Monday, March 26, 2012

Beyond All Measure

So tonight Joe and I are sitting down and making a wish list for a new venture of ours.  We are praying together and asking God to give us direction, to give us focus.

We are dreaming dreams tonight.

And you know what is amazing about this?

We can't begin to imagine what God has in store for us.

This has been proven again and again in our lives.  This goodness of His, this ability to know our hearts, know our expectations and go beyond what we have imagined...........again and again and again.

And this is sometimes the cool part about growing a bit older, even though I know I am still young in the scheme of things.  It is a wonderful and awe inspiring thing to be able to look back, to see what He has done.  To look at the things that broke our hearts, that ripped us up inside, that we, no, no, God!!!  What are you doing?!?  And to look back and realize that He carried us through those times, to bring us to the place where He knew we should be.

I always had a plan.  In my mind.  I was going to go to college, get married the second I graduated, have two babies, teach for the rest of my life, etc, etc, etc.

And then God laughed.

I didn't get married.

All my friends did (Olivia Lemley are you listening?!?!?)

They had babies.

I did not.

I started not to care (but really always did just a little bit).

I found Joe.

God went beyond.

I had a baby, a screaming, loud, uncontrollable baby.....................I wanted more.

We have three.

We want more.

We are certified to be foster parents.

I doubt I will ever teach again (I am so sorry mom)

We are involved in a church that challenges us.  We are starting to try to begin to meet the challenge that God has placed on our hearts.  We want to reclaim families in His name.  We want to know Him.  We want families, children, parents to know Him.  We want to see joy in this place.

We are dreaming dreams tonight.

And we know that we can't even being to imagine what He has in store for us.

Will you join us?

Will you make your list?

Will you dare to imagine, only to discover that He will take it further than you ever could have imagined?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why We Do What We Do...........

Fia brought home her spring pictures the other day from school.  You know the ones........cheesy background scenes, hand on the hip pose and a sweet smile from my beautiful girl.  She brings them home with a smile on her face and a hopeful look in her eye........aren't they pretty, mom?

You, my girl, are pretty.

The pictures......not so much.  They don't show the beauty of my sweet girl, the crazy parts of her beauty, the sassy part of her personality.  They are a bit canned and almost weird looking because of the obvious fake background.

But there is that look..........that look in her eye.........I hate that.

What is a parent to do?

At twelve dollars a sheet.............this parent says no.  This past week I spent 14 dollars on groceries, the week before I spent 34 dollars.  Amazingly enough this is enough money to buy ALL FIVE sheets :) or two weeks worth of groceries?

Now our situation is not that dire and yes, we could sign a check or get money out of the bank and get those pictures.

But we don't.

Why?  Is it wrong to buy those pictures?


But here's the thing.  I think a lot of parenting decisions are based on what the other kids are doing, what the other parents are doing.  Somehow we wound up in this place where what you give your kids defines you as a parent.  That somehow you are scarring your children if you don't buy the pictures, if you don't buy the yearbook, if you don't put them in this swim class or that soccer class.  I know I struggle with it all the time and this post might seem familiar because of this ongoing struggle.  None of these things are wrong or bad but sometimes I think we do it without thinking about what we are doing.  We spend money and time on things that aren't important and that time and money has to come from somewhere and just maybe it would be better spent somewhere else...............

I wish I had all the answers.

Someday, huh?

Maybe when I'm a grandparent :) .................. and I am watching my children make decisions that drive me my parents watch me..........and I drive them a little crazy with my nos :)

Although even GRANDMA said the pictures were everything in her was wanting to buy them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Love......

It's been seven years and I am not sure what I have learned.................a little, maybe.  Seven years of one man, one love, one house shared by five now.  After seven years I am a bit in awe of the marriage vows I took.........til death do us sickness and in health.......for richer or for poorer........who knows what they are saying as they are saying it in midst of the passion and young love that propels one to marry......

What does a person know of marriage on that sparkly, happy wedding day when everything is new and exciting and blessed?  You show up all in white with hair and makeup done, looking quite unlike the girl that appears the weeks after when the house is lived in and the dishes that you once oohed and aahed over in the store are dirty and piling up.  Who is going to wash those?  Who is going to put them away?  Was that considered in the buying and registering?

And even though you discussed how many and when and how you were going to pay for them - what of the children that are now here?  That are clamoring for more and more of mommy when there is so little to go around when you are dividing it by four?  It seemed so much easier when there was only one to attend to and then that one could tie their own shoes, change their own clothes and buckle their own seat belt.  That one that needed attending to, way back when, was one that I pledged my love to and I delighted in serving that one.  For after I cooked and cleaned up a bit I had so much time to serve myself and attend to my needs.   But oh how times have changed...........

And that is why I am in awe of the marriage vows.........because as I grow and grow older and somewhat wiser I realize that vows have a place in today.  That the person I married and the person I was become two different people as circumstances and life changes.  The vows I made are what bind me when I fail, when my love fails to live up to those vows.  Because one day after that day......that day of wedded, sparkly bliss..........there will come a time when you look over at your beloved and think, really?  Really?  Did they just say that, do that, think that?  Did I marry someone like that?  No, that isn't possible......and it just happens for a second, a flash in time, that first time.  It happens and is over so quickly that you quickly dismiss the feeling that accompanied it, because your love is a great love and a great love has no room for doubt or disbelief in it.

And then it happens again.........when the house is a mess, the kids are screaming, there has been no sleep for months, the bodies are tired, the hearts are weary and you, no, no, this isn't right.  I am mad.  I am angry,  I look over at the person next to me and it seems like they could be to blame.  Maybe?  Maybe.

Or maybe this is where those vows come in.............

This is where Love comes in and it goes beyond just the two and you find that three became one that day so long ago, that day of wedded bliss.

This is when He takes over and carries you along on His love........for human love, earthly love is finite and His love is infinite.  And I am reminded of this each and every day as I wake to a new day and a new promise given to me through Him.  It reminds me to grant this love and this forgiveness and this mercy to all in my house but especially to the one that I pledge my eternal love to, the man that I married in front of family and friends and Him.  I entered into a covenant with this man.  A covenant which is binding and lasting and one which is not dependent on the other's behavior or actions or love but which is dependent on my commitment to Him.......and to him.

I love my husband.

I love his eyes.

I love the way he loves me.

I love the blue shirt, khaki pants and red tie that I first saw him in so many years ago.

I love the father he has become.

I love the way he can make things grow.

I love how hard he works for his family.

I love his family.

I love that I have seen him cry and know his heart.

I love that he loves his momma.

I love that he is the most honest and trustworthy person I know.

I love that he is a man of integrity.

I love that he loves my family.

But more than all of that.......I love that he loves God, that he knows Him and that his commitment to me is based on that knowledge and that love.  It is based on Him and not on me.  For I fail, I fail to be who he needs all the time, but He never will.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Seriously, This Kid Kills Me........

Nico comes out of his room for the fourth use the bathroom.  It is late.  The mountain of laundry is decreasing and I am looking for some peace and quiet after a good but always tiring day.

Me:  BUDDY.............what are you doing?

Nico:  Mom......this is how my body works.  I have to go to the bathroom.  Tomorrow, you have to draw a picture, a picture of the inside of my body.  You have to draw the inside of my body, you know, with all the parts. (He is saying this so earnestly, as if he is talking to the stupidest person on the earth but it also happens to be the person he loves the most so he is trying his hardest to be gentle.)  See, it opens and closes. (At this point he actually unzips the front of his pajamas so he can illustrate his point).  I have special bones and (now he is pushing on his belly button) it goes down and it opens and closes.  When it is wet, it is pee.  When it is hard (he does a little grimace and makes a pushing effort), it is poop.

Me: Oh.

Nico:  You draw a picture tomorrow, Mom.  I will show you.  All the parts of my body.  I think you not know how it works................(as he disappears into the bathroom for the fourth time and yes, actually pees once more)

I CANNOT wait for tomorrow :)

A Full Moon (A Repeat)

Going to Marcs is always a fun time with the three kiddos. I will complain once in a while because it is quite the adventure but there is something strangely satisfying about navigating a rather cramped store with three kids 5 and under. So while I actually do enjoy grocery shopping with the three kids it seems as if we are always on display. Without fail someone ALWAYS says my, you have your hands full or something of the kind. I have come to terms with this as something one just says rather than a reflection of my parenting. For I have to say they are rather well behaved most of the time in Marcs and quite helpful, however, I am a somewhat relaxed parent in some ways and they walk through on their own and help pick out items. It takes more time and certainly seems more chaotic but it can be enjoyable. All this to say, again, that we are a SPECTACLE.......

A few weeks ago we had completed our trip through Marcs with the usual fanfare and were coming out (me congratulating myself, once again, on being SUCH a FABULOUS mom that I can do this so effortlessly, why people must stare and wonder how does she do it........). An older lady came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder (must be one of those that want to tell me what a handful I have or what cute kids I have....)

"Ummmm........miss, miss.......your skirt is caught up."

OH MY GOODNESS. I just walked through Marcs in Belden Village with my skirt caught up WITH MY THREE CHILDREN that just made me that much more conspicuous.

"Oh my gosh, my underwear wasn't showing was it?!?"

BIG PAUSE "Oh, no, no it wasn't showing, just a little leg."

YEAH RIGHT.....the pause was big enough that my whole big butt hanging out at Marcs could have fit in it.

I got in the car and LAUGHED SO HARD..........then called two of my friends to let them know the freak show that is my life but I haven't told you the part that really upset me yet.

I get home and tell Joe about it and something akin to pity appears in his eyes. He says something along the lines of oh that's too bad or embarrassing or something of the sort. The whole time I was thinking that it was a really great story and that it's hilarious that this happened. I wasn't even thinking that my butt probably isn't in peak form (I really can't remember a time when it would have been in peak form but I am sure there was a summer somewhere in high school where the general public wouldn't have minded getting a quick peak at my fine cheeks) and it would be somewhat humiliating to have it on display at the local discount store. Luckily, I know my husband and I know he loves my cheeks and he is just a more compassionate person than I am so I let my temporary horror go and have chalked it up to yet another moment that can perhaps be used to brighten another person's day. And by that I mean you all not the many people who got a view of my rearend at Marcs.....although, I was looking the other day and it's not horrible or completely out of the realm of possibilities that someone's day might have been made brighter that day at Marcs.............

Thursday, March 8, 2012


In the black of the night, when silence and stillness pervade the house, I wake.  Groggy and wanting only to sleep once more, the voices creep stealthily in the night, into the deepest reaches of my heart and my mind.  My guard is down, the very quietness of the night works against me, for the voices reach me and sink in.

It's not enough.

Your children will suffer for your choices.

What you are trying, attempting?  It's not good enough.  You must do more, be more.

What your children truly need and want are the things you are not providing.

Why bother - you will never achieve what it is you are seeking to do.

My heart is aching, my body twists and turns within the covers, trying to still the voices.  These voices are so very deceptive for they try to take on the voice of the Father.  They hide their destructiveness in the guise of holiness, their persuasiveness taking on the tone of a more righteous one.

Read more.

Pray more.

Do more.

Be more.

The blows are fast and furious.  Sleep so far out of reach yet still my body, my eyes, my mind are weary and unable to fight off the attacks of the voices.  Yet.......yet........there is always One who is battling on my behalf.  One who whispers words of truth, one who comes with a message of Love.   There is conviction, there is discipline, there is truth in this Love.  There are times that I need to hear His wisdom and feel the discipline of a Father.  But what comes in the night is not of Him.  It is a condemning, hateful voice - determined to undermine the work of a Father.  To undermine what changes, what growth is being brought about by Love.  And so the battle rages..............

Beloved, you are mine.

You are loved.

Your children are blessed.

They are protected, they are mine.

Sleep, slumber in the peace of your Father.

My arms are around you.

Sleep, my beloved.

All the while, my husband's arms are encircling me, cradling me, never letting me go.  While sleep was far from me, he never was.  Not even fully awake he was encircling me with His love.  The voices began to fade.  The lump, the sob that was lodged in my throat begin to lessen.........the truth replaces the lies.  Still this morning I feel a bit of that aching, that doubting within me.......but He is so good.  For my overwhelming emotion this morning, this rainy, wet, cold gray of a day morning is JOY brought about by His love.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, 
   for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
   great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; 
   therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, March 5, 2012

Another Bedtime Conversation

Nico:  Mom, I'm going to have to get a new bed when I am bigger.

Me:  Well, buddy, this is the bed you are going to have.  You won't need a bigger one than this, I promise.

Nico:  Mom, I'm going to be HUGE (spreads his hands out about a foot or two).  And, mom, I'm also going to be a little fatter.  You know, when I'm a cooker.  I'll be fatter.  Also, the chicken nuggets.....they'll make me dirty.  I'll be dirty from cookin' the chicken nuggets.  Mom?  Do you think we can make those at home (I'm am thinking of the chicken strips we have made in the past with homemade breadcrumbs, organic fresh from the farm milk, organic cage free eggs and the chicken without all the hormones and stuff - I'm thinking, yeah buddy I can totally cut those up into nuggets......)?  Do you think they have the recipe at McDonald's?  Can we go there and ask them how they make 'em? (So not on the same page.....)

What big dreams my boy dreams............................I have written what he wants to be when he gets bigger about a million times on the computer in this spot but it just sounds offensive to any person in the service industry so I will refrain (having worked for many wonderful years as a server myself).  Oh and he told me the other day he had thought about being a airplane driver but he would have to go too far away and then how would I drive him to my house every day.  It would take too much time and he wanted to make sure that he could get a ride to see me every day :)  He wasn't sure that he could find the house by himself.

Again, I think it should be no problem for this boy to stay single as marriage is not in his plans as of right now.

He says cookers can't get married - it must have something to do with the chicken nuggets and how dirty they make a person...................

And, yes, I am beginning to recognize that I need to have some posts about my girls soon otherwise when they grow up they will find this little spot of their mother's and wonder what I was doing writing only about Nico for the last 2 or 3 weeks............

Dining on the Floor

Today as I watched my little ones eat their lunch under the table I had the thought that no way would this have happened a few years ago.  A few years ago eating under the table would have been a no-no not because of what I thought but because of what I perceived others were thinking.

Don't do this to yourself.

When you go to say no to your child - think are you saying no because you believe it to be wrong or because of what you think other people will say or think?

Let's take the example of eating under the table.  What are the cons?

1.  The floor will get dirty.
     - Well, we haven't figured out how to keep the floor clean when they eat at the table and not under it so we are good to go on that one.

2.  I don't want to eat under the table.
     - I don't eat lunch with them.  I use this time to clean up the kitchen, prep for dinner or fold laundry.  I am with them, in the same room and can monitor them but I learned long ago that this works best for us.  They eat more, they interact with each other and are occupied while I can get some work done.

3.  They will want to eat under the table all the time.
    - They have never asked to eat under the table at any other time.

4.  They will think it's normal to eat under the table and want to do it at friend's house/school/church.
   - Nope, hasn't happened yet.

So in conclusion there are really no cons (in my humble opinion) to eating under the table save for the fact that other people might think it strange or uncouth.  But really I think they probably would think that about us even if I didn't let my children eat under the table :)

So today take your eyes and thoughts off others and do what you think is best, what's right for your family.  It looks different to all of us.  And yes you will get strange looks and maybe someone somewhere in the world will judge you for what you are doing but really that's going to happen no matter what.  It's the way of the world unfortunately and I would be lying if I said there weren't moments when I thought WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT MOM DOING.  But then I remember that they are a mom and us moms have to stick together because we have a tough job.  We all have good days and bad days and even everything-is-going-perfect-so-you-better-darn-well-look-at-my showered-self-today-because-who-knows-what-tomorrow-is-going-to-look-like days.

Well, I have to go because MY lunch is waiting and I always like to dine in bed, under the covers reading my novel while Francesca sleeps and Nico is sequestered in his room to play by himself.

Judge away........................ :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Dinner.......If Only It Were More Holy :)

It started with Fia telling us about Jack (this is her pretend dog that she has had to make up because we will never, ever have a dog because all we need around here is more poop..........).  Jack comes to bug her every night at dinner for food.  This is where she rolls her eyes and sighs big sighs because no one will ever accuse her of being understated.  Nico, OF COURSE, has to add in his own thoughts about HIS dogs.  This is accompanied by Nico playing the part of himself AND his dog.  The conversation is short and sweet.....

Dog Nico:  I am hungry.

Nico:  What you want?

Dog Nico:  I want to eat the window.  

This is followed by hysterical laughter because pretend dogs eating windows is apparently the absolute height of preschool humor.  

Then Nico begins to talk about his boring little brothers.  I would imagine this is, in part, an example of Nico's wonderful imagination and part commentary on his own little sibling - a bit subtle for my boy but stranger things have happened.  We learned some interesting things about his boring little brothers tonight............

Nico:  You know my boring little brothers?  They always have butt cake, every day.  It with butt.  (This spawns a while other train of thought, this mere mention of yogurt)  They also open the fridge and get out yogurt and put it in their BUTT.

I really must stop laughing hysterically when he says this stuff.  I apologize in advance for any of you that might have inappropriate encounters with Nico.  It's not his fault, really.  He spent all his formative years at home all day with a mother and two sisters that find him to be beyond cute :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Time For Bed

A day filled with face painting, mask making, cannon creating and sundae eating....................

A day filled with moments of laughter and joy and fun..........

A day that you wish could go on and on because it was the best of days............

But it can't.  Times passes, the sun goes down and bodies grow weary.

Parting words for the night?

Sofia beckons from the top bunk....Mom, don't start reading books without me tomorrow, ok?

Nico creeps out as daddy has a final chat with the girls.......(He hands me the cannon he made at Art Splash this morning, a cannon made from cardboard and duct tape) Mom, I want you to have this cannon, ok?  Here's the remote (as he passes me the imaginary remote :).  Now don't, DON'T, push the red button.  That's a bad button.  The green button will help you shoot guys, ok?  But don't push all three colored buttons together, that's BAD.  Do you have the remote still, Mom?  Ok, keep it with you.  Just point the cannon out the window.  Ok, I have to go now.  (I tell him what a good knight he is, thinking of his mother's protection as he goes to bed for the night)

Francesca jogs out after all have been tucked and kissed.......Mom, Mom where my water bottle?  Where my water bottle?  Here it is.  I got it, mom.  I got it.  (Little feet pitter patter back to bed and back to the living room again)  Mom, mom where my Dora book?  My little Dora book?  (I reply that I have no idea) Ok.  (She rummages through a basket of books in the living room.)  I got more book, Mom.  I got lot of book. (Pitter patter back to bed)

Good night my precious ones.  Sleep tight.  I love you.  Thank you for your last words of the day.....for prolonging the sweetness for a few extra moments.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What I Hear

When finally it comes, when the day has been spinning round and round, and I find myself sitting in the stillness, in the quiet.  When the dishes are done, the laundry washing itself, when the kids are quiet and still and my coffee is hot, He beckons.  It's a call I hear every day, every moment.  Almost every day I answer - for a few minutes, for longer sometimes.  I sit at the table or on the big comfy green chair with my Bible and journal spread out.

In the stillness, He calls.

He calls me by name.

He sweeps waves of peace and love over me.

In the stillness all I hear is............

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

The dirty kitchen floors are wiped from my thoughts.

The scale that never reads the number I want, the number, the goal always changing because it will never be right until I am right with not the number but the person.  That scale is swept aside.

The piles that invade our house over and over again are erased from my mind.

The failures of the day, this day where I prayed that I wanted to be a better wife and a better mom than I was yesterday, these disappear.

Every imperfection is gone and in it's place is His perfect love.

A love not based on the cleanliness of my house, the behavior of my children, the food I place on the table or the ways I serve others, but a love based simply on being a child.  A child with a Father who loves, who loves big and deep and wide.  It's endless and unconditional.

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

He's calling each one of you today.

In the stillness, in the quiet...........let it wash over you.