out of place to me, they do possess a purpose. A purpose that really...only they can acheive. Sure I can make some spritz cookies using a plastic ziplock bag with a hole in the tip of it. But, they look awful and its not as much fun. And as for the item above...well, I'm positive it was made for a very specific reason to do a very specific job. Same with us. We are each created with purpose in mind. We were made specifically by a creative creator, God. When I try to be or do something that just isn't who I am... it's a mess.

These items also reminded me of the Church {that Christ loves, by the way...}. Each person plays a role, each part fits together to make the whole "machine" work. It can't be all cookie presses or thing-a-ma-whats-its. Out of order we are a mess. Like my drawer...kind of.

I keep having conversations with people who feel lost or alone or left out. I battle with that from time to time, too. We all do. It's human. Every time I go on FB I see a status about wondering what to do with life, where to go, why are we here?! We struggle to see our purpose. We are blinded by the worlds lies - the Deceiver prowls around sniffing for opportunities. We try so hard to be a "spoon" and then wonder why we just can't cut it - when we are actually "knives". {pun} And maybe this doesn't even make sense to anyone but my brain. I just praise the Lord for this...

"He who began a GOOD WORK in you will be faithful to complete it." Philipians 1:6


"In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other." Rom. 12:5

"For example, the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ." 1 Cor. 12:12

"You are Christ’s body and each of you is an individual part of it." 1 Cor. 12:27

What looks like a drawer of mess and chaos to us {earth, church (gasp at the thought), family, etc} - God has completely under His control. He has a plan. You are in it. I'm in it. For the record, my junk drawer is a mess because I haven't taken care of it... our perfect God perfectly takes care of us. No comparison... really.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's be honest...

Lastnight we had a service to celebrate our THIRD church plants beginning. Greg and Laura Pollak and their 5 children have been called to the Altoona, Iowa, area to start a church. I could hardly contain myself {and my tears} through the service. At first I wanted to blame my hormones, it's an easy out, but... as the service went on I realized that it really was my heart being tenderized, convicted and motivated all at once. I was challenged by a few things but the overwhelming thought was about Laura, the wife.

It's no surprise that I struggle with "sharing" my pastor hubby sometimes. Even in the most important, God-given, clearly directed moments... my selfishness can take over. "What do you mean you need to pick up "so and so"? Doesn't he have a dad?!" Yup, ugly. Let's be honest - I think we all can struggle in this area as wives and moms. Or...just women in general. OUR time is OUR time. Rabbit trail... anyway, back to Laura. I just sat there and watched her and listened to account after account of how God had been using her husband to lead people to Christ, lead a church, impact generations... and it hit me. DUH - OBVIOUSLY God can use a man whose wife is behind him, supporting him, loving him... and letting him go. And I know from personal experience its not always easy - but, it's vital. And, it's part of my calling, too.

Lately I've been bearing this burden of feeling guilty. And I know thats a loaded statement - some of you may be screaming at the screen..."Guilt is all in your head", while others, "life isn't based on how we feeeeel", yep - I got it. And I know that. All the same... my heart has been heavy and I've been physically exhausted. Whiny. Complaining. Needy. You name it, I've been it. And I guess I always just assume my husband doesn't mind my constant string of annoying texts telling him how exhausted I am, how naughty our daughter is, or how much I hate Weight Watchers. {that is another story altogether}
But the other day he said something about, "yea, I could tell you were having a hard day from all those texts", GASP. It wasn't said in sarcasm or in a hurtful way - just chit chat, and it hit my heart (as it should have). I went back through and read my texts and seriously... if he was texting me that often and that whine-a-ly I think I would have turned my phone off. But he never does.

Long story short. This all came to head for me lastnight sitting in the service, watching this beautiful family surrender to the Lords work. Tears. Lots of hot tears. And I think, "why Lord, did you chose me? how am I any good? why can't I just get a grip on my selfish heart? and why can't my intentions be REALITY in my life?" It all boils down to surrender. Surrendering my "feelings" to truth, surrendering my exhaustion to the power of God in me, surrending my agenda for the Lords.

And while I don't exactly have a "set in stone" application for all of this ramble of thoughts, I do praise the Lord for working on my tender heart. I'm thankful for the reminder of how PRECIOUS and POWERFUL the role of a wife is in the husbands life. And I'm challenged to buck up and get on with it. We ended the service by singing a song with these words in the bridge...

"You're all to us.

You're all to us.

You're all to us.

Yes you are."

I evaluated my life. How I live. How I text. Do I live in a way that SCREAMS, "Jesus you are all to me"? Let's be honest... it's hard. But its so worth it. And I crave that. It dawned on me that I keep yearning to be USED, to be a part of the bigger story... and here I was. I AM part of that story, and I'm just wasting pages with whine. Thank you Lord for the gentle reminder. Thank you Lord for using Laura Pollak as an example in my life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

coming to the end

Last week I snuck out for a few minutes while the children were napping. Snuck out... to my backyard. I know, life on the wild side, eh? Anyway, I was hoping to snap a few pics of the amazing leaves and bright blue sky before it all fades away. This weekend it seemed like the last of the leaves fell and although the sky is an amazing cobalt blue this morning... I know, that too, will fade to gray. I don't complain. I actually look forward to colder weather. I love sweaters, jeans and cozy socks. I love the holiday season. I enjoy all the special coffees, tv movies and whatever else comes with being inside. It's me.

All that said...
it's kind of weird to see summer and even fall quickly come to an end. Just like that. What a strange, trying and wonderful season it was. Was it really just 4 months ago I was lying in that hospital bed? Do I really have an almost 6 month old baby now? Were we eating grilled meals just a few weeks back? Life just speeds past. Not to sound morbid or like Debby Downer...but, Fall really does represent the End. It's been such a potent reminder to me lately. Life is short and we have to MAKE IT COUNT. Beauty is fleeting, hearts are eternal.

This all sounds very random and jumbled, I know. I'm still just working through so many thoughts and lessons learned. Maybe someday I'll have it all figured out. But, today, we'll just enjoy another gorgeous day and the reminder that ALL IS GRACE, all is GOD GIVEN. And we'll say thank you. Today I'm also thankful for...

- teenagers going door to door handing out cocoa packets and asking strangers if they can pray with them
- my husbands chipper morning self
- incessently babbling baby girl
- almost 3 year old who LOVES to play
- a warm house
- wearing hubs sweatpants on a cold morning
- coffee, always coffee
- a break in the routine
- getting approved for the financial aid program for our med bills - 80% discount! AWESOME.
- going "home" to Ohio in two weeks, family members meeting our newby for the first time

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trash to treasure

Remember this old, blue, basket I found at Salvation Army?

When I saw it on the overcrowded shelf I'm pretty sure I emptied out several smaller baskets to get to it. I had a plan. But, since I'm not always the best "follow-through-er" on my plans, I'm actually surprised its already done and up for display!

I wanted something Fall-Festive, that I could also use for Christmas time. I think I've nailed it. Thanks to a can of red spray paint and a package of raffia (that I also got at salval). Total = $2, maybe.

Right now I'm using it as a fruit/veggie basket - but, I think for Christmas it may hold ornaments or a bunch of scented pine cones :) Now THIS is the kind of DIY I can get into. Simple.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the one where I gush about my children

I love them.

Ava and August. They are my heartbeat. They are my full time job. They bring me joy. Yes, we have our days where it isn't all rainbows and sunshine - but, over all I'm so blessed.

Lastnight we got home late from church. August had fallen asleep in the van while we were waiting for daddy to lock up. So by the time we got home it was at least a good hour nap in the van. Most of you mommas know how those "cat" naps kill bedtime. It was no exception here. While Brad got Ava ready for bed I tackled the littlest - getting jammies on, swaddling, then to lay her down. She closed her eyes right away like she always does. I back out quietly and think, "wow, that went better then I thought." 20 minutes later the red lights on the monitor go off. I readjust, reswaddle. Another 10 minutes go by, red lights again. No worries...its not like I was trying to cuddle with my hubby on the couch and watch that interesting Steve Jobs bio. I repeat this three times. The fourth time I scoop her up, give a good tight swaddle, offer her night bottle early - and we rock. She finishes her bottle and I just hold her. She's dozed off - and has steady breathing. She's completely content and at home in the crook of my arm. As her little brain dreams she cracks smiles and grins as her eyes stay closed. It's beautiful. I rock her a little while longer until she is good and out, kiss her baby lips - and then lay her gently into her crib. She sighs.

What an amazing blessing to hold my babies. To watch them sleep and kiss chubby cheeks. It wipes away all of the difficult days.

Yesterday Ava was acting a little "pesty". From time to time we see this in her - she just walks around looking for trouble. Because the little guy I babysit doesn't seem to notice or mind, I become the ultimate target. She'll follow me around just whining, being grumpy or just plain naughty. For example - I'll be making lunch on the stove and she pull a chair up to the counter to "watch", only, grabs everything and intentional moves and throws stuff because she's grumpy. Several times I asked her to find something to do, something to make, a book to read, etc. At one point she looks at me and says, "mommy, I just want to be near you." Ahhh, just shoot me through the heart, right? If it's not that statement then its, "Mommy, can you please play with me?" while all of her strawberry shortcake toys spread out in front of her. Honestly, a LARGE part of my selfish heart says, "you have tons to do, and she does know how to play solo" but another part screams, "do you honestly think she is going to ask you that forever?!". Children really do just want our time. As Ava grows and changes - I'm finding more and more how much she craves one-on-one time with me, and how different her behavior is when that time and Grace is freely given. WHEN WILL I LEARN?

I'm so thankful for babies to rock, preschoolers to play dolls with, girls to dress up and love on all day. So blessed by my little ladies.