Monday, October 22, 2012

No more Mommy Wars!

Mom.  I think it's my favorite title ever.  I love being called Mom.  And I will say openly, it is absolutely the best job I've ever had, one I believe I was born to do.  But I gotta tell you, this Mom stuff, it's not easy, it's not for the weak or the faint of heart!   It's without a doubt the hardest job I've ever had.
That's why I get so frustrated when I find myself playing the Mommy Wars game.  It starts innocently enough, talking about diapering or staying at home or breast feeding or making your own baby food or whether to let your baby cry it out or homeschooling...and everyone has an opinion, and it's usually different.

I love to hear everyone's opinion, but so quickly it can turn into a "well my way is better than yours".  Here's a secret I've learned:  Everyone thinks their way is best.  That's why they are doing it.  :) Yet sometimes I still find myself wanting to participate in these back and forth discussions that really aren't building anyone up.  They are tearing, tearing down and hurting hearts and there are so many more important things to unite us.  I get that some of these issues are really important, and to be honest, some are very important to me too.  But they aren't worth hurting others over.  

Why can't we as moms build each other up?  Why can't we have friendships and relationships that are real instead of trying to convince others (or ourselves) that our way is the best way?

I believe this is the reason...At the heart of it, we are all insecure about if our way is really best.  We think it probably is.  But motherhood is the most important job we have and we are so invested in it... doubt creeps in. 
And I believe that insecurity, that doubt is what makes us great moms.  

The fact that we question our decisions, that we absolutely want to make the right choice for our kids...that's what makes us great moms.  But when we waste our time comparing and get caught up in why someone else's decision is wrong...that's where we run into trouble. 
We're all trying to raise our kids the very best way we can and that's no easy task. Every child is different and has different needs, just as every Mom is different.  No method is perfect and right for every person.  Except for One.  :)
I couldn't do it without God. I think we all could do it better without Mommy Wars!  Let's surrender!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If onlys...

This morning I was running late to get my daughter to school.  We're talking really late.  Spent too long trying to make the teacher's treats for Teacher Appreciation look better.  E needed money at the last minute for book sale.  T couldn't find his shoes.  C pooped.  Again.
On the way out the door my phone dinged for my appointment reminder for C's doctor's appointment.  "I know, got it!" I thought and then looked at the screen in disbelief.
9:00??  I thought it was 9:15!  The last appointment was for 9:15.  WHY would I have scheduled it for 9???  I can't possibly make that!  
Drove my daughter to school, called doctor's office on the way, pulled in to school only to miss the "not late" status by one minute so she needed to be signed in.  The doctor's office told me if I could get there by 9:10 I could still be seen.  A PTO friend saw me and yelled out, "I'll sign her in!"  Bless her heart.  Emma ran in, and we drove off.  I was due to arrive at 9:10, maybe 9:11...but when I turned on the road I needed, it was closed.  Then my detour was closed, so I had to take the real detour.  C had thrown his socks in the backseat, so when we finally pulled up at 9:16, I ran in with a sockless baby and a two year old who couldn't wait to see the fish.  As I walked in the door, my phone rang.  I saw the nurse on the phone.  She was gracious and sweet, but they couldn't fit us in.  Drove back to the school to drop off my treats quickly...
I walked out the door feeling totally and utterly defeated.
If I was only more organized...
If my house was neater...
If I could bring myself to wake up a little earlier even when C was up in the night, not feeling the best.
If I could just bring myself to be a better house keeper, play with my kids more, have energy left to hang out with my husband, work out and be in great shape, cook awesome meals every night, coupon for all our grocery shopping, do great pinterest projects (seriously, the people on Pinterest...where do they find time to do these things??)...
The list of if onlys overwhelms me as I drive down the road, the boys having a who can growl loudest contest at the top of their lungs.
Then I was reminded of these words by Nancy Leigh DeMoss...
"There is virtually never time in a twenty four hour day for me to do everything that is on everyone else's to do list for me.  There is seldom time to do everything on my own to do list.  I cannot meet with every person who wants to meet, call every person who wants to talk, tackle every project that people think I would be good at, keep each room in my house presentable for guests who drop in...It's just not physically possible.  What a relief that I don't have to do all those things!  The Truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me...there is time to do everything that is on God's to do list for my day, for my week, and for my life."  
Don't let your if onlys take over.  You are enough, He is enough, and all you have to do is the work that God has given you for today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The downward cycle of sin

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools..."
This passage from Romans 1 goes on to describe this downward cycle into sin and eventually, Godlessness. It's a scary passage to read, because like lots of sin, it's starts with something small.
And where does it start?
"...they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..."
I believe Paul was speaking specifically toward turning to the sin of idolatry in this passage at first, but he goes on to talk about sins of various kinds being a result of this downward cycle.  
It makes me wonder...does lots of sin, sin in my life, start like this?  
When we forget to glorify God, when we are too busy to give thanks, sin starts creeping in.  
In our Sunday School class on marriage, we talked about temptation this week.  We read Psalm 119:  9-11.  "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." 
If we were to look at the sin in our lives...wouldn't it start by not seeking God like we should?  Or not being "up in the Word" (as a girl in my small group put it)?  Or not having a thankful heart?  
I think so much of sin in my life creeps in when I'm not thankful, when I am not glorifying God for what He has done for me.  When what He's done isn't always on my mind because I'm too busy to be in His word. When He and I haven't been speaking much because life is in the way.
What would my life look like if I could live in a state of thankfulness, of ongoing communication with God, and of spending time daily in His Word?  
I am a work in progress, but the older I get, the more I am constantly aware that this is where it's at.  This is what it's all about.  Whatever stage of life you are in, this is what life is all about.

1000 Gifts
111.  A visit with good friends

112.  Relaxing this weekend...lots of good food and football.
113.  Laying in bed with the windows open
114.  My two year old singing Jesus loves me.
115.  Meeting Em's good friend from school
116.  That God's mercies are new every morning
117.  My 6 year old begging each morning for the "Good Morning Song" followed by T asking for more "Oh my Soul pease pease".
118.  For forgiveness and second chances.  And third.  And fourth.
119.  Pumpkins everywhere!
120.  Crisp, autumn air
121.  A clean house...well, it was clean for awhile
122.  Seeing T snuggled up to E in our bed last night.  T has been sickly the past few days and waking up in the night.  He doesn't usually snuggle, but he sure was with his Daddy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm a dreamer, Mom

"I think I'm a dreamer, Mom,"  my daughter said to me.  "Does a dreamer want to sometimes just imagine and pretend even more than playing with other people?"
"I suppose that is what a dreamer does."
"Then yep, I'm a dreamer.  And sometimes I even like to take naps because it means I can just lay there and imagine and pretty soon my dreams turn into real dreams you know, cause I'm asleep."

Keep dreaming, sweet girl.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So much love

He runs to me, lays his head on my shoulder, and folds himself up in my arms.  His little, chubby, 2 year old hand pats my shoulder the whole time.  A soft kiss on the cheek, and he's off to play again.  Be still, my heart.

She gets in the car, full of energy, and guess whats, her eyes dancing as she talks a mile a minute.  Every day is a new story, a new thing she learned, a funny thing that happened...and she wants to tell me all of it.  And I've been waiting all day to hear it.

I'm awakened at 6:30 to my nine month old crying.  As I drag my sleepy body into his room, he holds his arms up to me and breaks into a big, toothy grin.

There is so much love here.

"How can I thank You?  What can I bring?  
What can these poor hands lay at the feet of a King?
I'll sing You a love song, It's all that I have.
To tell you I'm grateful for holding our lives in Your hands.
You are holding our lives in Your hands."

Monday, October 8, 2012

1000 Gifts

Why count 1000 Gifts?  From Anne Voscamp's blog...

When thanks to God becomes a habit, so joy in God becomes your life.
Because those who keeping a gratitude list:
1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)
2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)
5. Increase your happiness by 25%(Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)
Who doesn’t want all that?

Are you counting??

99.  Tate going to bed without crying.  The past few nights have been brutal!
100.  E having today off...made the weekend so much more relaxing!
101.  A good, warm nap on Sunday, a very cold day.
102.  An evening of burritos and running around at the park
103.  Lunch out with E's family yesterday
104.  A daddy and daughter lunch date at school
105.  Friday night...donuts and movie family night.  Sleeping bags on the floor, lots of cuddling.  So perfect.
106.  Cold nights
107.  Our small group.
108.  The many many children God has blessed our small group with over the past couple years.  What a blessing, one I do not take lightly.
109.  Women at church who have blessed me with their friendship, love, and advice over many, many seasons of my life.  They are precious to me, though I seldom have words to express it.
110.  My church family who loves my kids and who treats my children so well, they never want to leave.  (And sometimes they lay on the floor of the church entry and throw an all out sad, crying fit about having to leave church)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The best of me

This morning I finished reading 1 Thessalonians amidst my boys running around like hooligans.  :)
At the end of the chapter, in Paul's last instructions, he says...
"Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  

(italics added by me)

In reading this, I was interrupted at least three times by my babe putting something in his mouth he shouldn't and my 2 year old telling me all about the Lego bird he was building.  I really need to get back to my quiet time before my boys wake up.  But that's a blog post for another day.

Anyway, I'm reading along, thinking...yep, I'm pretty good at those.  Yeah, I mean I have stuff to work on but I really try.
And I look at my two year old needing my attention and my baby wanting to be held.  

And I heard my husband's voice from a few nights ago, "Just give me a little bit of grace, L.  Just a little bit of grace.  I cannot do everything."

And I heard my six year old, "Mama, can you please please please play school with me?"  And me tell her, "No I can't.  I'm cooking dinner!"  

And I heard my two year old having a major meltdown last night in front of all my husband's coworkers and me picking him up, embarrassed, and carrying him quickly to the car. 

"Uhhh God, you don't mean my family in this right?  Cause God you know I'm doing the best I can.  But I can't do it all!"

"Always try to be kind to each other..."  
"Live in peace with each other..."
"Give thanks in all circumstances"

"I'm doing the best I can!!"
This is my classic response.  But is it true?  

So often I let others get the best of me, and my family (the ones I love the most) get the worst.  
It's hard...I argue in my head that they get the best AND worst of me because they get the most of me too.  
But that doesn't make it right.

"O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me.  Hear my voice when I call to you...Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door to my lips."  Psalm 141

"Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.  Change my heart O God, may I be like You."

I want my God to get the best of me (lots to work on there too).
I want my family to get the second best.  God has put me here to be their mom and his wife and I want to serve Him and serve them.  Joyfully.  :)

Join me in counting 1000 Gifts this year...I just recently started, but am determined to count 1000 by the end of the year!
91.  T saying, "Mama, give Cole a kiss?  Pease pease?"
92.  My baby boy learning to give love pats.
93.  Good laughs with E last night over our crazy kiddos
94.  Getting to visit with some of E's coworkers last night at his work picnic.  Those don't happen often!
95.  Talking about our dreams for our future last night...yep we have three kids and are settled, but we still have big dreams!
96.  Second chances...and thirds...and fourths!
97.  Hearing my student play a sonata she's been working on for quite a while...prepping for a college audition.  She blew me away.
98.  A good night's sleep.  Mr. Cole, you are getting back to sleeping well again.  :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The choice we all face today

We are running late for school...again.
My first grader's throat is sore; tis the season for sickness and germs.
My two year old who is almost potty trained (most days) had an accident all over his sister's chair.
The baby is still asleep and we need to get in the car.
I had a list of things I wanted to talk to my husband about last night, but by the time the kids were in bed, dishes done, toys picked up...he had a pile of cases to go through and I could barely keep my eyes open.

I face a choice.  I can let these things make me rush through life and stress me out OR

I can choose joy.

No, I cannot control my circumstances, but I CAN and WILL control my attitude. There are some circumstances that will inevitably bring us all down.  But the daily happenings of my life should not be one of them.  I don't want my children to see a mom who is constantly worried, stressed out, and hurried.  I want them to see a mom who chooses to find the joy in everyday because true joy comes from God.

In my planner that I use daily, there is this quote:

Today I'm going to live fully right where I'm at.  I'm going to choose joy.
That's the reason I'm doing the 1000 Gift challenge.  I'm not sure why I didn't start counting on this blog, but on my personal blog.  After some thought on this, I'm going to continue counting on this blog.  This is a more fitting place to document.  I may get around to transferring #1-82 to this blog, but if not, know they are there.

Want to join me?  If you too are counting gifts, please be sure to link your blog in the comment section.

83.  Listening to my oldest two play Memory.  My two year old clapped and cheered anytime anyone got a match.  He is every bit as excited for his sister as for himself.
84.  Em telling me she wanted to give her tooth fairy money to church.
85.  Beautiful trees with golden leaves
86.  A flute student determined for her future
87.  These girls that make me smile.
88.  My dad texting me, my mom calling me, and my 7 year old sister facebook messaging me this morning.  I love my family!
89. Tate running over to me pleading, "Hold you Mama, hold you!"  I know that in another year, he won't be saying this.  I cherish that he still needs his mama to pick him up and hold him close.
90. Hearing Em count aloud as she practices piano.  I can't explain why I love this so much, but I just do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Loving Others

Loving others...what God's love is all about.  Sometimes though, it's hard to know what that looks like.  Sometimes, I want to show love and I commit to doing something that shows love, only to figure out that in doing what I need to do, I have to stick my child in front of the tv for a little bit, or sacrifice making dinner for my family, or put my children to bed later.  Now there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion once in a while.  But in serving/loving others, I never want my children and husband to feel like they are not the people I MOST want to serve.  So sometimes that means saying no or saying I can't do it that way, but I can do it this way...
Anyone else struggle with this?  
And my conversation with God when these things come up often sounds something like this..."God is this an opportunity You want me to pursue?  Because if it is, I want that.  But if it isn't, will You show me that?  I want to serve You the way You want me to."  
Let's face it, it's a lot more fun (at least for me) to get together with a friend who needs to talk than to load my dishwasher, change diapers for an hour.  And it's tempting to want to volunteer to help with youth group and let someone else put my kids in bed that night.  And I'm usually more eager to write a blog post (haha) than start dinner or do the breakfast dishes.  
But what is the work God has called me to?  
Sometimes the work God has called us to is mundane, ordinary and even causes us to wonder...would it really matter if I didn't do it?  Would anyone notice?  
How many minutes a day do I spend putting my sons' clothes on to soak because they both are crazy messy?
How many times do I put laundry in drawers only to have it come out again the next day?
How many dishes do I dirty only to have dinner consumed in 20 minutes and all those dishes sit staring at me?

Oh Daughter, don't go there.  
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

See I love my kids and husband more than life...but even with that love for them, it's not always easy to serve them.  Sometimes that sweet child isn't ahem very grateful.  "MOM!  We're having that AGAIN for dinner?"  Or that man of mine leaves his clothes on the floor and takes dishes upstairs where I find them days later.  Or the baby spits up on the fourth outfit of the day.  And my mind starts going places like...don't they realize how hard it is to keep the laundry up, floors swept, dinner on the table? 
Then I remember that I'm doing it to serve Christ...then the laundry, the dishes, making dinner, vacuuming.  It all seems more important, less mundane, and yes, Someone notices.  
So in seeking to serve others I have to ask myself, Is this something God wants me to do?  Or is this something I want to do to procrastinate or to get out of what He has already called me to do?