Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Heart Troubles

When the Husband and I were chatting about the state (or chaos) of our family this weekend, we realized we were lacking structure and there were some heart troubles in our home.

The structure is something we give lip service to but as soon as we dream of implementing a schedule, life stomps all over it with big heavy work boots and I feel defeated. The Husband is comfortable with baby steps but I am an "all or nothing" kind of gal . Another thing I'm working on.

The heart troubles are something else entirely. You see, mostly they're good and loving kids. But there are times when I see their hearts shrinking like they've been hanging out with the Grinch and I wonder if their hearts will soon be two sizes too small.

This weekend, I saw a lot of envy and coveting. You see, three of the boys celebrate birthdays between September 15th and 24th...and they got some spending cash in the mail. One of the boys has a birthday on New Year's Eve and did not have any spending cash..and he feels as though he only gets gifts at one time of the year (never cash) and was feeling really envious and cranky and got downright beastly.

I lectured about greed and I lectured about envy and I lectured about..you get the picture. I was doing a lot of lecturing so I probably sounded like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon ("Wah wah wah waaah wah..." "Yes Ma'am").

I started to think about his heart and how it was doing. Not just that he was envious but that he was feeling left out and hurt and just down. He was definitely in need of some hugs and TLC in addition to the lectures and words of wisdom from moi.

Then yesterday the boys who hear about being brothers forever had a disagreement on the bus. It seems that *C* was getting teased (for being a "nerd", liking "uncool stuff" )and younger brother *N* decided that he wasn't going to sit with *C* because that wouldn't be cool.

Umm hello! This is your brother. Maybe *C* can be annoying by talking a lot (*N*'s excuse), but he is the same boy who helped *N* through the jitters on his first day at this new and bigger school. Stand by your brother, dude! Loyalty! Blood is thicker than water. All that jazz.

Heart troubles.

*N* is young so I understand it's hard sometimes to go against a group, especially when you want to be cool. (It can be difficult for adults to stand out and do hard things that go against the group.) But it is so uncool to dis your brother. I would have expected him to get in trouble for defending his brother not to ignore him when he needed a friend.

My heart hurts to think about it.

I cannot force them to make the right choices if I'm not there. Sometimes they do. Sometimes, not so much. They're not always going to take the high road. They aren't always going to be content with what they have when they see someone else getting something they dream of. They aren't always going to have the empathy to put the needs of another before their own wants.

My job is to teach them how they should respond, in word and deed, and hope that they will usually do the right thing, even when it's not easy.

So what did I do after lecturing and hugging? I prayed. I prayed for their hearts and their minds and their protection. I prayed for their relationship with each other.

And this morning...I sent them off to school with "I love you" and yes, a lecture to "be a friend to your brother." Because really, all I want is for their hearts to be healthy- physically, emotionally and spiritually.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Fire Extinguishers

The husband and I were talking about how things are going in the family.

We occasionally get about 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation when one of us is not half asleep to touch base. (No, unfortunately I am not exaggerating and yes, I do recognize this is not a good thing.)

We both agreed that it feels more like we're "putting out fires" constantly in our home rather than being the parents we are called to be.We feel like we're moving from one crisis or problem to the next and it's not effective or enjoyable. Moreover, it's not the vision we have for our family.

What we're doing isn't working and it's time for a change. We have glimpses of how we want things to be but we need to seriously nurture these glimpses so they grow and make up a larger percentage of our daily lives.

The hardest part of this for me is that at the outset it is going to mean a lot more time, energy and attention from me...and that feels overwhelming. BUT it's going to be worth it. I don't have to do it alone either. I've got the husband to share parenting with and I also have been having some heart-to-hearts with God about it.

Lord, give me the time and patience to water the flowers so we don't have brush fires and help the minor flare ups to not become three alarm blazes.


Saturday, September 25, 2010


Tonight my baby girl wrapped her long, thin fingers around my pinkie and my heart melted (again).

I cannot ignore the reality that she's getting bigger each day. The dress that fit her perfectly yesterday was enormous on her the day after she came home.

That's what we want and work toward. We want the children to grow and learn and become independent as we try and lead them in the right direction...raise them up the way they should go.

And yet..it's bittersweet watching the milestones come and go.

I remember with *J* we eagerly awaited each milestone, wishing for the rolling and the crawling and the talking and the walking. With each child, I feel less rushed toward the future and more content with each stage. I want them to reach their potential, but I don't measure my parental success by how quickly they reach the milestones anymore.

I spoke with a friend about this the day after Miss M was born. She suggested that perhaps our resistance to rushing through the phases is because we realize the miracle of what God has blessed us with...so we want to live in the moment much more fully, savoring each amazing moment that God has given us.

Our 3 yo doesn't grip my hand when we take a walk anymore, instead he folds his hands across his chest and insists he walk himself. (A huge issue for me because he likes to run off..do not suggest this boy go play in traffic, it's his dream, I think.) I miss the days when his pudgy hand, was safely and happily within my own as we walked together, much as I will miss the days when Miss M's long, thin fingers will grasp mine.

So each day, I thank God (mostly ;) ) for giving me these brief moments of bliss; the seasons of wakefulness and diapers and snuggles and tantrums and moodiness and everything that comes with the ages and stages.

The seasons pass quickly and I will not be sad about their passing, but be thankful for the opportunity to experience them.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Big Brothers

*C* read Miss M a book this morning before school. The picture doesn't show it but *I* came right over to listen too. Later *I* got a book and was "reading" it to Miss M but I couldn't get a picture before a well-meaning someone interrupted.

As I was looking at this picture I remembered a story I was told 9 years ago today.

A certain 7 yo was riding in the car with a certain 21 month-old and a certain husband heard him say, "I'm going to teach you all about being a big brother," then went on to tell him all the important things a big brother can do. They were driving to the hospital to meet their new baby brother.

And so the story goes and he did teach him about being a big brother and they've passed on the knowledge and now they're teaching *I* all about being a good big brother...and it's sticking, apparently.

Considering all the boys have Old Testament names, I'm quite thankful we don't have any Biblical sibling rivalry going on. ;) They fight and bicker and tattle and basically drive me batty sometimes, but I hope when the chips are down they remember they are siblings forever.
This time when I left for the hospital, I taped a hand-written sign to the wall. It said: " Love One Another Heart Mom." It's still on the wall and maybe it catches someones eye every once in a while. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


"Too blessed to be stressed."

I think of all the things spoken at the MOPS steering meeting I attended the other night, that is the thing I remember most. Someone was sharing something she had heard a caller say on the Dave Ramsey show.

I know how easy it is to focus on everything imperfect in our lives. I know I do it all the time. I count my blessings, sure. But taking it to heart and really and truly embracing the blessings all around me...I am not always good at.

It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in what is lacking and imperfect; what is disappointing or doesn't fit the plan or the societal expectations.

Blessings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and unanswered prayers. Sometimes I look at dreams unrealized and think maybe we dodged a bad thing. Sometimes I still feel frustrated and hurt. Sometimes I need to be reminded that just because we think life is grand for someone else, doesn't mean they aren't facing their own struggles and pain.

My biggest and toughest struggle is finding my balance between what I know is valued most by God and fitting in in the world. Does that make sense?

I shared the other day that I was struggling with anxiety. I worry about things that I cannot immediately control and I struggle with feelings of failure. And yet, in the midst of it all..if I can open my eyes and truly count my blessings...I, too am "too blessed to be stressed." Wrapped up in stuff that won't matter later? Yes. Blessed in all the ways that really matter? Most definitely.

This morning, before getting out of bed, I resolved to not get in a snit about certain issues ...and I cannot put a check mark in the success box. To say I fell painfully short would be an understatement. However, I can try to do better next time and I'm trying to figure out why the issue in question is such a trigger for me.

Instead of giving lip service to counting my earthly blessings today, I want to look for (and hope to find) the silver lining in the earthly annoyances, frustrations, fears and shortfalls. (And I don't want to just give lip service to this either.)

Because really, if I'm honest...I am too blessed to be stressed.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Please Pray

Hey, guess what?! I'm not writing about my kids today.

Actually, I 'm not writing about me either.

When Miss M was almost 2 weeks old, a dear old (as in since high school) friend called apologizing for not calling sooner. It was the start of the school year and my friend is a teacher and also has a daughter in elementary school so I knew she was busy. "Don't apologize for being busy," I said.

Then she said, "No, things have been nuts." After a summer of trying to determine the cause of her husband's health issues, he had a brain tumor removed. The surgeon went in expecting a cyst but when he came out of surgery he said he didn't like the look of it. They were still waiting for the pathology report as we spoke that day.

I didn't call the day they went for the results and I left a voicemail the following day, but I didn't want to bury them under phone calls so waited.

Today I found out he has class IV Glioblastoma Multiforme, a very aggressive form of brain tumor

I am asking you to pray for my friend's husband (He's in his 40s) and for her and for their daughter as well. While the prognosis for this can be daunting, I know that he is planning on fighting it with everything he's got.

I'm far away so I thought the biggest and best thing I can do is to pray and to ask others to pray too.

Thank you!


Monday, September 20, 2010

I Have The WorryWarts

Do you ever feel like you're swirling in a huge storm of worries? Right now it feels like everywhere I turn a new issue arises and gets in the line of my worries.

Admittedly, none of them are life-threatening and for that I am immensely grateful.

I also know that the reason I am feeling so overwhelmed by worry and fear, anxious to the extreme is probably hormonal. Miss M is only 3 weeks old so I'm sure I'm feeling a bit of the baby blues, which for me means generalized anxiety.

This morning I remembered the verse from 2 Timothy1:7 in the NKJV as I was wallowing in my worries... "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

That verse brought me out of my funk.

I started to think about how often I want another human (usually the Husband) to rescue me from my worries and "fix" whatever is troubling me. This morning I thought about how the only One I can wholly turn to with my worries is God. And I can lay them at His feet...and then here's the tricky part...leave them there. (Yes, if I need to take action, I should, but once I turn the worry over to God, I need to stop obsessing over it.)

I think I need this verse on a plaque, or tattooed on the inside of my eyelids (eew and ouch) so I am constantly reminded of it.

Interestingly, I read something someone else wrote today and they were referencing the same verse. I guess it was on other minds today, with all different sorts of jumping off points.

I needed to read that today, just as I need to seek out people and experiences which remind me that God is in control and doesn't want me to worry or be timid, but to be strong and brave and loving.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Changes in Attitude...

I feel like all I do is write about my offspring. I can't help it.

Today *J* stayed home from school with an upset stomach. I will tell you right now I am so not a pushover about the kids staying home. Not because I don't want them here but because I worry about why they want to stay home (are they worrying about or trying to avoid something or are they really and truly sick?)

I tried to talk *J* into going today. He's got a very heavy schedule and he missed PE which he will have to go in early sometime soon to make up. Alas, he decided to stay home and went back to sleep. I was not pleased but if he's sick he's sick, right? I'm not always as compassionate as I could or should be, I guess.

After I got home from running errands with *I* and Miss M, I woke him up to see if he was feeling better and brought him a drink.

He said he was feeling better and then...then he told me he wanted to apologize because he knows he hasn't been treating me very well and I do so much for him and he doesn't always act like he appreciates it. He said he'd been thinking about it and felt badly.

Wow. I felt humbled.

I told him I understood because I can remember treating my mom that way when I was a teenager...and then I was in tears because I don't know that I ever apologized to my mom for being a hateful, spoiled brat. I think I may have but...

I often think about all of those times my mother wished I would have "five just like me"...and she wasn't referring to my sunny disposition. She was cursing me, don't ya' know! ;) And I have a feeling each of the kids is going to give me a taste of my own medicine...and Miss M is probably going to think I'm old and out of touch and know nothing by the time she's a teenager, just as I felt about my mom, who was three years younger than I am now when I was born.

(BTW, the Husband doesn't understand the attitude of the children because he apparently did not pull this stuff with his parents....so I will often tell him, I understand because I did the same thing...he looks appalled by it. ;) )

I'm sure there will be more teen attitude..and more from the teens to be, but it meant a lot to hear him say he was sorry.

It reminded me of how many times I say, "I'm sorry" to God and yet, I just cannot help but keep being my broken, human, sinful self. As much as I want to do better, and mostly I do, I will always be me and always have something to apologize for.

One of my friends says that each day she tries to be a little bit better and that's what I try to do too.

Thank God for Grace!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It feels like just yesterday I was holding a newborn baby boy in my arms. Today, that baby boy turns 16 and is applying for his driving permit after school.

Don't blink. Don't rush through the stages and phases and days. Savor each and every moment.

If I could tell people the most important lessons I have learned through the years...it would be those things.

I used to sing him silly songs so he wouldn't cry. If I did that now, he would roll his eyes. There was one trip to visit grandparents where I swear I sang "and the green grass grew all around and around.." until I literally had no voice left. Now he sings in the concert choir at school and has an incredible voice.

I used dance around the living room with him to "Standing Outside the Fire" and encourage him to be creative with his stacking rings...because I wanted him to be braver than I about trying new things and going for his dreams. He blends in but doesn't hesitate to speak his mind.

Before *J* was born, the anesthesiologist (I told him he was an angel, btw ;)) was whistling "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?". I cannot hear that song without getting teary because when he was born I think our hearts swelled with love about a zillion times. Now I see him show his brothers and baby sister that love as he helps them to learn and grow.

So as I sit remembering back to the day of his birth and the years that have passed...I am filled with love and joy and thankfulness.

Each day is worth savoring.

Happy Birthday *J*!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's That Day...

Today is a day that will live on in our memories as one of tragedy and pain, fear and loss.

I was pregnant (what else is new) and the Husband had the day off. We were watching the Today Show with our not yet 2 yo and preparing to go shopping for last minute baby things when we watched TV in horror.

I started to cry as I watched that plane fly into the tower on TV and *C*, seeing his mommy cry, buried his face in the couch sobbing. The whole day (and those following) felt surreal and we were wondering what our second grader would hear at school and would he be worried about his Grandpa living in NYC. *J* heard nothing at school and FIL was safe and fine. (He came to visit the 15th and I was never so happy to see him pull up to our house as that day...I ran out to hug him.)

The evening of the 11th we attended a special worship service out our church. I remember singing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". I never sang that hymn with as much emotion as that day. It never meant so much to me. Still today, when I sing that hymn, I am transported back to that day.

My heart still aches for all those who suffered and for all those who experienced loss.

I remember people asking me how it felt to be bringing a baby into such a world. I told them that a few evil and misguided people may have brought horrible pain and destruction on thousands BUT millions of good, kind and loving people were out there too. We saw them reaching out to help in any way they could.

We live in a broken world, but God is always walking with us, alongside us. We can choose how to respond, with love and forgiveness or with vengeance and bitterness.

I am pretty certain Jesus would encourage us to love one another to work through the pain.


Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Not All About the Research

I consider myself very methodical about most things. I am more scientific in my approach to life and have always loved research. The Internet has made my life so much easier! Have a question? Hop on the computer!

Of course, sometimes Googling can cause more worry and heartache than is warranted but it’s nice to have so much information at my fingertips.

That being said, I have learned over the years that research cannot always answer my questions. Sometimes it's about what my heart or my gut tells me more than anything else. Sometimes it's about thinking creatively.

I have also learned over the years that one size does not fit all when it comes to raising children. As my friend K likes to say, "I knew it all when I had one child..now..." not so much. ;)

When *J* was a baby I was a much different parent than I am now. He was my first and I was so anxious about doing everything "right", about being a "good" mom and getting others' approval that I didn't always follow my heart.

For instance, I really felt that when *J* cried it was a reflection on me as a parent. I would have stood on my head to stop him from crying. On his bouncy seat was a primary-colored clown I named "Somersault Jack" and I sang a song about him to *J* over and over...and over...because he stopped crying when I sang it. He goes over and over and over and over. Sometimes forward and sometimes back. He goes over and over and over and over and that's why we call him Somersault Jack. (You can see why the jingle people are knocking down my door...Not. ;) ) But he liked it and going hoarse was a small price to pay.

Almost 16 years and a few kids later...I still want to be the best mom I can be, but it's different. I still sing silly songs. I still don't like them to cry..but I don't consider it a litmus test of my mothering ability. I try to remember that other people's opinions and parenting methods aren't necessarily applicable to our family, as well-intentioned as they may be. Sometimes all of the research in the world isn't going to fit.

BUT you know what does always fit? The knowledge that these children are given to me for a season, by God who is the ultimate parent. I know that no matter what, parenting these children is a gift and a blessing. I am entrusted with their care, to guide them in the way they should go. I have tools to help me, like the Word and I can pray for them and ask others for prayer and guidance too.

Love and grace and faith always fit. It's not always easy and sometimes there's a lot more law because we live in a broken world. But I try to remember to show grace and forgiveness and lots and lots of love..and not worry about how I measure up...except to the One who gave me these gifts.


Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Never Too Soon..

I am the proud mom of 6 beautiful children. On Monday evening, Little Miss M came out wailing , weighing 7 lbs 5.7 oz..

It was an amazing, miraculous experience and I could not be more in love with my precious daughter, my husband or my amazing sons.

That being said...after sleeping two hours Monday night, by Tuesday at 10:15 pm..I was more than a little tired and emotional and weepy. I was homesick, missed the Husband and the boys and just wanted to be in my own bed.

My OB had told me she had given orders for a sleeping pill and since Miss M was in the nursery and I had been staring at the ceiling for almost 45 minutes I decided to ask for it...only to be told by my nurse all the reasons it probably would be better if I waited or didn't take it at all. Hello waterworks. I mean I could have taken it but then I wouldn't have been able to nurse Miss M and that would have given me guilt. (I'm very good at guilt.) I don't even know why I was crying..except that I was exhausted and hormonal and unbearably emotional.

So after my nurse left, I lay sweating (why are hospitals so hot?!) and crying into my pillow...because I was missing my guys so much.

And then..I prayed....because, although the name of this blog is 1praying mom...sometimes I focus on what I can do and what my family and friends and strangers and other humans can do and neglect the fact that God can do anything and everything.

So, I prayed for peace and comfort and for my family..the Husband, the boys and the precious new baby girl. And the next thing I knew..I was waking up to a nurse bringing Miss M back to me and I was refreshed and content...and while she and I shared that middle of the night time, I told her about praying and about God and about who she is and whose she is...that she is a beautiful child of God.

I found peace and rest in prayer and faith. Thank you Lord, for that gift.