Monday, August 30, 2010

At Peace

Yesterday (Sunday) I was making pizza dough when 3 yo walked in beaming from ear to ear carrying a cucumber. He had picked it himself and was so THRILLED to bring it to me. Afterward, the Husband said, "OK, ready for your shower." He turned to his daddy adoringly, took his hand and said, "OK Daddy."

My heart melted and I thought, "This is what it's all about."

Making dinner from scratch (mostly, I haven't tried making cheese yet. ;) ), the boys playing outside in the woods building forts and creating a bug rescue operation...what could be better? (*E* is concerned about lost or homeless bugs. While I applaud his caring, I said a definitive "No!" when he asked if they could come inside. Of course *E* is afraid of a common housefly so his new-found desire to save bugs is interesting.)

I was keenly aware that last night was the last dinner we would probably have as a family of 7. I should be delivering Miss M today (barring a huge run on L&D making beds scarce).

I was also keenly aware of how much I want to get back to basics. (I admit the article in the local paper about urban homesteaders probably reignited my desire to live sustainably.)

I'll be the first to admit I am "high maintenance". I'd like to change that. I think that as I get older and as my family gets larger, my priorities change and I see things through a different lens. And it's a good thing.

Life is good. God is great. Blessings are found in all sorts of interesting places.

Wishing you peace and contentment in the simplest and most mundane of tasks.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Tears of Joy

I saw the most beautiful photos this morning.

A family reunited.

My friend's husband is home from Iraq. Seeing him embracing his wife and six children, seeing their happiness, I couldn't help but cry tears of joy and thanksgiving.

They live several hours away from me so I didn't experience the day to day of what her life was like while he was away...but I know that when I was feeling "woe is me" about the husband working late or some such nonsense, I would think of K and how gracefully she was managing and hitch up my big girl panties and said, "Get a grip, Stacey!"

I am thankful to her husband for his service, thankful that he is home safely. I am thankful for all those who serve and pray for a safe return for all. (Another friend's husband is in Afghanistan. M I'm praying for your husband's safe return to you and your three boys too!)

It is these moments when I get my reality check, of all that matters and of what is of little consequence.

I know that many have gone to serve and not come home safely and I am so very sorry.

So today, I will try to remember what it is that I value most. I will try not to sweat the small stuff and take for granted the things which are most important.

Praying for peace..of all kinds and in all places.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Shoe Fits Me

This would have been a better visual had I taken a photo of all five boys...because really, sometimes I do feel like the nursery rhyme about the woman living in a shoe.... (notice I left out "old", although I'm turning 40 in less than two weeks, but that's a post for a different day. ;) )

I feel like the nursery rhyme woman but not in a bad way. I mean, sometimes it is overwhelmingly loud and it gets a bit cluttered and flat out messy sometimes. BUT life is messy and loud and overwhelming..even if you live alone. (At least that's what I hear. ;) )

So back to the shoe...

The arrival of baby girl #1 is approaching. (I can't say "quickly" without rolling my eyes...I have a feeling she's going to be fashionably late.) When we found out that we had a Miss arriving and not a Master, one of my friends warned me that people were going to comment that we must be done now that we "had our girl". She was right.

When the Husband and I hear that, it suggests that the boys in between #1 and now were "trying for a girl" children...and when people say "Are you done now that you have your girl?" it feels a little uncomfortable for us. Because you see, when someone says that, they are suggesting in a backhanded way (probably without realizing it), that having an abundance of one gender is somehow undesirable.

The same friend offered me a good comeback. "No. She needs a sister."

So lately when people ask if we're done now...we shrug our shoulders. Life is what happens while we're making other plans. We've been shown that over and over...and over again.

I'm a work in progress. God isn't finished with me yet. I have much to learn and do and for whatever reason, these children that I never could have dreamed of mothering are part of that journey.

I am learning to take each day as it comes, embracing the tiniest of victories. Whether we live in a 1400 square foot "shoe" or a 3000 square foot luxury boot, we'll probably always have noise and clutter...or be missing it. When *C* tells me we'll probably have lots of grandchildren, my first thought is "not too soon!" and my next thought is, "I sure hope so!" because I think I like the noise and clutter and without these boys, I might never have realized that.

Whatever path we take on our journey, whatever shoes we're wearing..we can choose to be open to the lessons offered us along the way.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guardian Angels

I don't usually go in big for angel talk. I mean, I believe God is watching over us but I also know that bad things and accidents happen.

Yesterday though, the guardian angels were working overtime at my house. Well, we had three "incidents' which could have been much worse.

First, the 3yo was in the kitchen and I thought (key word) he was trying to get himself a spoon. Nope. He was trying to get something from the counter. (I have no idea what he was going after.) Instead he knocked my glass onto the tile floor sending shards of glass all over the place. I yelled stay there and went running, hoping to get him down safely without ending up with glass in his feet. Nope he jumped down and managed to stay unharmed.

I managed to get that all cleaned up with no injuries. :)

A couple of hours later, *N* (8) was climbing on the same counter to get a plate down. *C* (10) was closing a lower cabinet just as *N* hopped down..and *N* landed on the cabinet door, straddling it. He was hurting but managed to avoid contact with sensitive areas, if you get my meaning. H spent some time with ice and I'm sure he's got quite a bruise, but it doesn't appear that any permanent damage was done.

And then...the piece de resistance...the 4 older kids were waiting in the car for the Husband to drive them to VBS. He was getting ready. I heard a noise that made me go running. 3yo had taken the doorknob covers off the front door and taken off full speed toward the busy (4 lane road). I have not run that fast in a very long time and never while 38 + weeks pregnant. I caught him when he tripped on the sidewalk. I have never EVER been so frightened in all my life.

One of the boys came sprinting down the driveway and the Husband was running after us as I caught him. I cried for at least 5 minutes and had nightmares about it. He still had some distance to go before he got to the road and we finally figured out this morning where he was headed. He heard Vacation Bible School and thought his brothers were at the bus stop. That's where he was wait for the school bus.

So you see, I said many prayers of thanksgiving yesterday that my children were safe through an abnormally accident-filled day. I keep a pretty good eye on them and I think we're pretty safety conscious but sometimes stuff happens. It's a good thing that I've got amazing back-up for those times when things happen, whether it be God Himself or guardian angels... (I like to imagine my mom is hanging out keeping watch. :) ) Because, as much as we tell the boys we have eyes on the backs of our heads...

Praying you have a wonderfully safe, uneventful and joyous day...


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You See What I See?

The other day, I was driving to my local Big Box discount-ish store and listening to the radio. A man, a pastor, was talking about having a really difficult day at work. When he arrived home, his daughter greeted him and was telling him all about her day. At some point in her story, he realized he wasn't looking at her...he was looking through her, so focused on his problems, he wasn't focused on her.

I arrived at my destination so I did not hear what else he realized or how he changed things after that moment of discovery, but I do know that this story got my attention.

In that snippet of his story, I saw my own life. I saw how I walk through life not always seeing what is right in front of me.

I realized that sometimes, more than I probably care to admit, I look through my kids rather than looking at them. I didn't like that realization. The fact that we're preparing for #6 made that realization more disconcerting.

I know I get wrapped up in the busyness of every day life. I know that sometimes I am more focused on the messes and the piles of laundry and the noise..the things that the strangers who might knock on my door will notice first. I see the surface stuff. (Who has a smear of pizza on their chin...two hours after lunch? Whose hair needs to be combed? Is the couch slipcover all out of whack? How many dishes are in the sink?) These are the things about which I fear judgement..well, that and when they act like wild public.
I forget to see what is really important. I forget to nurture their hearts and souls in the midst of keeping up appearances. I forget that appearances aren't worth much if they're only skin-deep. Isn't this why I tell them not to judge other people. Isn't this why I try to remember that I might not see the whole picture or know the whole story? Yet, I live in fear of such judgement..and not from God..from other humans, from my peers.
What if they think I'm dropping the ball? What if they look at my kids and only notice the wild animal moments? What if they think I'm a bad mom because the 3 yo throws things or does demolition derby with his cars instead of driving sedately?
The more important question is what if I am dropping the ball, but about big invisible to the naked eye stuff? What if...What if I focus on just loving them? What if I teach them the way they should behave without thinking about how someone else thinks they should behave? What if I trust myself and, more importantly, trust in God to lead me through this awesome adventure of parenthood?
What if....I look and truly see what is in front of me. And appreciate them in all their wild animal glory. And cherish these moments.

Monday, August 9, 2010

For the Sake of Argument...

I am not in the midst of an argument...

I've just been thinking about what makes a valid argument or justification.

You see, there are certain "arguments" for a cause that just hold absolutely no water with me. In fact, they usually cause me to listen for more chinks in said "argument", if I don't tune out the individual altogether. I'm busy and I listen to enough chatter without adding someones inane blather.

Not to go into too much boring detail, the Husband receives e-mails from a task force he is on re: the school budget and e-mails go to the family account and I see them. I don't respond though, because it's not my task force. I just read them and think one person needs to learn what constitutes a valid argument for a whole group and not just in his own mind, for his own family. ;)

You see, I don't think "I have to pay more for X so why shouldn't they?" or "I had to do it so why shouldn't they?" really constitute valid arguments for a cause. Or against one for that matter. These arguments, in my humble opinion, are self-centered and do not address the big picture...let alone the common good. Instead they suggest one person's experience should be the benchmark for an entire community.

I hear these sorts of arguments regularly. In certain instances I think they might work. If one child had to earn money to pay for X then maybe the sibling should too. That makes sense in some situations.

However, sometimes we're not comparing apples to apples and the argument goes downhill fast. (In my mind anyway.) Saying: "we walked to school 30 years ago so why can't these kids? Or we didn't have computers, pencils and paper were OK for us. Or if I have to pay more each year for insurance, why should they get it for free? Or if I don't use a school program, why should my taxes go up?" miss so many realities of living today in this community and world...not to mention they miss the whole common good thing.

If I am going to debate education spending, budgets and what is valuable in the school system, I expect better arguments than I get from my "It's not fair!" 8 yo when his brother gets more ice cream in his bowl for dessert.

Like I tell him, "Life isn't fair." However, we have the opportunity (and calling) to make the world a better place by acting with love and kindness and generosity regardless of whether we expect to receive any benefits at all.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Give Me Your Eyes...

Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

I love this song. It's about seeing life with God's eyes, recognizing and even feeling other people's pain and experience...for just one second, and loving them.

I think that even just one second...of caring deeply for, loving, people whether we know them or not could be eye-opening and overwhelming.

Be careful what you wish for....

Sometimes I see people struggling, or in pain and I don't know them and I don't even know how to reach out. It's hard enough to reach out to people I do know sometimes, because I'm afraid to pry or seem like I'm trying to insinuate myself into their life. The reality is, that I do honestly care.

I think that's one of the reasons I loved the idea of journalism in college. I'm genuinely interested in people and their stories. The problem became I didn't want to just write about it and spread the news. That felt hollow and self-serving. Instead of broadcasting the pain and the loss, I wanted to find a way to fix it. I just didn't know how and finding a way...felt too overwhelming.

I admire people who don't shy away from that challenge and jump into the mix. It's too easy for me to find excuses of why I can't jump in and get my hands dirty. But I can follow up and ask people how they're doing if I know what's going on. I can offer a smile or a kind word.

I can pray.

Sometimes witnessing other people's stuff is painful. Sometimes I carry it around and worry about it, whether I know for sure it's worry-worthy. But, I'd rather have an open and tender heart for others and feel a little of their pain than walk through life insulated and with blinders on.

God doesn't expect us to do something on our own. Sometimes He expects us to be His hands and feet to others. Sometimes God expects us to be the physical shoulder. Either way, He props us all up. Whether we're in there getting our hands dirty (because that's where our gifts lie) or listening, praying, fund-raising, donating or spreading the word (other gifts) ...we're doing it because that's a way of acting.

So give me your eyes and arms and heart Lord, and then give me the strength and ability and compassion to act as I am called.


Monday, August 2, 2010

The Duh/ A Ha Moment.


I don't mind it. I know many people hate doing it, but it used to give me such a sense of accomplishment. At the end of the baskets of clothes to be washed, dried, folded and put away was an empty hamper.

Not. Anymore. Not here anyway.

I was folding it yesterday. I fold it on my bed and each family member has set area and I always put their socks, shirts etc. in the same spot.

I was thinking about how hard it has become to keep up with the laundry and then I had my "Duh/A ha!" moment....I'm doing laundry for 7 people! Of course there's more and it takes longer to fold. (Sometimes I scare myself. ;) )

Now you could say, have the kids help out. OK. In theory it would work, but I'm a bit of a control freak and I like my system and overall find it a relaxing task. I have built up to them putting away their own clothes, but the clothes get jammed in the drawers and end up wrinkly messes and then I need (for my own sanity) to iron it before they can wear it.

I am not complaining about the amount of laundry or my own desires to not have them look like they slept in their clothes. (It's bad enough that *C* and *E* have crazy hair that no comb or brush can tame.)

I am confessing that it has taken me far too long to realize that the laundry monster in my home, the one that breeds in my hamper, is not a result of me neglecting the Whirlpool. It's a numbers game.

So now, I will go and sort the laundry that has filled my hamper since I saw its bottom yesterday. Otherwise I will get behind.

Maybe I just need a larger hamper. ;)