Sunday, March 25, 2012

Headed Down to Happy













(Photo Courtesy of AOL Travel)

You all know by now that my sweet family left bright and early yesterday morning for a little week long adventure. Our destination? Disney World! To some, the Happiest Place on Earth. So I kept telling my children that we were headed down to happy. Children, stop fighting! We are headed down to happy! Emma, quit making gas noises with your silly putty! No gas noises on the way to happy! Kate, no, you may not continue to ask if we are there yet! Does it look like we are there yet? Happy is very far away! And Jack.....! Well, there really are no words for Jack. Because he's two. Enough said. But you get the idea. We were headed down to happy and Mama wanted to be happy! But with seven people trapped in a van together for eighteen plus hours, happy is not always what you get. Sometimes you get moody, or grumpy, or irritated. But instead of dwelling on those emotions, instead I decided to compile for you a list of ten things I thought about/noticed/discovered on our way down to happy. So here goes nothing.

1) I really do love road trips! Even with the Boss man, my three children, and my parents along for the ride. Especially with them along for the ride. We don't really even need books, or movies, or other random things to numb our minds as we drive. I always bring a whole stack of things with me to do, but I never use anything that I bring! I just talk and laugh (and sometimes yell at, if we are being perfectly honest here) with my family the entire way. We play the alphabet game and search for license plates and make up other games along the way. We have never let having small children keep us from our love of traveling. We just load them all up and go for it! And it is super great fun!

2)I have a really big crush on my twelve passenger van. Like, really big. I have been her Mama for four years, and I heart her. I even named her Old Faithful, because she has been our faithful travel companion, always giving us her best. Never tiring out. Never shunning us when we leave goldfish and fruit loop crumbs all over her floors. My favorite thing about her are her four super HUGE cup holders up front. Perfect for holding large diet vanilla cokes from Sonic. And really large cups of any pop for that matter. Or if you are one of my healthy friends, I suppose she could hold a nice bottle of water, too. Not sure, though. I will have to ask her about that one. My second favorite thing about her is that when we take out her back row, we can still hold seven people comfortably while carrying just about anything! Seriously! Even a bathtub would fit back there. Not that we have ever tried that, but if we ever wanted to try that I am positive that one would fit (ahem). I am pretty sure that one day Old Faithful and I will have to part ways. Because she guzzles gasoline like I guzzle diet coke. That will be a very, very sad day.

3) Road trips are super great for sharing thoughts with your husband. I love when the Boss man is strapped in next to me. One, because he is way cute, and two, because it forces him to listen to everything that I have been wanting to talk to him about! For hours on end, he is forced to be my captive audience! Sometimes though, his eyes glaze over and I have to see if he is still listening. So I say something clever like, Hey Babe, let's sell everything we own, even the children, and buy Harley's! You can become a biker dude and I will be your biker chick. What do you think about that, babe? And then if he agrees, I know he has not been listening to a thing I have said, and we have to start all over again. On this trip down to happy, I shared with him my most recent dream and vision. The best part? He actually seemed to like what I shared with him! He might have even been a tiny bit excited about it! We will see. But the fact that his eyes never glazed over made me a very happy Mama.

4) I love living in the Midwest, but I always feel at home while back in the south. Right about Tennessee I could feel things begin to change. The air got humid, the sweet tea started pumping through my veins (because you must drink sweet tea when in the south), and the accents! The southern accents were everywhere! And what can I say? It feels good to be back amongst my people, y'all.

5) Do not give your children noise putty in the car if you do not want to hear bodily function noises followed by uncontrollable laughter for eighteen plus hours. Especially if bodily function noises do not make you feel happy. See above.

6) While dining in Georgia this afternoon, I experienced a soda fountain with over 100 choices! Seriously! There were your basic choices of soda (naturally, I went with diet coke), but then you could add in most any flavor. I chose raspberry. Diet raspberry coke over ice equals divine. I knew after one sip that happy had arrived a few hours earlier for me than anyone else.

7) I bought new sunglasses at a truck stop. I don't know why that is significant, but it felt a little bit adventurous, so I thought that I should share that with you here. I might wear them on the Dumbo ride should I decide to get really wild. Time will tell.

8) Florida is not a very beautiful state unless you are looking at the ocean. The marshlands do nothing for me. You, of course, are free to disagree.

9) People at rest stops are very interesting. That is all I have to say about that.

10) When traveling with many people (several of whom happen to be smaller(ish), it is best to be flexible. Our after arrival plans tonight started with changing and heading to Downtown Disney for a night on the town. Once a few people began melting though, we quickly switched our plans to include supper at Sweet Tomatoes (another really great thing that the Midwest is lacking!), followed by a shopping excursion at Super Wal-Mart for the one million things that we forgot to pack. But that didn't work out either. We ended up picking up a few things at the local Winn Dixie and getting Chinese take out for supper. And by nine pm all were bathed and in bed. Except for me. That is when I decided that being flexible was a good thing.

But the happiest news of all is that we have arrived safely, and we all still like each other. (Mostly. The two year old is still questionable. Thank goodness he is cute and gives good smooches!) After a good nights rest we will wake up tomorrow, head to Magic Kingdom, introduce Jack to Mickey Mouse, and get our happy on! I am feeling happier just thinking about it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Story of the Underarms























This is the post in which I share with you a story about underarms. My sweet, innocent, almost eight year old daughter's underarms, to be exact.

(It is stinkin' hot here in our neck of the woods. Hot for March, anyway. The first March we lived in Ohio we had the biggest snow storm I have ever seen! And this March? We are in the eighties. It must have something to do with global warming, no? I kid, I kid. Now back to our regular underarm programming.)

For several weeks now Emma has come in from outside, complaining that she has sweaty pits after playing. At first I assumed she said this simply to annoy me. Because she does things like that. I hate the word 'pits' and she knows it. And since she is almost eight and finds all body parts and their functions hilarious, this made perfect sense to me. So I decided to be mature and ignore her and her sweaty pits.

But she kept complaining. Sometimes several times a week.

My next guess was that she had come up with a clever way to get to change her clothes mid day, or so she thought. And she might be clever, but I am more clever, so I did not fall for her sweaty pit trick. But still, the complaining did not stop. Over and over again I had to hear about how gross and sweaty her underarms became when playing. So I decided that I had to get to the bottom of her little pit problem. Because I am a good Mama, and that is what good Mama's do. We investigate.

Me: Emma, what do you want me to do about your sweaty pit problem?

Emma: I want you to buy me some deodorant, Mama.

There! See? By asking one simple question I had solved the pit problem mystery! My girl didn't have sweaty pits. She just wanted deodorant! Em is the youngest of most of her friends, and lately she has requested all sorts of things. Grown up things. Scary things. Things like training bras, a request I ignored thank you very much, because I am fairly certain that I just birthed her yesterday and newborns don't need training bras. Or deodorant for that matter. But she is a wise cookie, this one. Always scheming to get what she wants. She never actually gets it, but she sure does try her hardest. I told her it was a big fat negative on the deodorant. And she stopped complaining. For one whole day she said nothing about sweaty pits! It was glorious, and beautiful, and superb. That was yesterday. But then today arrived and with it more complaints about sweaty pits.

By this time I was ready to blow a gasket. I am raising a young lady here! But all my young lady wants to do is catch frogs and say words like sweaty pits! So I decided to pull out my big gun. My nose. I was going in for the smell test and nothing could stop me. I would determine once and for all if my almost eight year old needed deodorant.

Me: Emma, hold up your arm and lift up your sleeve.

Emma: Why?

Me: Because my nose is coming in.

Emma: I wouldn't do that if I were you, Mama.

I did it anyway. And I will never be the same again.

I actually thought I might die right there on the spot. Death by lack of deodorant. Words cannot adequately express just how much my tiny daughters underarms reeked. So I did what any concerned mother would do. I texted my friends. It was imperative that I discover just when, exactly, their children's armpits began to stink. Turns out most of their children were in the eight to ten year old range when deodorant was introduced! Who knew! I certainly didn't. And while Emma is a bit younger than that she has always been advanced. In fact, she is first in her home school class. It's true. Out of all of the second graders that I have, she is the most advanced. So perhaps having sweaty pits early is just another way she is staying ahead of the curve? Yes. I do believe we will go with that. Those silly home schoolers, always trying to one up each other!

All throughout tonight I have been looking up at her sweet little face, then back down again to her armpits, all the while trying to figure out how one little body could produce something so sweet and something so awful all at the very same time. That is the true mystery, I fear. The mystery that mothers have been trying to solve for generations. And I don't have the answer. But I do have the solution: Deodorant. With a capital D. Stat.

So tomorrow I am taking my forty-seven pound seven year old to the store to buy her very first stick of underarm goodness. And I wanted you to know. So when the day comes (and the day will come) that your child begins complaining of their sweaty pits, you will not feel alone. You will know that there are others who have gone before you. And you will have faith that you, too, can overcome the battle of the smelly underarm.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Faith Over Fear






















I am not a person who loves her some adventure. In fact, I am quite the opposite. Most days I simply struggle not to live in fear. It doesn't take much to get my mind headed down the path of worst case scenario. And it has always been this way for me. When I was a child, the same age that my Emma is now, I was afraid of the wind. Yes, sirree. I was. I feared that a big gust of wind would come along and blow off all of my hair. And who wouldn't fear being hairless? So my solution was to wear a windbreaker. ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Makes perfect sense, right? I would put that baby on, zip it up tight, and then pull the hood up making sure all strands of hair were secure. And that is how I rolled. The funny thing was that we lived in Saudi Arabia, where it was always hot, and where wind seldom blew. Unless there was a dust storm. But that was different. Because I didn't fear dust. I feared wind. And while I have outgrown the need to continuously wear windbreakers (seeing as they are not the latest fashion), ceiling fans have still been known to make this mama tremble.

I would like to say that as I grew, my fears lessened, but that is not the case. In fact, they intensified. Turns out having children is not good for a woman of worry. Who knew? And so far I've had three, so my worry has tripled. But I have found as I have aged that I now fear much more mature and practical things. Like elevators. And amusement park rides. (Just thinking of my babies whirling through the air on the swings, THE SWINGS!, is enough to send me over the edge.) When I was in hard labor with Kate, contractions coming every two minutes and nearly fully dilated, I climbed eight flights of stairs to reach the delivery floor. Eight. Because I was not getting in the elevator. And when the nurse said we could not enter through the locked stairwell for security purposes , I threatened to have my baby right there on that landing. And I meant it, too. Did she think I was kidding? She decided to let me in. And thank goodness she did! Having my daughter in the stairwell was not what I had dreamed of. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Sometimes (translate often) I fear diseases. Once, on Boss' thirtieth birthday to be exact, I was sure that I had leukemia. In fact, I was positive that my end was near. So we spent Boss' birthday in the ER. Turns out I did not have leukemia. Just a common case of the crazies. My thirtieth birthday is right around the corner. Boss keeps asking me where I want my party. Bethesda North Hospital? Or is Mercy Anderson more my style? He kids, he kids. I hope.

Some of the first words that Emma strung together as a two year old were blood pressure. Although it came out sounding more like bluh plethure. That story doesn't really need an explanation, although if you must know, it involved me walking around with a blood pressure cuff attached to my arm for months. Though not in public of course. Because that would be weird.

Once my super wise doctor suggested that I carry around a brown paper sack and whenever I felt anxious, he wanted me to breathe slowly and deeply into it. What he did not realize was that my sack would need eye holes. Because if I was to breathe into a sack every single time I felt anxious, then it might as well have been a permanent fixture on my head. Can you imagine my children introducing me to their friends? This is my mom. Don't mind her, she likes wearing a grocery sack on her head, thank you very much. Thank goodness we home school. At least there wouldn't have been as many friends to worry about! Bwahahaha! But seriously, the sack idea did not turn out to be golden.

Instead, I have learned ways around my fears. I joke about them with friends. It turns out laughter makes anything more bearable. And if I have to take an elevator at a hospital, I make sure that I ride with a doctor. That way, if I have a heart attack, he can bring me back to life. Sometimes, though, I have to put on my big girl panties and just do it. Whatever it is I have to do to face my fears. Because I am a Mama, and my children are watching me. And I don't want them to grow up fearing life the same way that I have. I love that so far they are brave. My girls love amusement parks! They love flying through the air, around and around. And my Jack? He is a serious sprinkler dude. He isn't scared. He just dives right in, mouth open wide, ready to embrace it all. And this, this is what I want for them!

To look fear in the face, and to overcome. To trump fear, with faith.

It's what I want for myself, too. As I approach my thirtieth year, what I want more than anything is to begin to live life without fear. I want to go on adventures! I want to explore life with my children. I want to be brave enough to dive right in with my mouth open wide, ready to embrace it all. Whatever comes. Next week my family is going to Disney World, and I figure I will get plenty of opportunity to put this new faith over fear living into action. I just might be the only grown up on the Dumbo ride with her eyes squeezed shut, holding tightly to her squealing five year old, but by golly, I will be on it! And I know it will be amazing. Because adventures usually are.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Good Day

















Today was one of those days. The really good kind. The kind of day that leaves you happy, and full, and spent. Nothing spectacular happened. We just did life together, my family and I. But it was the good kind of life that makes you excited for tomorrow. So you can rise and get back to it once more. These are the days that I want to remember.

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. Always. I have never wanted to be anything else. In high school and college I did flirt with the possibility of a few other career choices (teacher, social worker, therapist, photographer), but none of them ever stuck. They just weren't me. Because me?

I am meant to mother.

And it's funny, because when you mother, you really are so much more than that! You have most every career imaginable rolled into the most excellent of titles. Because I am a teacher, and a counselor, and their personal photographer. And I am also their chef, and maid (though they are quickly becoming my assistants the more that they grow!), and their taxi driver. I am their hair stylist and manicurist. I am also their fashion designer (though I can't take credit for all of their outfit choices. Especially the ones which combine plaid, stripes, and 'of course it matches, Mama! It's all pink!'. Those outfits are all them :). I am all of these things and more. Because I am their mother. It's who I am. It's what I want.

It's funny, though. Because every single time that I imagined motherhood, I imagined diapers, and nursing, and chubby thighs, and raspberry kisses. My motherhood dreams always stopped there. In baby land. My motherhood dreams never held visions of mothering actual little people. And as my children have grown, I wasn't sure how I would take to it, this new season of mothering people. But I can tell you now, especially after today, that it is awesome. I like my children more and more as they grow, and I never even knew that was even possible.

Today, the children and I walked. All four of us together. And nobody was carried. The sun was shining, and we held hands, and laughed, and skipped, and if one fell down another helped him up. We walked the gravel path around the lake and visited with the geese. And we talked. And talked and talked and talked. Because it doesn't seem to matter if you are seven or seventeen, if you are a female, you love to chatter! And while we walked, I got to thinking.

This motherhood thing is pretty great at any stage.

I read something today that suggested that all of us mothers may have one particular season that is the best for us in terms of mothering. For some it might be the baby or toddler stage. Others might prefer preschoolers, and still others children in school. And the author suggested that there are even those few blessed individuals who enjoy when their children reach adolescence (gasp! I know, right?). Her point was simply that if the season you are in right now is not your thang, then just hold on, because another season is coming and perhaps it will be better than the one before it?

I get what she was saying. I really do. I can remember when a certain two year old girl would throw fits, just thinking, come on already! When will you ever grow up?!, as I ate yet another meal in the restroom with her where she sat in time out at the restaurant. But she did grow up. Right before my very eyes, and it happened quick as lightning, never to be returned to again. And I spent the entire season wishing it away, because parenting a toddler wasn't my thang. It was not how I rolled. I only liked babies! I was meant for babies! This children growing thing was not what I had signed up for. But now? Now, only through my memories will I visit her little two year old self once again. Only there will I feel her sloppy kisses and her chubby arms around my neck.

And while then I wished to skip forward, now often I wish to rewind.

So while I get what the author of the article was trying to convey, I have come to believe that no one season of mothering is better than another. They all have their challenges. They all have their joys. I have come to believe that each season of mothering is what we make of it. We were made for all seasons, because we were made for them. And they were made for us. We were each made for each other, all in the image of Him. So if you have babies, rock. Rock and sing as much as you can. Toddlers? Laugh, explore, and play! Get messy! End each day with hugs. Whatever the age of your child, find something about that season to enjoy, and meet your child right there. Right where they are. You will be grateful that you did, that you were not always waiting for the next, better season to come along.

And if your children are becoming little people? With dreams, and ideas, and feelings all their own? Embrace it! Walk, like we did today. And talk, and laugh, and do life together. I have heard it said that the years are short, but the days are long. Never has any saying been more true than for the life of a mother. But today I was grateful that the day was long. Because long days are good for living well.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Piece by Piece

My girls love them some puzzles. No matter the kind, theme, or variety. It doesn't matter to them. They love dumping out all of the pieces, turning them right side up, around, or this way and that. Shouts of joy ring out when two pieces fit together in just the right way! Then three pieces, then four. And as they work, they continuously look at the picture on the front of the box. Their guide, if you will. As any good puzzle worker knows, you always start with the outer edges first, and then work your way inward. My girls will spend hours working puzzles, fitting it all together just so, piece by piece.

I am fairly certain that puzzles are in their blood. They come by their puzzle love naturally. My mom, Grammy, loves puzzles, as did her mother. Growing up, my grandmother always had a puzzle table set up. Always. Perhaps she would ignore the table for a day or so, if life got in the way, but it was always there, waiting for someone to connect the pieces. Some days she might have time to put a bit of the picture together. Maybe one or two pieces, or maybe a dozen. And sometimes she would spend hours at the table. Not getting up until the picture was complete. Anyone was always welcome to help her as she worked her magic, creating one masterpiece out of sometimes thousands of different pieces. Separate the pieces were hard to understand. They did not make sense. But together? Together they created something beautiful. My grandmother's hands took tiny pieces and wove them together into beauty.

I believe greatly that the same is true for our lives. God is the Master of Puzzles. Each of our individual lives the piece of a much bigger picture. His picture (that currently only He can see), that He will one day put on display for the entire world to see. That thought gives me goose bumps. And hope! Lots and lots of hope. But we can break it down even more than that. Each of our lives is a puzzle. A mystery as to how all of our pieces will come together in the end. Some of the pieces we can't understand. We don't want to understand. Hurt, disappointment, confusion, pain. All pieces of our puzzle that separately, make no sense. Our lives are filled with little pieces that we don't like. Pieces that don't seem to connect to anything else. Oftentimes, we want to throw those pieces away. The ugly pieces surely aren't necessary. They can't be part of our masterpiece. Right? RIGHT?! But they are. And if we threw all of the pieces that we did not like away, in the end our masterpiece would be filled with tiny holes throughout. Pieces of our bigger picture would be missing. Instead, we must believe that somehow, some way, God will use those pieces that we don't like for good. Because He is good, and that is what He does.

And then there are the times in life where everything seems to just come together seamlessly! With ease our days flow, pieces connect, colors pop! And we can see it, that bigger picture. It is waiting there for us up ahead! And if we just keep plugging away at our puzzle, piece by piece, we will reach it! Our lives will be God's masterpiece! We will see that He has connected each one of our pieces together in just the right way. There might be strings of darker pieces, times when we thought we would never see those glorious pops of color again, but they always, always connect to joys. Sometimes entire rows of joys! And the beauty of the completed picture is always worth the work along the way. Always.

I know this to be true, because I have evidenced it in my own life. For the last several weeks the pieces have just not seemed to connect. At least not in the way that I wanted them to. But slowly, after time, I can see that they are attaching to pieces of joy once again. Joy in the sunshine. Joy in my daughter's laughter, and in my little boy's kisses. Joy found in friends. Joy found in my husband, in upcoming adventures together. Pieces of joy found in God's Word. Learning that it is His completed picture I am working towards, and not my own. Joy in contemplating trading my dreams for His. So I keep plugging away piece by piece, knowing He will work it all together for good. For His good, and for mine. Because God is the Master of puzzles, and I can trust Him with my pieces. Every single one of them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Years of Love























A Birthday Letter to my Son

Dear Jack,

According to the calendar, today you are two years old! Two! My heart can't believe it. I know all parents say this, and I have said it before about each of your sisters, but it seems as though I have never known life without you in it. And like you were born just yesterday. All at the very same time. I remember fully the day that I pushed you into this world, all the days before it becoming a blur in a single instant. The moment they handed you to me, all slippery and wet, and the most perfect little boy that I had ever seen, is etched forever deep inside me. I lost a piece of my heart to you that day, the third little piece of me to now live, and walk, and breathe outside of my body. It is the most incredible feeling in the world, this birthing of a soul. And to have that soul be magnificent you? It just doesn't get any better than that.

Some of the moments of the last two years are a happy (exhausted) blur of sleepless nights, and spit up, and diaper changes, and rocking. The rocking is my favorite. I still love to rock you each night before I place you in your crib. Though you are much bigger now, I still love to feel the weight of you in my hands. I close my eyes as we sway back and forth, back and forth, willing my heart to remember these moments forever. The way your hair smells like cherries, your soft head tucked up under my chin. The way your mouth moves in rhythm with your pacifier. Your small, still slightly chubby fingers as they rub my arm and back. I sing to you about the moon, and God's love, and sunshine, and stars. And then I lay you down and hand you as many lovies as your little arms can hold. I stroke your hair and tell you that I love you, and you tell me 'bye bye, Mama'. Every single night. Some of my most favorite memories of the last two years for sure.

Some of my other favorite memories are of your deep and passionate love for your memink (pacifier), and how you must always have one in your mouth and an extra in your pocket (you adore pockets) for good measure. When riding in the car you must have a hand to hold. Usually Emma's, sometimes Kate's. We buckle you in, and out go your chubby fingers searching for someone to hold them. It melts my heart. Your favorite thing in this world? Sports balls. Of any kind. You can name every sport when you see it, and know what each ball is supposed to do or how it is to be thrown or kicked. At two years old you can already dribble a basketball. It makes your daddy so proud! You love to be outside, and walking through puddles in your cowboy boots is a favorite. Cheese, yogurt, fruit (grapes, apples, and blueberries), and peanut butter (you prefer to eat it by the spoonful, rather than in sandwich form) are your favorite nacks, as you call them (snacks). You love to laugh and dance! Your silliness is contagious.

On Tuesday, we celebrated you with a Mickey Mouse themed birthday supper. Both sets of your grandparents came and we had pizza, grapes, and salad. You loved playing with the balloons! You tossed them into the air and caught them over and over again. You got a red bike, a bouncy ball, books, and an Elmo backpack amongst other things. You didn't want anyone else touching your presents, so you tried to carry them all while riding your bike around the dining table! So funny! Lucky for you, since you are the baby, your sisters usually wind up letting you have your way. Some might call you spoiled, we call you very much loved. After our guests left, we pulled you and your sisters up onto our bed and told you all of your last gift. A trip to Disney World in less than two weeks! You screamed in excitement along with your sisters, even though you had no clue what any of it meant. You were just happy because they were happy!

Jack, my life is better because you are in it. You make the hard days bearable, and the happy days shine! I thank God every single day for letting me be your Mama. He gave you to me at just the right time. I have loved every moment of these last two years with you, and I pray for a lifetime more. Happy 2nd Birthday, my little man!

Love, Mama

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thinking (and Thinking and Thinking)

It's been a little bit hard, this not being pregnant thing. Not just because I desired a baby that I was not meant to have, but also because it has forced me to think. And think and think and think. About nothing. About everything. All at the very same time. And now my brain is tired. But it also feels like it might be waking up for the very first time in ages. Can that even be possible? Being tired, yet waking up, becoming alive, all at the very same time? I say yes. Because it is happening to me.

You see, I am a girl who has always seemed to have gotten what she wanted. Grow up with a nice life, in a nice country, in a pink house in the suburbs? Check. Parents still married? Check. Car from said parents upon turning sixteen? Check. Graduating a year early? Check. Going to college on my parents dime? Check. Vacations and trips around the world? Check. Meeting the Boss man, falling in love, having him choose me (ME!), and then having a whirlwind engagement? Check. Fairytale wedding and dreamy honeymoon cruise? Check. Moving around for adventure to see and to try out new places? Check. Wanting a baby after only two months of marriage, husband agreeing, and then seeing two pink lines on a stick only three months after that? Check. Second baby exactly two years later, just like clockwork? Check. And then a son almost four years after that? Check. Friends? Check. Husbands career? Check. And the list could go on and on, and is it just me, or is that a whole lot of checks? It overwhelms me sometimes to think about it. All of these joys and blessings I have known.

I can't deny that there have been some minuses in my life, too. I have experienced seasons of loneliness and seasons filled with anxiety. My growing up family has had its share of struggles in our relationships. I have struggled with an eating disorder, seeking treatment in the months prior to meeting Boss. Our marriage has struggled, because we are people. People who don't always make good choices. But overall, when I think (and think and think) on my life, it is not the minuses that come to mind first. It is the checks. Because the truth is that the checks far outweigh the minuses. I have always known a fairly easy, happy, comfortable life, with everything I desired seemingly within arms reach. And I innocently (pridefully?) thought this would always be the case. Really, if Mama wanted something, Mama got it! The truth is, I took my life, and all my gifts for granted.

So losing this baby? Losing my dream for the next nine months and the lifetime after that? It has been a little bit hard. But I am worried that it has been hard for all of the wrong reasons. That maybe it has been hard, because for the first time in a really long time, Mama wanted something that she cannot have. And this thought has me struggling. And thinking (and thinking and thinking). Am I maybe not as much in control of my life as I once thought? All of my life my mouth has formed the words God is in control, but I'm not quite sure that my heart and soul have believed it. I am afraid that for far too long I have been under the impression that I am in control. And that, my friends, is a very scary impression to be living under. Because what happens when life throws you a curve ball? When things (jobs, children, dreams) that you desperately desire to hold on to slip from your grasp, and try as you might you just can't make them stay? Then what?

And this is where I currently find myself. I am in the then what? stage. If not me, then who? God? The author of the greatest book ever written? Could I really let Him write my story? Does He even want to write my story? Does He even work that way? Is He sitting up on high, laughing as all this while I was attempting to scribble the pages of my story with my own feeble hands? Has He been waiting for me to wake up and realize that He is the only one worthy of holding the pen?

I don't know. I don't have all of the answers. I know some whom I respect who think of Jesus as mainly their a teacher (and obviously their Savior). They are passionate about Him, and they are passionate about His Word, but for the most part they believe that the stories of our lives are in our own hands. That we get to choose the setting, or how certain chapters might go. And then there are others (who I also respect), who think that God is close, personable, active, and that He has written very personally some of their greatest chapters to date! And I am left here wondering, thinking (and thinking and thinking), and praying, somewhere in the middle of it all.

Because life did throw me a curve ball. And even if I wanted to write my own story, it was out of my hands to write it the way that I wanted to write it. So I am left to believe that there is something more. There must be something more. Perhaps God writes our stories, but the choice is ours how, or even if, we respond?I like to think that this could be the case. Because the funny thing is, when Mama (that's me) didn't get what she wanted, she may have gotten something more. A wake up call.

These are all the thoughts I have for tonight. Thoughts redundant over this past month, but thoughts very relevant to this journey I am on. This journey of discovering who I am and Whose I am. It feels a little bit like an adventure, and adventures usually make really great stories, no? So I will keep plugging along. Praying, reading the scriptures, seeking. Handing Him the pen, grabbing it back again in fear, and then handing it over once more. And all the while thinking. And thinking and thinking and thinking.

PS. Tomorrow we are having a birthday dinner for a very special little boy who stole my heart almost two years ago! And he, my friends, has been a very cool chapter in my story!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Extraordinary

I was meant to be extraordinary. No, really. I was. And I told my mother this news last month. I told her this with tears streaming down my face, in the midst of a month that was not going 'my way' for a variety of different reasons. Because I am a dreamer and sometimes my life just doesn't feel dreamy. So I told my mother that it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that my husband works harder than anyone I know, and yet we still often struggle with knowing how to make ends meet. It wasn't fair that things in our life were (are) soon changing (some of the changes I am welcoming, and some leave me fearful). It wasn't fair that I miscarried our sweet fourth baby that I was so excited about, or that one of our upcoming changes was experiencing problem after problem, or that our car broke down, or that I hadn't had a moment alone with Boss for an entire month, unless of course you counted our hours at the ER and the car dealership. I told her that it was all just too much, and couldn't I just catch a break? This couldn't really be my life! Could it? Could I really be about to turn thirty, with so many things seeming complicated and up in the air? I mean, when was I going to lead a grown up life? When would life fit into the nice little box that I had so beautifully prepared for it? I was meant to be extraordinary! So I told her so, in a very (un)grown up like fit. And yet, here was my life day after day, so very ordinary.

My mother was nice enough not to laugh at me at the time, but as things in our lives have calmed back down, it has turned into a bit of a family joke. I tell Boss that I can't possibly fold the laundry. After all, I am extraordinary. I tell my children they are so lucky to have such an extraordinary school teacher (that would be me)! My father calls and asks to speak to his extraordinary daughter. Really, we are saying all of these things in fun, and I still fold the laundry and put it away each week. But inside I still sometimes wonder. Not really about being extraordinary (because really, I am just me, and I am okay with that), but I wonder if there is maybe something more? If maybe I am missing out on something? Some secret to life? And then I came across this article written by Nancy Campbell from Above Rubies:


Ordinariness Or Extraordinariness?

I've coined a new word-ordinariness.

It's a place where many people live. I'm not talking about the "sameness" of your everyday tasks in the home, for even the most mundane tasks are sacred and therefore extraordinary when you allow God into them.

I am talking about living in the state of thinking like the status quo, fitting in with the humanist agenda of our society, and trusting in your own resources and understanding. There is no other word for this state than ordinariness.

To move out of this comfortable state and live in biblical mindset takes you into extraordinariness.

It is a challenging life--a realm of faith, hanging on the edge of a limb, adventures of trusting God when you cannot see where His provision is coming from, battles against the adversary, speaking up for truth and God-given convictions in the face of popular opinion, and receiving ridicule from family members and neighbors.

We are out of step with the world but in step with God. We are out of sync with public thinking in the media and humanistic education, but we seek to listen to the mind of God. It's not the easy life, but it's definitely not ordinary.

Why live in ordinariness when you can live in extraordinariness? If God has anything to do with your life, it will be extraordinary, for God is anything but ordinary.

Let's move out of the "ordinary humanistic lifestyle" into the "extraordinary biblical lifestyle.


Did you read that? Do you see what it says? Right there it says that each of us who have given our lives to Christ have the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life! In fact, it is expected of us! Maybe not extraordinary in terms of what this world values and deems worthy. And maybe not extraordinary in the ways that I had been desiring (an easy, comfortable life). But extraordinary in the fact that if we are following God, going against the flow, and shining our lights, we will have no option but to stand out in the crowd! And isn't that what extraordinary people do? They don't blend in, that is for sure. And it doesn't matter if we wear a suit and handle business affairs, or if we flip burgers, or if we wear sweats and wipe bottoms for a living. Because it is not what we do or who we are that makes us extraordinary, it's WHOSE we are! So it turns out that I was right. I never was meant to be ordinary. I WAS meant to be extraordinary! And so, my friends, were you.

Phil 2:15 "...children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe."

Friday, March 2, 2012

March

Dear March,

Thank you, from the depths of my soul, for gracing us with your presence yesterday! How glad I was to see you! You see, your friend February was not so kind to me last month. She was cold, and distant, lasting an entire extra day than usual, and she continued to take from me without giving back. In the words of Michelle from Full House (what, you don't know Full House?), "How Rude!". There. That feels better just announcing to February how I really felt about her. I suppose I needed to get that off of my chest so that I can now move on and have room in my life for you. Confession is good for the soul, I do believe. So anyway, back to you my dear March! You have brought me so much hope and the promise of new days already! You hold some special days that I am greatly looking forward to! Two years ago you gave me my first, sweet, smoochy son. He is one of the greatest things to have ever happened to me, so I cannot thank you enough. Also, at the end of the month, we are going to Disney World! But, shhh. Don't tell the children, because they do not know yet. We are going to surprise them with a Spring Break trip to the happiest place on earth! It should be fantastic. We are looking forward to enjoying each other and your beautiful March sunshine. So, see? You are indeed going to be providing us with some most wonderful days! But March, what I am really looking forward to is the brand new season that you bring with you. I am looking forward to the cold slowly beginning to give way to your warmth, and I am excited to begin to see new life spring forth from the ground, and with it promise! And hope! And I am excited for spring to arrive in my soul, as well. I am ready for my disappointment, and darkness, and clouds to give way to sunshine and smiles! Because smiling is my favorite! (Thank you, Buddy the Elf, for teaching me this truth.) And I am also ready for new life to spring up in my heart. So yes, my dear March, I am very glad to see you. Thank you for gracing me with your presence year after year. You always show up right when I need you! And I am so grateful, Lord willing, that we get to journey these next 31 days together. Let's do our best to make each and every moment of those days count, shall we? Yes, I think we shall.

Love, Me